Thursday, November 27, 2014


NASA will pay you $170 per day to lie in bed ... for 70 days (Business Insider).

Fox News' Erickson tells Republicans to shut down the government (Media Matters).

Selling like "hot cakes"? Not so fast. Hot cakes are actually not selling well at all (Bloomberg).

Switzerland may give every citizen $2,600 a month (Motherboard).

How to win Thanksgiving: A Holiday guide to arguing with right wing relatives (Salon).

The myth of Thanksgiving can not erase the theft of Native American land through decimation (Truth Out).

30 years of conservative nonsense: What a history of error (Vanity Fair).

Stockman: Reagan history is revisionist mythology (Bloomberg Businessweek).

House Republicans pass a bill that makes it harder for scientists to advise the EPA (Think Progress).

Gov. Scott Walker: Denying health care to low-income people helps them 'live the American dream' (Think Progress).

Texas approves textbooks with Moses as Founding Father (Patheos).

Bible Belt leads the nation in consumption of gay porn (Patheos).

Ted Cruz: "Net neutrality is against the will of God" (Amplifyng Glass).

Republican push to promote women stumbles as white guys sweep committee chair posts, again (Huffington Post).

Justice Scalia explains what was wrong with the Ferguson Grand Jury (Think Progress)

Black man killed by police? McCulloch does it again (Nation of Change).

6 revelations from the Michael Brown Grand Jury documents, including one witness' journey entry: "Need to understand the Black race better so I stop calling Blacks Niggers ..." (Mother Jones).

Ferguson protests and Fox News' contempt for free speech (Media Matters).

"We are starting to breakdown": Why so many Americans feel traumatized (Salon).

Tim Wise: Most white people in America are completely oblivious (Raw Story).

Congress poised to eliminate key tax breaks for middle class, provide permanent tax breaks for corporations (Nation of Change).

Seven candidates for corporate rip-off of the year award (Nation of Change).

Bill Cosby's legacy recast: Accusers speak in detail of sexual assault allegations (Washington Post).

The comedy set that started it all ... Hannibal Buress jokes about Bill Cosby scolding younger comics for using foul language in their routines when "You're a rapist" (Philadelphia Magazine).

University of California set to raise tuition over Governor Brown's objections (NY Times).

Mail monitoring rarely denied, Postal Service says (NY Times).

14 disturbed drawings done by children (Answers).

As Germany marked the fall of the Berlin Wall, Gorbachev warns of new cold war (The Guardian)

- Mark

Tuesday, November 25, 2014


In the FYI category. The narrative presented below is from A Mighty Girl ...

November 25 is recognized worldwide as the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. The reason the UN selected this date is not widely known. In 1999, the United Nations General Assembly chose to honor the Mirabal Sisters, three siblings from the Dominican Republic who became political dissidents. They were assassinated by henchmen of dictator Rafael Trujillo on November 25th in 1960.

The sisters, Patria, Minerva, and Maria Teresa were active opponents of the brutal dictator who ruled the Dominican Republic from 1930 until his assassination in 1961. The women formed an opposition group against the Trujillo regime called the Movement of the Fourteenth of June, named after the date of a massacre Patria witnessed. Within the group the sisters were known as Las Mariposas (The Butterflies).

Minerva and Maria Teresa were imprisoned and tortured on several occasions, as were their husbands. After the Organization of American States sent observers to the Dominican Republic, the sisters were freed but their husbands remained imprisoned. It was on a return trip from one of their prison visits on November 25, 1960 that the sisters were stopped by members of Trujillo's secret police and murdered.

Rafael Trujillo, dictator of the Dominican Republic, 1930-1961. 
Trujillo himself was assassinated the following year and the sisters have long been regarded as heroes in the Dominican Republic for their courage and activism against the dictatorship. A final sister, Dedé Mirabal, who worked to preserve her sisters' memory for many years, passed away earlier this year at the age of 88.

On November 25, we remember and honor the contributions and sacrifices of the Mirabal sisters and all of those who work toward a world free of violence. This date also marks the beginning of an annual campaign called the "16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence" which ends on International Human Rights Day on December 10.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * 

For my money one of the best movies I've seen was "In the Time of the Butterflies," which tells the story of the Minerva sisters. It stars Salma Hayek, Edward James Olmos, and Marc Anthony. 

According to the movie industry's scale, this movie is recommended for adults and older teens, 16 and up. I would personally recommend this for anyone with a mature daughter with a conscience who's between 12 and 14 years old. 

If you're looking for a book on the topic worthy of a 12 - 14 year old, try Before We Were Free

If you want an academic book that explains the nuts and bolts behind the U.S. governments relationship with the Trujillo regime you can read The Dictator Next Door: The Good Neighbor Policy and the Trujillo Regime in the Dominican Republic, 1930-1945

I've used this book in class. It's not real exciting, so purchase this only if you consider yourself a student of Latin America, American Foreign Policy, or if you're just plain wonkish. 

- Mark 


After having the evidence presented to the Grand Jury, Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson will not be charged for the murder of Michael Brown. Here's my take on what's happenning.

The job of any prosecutor in front of a Grand Jury is to present only the evidence that shows probable cause. They want to prosecute. That's it. If a case goes to a trial it's up to the Defense Team to go after the prosecutors evidence.

What county prosecutor Bob McCulloch did was present "all the evidence" to the Grand Jury, whether it was provable or not. The idea was to flood the evidence room, and let the Grand Jury sort it out. Anybody who's not a legal expert, and who has sat on a jury trial knows what this means (it's not good). Prosecutor McCulloch then allowed - and this is extremely rare - Officer Wilson to testify on his behalf in front of the Grand Jury, without any cross examination from prosecutors (because the District Attorney's office was pretty much working on Wilson's behalf).

Keep in mind that in Missouri it's legal for a police officer to shoot and kill a suspected felon who is fleeing once they believe their lives, or the lives of the public, are in danger. Without cross examination Officer Wilson's testimony becomes crucial, and golden.

Most Americans who disagree with the St. Louis county Grand Jury's decision will be discussing these issues, along with other evidence presented to the Grand Jury. The irony is that this is what a normal trial - with real prosecutors and real defense attorneys - would have done if Bob McCulloch had simply done his job and pursued an indictment.

But Bob McCulloch didn't do his job. He abdicated his position.

Michael Brown was denied his day in court because Prosecutor McCulloch decided to throw up an evidenciary smoke screen, with the goal of overwhelming the Grand Jury.

In the process Bob McCulloch became Officer Darren Wilson's de facto defense attorney.

The logic behind all of this reminiscent of how trials during the Inquisition were conducted during the medieval period. Back then trials were designed to protect religious orthodoxy and social order. The authority of the Catholic Church and the royal way of life were at stake. The goal of the Inquisition was not the pursuit of justice, but to maintain the status quo.

Many of the accused during the Inquisition were set free simply by proving their accuser held a "moral hatred" towards them. In this case "defendant" Darren Wilson didn't have to present evidence to the Grand Jury that his accuser (presumably Michael Brown) was a bad man, or possessed "moral hatred" towards him. Officer Wilson was allowed to testify, confident that his accuser had no chance of challenging his word, ever.

Both secular authority and ecclesiastical power had its privileges during the medieval period.

I'll let you draw your own parallels regarding privilege, police authority, and prosecutorial power in the modern era.

- Mark 

Monday, November 24, 2014


If you've seen this ...

... then the following should prove helpful.

Though Abraham Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation wasn't officially an Executive Order it was an act of "executive unilateralism." As such, it falls under the "unnumbered Orders" given by all U.S. Presidents because of the "subject matter, general applicability, public interest, or legal effect.”

Officially the Emancipation Proclamation - issued on September 22, 1862 - is referred to as Proclamation 93, which had the goal of "Declaring the Objectives of the War Including Emancipation of Slaves in Rebellious States on January 1, 1863." 

To take this a step further, the proclamation was also a statement to Europe explaining that the South was not an independent nation-state that Europeans could side with or, worse, help out. Lincoln was making it clear that he was still in charge of making policy that affected the South, which included issuing orders that would affect their slaves. 

The numbering and official documentation of Executive Orders didn't begin until the 20th Century (1906 and 1931). 

All of this, and much more, on presidential orders can be found on "The American Presidency Projectwebsite, hosted by the University of California Santa Barbara's Department of Political Science.

- Mark 


Meme on President Obama's 2015 budget from the National Priorities Project.

Hat tip to Tom for the link.

- Mark 

Friday, November 21, 2014


The Federal Reserve recently said that they're "ready to end QE3, but not the QE concept." Huh?

When I first read this I thought to myself, "I guess that means we still have QE Eternity."

If you're one of the many millions of Americans (the vast majority) wondering what "QE" is all about think of it as industry gobblygook, or market-speak, for continuous bailouts. By easing a large quantity of money into the economy the Federal Reserve - with a wink and a nod from Congress - is trying to make sure that Wall Street's market players don't go bust ... again.

Of course, in addition to getting saved, the market players on Wall Street make a lot of money in the process. Whether Wall Street wants to admit it or not, it really is corporate welfare at its finest.

If you're wondering what QE looks like in graph form, the red and blue areas below represent what the Federal Reserve has been purchasing.

By purchasing toxic "assets" other market players won't purchase, the Fed is effectively dumping trillions of dollars into our economic system. In return they we get toxic crap (red area) and low interest Treasury bonds (blue area) in return.

In case you're wondering, yes, the process of dumping more than $4 trillion into our economy has also artificially inflated it. The chart below makes it clear that every time the Fed puts money into the system our markets do well. When they don't make purchases ... well you get the picture.

Final thought: We are living on borrowed time.

- Mark 

Thursday, November 20, 2014


To give you an idea of how much money we've turned over to Wall Street since the 2008 market collapse take a look at the picture on the right. In the top left corner we have a crisp $100 bill.

If we put 100 of these $100 bills together we end up with a stack worth $10,000, as we see to our immediate right.

Good so far? OK.

Right below the $10,000 stack we have a standard pallet stacked with enough $100 bills to make $100 million. The small stack in front of the pallet represents $1 million.

OK, now it gets fun.

If we put together ten pallets stacked with $100 million we have $1 billion (check out what you can buy with $1 billion dollars here and here).

The 20 pallets you see stacked on the trailer of the semi truck at the bottom (below the red flag) is worth $2 billion.

The smallish square base of pallets to the right of the semi truck represents $10 billion. As a point of comparison, the U.S. government will spend a little over six of these square bases - $64 billion - on traditional welfare programs (like TANF and HUD) programs this year.

The tallest stack of pallets in the picture is scaled to represent a 465 foot skyscraper, and is worth $1 trillion (with a "T"). This amount is about what the United States government owed on its national debt in 1981.

In case you're wondering, no, we're still not close to what we coughed up to Wall Street after they helped collapse the economy in 2008.

* * * * * * * * *

If you're still with me then you should enjoy (get teed off by) what's presented in our second visual.

Below we see four 465 foot pallet skyscrapers, and one smaller stack. Together these towers hold about $4.3 trillion.

$4.3 trillion represents what the U.S. government and the Federal Reserve dumped into the market to help stabilize Wall Street and America's financial institutions after the 2008 market collapse.

But we're not done yet.

Believe it or not, in spite of dumping $4.3 trillion into our financial sector, Wall Street has yet another financial lifeline.

In addition to the four towers of money we see above, we would need between $12 and $14 trillion more - or 12 and 14 more 465 foot skyscraper pallets full of $100 bills - to fulfill the lines of credit that Wall Street has been promised by the Federal Reserve and the U.S. Treasury Department. You know, just in case they need it, again.

So, yes, Wall Street has been promised between $12-14 trillion in financial guarantees for market bets that you and I ultimately get to backstop through the Federal Reserve and U.S. Treasury Department.

Let me make this point again. There is no domestic welfare program in America that comes close to sucking the trillions that Wall Street has been sucking out of America since 2008.

As an aside - and in the FYI category - the $4.3 trillion that we've handed over to Wall Street, plus the $12 trillion that is still available to the financial sector, far and away exceeds the $2.7 trillion that the U.S. Congress has borrowed from the Social Security trust fund. You remember, the $2.7 trillion that Washington says we can't pay back because it's too expensive.

Sigh ...

- Mark

Wednesday, November 19, 2014


As Presidents before Him, Obama Has Authority to Act
By Nancy Pelosi, Luis V. Gutiérrez & Zoe Lofgren / Oct. 30, 2014

Last year, the Senate passed a bipartisan measure to repair our broken immigration system and strengthen our economy. That bill would be law today, but Republican leaders in the House refused to allow a vote. Consequently, President Obama promised to use his authority under existing law to achieve reform. We do not know exactly what the President will do or when he will announce it, but we are confident he will act.

Some Republicans claim the President has no authority to act, but they are wrong. The fact is, just as presidents before him, President Obama has broad authority to make our immigration system better meet the needs of our country and reflect our shared values.

And every Administration since President Dwight D. Eisenhower has used executive authority to do just that.

In addition to taking steps to make our immigration enforcement efforts more humane, there are dozens of reforms that the President can adopt. Two that could have the greatest impact involve the expanded use of his deferred action and “parole” authorities.

Presidents have broad authority to defer removal when it is in the national interest, and past presidents have regularly used this authority. In the years immediately following the enactment of the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act, Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush took bold action to protect the spouses and children of people who received status under that law.

Although Congress explicitly chose not to grant status to these people – an estimated 1.5 million people – Presidents Reagan and Bush recognized that it was not in the national interest to separate families. Using their authority to establish a “Family Fairness” program, they offered spouses and children indefinite protection from deportation and work authorization.

Presidents have used this authority repeatedly in the face of congressional inaction. Dating back more than 50 years, presidents have granted Extended Voluntary Departure to nationals of more than a dozen countries, including Cuba, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Chile, Poland, Afghanistan, Ethiopia and Uganda.

President George H.W. Bush granted Deferred Enforced Departure to Chinese nationals after the Tiananmen Square massacre even though he vetoed a similar bill passed by Congress. Several years later he granted the same status to 200,000 Salvadorans.

Likewise, President Obama could defer action against persons who would be covered by the Senate-passed bill that Republicans blocked. Like Presidents Reagan and Bush, he could use his authority to prevent family separation – this time of undocumented close family members of U.S. citizens, lawful permanent residents, or DACA beneficiaries. Similarly, he could recognize that it is “essential for agriculture” that farmworkers who toil in our fields do so without fear.

Another broad authority under existing law the President has at his disposal is to “parole” persons into the country “on a case-by-case basis for urgent humanitarian reasons or significant public benefit.”

Once again, this authority is not unprecedented. Presidents Ford and Carter “paroled” into the country hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese.
Presidents Carter and Ford "paroled" thousands. 
Presidents George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush both used “parole” authority for families who were ineligible for or denied refugee status. President George W. Bush also created a program to “parole” into our country Cuban nationals who would otherwise be forced to wait abroad for a visa number. President Obama recently announced plans to create a similar program for certain Haitians.

Similarly, the President could “parole” into the country the spouses, sons, and daughters of American citizens and lawful permanent residents who face lengthy separation waiting for a visa. Doing so would not permit family members to skip the line, but it would allow them to wait in line with their family until a visa number becomes available.

Last year, the Administration also formalized a policy of paroling “in place” the spouses, children and parents of military personnel and veterans already here in the United States. Through parole in place, military family members who entered the country without being inspected may become eligible to obtain lawful permanent residence without having to leave the country for ten years. This corrects a gross unfairness in immigration law that overwhelmingly harms persons from the Americas.

The President can build upon his “parole in place” policy for military families to benefit countless other mixed-status families. He can similarly use this authority for immigrants whose talents are so great that they can create jobs here in America, who are part of significant research, innovative efforts or professional work that makes our economy stronger. These initiatives are of significant public benefit to our country.

Those who oppose immigration reform would have us believe that administrative action amounts to “rewriting the immigration laws.” We all know that no president can rewrite the laws. But it is important to remember that Congress and the Constitution give presidents broad authority to take executive action on immigration policy, and past presidents have used this authority generously. That President Obama has pledged to do so as well is not cause for consternation, but is consistent with a president’s well-established authority under existing law.

Although it is ultimately the job of Congress to reform our immigration laws, we nevertheless look forward to the President’s bold and meaningful action to improve the lives of Americans and immigrants alike and advance the interests of our nation.

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

Additional links on Reagan/Bush amnesty news here, here, herehere, and here.

- Mark 

Tuesday, November 18, 2014


- Mark


With the Federal Reserve turning 100 this week I thought it would be a good idea to share a few things about the Fed that most Americans never think about. The information below helps us understand why middle America is not doing so well in spite of record streaks on Wall Street, and record profits in the financial sector.

The sad truth is the Federal Reserve works for the banks - as the 2008 bailout demonstrated - and can create money out of thin air to help America's largest financial institutions.

From the "10 Things That Every American Should Know About the Federal Reserve" we also learn the following ...

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Did you know that the Federal Reserve is actually paying banks not to make loans?

It is true.

Section 128 of the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 allows the Federal Reserve to pay interest on "excess reserves" that U.S. banks park at the Fed.

So the banks can just send their cash to the Fed and watch the money come rolling in risk-free.
So are many banks taking advantage of this?

You tell me. Just check out the chart below. The amount of "excess reserves" parked at the Fed has gone from nearly nothing to about 1.5 trillion dollars since 2008....

But shouldn't the banks be lending the money to us so that we can start businesses and buy homes?

You would think that is how it is supposed to work.

Unfortunately, the Federal Reserve is not working for us.

The Federal Reserve is working for the big banks.

Sadly, most Americans have no idea what is going on.

Another example of this is the government debt carry trade.

Here is how it works. The Federal Reserve lends gigantic piles of nearly interest-free cash to the big Wall Street banks, and in turn those banks use the money to buy up huge amounts of government debt. Since the return on government debt is higher, the banks are able to make large profits very easily and with very little risk.

This scam was also explained in a recent article in the Guardian ...
Consider this: we pretend that banks are private businesses that should be allowed to run their own affairs. But they are the biggest scroungers of public money of our time. Banks are lent vast sums of money by central banks at near-zero interest. They lend that money to us or back to the government at higher rates and rake in the difference by the billion. They don't even have to make clever investments to make huge profits.

That is a pretty good little scam they have got going, wouldn't you say?

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

The Federal Reserve is currently giving billions of dollars away, in the form interest payments to banks who "deposit" money with the Fed. This policy was put in place well before 2008, and could cost the American taxpayer close to $80 billion.

In effect, what we have is another bailout program, sanctioned by the Federal Reserve, and winked at by the U.S. Congress.

The fact that few people understand how any of this works should be a problem.

- Mark 


- Mark 

READING FOR THE WEEK (Nov. 18, 2014)

The city council of Nome, Alaska wants to remove tax exempt status of nonprofits and churches (KNOM Radio Mission).

The United States is the developed world's second most ignorant country (Mother Jones).

Scientists are afraid to talk about the Robot Apocalypse, and that's a problem (Business Insider).

The 8 hour sleep myth: How I learned that everything I knew about sleep is wrong (Raw Story).


Half of U.S.-Mexico border now patrolled only by drones (The Guardian).

Illegal border crossings at lowest levels in 40 years (CNN Politics).

4 out of 5 drug busts on U.S.-Mexico border involves U.S. citizens (Center for Investigative Reporting).

Mexico reels, and the U.S. looks away (LA Times).

When government succeeds (NY Times).


How a European spacecraft has chased a comet for 300 million miles, and is now poised for a landing (CS Monitor).

European comet-landing spacecraft, now silent, was an 'incredible scientific success' (CS Monitor).

Meanwhile, in America, we're privatizing NASA and watching simple cargo rockets that we used to send in our sleep blow up on launching pads (BBC / Mark Martinez).


NC rejects Medicaid expansion, rural hospital closes, woman dies (Non Profit Quarterly).

This explains why the GOP wants to repeal Obamacare: Over 70% of Americans who bought health insurance policies through Obamacare rate their health care coverage as "excellent" or "good" (Gallup). 

The brazen messages among bankers that rigged markets and produced a $4.3 billion fine (WP).

Monopoly Men: How two billionaires are destroying high speed rail in America (ATTN).

After nonsensical comments on Net Neutrality, conservatives rage against Ted Cruz (Daily Kos).

Right wing freaks out over China-U.S. climate change deal (David Horsey / LA Times).

Republican Trey Radel busted on cocaine charge, voted for drug testing food stamp recipients (Huffington Post).


Are you a real SF Giants fan (CS Monitor)?

Which Beatles song describes your life (PlayBuzz)?

What type of Californian are you (Brain Fall)?

California water officials aren't following own call for conservation (Center for Investigative Reporting).

Out of the Box: 10 amazing underground homes (Details).

1912 eighth grade exam: Could you make to high school in 1912 (CS Monitor)?

Paying for college in 1978 vs. paying for college in 2014: Why almost no one can pay for college without going into debt (ATTN).

Roseanne destroys every Republican who just won the 2014 mid-term elections ... 20 years ago (Addicting Info).

- Mark 

Monday, November 17, 2014


After securing its charter in 1913, 100 years ago yesterday (November 16, 1914) the 12 cities chosen as the official "branch offices" of the Federal Reserve began operations.

Fast forward 99 years and we learn via Zero Hedge that by December of 2013 the Federal Reserve has over $4 trillion in "assets" to its balance sheet. Yeah, that's a "t" for a trillion.

If you're wondering, $4 trillion is almost the functional equivalent of one-quarter of all the goods and services that the United States produced in 2013 ($16.2 trillion). But $4 trillion is not a static number. By May 2014 the asset sheet of the Federal Reserve reached $4.3 trillion.

Today, the total value of what's on the books of the Federal Reserve now stands at about $4.5 trillion.

What this means is that the Federal Reserve has purchased about $4.5 trillion in contracts and other assets, which they would like you to believe are marketable, and hold real value in the market.

Here's the problem. If the products, or assets, they have purchased were so marketable why aren't market players lining up to purchase the goods themselves?

Good question.

Here's the answer: No one's lining up to purchase what the Federal Reserve is purchasing because the assets are either toxic crap no one wants, or they don't generate the kind of rate of return that market players want. Ergo, the Federal Reserve has to make these purchases to keep our market system from tanking, again.

Put another way, the successes we see in the market today are buoyed by trillion dollar purchases from the Federal Reserve. It's that simple.

So, what does the Federal Reserve get in return for the trillions that they've dumped into the market? Simple. The Fed's asset sheet is pretty much made up of the toxic crap we took off of Wall Street's books - which added billions in profits to America's financial sector - plus the U.S. Treasury Bills the Fed has been purchasing because few investors want to load up on T-bills that pay out less than 1 percent.

Happy Birthday Federal Reserve! It has officially become the Sugar Daddy of both Wall Street and our national economy.

Aren't free markets great?

- Mark 

Friday, November 14, 2014


For six years House Republicans couldn't pass a jobs bill unless it was drenched in poison pill tax cuts and more deregulation for corporate America. Well, guess what? They're at it again. Except this time they're doing the very specific bidding of the Koch brothers.

Today House Republicans approved the Keystone XL pipeline which will run Canadian tar sand oil, produced on land leased by the Koch brothers, through the American Midwest, and into U.S. ports in the Gulf of Mexico.

If built Keystone will generate perhaps $100 billion in profits for the Koch brothers, while making the American Midwest little more than the Koch brothers tar sand backyard.

Here's President Obama explaining in 30 seconds, and in very simple terms, what the Keystone pipeline actually does for America (Hint: Nothing) ...

To put not too fine a point on it, here's one artist's rendition of the Keystone XL pipeline project ...

The threat to the Ogallala Aquifer, which lies beneath 6 states, is explained here.

- Mark

Hat tip to Robin and Donna for the links.

Click here for Rep. Peter DeFazio's comments on the exemptions and legislative gifts (tax and "private taking" clause) that the Koch brothers get (as a pass?) from the U.S. Congress.

P.S. Here's Robert Reich's FB comments on Keystone, and the Koch brothers:

Question: Who’s the largest foreign lease owner in Canada's oil sands region of Alberta, Canada? Answer: Koch Industries, which holds leases on 1.1 million acres -- an area nearly the size of Delaware -- capable of producing tens of thousands of barrels of the region's thick brand of crude oil in the next few years. The Keystone XL pipeline will lower transportation costs for all oil sands producers, bolstering the Koch’s profit margins. Do you think this might explain why Republicans (as well as some Democrats like Louisana Senator Mary Landrieu) are so eager to have the pipeline approved?

Thursday, November 13, 2014


Real Americans don't participate in a decades long race to the bottom with the goal of making their ideas look better. Nor do real Americans make pledges that promise to undermine the President of the United States so that he and America fail together.

More to the point ...

- Mark

Hat tip to Cathee for the Reich quote.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014


Via Daily Kos ...

- Mark

READING FOR THE WEEK (Nov. 12, 2014)

87 years ago today (Nov. 12, 1927) Leon Trotsky was expelled from Russia's Communist Party.

Military personnel trained by the CIA used Napalm against indigenous people in Brazil during the military dictatorship years (Truth Out).

Proof that Obamacare "rate shock" is an ugly insurance company deception (Forbes).

Wesley Clark calls for a new national strategy to unite and move us forward (Politics USA).

Over the past 10 years the amount of solar power produced in the U.S. has leaped 139,000% ... America's solar boom in charts (Mother Jones).

Our national debt is approaching $18 trillion. You and your kids each now owe $59,041 as your share of our National Debt (Dave Manuel Debt Clock).

NY City adult home residents asked to repay FEMA aid (Associated Press).

It's still about race: Obama hatred, the South and the truth about the GOP victories (Salon).

Thank you Gerrymandering ... Michigan Dems got more votes, and still lost (Daily Kos).

White House Aide: There's no way the GOP will work with us (Mother Jones).

Democrats lost big ... Why President Obama should double down (The Nation).

Who lost? It was the Blue Dog Democrats, that's who (The Hill).

Robert Reich: Why the Democrats lost (Robert Reich).

Meet the Senate's new climate denial caucus (Mother Jones).

Surprise! This GOP Senator's theories about volcanoes and climate change are completely wrong (Mother Jones).

The billion dollar a month club: A runaway transfer of wealth to the already super rich (Buzz Flash).

Corporate America's oily trick: How big business uses "yellow-dog" contracts (with "forced arbitration" clauses) to crush basic rights (Salon).

Creditors use new technologies - which include devices that allow them to shut off cars - to put the squeeze on debtors (Al Jazeea America).

Mexican President Enrique Nieto Pena faces outcry over $7.7 million mansion owned by a company associated with Mexico's first high speed rail contract (The Guardian).

Protesters set fire to Mexican palace as anger over missing students grows (The Guardian).

New study says 'Medicare for All' would cover everyone, and save billions in the first year (Physicians for a National Health Program).

West Virginia police officer suspended (may resign) after throwing homeless man's backpack into the river. Backpack contained laptop with pictures of homeless man's late wife (Charleston Gazette).

Chuck Todd's true feelings about President Obama on vivid display in new book (Daily Kos).

Why we vote for judges - but should we (Politics USA)?

- Mark 

Tuesday, November 11, 2014


Drawing from my previous post, one could argue that Glen Miller's "modernization" efforts had a small hand in making music like this from the U.S. military possible ...

- Mark


As we celebrate Veterans Day I thought it would be a good idea to remind ourselves of people who actually went to war when they didn't have to, and perished in the process.

Unlike our modern day cowardly politicians, and blow hard media pundits who cheer every war opportunity without sacrificing anything, these are Americans who had fame and fortune but also believed they should contribute more to the cause. Not one of the three individuals below were drafted or forced to abandon the charmed and comfortable lifestyles that would be part of their future.

Glenn Miller was a band leader in the swing era. His career was beginning to sky rocket with still recognizable hits like "In the Mood" and "Moonlight Serenade." In 1942, while making between $15,000 and $20,000 per week (roughly between $200,000 and $300,000 today), Miller decided to join the war effort. At 38 he was too old to be drafted, and was initially told by the Navy that they did not need his services. He convinced the U.S. Army that they could use him to help "modernize" their music, which allowed him to serve by entertaining the allied troops.

Miller and his 50-piece band played across Europe, and perished on December 15, 1944 while crossing the English Channel to play in Paris. Glenn Miller is still listed as Missing In Action.

Pat Tillman was a football player in his prime playing for the Phoenix Cardinals in the late 1990s. After the 9/11 attacks Tillman left a lucrative career in the National Football League to enlist in the U.S. Army at the age of 25. At one point Tillman turned down a multi-year $9 million contract from the St. Louis Rams because of the loyalty he felt towards the Cardinals. Before enlisting in the U.S. Army Tillman also turned down a 3-year $3.6 million contract offer from the Cardinals.

Tillman joined the Army Rangers and died in the mountains of Afghanistan under circumstances - first called an ambush, and later labeled as "friendly fire" - that remains a mystery for many.

The Joseph Kennedy, Jr. story is a unique one because of his family connections and wealth. His father made a name for himself on Wall Street, and as Franklin D. Roosevelt's Ambassador to Britain. His younger brother, John F. Kennedy, would become the 35th President of the United States. A graduate of Harvard, Kennedy studied for a year at the London School of Economics before attending Harvard Law School. A delegate to the Democratic National Convention in 1940, Kennedy was already fabulously rich as a young man because his father, as the story goes, gifted each of his kids $1 million (about $17 million today) so they could make their own way in life, while telling the family to go to hell if they wanted.

Kennedy voluntarily left Harvard before finishing his final year in law school to join the U.S. Navy in 1942. There he completed 25 combat missions, and volunteered for Operation Aphrodite weeks before his tour was up. He died on a mission over England.

*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *

For those who didn't click on the Glenn Miller links above ...

- Mark 

Monday, November 10, 2014


After last week's election results, we now have several states where same-sex marriage and marijuana are legal. For my religious and conservative friends out there who think that this is a sign that the Apocalypse is upon us, think again ...

I know, I know ... but it's still funny.

In the FYI category, the Washington Post put together an interesting "Ven diagram" showing which states allow you to both smoke weed and get a same-sex marriage.

- Mark 

Saturday, November 8, 2014


- Mark 

WEEKEND READING (Nov. 8, 2014)

6 brilliant ways Sweden recycles its garbage (1 Million Women).

Glenn Greenwald and Snowden: 'Nobody should use Facebook' (Mediaite).

Playboy's top party schools (Playboy).

752 people have exercised their right to die in Oregon - why you've only heard about Brittany Maynard (QZ).

I think we should be looking at the dollar over a 20 year period, but what the heck ... "What the dollar's recent rise tells us about the global economy" (NY Times).

3 ways a strong dollar impacts the global economy (Barron's).

Sorry fracking enthusiasts, oil's price decline is wholly a dollar story (Forbes).

The South is essentially a solid, grim block of poverty (Huffington Post).

Paul Krugman divulges the real reason why the 'wrong about everything' party won (Alternet).

Working Class Voters In America: Why America's poor are willing to vote Republican (The Guardian).

2014 Exit polls (NY Times).

Chill out Liberals: The 2014 electorate was really old, and white (TPM / Slate).

How much difference did new voting restrictions make in yesterday's close races (Bill Moyers)?

Gerrymandering rigged the 2014 elections for the GOP advantage (Bill Moyers).

Meet your new craziest Republicans (Daily Kos).

Ted Cruz and Paul Ryan are so scared of Jon Stewart that they won't go on The Daily Show (Politics USA).

Opinion: Controller John Chiang drops bombshell on California public pensions (Sacramento Bee).

The size of the derivative bubble hanging over the global economy hits a record high (Global Research).

From the U.S. Senate ... an up to the minute count on the number of filibusters filed over time (U.S. Senate).

What Liberal media bias? Conservatives tip the scales to the right on Sunday talk shows (NY Times).

Mexico captures fugitive mayor, wife accused of ordering students' disappearance (Huffington Post).

Interesting numbers ... Thanks GOP, America's poor now worse off than citizens of Third World Nations (Addicting Info).

- Mark

Friday, November 7, 2014


Want to know why you didn't hear about this stuff ...

Then we need to consider this ...

A political narrative doesn't get created on its own. The groundwork has to be prepared for messages to be embraced, and acted on.

- Mark

P.S. Also, let's also not lose sight of the fact that Democrats across the country ran away from President Obama's successes, while ignoring the legacy of the Democratic Party. Yeah, our political players have to assume some of the blame too. 

Thursday, November 6, 2014


Let's assume states continue funding state colleges at the rate they do today. If they did, according to the Atlantic Monthly, it would cost the federal government about $62.6 billion to make college free for every student attending a public university in America.

If we can spend $85.4 billion fighting in Afghanistan, we should be able to find $60 billion to help educate our nation's future.

Want to know what else costs us $60 billion?

Rebuilding Iraq. We spent $60 billion trying to rebuild Iraq. That's money well spent ...sigh.

Extending the Bush tax cuts for people making $250,000 (or more) costs us $60 billion per year.

Two months of interest payments. About 2 months of interest on our national debt can be paid with $60 billion.

Tax loopholes for U.S. corporations cost us about $60 billion.

Medicare fraud. We lost about $60 billion to Medicare fraud.

We could feed the world for two years with $60 billion.

We could build high speed rail in Colorado for $60 billion, twice.

Overdraft fees ... over any given two years banks make $60 billion charging overdraft fees.

- Mark

ADDENDUM: One more thing. To date, the bailout of Wall Street has cost us $4.76 trillion, and counting. To put this in perspective, for what we've put into bailing out Wall Street we could have paid for America's college students to attend our public universities for free for the next 50 years, and still have well over $1 trillion left over for investments in our nation's infrastructure. Think about that for a moment.  


Too funny ...

- Mark