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Guest Commentary (4643)

BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH

The New Apostolic Movement uncovered … and un-covered.

The mainstream media has plenty of time and space to devote to Sarah Palin’s Hollywood hi-jinks, but apparently has little interest in delving into her fantastic religious connections. 

BUZZFLASH GUEST COMMENTARY
by Marian Wang, ProPublica

If you haven’t already watched it, Marketplace has a great video explaining Repo 105, a shady accounting maneuver through which Lehman Brothers hid its financial troubles for so long before finally filing in 2008 for the largest bankruptcy in U.S history.

Repo 105 from Marketplace on Vimeo.

As business reporters sniff through Anton Valukas’ 2,200-page “coroner’s report” on Lehman, here’s a look at all the people who’ve denied they knew anything about the “Repo 105” scam.

This is the third installment of a project that is likely to extend over a two-year-period from January, 2010.  It is the serialization of a book entitled The 15% Solution: A Political History of American Fascism, 2001-2022.  Under the pseudonym Jonathan Westminster and fictitious biography, the book is purportedly published in the year 2048 on the 25th Anniversary of the Restoration of Constitutional Democracy in the Re-United  States.  It was actually published in 1996 by the Thomas Jefferson Press, located in Port Jefferson, NY. The copyright is held by the Press.  Herein you will find Chapter 2.

Chapter Two 

Fascism in America: An Overview

Author's Commentary:  How Fascism Came to the United States

      Many lengthy books have been written on the tale of how fascism came to the old United  States.  In this chapter I present a brief overview of the process.  Some further description and analysis of the nature of fascism and its advent in the old U.S. is provided by a Dino Louis essay reproduced in Appendix II.  [Editor's note:  This is presently available only in the print version of the book.]

      An ever deepening economic decline occurred in the country in the latter part of the 20th century.  The decline was not one that could be measured by the traditional yardstick of economic progress, the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).  It continued to rise at a modest, non-inflation-producing pace, the latter maintained for the benefit of the wealthy by the monetary policies of the central bank (the "Federal Reserve").  But an increasing number of economists and other observers came to realize that the GDP did not tell all there was to tell about either the economy or the state of the nation (Cobb, et al).

     As noted by Michael Lind, Dino Louis, Lester Thurow, and many other observers at the time, underneath the GDP climb, the poor were getting poorer and more numerous, the rich were getting richer, and everyone else was experiencing falling personal incomes and rising levels of personal and economic anxiety (DeParle; Phillips).  Lind called attention to the underlying reasons for this state of affairs, such as a regressive taxation policy and the export of capital (1995).

BUZZFLASH GUEST COMMENTARY
by Danny Schecter, author of The Crime of Our Time

The Big Short Is A Bit Short In Missing The Reasons for The Crisis: Michael Lewis’s Delusion Thesis vs Senator Kaufman’s Case for Crime

It’s the number one book in the county. Every day, Michael Lewis’s The Big Short is getting B I G G E R, no doubt because he is so mediagenic, conversational and likes to laugh with the hosts who interview him about his findings.

On Sunday, he laughed with Steve Kroft on 60 Minutes when the two bantered on about how about stupid it all was and why so many smart people drank the Kool Aid.  The story he tells has no hard edges really…it’s about “delusion,” Wall Street deluding us all and then each other.

BUZZFLASH GUEST COMMENTARY
by Nikolas Kozloff

With Britain now moving to explore for oil and gas in the Falkland Islands, Argentina has cried foul.  Buenos Aires claims that the Falklands, or the Malvinas as Argentines refer to the islands, represent a “colonial enclave” in the south Atlantic.  The islands have been a British possession since 1833, and the local inhabitants consider themselves thoroughly British. Yet, Argentina claims the Malvinas as the country inherited them from the Spanish crown in the early 1800s. In 1982 Argentina seized the islands but was later expelled by a British naval force. The war was short but bloody, costing 650 Argentine and 250 British lives.

Since then the Falklands issue has moved to the backburner, but now the two countries are again at loggerheads as a result of energy resources. That's because recently, the Brits started to drill for oil and gas beneath the Falklands seabed. But ominously, just 150 miles west of the British drilling, Argentine-Spanish consortium Repsol YPF also wants to drill, thus raising the prospect of a hydrocarbon race in the area.

There's a lot of oil and profits to be made here: geologists estimate that there are up to 60 billion barrels of oil near the Falklands. Britain is hardly the military superpower it once was, but would probably win another showdown. The Brits have an airfield on Port Stanley with four Typhoon jets and other air defenses. That's not very much, but the Royal Navy has already dispatched a submarine and other vessels to the area.

BUZZFLASH GUEST COMMENTARY
by Sue Wilson

Broadcasters are licensed to serve the public interest.   If a radio or TV station does not serve the public interest, the FCC can take its license to broadcast away, and give the opportunity to make millions using the public airwaves to someone else. 

Yes, we the people do have some power over what is broadcast in our own communities, at least in theory. But in fact, as shown in my film, Public Interest Pictures' Broadcast Blues, petitions to deny stations' licenses languish for years, and the FCC has no record of the last time any station's license has been pulled.  Even the case of a TV station that a court ruled deliberately distorted the news didn't meet the FCC threshold of not "serving the public interest."

It used to be that stations had to prove they were serving the public interest every three years;  now they just send in a postcard to get rubberstamp approval every eight years.   It used to be that stations had to produce hours of local community programming to satisfy their license requirements;  now, most claim they serve the public by producing local news.  And local TV news is key:  Pew reports 68 percent of people say local TV news is their primary news source.  So is local TV news serving the public interest?

Friday, 12 March 2010 04:20

Aren't We Cheneyed Out Yet?

BUZZFLASH GUEST COMMENTARY
by Laura Flanders

At what point do we call them the family of mass intimidation and simply stop playing into the Cheney clan’s tired old terror tactics?

Liz is the latest. Cheney child number one made the headlines this week, with an innuendo-laced video questioning the loyalty of lawyers who represent Guantanamo detainees. “The Al Qaeda 7: Who are they?" Asks the voice on a video released by Cheney's supposedly nonprofit, non-partisan new hit squad. (They call it an advocacy group?)

Liz is playing from a battered old family play book. Shortly after September 11, it was her mother out there, accusing people of lack of patriotism. Lynne Cheney teamed up with Senator Joseph Lieberman to release a report which accused colleges and universities of being the “weak link in America’s response” and naming 117 professors and students whom they called “short on patriotism" and "hostile to the US and western Civilization."

BUZZFLASH GUEST COMMENTARY
by Bill Moyers and Michael Winship

Living in these United States, there comes a point at which you throw your hands up in exasperation and despair and ask a fundamental question or two: how much excess profit does corporate America really need? How much bigger do executive salaries and bonuses have to be, how many houses or jets or artworks can be crammed into a life?

After all, as billionaire movie director Steven Spielberg is reported to have said, when all is said and done, "How much better can lunch get?" But since greed is not self-governing, hardly anyone raking in the dough ever stops to say, "That's it. Enough's enough! How do we prevent it from sweeping up everything in its path, including us?"

BUZZFLASH GUEST COMMENTARY
by Danny Schechter

The financial crisis started as a housing bubble with the financial industry convinced that home values never fall. How wrong they were even a they leveraged and securitized their investments to create a global crisis.

Now, brace yourself because not only isn’t over until its over but in some respects its just begun. There will be more foreclosures this year than last and as a result more suffering for American families.

Ed Harrison who monitors this industry for a Web site called Credit Write Downs sees a “second wave coming” -- like a new tsunami in a industry that all of Obama’s horses and all of Obama’s men have not been able to do anything about. The idea of challenging fraud and deception with a debt relief plan goes a bit too far for these self-styled centrists.

BUZZFLASH GUEST CONTRIBUTION
by Stephen Pizzo

Thanks to my trusty dog, Buster, I don’t have sleep with one eye opened or with one ear cocked for trouble. If someone decides to lurk anywhere near my house he lets me know -- loudly and persistently.  More times than not it’s just a neighbor or the UPS guy.

Nevertheless, I not only appreciate Buster’s enthusiastic embrace of his watchdog role, but I empathize with him as well. After all, for a quarter century I was watchdog myself, back when that was a reporter’s job. And back then I and my fellow news-dogs acted just like Buster. Sure, sometimes we barked up the wrong tree, at the wrong people for the wrong reasons. But more often than not we alerted  readers to things they didn’t know, had a right to know and needed to know. More often than now we took a bite out of some genuine skunks.

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