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EditorBlog (1221)

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

awarren777Watching Elizabeth Warren speak on behalf of the working people of America on television is like reaching an oasis after a waterless wandering through a vast desert. Such was the case when she spoke with MSNBC's Alex Wagner about the GOP sinking an unemployment benefit extension in the Senate.

As the Political Carnival website described her TV denunciation of such a cruel action, "Elizabeth Warren kicks ass...again." (You can view the video of the interview by clicking the link above.)

Bernie Sanders, a self-described socialist-independent, has been a Jeremiah of rationality and social justice for years: first in the Congress and now in the Senate.  He had been a lone senatorial voice who thoroughly debunked the false right wing narrative of plutocrats pulling the economy up for everyone, pulverizing the notion of a trickle down theory.  

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

asocsec221 15According to RT.com, the 900 wealthiest Americans paid their full Social Security tax obligation for 2014 by January 2nd.

How is that possible?

As BuzzFlash at Truthout has pointed out before, there is an inexplicable cap on collecting Social Security tax above an income of $117,000 a year.  Most payrolled Americans pay 6.2 percent of their income into the Social Security Trust Fund (the employer pays another 6.2 percent).  But if you are a high-flying CEO who earns $50 million a year, $49,883,000 of your income is exempt from Social Security taxes.

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

abanker1 14

I got to admit that I keep a barf bag with me for everytime I see a member of the Wall Street 1% or a Republican poobah repeat their perennial meme of the wealthy being "job creators."

In fact, I avert my eyes and put my fingers in my ears now whenever that phrase pops up -- which is far too often, given that the right wing is very good at repeating memes sent to them from the authoritarian leadership and their masters of propaganda.

There are far too many ways to list how the wealthy are the real "takers" in our society, but I will take a stab at a few.  In fact, many of the jobs that they create are for cleaning up after the messes that they make.

Think about how many people were employed to clean up after the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, or on a smaller scale the many ongoing chemical and fossil fuel environmental catastrophes like the most recent one in West Virginia. Crisis management after these disasters means people are finally getting hired.

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

astoragta1 13According to the Charleston Gazette (West Virginia), "Freedom Industries, the company responsible for contaminating the water of 300,000 Kanawha Valley residents, was founded by a two-time convicted felon [and] benefited from the 2009 federal stimulus."

The Gazette identifies the co-founder as Carl Lemley Kennedy II. The Gazette also states that Kennedy, "In 1987 ... pleaded guilty to selling between 10 and 12 ounces of cocaine in connection with a scandal that toppled then-Charleston Mayor Mike Roark."  He eventually got his sentence reduced for his company related felonies by becoming a government informant to entrap cocaine dealers.

Although there are some signs that the water turned toxic by the massive chemical spill in the southern part of the state is becoming less polluted, nearly a third of a million West Virginia residents are still warned not to drink tap water for several days.

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR AT BUZZFLASH.COM

anopensecrets1 10According to a new analysis by OpenSecretsBlog, "Millionaires' Club: For First Time, Most Lawmakers are Worth $1 Million-Plus":

Of 534 current members of Congress, at least 268 had an average net worth of $1 million or more in 2012, according to disclosures filed last year by all members of Congress and candidates. The median net worth for the 530 current lawmakers who were in Congress as of the May filing deadline was $1,008,767 -- an increase from last year when it was $966,000. In addition, at least one of the members elected since then, Rep. Katherine Clark (D-Mass.), is a millionaire, according to forms she filed as a candidate. (There is currently one vacancy in Congress.)

Last year only 257 members, or about 48 percent of lawmakers, had a median net worth of at least $1 million.

Remember, of course, those in Congress who aren't millionaires have a very good chance of becoming ones after leaving office -- particularly senators -- by becoming lobbyists or working for corporations.

In short, we are ruled by people who have the perspective of wealth as something that they personally experience (or probably will if they aren't there already).

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

apartyis1 9A just-released Gallup Poll states it starkly:

Forty-two percent of Americans, on average, identified as political independents in 2013, the highest Gallup has measured since it began conducting interviews by telephone 25 years ago. Meanwhile, Republican identification fell to 25%, the lowest over that time span. At 31%, Democratic identification is unchanged from the last four years but down from 36% in 2008....

Americans' increasing shift to independent status has come more at the expense of the Republican Party than the Democratic Party. Republican identification peaked at 34% in 2004, the year George W. Bush won a second term in office. Since then, it has fallen nine percentage points, with most of that decline coming during Bush's troubled second term. When he left office, Republican identification was down to 28%. It has declined or stagnated since then, improving only slightly to 29% in 2010, the year Republicans "shellacked" Democrats in the midterm elections.

Regardless of the percentage of voters identifying themselves as Democrats remaining stable over the last few years, neither major political party should find comfort in the poll.

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

agovtrans1 8New New York Times (NYT) editorials have generally been more liberal in their outlook (although there are many exceptions to this, including its editorials supporting the Iraq War and Wall Street) than the news section that most often reflects an inside the beltway conventional wisdom perspective, it is still a red letter day when an editorial -- such as the one appearing on January 7th -- excoriates the president and attorney general for putting obstacles in the way of government transparency:

When President Obama took office in 2009, he promised an “unprecedented level of openness in government.” In a memo issued the day after his inauguration, he wrote, “The government should not keep information confidential merely because public officials might be embarrassed by disclosure, because errors and failures might be revealed, or because of speculative or abstract fears.”

In the latest reminder that the Obama administration has failed to live up to that promise, the Justice Department last week won its fight to keep secret a memo that outlines the supposed legal authority for the Federal Bureau of Investigation to collect Americans’ telephone and financial records without a subpoena...

Many other opinions remain hidden under the specious claim that they are only working drafts, not adopted policies, and that if officials must worry about operating “in a fishbowl,” they will avoid seeking legal advice altogether. This rationale is largely a pretext for putting an ever-expanding shroud over almost any controversial, and potentially illegal, government action. 

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

amediaTheaterPatriots who have come in from the dark. The unraveling of FBI surveillance and suppression of dissent that began with the burglary of an FBI office in Media, PA, in 1971.John and Bonnie Raines, now senior citizens, were known as a model Philidelphia couple and parents in the early 1970s. They were also ardent anti-Vietnam War protesters.

In a video assembled by Retro Report (an online investigative documentary reporting site) for the New York Times, John Raines states simply of that period of large-scale anti-government protests, "We knew the FBI was systematically trying to squash dissent, and dissent is the lifeblood of democracy."

William C. Davidon, a professor of physics at Haverford College, recruited the Raines and five other activists against the war to carry off a daring 1971 burglary of an FBI outpost office in Media, Pennsylvania, a suburb of Philly. Their goal was to expose the FBI as an agency that was conducting surveillance upon and interfering in the lives of citizens exercising their First Amendment rights.

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

alizcheney1 6Liz Cheney, Campaigning for the Senate in Wyoming Before She Dropped Out of the Primary RacePity the pro-war (with anyone who has oil or won't give sweetheart contracts to Halliburton), anti gay marriage Darth Vader voter in Wyoming.  Where are they going to turn now that Liz Cheney has dropped her senate bid?

Citing as yet unspecified health reasons in her family, Cheney announced on January 6th that she was dropping her bid to defeat an arch-conservative fellow Republican (Mike Enzi, seeking a fourth term) in what had become a highly divisive primary challenge. In fact, it had even split the Cheney family apart as Ms. Cheney adamantly opposed gay marriage even though her sister, Mary, is married to another woman, Heather Poe.  Papa Dick and Mama Lynne sided with Liz, creating a Grand Canyon schism in the Cheney clan.

Liz, who has been her father's alter-ego and fellow champion of oil empire for years, was facing charges of carpetbagging in Wyoming (yes, Dick was a congressman from Wyoming, but Liz, an Easterner, just moved from the DC suburbs to run against Enzi), according to the New York Times.

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

a240px-Seal of Kentucky.svgIn a recent National Journal article, journalist Beth Reinhold exposes yet again the politically destructive reality that many poor whites -- particularly in the South -- will vote for candidates opposing government safety net programs, all the while accepting or living off those programs.

Reinhold chooses Kentucky as her case in point, where Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell wages racial class warfare with his ongoing denunciation of government assistance to the needy. 

Unfortunately, poor whites have long been lured by the Pied Piper "welfare queen" image (a mythical black woman allegedly driving a Cadillac paid for by Medicaid and food stamps -- no, it doesn't make any economic sense; it's sort of like a Disney fantasy for racists), even when, as Reinhold points out "ample and objective statistics show...that most welfare recipients are white families with children, the stereotype of the welfare queen persists."

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