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EditorBlog (1215)

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."

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

amineresisA Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected vehicleThe sheriff of Bastrop County, Texas, is a pretty happy man.

He just took possession of a Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicle for his police force.  It's a gift from the US military -- paid for by taxpayers -- part of a surplus giveaway program to police deparments.

Bastrop County Sheriff’s Office Lt. Joey Dzienowki told the Austin Statesman, “I look at this as the fire department looks at a new fire truck."  Gee, I wonder when the kids can get a free ride on the Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected vehicle, July 4th? "When it’s not in use on calls, the county’s SWAT team will use the MRAP in training and the county may display it at various events for citizens to examine," Dzienowki explained to the Statesman.

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

atransm12 30There's one overhwelming dirigible-size reason for-profit (and often monopolistic) utility companies -- that transmit and sell most of America's energy -- generally discourage, if not crush, residential solar (and other renewable) energy: fear of large scale loss of profit.

Last Friday, I wrote a commentary on a Hawaii for-profit electrical utility company that was taking new measures to dampen the selling (called "net metering" in the industry) of excessive solar energy back for distribution to other utility customers. The commentary was entitled, "Booming Solar Energy Halted by Hawaii Utility Because Sun Produces Too Much Power!" 

The BuzzFlash at Truthout column was based on information provided in a Scientific American (no bastion of leftist bias) article entitled, "A Solar Boom So Successful, It's Been Halted: Photovoltaics proved so successful in Hawaii that the local utility, HECO, has instituted policies to block further expansion." Thus far, the BuzzFlash at Truthout commentary has received 11,000 Facebook likes and a lot of shocked readers. 

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

asolpan33Let's try to summarize this astounding Scientific American article that symbolizes the tentacles of the fossil fuel industry and utility companies in perpetuating destructive climate change.

Actually, the header and sub-headline of the piece sum it up nicely: "A Solar Boom so Successful, It's Been Halted: Photovoltaics proved so successful in Hawaii that the local utility, [the Hawaiian Electric Company] (HECO), has instituted policies to block further expansion."

Hawaiian residents are investing their own money to save longterm costs and the environment.  The result is that they are producing a surplus of solar energy beyond what they can use in their homes.  This extra energy is supposed to be diverted back into the power grid to save money on HECO's reliance on oil and to reduce global warming.

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

awallstProviding additional evidence that the Obama Administration's Department of Justice (DOJ) is protecting "banks too big to fail," Pulitzer Prize winning financial reporter David Cay Johnston has revealed that the DOJ has refused to force JPMorgan Chase to comply with an ongoing investigation into the bank's possible knowledge of Bernard Madoff's fraud scheme of a few years ago.

The information obtained might reveal that the bank chose to financially benefit from criminal activity:

Bernard Madoff’s principal bank, JPMorgan Chase, has for years obstructed federal bank examiners trying to ascertain what it knew about his gigantic Ponzi scheme, an official document obtained by Newsweek shows.

The Justice Department refused in September to back up Treasury inspector general staff who wanted a  court order to enforce a subpoena, in effect shielding JPMorgan from law enforcement, the October 8 document shows.

The Justice Department told the Treasury Inspector General “that they were denying the request for enforcement of the subpoena,” which means officials “could not undertake further actions regarding this matter,” wrote Jason J. Metrick, the inspector general special-agent-in-charge.

Johnston disclosed the latest damning indication of the DOJ shielding Wall Street banks that dominate US finanes in a Newsweek article. The DOJ pattern of not exploring potential big bank criminal activity was admitted to by Attorney General Eric Holder.

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

ablacksantaIt's now just one of those everyday occurences that we have become accustomed to, like reading the sports pages to see what teams won and lost.  

Only, in the United States it's about who lost their lives in the ever unfolding toll of people shot to death -- or seriously injured -- with guns. Heck, it's really just filler for the newspaper or evening news now:

A 14-year-old Colorado girl mistaken for a burglar was shot and killed by her stepfather early on Monday morning at the home they shared, police said.

Police in Colorado Springs were called to respond to a report of a burglary on the city's north side and arrived at the scene to find the girl gravely injured from a gunshot wound, according to a police statement. 

The girl was taken to a local hospital, where she was pronounced dead, said police spokesman Larry Herbert.

There are countless variations: mass school shootings, domestic violence killings with guns, arguments over traffic accidents, accidental fatalities among young people, suicides, mall attacks -- and don't forget the casually reported, socially accepted decimation of minority communities by gunfire as if it was as culturally normal as buying groceries.

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

asnapIf you've been following forecasts of the next step in the continuing right wing arc of austerity -- including the recently passed budget in which the Democrats considered it a victory that they held off Republicans from establishing charnel houses for starving Americans to die in (an embellishment, but not far from the metaphoric truth) -- the forces of putting the poor on pitchforks and roasting them alive for being parasites are marching on.

In a December 19th New York Times op-ed, Timothy Egan takes note of the fire and brimstone hatred of the less fortunate in society by the rabid right:

As the year ends, this argument is playing out in two of the most meanspirited actions left on the table by the least-productive Congress in modern history. The House, refuge of the shrunken-heart caucus, has passed a measure to eliminate food aid for four million Americans, starting next year. Many who would remain on the old food stamp program may have to pass a drug test to get their groceries. At the same time, Congress has let unemployment benefits expire for 1.3 million people, beginning just a few days after Christmas.

Rand Paul and the Tea Party crew make Scrooge look like generosity incarnate.  Of course, Egan notes of execrable attitudes toward most of the people on the earth who haven't been able to partake of the good fortune of most of those in Congress, "Should I also mention that the median net worth for new members of the current Congress is exactly $1 million more than that of the typical American household — and that that may influence their view?"

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