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EditorBlog (1371)

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

amcdesThe first Ray Kroc McDonald's, preserved as a museum in Des Plaines, Illinois. (Photo: George)

The world's most iconic food chain is facing some dire statistical trends. According to The Guardian, "McDonald's has announced an 'urgent need to evolve' after unveiling another slide in worldwide sales, the ninth month in a row that sales have fallen at the fast-food chain."

McDonald's is so desperate that it has announced that it will cease using chicken treated with antibiotics that are also used to treat humans (because medical advocates have shown that the ingestion of such antibiotics in food helps develop an immunity to them, which negatively impacts their medical use). Alas, as befits the golden arches of cholesterol and fried artery-clogging food, McDonald's commitment is not to be trusted: The company made a similar pledge in 2003 but never came through on its promise. 

It hurts to be betrayed by the omnipresent, global symbol of US fast food; promises, promises.

McDonald's is reeling from trends toward healthy eating, as its fast-food franchise competitors shift from the model of "logo" eating to a model aimed at meeting evolving consumer preferences.

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

amayoronepercentMayor 1% has an attitude problem. DonkeyHotey)

It might be overreaching to assert that Mayor Rahm Emanuel is running for reelection in Chicago by showing disdain for all the residents of Chicago. After all, he is nicknamed "Mayor 1%," and he certainly represents the "masters of the universe" in the expanding the corporate sector in the Windy City.

The ultra-wealthy who benefit from Emanuel's neoliberal policies hardly comprise enough votes to ensure that Emanuel gets another term. That's one of the reasons he was forced into a runoff election scheduled for April 7, battling against the more progressive Jesus "Chuy" Garcia, who has held a number of elected positions in the city and is currently a Cook County commissioner.

Emanuel holds a slight lead over Garcia in recent polling, but that could be due to Emanuel's enormous campaign treasure chest of more than $30 million, according to The Chicago Sun-Times. Garcia, in denying Emanuel's reelection in the primary (where 50 percent is needed to be elected mayor outright) held Emanuel to 45.4 percent of the vote in a historically low turnout, even though Garcia (who received 33.9 percent of the primary vote) had only raised $1.3 million to run for mayor.

Garcia is returning to a slogan that propelled the beloved Mayor Harold Washington (whom Garcia supported) into City Hall in 1983: "Chicago [under Emanuel] is a tale of two cities." New York Mayor Bill de Blasio also used the slogan in his successful run for mayor of New York in 2013.

Emanuel's egregious assaults on the public commons and the needs of Chicagoans who aren't wealthy are far too many to list in this commentary, as are his instances of blatant crony capitalism. (Progressive author Rick Perlstein touches upon many of them in a February 25 In These Times article.)

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

afranleb2(Photoshop Image: LAProgressive Timeline)

A photoshopped image of journalist and author Fran Lebowitz (not to be confused with Annie Leibovitz the famed photographer) has been making its away around the internet. The image may be created on software, but the quotation from Lebowitz is unerringly accurate: "In the Soviet Union, capitalism triumphed over communism. In this country, capitalism triumphed over democracy.

Perhaps one can argue that there is still hope for democracy, the kind of faint pulse that an experienced paramedic detects when others have declared a person found lying in the street dead. Perhaps there is the chance that defibrillation or emergency surgery can yet resurrect an actual robust democracy and not just the appearance of one. In short, the last rites haven't yet been given to democracy in the US, but the priest is hovering near the body.

Lebowitz's quotation suggests the fundamentally overarching reality that a global oligarchical system has, at an accelerated pace, been steering democracies to achieve plutocratic goals. They are an unaccountable force deciding the future of the world's economy - and within that framework - it's political direction. Plutocrats, the likes of those who meet at Davos every year and those whom The World Bank and IMF represents, are the new superseding political force in the world. The plethora of trade agreements give corporations, for example, sovereign powers over certain areas. More significantly, economic issues favoring the ultra-wealthy and corporations are the key focus of governmental entities such as the G8 and G20.

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

annypdcarNYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton has been afflicted with Giuliani Syndrome. Symptoms do not include courtesy, professionalism and respect. (Photo: Dirk Knight)

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

abibiboehnerThe Dick Cheney of Israel and his co-conspirator, John Boehner. (Image: DonkeyHotey)

House Minority leader Nancy Pelosi was clearly furious in the wake of yesterday's speech by Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (Bibi). The Washington Post reported:

In a statement, Pelosi said she was "near tears" throughout the speech, "saddened by the insult to the intelligence of the United States . . . and saddened by the condescension toward our knowledge of the threat posed by Iran and our broader commitment to preventing nuclear proliferation."

Netanyahu's speech was made before a special session of Congress on Tuesday. Remember that Netanyahu violated protocol by accepting a prearranged invitation from House Speaker John Boehner (normally the Senate jointly issues such an invite - and the president is consulted) to address the session - which many Democrats refused to attend. 

Commentators have offered several reasons for why Netanyahu would make the unprecedented remarks he tossed into his speech - including his assertion that he "was betting the bank" that he could influence US politics and foreign policy, at the cost of alienating the president. Netanyahu was also taking the risk of choosing to side with Republicans as a permanent party allied with Israel, along with an additional pool of Democrats who follow the directives of The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC).

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

abillofantasyFantasy indeed! (Photo: bradalmanac)

Brian Williams' mendacious embellishments are starting to look minor compared to the surge of revelations that Bill O'Reilly lied about his experiences in danger zones. 

As The Washington Post reported on February 27,

O’Reilly has spent the past eight days vigorously defending himself on a variety of statements that don’t square with other eyewitness accounts. He has blasted and even threatened those who have called his comments into question, particularly Mother Jones magazine, which touched off the examination of his record with a story about his statements regarding his role in the aftermath of the Falklands conflict....

Fox News has stood by O’Reilly throughout the controversy, which appears to have bolstered his TV ratings. The network released figures Friday showing that his weekly audience grew by 11 percent compared with the same period last year.

A spokesman also reiterated the network’s earlier statement of support for its star: "Bill O’Reilly has already addressed several claims leveled against him. This is nothing more than an orchestrated campaign by far-left advocates Mother Jones and Media Matters. Responding to the unproven accusation du jour has become an exercise in futility. FOX News maintains its staunch support of O’Reilly, who is no stranger to calculated onslaughts."

O'Reilly's indignant, bellicose responses to the proof that he lied about several incidents - so as to enhance the image that he was an intrepid, fearless reporter - only enhances his role as the iconic TV defender of white male entitlement. If Fox is to be believed - which is a big if - his ratings have gone up among his primarily white geriatric male audience.

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

akochcarnivalThe cancer of the Koch brothers' ideology is metastasizing through the body politic. (Image: DonkeyHotey)

The Koch brothers' philosophy of the consolidation of wealth by the few is spreading like a cancer. Just look at how their hand-picked governor of Wisconsin, Scott Walker - who received massive financial backing from the Kochs - is now being touted in the corporate media as a Republican contender for president in 2016.

Walker, who never graduated from college (leaving Marquette University in Milwaukee for mysterious reasons), has mercilessly attacked education in Wisconsin - starting with the teachers unions and recently extending to the University of Wisconsin. 

On February 22, Kevin O'Marah wrote in a Forbes op-ed:

Gov. Scott Walker plans to cut $300M from the budget of the University of Wisconsin and, if he has his way, will alter its mission from a “search for truth” to “meeting the state’s workforce needs.”  These steps are so fantastically at odds with what the business community, economy and state need from its public university system that no synonym for ‘stupid’ is too strong.

It should be no surprise then that the newly inaugurated governor of Illinois, Bruce Rauner - a darling of the 1% - is metastasizing the Koch brothers' attack on an educated public

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aflagterror2The United States has a history of terrorism to atone for. (Photo: Petter Duvander)

The United States has some atoning to do when it comes to terrorism. After all, the history of the US is founded on the terrorizing and near annihilation of Native Americans. 

Professor Edward E. Baptist makes the case in a recent book, The Half Has Never Been Told: Slavery and the Making of American Capitalism,that the US relied on slavery - including Northern textile and other industries - to boost the nation into an economic power in the years before the Civil War. Can there be a more sinister form of terrorism than the theft, brutalization and "ownership" of human lives to secure a profit?

One could also argue that bombs, drone killings, endless wars for natural resources and hegemony using advanced lethal technology are forms of contemporary economic terrorism.

Recently, a particularly heinous form of terrorism related to slavery and racism - lynching - has been the subject of a study that indicates that the practice was more widespread than previously thought.

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

lethalinjection(Photo: Ken Piorkowski)

CNN trumpeted the news: "Weather threat postpones Georgia's first execution of a woman in 70 years." 

The use of lethal injection as a form of capital punishment was meant to make killing in the name of the state more palatable.After all, the image of someone bound to a gurney sighing before dying makes taking someone's life seem a lot more "humane" - on a visual level - than the image of a dangling body kicking and jerking during a hanging, or smoke and fire coming from a condemned person's head during an electrocution, or blood spurting from a body after death by a firing squad.

Of course, there have been several "botched" lethal injection executions in which the deaths have been prolonged and grueling. One cause of this: Since it is increasingly difficult to procure lethal injection drugs, some eager-to-execute states have been using "untested" combinations of drugs that sometimes have horrific results. According to a 2014 article on the website Cerca, 

After recently running out of supplies of pentobarbital, some states have obtained the lethal injection drug from compound pharmacies or are experimenting with untested drug combos.

Pharmaceutical companies worldwide have boycotted the sale of drugs used for executions to U.S. prison systems in recent years. Alternatives like the gas chamber or electric chair would be problematic for states and could "raise the spectacle" level, according to death penalty expert Richard Dieter. 

Compounding pharmacies aren't subject to FDA regulation, raising concerns about drug contamination. Lawyers for inmates allege pentobarbital can cause a possibly painful and prolonged death. Several states, including Georgia, have enacted secrecy laws around the origins of their lethal drugs.

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

agiulballoonsRudy G.: The Man Who Loved Himself Too Much (Photo: VictoryNH)

At BuzzFlash, we have long been critical of many of the key neoliberal policies of the Obama administration. The white House's positions on foreign policy and Wall Street, for example, have always embodied the consensus conventional wisdom of the duopoly - and that is not an expression of praise.

There are, of course, some relative differences between Obama and the GOP on several issues, such as the environment, the social safety net, job creation and a few social justice issues - but in large part, the gap is more of an intra-party dispute rather than an inter-party conflict. However, during the two terms of the Obama administration, the white Republican leaders, media and base have biliously attacked Obama and relentlessly impugned his "love of country." This has occurred despite Obama's aggressive support of the military-industrial-surveillance complex and the current financial system.

Of course, most readers of this commentary are aware that just a short while ago, Rudy Giuliani - a man inexorably in love with himself - told an audience of one-percenters in New York that, in essence, Obama is a traitor to the United States. Of all people, Fox's Megan Kelly's challenged Giuliani on air - and Giuliani responded by launching even more lacerating attacks on Obama's loyalty to the US (stating that he and his ancestors were associated with communists). Here is Giuliani's original statement at an NYC dinner honoring Wisconsin Governor Scott (Koch Brothers) Walker, as posted on FOX:

I do not believe, and I know this is a horrible thing to say, but I do not believe that the president loves America. He doesn't love you and he doesn't love me. He wasn't brought up the way you were brought up and I was brought up, through love of this country.

Kelly repeatedly pressed Giuliani if he stood by the accusation, which he did at that time. At one point Giuliani cut to the heart of the matter:

I don't hear from him [Obama] what I heard from Harry Truman, what I heard from Bill Clinton, what I heard from Jimmy Carter, which is these wonderful words about what a great country we are, what an exceptional country we are.

Giuliani is praising three white Democratic presidents, while lacerating Obama over the mythical notion of "American exceptionalism." At the heart of the notion of "American exceptionalism," of course, is the idea that the US was divinely chosen to be led by white Christians and to extend its empire of ruling elite values throughout the world.

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