Facebook Slider
Optional Member Code
Get News Alerts!
EditorBlog

EditorBlog (1738)

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

EWarren 0208wrp opt(Photo: Sen. Elizabeth Warren, by Tim Pierce)Yesterday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) refused to allow Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts) to criticize Trump Attorney General nominee Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Alabama). In fact, he invoked a rarely used Senate rule to force Warren to end her remarks prematurely, while she was reading a letter written by Coretta Scott King. MSNBC reports:

Warren quoted from a letter that Coretta Scott King wrote in opposition to Sessions, an Alabama Republican, during his attempted confirmation for a federal judgeship 30 years ago.

The letter said that Sessions, who was then U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Alabama, had used the "the awesome power of his office to chill the free exercise of the vote by black citizens in the district he now seeks to serve as a federal judge."

McConnell and other Republicans said Warren violated Senate rules. The rule, No. 19, says senators cannot "directly or indirectly, by any form of words impute to another Senator or to other Senators any conduct or motive unworthy or unbecoming a Senator."

MSNBC adds, "The Senate voted along partisan lines, 49-43, to admonish Warren." Thus, Warren was silenced and rebuked for speaking truth to power through the words of a great civil rights leader. In effect, McConnell and the Republicans in the Senate were also sanctioning Coretta Scott King.

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

2017.7.2 BF Karlin(Photo: Nate Bolt)

In a February 3 article on Truthout, Spencer Sunshine reported on a Trump administration plan that is circulating to roll back the monitoring and prevention of domestic white terrorism:

The Trump administration's reported new plan to change a federal program which combats violent "extremism" into a project focused exclusively on "radical Islam" looks like another step toward demonizing Muslims -- while adding to concerns that the administration will actively empower open white supremacist groups. Reuters reports that multiple inside sources say the Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) grant program will be being renamed either "Countering Islamic Extremism" or "Countering Radical Islamic Extremism."

Almost every year, the white supremacist movement is the political movement that kills the most Americans. (In the rare year that they don't come in first, they come in second.) But, for many years now, the federal government has refused to focus resources on violent far-right groups. Instead, efforts have been poured into surveilling the Muslim community at large -- even going so far as to entrap Muslims in order to arrest them.

Sunshine later notes:

Ignoring far-right movements seems to be a longstanding federal strategy

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

32477520531 9036c96038 z 1Betsy DeVos, Secretary of Plagiarism? (Photo :Victoria Pickering )

Maybe Donald Trump's Secretary of Education appointment Betsy DeVos thought she was just following the Trump inner circle standard.

After all, First Lady Melania Trump gave an inspirational speech at the Republican convention. Unfortunately for Mrs. Trump, her remarks were exposed to be largely the work of Michelle Obama: The remarks were plagiarized in large chunks. Melania Trump, ironically, pulled the words from a speech Michelle Obama gave at another convention: the 2008 Democratic Party gathering in Denver.

Trump surrogates defended Melania Trump at the time of her 2016 speech. According to CNN, Trump staffers twisted common sense into a pretzel to defend the current First Lady's theft of language. CNN quotes the current White House Press Secretary, Sean Spicier -- whose first public act in his position was to lie about the inaugural crowd size -- implausibly defending the plagiarized passages:

Sean Spicer, the Republican National Committee's chief strategist, [at the time of the 2016 Republican convention] invoked "My Little Pony" in defending the speech in an interview with CNN's Wolf Blitzer.

"Melania Trump said, 'the strength of your dreams and willingness to work for them.' Twilight Sparkle from 'My Little Pony' said, 'This is your dream. Anything you can do in your dreams, you can do now,' " Spicer said.

Apparently, Betsy DeVos also took up the "My Little Pony" logic, in her responses to senators' questions in the lead-up to her confirmation hearing.

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

32526771855 f1e4ccf6f8 zDonald Trump signing one of his recent executive orders. (Photo: Karl-Ludwig Poggemann)

 On January 30, President Trump signed an executive order that will make the United States less safe by rolling back regulations that protect the public. The best way to describe Trump's regulatory strategy is one step forward, two steps backward.

Robert Weissman, president of Public Citizen and chair of the Coalition for Sensible Safeguards, has written an analysis of the action, in which he states:

The idea that two rules should be eliminated for each one adopted has no rational basis. Rules should be considered on their own merits. Existing rules were adopted through a deliberative notice-and-comment process, subject in many cases to challenging litigation. Absent a showing that they are no longer justified, there’s just no rationale for why they should be eliminated to clear the way for new ones.

CNBC notes the appropriate concern of critics of the action:

Critics of Trump's economic and regulatory agenda have raised concerns that his administration will reduce protections for consumers and the environment in an effort to help businesses. Many of the specific regulations Trump has criticized relate to environmental protection.

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

3915102132 30858c9743 z(Photo: Aaron David Aznar)

Trump's strategy of creating an alternative reality based on "alternative facts" has apparently helped catapult a 67-year-old book that takes place in a totalitarian state, George Orwell's 1984, to the top of the charts. On January 25, USA Today reported:

George Orwell's tale of a sad, grim future, the book 1984, has experienced a recent resurgence, climbing to the top of Amazon.com's bestseller list of books....

It's in such demand that publisher Penguin has ordered a 75,000-book reprint, CNN reported.

The book's plot, as Penguin puts it, features the omniscient Big Brother, mind-erasing, a new language and thought process in a post-nuclear-war world. The publisher said Orwell's "vision of an omni-present and ultra-repressive state is rooted in the ominous world events."

Sounds familiar, huh? The current administration has forbidden climate change information on agency websites (including the White House's site), banned tweeting by government departments that send messages inconsistent with Trump administration policy (as it did with the National Park Service and other government departments last weekend), and ordered government scientists not to discuss their research work publicly. These are just a few examples of information suppression. By forbidding facts and research contrary to administration policy to reach the electorate, the Trump administration attempts to grant credibility to its lies, through repetition and the forced absence of real information.

 

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

13318663515 6f28038139 z 1(Photo: jaroh)

Push back against misinformation! Support real, independent media by clicking here to make a tax-deductible donation to Truthout and BuzzFlash.

What does Donald Trump stand to gain from repeatedly telling lies? For the answer, we can look to the Bush administration's propaganda campaign surrounding the invasion of Iraq: If you repeat a lie enough times, it becomes the truth to your followers, and even to some people who are more independently minded. After all, look at how the media and much of the public were persuaded that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction -- when even internal CIA intelligence reports were indicating that was not the case.

Therefore, it should be no surprise that Trump and his staff claimed that his inauguration crowds were larger than the DC Women's March and President Obama's inauguration, and that he keeps on repeating the claim despite evidence to the contrary. When Trump doubles down on charging that there were up to 3 million illegal voters in the last election and calling for a Department of Justice investigation, he is reinforcing a lie -- using the mantle of "justice" to further disseminate his prevarication. Of course, the fact that Hillary Clinton beat Trump by about 3 million popular votes in the election gets lost in the maelstrom of coverage over Trump's brazenly untrue illegal voter assertion. In The Hill, Jordan Fabian and Jonathan Easley wrote that Trump's assertion was a "baseless claim that widespread voter fraud cost him the popular vote in the 2016 presidential election." They noted that some Congressional civil rights leaders fear that the lie and pending investigation may be manipulated to use as an excuse for a further crackdown to keep legitimate non-Republican voters from the polls.

In a CNBC commentary, John Barry Ryan notes that Trump is facilitated in his lying by a base of supporters that is predisposed to believing him.

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

31706098183 351a70b9e2 zU.S. Customs and Border Protection Headquarters in Washington DC  (Photo: Mobilus In Mobili )

Push back against misinformation! Support real, independent media by clicking here to make a tax-deductible donation to Truthout and BuzzFlash.

The Guardian US, in an article following the historic Saturday march in Washington, DC, recounted the experience of a group of Canadians -- with two French nationals -- traveling in two cars to join the protest. The paper interviewed Montrealer Sasha Dyck:

Border agents first told the two French citizens that they had been denied entry to the US and informed them that any future visit to the US would now require a visa.

“Then for the rest of us, they said, ‘You’re headed home today’,” Dyck said. The group was also warned that if they tried to cross the border again during the weekend, they would be arrested. “And that was it, they didn’t give a lot of justification.”

Dyck described it as a sharp contrast to 2009, when the research nurse made the same journey to attend Barack Obama’s inauguration. “I couldn’t even get in for this one, whereas at the other one, the guy at the border literally gave me a high five when I came in and everybody was just like, ‘welcome’. The whole city was partying; nobody was there to protest Obama the first time.”

Meanwhile a January 21 CNN article recounted the experience of Canadian Joseph Decunha at a New York immigration checkpoint while driving with friends to Washington, DC, for the march.

Friday, 20 January 2017 05:48

A Worker Is Someone to See, Not See Through

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

terkelworking3Forty years later, Studs Terkel's book inspired "Working America." (Image: The New Press)

Commentaries like this one aren't funded by corporate advertising, but by readers like you. Can you help sustain Truthout and BuzzFlash by making a tax-deductible donation?

Many Wealthy Americans Look at Workers Every Day Without Seeing Them

That's the striking premise of a photo exhibition, "Working in America," now on display at the Harold Washington Chicago Public Library through the end of January. Jane Saks, who conceived and oversaw the project, told BuzzFlash that she wanted to create a presentation that compelled the viewer to interact with the large-format photographic images of workers as individuals, instead of viewing them as replaceable members of a mass indistinguishable workforce.

"I wanted to put the individual worker first, to make his or her presence in their images part of a larger public dialogue," Saks said. "Persons who come upon the exhibit in the library are compelled to engage with the worker as they emerge from invisibility. The large portraits put the individual forward first."

The photography, taken by American photojournalist Lynsey Addario, captures the personalities of people at work or in retirement after a lifetime of labor. The images are mute, but the "voices" of the workers -- their identities -- become present in the viewers' mind. To many wealthy Americans, laborers such as building engineers, bus drivers, and fast food workers, for examples, register as just background noise to the day. We don't give full personhood to the persons we are encounteri

Saks, who heads the About Project -- which "amplifies artistic voices...[that focus on] human rights and gender inequality" -- describes the exhibit as a being a tribute to the 40th anniversary of the publication of Studs Terkel's iconic oral history, Working. 

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

7811078716 e5ddeff985 zWhy didn't the DC Press Corps ask the hard questions in interviews with President Obama? (Photo: Marc Nozell)

 This BuzzFlash commentary was only published because of support from readers like you. Click here to make a tax-deductible donation and fund more stories like it!

On January 10, President Barack Obama gave a farewell speech before 18,000 people at McCormick Place, Chicago's convention center. Some media pundits called his remarks a return to Obama's Chicago community organizer days. However, a lot of the rhetoric sounded like political pablum. Consider this, from the official White House transcript:

The peaceful transfer of power from one freely elected President to the next. (Applause.) I committed to President-elect Trump that my administration would ensure the smoothest possible transition, just as President Bush did for me. (Applause.) Because it's up to all of us to make sure our government can help us meet the many challenges we still face.

We have what we need to do so. We have everything we need to meet those challenges. After all, we remain the wealthiest, most powerful, and most respected nation on Earth. Our youth, our drive, our diversity and openness, our boundless capacity for risk and reinvention means that the future should be ours. But that potential will only be realized if our democracy works. Only if our politics better reflects the decency of our people. (Applause.) Only if all of us, regardless of party affiliation or particular interests, help restore the sense of common purpose that we so badly need right now.

In a January 13 article, the Columbia Journalism Review (CJR) took the occasion to note that "for the eight years he was in office, President Barack Obama snubbed the Chicago press corps, ignoring repeated interview requests from local reporters in his adopted hometown."

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

2916200309 fe65dc6dce zThe myth of the "heroic savior." (Photo: cranky messiah)

There is a big difference between truly assisting marginalized groups and being a charitable "savior."

The latter label characterizes many people of privilege and nongovernmental organizations (NGO) that attempt to provide solutions for individuals and groups in need -- without listening to the voices of those whom they are supposedly "helping." This is the essential message of a book recently featured as a Truthout Progressive Pick of the Week: No More Heroes: Grassroots Challenges to the Savior Mentality, by Jordan Flaherty.

In an excerpt from his book featured on Truthout, Flaherty writes:

The savior mentality means that you want to help others but are not open to guidance from those you want to help. Saviors fundamentally believe they are better than the people they are rescuing. Saviors want to support the struggle of communities that are not their own, but they believe they must remain in charge. The savior always wants to lead, never to follow. When the people they have chosen to rescue tell them they are not helping, they think those people are mistaken. It is almost taken as evidence that they need more help.

The savior mentality is not about individual failings. It is the logical result of a racist, colonialist, capitalist, hetero-patriarchal system setting us against each other. And being a savior is not a fixed identity....

Saviors adopt trendy labels such as social entrepreneur or change agent. They preach the religion of kinder capitalism, the idea that you can get rich while also helping others, that the pursuit of profit, described with buzzwords like engagement, innovation, and sharing economy, will improve everyone's lives through efficiency. However, I stand with nineteenth-century novelist Honoré de Balzac, who wrote that behind every fortune is a concealed crime. I don't believe you can get rich while doing good -- wealth and justice are mutually exclusive. The more wealth exists in the world, the less justice.

In short, the savior or charity mentality allows the "giver" to feel righteous, compassionate and fair without having to engage in the hard work of achieving those goals by listening to the needs of people whom they are allegedly assisting.

Page 5 of 125