Facebook Slider
Optional Member Code
Get News Alerts!
EditorBlog

EditorBlog (1623)

EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

March18 liesWhy do US politicians get away with so much lying? (Photo: jaroh)

How can so many politicians in the US get away with blatant lying? After all, although the corporate media is not great at fact-checking, there are a number of sites, such as PolitiFact, that at least try to establish the truth (although one can argue that the site is not immune to bias).

Donald Trump keeps the lies coming quickly -- frequently composing them in just the few seconds it takes to tweet. It seems as if no one is vetting his Twitter account. Then, often, just a few more seconds or minutes pass before he slyly tries to qualify the original lie. As Mark Twain said, " A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes."

The use of lies in political campaigns -- particularly presidential campaigns -- is bi-partisan.

The tactic of the "artful smear" that Hillary Clinton accused Bernie Sanders of -- but has employed herself several times in the primary campaign (the auto bailout accusation against Sanders, the claims that he would eliminate Medicare and Medicaid, etc.) -- generally works because the refutation of a lie by someone running for the presidency almost inevitably gets less coverage than the original false charge. This is particularly true in a high-speed digitalized age in which presidential candidates seek to roll out fresh news items and attacks each news cycle. A well-placed lie spouted during a debate, for example, can be propelled into ongoing coverage in a later news cycle.

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

2016March17 godDo sanctimonious politicians invoke the idea of God so elected officials can perpetuate injustice under the cloak of piety? Just asking. (Photo: Visit W3Schools)

As we grit our teeth throughout this harrowing and bizarre presidential campaign (which effectively began more than two years ago), Donald Trump's narcissism and demagogic strategies have dominated on the Republican side. Nonetheless, almost all of Trump's opponents (present and past) have followed the GOP tradition of sanctimoniously evoking God as a stamp of righteous approval from the heavens. This year, there has been some surprise that evangelicals have voted in large numbers for Trump. That is because Trump represents a greed-driven lifestyle, spotty church attendance and a religion of money worship. 

Given Trump's bombastic vanity, it's not surprising that he asserts that he believes in God, but has never asked for God's forgiveness - a central element of almost every Christian denomination. After all, this is a man who -- although not Catholic -- denounced the pope as disgraceful.

Nonetheless, many of Trump's supporters bestow him with the mantle of God's and Christ's support, including Jerry Falwell JrThe Daily Beast reported in January that when Trump visited Liberty University, founded by Falwell Jr's father, Trump omnipotently pledged "to make God great again":

Jerry Falwell Jr., the university president and son of Moral Majority founder Jerry Falwell, introduced Trump to the crowd and left no doubt about his feelings for the golden-haired mogul. 

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

march16 lotsofcashPfizer plans to deprive US Treasury of an estimated $35 billion based on legal tax evasion scheme. (Photo: Steven Depolo)

The CEO of Pfizer Inc., Ian Read, received a "pay package [that] was valued at $18 million in 2015," according to The Wall Street Journal. 

The Journal notes that one of Read's top recent accomplishments is the planned "$155 billion combination with Allergan PLC" :

The Allergan transaction would form the world’s biggest drugmaker by sales and move Pfizer’s headquarters from New York to Ireland. Pfizer expects to cut its tax rate to 17% or 18%,from its approximate 25% rate currently, because corporate taxes in Ireland are lower than in the U.S.

In short, Read gets a 1-percenter salary for, in part, determining how Pfizer can stick it to the US taxpayer by sharply cutting tax liability to the US treasury. The process of a larger US corporation becoming a subsidiary of a smaller foreign corporation in a nation with lower tax rates is called legal "tax inversion." 

Pfizer's proposed action will proceed unless halted by the executive branch or congressional action (which is unlikely to occur in the near future). 

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

2016march15 trumppaintingThere should be little doubt that Donald Trump emulates the propaganda and crowd manipulation of Adolf Hitler. (Image: thierry ehrmann )

It would be unlikely that Trump shares much of Hitler's ideology. Trump is too narcissistic for that. However, the billionaire clown prince of branding himself indisputably emulates - to some degree - Hitler's strategy to turn a homogenous identity group with grievances into an emotional mob primed to explode. This includes techniques of vitriolic scapegoating, threats and acts of violence against dissenters and even a Hitler-style salute and pledge.

It's important to remember that Hitler first came to power through an electoral process, after a putsch attempt in the early 1920s failed. He promised the creation of an Aryan state of purity and prosperity, following the humiliating defeat of Germany in WWI and the onerous Treaty of Versailles terms placed upon it. Compounding the strain of its war debt, the German economy was in a desperate condition due to the international recession of the '30s.

A prescient September 2015 article on the If You Only News website provides context for understanding that, as overused as the Hitler analogy is as applied to Trump, it is hard to believe that the "master salesman and negotiator" would not be interested in the propaganda and psychological tools Hitler used to rise to power:

By 1932, a recently unknown party called the Nazis was somehow able to get 33 percent of the vote (a majority), and Hitler was then appointed head of the German government as chancellor.

The Nazi party and Hitler became wildly popular among German citizenry with the use of endless propaganda that included large amounts of money spent on campaigns filled with nationalistic slogans. These campaigns were then dispersed via newspapers, posters, leaflets, etc. Anything, really, to rally support behind their lies.

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

March11 zelaya2In 2009, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton supported the military coup that overthrew democratically elected reformist President Manuel Zelaya of Honduras. (Photo: coolloud)

On June 28, 2009, the Honduran military overthrew the democratically elected and modestly progressive president, Manuel Zelaya. He was forced on a plane and sent into exile. 

wrote a commentary on June 30, 2009, raising the issue of possible US influence through leading members of the Honduran military, who were trained at what was formerly called The School of Americas in Fort Benning, Georgia. I stated: "You can bet your bottom dollar there were a few American hands behind what happened in Honduras.  We just can't say just yet who they belonged to."

Given information that has been revealed since 2009, we now know a lot more about the US support for the 2009 military coup. Hillary Clinton, who was secretary of state at the time, didn't necessarily push the button that started it, but she was the Obama administration's most ardent advocate of keeping the military in power and preventing Zelaya from returning as a democratically elected leader.

The repercussions to Honduras of Clinton siding with the military have led to it becoming one of the most corrupt and violence-ridden nations in the world. They also reveal the deep contradiction between Clinton's espousal of democracy and the rights of women and children, and her neoliberal realpolitik interest in protecting the markets and profits of US-based corporations.

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aaaaaaaaaaaaacivilwarmarch10The Union and Confederate Armies may have signed an armistice in 1865, but the Civil War continues for the soul of the United States. (Photo: Alvin Trusty)

There is an uncivil Civil War taking place in the Republican Party.

In part, it is animated by whether the festering racism inherent in this nation's founding premise of white superiority -- a premise that fueled slavery and the decimation of Indigenous populations -- will resurface in a contemporary form of governance by bigotry.

Donald Trump's slogan, "Make America Great Again," contains demagogic appeal. It is a coded call to "make America white again": to ensure that it is a nation characterized by white patriarchal rule, the oppression of people of color, the condoning of violence to resolve perceived grievances of white privilege, the use of torture, and all the trappings of white settler colonialism.

The Civil War ended more than 150 years ago, but an armistice was never signed concerning the conflict over white patriarchal privilege.

Here's the essential conundrum: The United States was founded -- and the Constitution was written -- by men who rejected the notion of a monarchy, but believed in a federal government that was elected and run by white males. It was also "unified" with the acceptance of slavery as a practice in half the nation, along with the belief that killing off the Indigenous population was a patriotic act of expanding white civilization.

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aaaaaaaaaawaynelapierremarch9Caricature of Wayne LaPierre, CEO and executive vice president of the NRA. (Image: DonkeyHotey)

In a March 8 news release, the watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) charges the NRA with flouting IRS requirements to fully reveal political spending:

The National Rifle Association (NRA) failed to disclose more than $1 million in contributions to major Democratic and Republican leadership groups, bringing their total undisclosed political spending to nearly $60 million since 2008, according to a supplemental complaint filed today by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW).  This is the third complaint CREW has filed regarding the NRA’s political spending scandal.Between 2008 and 2014, five 527 political organizations reported receiving more than $1 million from the NRA which the gun advocacy group failed to note.  These groups were the Democratic and Republican Governors Associations, the Democratic and Republican Attorneys General Associations and the Republican State Leadership Committee, with the vast majority of the funding going to the Republican organizations.  These donations increased as time went on, from nearly $55,000 in 2008 to more than $225,000 in 2014....

CREW’s initial complaint found that the NRA appeared to have violated federal law by failing to disclose to the IRS $33.5 million in political spending between 2008 and 2013.  CREW then supplemented this complaint after finding an additional $25 million the NRA failed to disclose in 2014.  While the NRA admits its tax records are incorrect, it appears to have done nothing to correct them.

An article on the CREW website points out that the implications of the NRA's politcal spending extend beyond the federal level and into the states.

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaapovertymarch8Poverty is built into the current economic system in the United States. (Photo:Paul Downey)

In the last Democratic debate, held in Flint, Michigan - a city where, according to the most recent United States Census data, 41.6 percent of the population lives below the poverty line - presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders emphasized the importance of restoring the declining US middle class.

However appealing that almost universal bipartisan campaign meme is, it logically leads to a troubling conclusion: In order to have a "middle" class, one has to assume an ongoing "lower" class. In essence, a campaign promise to rebuild a "robust" middle class is based on the premise that a significant segment of people in the US will compose the bottom tier in the class structure - a tier that exists in a state of poverty.

As Critical Mass Progress Editor Nancy A. Heitzeg recently wrote:

Before the war on drugs became our national fixation, there was a short-lived, halfheartedly implemented war on poverty. Would that the same amount of resources and political will been expended here. But hyper-individualism, rampant capitalism, and a political discourse that persistently racializes poverty and stigmatizes governmental assistance continue to stand in the way.

We are left instead with the war on the poor...

The reality of course is that the over-whelming majority of the 47 million officially poor are there because of structure and policy - low wages, lack of affordable housing, a shrinking social safety net, a decimated public education system, a host of conservative and neoliberal "reforms" - not because of flawed personal choices.

Heitzeg goes on to write that poverty is often criminalized in a variety of ways, and certainly has become fodder for the vast expansion of the prison-industrial complex. In a BuzzFlash commentary today, law professor and columnist Bill Quigley also writes of the grotesque irony that corporations and the upper class make large profits off of those in severe economic distress. Quigley calls these predatory vultures "Reverse Robin Hoods."

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aaaaaaaaaaaaadukedavidmarch4David Duke (pictured above), former Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, has enthusiastically endorsed Donald Trump for President. (Photo: Mark Williams)

The most revealing and shocking poll finding, however is that "Nearly 20 percent of Mr. Trump’s voters disagreed with Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, which freed slaves in the Southern states during the Civil War." Yes, according to The New York Times, a Public Policy Polling South Carolina exit survey found that 1/5 of Trump's electoral supporters in South Carolina believe that slavery should not have been abolished.

Perhaps you can argue that some of the racist and white-first polling results are skewed because they are from the state that began the Civil War, but Trump has received support from white nationalist groups around the nation. It is also no coincidence that Trump did not initially renounce the support of David Duke and the Ku Klux Klan this past weekend - and has engaged in other wink-and-nod games with active racists by retweeting white nationalist groups' statements on his personal Twitter account. He has implicitly played to the sense of whites being the victims and targets of "the others" (but not victims of the oligarchs, of course).

One might propose that Trump doesn't regularly single out Black people for disdain and defamation (although it did not go unnoticed that he egged on violence against a Black Lives Matters protester at one of his rallies). That's because he doesn't have to. The support of David Duke and white supremacist organizations are indicators that the arch-racists of the US understand Trump's message loud and clear: By taking such a draconian and slanderous stance toward Muslims and Mexicans, among others, he doesn't have to defame Blacks. Trump understands that as many profane and despicable bridges that he has crossed, speaking like George Wallace would hinder his campaign and expose him to intensified media ridicule. That would result in the end of his free bullhorn publicity ride with the mainstream press, worth tens of millions of dollars in advertising.

However, the likes of David Duke and white nationalist groups - as well as your garden variety racist - know that Trump is only excluding Black people from his target list for strategic reasons.

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaafightterorThe Indigenous people of the Americas have been experiencing the terrorism of white settler colonialism since 1492. (Photo: Marc Moss)

The use of waterboarding at military "black sites," the horrors of Abu Ghraib, the midnight raids to kill and terrorize "suspected militants" in Afghanistan and Iraq, and numerous other instances of torture and abuse by the US military are well-documented. Indeed, the failure of the Obama administration to prosecute any members of the Bush administration for condoning torture - including the grotesque infliction of pain that resulted in the deaths of "suspects, " as these photographs from Abu Ghraib illustrate - is appalling.

It's been a remarkable feat of the government and corporate media that the question of prosecuting high-ranking officials for condoning torture and murder has barely been raised. Neocon proponents of torture claim that it is necessary to protect "the homeland," but that's a plot line for television shows, not reality.

Even a few years ago, when torture was regularly making headlines, the argument was over a very limited definition of torture - usually focusing on waterboarding. Yet torture has always been pervasive in the US. Torture was used on the Indigenous population whose land was stolen during settler colonialism.  Torture was systematically used against slaves, while slavery remained an essential economic engine in the United States (for nearly its first 100 years).

Page 6 of 116