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MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

The creationist crowd does have some proof that Darwin wasn't right about every individual in a species. They are living proof: after all, they haven't evolved.

The other day, a very young boy in New Hampshire got the better of Rick Perry with a question about evolution: Perry responded, "That's a theory that is out there - and it's got some gaps in it."

Perry then went on to assert to the boy: "In Texas, we teach both creationism and evolution. I figure you're smart enough to figure out which one is right."

Except the US Supreme Court has ruled that it is a violation of the Constitution to teach creationism in schools.

Let's take another example that disproves evolution in the likes of Governor Perry. Texas has the third-highest teen pregnancy rate in the nation. When queried by an interviewer about why the governor supports taxpayer funding of abstinence education in the Lone Star State when it doesn't work, Perry adamantly defended the program. This is not only a Victorian outlook, it contradicts the right-wing notion that every government program should be judged by its effectiveness.

And then there's Michele Bachmann, who just this week stated that Americans are concerned about the "rise of the Soviet Union." Maybe she was confused because it is the 50th anniversary of the Berlin Wall being erected. As with most embodiments of creationism, Bachmann's frame of reference moves backward in time, not forward.

BuzzFlash at Truthout noted earlier this year, "a fundamentalist Christian may feel reassured that - at the Creation Museum in Kentucky - a dinosaur wears a saddle to show that all life began simultaneously with a divine spark."

Maybe the Creation Museum should replace the dinosaur with a wax replica of Rick Perry and put a saddle on his back.

Evolution, on its path to the future, just passes some people by.

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MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

The Texas State Board of Education declares war on the Declaration of Independence.

That's one perspective on the Lone Star State board that approves educational textbooks in Texas. After all, when you delete Thomas Jefferson - author of the Declaration of Independence - from the state curriculum, something un-American is definitely afoot.

According to a Washington Post column on faith, the board was also rejecting Jefferson's - and the Constitution's - guarantee of a separation of church and state, noting the:

board's 10-5 party-line rejection of a standard requiring students to learn that the nation's Founders "protected religious freedom by barring government from promoting or disfavoring any particular religion over all others."

Before that amendment was rejected, board member Cynthia Dunbar, a graduate of Pat Robertson's Regent University Law School, argued that the Founding Fathers didn't intend to separate church and state, but rather did intend to promote religion. The board approved her revisions, which included cutting Thomas Jefferson (author of the Declaration of Independence and promoter of the phrase "wall of separation between church and state"), and replacing him with religious figures such as St. Thomas Aquinas and John Calvin.

That this historical and constitutional revisionism comes from people who fancy themselves faithful to the founding fathers might appear to be evidence of historical psychoses. Unfortunately, such mental impairment in relation to the facts of America's revolutionary foundation will affect generations of students in Texas, and around the nation. That is because Texas is such a large school book market that publishers often adapt their textbooks to the Lone Star State standards, instead of creating separate editions for the rest of the nation.

It's also possible, as at least one analyst has noted, that Jefferson was removed from the curriculum because he was a deist, as were many of the great minds of the Enlightenment.

There is, perhaps, another underlying reason for the antipathy in Texas toward Jefferson. The third president of the United States was concerned that democracy might be corrupted and overpowered by businesses, in essence, "too big to fail."

"I hope we shall crush in its birth the aristocracy of our monied corporations," Jefferson wrote, "which dare already to challenge our government to a trial by strength, and bid defiance to the laws of our country."

One thing that you can say for the Texas School Board; it sure knows how to turn historical fact into radical partisan fiction.

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

How did Jesus go from being a socialist in the New Testament to a selfish Ayn Rand anarcho-capitalist in modern-day America? After all, one of the most well-known bible verses is from Mark 10:25: "It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God."

Sociologist Gregory Paul stated the paradox clearly in an August 12 Washington Post op-ed:

Many conservative Christians, mostly Protestant but also a number of Catholics, have come to believe and proudly proclaim that the creator of the universe favors free wheeling, deregulated, union busting, minimal taxes especially for wealthy investors, plutocrat-boosting capitalism as the ideal earthly scheme for his human creations. And many of these Christian capitalists are ardent followers of Ayn Rand, who was one of - and many of whose followers are - the most hard-line anti-Christian atheists you can get. Meanwhile many Christians who support the capitalist policies associated with social Darwinistic strenuously denounce Darwin's evolutionary science because it supposedly leads to, well, social Darwinism!

But Paul points out that the New Testament primarily promotes what would nowadays be called socialism:

But to understand just how non-capitalistic Christianity is supposed to be we turn to the first chapter after the gospels, Acts, which describes the events of the early church. Chapters 2 and 4 state that all "the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need ... No one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they shared everything they had.... There were no needy persons among them. From time to time those who owned lands or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales and put it at the apostles' feet, and it was distributed to anyone as he had need."

Now folks, that's outright socialism of the type described millennia later by Marx - who likely got the general idea from the gospels.

Paul further notes that "we have Christian creationists like Jay Richards writing books titled 'Money, Greed, and God: Why Capitalism Is the Solution and Not the Problem.' Can a stranger amalgam of opposing opinions be devised?"

In essence, the modern prosperity theologians who dominate the right wing of the Republican Party are essentially heretics. They've grafted on a post-industrial-age emphasis on the acquisition of capital and material goods to the alleged son of God, Jesus, who was himself essentially the father of socialism (as recounted in the bible).

At the next Republican debate, we would like to see a test of faith. All the candidates should be required to thread a camel through the eye of a needle.

If they can't do it, they have to shut up about Jesus, Christianity and the bible.

Now that would be refreshing.

 

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MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH FOR TRUTHOUT

While politicians argue about how to fix the US economy, many Americans don't even have enough money to fix their homes - and jobs for people who actually build real things (like houses and stores) continue to stagnate.

The evidence shows up in local stories like this one from The Chicago Sun-Times: "Elgin Lowe's store among seven closed." More than 80 people in the Chicago suburb have lost their jobs after Lowe's - the second largest home improvement chain - abruptly shuttered seven stores nationally.

Several factors contributed to the closing in Elgin, including "unemployment among Elgin tradesmen [that] is about 50 percent." That is because people can't afford new homes - and in many cases are putting off hiring contractors to do home repairs.

But what might be most troubling is that many Americans, suffering economically, may be putting off doing many home repairs themselves because of the cost of supplies.

The myth that somehow businesses will generate more jobs with higher tax breaks for the rich is a fiction created to fatten the wallets of corporate CEOs and shareholders. If there is less money for consumers to spend, stores like Lowe's close and jobs are lost, not added.

As BuzzFlash at Truthout noted before, the profit motive does not create more employment if there is not increased purchasing power.

By giving wealthy people more money, nothing is done to stimulate demand, except maybe for Prada and yachts.

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MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Increased taxes on billionaires don't put a damper on investment, and a billionaire should know.

That's what Warren Buffet lays out in a blockbuster August 14 op-ed in The New York Times, in which he begs Congress to stop tossing money at the wealthiest Americans.

Buffet makes the case that the decades-long decrease in taxes on the wealthy, including IRS provisions like low long-term capital gains taxes, are fundamentally unfair - and provide no boost to the economy. They just make the rich richer.

The facts and anecdotes Buffet refers to are so compelling that they most certainly will be dismissed by the Grover Norquist "anti-tax on the affluent cheerleading squad." Compare Buffet's cogent plea to be taxed more with Michele Bachmann's fatuous gobbledygook answer to a small businessman in Iowa who asked why big corporations don't pay a greater share of the nation's taxes. By the time you finish listening to her jabberwocky, you'll have a headache - which is something Congresswoman Bachmann can relate to.

Buffet doesn't mince words when he states: "My friends and I have been coddled long enough by a billionaire-friendly Congress. It's time for our government to get serious about shared sacrifice."

In an extraordinarily compelling fashion, Buffet reveals how the super rich get financial gifts from the government, while workers pick up the bill:

These and other blessings are showered upon us by legislators in Washington who feel compelled to protect us, much as if we were spotted owls or some other endangered species. It's nice to have friends in high places.

Last year my federal tax bill - the income tax I paid, as well as payroll taxes paid by me and on my behalf - was $6,938,744. That sounds like a lot of money. But what I paid was only 17.4 percent of my taxable income - and that's actually a lower percentage than was paid by any of the other 20 people in our office. Their tax burdens ranged from 33 percent to 41 percent and averaged 36 percent.

Indeed, it's the declining middle class that is paying for the lavish, gluttonous lifestyles of the rich and famous.

How radical and cultish are the declared Republican candidates for president?

The answer is clear from a question that came 48 minutes into the FOX sponsored Iowa "debate" on Thursday.

According to a TIME magazine blog of the event, the moderator, FOX's Bret Baier, asked "everyone to raise their hand if they would oppose a debt deal that offered $10 in spending cuts for every $1 in tax increases. Everyone raises their hand, though Pawlenty's hand bobs up and down a bit."

In one infamous moment of ignorant and cowardly group-think the radical and destructive financially anarchistic outlook of the GOP was revealed.

"No new taxes (or really no taxes)" has been the lynch mob call to arms (and votes) for national Republican candidates for years, but it has reached a feverish and pernicious pitch.

Think about it, all the GOP candidates for the presidency (and Rick Perry and Sarah Palin would have held their hands up too, you can be sure), would turn down, let's say, a trillion in cuts in federal spending if they had to also vote for just 1/10th of that amount in tax increases on millionaires and billionaires.

The rational responses to this craven tomfoolery are too numerous to detail in a short commentary. Suffice it to say, the anti-tax mantra has become a political/religious symbol that defies logic or common sense. In a time when the nation is beset by enormous financial problems, it is a placebo pill that removes the challenge of finding multi-faceted and inventive solutions to an immensely complex problem.

By raising their hands in unison in opposition to a modest increase in taxes on the most wealthy, big oil, and hedge funds (because that is whom a $1 in tax increases for $10 in revenue would likely affect), the GOP candidates affirmed themselves as snake oil salesmen. And snake oil doesn't' cure anything; it only enriches the person selling it (or in this case, might help them attain the power to run America).

As the TIME blog noted at 121 minutes into the exchange in Iowa, "Baier mercifully ends it all."

But unfortunately, it was only the debate that concluded. The long delusional nightmare for America continues.

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MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

So, what was Mitt Romney thinking when he responded to hecklers at the Iowa State Fair with the declaration that "corporations are people"?

He was proudly reconfirming the Citizens United decision and the Supreme Court view that corporations indeed share the rights of citizens.

Who will Romney call when he is in need of a friend's advice if he were president, GE?

Carol King many years ago wrote the popular song, "You've Got a Friend":

When you're down and troubled
And you need some loving care
And nothing, nothing is going right
Close your eyes and think of me
And soon I will be there
To brighten up even your darkest night

You just call out my name
And you know wherever I am
I'll come running to see you again
Winter, spring, summer or fall
All you have to do is call
And I'll be there
You've got a friend

How could large corporations that purposefully abandon Americans in need of work - in the pursuit of profit - be a friend?

Romney made his fortune, in part, by downsizing companies and putting US workers on unemployment.

Corporations aren't people; they are private institutions that are created for the financial benefit of owners and stockholders. They are large institutions that value money over people.

Maybe Romney has a shot of bourbon at night and socializes with his stock certificates. He must get a thrill out of cuddling up to his shares in - let's say - Wal-Mart or Goldman Sachs.

Because that's what friends are for: greed.

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MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Why did the right wing react with such ferocity to the Newsweek cover that featured a photographic portrait of Michelle Bachmann with "crazy eyes"?

The Republicans have packaged candidates for TV for decades and know the importance that appearance has over substance. Progressives tend to laugh at Bachmann's outrageous inaccuracies (watch this video compilation for examples).

However, in the television age, how a candidate appears on TV in terms of confidence, presence and reassuring personal image is of extreme importance, whatever their factual errors and even ignorance. No television image packaging represented this more than the Reagan campaign and presidencies. Like Bachmann, off script Reagan was often laughably factually inaccurate.

Bachmann, in general, has a positive television presence, even when she is spouting whoppers such as stating that the Revolutionary War began in New Hampshire or mistaking John Wayne Gacy for John Wayne. To the reptilian lizard mind, she is generally emotionally appealing and upbeat in her packaged TV appearances. In fact, she has a much stronger TV presence than Sarah Palin, who makes even some of her followers a little bit nervous with her edgy twang and often fumbling interviews.

So, it's worthy of note that a recent MIT study reaffirmed the importance of appearance and personal chemistry on television:

Frequent TV viewers who don't get any kinds of other political news are the voters most likely to be influenced by a candidate's physical appearance, a new Massachusetts Institute of Technology study shows.

"Voters who watch a lot of television but don't really know much about the candidates besides how they look are particularly susceptible," Chappell Lawson, coauthor of the study, told MIT News.

In fact, among uninformed viewers, the study estimates that "there was a 5 percent increase in support for that [high television chemistry] candidate from uninformed voters who said they watch a lot of television." That's a significant advantage in any election.

That is why the radical supporters of Bachmann were upset that the Newsweek cover, which she posed for, took a chip out of her visual brand image. The MIT study "suggests that the effect of television remains present but diminishes as voter-information levels rise."

In short, ignorance is bliss for a Republican candidate when it comes to modern-day television campaigns. And Michele Bachmann is counting on a lot of that know-nothingness in Republican primary voters.

 

 

 

 

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MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

BuzzFlash at Truthout proposed the other day that corporations should have their taxes increased to the highest possible level. But they could reduce those taxes dramatically: by proving that they have created jobs in any tax year and getting a tax credit for each new position.

There's only one very significant catch: the jobs must be created in the US, not overseas. If employers maintain their current workforce in America, they would also receive a tax credit. If businesses move jobs overseas, their taxes get raised higher depending upon the percentage of their workforce that is offshored.

Sounds like a sensible proposal. Create jobs in America and pay fewer taxes; move jobs overseas and pay higher taxes. Now this is where the rubber meets the road in determining who is really a domestic "job creator."

There is ample evidence that increased tax breaks for large corporations lead to two primary things: 1) expanding their workforce overseas, and 2) reducing their employees in the US and sitting on the profits. The stagnating unemployment crisis in the US is a testament to that.

An article in the Atlantic magazine from earlier this year provided ample evidence of this. Entitled "The Rise of the New Global Elite," it included the real "job creator" outlooks of the American global corporations. It noted the perspective of a US-based CEO:

The U.S.-based CEO of one of the world's largest hedge funds told me that his firm's investment committee often discusses the question of who wins and who loses in today's economy. In a recent internal debate, he said, one of his senior colleagues had argued that the hollowing-out of the American middle class didn't really matter. "His point was that if the transformation of the world economy lifts four people in China and India out of poverty and into the middle class, and meanwhile means one American drops out of the middle class, that's not such a bad trade," the CEO recalled.

Similar sentiments abound in the article. Thomas Wilson, the CEO of Allstate put it bluntly: "I can get [workers] anywhere in the world. It is a problem for America, but it is not necessarily a problem for American business ... American businesses will adapt."

No, large American corporations are not creating jobs in the United States to any great extent, nor will they in the future.

They should be taxed to the fullest extent possible until they start producing employment here in the USA.

TONY PEYSER FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

He’s trying to ease the tensions now

Eager to get Parliament’s backing

(And secretly thrilled this new crisis

Is unrelated to any phone hacking.)

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