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EditorBlog (1441)

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Given the daily lacerating commentaries on BuzzFlash at Truthout, you might not suspect that we have a sentimental side. Although, admittedly, there is a political/"social values" angle to our soft spot for the Obama marriage.

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

A short time ago, BuzzFlash at Truthout ran a commentary on how US global corporations don't give a hoot about increasing jobs in America.

In it, we included a section about how Silicon Valley high-tech companies, particularly Apple, use overseas contractors to manufacture their latest technological consumer products. It has been documented that some of these contractors create such harsh conditions and pay such low wages that workers have been driven to suicide, as The New York Times and other publications have detailed.

In a two-part Times expose, an Apple executive claimed: "We [Apple] don't have an obligation to solve America's problems." That was in response to Apple shipping so many potential US jobs overseas to these slave-wage sweatshops; e.g., "90 percent of the parts of an iPhone are made outside the U.S."

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

It was the photo seen round the nation - one that in a single finger-wagging gesture was a Rorschach test of America's "post-racial" society.

When Jan Brewer - governor of perhaps the most politically anti-immigrant state in the union (including most recently banning school books statewide that were Mexican-American related) - was seen in vivid color raising her index finger in high dudgeon at President Obama, the outpouring of racial animus that followed his election was distilled into one Phoenix sun-drenched tarmac moment.

Adding to the image of white backlash in a racially charged "post-racial" America, Brewer claimed that she felt "threatened" by Obama in their airport encounter.

It is worth noting that Brewer was supposed to be "welcoming" the president of the United States - as is the usual case when a president travels - not confronting him to, perhaps, increase sales of her book and fundraise off of the image of a white woman being "threatened" by a black man. Ironically, Brewer was carrying a handwritten letter inviting the president to lunch and a border tour, while acknowledging their political differences.

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

The birther movement is back, and its goal is trying to get President Obama knocked off the fall ballot in as many states as possible.

Sound preposterous? Well, the movement may be, but the strategy is for real.

Look at what is happening in Georgia.

Orly Taitz, the naturalized-citizen birther provocateur from Moldavia, is trying to get Obama thrown off the state ballot. Her argument is, yet again, that Obama is allegedly not a natural-born citizen, according to the constitutional requirement.

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Why do the Republicans and some Democrats in Congress enable the loss of jobs in America?

Perhaps it is because, as BuzzFlash at Truthout has noted many times, many of their corporate paymasters are now global corporations that don't really give a hoot about creating jobs in the US. As BuzzFlash has noted, the goal of a corporation - by its very capitalistic structure - is to increase profits, not increase jobs in America.

So, this is how it goes down. A company such as Wal-Mart expands overseas and creates jobs in other nations in two ways. It offshores its manufacturing to the lowest cost nations, where workers are often treated harshly for, at best, subsistence pay. Then it brings those goods back to the US where they are sold to Americans who economically can only afford items made overseas. The Wal-Mart customer may have lost his or her job because what he or she is buying is now made in China, for instance.

Meanwhile, Wal-Mart hires workers in the US at the lowest possible wages, many of them forced to go on Medicaid and food stamps to survive - in short, the government subsidizes the low-wage labor practices of Wal-Mart in the US. Wal-Mart isn't increasing exports from the US; it is increasing US reliance on imports.

Wal-Mart then also expands its stores, via free trade agreements, around the world, where goods are sold not generally from America, but from other low-wage nations. It creates jobs globally that don't benefit US workers to any great degree, just the stockholders of Wal-Mart.

The Wal-Mart heirs are among the richest persons in the world. Naturally, they give generously to politicians who support multinational corporations whose main job generation is in other nations. This completes the circle of what BuzzFlash has called the self-cannibalization of the workforce in America: working-class Americans economically forced to buy goods made by slave-wage earners in nations with few labor standards.

This is not just Wal-Mart. Progressives who love their Apple products and the Apple "brand" image of innovation contribute to this destructive cycle. There have been a number of recent stories on how Apple is a lead corporation in using overseas contractors who engage in exploitative labor practices - and all indications are that Apple, instead of improving working conditions, actually squeezes the manufacturers and assemblers harder each year by lowering payments or moving to even lower-cost and more abusive settings.

Indeed, even The New York Times has written two investigative stories on Apple's harsh working conditions in China. Reuters notes of the revelatory carefully-researched articles:

The New York Times published on Wednesday its second bombshell of a story on inhumane working conditions at Apple's Chinese manufacturers. So how will the world's most valuable company, notorious for its secrecy, respond?

So far, with silence.

You see, Apple is coming off of one of the most profitable quarters in corporate history, according to the Times.

And that is all the Republicans and many Democrats in Congress are interested in. Higher profits mean the rich (shareholders and executives) get richer and the politicians get bigger campaign contributions.

In his State of the Union Address, President Obama posed this challenge to Congress:

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

You may not think that you've heard a lot from the Occupy Wall Street (OWS) movement lately, but you have.

That's because the OWS campaign, although truncheoned and pepper sprayed out of its encampments, has profoundly influenced the presidential campaign this year.

PAUL BUCHHEIT FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Inequality is a disease of society, a cancer growing out of control at one end of the body while the rest of it withers away.

It's not just about the money, although income and wealth inequality have never been worse in the United States. It's also the pathological adherence to free market principles that have not worked for most of the country. And a bizarre idolization of the 'innovators' who have rigged the financial system in their favor.

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

The brazen hypocrisy of the GOP on sexual, religious and family matters has been a consistent source of bewilderment for BuzzFlash since the site was founded in May of 2000.

In fact, BuzzFlash (now a part of Truthout) began largely in reaction to the dissemination of a disingenuous, Republican, demagogic, political hypocrisy that is inexplicable on any rational level - and we've covered about every psychological theory that tries to explain how people who hold themselves out to be godly can be full of such hate, bitterness, greed and gross double standards.

In fact, during the last South Carolina debate, Newt Gingrich - who has made the alleged collapse of America's "moral values" one of his trademark "red meat" appeals - deflected questions about his Lothario, adulterer, callous "family values" behavior by attacking the press. Gingrich knows that lacerating the supposed "liberal media" rouses the Tea Party faction of the GOP like splashing a bowl of blood on a vampire.

Gingrich claimed to be "appalled" by the "destructive, vicious, negative nature of much of the news media." He called a panelist question about charges that he wanted an "open marriage" with his second wife (who was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis at the time), while he was having a multiyear affair with his eventual third wife, as "close to despicable as anything I [Gingrich] can imagine."

PAUL MUTTER FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

"Candidly, those who count on quote, 'Hollywood,' for support need to understand that this industry is watching very carefully who's going to stand up for them when their job is at stake," Dodd told Fox News. "Don't ask me to write a check for you when you think your job is at risk and then don't pay any attention to me when my job is at stake."

That's what Chris Dodd, the former Democratic senator from Connecticut, told Fox News in response to the furor that developed over SOPA/PIPA, the controversial copyright protection bills that critics have said provide for widespread Internet censorship and violate judicial due process. Dodd has also gone on the record complaining that in the entertainment business, "business and politics are divorced from each other."

Somehow, I don't think that was the problem the MPAA had with SOPA/PIPA. I think it had more to do with the scene described by the president of the National Association of Theatre Owners in the Wall Street Journal: "When my 21-year-old is calling me up asking me why we're shutting down the Internet, we've got a messaging problem."

Apparently, Mr. Dodd's invocation of sceneshifters and janitors deprived of income because people were pirating James Cameron's Avatar didn't overcome the generational gap, or placate concerns that the bills would effectively legalize widespread Internet censorship and 5th-Amendment abuses.

The forthright MPAA chief is now dodging criticism that his comments constituted extortion: vote the way we want or kiss your PAC donations goodbye. But it's not bribery or extortion. Those are criminal offenses. What Dodd has just described is lobbying, and it's protected free speech.

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT 

One thing that the GOP doesn't bring up much anymore is crime.

In the '70s and '80s, crime was one of the biggest red-meat issues that the Republicans demagogued about. An infamous political ad about an inmate released in Governor Dukakis' prison probation program probably (along with some other missteps) lost him the presidency in 1988. It was simply known as getting "Wilie Hortoned," named after the offender (in the attack ad), who was singled out as an example of "liberalism" molly coddling violent criminals.

However, the Republicans can't talk about being soft on crime anymore, because the US has the highest incarceration rate in the world. It's not just a penal system; it's an industry. And due to the aging of the population (young people commit most "crimes"), changing police practices and the locking up of so many poor people, crime in the United States is down - down dramatically.

A New Yorker article by Adam Gopnik, "The Caging of America," shockingly notes:

Over all, there are now more people under "correctional supervision" in America - more than six million - than were in the Gulag Archipelago under Stalin at its height. That city of the confined and the controlled, Lockuptown, is now the second largest in the United States.

And the toll on minorities is devastating:

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