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EditorBlog (1459)

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

The Republican Party is conducting a war to keep college students from voting.

In GOP-controlled states, this war on college students is part of an orchestrated campaign to enact legislation that would limit a wide range of constitutionally entitled voting: from obstructing college student voter registration to making it harder for seniors, minorities - and anyone who is in a demographic group that tends to vote Democratic - to vote for the candidates of their choice.

Sunday, 25 December 2011 00:48

You Can't Giftwrap Love for the Holidays

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

The peace and love we claim to seek on holidays such as Christmas cannot be bought in a store.

You cannot put caring and compassion in a box and call it love.

That must come from within; it must come from an animating spirit -- call it God or call it the numinous spark of life, or call it both -- that flows from the heart.

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Just a few hours before John Boehner succumbed to the crushing establishment GOP pressure to agree to a two-month middle class tax cut and unemployment compensation extension, BuzzFlash at Truthout wrote the commentary below.  The BuzzFlash at Truthout analysis reflects why even the extremist Wall Street Journal editorial board scathingly attacked Boehner because the two-month agreement gives the Republicans a lot of running room to corner President Obama. Now, Obama has scored a temporary victory, but the negotiations on a full-year agreement -- given the inclusion of the XL Keystone Pipeline decision mandate in the two-month extension -- will put the White House in a very difficult political position.

Maybe it got to his head when one of the GOP Tea Party caucus members referred to John Boenher as "William Wallace" in the House GOP's "'Braveheart' moment."

That may be heady praise for a political leader, but maybe Boehner should have looked at the unseemly nose dive the career of Mel Gibson - who played William Wallace in "Braveheart" - has taken. Gibson can't even get a gig nowadays in "Springtime for Hitler and Germany."

By preventing a continued tax cut for middle-class Americans, Boehner led the Tea Party caucus on a kamikaze mission that went one hypocrisy too far.

When you have Republicans from Mitch "Moneybags" McConnell to Karl Rove condemning your obstruction of continuing a tax-cut for working-class Americans as of January 1, you've got a problem, Mr. Boehner.

Think of it as "Boehner's Choice."

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

You have to go back to 2010 and the Citizens United Supreme Court decision, which officially bestowed corporate personhood on campaign financing. The case was to determine whether or not a third party organization or corporation could pay for media (including advertising) that might affect a political campaign. The media in question in Citizens United was a movie that attacked Hillary Clinton.

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH FOR TRUTHOUT

Frankly, could the right wing play the victim card any harder?

From Rush Limbaugh to Glenn Beck to Newt Gingrich to Bill O'Reilly to Michele Bachmann, you would think that the "government" is mugging Americans, forcing them to have gay sex and indoctrinating them in communist ideology.

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT 

How would you vote on this constitutional amendment?

Amendment to the US Constitution: Any Tea Party Member Over 65 Who Denounces "Obama Socialism," But Threatens the Government "Not to Touch My Medicare" Should Immediately be Removed From Medicare and Placed Into "NewtCare."

Preposterous, ludicrous, unlawful?

Yes, such an amendment to the Constitution would be all of the above.

But polling of the GOP right wing this year has shown about 70 percent or more of likely Republican voters support alternative realities that are no less absurd.

The strict constructionist wing of the Republican party has shown its fidelity to the nation's founding legal document by proposing more amendments to change the Constitution than you can shake a stick at.

Now, Newt Gingrich is running on a platform that includes a promise to defy Supreme Court decisions that he disagrees with should he become president. The Los Angeles Times reports:

Newt Gingrich says as president he would ignore Supreme Court decisions that conflicted with his powers as commander in chief, and he would press for impeaching judges or even abolishing certain courts if he disagreed with their rulings.

"I'm fed up with elitist judges" who seek to impose their "radically un-American" views, Gingrich said Saturday in a conference call with reporters.

Of course, true to the nature of this year's GOP cavalcade of narcissistic hypocrisy, Gingrich sidestepped a question about healthcare reform that hinted at the reality of his campaign of public policy molotov cocktails mixed with high-octane ego and ubiquitous double standards. According to the LA Times:

But the former House speaker demurred when asked whether President Obama could ignore a high court ruling next year if it declared unconstitutional the new healthcare law and its mandate that all Americans have health insurance by 2014.

Perhaps the best alternative is to let all the seniors on Medicare who are "anti-socialist-medicine" use "RonPaulCare" instead. It was at a September Republican debate that CNN's Wolf Blitzer pinned Paul

Mark Karlin, Editor of BuzzFlash at Truthout 

More and more, the American economy appears to be boiling down not so much into the creative power of entrepreneurialism, but rather into who is conniving and ruthless enough to take advantage of institutionalized concentrations of wealth.

What does that mean?

It means that, perhaps, the majority of the super-rich get richer not by creating jobs or increasing the prosperity of the nation; they enhance their wealth by being the "Mack the Knives" of capitalism.

Mark Karlin, Editor of BuzzFlash at Truthout 

If Charles Dickens were alive today, he would get the Newt Gingrich seal of approval. Not the adult Dickens, but Dickens the child laborer.

Dickens didn't clean toilets, but as a 12-year-old who would later become the most widely read author in England - with a vast following in the United States - Dickens was forced to work in decrepit, unsanitary conditions.

The blacking-warehouse was the last house on the left-hand side of the way, at old Hungerford Stairs. It was a crazy, tumble-down old house, abutting of course on the river, and literally overrun with rats. Its wainscoted rooms, and its rotten floors and staircase, and the old grey rats swarming down in the cellars, and the sound of their squeaking and scuffling coming up the stairs at all times, and the dirt and decay of the place, rise up visibly before me, as if I were there again.

You can see Newt grinning at how misery and slave wages build character.

As a child, Dickens took this nightmarish and impoverished work because his father was jailed in the infamous British Marshalsea debtors' prison, and Charles' spartan wages helped pay for his dad's basic needs while at Marshalsea - as well as contributing to the care of the rest of his family.

Dickens grew up to deplore the exploitative working conditions of industrializing England - and social and economic justice became key themes in his novels and columns. He lived long enough to see the UK start to institute civilized standards of decency toward minors and debtors.

So, the author of "Oliver Twist" and "David Copperfield," would be - no doubt - astonished to see that in 21st century America not only do we have a serious effort underway to roll back child labor laws, but we also have the re-establishment of debtors' prisons.

According to ThinkProgress, we are experiencing, "The Return Of Debtor's Prisons: Thousands Of Americans Jailed For Not Paying Their Bills":

Federal imprisonment for unpaid debt has been illegal in the U.S. since 1833. It's a practice people associate more with the age of Dickens than modern-day America. But as more Americans struggle to pay their bills in the wake of the recession, collection agencies are using harsher methods to get their money, ushering in the return of debtor's prisons....

More than a third of all states now allow borrowers who don't pay their bills to be jailed, even when debtor's prisons have been explicitly banned by state constitutions. A report by the American Civil Liberties Union found that people were imprisoned even when the cost of doing so exceeded the amount of debt they owed.

Sean Matthews, a homeless New Orleans construction worker, was incarcerated for five months for $498 of legal debt, while his jail time cost the city six times that much. Some debtors are even forced to pay for their jail time themselves, adding to their financial troubles.

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT 

Mitt Romney, when governor of Massachusetts, showed how literally blind Americans are to the lie of "no new taxes."

And he did that by attempting to levy a "user fee" on being blind.

No, we are not making this up.

According to a report on NPR,

When Mitt Romney was Massachusetts governor in 2003 and faced with a $3 billion state budget deficit, he didn't want to raise taxes since that would prevent him in the future from claiming he hadn't raised taxes.

So he proposed new or increased fees, including a $10 licensing fee on the blind so a sight-impaired person could receive a state certificate of blindness.

Perhaps the biggest scam of the Grover Norquist "no new taxes" fervor is that the refusal of Republicans on the Hill to raise federal taxes leads to an increase in local and state taxes, including property taxes that heavily affect home-owning GOP voters in the suburbs.

More significantly, as Romney showed when governor, the "no new taxes" mantra at the federal level has a ripple effect. This results in "progressive" taxes that people pay based on income being replaced, in part, with regressive taxes and fees at the state level, including his proposed levy for being blind.

An Associated Press (AP) article from 2007 noted:

Bob Hachey, president of Bay State Council of the Blind, said that while the fees were relatively modest, they could have made life harder on blind individuals on fixed incomes. He said Romney's penchant for fees even earned him a nickname.

"We renamed him 'Fee-Fee.' He was so unwilling to raise taxes that he was wanting to put all these fees in place instead," Hachey said.

The AP detailed the "user-fee-as-flat-tax" strategy:

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

"We, the people" can restore democracy if we want it badly enough. But there's no standing on the sidelines allowed.

Occupy Wall Street has shown us that; the recall efforts in Wisconsin have shown us that; the landslide referendum defeat of Ohio Republican Gov. Kasich's anti-collective bargaining law has shown us that - as have so many more successful pushback activities at the state and local levels.

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