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MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

And if Romneycare saves lives in Massachusetts, then in his nomination acceptance speech he is, in essence, proposing more people die by repealing the Affordable Care Act?

Looks that way.

And that doesn't even include what a Romney-Ryan administration would do to Medicare; kill it, kill it, according to Paul Krugman.

 

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

If you don't know of the work of Hieronymus Bosch, he was a Dutch painter in the 1400's.  His most memorable painting was a panel depicting the grotesque punishments in Hell. Add to that the allegories of his Seven Days in Hell series.

There's no doubt if you had the delegates at the Tampa Republican confab pose for a group photo, you would see a sea of nearly all white faces smiling as if they were at a rotary club meeting on funny hat and vest day.

But beneath those affable-looking Caucasian visages are brains that house the deformed fantasies, driven by emotions rather than reason, that – as George Lakoff has observed about how the mind functions – don't allow the entrance of logic or fact.   What is created is a Bosch-like underside of roiling resentment, anger, greed, and whatever combination of seven deadly sins you want to put together in an a la carte menu of sordid human wickedness.

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"Hell" by Hieronymus Bosch

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

After 1972, as far as the conventions themselves, both parties decided that no more "messy surprises" would be allowed.  The quadrennial conclaves would become theater to influence voters, just like a Coca-Cola ad.  The candidates became products and the speeches became either pablum or red meat, depending upon the electoral game plans of either party.

Wistfully, Will Bunch of the Philadelphia Daily News concludes:

It’s been a long, strange trip in the decades since reporters saw Hunter Thompson peeling out from the driveway of his Miami Beach hotel in his red convertible, a six-pack of beer in the front seat. Democracy was in his rear-view mirror.

Now, democracy is too disruptive and "off message" to get in the way of the Republican and Democratic television shows.

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

 

As we noted before, all the American public -- who are being asked to vote for Romney -- can do is speculate about how little, if any US income taxes he paid over the years – as distinct from taxes in general.

Being interviewed in the friendly confines of FOX "News" by Chris Wallace, Romney proclaimed that "he wasn’t going to 'manipulate my life' just to become president."  This was his way of justifying not closing his Swiss, Cayman Islands and other offshore bank accounts.

 When a person runs for president and declares that he or she won't let being president interfere with their private financial gain, it's basically poking a stick in the eye of the American voter.

 

 

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

This is the skinny: lacking a majority of supporters for its extremist social and plutocratic economic policies, the Republicans can only win with three combined strategies: lie and make it appear that they support prosperity for all Americans; make appeals to racism and dividing the white working class (union vs. non-union); and suppressing the vote.

The New York Times posted an August 22nd article, entitled "Racial Comment by Republican Official in Ohio Rekindles Battle Over Early Voting." Being status quo doormats as usual, the Times wouldn't put "Racist" in its headline. But racist comments about the GOP effort to suppress the vote have been popping up like disfigured crocuses in the spring, including battle ground states such as Ohio, Pennsylvania and Florida.

Liberals deplore the voter suppression efforts, but there has been neither a loud outcry from Democratic and independent voters nor the White House – and I mean in the streets, civil disobedience outrage at taking away the right of United States citizens to vote.  This disenfranchisement of a fundamental Constitutional principle is being done only to help Republicans win elections, primarily at the presidential level.

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

 
After 13 years of editing BuzzFlash, few grotesque comments of the right wing rattle me.  By 2012, cynicism is a more likely bedfellow than astonishment.  After all, BuzzFlash began in 2000, at the dawn of the new millenium – with optimism that the promise of a new age would herald an age of economic prosperity for the many and the flourishing of democracy.
 
But the latter was quickly dowsed by the theft of the election by the Supreme Court in 2000 (with Republican voter suppression primarily through "caging" in Florida allowing the robbery of democracy to occur – remember that Al Gore won the popular vote by 540,000 votes).  The former, economic prosperity, quickly became a fast track to increased gluttonous wealth for the few, with the poor and a withering middle class left to wither on the vine.
 
And nothing much has changed –- in fact it has deteriorated – since that rare 1000 year symbolic moment of promise.
 
But Todd Akin's biologically bizarre statement about the diabolic notion of "legitimate rape" did me in.

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

  
GOP Uncle Todd "Fester" (Addams Family) Akin may have gone off the reservation by providing an imbecilic justification for supporting fetal person hood, but his partner in the House in advancing that concept is Paul Ryan.

And Mitt Romney is now supporting his running mate's and Akin's efforts to victimize raped women, given that he will be running on his party platform that accomplishes just that.

Law Professor Francis A. Boyle, a BuzzFlash at Truthout reader, sent this in an e-mail as an ominous portent of what may be in store for American women in the future:   

I was the Lawyer for all 40,000 raped women of Bosnia. They were all my clients. I argued their claims for genocide to the International Court of Justice in The Hague. I won two World Court orders to protect them. The great powers on the UN Security Council refused to do so. And every time I go back to Bosnia, I meet with these raped women, hear their stories, and give them words of comfort. There is nothing more I can do for them now beyond that. I no longer represent them. No one does. And no one cares. Not even their own government.
 
Is this where the United States is headed?

 

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Portraying a woman who is raped not as a victim, but rather as the bounty of the male has a long history in the United States.  It was something that was done regularly to slaves, Native-American women, and now to helpless women lured into sex-trafficking.

It also has long been tolerated in certain male dominated environments such as the Armed Forces, where we are currently seeing situations where rapes and sexual harassment are being less than vigorously prosecuted.

There are a lot of origins of this male justification of rape in the US, but the current incarnation is religious.  First of all, you have the conservative Opus Dei Catholics who value the "divinity" of conception over the violent assault on a woman. 

Then you have Evangelical movements such as "Quiverfull."  I interviewed Kathryn Joyce, author of a book on the movement, several years ago for BuzzFlash.  She wrote an engrossing account of women who vow a life of submission to their husbands, primarily for the purpose of being a vessel for bearing children.

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Last week, we posted a widely read commentary, "Did Romney Possibly Commit Fraud on His Income Taxes, But Received Amnesty?"

But there was another significant flare up about Romney's undisclosed income taxes last week, yet again.  The New York Times headlined it this way: "Romney Says He Paid at Least 13% in Income Taxes." The New York Times article of August 17 also this quotation and reporter interpretation, "'Every year, I’ve paid at least 13 percent,' he [Romney] said, referring to his effective federal income tax rate, which is a higher effective rate than most people pay."

There is a problem with the New York Times article and it is a big one.  Mitt Romney never referred directly to what he has or has not paid in income tax; he only referred to what he and his wife have paid in taxes in general over the last several years. (There is a second problem: The New York Times reporter implies that 13% is a high income tax rate.)

 

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

But, as Lawrence O'Donnell pointed out, the year 2009 even looms larger on the horizon.  (Remember that Romney has only released a 2010 income tax return with the vague offering to release his 2011 income taxes at some undesignated point in the future.)  Given that most of Americans paid their taxes by August 15th, the indefinite delay in sharing his 2011 income taxes raises the question of why he just won't release his 2009 IRS filing, which is completed.

Here may be the answer: Romney may have taken advantage of a 2009 IRS amnesty period to disclose income hidden in offshore accounts but subject to US taxation.  The amnesty offer allowed such persons to escape potential criminal prosecution for tax evasion.

Here is an example of what happened to one person who banked taxable income in offshore accounts to avoid paying US taxes, according to a law firm that specializes in such cases. It is entitled, "Additional Criminal Prosecutions for Undeclared Offshore Accounts.":

This week, Anton Ginzburg, another taxpayer with a non-compliant account at UBS, plead guilty in a Federal Court in New York to criminally concealing his account and failing to disclose the account on the required FBAR form.  This taxpayer faces a jail sentence of up to five years and a fine of approximately $1.5 million, constituting fifty percent (50%) of the value of the account during 2007.  In fact, the law allows the government to impose a 50% penalty for every year that the account was non-compliant, although the pattern in recent criminal prosecutions is that if the defendant enters a guilty plea, the government imposes a 50% penalty for one year.

This potential jail sentence and monetary fine stands in contrast to taxpayers who voluntarily disclose their foreign accounts.  A proper voluntary disclosure would avoid a criminal prosecution and jail time, and the fine would be capped at twenty five percent rather than fifty percent.

Indeed, even the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) information web page on the amnesty (which was re-instituted for part of 2011) notes: "Taxpayers with undisclosed foreign accounts or entities should make a voluntary disclosure because it enables them to become compliant, avoid substantial civil penalties and generally eliminate the risk of criminal prosecution."

 

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