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EditorBlog (1586)

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

This past weekend in the Hamptons, the gluttonous orgy of Romney campaign fundraising among America's Marie Antoinette crowd was so brazenly contemptuous of non-millionaires that the only thing missing was a raffle prize for an offshore bank account in the Cayman Islands.

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

"We have always been at war with Eastasia," George Orwell wrote in "1984." That's the spartan message a women named Emily Othus e-mailed me in January, and it has been sitting there in my inbox like a chicken bone caught in my throat.

From time to time I would open the e-mail with fascination thinking of the bluntly eloquent analogy to the United States. After all, just replace "We" in the quotation with the US, and then fill in the blank for your replacement with Eastasia.

Let's try a few just as examples:

JEREMY BRECHER FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

A quarter-century ago, when "Save the Whales!" was a popular slogan, a New Yorker cartoon showed one whale asking another, "But can they save themselves?" In the early 21st century, experts and ordinary people alike are asking each other how we humans can save ourselves from the threats we have created. Front and center are the Biblical consequences of climate change -- the fires, floods, storms, droughts, and heatwaves -- that we are now witnessing daily. Close behind come the global economic meltdown, the growing division of rich and poor within and between countries, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, the pollution and overexploitation of local environments, and the synergistic convergence of these and other crises toward catastrophic global tipping points.

As the failure of the Rio+20 conference and a string of previous international environmental, economic, and security conferences from Copenhagen to Mexico City demonstrate, national governments and their leaders are incapable of seriously addressing problems that require global solutions. Is there another way for us humans to protect ourselves from mutual destruction.

We can glean part of an answer from the little known and often distorted history of the movement against nuclear weapons.

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

BuzzFlash has written several commentaries about how people below age 65 (and those over 65 who oppose healthcare for everybody but warn the government not to cut their Medicare) object to healthcare reform because they claim it doesn't affect them and they have the right to not be covered - and besides single payer is "socialist."

Most recently we challenged, "If You Oppose Single Payer Insurance, Take Your Parents Off Medicare and Pay for Their Medical Bills Yourself."  It must have hit a nerve because the commentary got nearly 4500 likes on Facebook.

The eve of July 4th gave me another thought on further extending these options for people who don't want health insurance to sign pledges which forbid the government from financially assisting them if they fall in dire need of healthcare and cannot afford it. We were having dinner at the house of some friends, and the husband mentioned that a young person at this workplace said that he was against the Affordable Healthcare Act because he was young and healthy and why should he support the medical needs of other people.

Beyond the selfishness of this attitude, beyond that his/her parents would end up paying out of pocket and going into debt if this generation greed young person became seriously ill, beyond that it is highly likely his/her grandparents are probably on Medicare, and that the only life the young person seems concerned about his/her own. Beyond all these considerations, there are the issues of personal accountablity and responsibility.

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF TRUTHOUT AT BUZZFLASH

Few have been more critical of the Tea Party and the Gun Zealots than BuzzFlash at Truthout. In fact, I personally have a 25-year history of national work on gun control. But is it possible that there may be some room for finding a few shared values between progressives and these generally noxious groups?

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Chicagoan Sam Zell is one of the multi-billionaires of the US. But there are so many Americans in the one percent with billions of dollars that Zell, poor soul, only ranks 66th richest person in America.

In 2007, he bought the ailing Chicago Tribune Company and promised he would use free-market and Murdoch-like pandering to the public to save the communications empire. Zell, formerly known as a Chicago icon of the one percent (albeit with a sort of eccentric streak), was now in the publishing and broadcast business big-time.

He made a splashy entrance to the traditional journalistic world of the Tribune Company when he lambasted a Tribune reporter for asking, in essence, if he was going to turn the Tribune into a tabloid. His response was brief. It ended with "F*ck You!" (It's all on videotape.)

Zell may be admired by the Chicago and national business press for his irreverent, edgy swagger, but his biggest accomplishment since taking over the Tribune Company has been the sale of the Chicago Cubs and the Tribune going into bankruptcy. (It should be noted that the Tribune Company also owns a number of high-profile newspapers, and television and radio stations around the United States.)

Now, it turns out that Zell has such disrespect for journalism that he is outsourcing some local reporting to a company that uses underpaid writers in the Philippines (and the US) to make it appear that they are actually Chicago Tribune reporters. (This is also occurring in other prominent newspapers.)

Last week BuzzFlash at Truthout appeared to be one of the only websites to notice that Barclays engaged in a pre-meditated fraudulent interest-rigging scheme that affected trillions of dollars in transactions - and got off with a $450 million fine but no criminal charges against the individuals involved.

As we pointed out in our headline above that commentary, you can go to jail for smoking pot (or kiting a couple of small checks), but apparently the Department of Justice believes that defrauding people in trillions of dollars of transactions is not a punishable crime for those involved in the Barclays executive suite

Today, it was announced that the chairman of the Barclays board resigned, but still no hint of any legal action against all those senior execs involved in the crime.

That's worth remembering given the announcement that the Big Pharma giant GlaxoSmithKline will plead guilty and accept a whopping "$3 billion to resolve federal criminal and civil inquiries arising from the company's illegal promotion of some of its products, its failure to report safety data and alleged false price reporting," according to USA Today.

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

I'm so sick of freeloaders on my tax dollars, aren't you?

So, I want to get a message across to those who are on Medicare, and to the children of those who are on Medicare, who oppose health care reform and Medicare for all: remove yourself from Medicare, or remove your parents from it and just pay for your/their medical services without me paying for them, all right?

Before, BuzzFlash at Truthout has made this request of Tea Party promoters of the oxymoron: "Down with socialized medicine and the government better not touch my Medicare." We've asked that those who have such outlooks to remove themselves from Medicare because we don't want them to be such hypocrites and make us pay for a healthcare program that they oppose for other Americans under 65, but support for themselves.

Now we are extending that challenge to Tea Party advocates and other Americans who have parents on Medicare, but who in their middle age oppose improving healthcare insurance - for even themselves (out of ignorance, it appears). To those middle age Americans with such an outlook, we ask that you remove your parents from Medicare and pay for their healthcare yourselves. Because we don't want to make a hypocrite out of you on our tax dollars by providing socialized medicine to your parents while you denounce it in principle.

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Okay, I am elated that another depressing right wing victory didn't occur this morning. By now, so many of us just expect that the thuggish plutocrats and their hired shills on Capitol Hill, and partisan hacks on the Supreme Court, will have their way with diminishing the standard of living of most Americans.

So it was with elation to learn that Chief Justice Roberts got some legal sense (although he did gut the Commerce Clause in the process) into his head and sided with a 5-4 majority upholding the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. That is what the healthcare reform law, now upheld, is called.

It is not "Obamacare." That is a right wing meme that I find repeatedly (and regrettably) used on progressive sites and in the mainstream media.

"Obamacare" is a Frank Luntz term to demean the many, many benefits of healthcare reform, including allowing states to institute a single payer system if they want. It implies that this law is a personal, vain, big government, tax the middle class agenda that will harm Americans rather than improve their access to medical care and make it more affordable - even for those with most health insurance that has increasingly high deductibles and more limited coverage.

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Okay, so the Associated Press (AP) just reported that "Barclays and its subsidiaries have agreed to pay more than $450 million to settle charges that it tried to manipulate key global interest rates."

That might seem like a lot of money, but remember that this is basically the shareholders of the bank footing the bill for criminal actions of the bank officers. According to the AP:

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