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MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

2016May10 rednosewal24A 2015 billboard promoting Red Nose Day, a corporate branding opportunity to allegedly reduce childhood poverty in the United States. (Photo: Steven Feldman)

Red Nose Day, which has an affiliated campaign in the UK, is described by its sponsoring organization, Comic Relief Inc. (which the Red Nose Day website notes "is not connected to the former American charity Comic Relief that was supported by Billy Crystal, Robin Williams and Whoopi Goldberg"), as follows:

Red Nose Day is a fundraising campaign run by the non-profit organization Comic Relief Inc., a registered 501(c)(3) American public charity. Funds raised go to the Red Nose Day Fund and last year benefited children in all 50 states and 15 countries internationally through programs to keep children and young people safe, healthy and educated. Comic Relief Inc. in the US and Comic Relief UK are independent sister organizations that are joined by their shared vision of a just world, free from poverty and the mission to drive positive change through the power of entertainment…

The US Red Nose Day initiative distributes the money it raises to charities in the US, including the Boys and Girls Clubs of America, Oxfam of America, Covenant House and the National Council of Raza. There appears little doubt from the statistics cited on the Red Nose Day website that some poor children are indeed aided by the Red Nose Day commercial tie-in efforts, and that some incremental good will come out of the initiative.

Red Nose Day is officially on May 26, when "a live 2-hour primetime television event that brings together the biggest stars for a night of fun and laughs” -- as described on the Red Nose Day website -- will air on NBC. In 2015, according to the site, "Red Nose Day raised $23 million, changing the lives of children all over the USA and around the world."

The campaign’s slogan -- "Laugh. Give. Save a kid" -- does raise pesky questions about a corporate promotional charity event that unabashedly offers to combine fun, comedy and helping "kids who need it most." That is because it does not appear that any systemic change results from Red Nose Day that would permanently reduce or eliminate poverty, and $23 million is a paltry amount, when a sea of transformative change is needed. Red noses are not going to eliminate, reduce or have a significant impact on the condition of youth poverty in the United States. 

Published in EditorBlog

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

2016may6 bclinton24Hillary Clinton has suggested that she might appoint her husband, who played a leadership role in championing trade deals that have hemorrhaged jobs from the US, as jobs czar to create manufacturing positions. Say what? (Photo: Eric Austin)

Politicians in tight spots often say the most puzzling things. While campaigning in coal country, where large numbers of miners are without jobs, Hillary Clinton has been met by grassroots opposition to her (hopefully accurate) comment earlier this year that coal, as a fuel, is on its last legs.

As Politico reported on May 2,

Clinton has faced increased scrutiny and backlash from coal-producing areas of the country after boasting at a March town hall, "We're going to put a lot of coal companies and coal miners out of business." Though she followed up by saying that the United States should "make it clear that we don't want to forget those people," the remark created consternation in the coal community. On Sunday, Bill Clinton confronted protesters in West Virginia unhappy with his wife's comments.

The Hill reported on May 5 that current polling shows Clinton potentially facing an embarrassing loss to Bernie Sanders in the upcoming West Virginia primary on May 10, but also confronting the possibility that Donald Trump could carry the state in November:

West Virginia is shaping up to be a terrible state for Hillary Clinton

Published in EditorBlog

Bill Berkowitz for BuzzFlash at Truthout

2016march28 justiceWhen will the mass media treat the Indigenous people in the United States with justice and dignity? (Photo: Thomas)

National stories about Native Americans are few and far between, and when they do appear, stereotypes generally prevail. In a recent Nieman Reports article, Jon Marcus reported on the deaths of several Native Americans at the hands of government officials; deaths that have basically gone un-or-under-reported:

* On a cold winter’s night in December 2014, a policeman who maintained that Allen Locke lunged at him with a knife, killed Locke inside his house at Lakota Community Homes in Rapid City, North Dakota. No charges were filed against the officer;

* In Denver, Colorado, Paul Castaway was killed “by police who said he was threatening his mother, though she argues that deadly force was unnecessary in this incident”;

* “William J. Dick III, a 28-year-old suspected armed robber … died in Washington State after a U.S. Forest Service agent shocked him with a Taser”;

* Larry Kobuk, 33, “died after being restrained by officers booking him into the Anchorage Correctional Complex on charges that he stole a car and drove it with a suspended license.”

It's not just police brutality and killing of Indigenous peoples that aren't generally included in ongoing national media coverage.

Published in EditorBlog

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahungerfoodWhy do right wing think tanks support government subsidizing corporations with taxpayer funds? (Photo: Propaganda Times)

Right-wing think tanks are often idea factories whose finished product is the peddling of cruel and soulless public policy papers and positions. 

Consider the upcoming implementation of a federal policy that - thanks to the "improving" economy - may cut off food stamps for as many as 1 million people, according to the Associated Press:

Advocates [for the provision of food stamps] say some adults trying to find work face a host of obstacles, including criminal records, disabilities or lack of a driver's license.

The work-for-food requirements were first enacted under the 1996 welfare reform law signed by President Bill Clinton and sponsored by then-Rep. John Kasich, who is now Ohio's governor and a Republican candidate for president.

The provision applies to able-bodied adults ages 18 through 49 who have no children or other dependents in their home. It requires them to work, volunteer or attend education or job-training courses at least 80 hours a month to receive food aid. If they don't, their benefits are cut off after three months.

Then consider the response of a right-wing think tank to this regulation, which is now kicking in, in many states, because of lower unemployment rates.

Published in EditorBlog

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aaaaaaaaaaaaaacllintonkissinFormer US Secretaries of State Hillary Clinton and Henry Kissinger at the 2013 Atlantic Council Distinguished Leadership Awards. (Photo: Atlantic Council)

In most of the post-New-Hampshire-debate punditry, a consensus seems to have emerged that Bernie Sanders won the domestic economic debate by appealing to aspirations, while Hillary Clinton beat him on gravitas and stature in the foreign policy field.

That "conventional wisdom," however, is morally bankrupt and tone-deaf. Why? Consider the fact that the corporate media hardly took note of Clinton's use of Henry Kissinger as a character reference for her self-proclaimed acumen as secretary of state. “I was very flattered when Henry Kissinger said I ran the State Department better than anybody had run it in a long time,” she proudly proclaimed Thursday night. 

Last year, I interviewed historian and author Greg Grandin about his deeply disturbing book about Kissinger's responsibility for the deaths of millions of people through the implementation of his cynical and duplicitous realpolitik, Kissinger's Shadow: The Long Reach of America's Most Controversial Statesman. I asked Grandin about a brief passage in the book concerning Clinton:

Mark Karlin: Help me out with this one. On page 223, you recall how in a 2014 review by Hillary Clinton in the Washington Post of Kissinger's latest book, World Order, she states that she "relies" on Kissinger for advice. You write that [Hillary believes that] "Kissinger's vision is her vision: 'just and liberal.'" Uh, what's up with that?

Greg Grandin: Well, Kissinger is 92, and at this point in life he is as much pure affect as he is power broker. The gestures Clinton mentioned in her review -- I rely on his council; he checks in with me and gives me reports from his travels - are ceremonial, meant to bestow gravitas. Ironically, the worse things get in the world, the more Kissinger's stock rises. He's seen with nostalgia by our political class, as a serious person who had a serious vision. Again, the reality is otherwise.

The headline for the interview was, "Millions Died Because Kissinger Prolonged the Vietnam War for Years After Betraying Peace Treaty."

Published in EditorBlog

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT 

aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaun32
The paranoid style in US politics extends much further back historically than the John Birch Society's campaigns. (Photo: Campus Liberty Alliance)

It's been a little more than 50 years since Richard Hofstadter, a former professor of American history at Columbia University, published an article in the November 1964 edition of Harper's Magazine entitled, "The Paranoid Style in American Politics." It set forth the historical argument for the persistence of xenophobic and conspiratorial fear within a significant segment of US white society.

The prescience of Hofstadter's commentary was extraordinary - although Hofstadter, who died at the age of 54 in 1970 - would probably argue that his theory was based on trends in US history and therefore was foreseeable. He might contend, perhaps, that he was not predicting the future as much as he was explaining how the Goldwater and John Birch Society followers, circa 1964, were rooted in the ongoing development of a distinctly fear-based strain of politics in the United States.

Hofstadter published his analysis of right-wing politics at the time of Barry Goldwater's rise to become the presidential nominee of the GOP in 1964 – and his loss to Lyndon Baines Johnson in that year's general election. However, Hofstadter's acumen is equally applicable to many of the Republicans who have been running for the party's standard bearer in 2014. Here is just a small portion of what Hofstadter penned in 1964:

If, after our historically discontinuous examples of the paranoid style, we now take the long jump to the contemporary right wing, we find some rather important differences from the nineteenth-century movements. The spokesmen of those earlier movements felt that they stood for causes and personal types that were still in possession of their country—that they were fending off threats to a still established way of life. But the modern right wing, as Daniel Bell has put it, feels dispossessed: America has been largely taken away from them and their kind, though they are determined to try to repossess it and to prevent the final destructive act of subversion. The old American virtues have already been eaten away by cosmopolitans and intellectuals...

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MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaemanuelChicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel protects the "police code of silence" that buries illegal actions among police officers. (Photo: Viewminder)

Racism is at the center of the ongoing police shootings, brutality, harassment and arrest of Blacks and other people of color in Chicago - and that includes a larger context of the city government's permissiveness toward the Chicago Police Department's plantation-style policing and lack of accountability in general.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel is currently going through a period of "reassuring" the public that he will "reform" the CPD. However, little note has been made of an important jury finding in 2012 that held the City of Chicago, under Emanuel, accountable for condoning and tolerating a police "code of silence" when it comes to violence and misbehavior toward citizens.

The civil case alleged Emanuel's administration, in essence, allowed the Chicago Police Department (CPD) to act with impunity and rarely took steps to hold officers responsible for murders, violence and brutality. In a December 2012 Truthout article, we noted that the jury found on behalf of a plaintiff who was pummeled in 2007 by a drunken off-duty cop, only to have his fellow officers cover up for him. From the outset of his mayorality, Emanuel's corporation counsel and police commissioner did nothing to compel the CPD and its members to reveal how a "blue curtain" that encompassed "the code of silence" came immediately into play after then-officer Tony Abbate viciously beat Karolina Obrycka, injuring her severely.

A local television reporter for the Chicago ABC affiliate - during the 2012 federal trial against the city - observed that the case was about Emanuel's and the city's tolerance of

the blue curtain, an understanding between police officers that they should cover for each other unconditionally and that testimony against a fellow cop amounts to a betrayal of their fellow bond. It is the underbelly of a police subculture that is rarely exposed to this day.

Published in EditorBlog

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aaaaaaaaaaaaapatriarchyThe patriarchal backlash continues. (Photo: Christopher Dombres)

Yesterday, we detailed recent overt racist statements made by Maine's Tea Party Governor Paul LePage.

The last 70 years of political history has seen a recurring backlash by a significant segment of the United States' white population against progressive advances, including: an increased number of rights for people of color, advances in rights and equality for women, steps toward addressing the degradation of the environment, recognition of a secular society and the promotion of alternatives to heartless capitalism. 

However, these steps forward have been the beginning of a process, not its completion. For more than two decades, progress on these fronts has run into a brick wall of opposition - and in many cases, a rollback of rights and freedoms.

This backlash has consistently returned to the assertion of white Christian male privilege. That in large part explains why Donald Trump used his media celebrity status to make a national event out of John Wayne's daughter, Aissa Wayne, endorsing him in "the Duke's" hometown last week in Winterset, Iowa. Here was a woman endorsing Trump on behalf of the mythical, patriarchal, racist and - of course - sexist Wayne.

When it comes to women, Trump's misogynist attacks on Fox anchor Megyn Kelly - including his boycott of the GOP debate last night, supposedly because she was a moderator - and his sneering remarks about Hillary Clinton's biological functions as a woman (as well as Kelly's) - are representative of white male patriarchal revulsion at the advancement of women.

One of the most visibly ongoing assaults on women is the neverending attack on a woman's right to choose an abortion. This has most recently been evident during the right wing's rampage against Planned Parenthood, which has employed doctored videos to make evidence-less allegations against the organization. Of course, as the Voice of America reports today, a "panel clears Planned Parenthood, [and a Texas grand jury] charges its accusers [two people who took the disputed videos]."  

Published in EditorBlog

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaalepageMaine Tea Party Governor Paul LePage openly reveals the racism that festers on the underside of the US "post-racial" narrative.(Photo:DonkeyHotey)

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Every once in awhile, the coded rhetoric and pernicious practices embedded in institutional racism in the US break through the surface and are revealed as explicit bigotry.

CNN began a January 27 article with this grotesque proposal from the governor of the nation's most northeastern state, "Maine Gov. Paul LePage says his state is too easy on drug crimes, suggesting it should bring back the guillotine for serious offenders." How is that grisly public policy proposal directly connected to unvarnished racism? 

Before we answer that, let's provide some context.

LePage is in his second term as the Tea Party governor of Maine. He has, as Jim Hightower pointed out in 2011, been true to the basest politics of his followers :

LePage's rampage includes busting unions, rolling back child labor laws, gutting programs for the middle class and poor, and raising the retirement age for Maine workers--all in his first few weeks in office.

Then, in late March [of 2011], LePage made his grab for gold-plated goofy greatness. As widely reported, the potentate of the Pine Tree State ordered that a 36-foot-wide mural be removed from the state's Department of Labor building. The work of art depicts historical scenes of Maine workers, but it seems that the governor and certain unnamed corporate backers found the painting too favorable toward laboring people, so--POOF!--it was summarily disappeared into a storeroom.

The Tea Party is also constructed on a sense of white entitlement, and LePage has certainly perpetuated that ignominious outlook.

Published in EditorBlog

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaadinosaursaddleA dinosaur all saddled up at the Creation Museum in Kentucky. (Photo: William Clifford)

Will the Creation Museum, located in Kentucky, receive state taxpayer funding despite discriminatory hiring practices? The answer looks like it will be "yes." The state has announced it will not appeal a federal judge's ruling that state tourism financial incentives (in this case, up to $18 million in the form of a sales tax rebate) must be granted for a museum expansion to simulate Noah's Ark. 

According to a January 26 article in the Lawyer Herald:

Kentucky officials won't fight a federal court ruling after a religious group won a legal battle of the state's withdrawal of a potential tax incentive. On Tuesday, Republican Gov. Matt Bevin said that the state will not submit an appeal against a Christian theme park which features a 510-foot-long Noah's Ark.

Gov. Matt Bevin, a spokeswoman of Kentucky Republican stated that the new governor's administration is pleased with the ruling of US District Judge Greg Van Tatenhove.

Bevin is a Tea Party adherent who replaced a Democratic governor after he won a 2015 off-year election. The Democratic governor's administration opposed the taxpayer subsidy to the Creation Museum for two legal reasons: separation of church and state, and the continued determination of the Creation Museum and its parent organization, Answers in Genesis (AiG), to use religious criteria in hiring employees.

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