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MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

The Madison Cap Times is calling for a federal probe into the two-day delayed "discovery" of 7,582 votes for David Prosser, just enough to put the election out of the range of a state-funded recount for the "presumptive" winner Joanne Kloppenburg.

Without a federal investigation - given that Gov. Scott Walker loyalists would control an administrative State Board of Elections review - we can only maintain the deepest suspicions over what is occurring, and that it may be another theft of an election by the Republicans.

You have to go back to the 2000 Florida standoff to find a figure who so matches Katherine Harris as does Waukesha County clerk Kathy Nickolaus, who claims to have made a "mistake" unheard of before in the Badger State.

As the CapTimes and other Wisconsin outlets have noted, Nickolaus kept election results on her personal computer, even though she had been formally warned not to do so. She was given immunity from prosecution in 2002 for campaigning for Republicans on taxpayer's time. Furthermore, as the CapTimes notes, Nickolaus is "a former Republican legislative staffer who worked for Prosser when he served as Assembly speaker and with Gov. Scott Walker when he was a GOP rising star."

The Republicans have already brought in the lead attorney for the GOP in Bush v. Gore to ensure Prosser gets reseated on the high court.

But nothing short of the immediate impounding of the Nickolaus personal computer in question and the ballots of Waukesha County will ensure an untainted federal investigation - that is assuming the Obama administration has the resolve to ensure that election crimes were not committed. The email from Nickolaus's personal computer - if not yet removed from the hard drive - would be valuable enough in and of itself to see if there was coordination of this 48-hour "mistake."

BuzzFlash at Truthout was publishing during the 2000 Florida election - and we can say that, based on that experience, only the full force of a federal investigation can resolve the highly suspicious emergence of 7,582 votes for Prosser, after a considerable delay, by a county election chief with a history of not following vote-counting security measures and has personal relationships with both Prosser and Walker, not to mention an ongoing history with the Republican Party as an operative.

If the White House and the Department of Justice get weak-kneed about this one, it will be like letting Bush get anointed by the Supreme Court all over again.

Let the investigation into vote fraud in the Waukesha County election clerk's office begin with experts from DC.

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MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

There's nothing as American as apple pie, right?

And a pie is the simplest way of understanding - in a generalized sense - the political battle over the economy.

As long as the US economic pie was becoming larger, Americans - with the exception of the poor - were more or less willing to live on their piece of the pie. Of course, beginning with the Reagan era, corporations and the super rich have worked to get a larger slice of the piece for themselves, so much so that the top 5 percent of US citizens allegedly hold more wealth than the other 95 percent.

With the gradual off-shoring of jobs (particularly manufacturing) and growth of economies in other parts of the world, the American pie started to shrink - and shrink some more.

This has created a crisis that follows the line of Naomi Klein's "Shock Doctrine." While Americans are finding themselves with a smaller economic pie and therefore smaller slices, multinational corporations and wealthy families are taking advantage of the fear and confusion to actually increase their overall total share of the pie by even further reducing the slices received by workers and the poor.

If Paul Ryan's draconian budget plan were ever to be adopted, the slices that the rest of us receive may be reduced to just a scattering of crumbs as our share of an increasingly smaller pie continues to decrease.

 

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MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Wisconsin Assistant Attorney General JoAnne Kloppenburg has declared victory over incumbent pro-Scott Walker State Supreme Court Justice David Prosser.  There will likely be a state-paid-for recount. The winner, who is currently Kloppenburg, will be the swing vote if Walker's union-crushing legislation comes before the state's highest court.

It's a testament to the strength and vitality of the progressive and pro-union forces that Kloppenburg ran such a strong race. Beating an incumbent Supreme Court justice in Wisconsin is a rare occurrence.  Her vote total is a strong backlash to Scott Walker's authoritarian, undemocratic attacks on the working class.

As we await - and it may take weeks - the final recount and litigation surrounding the Supreme Court election, let's not forget that Walker also received a decisive proxy rejection by the voters of Milwaukee County.

As Truthout notes, Republican state Rep. Jeff Stone - a Walker protege - was trounced by Democrat Chris Able for the office of Milwaukee County chief executive. Just a few weeks ago, Wisconsin political pundits had pegged Stone as a shoo-in. What makes this so politically significant is that Stone, who is a supporter of Walker's policies, was vying to fill the position left vacant by Walker when he became governor. (The Milwaukee County chief executive's position was Walker's stepping stone to become the state's chief executive.)

The landslide 61 percent to 39 percent victory of Able for Walker's former political job - which he held for many years - was a stinging rebuke to the policies, statements and actions of the current governor of Wisconsin. It should not go unnoticed.

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TONY PEYSER FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

 

Psst! Mr. Tea Party! Here's

A word to the wise:

You kinda blew the

Element of surprise.

 

http://tpmdc.talkingpointsmemo.com/2011/04/disgraced-ex-tea-party-leader-promises-to-infiltrate-and-sabotage-obama-2012.php?ref=fpb

 

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MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Yesterday's BuzzFlash at Truthout commentary "The Multi-Billion Dollar Brainwash of America's Middle Class," evoked a wave of comments by readers posting in threads on Facebook and elsewhere.

As one BuzzFlash at Truthout follower pointed out, the wealthy and the Republicans denounce such commentary as "provoking class warfare" in order to provide cover for the class war that they are conducting in order to lay waste to the middle class and poor. The ultimate goal, of course, is to accumulate more wealth in the portfolios of the already super wealthy.

According to a spokesperson for a web site on income disparity, Too Much: A Commentary on Excess and Inequality, the top one percent of Americans own 35.6 percent of the nation's wealth, while 80 percent of Americans own only 12.8 percent of the wealth in the US. The other 19 percent - just below the top 1 percent - own the rest.

In short, the latest figures available to Too Much reveal that the 1 percent of Americans at the top of the economic ladder own nearly three times as much as the 80 percent of Americans who make up fourth-fifths of the nation. Think about that for a moment. That is basically a third-world income gap. One BuzzFlash at Truthout reader called this "21st century feudalism."

Another commenter remained flummoxed about the gullibility of many in the shrinking middle class who support elected officials who cut services and wages for them, while making that top 1 percent even more disproportionately wealthy. He could only, in exasperation, conjecture that many in the middle class are "suffering from Stockholm Syndrome!"

But one organization wrote, in response to "The Multi-Billion Dollar Brainwash of America's Middle Class," that the best action to counter this ominous propaganda coup by the likes of the Koch brothers, "would be for people to feel the anger of moral outrage, to speak out, and take to the streets. This, at long last, is what we see happening in Wisconsin, as those brave citizens repeatedly chant, 'This is what democracy looks like!' It is they who are challenging and inspiring us to re-assert our American Creed.""

If people can challenge corrupt governments and entrenched wealth in Egypt, Tunisia, and elsewhere, then why not here, in the cradle of modern democracy?

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MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Why aren't those in the Tea Party who are middle or working class railing against the inequities of America's billion-dollar-a-year earners?

That's an implicit question that arises from reading the web site, Too Much: A Commentary on Excess and Inequality:

Hedge fund honchos bet on stocks. They bet on gold. They bet on lawsuits. Most of all, they bet that the rest of us will never wise up to the awesome giveaway our current tax code ladles on them.

... hedge fund manager earnings have exploded spectacularly. The total compensation for the hedgie top 25 stood at $2.8 billion in 2003. This total quintupled over the next three years, to $14 billion in 2006, then soared to $22.3 billion in 2007, just before the financial industry meltdown.

That unpleasantness did put a bit of a crimp into hedge fund rewards, but only for a moment. Last year's hedge fund manager top 25 total: $22.03 billion. Six of last year's top 25 pulled in over $1 billion each. America may not yet have recovered from the Great Recession. Hedge fund managers certainly have.

Moreover, the mainstream media predominantly focuses on the message of politicians who are making draconian cuts to public services - including health care and food - and eliminating public jobs, which allows for those who essentially make fortunes through legalized financial gambling to rake in even more with reduced taxes.

Thomas Frank posed the essential question in his prescient book, "What's the Matter with Kansas?" Why do so many members of the white middle and working class vociferously support candidates who advocate more tax cuts for the rich?

Maybe it is because right-wing propaganda organizations funded by the wealthy (such as ALEC, Americans for Prosperity and FreedomWorks) are so effective at diverting attention from economic inequality.

Some might call it brainwashing.

 

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MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH FOR TRUTHOUT

"CEO Pay Soars While Workers' Pay Stalls," a March 31 headlines announced in USA Today.

On April 2, BuzzFlash at Truthout took note that the jobs that are coming back for most Americans pay less and have fewer benefits, compared to the economy prior to the recession.

The USA Today article confirms that reality:

At a time most employees can barely remember their last substantial raise, median CEO pay jumped 27% in 2010 as the executives' compensation started working its way back to pre-recession levels, a USA TODAY analysis of data from GovernanceMetrics International found. Workers in private industry, meanwhile, saw their compensation grow just 2.1% in the 12 months ended December 2010, says the Bureau of Labor Statistics....

The big increases in executive compensation are difficult for workers to swallow, given that many Americans are struggling just trying to find a job or make ends meet, says Alan Johnson of executive pay consulting firm Johnson Associates. "The fact this makes us all squirm is true."

Unfortunately, many national and state legislators who follow the siren song of the Koch brothers are not squirming; they are continuing to press for laws that enhance the gluttonous wealth of the richest in the nation, while devaluing the pay and benefits of American workers.

We are headed backwards to the type of European two-class system that existed prior to the American Revolution: the rich and the servant (labor) class. There's nothing "patriotic" about that.

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MARK KARLIN, EDITOR FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

If you are black or young in America, the economy is not getting better.

According to the April 1st AFL-CIO blog,

Young people and people of color continue to experience the worst jobless rates which have remained high, with 24.5 percent of teenagers out of work and 15.5 percent of black workers and 11.3 percent of Hispanics jobless. Some 7.9 percent of white workers are jobless, as are 7.1 percent of Asian workers.

Dean Baker, who writes regularly for Truthout, noted,"Employment among blacks fell back almost to its low-point for the downturn."

Furthermore, despite the recent official drop of unemployment to 8.8%, the AFL-CIO points out the starker reality of joblessness: "While the official unemployment rate is 8.8 percent, it's 15.7 percent if unemployed, underemployed and those who have given up looking for work are included-more than 24 million people."

And Baker notes the ongoing wage stagnation for workers while CEOs reap record bonuses and shareholders high profits: "One serious negative item is that wages have been essentially flat over the last two months. Nominal wage growth over both the last quarter and year have both been 1.7 percent."

The trending of the "recovering economy" is toward a more divided class structure: the wealthy and the borderline poor, with black America left behind.

That's an economy that has redistributed its income in the job market, redistributed it downward when it comes to the working people of the US.

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MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

General Electric (GE) wanted me to know that the corporation is not a tax-dodger - and allegedly was maligned by a New York Times (NYT) article entitled, "G.E.'s Strategies Let It Avoid Taxes Altogether."

So, GE paid for a Google email teaser, which I clicked through to a slick public relations web page that claimed the NYT article was "distorting and misleading."

Except as far as I can see, nothing on the GE "crisis management" explanation page refuted the basic NYT fact that the firm "reported worldwide profits of $14.2 billion, and said $5.1 billion of the total came from its operations in the United States. Its American tax bill? None. In fact, GE claimed a tax benefit of $3.2 billion."

GE asserts, as its first point of defense, that it "pays what it owes under the law and is scrupulous about its compliance with tax obligations in all jurisdictions."

Technically, it is possible that statement is true, but specious, because GE gets legislation passed that allows it to legally avoid paying its fair share for the maintenance of democracy.

According to the NYT, "A review of company filings and congressional records shows that one of the most striking advantages of General Electric is its ability to lobby for, win and take advantage of tax breaks."

That's what financial journalist David Cay Johnston describes in his book, "Perfectly Legal: The Covert Campaign to Rig Our Tax System to Benefit the Super Rich - and Cheat Everybody Else."

Just call what GE does "legalized theft."

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MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Scott Walker isn't just trying to privatize public work; he is also trying to remove accountability for the costs and quality of projects contracted to outside firms by the state of Wisconsin.

A Milwaukee Journal Sentinel article reveals that the Walker administration is trying to remove a cost-benefit analysis requirement for "outsourcing" state jobs:

Governor Scott Walker's budget proposal eliminates a state law requiring state agencies to study the costs and benefits of outsourcing work.

Current law says agencies must compare the costs of having private contractors do work costing more than $25,000 against what it would cost to have state workers do the job.

So, first Walker defiantly declares that state union workers are ripping off the state, then he removes a requirement that reveals whether outside contractors would cost more and do a worse job than public employees. A pretty good scam if you are looking to channel taxpayer money to the firms of campaign contributors without disclosing excessive costs and poor workmanship.

One Wisconsin Republican state senator isn't buying Walker's gambit. Sen. Luther Olson complained, "Can you explain why when we're in a time of serious fiscal trouble, why we would not want to do a serious cost-benefit analysis?"

The answer, Senator Olson, is that Walker's intentions are not to save the taxpayer money or fix budget holes; his goal is to privatize state work and assets.

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