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The annual Denver, Colorado pro-marijuana rally at the Civic Center on April 20, 2013.The annual Denver, Colorado pro-marijuana rally at the Civic Center on April 20, 2013.DAVID SIROTA ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Seven years before legal marijuana went on sale this month in my home state of Colorado, the drug warriors in President George W. Bush's administration released an advertisement that is now worth revisiting.

"I smoked weed and nobody died," intoned the teenage narrator. "I didn't get into a car accident. I didn't O.D. on heroin the next day. Nothing happened."

The television spot from the White House drug czar was intended to discourage marijuana use by depicting it as boring. But in the process, the government suggested that smoking a little pot is literally, in the words of the narrator, "the safest thing in the world."

Why is this spot worth revisiting? Because in light of what's happening here in Colorado, the ad looks less like a scary warning than a reassuringly accurate prophecy. Indeed, to paraphrase the ad, for all the sky-will-fall rhetoric about legalization, there haven't been piles of dead bodies and overdoses. Nothing like that has happened since we started regulating and taxing marijuana like alcohol.

Instead, as I saw during a trip to 3D Cannabis Center in Denver, it has been the opposite. There, I didn't find the mayhem predicted by so many drug warriors.

Published in Guest Commentary

2014.1.13.BF.MoneyPAUL BUCHHEIT FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

A recent New York Times article by economist Laurence J. Kotlikoff suggested that we "Abolish the Corporate Income Tax." His case for doing so, he explains, "requires constructing a large-scale computer simulation model of the United States economy as it interacts over time with other nations' economies." The computer determined that the tax cut would be "self-financing to a significant extent."

Big business hints at serious consequences if we don't comply with this lower tax demand. But abolishing the corporate income tax is not likely to reverse the long history of harmful corporate behavior. There are several good reasons why.

Published in Guest Commentary

COMMUNICATIONS WORKERS OF AMERICA ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

atppstopCommunications Workers of America President Larry Cohen today made the following statement in response to the bill introduced by Sen. Max Baucus and Rep. Dave Camp calling for “fast track” authorization for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP):

“Fast track is the wrong track when it comes to a trade deal like the Trans-Pacific Partnership that will affect our laws, our jobs, our food and our environment. Fast track, also known as Trade Promotion Authority, forces Congress to give up its Constitutional right to amend and improve this trade deal, which now is reportedly more than 1,000 pages long.

“For nearly four years, the U.S. Trade Representative and TPP negotiators have purposely restricted participation and information, keeping members of Congress and citizen groups, unions, environmental and consumer organizations in the dark. There has been no opportunity for public interest groups to meaningfully participate in the negotiations, and under fast track authority, there will be no opportunity for our elected representatives to amend the deal and make it better for Americans."

Published in Guest Commentary

Two USAF MaxxPro MRAP (Mine Resistant Ambush Protected) vehicles.Two USAF MaxxPro MRAP (Mine Resistant Ambush Protected) vehicles.JIM HIGHTOWER ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

What a Christmas little Bastrop had! It's still a mystery how Santa Claus got it down the chimney, but Bastrop got a nifty present that most children could only dream about: a big honkin', steel-clad, war toy called MRAP.

But Bastrop is not a 6-year-old child, and an MRAP is not a toy. Bastrop is a Texas county of some 75,000 people, and MRAP stands for "Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected." It's a heavily armored military vehicle weighing about 15 tons — one of several versions of fighting machines that have become the hot, must-have playthings of police departments all across the country.

Are the good people of Bastrop facing some imminent terrorist threat that warrants military equipment? No, it's a very pleasant, laid-back place. And while the county is named for a 19th century land developer and accused embezzler, it's never been a haven for particularly dangerous criminals — indeed, the relatively few crimes in Bastrop today don't rise above the level of routine police work.

Published in Guest Commentary

2014.1.6.BF.UPSWALTER BRASCH FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

It's been about two weeks since the news media began smothering the nation with stories about UPS and FedEx delivering packages late during the holiday season.

A short shopping season of less than 30 days between Thanksgiving and Christmas, combined with extraordinary numbers of deliveries and extreme weather problems caused thousands of packages not to be delivered by Christmas. For some media, this was the top story.

FedEx says it delivered more than 275 million packages in that one month period. UPS doesn't say how many it delivered or how many were late. But it does say that if customers sent their packages by ground and hoped they would arrive by Christmas, the cut-off date was December 11. For air service, UPS temporarily added 29 planes to its fleet.

Published in Guest Commentary

2014.1.6.BF.BuchheitPAUL BUCHHEIT FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

The fear of running out of money in retirement is America's greatest financial concern. It's a fear greater than death.

But the American workers who have paid all their lives for retirement security are being cheated by wealthy individuals and corporations who refuse to meet their tax obligations, and who have found other ways to keep expanding their wealth at the expense of the middle class.

1. Federal Tax Avoidance Is the Biggest Threat to Social Security

Conservatives say that Social Security is too expensive, and that cutbacks and a later retirement age are necessary. But they refuse to acknowledge the facts about missing revenue. Annual tax avoidance by wealthy individuals and corporations is in the trillions of dollars, over double the cost of Social Security.

Published in Guest Commentary

BILL QUIGLEY FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

babyjesBaby Jesus, Proudly Brought to You by Budweiser!

Swaddled in Baby Gap, little Jesus appears to be crying.  Mary tries to gently rock him in her hands, certainly a great moment to remind viewers that you are in good hands with Allstate.    

The carpenter Joseph is trying to protect Mary and Jesus; he could certainly use the system he just won from our sponsor ADT.  The cow you see behind them is brought to you by ConAgra, the donkey by Halliburton. The angels on high in the sky, magnificent 3D computer generated imagery, are from Pixar.  Walt Disney has remixed the angel songs so they sing praise to the shopping opportunities this event has created.  

Earlier, there were reports of shepherds in the area but ICE agents stopped and frisked them and are now herding them on your right into the Fox News freedom of expression fenced off area.  Some appear to be singing a protest song about peace on earth.  Over on the left, a panel of MSNBC experts are talking about the shepherds and talking about the shepherds and talking about the shepherds.

Published in Guest Commentary

PAUL BUCHHEIT FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

amethlab12 23Illicit meth labAt a time of year when we're inclined to show empathy for people less fortunate than ourselves, some of our top business leaders are notable for comments that show their disdain for struggling Americans. Their words may seem too outlandish to have been uttered, or inappropriately humorous, but all the speakers were serious.


1. Environmental Wisdom from Exxon and Monsanto

Rex Tillerson, CEO of Exxon, which has used tobacco industry tactics to cast doubton climate change, summed up the whole environmental issue with his own unique brand of logic: What good is it to save the planet if humanity suffers?

Monsanto has no such moral compunctions over corporate social responsibility. A company director once saidMonsanto should not have to vouchsafe the safety of biotech food. Our interest is in selling as much of it as possible. While Monsanto, according to Food & Water Watch, has "wreaked havoc on the environment and public health" with PCBs, dioxin, and other dangerous chemicals, the company reported in its most recent financial report to the SEC: We are committed to long-term environmental protection.


2. The Art of Delusion: How Business People Fool Themselves

This starts, fittingly, at McDonald's, where a company representative vigorously defended his burgers and nuggets: We don't sell junk food...We sell lots of fruits and veggies at McDonald's...And we are not marketing food to kids.

Next, on to a company that hides overseas earnings, avoids federal & state taxes, makes $400,000 per employee, pays its store workers an average of about $12 per hour, pays its CEO $143 million a year, and operates overseas factories with working conditions that, according to the Economic Policy Institute, "reflect some of the worst practices of the industrial era." Their CEO Tim Cook saysApple has a very strong moral compass.

Such delusional heights are also reached in the financial industry, where Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein is doing God's work, his colleague Brian Griffiths feels that we have to tolerate the inequality as a way to achieve greater prosperity and opportunity for all, and Ponzi Scheming JP Morgan's Jamie Dimon is not only not embarrassed to be a banker, but also proud of the company that he works for.


3. Talking Down to the Down & Out

It's hard to choose the most insensitive and condescending remark from people who seem to lack empathy for the less fortunate. Perhaps hedge fund manager Andy Kessler, who addressed the issue of why these homeless folks aren't also working. Ignoring the National Coalition for the Homeless conclusion that homelessness is caused by (1) a shortage of affordable rental housing, and (2) a lack of job opportunities, Kessler suggests they're homeless because someone is feeding, clothing and, in effect, bathing them.

 

Published in Guest Commentary
Monday, 16 December 2013 10:22

E.J. Dionne | Family Values Hypocrisy

2013.12.16.Dionne.BFE.J. DIONNE JR. ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Politicians talk about family values but do almost nothing to help families. They talk about parental responsibility but do almost nothing to help parents. They talk about self-sufficiency but do precious little to make self-sufficiency a reality for those who must struggle hardest to achieve it.

How often can we hear that government should be more responsive to the problems Americans face now? But the vogue for simply assuming that government cannot — or should not — do much of anything about those problems leads to paralysis. This, in turn, further increases disaffection from government.

Published in Guest Commentary

2013.12.16.Detroit.BFDAVID SIROTA ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Though they are important, let's be honest: Municipal budget figures can be mind-numbingly boring. Even in high-profile, high-stakes dramas like Detroit's bankruptcy, the sheer flood of numbers can encourage people to simply tune it all out for fear of being further confused.

Thus, in the interest of not putting you to sleep or further perplexing you, here are three painfully simple questions about Detroit's bankruptcy. Though these questions have mostly been ignored, continuing to ask them can at least highlight the fact that something nefarious is happening right now in the Motor City.

Published in Guest Commentary
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