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WILL DURST FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

jbush11 17As William Rivers Pitt recently pointed out in his signature Truthout column, it's ludicrous to begin concentrating on the presidential race in 2016.  Democracy is too valuable and powerful to have its future concentrated in one person.

BuzzFlash contributor Will Durst also ponders the absurdity of handicapping who might run for president in three years in the following column:

What the heck is going on here, people? Did someone drop the flag signaling the start of the 2016 Presidential election race in secret? Was there a furtive whispered “go now” left on the voice mail of all the major players in the 202 area code? 36 months before the election? Is it possible to earn extra credit by skipping this one and moving right on to 2020?

The most recent media-consumed fever dream boils down to Chris Christie versus Hillary Clinton. Although, two weeks ago, Ted Cruz was the presumptive GOP nominee. Didn’t Hillary use up her inevitability card in 2008? When she was destined to face off against Rudy Giuliani? How’d that end up?

Published in Guest Commentary

JACQUELINE MARCUS FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

earth11 16As we face a growing catastrpohic crisis in the form of global warming, and economic hardships from policies that benefit billionaires while working Americans struggle to pay for basic necessities, I can’t help thinking about Al Gore and how different things would be under his leadership after Bush followed by years of broken promises.

Let’s remember that Al Gore won the popular vote and the state of Florida if the votes had been fully counted, despite the legal evidence proving that there was plenty of cheating going on for Bush in 2000, and last but not least, let’s not forget how the Supreme Court Justices unjustly ruled to stop counting the votes in Florida. 

Predictably, the industrial oligarchs would never have allowed an Al Gore victory. 

In 2000, we were at the crossroads or as President Clinton liked to say to “building a bridge to the twenty-first century, the New Millennium.”

Published in Guest Commentary
Wednesday, 13 November 2013 08:39

TV Violence: America's Dark Night of the Knoll

2013.11.13.TV.BFJANE STILLWATER FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

I was watching "The Mentalist" on TV recently, where some guy was being tortured, had a finger cut off with pruning shears and his face caressed with an acetylene torch.  Yikes!  And even during that nice little detective show "Castle," you can always count on seeing a whole bunch of blood and guts - not to mention the torture scenes and disemboweling now available on "Elementary" and "Body of Proof" and "Revolution" and "Person of Interest" and "Scandal".  And these are just the milder prime-time television shows.  I'm not even going to get into the nightmare-producing horrors of "Criminal Minds" and "Law & Order SVU" - because I can't even bear to watch those.

And then there are all those currently-popular "undead" shows too.  How many times can you torture a werewolf or drive a stake through a vampire's heart before he or she is truly dead?  Apparently a lot. 

Published in Guest Commentary

2013.11.13.GMO.BFJIM HIGHTOWER ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

In last week's elections, the national media focused tightly on the center ring, where two gubernatorial contests and one mayoral race were spotlighted. The most interesting of these to me was the dazzling, out-of-nowhere, high-wire performance of Bill de Blasio, the free-wheeling, six-foot-seven, progressive populist who shocked New York City's establishment with his landslide victory, becoming mayor of America's biggest metropolis.

That was fun, but so was the clown ring, where two performances deserve our attention. First was a bizarre act of political slapstick that played out far from the Big Apple. Coralville, Iowa, with fewer than 20,000 denizens, had the pleasure of publicly kicking the Koch brothers' kiesters on Election Day! Americans for Prosperity, the chief political arm of the multi-billionaire right-wing extremists, suddenly descended from out of the blue to run a high-dollar campaign against the re-election bids of Coralville's mayor and two city council members. The Koch group snidely called the little town "Iowa's version of Detroit." That was hardly a winning strategy — voters roundly rebuked the rich out-of-towners by voting two-to-one to return all three incumbents to office.

Published in Guest Commentary
Monday, 11 November 2013 07:08

The Stealthy Killer That Is Capitalism

PAUL BUCHHEIT FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Anti-capitalism colorThe process is gradual, insidious, lethal. It starts with financial stress in various forms, and then, according to growing evidence, leads to health problems and shorter lives.

Financial stress is brought upon us by the profit motive of capitalism, which offers little incentive to feed hungry children, to treat the sick, to secure us in retirement, to provide job opportunities for middle-class Americans. Some of the steps in the process are becoming more and more familiar to us.

Published in Guest Commentary
Wednesday, 06 November 2013 06:39

Jim Hightower | Can Wall Street Buy Redemption?

Jersey City: Goldman Sachs TowerJersey City: Goldman Sachs TowerJIM HIGHTOWER ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Goldman Sachs churns out enormous profits from its high-rolling, casino investment schemes, while also churning out fat paychecks for its top executives. They literally sack up the gold, even as their speculative gambles have wreaked havoc on our real economy.

But, finally recognizing that their public approval rating has sunk lower than mad-cow disease, Goldman's banking barons now want you to know that they feel your pain and are eager to "give back" to the people. So — ta-da! — they've transformed themselves into philanthropists, having goosed up the bank's foundation in order to flash their "charitable side." Goldman's chief of staff noted that "people said we weren't doing enough" to address the gross inequities created by Wall Streeters, so they've turned their foundation into the fourth largest corporate charity in America. In an orchestrated show that the New York Times dubbed "reputation redemption," the bank's charitable arm doled out $241 million last year, including grants to women in developing nations and small business projects here in the U.S.

Published in Guest Commentary

PAUL BUCHHEIT FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

sunkenship11 4As they accumulate more and more wealth, the very rich have less need for society. At the same time, they've convinced themselves that they made it on their own, and that contributing to societal needs is unfair to them. There is ample evidence that this small group of takers is giving up on the country that made it possible for them to build huge fortunes.

1. They've Taken $25 Trillion of New Wealth While Paying Less Taxes

The 2013 Global Wealth Databook shows that U.S. wealth has increased from $47 trillion in 2008 to $72 trillion in mid-2013. But according to U.S. Government Revenue figures, federal income taxes have gone DOWN from 2008 to 2012. Even worse, corporations cut their tax rate in half.

American society has gained nothing from its massive wealth expansion. There's no wealth tax, no financial transaction tax, no way to ensure that infrastructure and public education are supported.

Just how much have the super-rich taken over the past five years? Each of the elite 5% -- the richest 12 million Americans -- gained, on average, nearly a million dollars in financial wealth between 2008 and 2013.

2. For the First Time in History, They Believe They Don't Need the Rest of Us

The rich have always needed the middle class to work in their factories and buy their products. With globalization this is no longer true. Their factories can be in China, producing goods for people in India or Europe or anywhere else in the world.

Published in Guest Commentary

ROBERT REICH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Robert Reich10 30Robert ReichHouse Majority Leader Eric Cantor says Republicans will seek to delay a requirement of the 2010 Affordable Care Act that all Americans obtain health insurance or face a tax penalty. ”With so many unanswered questions and the problems arising around this rollout, it doesn’t make any sense to impose this one percent mandate tax on the American people.”

While Republicans plot new ways to sabotage the Affordable Care Act, it’s easy to forget that for years they’ve been arguing that any comprehensive health insurance system be designed exactly like the one that officially began October 1st, glitches and all.

For as many years Democrats tried to graft healthcare onto Social Security and Medicare, and pay for it through the payroll tax. But Republicans countered that any system must be based on private insurance and paid for with a combination of subsidies for low-income purchasers and a requirement that the younger and healthier sign up.

Published in Guest Commentary
Monday, 28 October 2013 07:55

Ted Cruz: Born-Again Jefferson Davis

2013.10.28.BF.StittRICHARD A. STITT FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Ted Cruz' tour de siège in his attempt to close down our government and default on the debt ceiling endeared himself to his Teapartheid supporters whose principle goals are to bring down Barack Obama at any cost and eviscerate democracy and the social safety nets.

The latter goal of course is consistent with the Canadian-born subversive and saboteur whose father supported the Communist dictator Fidel Castro who overthrew the democratically-elected Cuban government. The apple doesn't fall far from the tree.

As we witness almost daily he and his racist hordes are not such a rare breed when you look at the Old Confederacy revivalists. Now that Republicans have overwhelming control of states like North Carolina and Texas the personal attacks against the president and racist comments coming from their party's elected politicians have been amplified.

Published in Guest Commentary

2013.10.28.BF.BuchheitPAUL BUCHHEIT FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Even for Congress. They, and others who apparently don't study the facts, believe that Social Security is a government handout. But 'entitlement' means that people who have paid into a program all their lives are entitled to a reasonable return on their investment. A better definition, as pointed out by Mark Karlin at Truthout, is a "mandated retirement savings plan."

Cutting this popular and well-run and life-sustaining program would be irrational. There are many reasons for this.

1. Americans Have Paid For It Throughout Their Working Lives

As of 2010, according to the Urban Institute, the average two-earner couple making average wages throughout their lifetimes receive less in Social Security benefits than they paid in. Same for single males. Same by now for single females. One-earner couples get back more than they paid in.

Published in Guest Commentary
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