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Monday, 16 December 2013 10:22

E.J. Dionne | Family Values Hypocrisy


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


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


Tax-avoiding, consumer-exploiting big business leaders are largely responsible for these abuses. Congress just lets it happen. Corporate heads and members of Congress seem incapable of relating to the people that are being victimized, and the mainstream media seems to have lost the ability to express the views of lower-income Americans.

1. Corporations Profit from Food Stamps

It's odd to think about billion-dollar financial institutions objecting to cuts in the SNAP program, but some of them are administrators of the program, collecting fees from a benefit meant for children and other needy Americans, and enjoying subsidies of state tax money for that could be performed by the states themselves. They want more people on food stamps, not less. Three corporations have cornered the market: JP Morgan, Xerox, and eFunds Corp.

Published in Guest Commentary

Deepwater Horizon oil spill, June 22, 2010: Spill-response crews gathering and burning oil in the Gulf of Mexico near the site of the leaking Macondo well.Deepwater Horizon oil spill, June 22, 2010: Spill-response crews gathering and burning oil in the Gulf of Mexico near the site of the leaking Macondo well.JACQUELINE MARCUS FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

How rich will we be when we have converted all our forests, our soil, our water resources, and our minerals into cash? —Jay Norwood Darling, conservationist, artist

In case you haven't heard the latest news from the White House, the president chose to unleash the fossil fuel industry all across America. That's right. They're proudly calling the United States "the new Saudi Arabia." President Obama told his oil friends that "America the Beautiful" is all theirs for the profits.

I don't know what Obama got in exchange for this unconscionable plan to drill, pollute and frack in our farming, ranching, wilderness lands and oceans, including the fragile Arctic, I don't know what kind of filthy oil money they waved in front of him like a bunch of sleazy drug gangsters, or how many multimillion dollar homes they offered him in the package of threats, I can only assume that he wouldn't sell the whole country out to the fossil fuel industry unless there was an enormous retirement payback for the Obama family in return.

Published in Guest Commentary
Wednesday, 11 December 2013 06:03

Chris Matthews and the Reagan Myth


MSNBC's Chris Matthews has been doing an over-the-top job of self-promoting his new book, Tip and the Gripper: When Politics Worked. Matthews has been with MSNBC for quite some time but in this past year he has become a true attack dog against the Tea Party/GOP (and regular readers of mine know that I see no fundamental differences between them on policy, just on style). And for that, for me it is fun to watch him, which I do on a fairly regular basis. But as for this book, ah well, that is another story.

Matthews could not have been too happy with the review his book received in the Sunday New York Times Book Review, by one David Greenberg. To quote from it:

"Ever since our national politics dissolved into a miasma of polarization and strident punditry — which means either the Clinton pseudo-scandals or the John Adams administration, depending on your historical reference point — Washington pontificators have waxed wistful for gentler times. In the glow of nostalgia, even ideologues and scoundrels come to resemble civic-minded statesmen who put aside partisanship to broker compromises. This romantic tendency usually makes for bad history. . . . The 1980 elections made Ronald Reagan the most conservative American president since before the New Deal . . . . Protecting Social Security, the progressive tax code and other fixtures of the postwar economy fell above all to O'Neill, a corpulent, old-style, steaks-and-cigars Boston Irish pol. The conceit of 'Tip and the Gipper' is that for all their ideological differences, Reagan and O'Neill liked each other enough to put politics aside at 6 o'clock . . . and strike deals in everyone's interest. It's a nice idea for a book, if only it were true."

Published in Guest Commentary


The facts are indisputable, the conclusion painful. The wealthiest people in the U.S. and around the world have used the stock market and the deregulated financial system to lay claim to the resources that should belong to all of us.

This is not a matter of productive people benefiting from their contributions to society. This is a relatively small number of people extracting massive amounts of money through the financial system for accomplishing almost nothing.

1. They've Taken $1.6 Million Per Family in New Wealth Since the Recession

The richest 5% of American families each gained at least that much in five years, mostly from the stock market. Using data from Credit Suisse, the Economic Policy Institute, Pew Research, and the Census Bureau and two separate analyses (shown here and here), this extraordinary wealth grab can be calculated.

Published in Guest Commentary


Largely secreted away since its inception, some drone warriors are beginning to fill in the record about their use by the U.S.

Unlike others of his age who might be at home playing violent video games with names like Bulletstorm, Grand Theft Auto, Mortal Kombat and Splatterhouse, and Kindergarten Killers, Airman First Class Brandon Bryant wasn't playing.

The year was 2007, not long after Bryant's twenty-first birthday.

"He was an experiment, really," reads the subhead of GQ's story titled "Confessions of a Drone Warrior". "One of the first recruits for a new kind of warfare in which men and machines merge. He flew multiple missions, but he never left his computer. He hunted top terrorists, saved lives, but always from afar. He stalked and killed countless people, but could not always tell you precisely what he was hitting."

Published in Guest Commentary


Recent discoveries from the Kepler telescope have indicated that in our galaxy, the Milky Way, alone there are 647 possible "Earth-sized" planets orbiting various sun-star equivalents. (One does wonder how they get to that exact number.) And then there are an estimated 500 billion other galaxies out there. The speculation is becoming more intense as to whether or not there are other "intelligent" species on one or more of those planets. Well, the great Dr. Stephen Hawking's view to the contrary notwithstanding, given the vast distances of space it is unlikely that we will ever find out (nor would another intelligent species find out about us either). (Do note that "vast" is a word that vastly underrepresents the reality of what those distances really are.) But nevertheless one intriguing question is, if there is, or was, intelligent life that has developed the equivalent of what we call "civilization" elsewhere in the universe, is it co-existent in time with ours?

For it to be co-existent with ours, unless the timing were virtually exact, it would have to have lasted quite a bit longer than ours, because we, living in what we call "civilization," have been around for the mere twinkling of a geologic eye (less than 10,000 years). Further, our species is on the verge of self-destruction, whether due to global warming-induced climate change and its resultant disasters, over-population (and the resulting under-supply of food and water), depletion of natural resources, or nuclear war.

Published in Guest Commentary


December is a time of many holiday feasts - which makes it a good time to remember family farmers and the tremendous contributions they make to our country, culture, taste buds and tummies. But not all farmers contribute equally, which is why I'm sending out this special holiday sentiment to one group of unique agriculturalists: Thbbllllttttt!

That raspberry goes out to 50 billionaires who've been farming the U.S. farm subsidy program for years, harvesting a cornucopia of taxpayer cash for themselves or their corporate empires. They include top executives or owners of such diverse entities as Chase Manhattan Bank, Chick-fil-A, DISH Network, Fiji Water, Hyatt Hotels, Microsoft and Victoria's Secret. The diligent watchdogs of the Environmental Working Group matched the "Forbes 400" list of richest Americans with a farm subsidy database to unmask these Gucci-wearing Old MacDonalds. E-I-E-I-O, what a rip-off!

Published in Guest Commentary


We already pay dearly for energy, medicine, banking, and telecommunications services. But a little research reveals that we're paying more -- much more -- in a variety of ways that our business-friendly mainstream media won't talk about.

1. Drug Companies: The Body Snatchers

A report by Battelle Memorial Institute determined that the $4 billion government-funded Human Genome Project (HGP) will generate economic activity of about $140 for every dollar spent. Although that estimate is controversial, drug industry executives say it's just a matter of time before the profits roll in.

Big business is quickly making its move. Celera Genomics was first, as the company initiated a private version of the genome project, incorporating the public data into their work, but forbidding the public effort to use Celera data. Abbott Labs is developing products based on the HGP. Merck's automated biotechnology facility was made possible by the HGP. Two-thirds of the products at Bristol-Myers Squibb have been impacted by the HGP. Pfizer is starting to make big profits from its genome-based cancer treatments.

Published in Guest Commentary
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