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Monday, 24 February 2014 06:07

Hypocrisies of the Super-Rich

Exxon CEO Rex W. Tillerson with gas pump.(Image: <a href="http://www.insidermonkey.com/"target="_blank">Insider Monkey</a>)Exxon CEO Rex W. Tillerson with gas pump. (Image: Insider Monkey)PAUL BUCHHEIT FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

The hypocrisy is spread evenly among corporations, Congress, and free-market apologists, all of whom insult and imperil average Americans with their double standards. Here are some of the worst:

1. Poor People Just Need to Get a Job. But there are No Jobs.

This may be the greatest hypocrisy of them all, because it directly impacts so many Americans. When anti-food-stamp Congressman Stephen Fincher (R-TN) said, "The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat," John Boehner had the answer: "Our job here is not to divide the American people...It’s to help every American have a fair shot at the American dream."

But they don't provide that fair shot. In October, 2011 Senate Republicans killed a proposed $447 billion jobs bill that would have added about two million jobs to the economy. Members of Congress filibustered Nancy Pelosi's "Prevention of Outsourcing Act," even as two million jobs were being outsourced, and they temporarily blocked the "Small Business Jobs Act." In April, 2013 only one member of Congress bothered to show up for a hearing on unemployment.

Congress is not the only hypocrite here. In a recent poll that asked if "the government in Washington should see to it that everyone who wants to work can find a job," 68% of the general public agreed, while only 19% of the wealthy were in agreement.

Friday, 21 February 2014 07:45

"Son of God" Coming to a Theater Near You

BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

CrucifixionBerkowitz(Photo: Sailko)It may not garner the massive box office receipts that Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ did ten years ago (more than $600 million worldwide), but several high profile pastors are doing their darnedest to see that Son of God becomes the next super-successful Christian flick.

A major part of the box-office-seeking strategy, according to Charisma News, is to have well-known pastors, including megachurch pastor, Rick Warren of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., "rent every screen in numerous multiplex theaters across 10 cities for the premiere of Son of God."

Charisma News reported that "Cinemark Theaters is scheduling a few large-scale buyouts on Feb. 27, said James Meredith, head of marketing and communications. 'The interest level for meetings, events, screenings and buyouts seems to be on par with that of major blockbuster, tentpole or franchise movies,' said Meredith."

Friday, 21 February 2014 06:53

Obama’s Nuke-Powered Drone Strike

HARVEY WASSERMAN FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

NukePlantWasserman(Photo: Dr. Janos Korom)So the "all the above" energy strategy now deems we dump another $6.5 billion in bogus loan guarantees down the atomic drain. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz has announced finalization of hotly contested taxpayer handouts for the two Vogtle reactors being built in Georgia. Another $1.8 billion waits to be pulled out of your pocket and poured down the radioactive sink hole.

A nuke-powered drone strike on fiscal sanity.

While Fukushima burns and solar soars, our taxpayer money is being pitched at a failed 20th century technology currently distinguished by its non-stop outflow of lethal radiation into the Pacific Ocean.

The money is to pump up a pair of radioactive white elephants that Wall Street won't touch. Georgia state "regulators" are strong-arming ratepayers into the footing the bill before the reactors ever move a single electron—which they likely never will.

Sibling reactors being built in Finland and France are already billions over budget and years behind schedule. New ones proposed in Great Britain flirt with price guarantees far above currently available renewables.

The Vogtle project makes no fiscal sense ... except for the scam artists that will feed off them for years to come.

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

arickRick Santorum, Soda Jerk for restoring the Middle Ages (Photo: DonkeyHotey)He's back. Little Ricky "Man-on-Dog" Santorum is seriously assembling a run for president in 2016 according to the National Journal. 

Going back to May of 2000 when BuzzFlash first began posting on the Internet, we've covered a lot of right wing outsized characters.  In fact, there were so many that we began a separate site (since ceased publishing): BuzzFlash GOP Hypocrite of the Week.

Santorum falls more into the "deranged zealot who looks like a big box office supply store manager" type, but he still fits into that broad category of religious zealots who get themselves confused with their stated belief that Jesus is the Son of God while their actual belief is that they are the Son(s) of God. 

Buzzflash and Truthout don’t take corporate funding - that means we’re accountable to our readers, not big business or billionaire sponsors. Please support our work by making a tax-deductible donation today - just click here to donate.

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

 

aspeciesIs the human species next on the list? (Photo: tbone_samdwich)

There was a popular bumper sticker you'd see on luxury cars awhile back, "The person who dies with the most toys wins."

Sometimes, when I saw an automobile with such a message, my first thought was how tacky to put such a cheap plastic boast of wealth on a vehicle that cost tens of thousands of dollars. But then I realized that, to paraphrase Marshall McCluhan, "the medium is the message."  This is what this person is all about; "my greed makes me who I am, and I'm better and more valuable than you are in your cheap Ford."

This destructive confusion of one's worth as a human being with one's financial worth arose in my mind again yesterday when writing a commentary, "Five Reasons the 1% Do Not Want Unemployment to Decrease."

BRIAN J. TRAUTMAN FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

SocialJusticeDay(Photo: David Shankbone)In one of his most famous writings, "Letter from Birmingham Jail," Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said of injustice, "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly." In other words, the very existence of injustice has implications for us all. Thus, we each have a responsibility to actively challenge unjust power structures wherever they should surface. According to the United Nations, "the immortal words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. have never been more relevant than they are today."

Structural injustices are pervasive in the United States, perhaps more than in any other Western industrialized nation. They include record levels of economic inequality and mass incarceration and attempts to slash entitlement programs, restrict women's reproductive rights, and erode voting rights. Globally, injustice exists more frequently in other forms, such as poverty, hunger, worker exploitation, sex trafficking, resource privatization, and severe restrictions on women's and gay rights. In every corner of the world people's rights and dignity are under constant assault by different forces.

Numerous definitions of social justice can be found in the literature. Some are more comprehensive than others. An inclusive definition may draw from several perspectives. This piece integrates a few such perspectives – an approach which will inform the later discussion on the importance and significance of social justice. Hopefully this examination will grow our understanding of why we must strengthen progressive campaigns that are confronting various ongoing efforts to deny or strip fundamental rights. Such an understanding may help us build a stronger and more ubiquitous nonviolent social change movement.

Thursday, 20 February 2014 06:37

Seeking Reverence for Planetary Balance

ROBERT C. KOEHLER FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

EarthNASA(Photo: NASA)"When you go to dig your fields, or make a pot from clay, you are disturbing the balance of things. When you walk, you are moving the air, breathing it in and out. Therefore you must make payments."

Oh, unraveling planet, exploited, polluted, overrun with berserk human technology. How does one face it with anything other than rage and despair, which quickly harden into cynicism? And cynicism is just another word for helplessness.

So I listen to the Arhuaco people of northern Colombia, quoted above at the Survival International website, and imagine — or try to imagine — a reverence for planetary balance so profound I am aware that when I walk I disturb it, so I must walk with gratitude and a sense of indebtedness. Walk softly, walk softly . . .

Instead, I live in this world:

"Deep sea ecosystems are under threat of mass industrialization, warned a panel of scientists on Sunday," according to Common Dreams.

Kansas Sen. Pat Roberts. (Photo: <a href=" http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Pat_Roberts_official_photo.jpg"target="_blank">United States Congress via Wikimedia Commons</a>)Kansas Sen. Pat Roberts. (Photo: United States Congress via Wikimedia Commons)JIM HIGHTOWER ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

In "The Wizard Of Oz," Dorothy assessed the odd things she was experiencing and said to her little dog, "Toto, I've a feeling we're not in Kansas anymore."

Lately, Sen. Pat Roberts has gained a new understanding of what Dorothy meant. The Kansas Republican has been in the U.S. Senate for 18 years, was in the House for 16 years before that, and was a congressional aide before that. So he's been away for a long time, and now that he's running for another six-year senate term. Roberts has learned that the Kansas he thought he was from — a state of relatively moderate, Eisenhower-style Republicans — has become the Political Land of Right-Wing Oz.

A rabidly extremist, Koch-headed, tea party Republicanism has taken hold of the GOP's primary process and blown out the moderates. The upshot for Roberts is that a hard-right core of Republican voters are now howl-at-the-moon lunatics who demand ideological purity over everything else. Worse for Pat, they've put up one of their own to run against him in the August primary.

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

ajobs(Photo: Jobs With Justice)BuzzFlash at Truthout isn't breaking any new economic theory in stating that corporations and the 1% -- incuding the increasingly dominant Wall Street financial stranglehold on the economy -- are actually quite happy with permanently high (as long as it doesn't cause political de-stabilization) unemployment.

1) The most important value to high unemployment to the 1% is in the ever-increasing profit margin that comes from lowering the cost of labor by decreasing salaries and benefits.  This result from competition for jobs among a group of desperate employment seekers is that they have no choice but to accept low-paying jobs.  

Therefore, while the media likes to use the benchmark unemployment statistics as a sign of the economy "improving" if the government figure goes down, the 1% actually sees its lopsided share of US assets increase when the unemployment figures are higher and wages lower.

This reality, largely ignored by the mainstream media, is of course facilitated by the trade partnership agreement globalization of jobs to lower cost settings, devaluing the US labor market even further.

Charles Fillmore receives the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Association for Computational Linguistics. (Screen grab via <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KTrHQjkGmz0" target="_blank"> ICSIatBerkeley / YouTube</a>)Charles Fillmore receives the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Association for Computational Linguistics. (Screen grab via ICSIatBerkeley / YouTube)GEORGE LAKOFF FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Charles J. Fillmore, one of the world's greatest linguists — ever — died last Thursday, February 13, at the age of 84 in San Francisco. He was the discoverer of frame semantics, who did the essential research on the nature of framing in thought and language. He discovered that we think, largely unconsciously, in terms of conceptual frames — mental structures that organize our thought. Further, he found that every word is mentally defined in terms of frame structures. Our current understanding of "framing" in social and political discourse derives ultimately from his research, whose importance stretches well beyond linguistics to social and political thought — and all of intellectual life. The world has lost a scholar of the greatest significance.

"Chuck," as he was known throughout the linguistics world, got his PhD from the University of Michigan in 1961 and taught at Ohio State University until 1971, when he came to the University of California at Berkeley. Chuck's wife of 40 years, Lily Wong Fillmore, put herself through college and then through graduate school at Stanford, winding up as Professor of Education at Berkeley. She was his constant companion, sounding board, alter ego, the greatest cheer in his life, and much more.

Chuck taught at Berkeley for 23 years until his retirement in 1994. As a Professor Emeritus, he ran a research project on Frame Semantics called FrameNet at the International Computer Science Institute at UC Berkeley for 18 years until 2012, when he became ill.

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