Facebook Slider
Get News Alerts!
Friday, 17 January 2014 06:40

Eugene Robinson | The Real Benghazi Scandal

EUGENE ROBINSON ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

BenghaziMontageThe bipartisan report on Benghazi released Wednesday by the Senate Intelligence Committee should finally convince conspiracy theorists of the obvious: There is no there there.

Administration officials did not orchestrate any kind of attempt, politically motivated or otherwise, to deceive the American people. In their public statements, including the infamous talking points, they relied on what intelligence analysts told them.

In other words, if Susan Rice was wrong when she went on the Sunday talk shows and said the attacks were the violent outgrowth of a spontaneous anti-American demonstration rather than a long-planned terrorist assault, it was only because the intelligence community was wrong.

That said, the initial assessment given by Rice -- then serving as ambassador to the United Nations, now as President Obama's national security adviser -- may turn out to have been correct. We don't yet know. Says the report: "The IC [Intelligence Community] continues to review the amount and nature of any preplanning that went into the attacks."

Other preposterous claims about the Sept. 11, 2012, attack, in which U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three other Americans were killed, are also debunked in the Senate report. Most spurious is the claim that the administration failed to launch a rescue attempt that might have saved lives.

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

abankster6309947640 5218b95030 nA politican wants to hold Wall Street accountable for its criminal and willfully negligent behavior -- and lo and behold, it's a Chicago alderwoman, according to the Sun-Times:

Ald. Leslie Hairston (5th Ward) plans to introduce a City Council ordinance ...deleting the bank from its list of 19 designated financial heavy hitters.

Chase as a municipal depository.

..about $350 million in city municipal funds are now deposited with 
Chase.

Hairston argues that JPMorgan Chase should be treated like any other person or business prohibited from doing business with the city.

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

awarren777Watching Elizabeth Warren speak on behalf of the working people of America on television is like reaching an oasis after a waterless wandering through a vast desert. Such was the case when she spoke with MSNBC's Alex Wagner about the GOP sinking an unemployment benefit extension in the Senate.

As the Political Carnival website described her TV denunciation of such a cruel action, "Elizabeth Warren kicks ass...again." (You can view the video of the interview by clicking the link above.)

Bernie Sanders, a self-described socialist-independent, has been a Jeremiah of rationality and social justice for years: first in the Congress and now in the Senate.  He had been a lone senatorial voice who thoroughly debunked the false right wing narrative of plutocrats pulling the economy up for everyone, pulverizing the notion of a trickle down theory.  

Thursday, 16 January 2014 07:21

America Bereft of Democracy

ROBERT C. KOEHLER FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

AmFlags"(Chris) Christie is the caricature of a Third World despot," writes Chris Hedges of the reeling New Jersey governor. "He has a vicious temper, a propensity to bully and belittle those weaker than himself, an insatiable thirst for revenge against real or perceived enemies, and little respect for the law and, as recent events have made clear, for the truth."

And he still might wind up becoming our next president.

This is our kind of guy — media spectacle, bully, errand boy for the moneyed interests. His presidential aspirations may not survive "bridge-gate," but in his national prominence he sure defines the abject state of American democracy. We give power to would-be despots, "caricatures" only in the sense that they lack life-and-death control over their subjects and are forced to express their wrath through lane closures and the infliction of mere inconvenience on their political foes.

How come our system rewards rather than weeds out ruthless jerks with huge egos and superficial values? Indeed, how come politics and "values" seem to be as self-repellant as oil and water? How come linking them in a sentence is mainly a good way to make cynics snort?

"It's because these days Americans have as much familiarity with democracy as they do with homesteading on the frontier," Arun Gupta wrote last week at Alternet. I think he's on to something.

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

asocsec221 15According to RT.com, the 900 wealthiest Americans paid their full Social Security tax obligation for 2014 by January 2nd.

How is that possible?

As BuzzFlash at Truthout has pointed out before, there is an inexplicable cap on collecting Social Security tax above an income of $117,000 a year.  Most payrolled Americans pay 6.2 percent of their income into the Social Security Trust Fund (the employer pays another 6.2 percent).  But if you are a high-flying CEO who earns $50 million a year, $49,883,000 of your income is exempt from Social Security taxes.

2014.1.15.AntibioticsJIM HIGHTOWER ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Have you had your daily minimum requirement of triclosan today? How about your dosage of triclocarban?

Chances are you have, but don't know it. These two are antimicrobial chemicals, which might sound like a good thing — except that they disrupt the human body's normal regulatory processes. Animal studies show, for example, that these triclos can be linked to the scrambling of hormones in children, disruption of puberty and of the reproductive system, decreases in thyroid hormone levels that affect brain development and other serious health problems.

Yet, corporations have slipped them into all sorts of consumer products, pushing them with a blitz of advertising that claims the antibacterial ingredients prevent the spread of infections. The two chemicals were originally meant for use by surgeons to cleanse their hands before operations, but that tiny application has now proliferated like a plague, constantly exposing practically everyone to small amounts here, there and everywhere, adding up to dangerous mega-doses.

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

abanker1 14

I got to admit that I keep a barf bag with me for everytime I see a member of the Wall Street 1% or a Republican poobah repeat their perennial meme of the wealthy being "job creators."

In fact, I avert my eyes and put my fingers in my ears now whenever that phrase pops up -- which is far too often, given that the right wing is very good at repeating memes sent to them from the authoritarian leadership and their masters of propaganda.

There are far too many ways to list how the wealthy are the real "takers" in our society, but I will take a stab at a few.  In fact, many of the jobs that they create are for cleaning up after the messes that they make.

Think about how many people were employed to clean up after the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, or on a smaller scale the many ongoing chemical and fossil fuel environmental catastrophes like the most recent one in West Virginia. Crisis management after these disasters means people are finally getting hired.

BILL QUIGLEY FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

BankVaultHere are the top ten examples of corporate welfare and welfare for the rich. There are actually thousands of tax breaks and subsidies for the rich and corporations provided by federal, state and local governments but these ten will give a taste.

One: State and Local Subsidies to Corporations. An excellent New York Times study by Louise Story calculated that state and local government provide at least $80 billion in subsidies to corporations. Over 48 big corporations received over $100 million each. GM was the biggest at a total of $1.7 billion extracted from 16 different states but Shell, Ford and Chrysler all received over a billion dollars each. Amazon, Microsoft, Prudential, Boeing and casino companies in Colorado and New Jersey received well over $200 million each.

Two: Direct Federal Subsidies to Corporations. The Cato Institute estimates that federal subsidies to corporations costs taxpayers almost $100 billion every year.

Three: Federal Tax Breaks for Corporations. The tax code gives corporations special tax breaks which reduced what is supposed to be a 35 percent tax rate to an actual tax rate of 13 percent, saving these corporations an additional $200 billion annually, according to the US Government Accountability Office.

BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

GW BridgeThe seemingly never-ending battle for the soul of the Republican Party took another interesting turn in the past few days. And that turn revolves around New Jersey Governor Chris Christie's involvement in, and/or his handling of, the George Washington Bridge Lane-Closure Scandal. GOP lifers – some call them moderate right-wingers -- hope that Christie can save the Party from the clutches of the Tea Party and head-up the GOP's presidential ticket in 2012, while the Tea Party and the Religious Right do not whole-heartedly embrace the governor.

Did Christie's two-hour performance at last week's press conference, help or hurt his chances of securing the nomination?

From Stage Far Right, enter Karl Rove and Dick Morris.

Rove, the man who, among other things, embarrassed himself during Fox News' election night coverage in 2012 by insisting that Ohio was still up for grabs long after it had been determined to be trending toward President Barack Obama, is praising Christie for his handling of the scandal.

Morris, the man who, among other things, embarrassed himself during the 2012 presidential race by insisting up to the very last minute that Mitt Romney was going to handily defeat Obama, thinks Christie has left a whole bunch of unanswered questions on the table.

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

astoragta1 13According to the Charleston Gazette (West Virginia), "Freedom Industries, the company responsible for contaminating the water of 300,000 Kanawha Valley residents, was founded by a two-time convicted felon [and] benefited from the 2009 federal stimulus."

The Gazette identifies the co-founder as Carl Lemley Kennedy II. The Gazette also states that Kennedy, "In 1987 ... pleaded guilty to selling between 10 and 12 ounces of cocaine in connection with a scandal that toppled then-Charleston Mayor Mike Roark."  He eventually got his sentence reduced for his company related felonies by becoming a government informant to entrap cocaine dealers.

Although there are some signs that the water turned toxic by the massive chemical spill in the southern part of the state is becoming less polluted, nearly a third of a million West Virginia residents are still warned not to drink tap water for several days.

Page 18 of 1285