MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
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
Here 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
The 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
According 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.
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.
PAUL 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.
ROBERT C. KOEHLER FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
"In Iraq, al-Qaeda launched an offensive to take control of two cities, Fallujah and Ramadi, that U.S. troops sacrificed heavily to clear of terrorists between 2004 and 2008."
And so the new year begins, with a heavy dose of same old, same old. This is the Washington Post editorial page, which Robert Parry dubbed the neocon bullhorn, blaming the al-Qaeda uprising in western Iraq on President Obama's withdrawal of troops from that country, along with his failure to invade Syria last fall, all of which, the editorial charges, adds up to complacency in the face of growing danger and a lack of protection for "vital U.S. interests."
And for good measure, the Post lets loose a cry for the troops and their sacrifice on behalf of those vital interests. It's obviously not too early to start performing cosmetic surgery on Bush-era history (boy, we had those terrorists on the run), even as its consequences continue to hemorrhage.
The Washington Post knows as well as you or I that American "vital interests," as defined in the Bush (and more queasily in the Obama) era, float in a context of lies, stupidity, waste and war crimes. Yet its editorial page so reflects the Beltway addiction to war that it pushes for more of it no matter how counterproductive the last one turned out for any rational assessment of U.S. vital interests.
For instance, former CIA analyst Paul R. Pillar, in an essay that ran at Consortium News, notes with irony that "the Bush policies could be said to have stimulated democratization in the Middle East in large part through Middle Easterners reacting negatively to the policies themselves." That is to say, democratic movements sprang up in the region as self-defense, in opposition to the U.S. pursuit of its alleged vital interests: Being pro-democracy meant being anti-American.
MARK KARLIN, EDITOR AT BUZZFLASH.COM
According to a new analysis by OpenSecretsBlog, "Millionaires' Club: For First Time, Most Lawmakers are Worth $1 Million-Plus":
Of 534 current members of Congress, at least 268 had an average net worth of $1 million or more in 2012, according to disclosures filed last year by all members of Congress and candidates. The median net worth for the 530 current lawmakers who were in Congress as of the May filing deadline was $1,008,767 -- an increase from last year when it was $966,000. In addition, at least one of the members elected since then, Rep. Katherine Clark (D-Mass.), is a millionaire, according to forms she filed as a candidate. (There is currently one vacancy in Congress.)
Last year only 257 members, or about 48 percent of lawmakers, had a median net worth of at least $1 million.
Remember, of course, those in Congress who aren't millionaires have a very good chance of becoming ones after leaving office -- particularly senators -- by becoming lobbyists or working for corporations.
In short, we are ruled by people who have the perspective of wealth as something that they personally experience (or probably will if they aren't there already).
COMMUNICATIONS WORKERS OF AMERICA ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Communications 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."
MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
A just-released Gallup Poll states it starkly:
Forty-two percent of Americans, on average, identified as political independents in 2013, the highest Gallup has measured since it began conducting interviews by telephone 25 years ago. Meanwhile, Republican identification fell to 25%, the lowest over that time span. At 31%, Democratic identification is unchanged from the last four years but down from 36% in 2008....
Americans' increasing shift to independent status has come more at the expense of the Republican Party than the Democratic Party. Republican identification peaked at 34% in 2004, the year George W. Bush won a second term in office. Since then, it has fallen nine percentage points, with most of that decline coming during Bush's troubled second term. When he left office, Republican identification was down to 28%. It has declined or stagnated since then, improving only slightly to 29% in 2010, the year Republicans "shellacked" Democrats in the midterm elections.
Regardless of the percentage of voters identifying themselves as Democrats remaining stable over the last few years, neither major political party should find comfort in the poll.