MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Maine Tea Party Governor Paul LePage openly reveals the racism that festers on the underside of the US "post-racial" narrative.(Photo:DonkeyHotey)
Every once in awhile, the coded rhetoric and pernicious practices embedded in institutional racism in the US break through the surface and are revealed as explicit bigotry.
CNN began a January 27 article with this grotesque proposal from the governor of the nation's most northeastern state, "Maine Gov. Paul LePage says his state is too easy on drug crimes, suggesting it should bring back the guillotine for serious offenders." How is that grisly public policy proposal directly connected to unvarnished racism?
Before we answer that, let's provide some context.
LePage is in his second term as the Tea Party governor of Maine. He has, as Jim Hightower pointed out in 2011, been true to the basest politics of his followers :
LePage's rampage includes busting unions, rolling back child labor laws, gutting programs for the middle class and poor, and raising the retirement age for Maine workers--all in his first few weeks in office.
Then, in late March [of 2011], LePage made his grab for gold-plated goofy greatness. As widely reported, the potentate of the Pine Tree State ordered that a 36-foot-wide mural be removed from the state's Department of Labor building. The work of art depicts historical scenes of Maine workers, but it seems that the governor and certain unnamed corporate backers found the painting too favorable toward laboring people, so--POOF!--it was summarily disappeared into a storeroom.
The Tea Party is also constructed on a sense of white entitlement, and LePage has certainly perpetuated that ignominious outlook.
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Flint, Michigan water crisis, experts warned that what’s happening in Flint could happen elsewhere. And now it appears it already has. The town of Sebring, Ohio outside of Youngstown learned Thursday that high levels of lead were detected in some residents’ water last summer.Amid the
Residents are now demanding to know why they have been left in the dark for months. According to the AP, schools have been closed for three days, children are being tested for lead poisoning, bottled water is being handed out and state regulators are calling for a criminal investigation of the town’s water plant manager.
“How long has this been going on and how much did we drink it?” Sebring resident Nina McIlvain asked. “I’m sure there’s more to it than we know.”
According to AP, last summer, seven of 20 homes where the water is routinely tested showed excessive levels of lead. The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) said the manager of the small water system failed to notify the public within the required 60 days and submitted “misleading, inaccurate or false reports.” Plant manager James Bates said the allegations were an “outright lie.”
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In 1996, the Illinois-based Heartland Institute, then only twelve years old, launched a revolutionary project called PolicyFax, which combined conservative advocacy with then state-of-the-art technology to become one of the right’s leading information clearinghouses. In the environmental section of PolicyFax’s 300-page paper catalogue, hundreds of articles were listed, covering a broad range of issues including: air quality, chemicals, endangered species, energy, environmental justice, forestry, free-market environmentalism, global climate change, ozone depletion, regulatory reform, and sustainable development.
PolicyFax was accessible 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, and was absolutely free to every elected official in the United States (regardless of position), every significant media worker, and researchers from many other think tanks. Heartland’s complete set of resources would be delivered directly to their desks. In many ways, Heartland’s PolicyFax helped seed the conservative movement’s long-lived project denying global warming; a project that continues unabated to this day.
A report prepared in 2000 – covering the period from 1990-1997 -- titled Challenging Global Warming as a Social Problem: An Analysis of the Conservative Movement’s Counter-Claims, “was the first comprehensive look at how conservative think tanks were trying to shape the conversation on climate,” Heather Smith recently reported in Grist, the very essential online environmental magazine.
According to the report -- prepared by Aaron M. McCright and Riley E. Dunlop, two Washington State University sociologists – information about global warming on the web sites of major conservative think tanks centered around three points: “the evidentiary basis of global warming [w]as weak, if not entirely wrong: if global warming exists, it could “have substantial benefits”; and, “the movement warned that proposed action to ameliorate global warming would do more harm then good.”
MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Will the Creation Museum, located in Kentucky, receive state taxpayer funding despite discriminatory hiring practices? The answer looks like it will be "yes." The state has announced it will not appeal a federal judge's ruling that state tourism financial incentives (in this case, up to $18 million in the form of a sales tax rebate) must be granted for a museum expansion to simulate Noah's Ark.
According to a January 26 article in the Lawyer Herald:
Kentucky officials won't fight a federal court ruling after a religious group won a legal battle of the state's withdrawal of a potential tax incentive. On Tuesday, Republican Gov. Matt Bevin said that the state will not submit an appeal against a Christian theme park which features a 510-foot-long Noah's Ark.
Gov. Matt Bevin, a spokeswoman of Kentucky Republican stated that the new governor's administration is pleased with the ruling of US District Judge Greg Van Tatenhove.
Bevin is a Tea Party adherent who replaced a Democratic governor after he won a 2015 off-year election. The Democratic governor's administration opposed the taxpayer subsidy to the Creation Museum for two legal reasons: separation of church and state, and the continued determination of the Creation Museum and its parent organization, Answers in Genesis (AiG), to use religious criteria in hiring employees.
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fracking and fracking infrastructure.Over a seven day period last week there was a flurry of step-it-up activity on the East Coast in opposition to the planned expansion of
It began with a three-day walk over the Martin Luther King, Jr. weekend in sub-freezing, wintry weather in rural western Massachusetts against Kinder Morgan’s proposed Northeast Energy Direct pipeline. Upwards of 200 people took part in the walk, with an average of about 80 people walking 11-12 miles each day. The spirit and energy of the group was powerful.
It continued on Wednesday in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania with a successful disruption of the last meeting of Gov. Tom Wolf’s gas-industry-stacked pipeline infrastructure commission. The commission was set up to sell the plan to build even more gas pipelines and expand fracking in the state.
And it ended on Thursday in Washington, DC with the 15th consecutive Beyond Extreme Energy disruption of the monthly Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) Commissioners’ meeting. This action was followed by one right near the White House at a Bank of America branch. Bank of America is a major funder of the being-built Cove Point, Maryland Liquified Natural Gas export terminal.
Also this past week, on Monday, seven people were arrested at the latest blockade organized by We Are Seneca Lake in Ithaca, New York at the Crestwood gas storage facility; many hundreds have been arrested over the last year and a half in a campaign that shows no signs of letting up.
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water crisis in Flint, Michigan and has called on embattled governor to step down from his post.Matt Damon has joined the escalating outrage over Gov. Rick Snyder’s handling of the
“Listen, everybody’s entitled to a fair trial in the United States of America, but that man should get one. And soon. That’s just my personal opinion.”
Flint’s water disaster started back in April 2014, when an unelected state official switched the city’s main water supply from Lake Huron to the Flint River to save money. This ill-fated move has corroded Flint’s aging pipelines and exposed the city’s 102,000 residents—especially children—to the potentially crippling effects of lead poisoning and led to two outbreaks of Legionnaires Disease that has killed 10 people.
To make matters worse, emails released last week revealed that Gov. Snyder and his administration knew about Flint’s water quality issues as early as February 2015 but his administration said the problems would eventually “fade in the rearview.”
MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Last week, a media scrum covered the endorsement of Donald Trump by John Wayne's daughter, Aissa Wayne. The press event was held at the John Wayne Museum in his hometown of Winterset, Iowa, just two weeks before the caucuses in that state.
In a campaign based on Trump's agile celebrity branding of himself, akin to a political Kardashian, the endorsement by John Wayne's daughter was another masterful move, invoking images of the "golden age" of white Hollywood male virility. Yet Wayne never enlisted in the military during World War II. His image as a war hero is purely derived from his acting performances of valor and flinty cowboy stoicism filmed on Hollywood sets.
In a commentary on the event by Ken Walsh, who covers DC and politics for U.S. News & World Report, he observes,
Of course, Wayne rose to fame by playing a symbol of power and strength in the movies, not by being one in real life. Similarly, Trump has taken his own tough-guy persona from his hit TV show, "The Apprentice," and made it his persona on the campaign trail.
An article on the website Neatorama examined Wayne's lucrative Hollywood years spent primarily in southern California, when not punctuated by vacations and filming in other locations. The recounting of Wayne's self-indulgent war years concluded: "From all the evidence, it just simply looks like a case of a man preferring to be a Hollywood movie star millionaire to being a $21.00 a month GI, risking his life in some foxhole or in a plane, overseas."
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When I was at the grocery store a few days ago, I saw a homeless man probably in his 50s, scrubby beard, tattered shoes and a ragged coat that hung from his arms like two bare trees. It’s a common occurrence these days to see homeless men and women of all ages in front of markets. I yanked the cart from the long chain of carts and like so many people that put their blinders on, I turned away.
But then I couldn’t help glancing back as he was rummaging through a trashcan for something to eat.
He, like so many millions in this country, represents the indignity of poverty, the humiliating shamefulness of it: the fact that these individuals are seen as equally disposable as the trash that they rummage through is deplorable. They’re the faceless ones that are ignored in our society because in the United States, humans have no worth unless they’re “productive citizens” that are earning incomes. Yet, we deny them the availablity of jobs, and we don't offer proactive assitance to train people for work or to support them if they cannot enter the labor force for any of a variety of reasons.
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There's plenty of evidence to support the work ethic of poor people.
- Almost 63 percent of America's work-eligible poor are working. Many of the remainder are plagued by a real unemployment rate that is two to five times higher than the official rate, as Congress has continually thwarted job creation proposals.
- Immigrants comprise 13 percent of the population, but make up 28 percent of the small business owners.
- Poor families don't waste money. Two-thirds of their income is consumed by housing, food, transportation, health care, and insurance.
- A study of 18 European countries found "increasing employment commitment as social spending gets more generous" -- in other words, dividend payments encourage people to work harder, rather than the other way around.
BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
On Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Donald Trump made a pilgrimage to the late Rev. Jerry Falwell's Liberty University. Liberty is the largest Christian University in the world, and is now run by his son Jerry Falwell Jr. At Liberty, Trump said that it was an honor to be compared to the Rev. Jerry Falwell, and he assured the 13,000 people in attendance that he would "protect Christianity."
"Christianity is under siege," Trump added. "Very bad things are happening ... Somehow we have to unify, we have to band together, we have to do really in a really large version what they've done at Liberty ... You band together, you've created one of the great universities, colleges anywhere in the country, anywhere in the world, and that's what our country has to do around Christianity."
Raw Story reported that Trump "was ridiculed by some religious leaders after his appearance at Liberty on Monday, during which he tried to shoehorn a Biblical reference into his usual stump speech."
Trump speaking at Liberty University is pretty remarkable given that Trump has never had a close connection to, or even a passing relationship with, the Christian evangelical community. That combined with the fact that back in the day, the Rev. Jerry Falwell was an outspoken critic of Martin Luther King Jr. and what he termed the "so-called freedom movement," certainly made for an unusual cultural moment. To be fair to the late Rev. Falwell, he did eventually repudiate his segregationist past, although he never embraced Martin Luther King Jr.'s civil rights/freedom struggle during his career.
Trump's appearance at Liberty was followed by his receiving the endorsement of Sarah Palin, which, given her standing in the evangelical Christian community, could nudge a few more evangelical Christians into his column.