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Bill and Chelsea Clinton. (Photo: <a href=" http://www.flickr.com/photos/newshour/2558666765/"target="_blank"> PBS NewsHour / Flickr</a>)Bill and Chelsea Clinton. (Photo: PBS NewsHour / Flickr)ERIC ZUESSE FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Each country is either an aristocracy, ruled by hereditary wealth and status; or else a democracy, ruled by the public or "demos" (without hereditary wealth or status being a major factor deciding a person's success).

It's either one, or the other -- or somewhere between those two political poles.

The American Revolution was waged against aristocracy (which was the longstanding system), who happened to consist of British aristocrats. The American Revolutionists fought to establish a democracy instead. They did this, though democracy had never before existed (except in very limited form, in very small places, such as ancient Athens, and even there only briefly).

Thus, the American Revolution was a truly revolutionary "revolution," unlike any before it.

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aglobalwarmobama(Photo:FegA)

Obama's actions on global warming have long been similar to his go-to practices in general: He prefers lofty rhetoric over action, particularly when there are powerful financial forces that might aggressively challenge him. Yes, you can argue that Obama has supported renewables and - occasionally - has pointed out the destructive developing ecosphere that we are facing. However, distinguished rhetoric will not save the planet.

David Bromwich, an English professor at Yale, is perhaps the most astute dissector of the Obama character.  (You can here a few minutes of his acutely accurate analysis of Obama's role as president in a "Ring of Fire" excerpt here.)  As early as 2012, Bromwich understood the unusual dichotomy of Obama: "a blend of high resolve and extreme detachment, romantic idealism and an almost opaque unconcern with follow-through.

 

A National Nurses Union rally about taxing Wall Street and the financial transactions tax. (Photo: <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/publiccitizen/6309504475/"target="_blank"> Bridgette Blair via Public Citizen / Flickr</a>)A National Nurses Union rally about taxing Wall Street and the financial transactions tax. (Photo: Bridgette Blair via Public Citizen / Flickr)PAUL BUCHHEIT FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Purchases of American products generally come with a sales tax, and often an excise tax, and possibly state and local add-on taxes. A consumer can avoid all this by limiting purchases to food and prescription drugs, or by shopping online. There's one more way -- by visiting a nearby financial exchange and buying a million dollars worth of derivatives.

There is currently no U.S. tax on the purchase of stocks, derivatives, and other financial instruments. The rest of us pay up to a 10 percent sales tax on the necessities of daily life. A tiny financial transaction tax of perhaps a tenth of a percent on the trading of financial securities would begin to correct this inequity, while generating billions of dollars of revenue.

There are at least five good reasons why our country is ready for such a financial transaction tax (FTT).

GENE GLICKMAN FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

abolcorp(Photovj_pdx)

1. Corporations are persons from the moment of conception. Conception must take place on a Drawing Board. A conception at any other location constitutes illegitimacy. Illegitimate corporations may not appear on the stock market, nor can they merge. (See Provision 6.) An illegitimate corporation can become legitimate only through appropriate gifts being donated to law enforcement agencies.

2. Any person who asserts that a particular corporation already on a Drawing Board is unworkable is guilty of Murder, if the statement prevents that corporation from being hatched; if the corporation is nonetheless hatched, the perpetrator is still guilty of Attempted Murder.

3. In order to incorporate, a hatchling must receive a charter certificate from a particular state. This certificate must contain at least three provisions: a) the hatchling’s name, b) a statement that the “Stock-Holders’ Needs” are paramount, and c) the specification of which Christian sect the hatchling will be a congregant.

4. When a hatchling is incorporated, its human creators are required to hold a baptismal party in the incorporating state, during which they must declare, under oath: “it’s a boy,” or “it’s a girl.” The human creators shall assume fiduciary responsibility for all expenses associated with this party.

5. Only official Government Regulators are permitted to babysit hatchlings.

6. Since Free Enterprise requires competition, hatchling sibling rivalry shall be fostered and encouraged.

7. When a hatchling reaches the age of five years it will be known as a “Spin-Off.” A spin-off must attend school, even if the schoolwork is too hard or too easy. Absences of three or more consecutive business days will require the presentation of a note from the CEO and an accountant’s note.

8. In the classroom, a spin-off must sit at the back of the room, so that its size will not interfere with any human pupil’s view.

9. On schooldays, all attending spin-offs shall be entitled to a free lunch. Upon graduation, the practice of a corporate free lunch shall continue, funded by the taxpayers.

WILLIAM RIVERS PITT FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aaaaVote(Photo: Tom Arthur)My mother is an official for a town nearby, and this past week was a voting week on what are called "Warrant Articles," which is New Hampshire-ese for ballot initiatives and budget proposals. The town she works for has a small but very vocal and very active contingent of Free Staters who believe in conspiracy theories like the UN is seeking to take over the town by way of Agenda 21. They show up at every town meeting, and always always always always vote.

...and they win, more often than not, because the people with their heads screwed on right don't bother to summon the energy to raise their hand once a year. The Agenda 21 people are a small segment of the populace, but they always show up.

Bill Clinton, in his first inauguration speech, said, "There is nothing wrong with America that cannot be fixed by what is right with America." One of the things that is right with America is your right to vote, and when I hear people say voting does not matter, does not make a difference, it makes me want to tear my teeth out.

Math: the coocoobirds who think dinosaurs don't exist because they aren't mentioned in the Bible comprise, give or take, about 12% of the voting population in America. They are a small minority within a minority party. When only 50% of the voting population shows up to vote in a presidential election year, that 12% doubles to 25%, because those 12%-ers go to the polls even if it is raining live jaguars outside...which means any right-wing candidate who says the right things about Jesus, fetuses and guns is halfway to the 50.1% needed for victory before they put their pants on come election day. To call that an enormous advantage is to devalue the definition of "enormous."

ERIC ZUESSE FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aaaCO2emissions(Photo: World Resources Institute)25.18% of U.S. greenhouse gases are being emitted by only 43 firms, according to figures tabulated by the Political Economy Research Institute (PERI), from corporate filings with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, as of the latest available year, which was 2011.

PERI, which is sponsored by the Economics Department at the University of Massachussetts at Amherst, lists the largest 100 emitters at its website.

Even just the top ten emitters account for 12.05% of U.S. greenhouse gases. In order, from the top, they are:

1: American Electric Power, 1.94%

2: Duke Energy, 1.89%

3: Southern Co., 1.76%

4: U.S. Govt., 1.16%

5: Berkshire Hathaway, 1.06%

6: Ameren Corp., 1.01%

7: Luminant Generation Co., 0.92%

8: FirstEnergy, 0.79%

9: AES, 0.76%

10: Xcel Energy, 0.76%

EUGENE ROBINSON ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aCia-lobby-seal(Photo: Rodzilla)We now have even more proof that our burgeoning intelligence agencies, which were given unprecedented latitude to wage war against terrorists, are dangerously out of control.

Not that further evidence was needed: Months of stunning revelations about the National Security Agency's massive domestic surveillance, thanks to fugitive whistle-blower Edward Snowden, should have been more than enough. But this week, one of the intelligence community's staunchest defenders in Congress took to the Senate floor to announce that even she has had it up to (BEG ITAL)here(END ITAL).

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., who heads the Senate intelligence committee, trained her fury on the CIA, which has waged a five-year campaign of bureaucratic guerrilla warfare to keep the committee from doing a crucial job: fully investigating the torture, secret detention and other appalling excesses committed under George W. Bush and Dick Cheney.

Feinstein accused the CIA of improperly searching computers that intelligence committee staff members were using to review CIA documents about "enhanced interrogation techniques" such as waterboarding -- in plain language, torture.

"The CIA just went and searched the committee's computers," Feinstein said. "I have grave concerns that the CIA's search may well have violated the separation-of-powers principle embodied in the United States Constitution." She said she believed the agency might also have violated the Fourth Amendment, a federal law and a presidential executive order.

This is not just a bunch of rhetoric. It's a very big deal.

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR AT BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

abpoil(Photo: Kevin Baird)Perhaps what best explains why the US government restored BP's right to federal contracts and drilling the other day is this fact: It is the sixth largest corporation in the world in revenues (as calculated by FORTUNE).  Public Citizen sent out an email excoriating the federal action:

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced today [March 13] that it had reached a settlement with BP to allow the oil giant to once again secure new federal government contracts and drilling leases. Tyson Slocum, director of Public Citizen’s Energy Program, issued the following statement:

Today’s announcement lets a corporate felon and repeat offender off the hook for its crimes against people and the environment. This is a company that was on criminal probation at the time of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster, and it has failed to prove that it is a responsible contractor deserving of lucrative taxpayer deals.

The EPA’s condition of the retention of an independent auditor to ensure the company complies as a responsible contractor is inadequate protection for taxpayers. While we applaud the EPA for initiating the ban, it is premature to end it. BP has failed to demonstrate that the corporate culture that allowed the Alaskan pipeline spill, the Texas City refinery explosion, the propane market manipulation and the Gulf Coast tragedy has changed.

Given that the BP Gulf spill was the largest accidental oil pollution of a body of water in history, one would think that the company (which earned a $13.4 billion profit in 2014) would be on its best behavior.  That is hardly the case.

Thursday, 13 March 2014 08:52

Ukraine, the Cheneyites, and Permanent War

STEVEN JONAS MD, MPH FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aaaUkraineCrisis2014(Photo: Amakuha)On March 5, 2014, Rachel Maddow of MSNBC.com presented a very well-documented case for the hypothesis, long-standing on the Left in the U.S. and around the world as well, that the principal reason the U.S. invaded Iraq was for oil. (It had also been thought that the invasion had as a goal establishing permanent military bases in the Western Iraqi desert).

Of course it was known before the invasion that Iraq had no "weapons of mass destruction." That had been well-documented by the team led by the Chief UN Weapons Investigator Hans Blix. Thus it was widely known at the time that the reason(s) given for the invasion were bogus. (To its credit, in 2013 MSNBC also ran a documentary on the selling of the Iraq War).

Indeed, given the preoccupation with petroleum products and policy of the then chief driver of U.S. foreign policy, Dick Cheney, that it was really for oil (and bases) was a very reasonable proposition. Ms. Maddow has now provided much evidence that it was the case.

Nevertheless, for quite some time I have felt that beyond oil and bases the primary reason for the invasion, coming as it did on the relative heels of the Neo-cons' wished-for "next Pearl Harbor" 9/11, and with the (totally bogus) claim that "Saddam was behind 9/11," was to help establish a U.S. policy of Permanent War. And so we come to Ukraine.

 

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aharperobamaNorth American "Petro-Machismo" Leaders Barack Obama and Stephen Harper (Photo: Wikipedia)

Anyone in the US who is still under the illusion that the Canadian national government is enlightened and progressive has not been following the right-wing policies of Prime Minister Stephen Harper of the Conservative Party.

Harper makes George W. Bush look like a moderate. 

Nothing represents how far Canada has gone from being a government for the people -- and a good citizen of the world -- than Harper's relentless drive to develop Alberta tar sands oil production, build new high-volume pipelines in Canada and the US (including, of course, the northern section of the Keystone XL) and steadfastly support the large Canadian extraction industry, known for its exploitation of labor and toxic pollution domestically and particularly in Latin and South America.

Yet, it is still a bit shocking that the government of Canada is sponsoring (and paying for with Canadian taxpayer money, one can assume) a deceitful public relations campaign to push for the Keystone XL northern route and tar sands production as environmentally friendly.  You can find the website version of this propaganda as click-throughs in publications such as The Hill, filled with jingoistic articles such as the first one: "America and Canada: Standing together for energy independence." A writer in a progressive publication recently called this kind of fossil fuel bragging "petro-machismo."

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