MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Twelve states are officially backing a constitutional amendment to eliminate corporate personhood, and Maine just became the thirteenth.
According to the Bangor Daily News:
Sen. Richard Woodbury, I-Yarmouth, plans to introduce a resolution Tuesday in the Maine Senate that directs the state’s congressional delegation to support a constitutional amendment that would overturn the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2010 “Citizens United” opinion equating campaign spending with free speech....
In March, independent U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Democratic U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch of Florida introduced a constitutional amendment to overturn “Citizens United.” The proposed amendment would “expressly exclude for-profit corporations from the rights given to natural persons by the Constitution of the United States, prohibit corporate spending in all elections, and affirm the authority of Congress and the states to regulate corporations and to regulate and set limits on all election contributions and expenditures.”
Despite having a Tea Party governor, Maine is one of the leaders in transparent elections and reducing the impact of big money on the political process. However, in 2011, the US Supreme Court gutted a key element of the Maine Clean Election Act.
WILL DURST FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
F. Scott Fitzgerald famously uttered "there are no second acts in American lives" but bless his heart, the besotted scribe seems blissfully unaware of the loophole large enough to taxi a C- 130 through that exists for American politicians. These people are as indomitable as a mule falling off a bridge. More oblivious than a blind tortoise humping a rock. Limber like a deboned eel.
Behavior best exemplified by their insect like ability to manufacture a sort of shame resistant exoskeleton. When scandalized, your ordinary citizen will retreat, burrowing deep into a hidey- hole and pulling the hole back in on him. Not the politician. They will hold a press conference to declare all accusations baseless, then publicly resign to spend more time with their family. Of course, nobody gets to ask the family how they feel. Sometimes the smiles are so tight you can hear enamel cracking.
Following an imprecise length of penitence, depending on the transgression, they publicly declare their self- imposed sabbaticals to be complete, and head up the comeback trail spouting enough platitudes to chagrin an evangelist. Cue the red, white and blue gospel music. All is forgiven and the practiced hypocrisy reels back out in a tail- sucking mobius loop.
Recently, a veritable gaggle of disgraced politicians have serpentined their way back into the spotlight. Surely you remember the unfortunately named Anthony Weiner, New York Congressman, caught knee deep in doo- doo for sexting six women, including a porn star. Even tried to get her to lie about the relationship, but she refused. Might be Weiner's lasting legacy; proving porn possesses more integrity than politics.
RICHARD A. STITT FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Some of the media scribes who attended the dedication ceremony on April 26 for the George W. Bush $250 million Library and Museum on the Southern Methodist University campus in Dallas, TX commented that there was not one word mentioned about Iraq.
Most of us know why, including the 2008 and 2012 Republican conventions in which there was no acknowledgement by the party's leadership of George W. Bush's Iraq legacy. Or much, if anything at all, about number 43.
There are, of course, exceptions. Most notably Karl Rove whose George W. Bush adulation included his recent proposal to chisel his former boss's image on Mount Rushmore. Rove no doubt was yearning for those halcyon days when photo ops maintained the facade of a commander-in-chief in thoughtful poses such as the one that lined up the profile of George W. Bush with the four presidents' likenesses that are etched into South Dakota's Mount Rushmore.
As to his own perceived legacy Bush has been quoted several times saying that history will judge number 43's record. After all, he has opined, they (historians) are still writing the legacy of the first G.W. over two-and-a-half centuries later.
So, in keeping with this selective erasure of all memory of Iraq I suggest at least one day should be enshrined in the American tradition of celebrating special days in history. It could be called, Uno de Mayo.
MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
It's about time Paul Krugman took a victory lap – and he does in his Monday New York Times column:
But just look at the predictions the two sides in this debate have made. People like me predicted right from the start that large budget deficits would have little effect on interest rates, that large-scale “money printing” by the Fed (not a good description of actual Fed policy, but never mind) wouldn’t be inflationary, that austerity policies would lead to terrible economic downturns. The other side jeered, insisting that interest rates would skyrocket and that austerity would actually lead to economic expansion. Ask bond traders, or the suffering populations of Spain, Portugal and so on, how it actually turned out.
Is the story really that simple, and would it really be that easy to end the scourge of unemployment? Yes — but powerful people don’t want to believe it. Some of them have a visceral sense that suffering is good, that we must pay a price for past sins (even if the sinners then and the sufferers now are very different groups of people). Some of them see the crisis as an opportunity to dismantle the social safety net. And just about everyone in the policy elite takes cues from a wealthy minority that isn’t actually feeling much pain.
What has happened now, however, is that the drive for austerity has lost its intellectual fig leaf, and stands exposed as the expression of prejudice, opportunism and class interest it always was. And maybe, just maybe, that sudden exposure will give us a chance to start doing something about the depression we’re in.
Krugman's boasting is long over due, but in specific, this time comes from the most unlikely of sources: a Univeristy of Massachusetts graduate economic student who discovered major statistical errors in the primary research paper (authored by Carmen Reinhart and Kenneth Rogoff) used by advocates to justify austerity measures.
Thomas Herndon, the graduate student who received the excel spread sheet after much persistence that Reinhart and Rogoff used to justify their pro-austerity theory, does not accept the viewpoint that the errors were minor:
ANN DAVIDOW FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Here we are again, fumbling around with the regulatory mechanisms that govern our lives. With respect to the sequester, surely it is time to stop playing games with the American people’s ability to plan their lives and have reasonable expectations regarding arrivals and departures at our nation’s most important travel hubs.
But if we were to be completely honest with ourselves, we’d have to admit that travel arrangements have become the focus of our attention, in the absence other sequester-affected aspects of our society. The inconvenience of flight disruptions has an immediate affect that is easily traced to the source, but the terrible cost in terms of children’s education, food programs for the elderly and other areas on the chopping block are rarely discussed.
Congress is all in a dither and has, in fact, just devised a “bipartisan” solution, as Maine’s Susan Collins described it, to remedy a situation that in addition to being an inconvenience had become an embarrassment for the administration as well as lawmakers. And so loud voices and powerful lobbying efforts by industry won the day yet again. Talk about embarrassing.
BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
"In the 1990s, Jack [Dawley's] drug and alcohol addictions led to convictions for domestic violence and driving under the influence, resulting in nearly $1,500 in fines and costs in the Norwalk Municipal Court. Jack was also behind on his child support, which led to an out-of-state jail sentence." After serving three and a half years in Wisconsin, Dawley, now sober for 14 years, is still trying to catch up with the fines he owes, and it has "continue[d] to wreak havoc on his life."
Tricia Metcalf is a mother with sole custody of two teenagers. In 2006, Metcalf "was convicted of passing multiple bad checks. The fines mounted into the thousands. Unable to pay the total amount owed, Tricia entered into a payment plan of $50 per month." Although she's worked temporary jobs, a long-term job has been hard to find. "Whenever Tricia missed a payment, a warrant was issued and she was taken to jail."
The stories of Jack Dawley and Tricia Metcalf are only two of several compelling accounts in the ACLU's new report, The Outskirts of Hope: How Ohio's Debtors' Prisons Are Ruining Lives and Costing Communities.
The jailing of people unable to pay fines and court costs is no longer a relic of the 19th century American judicial system. Debtors' prisons are alive and well in one-third of the states in this country.
In 2011, Think Progress' Marie Diamond wrote: "Federal imprisonment for unpaid debt has been illegal in the U.S. since 1833. It's a practice people associate more with the age of Dickens than modern-day America. But as more Americans struggle to pay their bills in the wake of the recession, collection agencies are using harsher methods to get their money, ushering in the return of debtor's prisons."
PAUL BUCHHEIT FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
We've all been affected by the tragedy in Boston. Anytime an innocent person gets killed in an act of terror, we feel some of the pain of the victims' families, and we feel less safe, for our way of life has been threatened.
In another incident, on a warm spring afternoon in Chicago in 2012, 6-year-old Aliyah Shell sat with her mother on the front porch of their Little Village home on the city's southwest side. A pickup truck drove by, shots were fired, and Aliyah lay in the arms of a mother crazed with confusion and grief. The little girl died later that afternoon at the hospital.
In a third incident, in March of 2011, about 40 individuals gathered together at a community center to try to resolve a dispute over a local mine. The group included the most respected senior members of the community. At about 10:45 AM the room was bombed, and most people inside were killed. Their bodies were blown up, torn into unrecognizable pieces. Family members could do nothing. Even collecting the remains for burial was dangerous, for bombings were often followed by attacks targeting the rescuers. This has been the way of life in much of Pakistan.
All these attacks ended human lives and caused unimaginable suffering for the families of the victims. All deserve our attention. We don't need the media to decide for us which is most important, or which impacts us most personally. But news sources have tried to do that with the Boston bombing, to stir the passion of fear in our minds, to bolster the cause of homeland security. The Wall Street Journal proclaimed that the Boston attack is "a reminder of the continuing need for heightened defenses against terror threats."
But what is the nature of "terrorism" in each case?
MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Of Thursday's dedication of the George W. Bush presidential library, NPR headlines an article that details how President "Obama's Bush Library Speech Leaves Iraq And More Unspoken."
Most Americans of both parties have, over the years, appeared to have adopted the attitude that the stolen election of 2000 is something the nation has gotten over. But it's hard not to underscore that the George W. Bush presidential library is really a fraud.
After all, Bush was never elected president. On the 10th anniversary of his anointment by the Supreme Court, and particularly by the stay of the Florida state-mandated recount by Antonin Scalia – a long-time buddy of Dick Cheney and rabid right wing partisan. In 2010, Eric Alterman recounted just some of the machinations that led to an election that was stolen even before the votes were cast (which was done with a number of voter suppression strategies, including the purging of tens of thousands of largely minority voters in Florida done by a firm called ChoicePoint) on the tenth anniversary of the legalized putsch.
The coup was openly revealed in Scalia's infamous stay of a state-mandated recount (Bush, by the way, as governor of Texas signed a bill that would have made a recount in Florida automatic if the vote were as close in Texas as it officially was in the Sunshine State) when he stated that a recount "threatens irreperable harm to [Bush] and to the country, by casting a cloud upon what he claims to be the legitimacy of his election." In short, Scalia is saying that if Bush lost after a recount it would hurt his reputation as president since the Supreme Court would install him in the White House no matter what the voters decided in Florida. (Remember that Al Gore won the national popular vote by more than 540,000 votes.)
(Photography: @ LaRsNoW @)
BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Still smarting over November's bitter electoral defeats, the Koch Brothers may be on the verge of taking their libertarian/free enterprise/deregulation game plan to another level; the purchase of the Tribune Company, and a string of other daily newspapers.
Such a purchase would immediately give Charles and David Koch, the billionaire industrialists and generous funder of right-wing institutions, causes and candidates, direct media access to the editorial and news pages of The Los Angeles Times, The Chicago Tribune, The Baltimore Sun, The Orlando Sentinel and The Hartford Courant. Hoy, the second-largest Spanish-language daily newspaper in the country, could also be Included in the deal.
According to the New York Times, "The papers, valued at roughly $623 million, would be a financially diminutive deal for Koch Industries, the energy and manufacturing conglomerate based in Wichita, Kan., with annual revenue of about $115 billion."
The New York Times also reported Sunday, that Three years ago the Koch Brothers "held a seminar of like-minded, wealthy political donors at the St. Regis Resort in Aspen, Colo., [where] [t]hey laid out a three-pronged, 10-year strategy to shift the country toward a smaller government with less regulation and taxes." The first two prongs of the strategy consisted of "educating grass-roots activists and influencing politics"; the third prong was media.
JACQUELINE MARCUS FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
At the end of Amy Goodman’s interview with Jeremy Scahill, author of the new book, Dirty Wars: The World Is a Battlefield, and the award-winning documentary film with the same name appearing at theatres this June, Scahill concluded that we cannot avoid asking the question: Are Americans paying a high price for the U.S. government’s violent war polices? The corporate media will not go there when it comes to this question.
I agree with Scahill’s assessment. If these wars continue in our name, it’s highly likely that Americans will be the target of retaliation. America is no longer seen as the Beacon of Light in the world. For the last twelve years, our government is viewed globally as the Bully of Darkness. After the complete annihilation of Iraq, wrongly blamed for 9-11 and wrongly accused of harboring weapons of mass destruction, can you blame world leaders’ for escalating defense programs?
When speaking about war crimes i.e. statements such as “Look what we’re doing to those poor village peasants in Afghanistan and Yemen, killing up to 30 or 40 women and children for one suspect,” the pronoun “we” should be replaced with “President Obama”. Obama won the 2008 election on the campaign promise that that he’d put an end to these unconscionable wars and begin the process of healing and reconciliation. Thus, Americans are not responsible for what this government does. The President vowed to do so and he betrayed us.