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MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

President-Jefferson-DavisJefferson Davis, President of the GOP House CaucusAlthough the Tea Party contingent prefers lofty patriotic terms for what they are up to, Ryan Lizza in a New Yorker article, points out that congressional representatives who speak for just 18 percent of the US population are holding the government and the rest of the citizens of the United States hostage.

The New Yorker maps out the location of the congressional districts that are the home seats of 80 GOP congressional reps who wrote an August 21 letter to Boehner. The FreedomWorks-inspired appeal to shut down the government is widely credited with precipitating Boehner's insistence on not allowing a "clean vote" on the budget. Half of these districts are in the South, of course, which as a region -- ironically -- receives far more back in federal tax dollars than it pays in (Mississippi, for instance, receives as much as $1.80 back from DC for every dollar its residents pay in US taxes, with the blue states generally subsidizing financial needs of the deep South).  

The other half are gerrymandered white districts, as Lizza analyzes them, "a quarter of them are in the Midwest, while there’s a smattering of thirteen in the rural West and four in rural Pennsylvania (outside the population centers of Philadelphia and Pittsburgh). Naturally, there are no members from New England, the megalopolis corridor from Washington to Boston, or along the Pacific coastline."

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Wendy Davis 2013          Texas State Sen. Wendy Davis Texas State Sen. Wendy Davis is on the radar screen of most BuzzFlash at Truthout readers for her defiant filibuster against an extremist anti-abortion law in Texas earlier this year.

BuzzFlash noted the galvanizing moment -- when the Texas state capitol was filled with pro-choice supporters -- as Davis, wearing a back brace and sporting pink running shoes, took on the antediluvian, misogynist legislation.  "Populist Feminist Revolt and Heroic Filibuster Defeat Extremist Anti-Abortion Bill in Texas," was the headline on our June 26th column. Alas, Gov. Rick "Goodhair" Perry called a special session of the Texas legislature and got the "put the government into a woman's ovaries" law passed.

Davis's filibuster that ran out the legislative clock, her "pulled herself up by her bootstraps as a single mother" biography (from waitress to community college to Harvard Law School), and her grit propelled her to national prominence -- and speculation about her political next step.

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

wvote10 3Being the premier national sport, pundits and citizens are currently engaging in a frenzy of speculation about who is ahead in the "game" of shutting down the government.  Everyone wants to predict which party the House Tea Party action will hurt more.

At the current moment, most polls indicate that the majority of Americans blame the Republicans for causing the crisis.  However, the strategic battle rages on in this Super Bowl of political crises.

Nonetheless, there are some longer term indicators that may provide better insight than beyond the immediate political conflict.

For instance, a poll sponsored by the National Journal shows that since 2012 the Republicans are losing the backing of women in droves:

Only 14 percent of women said the Republican Party had moved closer to their perspective. More than twice as many women, 33 percent, said the party had drifted further from them....

In the new poll, the results for the GOP are even more ominous among young women. Only 11 percent of women younger than 50 said the party had moved closer to them. In contrast, 29 percent said the GOP had moved further away.

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

boehner10 1John Boehner: The Tin Siding Salesman Who Sold America's Future Out to the Tea Party. The estimate of how many federal workers have been rendered jobless as a result of the fringe Tea Party-precipitated shut down of the federal government varies widely.  Some estimates are that immediately 800,000 federal employees were out of work and without pay as of October 1 (those workers deemed "essential" are still at work, but will only receive pay after the budget impasse is resolved); but even with that likely low figure, the ripple effect could reach into millions as federally contracted workers are laid off and more federal employees are told not to come into work.

Meanwhile, according to the Washington Post, members of the House and Senate continue to receive their paychecks on time.  They earn $174,000 a year:

But members of Congress and the president, who are so at odds over who caused the shutdown, will continue being paid and must be by law. That's because their jobs are authorized by the U.S. Constitution and are paid with mandatory funds, not discretionary spending dependent on annual appropriations.

Rank-and-file lawmakers of the House and Senate earn $174,000 annually, while congressional leaders earn more. Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) makes $223,500 a year, slightly less than the $230,700 salary for Vice President Biden and about half of the $400,000 salary for President Obama.

The irony is a bitter one: here is a group of tin foil hat ideologues who spout American Exceptionalism but represent American lunacy, greed and dysfunction.

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

terror210 1If economic sabotage of the United States is terrorism, then most of the House GOP should be sent to Guantanamo.  Not that BuzzFlash at Truthout supports the opening of Guantanamo in any way (we believe it should be closed forthwith), but the members of the House GOP do.  And since they are terrorizing the American economy and precarious financial conditions of so many US citizens with a government shutdown and the threat of not increasing the debt ceiling, they should -- according to the cliche -- get a dose of their own medicine.

So often when US presidents and members of congress talk about the need for military intervention abroad and a humongous military, spy and surveillance budget, they refer to "national security."  The politicians and the mass media generally imply that this is a term that means the US needs to use armed forces and to start wars and kill people to protect us from physical harm or death. The elected officials and their appointees hope that this meme will keep American citizens in line and in support of a huge war machine that also happens to profit those in the DC revolving door of the military-industrial complex.

But protecting "national security" -- i.e., about 95 percent of the use of that loaded term -- really means protecting the economic interests and dominance of the United States.  Can anyone doubt that is what it means in the Middle East, given that America has about 4 percent of the world's population but consumes about 25 percent of its oil?  We wouldn't have the relatively small number of Islamic terrorists wanting to kill US citizens if we weren't pulling the strings in most of the US and using the military and CIA to ensure regional dominance (along with the UK and other European powers).

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Tyrannosaurus9 29Tyrannosaurus Wrecking the EconomyAs hard as it is to believe given the psychotic babble coming out of the mouths of House Republicans, the Affordable Care Act was the creation of a think tank revered by conservatives, the Heritage Institute, and promoted by Republicans in the early '90s as an alternative to "Hillarycare."  Of course, none other than Mitt Romney made it his main legacy as governor of Massachusetts; i.e., that is to say before he retroactively denounced it to jump on the anti-Obamacare juggernaut in the GOP primaries.

Why did the Heritage Foundation promote what is more or less now the Affordable Care Act that the House Republcans are comparing to bubonic plague?  Because of the individual mandate.  Republicans just love individual responsibility as compared to corporate responsibility, right?

Heck, even Richard Nixon wanted to put the responsibility on employers, according to a Forbes article:

In addition, in those days, most proposals for universal health care that were to the right of government-run single-payer were based upon forcing employers to sponsor private-sector health coverage for all of their employees. For example, under the Comprehensive Health Insurance Plan proposed by Richard Nixon in 1974, “every employer would be required to offer all full-time employees the Comprehensive Health Insurance Plan. Additional benefits could then be added by mutual agreement.”

If Tricky Dick were alive, the House GOP would skin him alive and roast his flesh for dinner.

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

jail9 29BuzzFlash at Truthout has regularly written about the failure of the US Department of Justice (DOJ) to hold the masters of the universe who gamble with America's assets legally accountable for their actions. A March 7 BuzzFlash commentary, "Holder Admits That Department of Justice Believes Big Bankers Are Above the Law," contains some of the key hyperlinks to columns we have written on this injustice.

Jeff Macke, writing on Yahoo Finance, reconfirms that the banks too big to fail are running the show in cahootz with their revolving door colleagues at the Department of Justice (and elsewhere in government, including the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC)):

Ritholtz Wealth Managment CIO and Big Picture editor Barry Ritholtz says JPMorgan has shelled out about $11 billion in fines and spent around $16 billion in legal fees in the last few years. "This is just the cost of doing business for these mega banks."

There's the rub. Paying off regulators and settling criminal charges is only supposed to be the "cost of doing business" for criminals. When the FBI goes after the Mafia the stated goal was putting them out of business. There is no specific goal when it comes to cracking down on Wall Street. Only a portion of the settlements collected go[es] to the actual victims.

Remember, as the Cosa Nostra or the narcos consider, such "payoffs" (fines in this case) are just factored in as an expense in order to make a large profit.  Remember, Jamie Dimon and his cohorts with their hands on the majority of America's banking money aren't paying a cent from their own pockets.  Neither do the dons or the drug kingpins.

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Fukushimasep 26Overhead view of Fukushima plantThe possibility of a global nuclear catastrophe as a result of the ongoing crisis at Fukushima is not only a real threat to untold lives in Japan and around the world, it is a model example of why nuclear power of any sort should not be privatized -- and should only have limited uses within governmental programs.

As reported on Monday on BuzzFlash at Truthout, the potential nuclear radiation release from "repairs" at Fukushima threaten the globe. "Nuclear Crisis at Fukushima Could Spew Out More Than 15,000 Times as Much Radiation as Hiroshima Bombing," Harvey Wasserman, a longtime anti-nuclear advocate, wrote on BuzzFlash. Truthout posted a follow-up story today that states, "We’re in very apocalyptic territory, with a wide and unknown range of outcomes."

It's hard to analyze the nuclear industry rationally when the private company, TEPCO, in Japan has just thrown up its hands and admitted it does not have a full-proof plan to prevent a nuclear disaster of proportions not yet seen.  You can bet the Japanese government which has been assuring the world that everything was under control had a role in inviting international assistance in keeping Fukushima from creating a nuclear nightmare.

Wednesday, 25 September 2013 10:06

Climate Deniers Threaten the Lives of Our Children

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

sep9 25As BuzzFlash reported on September 13, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is meeting in Stockholm. The IPCC is widely expected to issue a stern report about the dangers of ignoring human-caused climate change.

Of course, adults -- not children -- interested in profiteering regardless of its likely lethal impact on the inhabitants of the earth are the ones putting the brakes on even the most incremental of efforts to slow climate change down (if we have not already reached the tipping point).

But, as an article in the Guardian UK reports, it is the children of the planet who are going to suffer the most as a result of the current placation of global industry in regards to reversing global warming:

Children will bear the brunt of the impact of climate change because of their increased risk of health problems, malnutrition and migration, according to a new study published on Monday. And food prices are likely to soar as a result of warming, undoing the progress made in combating world hunger....

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

coolsep 24According to a thoughtful "opinionator" September 15 commentary in the New York Times (NYT), Northwestern University Philosophy Professor Peter Kudlow refers to a TIME article this summer that found "70 percent of those age 18 to 34 sampled in a poll said they believed that Snowden 'did a good thing' in leaking the news of the National Security Agency’s [NSA] surveillance program."

It took a threatened war with Syria, the imminent possible shutdown of the federal government, and the GOP getting high on trying to starve people to take the attention off the Obama administration's obsession with capturing Edward Snowden.

Snowden provided little data that would help any "enemy" of the US, but he embarrassed the White House and permanent DC elite establishment by revealing the extent of illegal and legal US surveillance far beyond the stated goal of stopping terrorism.  What Snowden offered up on a platter, through primarily a foreign paper -- the Guardian UK -- was the evidence that the US is spying on its own citizens, spying for international political purposes even on friendly heads of state, spying to help corporations (of course, including the fossil fuel industry) to gain global competitive advantage, and for many other purposes that exceed President Obama's claim that the NSA only protects the national security of the United States.

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