DAVID SIROTA FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
The continuum of US politics is not a straight line - it is more like a circle. Travel farther out on the right and left, and ultimately the sides bend to a common position on an issue like taxpayer subsidies for big business. To many progressives, such expenditures are giveaways to the already wealthy. To many conservatives, they are a free-market-distorting waste of taxpayer resources. Both sides also often criticize the subsidies as an instrument of cronyism and corruption.
In recent years, taxpayer subsidies for corporations have become a huge expense: The New York Times estimates that states and cities now spend more than $80 billion a year on such so-called "incentives." For the most part, this gravy train has not faced much pressure to slow down.
But now, as the 2016 presidential campaign intensifies, both the left and the right will have a prime opportunity to spotlight its critiques. That is because one of the most prominent Republican presidential candidates - Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker - has made such subsidies a central part of his public policy agenda. Those subsidies have produced both high-profile scandals and lackluster economic results.
In 2011, Walker created the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation to give businesses taxpayer loans and grants. Within a few years, state auditors published reports spotlighting "concerns with WEDC's administration and oversight of its economic development programs and its financial management." Specifically, auditors said "WEDC did not require grant and loan recipients to submit information showing that contractually required jobs were actually created or retained" and also noted that money was handed out "in ways that did not consistently comply" with state law.
PAUL BUCHHEIT FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
The US has experienced "gush-up" rather than "trickle-down." The shame is on the adherents of unregulated free-market capitalism, who have assaulted us with the message of "winner-take-all" wealth over the common good. George Will perpetuates the neoliberal myth by quoting one of his idols, John Tamny: "Income inequality in a capitalist system is truly beautiful...it provides the incentive for creative people to gamble on new ideas.."
But in the realm of reality, there are many reasons for embarrassment:
1. Just Because They're Rich, Billionaires Are Trusted to Design Our Education and Health Systems
Bill Gates leads the way here. He got rich in questionable ways from technology, and as a result much of America feels he's qualified to be a great humanitarian. Because of his corporate-endowed foundation, says Arundhati Roy, Bill Gates can "find himself designing education, health, and agriculture policies, not just for the US government but for governments all over the world."
BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
For Christian Zionists and neo-conservatives, the discussion over what to do about Iran is nothing new. If it were up to folks like Michael Evans, Joel Rosenberg and John Bolton, the U.S. would have bombed Iran years ago. These days, however, as the current debate over the Iranian nuclear deal continues going nuclear, conservatives are charging the Obama administration with at best being naive and getting snookered by Iranian negotiators, and at worst, with leading Israelis "to the ovens," and staging a replay (only worse) of Neville Chamberlain's Munich deal with Hitler. Iran can't be trusted is a most commonly heard refrain.
Christian Zionists, who for years have been hankering for the U.S. to exercise a more muscular approach to Iran, are committing tens of millions of dollars to killing the deal. Republicans think they have found the Golden Ticket to finally winning over Jewish voters.
While all the yammering is going on, it is worth stepping back in time to see how we got to where we are with Iran. And for that, there's no better place to turn than to Stephen Kinzer's now twelve-year-old -- but still seminal -- book, All The Shah's Men: An American Coup and the Roots of Middle East Terror.
All The Shah's Men describes the Central Intelligence Agency's (CIA) maiden coup -- the 1953 overthrow of Mohammad Mossadegh, the democratically elected prime minister of Iran. The coup's code name was "Operation Ajax."
MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Yes, in the end the 2000 presidential election was decided by a 5-4 Supreme Court decision. That was the only vote that mattered in putting George W. Bush in the White House, despite the fact that he lost the national popular vote to Al Gore by well over a half a million votes.
The US Constitution set up an electoral system by which the winner of the election could lose the popular vote and still gain the majority of electoral votes. A presidential election is based on a contest for electoral votes in 50 different states, so a candidate can roll up large popular margins in some states while losing electoral votes to a candidate who won by narrower margins in other states.
A presidential election outcome in which the candidate who lost the national popular vote ended up in the White House has only happened four times. Al Gore was the candidate who received the largest popular vote margin - 544,000 more votes than Bush - who was not sworn in as president.
Recall that the governor of Florida during the 2000 election - who played a key role in creating the scenario that led up to the 5-4 Supreme Court vote for George W. Bush to become president - was Jeb Bush.
ECOWATCH FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUTLORRAINE CHOW OF
Article reprinted with permission from EcoWatch.
Chicago probably isn’t the first place that comes to mind when you think of farming, but the city’s Pullman Park district will soon be home to the largest rooftop greenhouse in the world. Once construction is complete, the behemoth 75,000 square foot green space, built and operated by Gotham Greens, will be larger than a football stadium and even some city blocks.
As Business Insider puts it, “For some perspective on the size of the greenhouse: the average size of a city block in many parts of the US—including Portland, Oregon and Houston, Texas—is 67,600 square feet. An NFL football field is 57,600 square feet. This greenhouse is larger than all of these things.”
According to a Gotham Greens, the greenhouse will produce up to 1 million pounds of sustainably grown, pesticide-free produce annually. The harvest will also be distributed through local retailers, restaurants, farmer’s markets and community groups. Since the greens are grown locally, it eliminates the carbon emissions and miles that food traditionally travels to get to Chicago’s plates.
“This is an exciting opportunity to bring fresh, healthy produce year-round to Pullman, which is underserved for food, and going through an exciting resurgence in economic development,” Gotham Greens CEO Viraj Puri told DNAInfo. The rooftop farm is also expected to hire 40 workers to help grow the produce, the site reported.
DAVID SIROTA FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Since announcing his 2016 White House bid, Donald Trump has been the central focus of the campaign — by one estimate, he has garnered almost 40 percent of all election coverage on the network newscasts. Clearly, The Donald's attempt to turn 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. into Trump White House has attracted so much attention because the candidate is seen as a Bulworthesque carnival barker who will say anything, no matter how hypocritical, factually unsubstantiated or absurd.
Yet for all the hype he's generated, Trump is not the only presidential hopeful willing to make utterly mind-boggling statements.
Take Hillary Clinton. Earlier this month, she said, "there can be no justification or tolerance for this kind of criminal behavior" that has been seen on Wall Street. She added that "while institutions have paid large fines and in some cases admitted guilt, too often it has seemed that the human beings responsible get off with limited consequences or none at all, even when they have already pocketed the gains." Her campaign echoed the message with an email to supporters lauding Clinton for saying that "when Wall Street executives commit criminal wrongdoing, they deserve to face criminal prosecution."
Clinton's outrage sounds convincing at first — but then, audacity-wise, it starts to seem positively Trump-like when cross-referenced with campaign finance reports, foundation donations and speaking fees.
MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Recently, Nancy A. Heitzeg wrote a trenchant analysis on Truthout of the racist, destructive policy known as "broken windows policing." While racism in the South tends to be more direct and apparent, in the North it is often wrapped in a blanket of claims to be implementing "good public policy."
In the end, the structural racism that guides Northern policing can be just as deadly as Southern institutional and personal racism; it just has a different veneer.
In New York City, as Heitzeg notes, the implementation of "broken windows policing" reached its zenith - a period of ruthless enforcement, targeting mostly Black and Brown people - under the administration of Mayor Michael Bloomberg. He counted on NYPD Commissioner William J. Bratton (who is today's commissioner, as well) to carry out the devastating strategy.
Not only does "broken windows" policing - which is still in place, although in "reduced" form under Mayor Bill de Blasio - serve as a primary feeder of the mass-incarceration pipeline, it provides a contextual justification for perpetuating a notion among police officers that Black people are "crimes waiting to happen." This racist outlook - championed by the late James Q. Wilson, a professor at Harvard and UCLA who specialized in public policy - represents the framework of US policing in a larger sense. It's built on a notion that Black people are predestined "criminals."
DIERDRE FULTON OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Bernie Sanders closing the gap with rival Hillary Clinton and out-polling all of the GOP’s leading candidates, progressives nationwide will host coordinated house parties on Wednesday to further fuel the fire of enthusiasm for the self-described democratic socialist.With recent polls showing Democratic presidential candidate
On July 29, Sanders will address thousands of supporters live via streaming video from a home in Washington, DC. According to his campaign, more than 82,000 people have indicated that they plan to attend one of the more than 3,000 simultaneous local organizing meetings.
“We have a technology available to us that Barack Obama and Howard Dean did not have,” the U.S. senator from Vermont said in an interview with the New York Times‘ First Draft. “And the idea that I can simultaneously be speaking to people located in 1,000 different places is pretty, pretty exciting.” The candidate’s address will be followed by a planning meeting for anyone who wants to stay online and discuss joining his campaign.
In a wide-ranging interview with Vox published Tuesday, Sanders elaborated on this organizing strategy.
“I often make the joke, although it’s not such a joke, that if we can spend half of the time in this country talking about why the middle class is collapsing, as opposed to football or baseball, we would revolutionize what’s going on in America,” Sanders told Vox.
MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
If one looks at the long history of the human species, it has always included plundering, exploitation, slavery and pillaging. Dominance of one group over another, and immense brutality - often through wars or for profiteering - seem to abate only for brief periods of time.
Sometimes we forget how valuable the arts can be in encapsulating political, social and economic realities. Often an art form such as a poem can - with relatively few words - express the fierce urgency of the need for change amid a world that persists in perpetuating injustice.
Take for example, the poem "The Bad Old Days" by Kenneth Rexroth. He begins the poem by describing the narrator's visit to the squalor of the Chicago stockyards, then the central slaughterhouse of the United States, in 1918. It was a little over a decade after Upton Sinclair's book, "The Jungle," had exposed the wretched horror of the meat-processing industry in the US. Rexroth describes the seedy, gloomy streets and slaughterhouse workers who are "Broken and empty, no life," just "Debauched and exhausted faces."
CARL POPE OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
climate solutions paint pastel pictures reflecting smoothly adjusting macro-economic models. Competitive markets gradually nudged by carbon pricing glide into a low carbon future in a modestly disruptive fashion, much as sulfur pollution from power plants was scaled back in the 1990’s.Advocates of “market-based”
But commodity markets for oil and gas don’t work that way. These real markets are poised to savagely strand assets, upset expectations, overturn long established livelihoods and leave a trail of wreckage behind them—unless climate advocates start owning the fruits of their own success and preparing for the transition. Schumpeter’s destructive engine of capitalism is about to show its ugly side.
Two powerful forces are currently driving energy markets and climate outcomes.
Fossil fuel prices are indeed opening the door to climate solutions, but not through the gradual carbon pricing mechanisms so favored by economists (and recently, reluctantly beginning to be explored by conservative thinkers). Instead, the divergence between clean energy price curves, which fall rapidly with market share and fossil fuel prices, which rise with consumption, are about to collide explosively.