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aaaajebsirJeb Bush continues the family tradition of backing policies that would compel workers to labor longer hours to make the wealthy richer. (Image: DonkeyHotey)

Indicating that he is completely cocooned in a 1% bubble - or that he simply has a self-serving and reckless disregard for the facts - GOP presidential aspirant Jeb Bush recently asserted that "people need to work longer hours to create a stronger US economy.

Statistical data indicates that as wealth has increasingly been consolidated upwards to a minute percentage of the US population, worker productivity has increased, as wages have remained stagnant. The impact of this phenomenon is that the rich profit from decades of rising productivity, with workers, on average, receiving no increased compensation.

As ABC News reported in its coverage of the Jeb Bush "longer hours" statement:

A 2014 Gallup poll found that already many Americans employed full-time report working, on average, 47 hours a week, while nearly 4 in 10 say they work at least 50 hours a week.

US workers toil more hours than workers in any other large, industrialized country, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

A couple of days ago, The New York Times published a telling chart (which you can view by clicking here and scrolling down) entitled, "The Growing Gap Between Productivity and Pay."

2015.16.7 BF Berkowitz(Photo: European External Action Service )BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT         

"The fight over the Iran deal is going to make the Obamacare battles look like two preppies slap-fighting over a cucumber sandwich," Jeffrey Lewis, an arms control expert, Foreign Policy      

"Some seem to believe that we should negotiate with the terrorists and radicals, as if some ingenious argument will persuade them they have been wrong all along. …We have an obligation to call this what it is -- the false comfort of appeasement, which has been repeatedly discredited by history." George W. Bush, Speech to the Israeli Knesset, May 15, 2008

Now that a deal with Iran over the future of its nuclear programs has been negotiated, expect conservatives to crank up the outrage and obfuscation. They will conflate diplomacy with appeasement. They may drag Hitler into the conversation and compare President Obama to Britain’s Neville Chamberlain’s betrayal at Munich. They will muddy the waters, sew discord, and create as much confusion as possible. Facts will be hard to come by as the posturing and bloviating begins. The conservative media machine will be running on all cylinders. Christian Zionists will deploy lobbyists on Capital Hill. Republican congressional representatives, and GOP presidential candidates will use everything in their arsenal to put a kybosh on the deal.

During the run-up to the invasion of Iraq, and the early years of the war, Bush administration supporters and surrogates grew fond of branding critics with the A word, calling them appeasers, and accusing opponents of the war of being confused enablers of terrorism. One would think that if there were any justice in the world, conservatives would only be allowed to use the same inflammatory rhetoric and tired arguments only once in a generation.


aaaOilEcoWatch(Photo: Alfonso)Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton met behind closed doors with House and Senate Democrats Tuesday to talk about her positions on key issues. According to the members of Congress who attended the lunch, she told them that climate change can be a winning issue for Democrats, especially among younger voters, if they can develop a message to persuade voters that action is essential.

“She was incredible,” said Maryland Sen. Ben Cardin. “She really relates [climate change] to the current political communities and how we have to do a better job. We know the policy, but we have to do a better job on the politics.”

Congressman Raul Grijalva of Arizona, who co-chairs the House Progressive Caucus, also gave Clinton’s session a favorable review.

“I thought it was pretty solid,” he said. “Some of the progressive issues and members have kind of been crying in the wilderness for a while, and now these issues like climate change, income inequality and the jobs agenda are resonating with the public. The fact that the progressive causes and organizations feel more in touch with and included with Hillary now is a mark that she understands that.”

“You hear issues from her when she’s out on the stump that are pretty much identical with what progressives are saying in the caucus,” said Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown.

According to the National Journal, “Clinton framed global warming as a pressing and serious threat and touted the climate credentials of John Podesta, the chairman of her 2016 campaign and a former climate adviser to President Obama.”

However, she also went easy on coal, according to Sen. Joe Manchin, who represents the coal mining state of West Virginia. He invited Clinton to tour West Virginia’s coal country.


aaaGlacier(Photo: Glacier, by Edubucher)After reading Truthout reporter's Dahr Jamail’s The End of the World As We Know It, an interview with Guy McPherson, professor emeritus of evolutionary biology, natural resources and ecology at the University of Arizona, and a climate change expert for 30 years, I stared at my computer screen and questioned whether it was worth writing commentaries when we’re on the brink of mass extinction possibly in this lifetime. It seemed pointless.

Of course, there is something profoundly unacceptable about this conclusion. One’s gut reaction is to deny the inevitable, as if your doctor just told you that you’ve got x amount of years left to live. You want to say, “Nah, this can’t be…this can’t be happening.” Or you think of the zealot on the street corner, Bible in one hand, megaphone in the other, shouting “The end of the world is coming! Get right with Jesus!” Sure, the end of the world is coming in about a million years, but not in my lifetime—so I believed when I was a child.

But it is happening, and rapidly at that. We’re now witnessing the beginning of the end, and it’s happening very rapidly because of all the climate interactions that are going off much like thousands of dominos colliding and collapsing, known as “feedback loops triggered by human-caused climate disruption,” in the words of Professor McPherson, such as the enormous amounts of methane (greenhouse gas) that is being released from Arctic ice-melts, accelerated by Japan’s nuclear Fukushima catastrophe, May 2011 three nuclear power meltdowns, (TEPCO has been releasing tons of radioactive water into the Pacific for the last four years that is literally boiling the ocean,) to name merely two domino effects from many, many more, and so when all those dominoes finally stop falling, there will be nothing left but a deadening silence; and this is all happening in our lifetimes.


aaaaahistorydisneyThe US cannot long endure Disneyesque fantasizers who want to return to dangerous illusions about the nation's history. (Photo: Orange County Archives)

So what politicians and pundits who champion a return to the past - as if the US experienced some golden age of democracy and fairness - are really advocating is the entrenchment of a society ruled by white property owners and corporations.

Politicians who would lead us back to an illusionary historical model for the future are eroding the promise of democracy. They are trying to govern as if the US were the Magic Kingdom - but no wand of manufactured nostalgia will actually transform the moral infrastructure of this nation.

If we are to begin that process of transformation, we must first of all acknowledge the reality of our history.


aaaafreegaza(Photo: Ele)

Max Blumenthal is a spot-on, tenacious journalist.

He has a bevy of enthusiastic supporters, and a host of virulent pro-Israel "no matter what" critics. He has become a lightening rod for conservatives. Is it possible for right-wingers and AIPAC adherents to speak about his work without either blowing a carotid artery; or attacking him personally, huffing and puffing about his being "anti-Semitic," a self-loathing Jew, an anti-Israeli propagandist, and a bullying anti-Zionist? It doesn't appear it is.

That dear readers, is a darn shame, because the work of Max Blumenthal -- a gutsy award-winning journalist whose on-the-ground reporting often shatters the confabulated wisdom of the Mainstream Media Misinformation and Disinformation Complex -- speaks for itself in its insights and fearlessness.

As Mondoweiss pointed out, Blumenthal's last book Goliath: Life and Loathing in Greater Israel – documenting the growth of radical right-wing politics in Israeli -- did not get reviewed in The New York Times.

Typical of attacks from the pro-Israel media, Petra Marquardt-Bigman, a German-Israeli freelance writer and researcher, takes the slash and burn approach to Blumenthal and his work. In a recent blog post, she maintained that Blumenthal not only has "enthusiasm for Hamas," but that he seems to have an "uncritical acceptance of the terror group's propaganda."


aaaavotersuppressionUniversal suffrage in the US is still under vigorous attack. (Photo: Michael Fleshman)

A federal lawsuit is currently challenging a wave of voter restriction laws in North Carolina, according to a recent article on Facing South:

Arguments begin this week in federal court in Winston-Salem, North Carolina in N.C. NAACP v. McCrory, a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the most restrictive voting law in the nation. Outside the courthouse, voting rights advocates will gather for prayer, teach-ins and a mass march. They compare what's happening today to a watershed moment in the 20th century fight for voting rights.

"This is our Selma," said Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II, N.C. NAACP president. "The people of North Carolina are standing up — in the courts and the streets — because we refuse to accept the revival of Jim Crow tactics used to block access to the ballot for African-American and Latino voters."

Facing South reports that a Supreme Court ruling unleashed the latest round of disenfranchisement efforts against people of color:

Two years ago in June, the U.S. Supreme Court in the Alabama case Shelby County v. Holder struck down a key section of the Voting Rights Act, effectively lifting federal pre-clearance requirements for voting law changes in jurisdictions with a history of voter discrimination, most of them in the South. In the year following that ruling, at least 10 of the 15 states that had been covered in whole or part by pre-clearance requirements introduced legislation making it harder for voters to cast ballots.

Unfortunately, the clarion call for restrictive voting laws - based on patently false claims of "massive voter fraud" - is not confined to the South. For instance, just-announced GOP presidential hopeful Gov. Scott Walker has led the drive for restrictive voting laws in Wisconsin. Indeed, the voting limitations implemented by Republican legislatures in a number of states had their origins in the South.


Article reprinted with permission from EcoWatch

Thirteen activists from the group Plane Stupid chained themselves together on the northern runway at the London Heathrow Airport in England this morning protesting the runway expansion saying, “We cannot meet our climate change targets and build new runways at the same time.”

Activists wore armlocks and laid on the runway, where police brought heavy machinery to cut them free, according to the Guardian.

The statement released this morning by Plane Stupid challenged the assumption that expanding Heathrow fits with the UK’s climate change goals and argued that “if the aviation industry paid more of its environmental costs then there would be no pressing need for a new runway.”


aaaChristieCPAC(Photo: Gage Skidmore)When Mitt Romney's campaign was investigating potential choices to be his 2012 running mate, they gave each prospect a fish-themed code name, such as Lake Fish, Filet-O-Fish, etc. Their name for New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, a tireless self-promoter known for his bloated ego, was Puffer Fish.

The Romneyites determined that the prima donna governor was wholly unqualified to be America's vice president, but the rejection didn't deflate Christie's puffed-up self-esteem one dot, and he has continued to brag, bluster and bully his way into national politics. Having convinced at least himself that he's the can-do, big-idea, forceful leader America needs, the Jersey guv is now offering to be our president and has become No. 14 on the Republican presidential dance card! How exciting is that?

Before accepting, however, you might check with one group of voters who are less than enchanted: the people of New Jersey. With a moribund economy, a state budget mess, a growing pension crisis, the state infrastructure crumbling and his own office caught in a web of scandals, Christie is not faring well with the homefolk, earning a sorry 30 percent approval rating, with most voters saying they dislike "everything about him."

Nationwide, only Donnie Trump is rated lower than Christie by Republican primary voters. But he has found one friend — Maine Gov. Paul LePage has enthusiastically endorsed him! Problem is, LePage is even more insufferable and insolent than Christie, so arrogant and autocratic that he's even alienated fellow Republicans in Maine and is now threatened with impeachment.

Still, if anything, the Puffer Fish's ego is puffier than ever. Asked on Fox News why 65 percent of New Jersey voters say he'd make a poor president and shouldn't run, the vainglorious governor actually said: "They want me to stay. Don't leave to run for president, because we want you to stay."

It's one thing for a politician to say that, but — far scarier — Christie is so out of touch with reality that he actually believes it!


aaaaanologo35More than a decade ago, Naomi Klein documented the global commodification of life by corporate branding. (Photo: ivana)

A July 9 article in The Washington Post details how many of contemporary rock, pop and rap music stars have sold their images and music to corporate branding:

Things you might see this summer: Taylor Swift sipping from a bottle of Diet Coke. Kendrick Lamar slipping into a pair of Reeboks. Some Drake lyrics slapped onto a can of Sprite.... Drake has made it his job to sell more Drake — through rapping, through singing, through Nike, through Sprite.

But just as modern pop stars are expected to serve as captains of the consumable world, listeners need to remain savvy enough to locate music’s humanity in this convoluted entrepreneurial maze. And that becomes trickier as the ethics of selling out grow more complex.

It could be considered romanticizing that rock and roll, as well as popular folk music, represented a non-corporate blending of music and message. However, it should be recalled that rock and roll began as a genre that was in and of itself a threat to the status quo, sometimes in lyrics but also - in its early days - in its challenge to the puritanical mores of the US that marked the '50s.

It's crucial to note that the genre was originally rejected by many in the ruling social order because rock and roll had its roots in Black musical traditions and vocal artists such as Chuck Berry. In short, primarily because of racism, rock and roll was, at first, considered "dangerous."

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