JIM HIGHTOWER ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Coca-Cola is running a stealth advertising campaign.
Stealth? Yes, it's a nationwide product promotion that's being run below the public radar! Why would a corporation as ad-dependent as Coke spend big bucks on advertising that it doesn't want consumers to notice? Shhhh — because the campaign is a surreptitious ploy to enlist restaurants in a marketing conspiracy that targets you, your children, and — of course — your wallet.
Coke calls its covert gambit "Cap the Tap," urging restaurateurs to stop offering plain old tap water to customers: "Every time your business fills a cup or glass with tap water, it pours potential profits down the drain." Cap the Tap can put a stop to that, says Coke, "by teaching (your) crew members or waitstaff suggestive selling techniques to convert requests for tap water into orders for revenue-generating beverages."
The program provides a guide for restaurant managers who agree to direct Coke's sneak attack on customers. It also supplies a handy backroom poster to remind waitstaff "when and how to suggestively sell beverages," plus a participant's guide to put "suggestive selling" foremost in mind as staff confronts the enemy... uh, I mean customers. Tactics include outflanking those recalcitrant customers who insist on water. Just switch the sales pitch to bottled water — remember, Coca-Cola also owns Dasani, one of the top-selling brands of bottled water in the U.S.
Early in its Cap the Tap scheme, the beverage behemoth offered two incentive programs for waitstaff: "Suggest More and Score" and "Get Your Fill." Both were competitions meant to spur servers to push more Coke on American restaurant-goers.
ROBERT C. KOEHLER FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Iran! So long our enemy-in-waiting, just asking for it, y'know?
No wonder Americans are confused about the idea of maybe not going to war with that country one of these days, at least according to USA Today, which reported: "The White House and Iran face an uphill selling job to convince Americans to embrace the interim nuclear pact negotiated with Tehran last month."
Two out of three Americans who have actually heard something about the accord don't trust it, the paper explains, because, in essence, Iran took American hostages that one time (for no reason) and have been uncooperative toward our interests ever since. Thus, however hopeful or problematic the Geneva agreement between Iran and the P5 + 1 nations (the U.S., Russia, China, France, U.K. and Germany) may be, here in the land of all-that-is-exceptional, pop culture and superficial opinion polls rule and cynical ignorance counts as news.
Not only did the story fail to address or even hint at the history of U.S.-Iranian relations back to, let us say, 1953, and the CIA's involvement in the overthrow of democratically elected Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh, followed by the installation of the hated (but West-compliant) shah, it overlooked — this seems to be a requirement of mainstream journalism — the glaringly obvious fact that the P5 powers, adamant in their determination to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear arsenal, actually possesses thousands upon thousands of nuclear weapons themselves.
Even without Iran's joining the nuclear club, the Doomsday Clock of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists is set at five minutes to midnight. We're as much in danger of destroying ourselves as we've ever been. Why isn't this relevant?
JACQUELINE MARCUS FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
How rich will we be when we have converted all our forests, our soil, our water resources, and our minerals into cash? —Jay Norwood Darling, conservationist, artist
In case you haven't heard the latest news from the White House, the president chose to unleash the fossil fuel industry all across America. That's right. They're proudly calling the United States "the new Saudi Arabia." President Obama told his oil friends that "America the Beautiful" is all theirs for the profits.
I don't know what Obama got in exchange for this unconscionable plan to drill, pollute and frack in our farming, ranching, wilderness lands and oceans, including the fragile Arctic, I don't know what kind of filthy oil money they waved in front of him like a bunch of sleazy drug gangsters, or how many multimillion dollar homes they offered him in the package of threats, I can only assume that he wouldn't sell the whole country out to the fossil fuel industry unless there was an enormous retirement payback for the Obama family in return.
STEVEN JONAS MD, MPH FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
MSNBC's Chris Matthews has been doing an over-the-top job of self-promoting his new book, Tip and the Gripper: When Politics Worked. Matthews has been with MSNBC for quite some time but in this past year he has become a true attack dog against the Tea Party/GOP (and regular readers of mine know that I see no fundamental differences between them on policy, just on style). And for that, for me it is fun to watch him, which I do on a fairly regular basis. But as for this book, ah well, that is another story.
Matthews could not have been too happy with the review his book received in the Sunday New York Times Book Review, by one David Greenberg. To quote from it:
"Ever since our national politics dissolved into a miasma of polarization and strident punditry — which means either the Clinton pseudo-scandals or the John Adams administration, depending on your historical reference point — Washington pontificators have waxed wistful for gentler times. In the glow of nostalgia, even ideologues and scoundrels come to resemble civic-minded statesmen who put aside partisanship to broker compromises. This romantic tendency usually makes for bad history. . . . The 1980 elections made Ronald Reagan the most conservative American president since before the New Deal . . . . Protecting Social Security, the progressive tax code and other fixtures of the postwar economy fell above all to O'Neill, a corpulent, old-style, steaks-and-cigars Boston Irish pol. The conceit of 'Tip and the Gipper' is that for all their ideological differences, Reagan and O'Neill liked each other enough to put politics aside at 6 o'clock . . . and strike deals in everyone's interest. It's a nice idea for a book, if only it were true."
ERIC ZUESSE FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
The far-right American Legislative Exchange Council claims that every member of the state legislature in two states is a member of their organization.
Recently leaked documents from the "ALEC Board Meeting, August 6, 2013, Chicago, Illinois," list the number and percentage of each state's legislature that have signed onto ALEC; and, under "# of Legislators," and "# of ALEC Members," Iowa has 150 in each column, and South Dakota has 105 in each column. The third column, for both states, shows the "% of ALEC Membership in Legislature" as being "100%." At the opposite end, the lowest percentage is 1%, in New York. The second-lowest is New Jersey, 2%. The third and fourth-lowest, tied, are just 4%, shown in both Maine and Vermont. The fifth-lowest is New Hampshire, 6%.
That table appears on page 39 of their report.
Page 20 presents the text of the oath of office that the leading ALEC member in each state must swear to in order to win or retain his position: "I will act with care and loyalty and put the interests of the organization [ALEC] first." ALEC's Senior Director of Public Affairs told Britain's Guardian, when asked about this: "All legislators are beholden to their constituents' interests first - if they are not, they will be held accountable at the ballot box." In other words: the only thing that ALEC's lead legislator in any state might stand to lose if he violates his oath to ALEC is the vast contributions from the corporations that fund ALEC, which will then probably stop throwing more money into his campaigns. Of course, the purpose of those mega-corporate campaign donations is, for each such state leader, to make sure that he "will be held accountable at the ballot box," if he violates his pledge to ALEC. In other words: ALEC survives simply by fooling conservative voters to vote for the stooges that the corporations that fund ALEC want to write the laws for them.
In some countries, this is called "corruption," or even "fascism," but in the United States, it's called merely "politics," or even (by the five Republicans on the U.S. Supreme Court) "freedom of speech."
ROBERT CREAMER FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
For many years the American Right -- and many of the most powerful elements of corporate and Wall Street elite -- have conducted a war on public employees.
Their campaign has taken many forms. They have tried to slash the number of public sector jobs, cut the pay and benefits of public sector workers, and do away with public employee rights to collective bargaining. They have discredited the value of the work performed by public employees -- like teachers, police and firefighters -- going so far as to argue that "real jobs" are created only by the private sector.
Last week a conservative court ruled that by going through bankruptcy the city of Detroit could rid itself of its obligation under the state constitution to make good on its pension commitments to its retirees.
It should surprise no one that the Republican Chairman of the U.S. House Budget Committee, Paul Ryan, is demanding that a budget deal with the Democrats include a 350% increase in pension contribution by all civilian federal employees. That would effectively mean a pay cut of about 2% for every federal worker. And that cut would come after a three-year pay freeze and multiple furloughs caused by the Republican "sequester."
Unbelievably, in Illinois the right wing Chicago Tribune and the state's corporate elite snookered the Democratic-controlled legislature into passing changes in that state's pension laws that slashed the pensions of its public employees. The changes affected all state employees and many of Illinois' teachers. All of them had faithfully made their required contributions to the state's pension funds for years, even though the legislature regularly failed to make its required payments so it could avoid raising taxes on the state's wealthiest citizens.
PAUL BUCHHEIT FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
The facts are indisputable, the conclusion painful. The wealthiest people in the U.S. and around the world have used the stock market and the deregulated financial system to lay claim to the resources that should belong to all of us.
This is not a matter of productive people benefiting from their contributions to society. This is a relatively small number of people extracting massive amounts of money through the financial system for accomplishing almost nothing.
1. They've Taken $1.6 Million Per Family in New Wealth Since the Recession
The richest 5% of American families each gained at least that much in five years, mostly from the stock market. Using data from Credit Suisse, the Economic Policy Institute, Pew Research, and the Census Bureau and two separate analyses (shown here and here), this extraordinary wealth grab can be calculated.
BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Largely secreted away since its inception, some drone warriors are beginning to fill in the record about their use by the U.S.
Unlike others of his age who might be at home playing violent video games with names like Bulletstorm, Grand Theft Auto, Mortal Kombat and Splatterhouse, and Kindergarten Killers, Airman First Class Brandon Bryant wasn't playing.
The year was 2007, not long after Bryant's twenty-first birthday.
"He was an experiment, really," reads the subhead of GQ's story titled "Confessions of a Drone Warrior". "One of the first recruits for a new kind of warfare in which men and machines merge. He flew multiple missions, but he never left his computer. He hunted top terrorists, saved lives, but always from afar. He stalked and killed countless people, but could not always tell you precisely what he was hitting."
MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Fast food workers have been protesting around the nation, in a growing movement, against wages so low that many of them need to receive government safety net support. They join an entire segment of the working population that has shifted from a living wage to a barely living exploitative pay scale.
And the corporations get subsidized by off-loading benefits to the government whenever they can. By now, many readers are aware that McDonald's infamously advised its workers on its employee website how they could help themselves out financially by returning holiday gifts for cash.
But CNBC, of all websites, caught McDonald's in a major website advice mismatch in which a syndicated columnist offered tips to Mcexploited workers on how to tip "au pairs, personal fitness trainers and pool cleaners on its worker resource website."
Obviously, this pathetically ironic content -- sent out to people who can barely get by -- must have been meant for the McDonald's executive website.
BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Last night, it was difficult to cut through the fog of reaction from current day conservatives to the death of Nelson Mandela. However, despite the kind words and the tributes, it should never be forgotten that the conservative movement in this country took great pains to condemn and demonize Mandela and the African National Congress, doing all they could to undermine the economic boycott of South Africa and the anti-apartheid movement.
Nelson Mandela and his comrades with the African National Congress were not always the toast of the town, especially in Washington, D.C.
President Ronald Reagan, who placed the ANC on the U.S. terror list in the 1980s (a designation that wasn't removed until 2008), labeled the Anti-Apartheid Act of 1986 as "immoral" and "utterly repugnant." Instead, the Reagan Administration adopted "a position a position of constructive engagement towards South Africa." The Nation's Sam Kleiner reported in early July.
"Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Chester Crocker pushed for expanded trade with Johannesburg under the belief that it was a strong ally in the Cold War. While divestment activists urged the United States to isolate the South African regime, the Reagan administration was pushing for more trade and engagement."
In 1985, Rep. Dick Cheney voted against a congressional resolution calling for the release of Mandela and the recognition of the African National Congress. North Carolina Senator Jesse Helms "turned his back during Mandela's visit to the U.S. Capitol."