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Thursday, 22 December 2016 06:52

​I Pledge Allegiance to What?​

2016.22.12 BF Koehler(Photo: Charles Salutan)ROBERT C. KOEHLER FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

I pledge allegiance to . . . what?

The Electoral College, to no one's serious surprise, voted Donald Trump in as the nation's 45th president, and the pot of outrage in the American spectator democracy begins to boil.

No, no, no, no, no, no, no -- no to all his right-wing and idiotic cabinet and Team Trump appointments, no to his conflicts of interest and serial tweets, no to his sexism, his reckless arrogance, his ego, his finger on the nuclear button.

The word of the day is resistance. For instance, Nancy Altman and Ira Lupu, writing at Huffington Post, point out that Trump, though legally the new American president, lacks political legitimacy, thanks to widespread voter suppression, his huge loss in the popular vote and the anachronistic absurdity of the Electoral College; and even more disturbingly, is a thin-skinned, dishonest, immature jerk, utterly lacking the moral authority a national leader must project. These are flaws that cannot be ignored.

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Bottles 1221wrp opt(Photo: whatsyourimpact.org)U.S. and Canada together discard 22 million pounds of plastic into the waters of the Great Lakes each year, according to a new Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) study. Most of it washes up along the shores, accounting for 80 percent of the litter found there.

Researchers said that Chicago, Toronto, Cleveland and Detroit are the worst contributors to the plastic pollution. Half of the plastic dumped into the Great Lakes—11 million pounds—goes into Lake Michigan. Lake Erie comes in at number two, receiving 5.5 million pounds. Lake Ontario gets 3 million pounds of plastic waste a year, with Lake Huron and Lake Superior receiving smaller amounts.

"This study is the first picture of the true scale of plastic pollution in the Great Lakes," said Matthew Hoffman, assistant professor in RIT's School of Mathematical Sciences and lead author of the study.

Plastic pollution in Lake Michigan is approximately the equivalent of 100 Olympic-sized pools full of plastic bottles dumped into the lake every year.

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

4187193883 eb94c5f123 zInstead of falsely claiming that there is a "war on Christmas," why not support peace? (Photo: John)

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The longstanding right-wing propaganda crusade against a nonexistent "war on Christmas" has gained new steam during the campaign and election of Donald Trump. According to a December 20 Christian Science Monitor article, FOX News began promoting the false meme about secular liberals attacking Christmas (and, more broadly, Christians) about a decade ago.  The embedding of the "truthy" notion that there are hostile forces attacking Christmas got an extra boost when Bill O'Reilly took it on as a cause, hammering the accusation home in his TV show and writing.

According to the The Christian Science Monitor report, Donald Trump's adoption of the call to end the "war on Christmas" accusation has boosted it substantially:

But while discourse surrounding the "war on Christmas" has taken place primarily on Fox News and conservative talk radio shows in the past, this year the pro-"Merry Christmas" faction gained a voice on the national political stage thanks to a powerful ally: President-elect Donald Trump. Mr. Trump's adoption of the cause speaks to the concerns of conservative supporters who see a broader persecution of Christians in America and political correctness run amok. But once he takes office, Trump's explicit support of the holiday has the potential to expand beyond rhetoric into concrete political action.

"The 'war on Christmas' discourse sounds similar notes each season, so it's less the discourse that has changed than the context and the stakes," says Kevin Coe, an associate professor of communication at the University of Utah, in an email to The Christian Science Monitor. "More so than in the past, the 'war on Christmas' is connected to perceptions of a broader 'war on Christianity.'"

In essence, evoking a phony "war" against a religious holiday allows Christians who feel besieged by a multicultural world to feel that they are victims -- that their religion and personal beliefs are being belittled and censored. It is very consistent with Trump's appeal to the sense of white Christian victimhood that he manipulated to his advantage throughout the election, and continues to manipulate in the transitional period before he assumes the office of president.

Wednesday, 21 December 2016 06:18

Jim Hightower: What Is the "Trump Fix"?

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Crown 1221wrp opt(Photo: Gryffindor)In Donald Trump's presidential campaign, it was his frequent, unbridled slaps at Wall Street elites and arrogant, job-busting corporate executives that gave him the "populistic" patina he needed to win. But wait a minute: Who are those guys escorting The Donald into the Oval Office?

Oh, my God, they're Wall Street elites and arrogant corporate executives! Trump campaigned on the theme of remaking Washington by "draining the swamp" of pay-to-play corporate favoritism and cronyism. But those swamp critters are the very ones who are buying favors from the president-to-be by putting up tens of millions of dollars to pay for his inaugural extravaganza and his transition operation.

The transition team itself, which is literally shaping and staffing our next national government, is a viper's nest of pay-to-play corporate interests. The teams setting up the various agencies and writing their agendas are dominated by top operatives from anti-worker corporations and from the same Wall Streeters whose casino-style speculation crashed our economy in 2007 and crushed the middle class. Now they are on the inside, deciding who will fill more than 4,000 executive positions and run our government.

Some 850 of these corporate high rollers and lobbyists huddled with Trump early this month for a fundraiser at a posh Manhattan restaurant to pay for putting together his government — and theirs . The room was filled with moneyed elites, such as Paul Singer, the hedge-fund billionaire and extremist laissez-faire ideologue. These are not people who are going to finance any sort of working-class populism; they instead intend to use The Donald's victory to impose a plutocracy over America.

2016.20.12 BF Chow2(Photo: Torrey Wiley)LORRAINE CHOW OF ECOWATCH FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Article reprinted with permission from EcoWatch

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So much for separating business and politics. A Texas nonprofit co-chaired by notorious hunting enthusiasts Donald Jr. and Eric Trump will be hosting a wildlife-themed event to celebrate their father's incoming presidency. Donors who drop between $500,000 to $1 million will be entered for a chance to win multi-day hunting and/or fishing trips with the Trumps -- all in the name of "conservation."

TMZ posted a copy of the invitation of the "Opening Day 2017" fundraiser with the dress code "Camouflage and Cufflinks." It will take place at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, DC on Jan. 21, a day after Donald Trump's presidential inauguration.

According to the invitation, donors who donate $1 million for the "Bald Eagle" package will have a chance to win a private reception and photo opportunity with the President-elect, as well as a multi-day hunting and/or fishing excursion with Donald Trump. Jr. and/or Eric Trump, among other glitzy prizes. For $500,000, the "Grizzly bear" package offers a scaled down version of the hunting trip.

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

4361541526 60f37e976b z 1Will 2017 be the year of rebel journalism? (Photo: Kevin Harber )

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In the Nieman Lab newsletter, a project of the Harvard Nieman Foundation to foster best-journalistic practices, media diversity specialist Andrew Ramsammy finds a positive side to the 2016 election: He says it will ignite the spread of "rebel journalism" in 2017. He predicts that out of the ashes of the election will come a new form of journalism -- indeed, a "rebellion" against the mainstream media that contributed to the rise of Donald Trump. According to Ramsammy, "rebel journalists" will use their platforms boldly to advance truth and pursue justice.

Three examples illustrate Ramsammy's rebel journalist's manifesto:

  • "The rebel will rise against all forms of prejudice and hate, including racism, homophobia, sexism, bigotry, misogyny, nativism, xenophobia, Islamophobia, ignorance, intolerance, politicism, monolithic ideology, self-righteousness, and venality."

  • "The rebel will also rebel against the owned voice, the public media/NPR/PBS sound, the Ron Burgundys, the-colder-than-Siberia-studio-based-three-camera-airbrushed-skin-detail-minus-seven-Best Buy-flat-panel-topias-of-three-point-lighting, the saccharin-tonedeafness of poorly written, culturally anemic headlines, the copy-and-paste of audio scripts for the web, the host banter, awful segues, throws to live-dead newscasts of stereotyped crime scenes from hours, days, and years ago, and the billboarding of any news as 'the most-trusted source.' These are all examples of rusty hooks and relics of the lingua franca of ancient Mesopotamia, lost on audiences who no longer watch and/or listen and perhaps never have and don’t care. Rebels get the best stories without the bells and whistles of sterility. Rebels like keeping it pure."

  • "Rebels must rebel against journalism’s institutional and structural racism. We must fight against the platitudes of diversity; all of its exoticness and pornographic otherness. Diversity is neither abstract nor finite; it is complex and infinite. One cannot act upon diversity without inclusion, or inclusion without diversity. They are not mutually exclusive. Rebels understand the value of diverse opinions and will not shunt themselves from difference, or become a patsy to conformity. The rebel will champion mentorship and ceaselessly foster the next generation of voices, journalists, and storytellers."

2016.20.12 BF Berkowitz(Photo: Gage Skidmore)BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

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During the Republican Party's primary campaign, Donald Trump proposed the creation of a national registry for America's 3.3 million Muslims. His proposal created quite a stir. Trump supporters were enthusiastic; opponents were horrified. Moral, legal, and ethical questions were raised. Questions were also raised about how such a registry might be built, and who would do the work?

With tongue firmly planted in cheek, San Francisco Chronicle columnist David Talbot pointed out that it will be so "easy to be enrolled" in a registry, that Muslims "won't have to leave their homes or mosques to be signed up by the U.S. government. In fact," he wrote in a piece headlined, "Tech titans, anti-Muslim Trump on same page," "in most cases they won't even know their names and personal information have been entered into a federal data bank."

When Trump convened a technology summit, which included Apple CEO Tim Cook, Alphabet's Larry Page, Microsoft chief executive Satya Nadella, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk as guest -- most of whom did not support his campaign -- the meet-up appeared to conclude quite amiably.

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SolarPlant 1219wrp opt(Photo: Bureau of Land Management)With an incoming presidential administration seemingly hostile towards action on climate change, local solutions are now more important than ever. With or without Donald Trump's help, the North Carolina municipality of Boone is calling on the whole state—and the United States at large—to encourage green jobs and transition to 100 percent clean energy across all energy sectors.

The resolution was approved by a 5-0 vote by Boone Town Council on Thursday. This makes Boone the first town in the country to officially demand that the U.S. completely ditch fossil fuels to "avoid climate catastrophe."

The country's total transition to clean energy is not as far-fetched as it seems. Boone's resolution was inspired in part by the research of renewable energy expert Dr. Mark Z. Jacobson, a Stanford University professor and cofounder of The Solutions Project, a state-by-state roadmap to convert the country to 100 percent renewable energy by 2050.

You might have heard of the project before. In fact, Jacobson stopped by David Letterman's late-night television show in 2013 to explain how the whole world, not just the U.S., can transition to renewables.

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Prudhoe1219 wrp opt(Photo: US Fish and Wildlife Service)Whatever his voters intended, we can abandon the notion that President-elect Donald Trump is a right-wing populist. Right-wing, yes, authoritarian, probably, demagogue certainly.

But his cabinet gives the lie to populism as part of his character. Wall Street may have paid Hilary Clinton hundreds of thousands of dollars to make speeches; but it is Trump who has given Wall Street four cabinet slots, three of them to Goldman-Sachs alumni. (Imagine the outcry if a President Clinton had done that). There's a clutch of corporate CEOs—sate, labor, small business; a retired military trio—national security advisor, defense and homeland security; Republican senators, governors and congressmen make up the remainder, plus Ben Carson, who had conceded he was not qualified for such a post. So far, we have four billionaires.

Based on his choices Trump doesn't like or respect Hispanics, but admires Russia greatly.

Trump himself just explained that he wanted a cabinet of "people that made a fortune!" His argument—making a fortune is proof that someone is a great negotiator and that's the job of the cabinet. This is hardly the stuff of populism, right or left. His choices reveal some other traits. He leans toward inside financial manipulators, military brass and the businesses that dominated the American economy of his youth—fossil fuels, manufacturing and real estate. He has no interest in the major drivers of the economy of the future—technology, communications, services other than finance. The American "Greatness" he aspires to, as many said during the campaign, is the world as it existed before 1970. This is pure reaction, nostalgia as politics, memory as vision.

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FightTrump 1216wrp opt(Photo: Ben Alexander)If you visit the dark and menacing edges of the internet where the right-wing media dwells, you will find repeated complaints that liberals are trying to “delegitimize” the presidency of Donald Trump. I will resist providing links to these pages, for fear that opening them may cause your computers or other devices to burst into flames. If you are interested, however -- having been duly warned -- just Google “delegitimize” and “Trump,” and page after page of links to such worthies as Fox News, the Washington Examiner, Breitbart and the like will pop into your browser.

To actual liberals there is, of course, considerable irony in this accusation: We would love to see elected Democratic officials and other Democratic leaders go after Trump’s legitimacy with all guns blazing -- in much the way the GOP would be attacking Hillary Clinton, were the roles reversed. But, of course, that’s not happening. It should be, but it’s not, or at least not nearly often enough.

Before getting further into the substance of this, however, there is a critical matter of proper English usage that needs to be addressed. You cannot delegitimize the Trump presidency because, as a matter of simple logic, before you can delegitimize something it must first have been legitimate. You can’t, for example, defang a reptile who never had fangs.

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