BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
You wouldn’t recognize William “Jerry” Boykin if you were sharing a pole with him on the subway or sitting next to him on a bus. While he isn’t one of the brightest stars in the conservative Christian right’s constellation, he has certainly tried – and in some cases succeeded – to raise his profile. For Boykin, now executive vice president of the Washington, D.C.-based Family Research Council, the path to right wing stardom has revolved around a protracted and vicious anti-Muslim campaign: Shtick that he’s been purveying for more than a decade.
In February, Boykin, one of the original members of the US Army's Delta Force and a former United States Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence, appeared on a panel, led by radio talk show host Janet Parshall, at the National Religious Broadcasters convention. According to People for the American Way’s Brian Tashman, Boykin, the co-author of Sharia, the Threat to America railed against the so-called Sharia threat, and “cited a report from Frank Gaffney’s Center for Security Policy that claims that judges in fifty court cases have used Islamic law in making their decisions and that Sharia ‘has been insinuated into our legal system.’”
The ACLU has pointed out that “the CSP report consists mostly of 50 judicial opinions, which the authors copied and pasted word-for-word simply because they mention Islam or involve claims brought by Muslims, contending that these cases serve as evidence of the so-called 'Sharia threat.'" The CSP "report doesn’t even attempt to prove that Sharia law is being used in courts, but merely finds that there are some court cases which ‘happen to involve Islam or Muslims.'"
Tashman noted that “Boykin went on to cite Oklahoma’s unconstitutional Sharia ban and insisted that the media is refusing to reveal ‘the true nature of Islam.’”
MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
When it comes to US energy policy, President Obama's actions toward changing our basic reliance on fossil fuels is so incremental, you can hardly notice it is moving forward.
Yes, one came blame the Republicans for continuing an earth-destroying dependency on fossil fuel, but you get the feeling Obama is not pushing much beyond lip service to create a systemic change in US energy policy.
That is why there is no reason to be surprised that President Obama is highly likely to approve the last segments of the Keystone XL Pipeline, as BuzzFlash at Truthout has predicted: "Obama Hints at Approval of Keystone XL Pipeline at SF Fundraiser, Blames Middle Class Priorities."
That is also why it should be no surprise that Ernest Moniz will likely be approved by a wide margin in the Senate, after expected committee approval on Tuesday to become secretary of the Department of Energy. Moniz's work at MIT is so lubed up with the oil and gas industry, you might find a fracking site in his lab. As the website dcbureau.org reported:
Professor [and] nuclear physicist Ernest Moniz, is director of the MIT Energy Initiative, a research arm that has received more than $125 million in pledges from the oil and gas industry since 2006, according to the Public Accountability Initiative, a non-profit that blew the whistle on UBuffalo.
The four “founding members” of MITEI — BP, Shell, Italy’s ENI and Saudi Aramco — each agreed to pay $25 million over five years for the right to help manage research projects, maintain an office at MITEI headquarters and “place a researcher in a participating MIT faculty member’s lab,” according to the MITEI website. Ten “sustaining members” commit $5 million each for fewer rights, but still get seats on MITEI’s executive committee and governing board.
A host of others energy interests, including the Clean Skies Foundation, have participated as well, funding and shaping MIT research.
Clean Skies was founded and chaired by Aubrey McClendon, CEO of Chesapeake Energy Corp., the nation’s No. 2 gas producer. At the time Clean Skies officials called on MIT with a research idea, Chesapeake had placed a large bet on high-volume hydraulic fracturing of shale formations, or fracking, by aggressively leasing land in shale regions.
It turns out that Moniz's MITEI leans a bit toward fracking, considering all the oil and gas money helping to run his program at MIT:
(Photo: Steve Harbula)
PAUL BUCHHEIT FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Multinational corporations have built their businesses on the backs of American taxpayers. They've depended on government research, national defense, the legal and educational systems, and our infrastructure.
Yet they've turned around and mocked us with declining tax payments. They've cut workers. They've refused to invest their massive profits in job-producing research and development. And they've insulted existing employees with low wages and dwindling retirement support.
As a final disdainful act, many of them have tried to convince us that they LOSE money in the U.S. while only making profits overseas.
Here are the facts.
WALTER BRASCH FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Gov. Rick Perry (R-Texas) opposes the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), and vows to block the expansion of Medicaid in his state. At a news conference this past week, Perry, flanked by conservative senators Ted Cruz and John Cornyn, declared “Texas will not be held hostage by the Obama administration's attempt to force us into the fool's errand of adding more than a million Texans to a broken system." About one-fourth of all Texans do not have health care coverage.
According to an analysis by the Dallas Morning News, if Texas budgeted $15.6 billion over the next decade, it would receive more than $100 billion in federal Medicaid funds, allowing the state to cover about 1.5 million more residents, including about 400,000 children.
Texas isn’t the only state to politicize health care.
Gov. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) says that expanding Medicaid is the “right thing to do,” but the Republican-dominated state legislature doesn’t agree. Gov. John Kasich (R-Ohio) is having the same problem with his Republican legislature, although participation in Medicaid would save the state about $1.9 billion during the next decade. Gov. Jan Brewer (R-Ariz.), one of the nation’s most vigorous opponents of the ACA, surprisingly has spoken in favor of Medicaid expansion to benefit her state’s residents.
Gov. Bobby Jindal (R-La.) and the Republican legislature oppose implementing the ACA and Medicaid expansion. Jindal says the expansion would cost Louisiana about $1 billion during the next decade. However, data analysis by the state’s Department of Health and Hospitals reveals that if Louisiana accepted the federal program, which would benefit almost 600,000 residents, the state would actually save almost $400 million over the next decade. About one-fifth of all Louisianans lack health insurance.
Pennsylvania, by population, is a blue state, but it has a Republican governor, and both houses of the Legislature are Republican-controlled. Gov. Tom Corbett says he opposes an expansion of Medicaid because it is “financially unsustainable for Pennsylvania taxpayers” and would require a “large tax increase.” This would be the same governor who believes that extending a $1.65 billion corporate welfare check to the Royal Dutch Shell Corp., a foreign-owned company, is acceptable but protecting Pennsylvanians’ health is not.
Fifteen states, dominated by Republican governorships and legislatures, by declaring they won’t allow Medicaid expansion, are on record as placing political interests before the health of their citizens. Another 10 states are “considering” whether or not to implement additional health care coverage for their citizens. The Republican states, pretending they believe in cost containment, claim they oppose Medicaid expansion because of its cost, even though the entire cost for three years is borne by the federal government, the states would pay only 10 percent of the cost after that. The cost to the states would average only about 2.8 percent, according to the non-partisan Congressional Budget office.
MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
It's back to the Simpson-Bowles cat food for the elderly and poor budget as far as the White House is concerned, according to The New York Times (NYT) on Friday:
President Obama next week will take the political risk of formally proposing cuts to Social Security and Medicare in his annual budget in an effort to demonstrate his willingness to compromise with Republicans and revive prospects for a long-term deficit-reduction deal, administration officials say.
Once again, a Democratic president is conceding to the GOP "frame" of austerity being vital to the future of America, when it was the Republicans who ran up the deficit – after Clinton left Bush a balanced budget – with a profligate tax cut for the super rich, two wars, and things like a multi-billion gift to the pharmaceutical industry by prohibiting government negotiations on drug prices in Medicare Part D.
This amidst a historical moment when income redistribution and asset ownership disparities have reached record levels in the US. But Obama appears to have an aversion to discussing or rectifying a morally unacceptable imbalance in wealth in America.
In return, Obama will get some crumbs of revenue enhancement, but take at a look at some of his leaked proposed reductions:
Deficits would be reduced another $930 billion through 2023 as a result of spending cuts and other cost-saving changes to domestic programs, and $200 billion more due to reduced interest payments on the federal debt.
Mr. Obama’s proposed spending reductions include about $400 billion from health programs and $200 billion from other areas, including farm subsidies, federal employee retirement programs, the Postal Service and the unemployment compensation system.
Cutting domestic programs such as pensions and unemployment?
BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Weyrich’s vision, Coors’ money, Fuelner’s leadership, and Reagan’s stamp of approval propelled the Heritage Foundation to prominence. Will Jim DeMint’s marketing strategy lead to a conservative revival?
For a good part of the past forty years, The Heritage Foundation has been the most influential conservative think tank in the country. Now, with its long-time president Ed Fuelner stepping down and Tea Party favorite former South Carolina Senator Jim DeMint becoming its president, will it continue to prosper?
Whatever else can be said about Fuelner, who was president of Heritage for nearly 36 years, he certainly changed the way right-wing think tanks wonk!
In his last official note to the troops -- sent out on his final day as Heritage president -- Fuelner thanked supporters, warned that “progressives are on the offensive, aggressively trying to remake our country using a Euro-socialist mold,” and encouraged them to “remain optimistic about the future.”
NIKOLAS KOZLOFF FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Though Obama has frequently spoken of the need for more “green jobs,” he has failed to acknowledge the inherent environmental advantages associated with a curious plant called hemp. One of the earliest domesticated crops, hemp is incredibly versatile and can be utilized for everything from food, clothing, rope, paper and plastic to even car parts. In an era of high unemployment, hemp could provide welcome relief to the states and help to spur the transition from antiquated and polluting manufacturing jobs to the new green economy. What is more, in lieu of our warming world and climate change, the need for environmentally sustainable industries like hemp has never been greater. Given all of these benefits, why have Obama and the political establishment chosen to remain silent?
BRUCE MULKEY FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Bruce Mulkey and Family
By the luck of the draw, in 1943, I was born white, male, heterosexual and middle class. I was instantly granted cultural privileges and advantages that gave me a distinct leg up as I made my way in the world.
I grew up in a small town in Tennessee during the so-called “good old days,” when men were men, women knew their place, blacks were second-class citizens, the poor were “lazy white trash” and the existence of homosexuals was not even acknowledged. The cultural paradigm of the time was powerful, so I internalized those beliefs and looked down on those whom I considered “less” than me.
During my college years, I mixed with students and professors with broader worldviews. I began to question the way women, people of color and folks who had less material wealth than me were treated. After all, weren’t we all cut from the same cloth? Consequently, during the 1960s and ’70s, I was heartened when our nation passed legislation moving us toward greater equality for African-Americans and women as well as toward the alleviation of poverty.
As our culture evolved, I made changes in my own life, including questioning my culturally granted superior status as a white male, working to amend my previously unexamined beliefs about folks who weren’t like me and raising my first daughter in a manner that empowered her to become a powerful, independent woman.
One prejudice that I had not yet confronted, however, was my attitude toward gays and lesbians.
(Photo: Courtesy of Bruce Mulkey)
MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Daily, the politicians and think tanks promote improving our nation's large city public education by turning them over to profiteering operators of charter schools. There's a lot of money to be paid in modern plantation educational contracts.
And that's what vast stretches of urban America have become: plantations for harvesting poor blacks and Latinos for educational corporations and for a vast prison-industrial complex whose tentacles reach out throughout the desolation of neighborhoods whose most common denominator is the lack of economic hope or opportunity. The impoverishment has been that way for decades.
Well there is one source of private funds in these vast areas of destitution: the drug industry. It is capitalism distilled to its essence, with the corner teenager who sells crack as a modern day Fuller Brush Man.
Of course, no one is talking even remotely about providing jobs to these financially blighted areas.
But the status quo government/corporate alliance has figured out how to exploit the residents of these areas to make a profit by creating non-union schools that often perform below the comparable public school level in similar locations.