PAUL BUCHHEIT FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Capitalist greed is splitting our country in two. But rather than look objectively at their failures, many of those responsible have been hypocritical, portraying themselves as advocates of freedom and prosperity while the greater part of America slides toward poverty.
Some of the candidates:
1. The "Get a Job" Critic
This usually well-connected person criticizes the jobless for being lazy. But in a recent poll that asked if "the government in Washington should see to it that everyone who wants to work can find a job," 68% of the general public agreed, while only 19% of the wealthy were in agreement.
Apparently they feel the free market will find those jobs. But as they staunchly adhere to their notion, large corporations are holding trillions in cash, transfering millions of jobs overseas, and paying low-level wages to those who have managed to stay employed.
WALTER BRASCH FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Sometime in May, a special committee selected by Boy Scout executives will recommend whether the Scouts should allow gays to be members and leaders.
The decision may have more to do with funding than with any other policy.
Contributions from individuals, major corporations, and at least 50 United Way agencies stopped because of the Scouts’ anti-gay policy. Among corporations that have not made annual six-figure donations are Intel, Merck, CVS, Chase Manhattan Bank, Verizon, Google, UPS, and Levi Straus. Stephen Spielberg, an Eagle Scout, in protest of the policy against gays dropped off the national advisory council.
The national council was also losing funds because of a drop of about 22 percent in membership the past 13 years.
So, the Scouts sent out a trial balloon a few months ago that it was considering whether or not to remove its anti-gay policy, and allow local units to determine their own policies.
That led to a vicious backlash by the nation’s right-wing, with talk show commentators, media pundits and blowhards, conservative politicians, and equally conservative businessmen backing the Scouts’ right not to allow gays to become members. The right wing formed their own associations and threatened to pull their own funding if the Scouts allowed gay members, volunteer leaders, and professional staff.
Never willing to lead, the Scout executives decided there needed to be another "reconsideration.”
The last “reconsideration” occurred in 1974 when the Scouts ended segregation—a few decades late.
Will Durst For BuzzFlash at Truthout (Satire)
The nation held its collective breath and turned not just blue but a veritable rainbow of colors as the Supreme Court spent a goodly part of two days hearing oral arguments on gay marriage. Well, at least they were in the same room as arguments about gay marriage were oralled. In a position to eavesdrop on a series of gay marriage arguments; if they were of a mind to.
MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
This is America, right, and only weasly socialists would question checkbook justice. After all, if you make a few billion, you're entitled to be above the law. Right?
And the people who allow you to be above the law are entitled to make their own fortune, as we noted yesterday in "Lanny Breuer Cashes in After Not Prosecuting Wall Street Execs, Will Receive Approximate Salary of 4 Million Dollars." That piece and this commentary are part of an ongoing BuzzFlash at Truthout series on how the US government gives the super rich of the financial world a get out of jail free card.
So here's the latest wrinkle. A federal judge in New York, on Thursday, had the common sense to burst the bubble of the incestuous DC/NYC axis. In this case, it involved a hedge fund, a famous or infamous one depending upon your perspective.
The issue that perplexed the judge was how could the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) reach a settlement fining a hedge fund $600 million for violating insider trading regulations, but allowing the firm to legally affirm it was not involved in wrongdoing?
Fair question, no?
Here is what the New York Times (NYT) writes of the unexpected legal development in what was thought to be a routine judicial approval of an SEC settlement:
A federal judge raised questions on Thursday about a settlement of more than $600 million between the hedge fund SAC Capital Advisors and securities regulators to resolve insider-trading accusations, expressing specific concerns over a provision that allows SAC to avoid admitting that it did anything wrong.
In a hearing at Federal District Court in Manhattan, Judge Victor Marrero considered whether to approve the settlement between the Securities and Exchange Commission and the hedge fund, which is owned by the billionaire trader Steven A. Cohen.
“There is something counterintuitive and incongruous about settling for $600 million if it truly did nothing wrong,” Judge Marrero said, referring to SAC.
Imagine that. A federal judge who smells a rotting fish and says from the bench: "What is the foul odor in this courtroom?"
JACQUELINE MARCUS FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
It’s laughable to hear our President and members of the legislature argue the fine points of gun control when they go about attacking defenseless and poor countries, murdering hundreds of thousands of people under the phony excuse of national security with weapons of mass destruction ranging from cluster bombs to depleted uranium missiles and chemicals that literally disintegrate flesh and bones to ash as witnessed at Fallujah, Iraq, “Go massive!” Donald Rumsfeld cheered, “Sweep it all up. Things related and not,” while Dick Cheney and his associates drooled over the sadistic methods of torture that he ordered against a people who did absolutely nothing to the United States.
I think of that photo of the five year old Iraqi girl wailing, crouched down with her parents’ blood splattered over her dress after U.S. troops opened fire at their car because they made the mistake of driving through the patrol, an image that circled the world media except in the United States where it was censored.
That image symbolizes the perception of the United States’ rogue government from the Bush years, and it has not really improved under Obama’s given the fact that Obama refused to prosecute the Bush-Cheney administration for committing heinous war crimes: lying about evidence that Saddam Hussein harbored weapons of mass destruction, ordering barbaric torture practices and bragging about how effective the satanic act of torture is when it is anything but, invading a sovereign and civilized nation no different from European nations except that Iraq happened to be in the Middle East and an oil rich country. These are all impeachable offenses under the U.S. Constitution.
BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Christians will be “forced underground.” – Pastor Jim Garlow
Legalizing gay marriage will spell "the death of capitalism." – Matthew Hagee
If the Supreme Court rules in favor of gay marriage it "will have lost its legitimacy in its entirety." – Matt Barber & Mat Staver
Marching against same-sex marriage felt like being involved in the “Civil Rights Movement.” – Brian Brown
Gays and lesbians “hate God’s law and therefore they do hate God.” – Peter LaBarbera
If the above statements from members of the conservative evangelical Christian commentariat sound ludicrous yet chilling, outlandish yet eerily familiar, that is because over the years we have become quite familiar with their incessant anti-gay vitriol. However, the more interesting aspect of this collection of off-the-wall commentary by Pastor Jim Garlow, Matthew Hagee, Liberty Counsel’s Matt Barber and Mat Staver, who is also vice president of the Jerry Falwell-founded Liberty University, the National Organization for Marriage’s president Brian Brown, and Peter LaBarbera of Americans For Truth About Homosexuality, is their fear that the tide of public opinion has turned against them.
MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
It's official, and former Department of Justice (DOJ) Criminal Division Chef Lanny Breuer is bragging about it. He'll return for the third to time the white collar (now expanding its clients internationally) legal defense firm of Covington & Burling, but this time at a whopping salary.
According to the New York Times: "Mr. Breuer is expected to earn about $4 million in his first year at Covington. In addition to representing clients, he will serve as an ambassador of sorts for the firm as it seeks to grow overseas."
As BuzzFlash at Truthout has speculated before, one can argue (and the same holds true for Eric Holder, also a Covington & Burling alumni appointee), Breuer was building his value in the marketplace at the DOJ, while Wall Street executives who nearly destroyed the American economy went unprosecuted. And his future value to his old white collar defense firm was dependent, in large part, on him not angering the people who would be the clients of Covington & Burling when he left the Department of Justice. The result, one can contend: no prosecutions of banks "too big to fail" execs as publicly stated as a policy by both Breuer and Holder.
This isn't just a revolving door; one can argue it's a dereliction of legal responsibility by an employee of the people of the United States. One can proffer that it's a cash-in career move by a resume climber who was careful not to bite the hands that will write the checks that will feed him on a lavish scale.
BuzzFlash at Truthout has written more than fifteen commentaries on the failure to prosecute Wall Street execs in recent months. These include: "Consigliere Lanny Breuer, Head of the DOJ Criminal Division, Leaves Without Prosecuting One Made Man on Wall Street" ; and "The Covington & Burling Trio Overseeing the Department of Justice Criminal Division: An Injustice."
Breuer isn't the least bit sheepish about grabbing the brass ring after failing to hold those responsible for nearly sinking the economy criminally accountable. According to the website Main Justice,
ANN DAVIDOW FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
What is it about language that seems to confound conservatives? Why do most of them insist on saying "Democrat" when they should more properly use the adjective "Democratic?" Perhaps it’s because they don’t want their supporters to be confused into thinking that the adjective, rather than simply modifying a word, does in effect define a group politically.
Everyone from Reince Pribus to the lowest of the low - a category that includes Joe the Plumber and Sarah Palin - is comfortable in the world of malapropisms, tenses that don’t agree and mispronunciations borne of a tendency to colloquialism. When a president, namely W, repeatedly says "Nooculer" instead of "Nuclear," and even Bob Woodard does the same, what are we to make of such linguistic transgressions? It’s one thing to dismiss a bumbling leader of the free world, but Bob Woodard?
And so we are left with a meaningless jumble of words that rarely clarify a thought process. There are times when, after a particularly arduous path around an impenetrable maze of non-sequiturs and unreliable "facts," one despairs of ever uncovering anything meaningful. There are speakers and experts and anchors willing to expound on every issue if given half a chance. But when they are finished speaking one is no closer to the truth; if anything, it is more elusive than ever. Yet we all keep striving mightily as if we could make a difference, as if some magic formula would suddenly emerge to make sense of the world and sweep the clouds of partisan rancor away.
ROBERT C. KOEHLER FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
“The status quo in Chicago is no longer tolerable,” Andy Willis said, summoning the violent headlines of the past year and the past week.
This was Palm Sunday, in a church basement in a big-city neighborhood, and the time had come to stand for something enormous. My God, a six-month-old baby, Jonylah Watkins, was shot and killed this month in Chicago, as her father held her on his lap while sitting in a parked van. That was just the latest shocker. Violence is the norm, in this city and so many others. The death of children is the norm.
“We can’t live with a status quo like that,” Willis said. “We know things are breaking down . . .”
The event was called “A Remedy for Violence” and announcements for it proclaimed: “This will be a joyous and hopeful event as we aim to eliminate all violence in our community in 10 years! Zero in Ten.”
No way! They’re not serious, or they’re incredibly naïve. But I knew they weren’t, and as my cynicism gave way — this was about a week before the event was to take place — I felt an enormous sense of empowerment rising. I thought about the words of the Earth Charter, which begins: “We stand at a critical moment in Earth’s history, a time when humanity must choose its future.”
Yes, now is the time to choose our future, so let us choose one that transcends the insanity and sheer stupidity of violent behavior. This requires personal empowerment. It also requires collective empowerment. And this is what I felt in the audacious declaration: “We aim to eliminate all violence in our community in 10 years.”
MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Anyone who knows anyone who has worked at a high-end law firm knows that there is a two-word key to becoming a partner: billable hours.
The most prestigious big sticker law firms are now global in nature, just like the corporations and the elite whom they represent – and to keep pace with the wealth of their clients an unknown number of these firms likely pad their bills.
“Lawyers sometimes conflate their own financial interests with the interests of the client who pays the bills,” William G. Ross, a law professor, observed in the New York Times (NYT).
Ross was speaking about revelations of "churning" client bills in a law suit against the legal giant DLA Piper that is causing a stir in what might be called the legal business, although it's hardly the first time a major law firm has been accused of charging sky-high partner billable hours for everything from junior attorney work to basic office tasks (or maybe even getting one's shoes shined before a meeting with a client).
In essence, Ross is politely saying that at least some Gucci-shoed lawyers consider themselves of the same moneyed-elite that thrives on greed: "If it makes you more money and doesn't get you prosecuted, do it."