PAUL BUCHHEIT FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
There are more than five, of course, and voting Democrat may not be much of an improvement, but attaching these adjectives to the comically contemptible GOP seems more than appropriate.
In 2010 Mitch McConnell said: "The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president." He didn't mention the economy, or education, or jobs, or the housing market. Instead, the goal is to beat Obama, whatever misery it might cause 200 million Americans.
For the past two years the Republicans have obstructed proposals that would have helped most Americans. They fought the middle-class tax cut because it would only apply to the first quarter-million of income. They killed a jobs bill that was supported by two-thirds of the public. They rejected a bill to disclose information about big campaign donors. They disrupted the routine process of increasing the debt ceiling, thus triggering the first-ever downgrading of the U.S. credit rating. Most recently they've obstructed efforts to provide mortgage debt relief to American homeowners.
WILL DURST FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Mitt Romney has to be more relieved than an Iowa corn farmer in the middle of a thunderstorm to be back on home soil. Arms wide. Head back. Wet face. Smile. Podium steps. National Anthem. The American electorate may harbor an ambivalent attitude towards the former governor of Massachusetts, but the reaction to his European Vacation from folks across the big pond could only be described as decisively derisive. If diplomacy were a hurdling sport, the guy stumbled over the lane chalk. The plan was for the GOP nominee to embark on a low- risk, three- country jaunt to raise his suspect foreign policy bona fides, but the seven- day charm offensive proved to be light on charm and heavy on offense. Good will hunting transformed into ill will gathering.
MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
In a day or two, BuzzFlash Commentary (formerly known as the BuzzFlash blog) will move to the actual Truthout site. It is an exciting step in the continued integration of BuzzFlash into Truthout.
Not only will there be the physical move of the site (and when the move is completed, you will be reading this message on the new design), but it will now allow for photographs, videos, audio and other enhancements to be integrated into BuzzFlash at Truthout commentary.
ROBERT C. KOEHLER FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
We wrecked Iraq, we pulled out, we redeployed in Anaheim.
This ain't working, guys- I mean, firing rubber bullets into anguished crowds, siccing attack dogs on moms and children. I mean, inventing enemies, going to war, unleashing state-of-the-art firepower in all directions and eventually losing, but not before we've inflicted maximum suffering on the innocent and magnified the original problem tenfold.
We lose every war we fight.
Another way to say that is: We exacerbate every problem we militarize. Indeed, militarization is as much a part of the problem - as much a threat to civilization - as, for instance, terrorism or drugs. And the recent, ongoing community uproar in Anaheim, Calif., over two police slayings of Latino males in one weekend - and the subsequent police reaction to that outrage - illustrates the terrifying ineffectiveness of a militarized, "us vs. them" approach to conflict.
MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Isn't it voter fraud to deny US citizens the right to vote?
That is what the Republican Party is engaged in its campaign to place onerous requirements on the poor, infirm and destitute seniors, the homeless, students and others to vote.
Politico recently ran background summaries on each state that has passed restrictive voter laws in an article entitled "Voter ID laws could swing states": "At least 5 million voters, predominantly young and from minority groups sympathetic to President Barack Obama, could be affected by an unprecedented flurry of new legislation by Republican governors and GOP-led legislatures to change or restrict voting rights by Election Day 2012." Think Progress reports that "As many as 43 percent of voters in the city of Philadelphia may lack valid Pennsylvania Department of Transportation-issued photo identification, the City Paper reports. While several other forms of photo identification - including U.S. passports and many student ID cards - are acceptable proof of identity under the controversial and possibly unconstitutional new law, this statistic suggests these restrictions may provide an even larger obstacle for urban (and racial minority) communities who do not drive."
Why is the disenfranchisement of potentially millions of Americans the perpetration of a fraud? Because it would mean perhaps millions will not be able to vote due to false claims by GOP sponsors of these bills that there are massive cases of illegal voters in the United States.
In a recent Brennan Center for Justice report it is noted that Republican backed obstacles to exercise the right to vote are not limited to government-issue photo ID cards:
"Significantly, these voting law cutbacks extend well beyond the most visible and controversial step to require government-issued photo ID that many citizens don't have," said report co-author Lawrence Norden, deputy director of the Democracy Program and former Chair of the Ohio Secretary of State's bipartisan Election Summit and Conference. "An array of technical moves can add to significant barriers to the ballot. And it comes at a time when experience has taught us there are many ways to improve the voting process and expand access to the franchise while reducing costs."
The Brennan Center report also warns that "The states that have already cut back on voting rights will provide 171 electoral votes in 2012-63 percent of the 270 needed to win the presidency."
Debunking the myth of voter fraud, the Brennan Center produced a study that showed in a state such as Wisconsin, where Scott Walker led the charge against "alleged" voter fraud, there were only minute voting errors in the 2004 election (.00006% of ineligible voters casting ballots in the state that year) - and that "none of these problems could have been resolved by requiring by requiring photo ID at the polls."
Writing in the Michigan Law Review in 2007, Spencer Overton bluntly lays out the facts:
The Carter-Baker Commission's Report noted that since October 2002, federal officials had charged eighty-nine individuals with casting multiple votes, providing false information about their felon status, buying votes, submitting false voter registration information, or voting improperly as a noncitizen. Examined in the context of the 196,139,871 ballots cast between October 2002 and August 2005, this represents a fraud rate of 0.000045% (and note also that not all of the activities charged would have been prevented by a photo- identification requirement)
When you balance taking away the Constitutional right to vote of millions of Americans on the basis of 89 people being charged nationally with illegal voting over a three year period, those who seek to restrict access to the ballot box are engaged in a fraudulent scheme to impact elections through the denial of the most basic right of citizenship.
STEVEN JONAS, MD, MPH FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
On July 30, 2012, former Vice-President Dick Cheney described President Obama as one of the "weakest" Presidents, ranking even (sic) Jimmy Carter above him (1). That statement makes one wonder: what is Cheney's definition of the opposite of weakness? That is "strength." Well, let's take a look at some of Cheney's personal and political history to try to determine the answer to that question.
On the last day of the public comment period, Keystone XL opponents held a rally in front of the State Department to deliver more than 2 million comments submitted to the State Department to urge Secretary Kerry and President Obama to reject the dirty, dangerous pipeline. The public comment period regarding the national interest of the pipeline began on February 5, after the State Department published the final environmental review.
BEN ARIS, editor at bne.eu, Skype: bpnaris
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) today announced that it has finalized its Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) Standards for immigration detention facilities. Today’s standards are needed because though PREA became law over a decade ago, the Department of Justice issued a rule in 2012 that excluded immigration detention facilities from coverage under PREA.
Below is comment from Amy Fettig, ACLU senior staff counsel, on the issuance of today’s rule:
Consumers and health advocates launched a national campaign calling on local and regional supermarket chains to label their store-brand products for ingredients derived from genetically modified organisms (GMOs), on the one year anniversary of Whole Foods’ announcement that it will adopt labeling for all products in its stores.
“Today, the Maryland House of Delegates Environmental Matters Committee lost a valuable opportunity to provide protection for Marylanders against the dangers of fracking when it blocked legislation to ban the treatment, storage, disposal, and discharge of fracking wastewater in Maryland. It’s regrettable that the committee wasn't allowed to pass the legislation.
Today, two reproductive health clinic closures were announced in rural Texas, as a result of Texas House Bill 2, disproportionately affecting low-income women in the south and east of the state. These were the only clinics in East Texas and Rio Grande Valley.
For one thing, we DON?T need their money. Even if we could get it?which we can?t because they steadfastly refuse to use it for anything other than casino gambling in their private and secretive financial networks. We wonder why we have a ?jobless recovery?? Does it have anything to do with the fact that such a large percentage of our ?capital? has, for all practical purposes, been removed from the economy?
Even when the 1% decides to invest some of their Dollars to manufacture or build something, they rarely decide to manufacture or build anything we really need?only things we really don?t need. Like strip-mines in the Bristol Bay salmon fishery, or pipe-lines across Nebraska?s freshwater aquifers, or rocket-planes for space-tourism. Thanks, but we really don?t need?or want?any of it. We?d much rather have fresh wild salmon (rather than the artificially colored hatchery-stuff) than more copper and gold, fresh water instead of tar-sands oil, and the good-old week-at-the-beach is just fine for a vacation.
President Obama adds to our confusion by claiming we need to tax a bunch of the 1%?s Dollars in order to pay for a minimal laundry list of hodge-podge programs to train unemployed people to do jobs that don?t exist?and which the 1%, whether you tax them or not, have no intention of creating?ever. Why doesn?t the President just forget the 1% and start investing Sovereign Dollars (not tax Dollars, mind you) in the lower and middle economic strata he claims to care so much about? The 99% can have its own life?and a very good one to boot?if we?d just ignore the 1% and get on with the job of paying ourselves to build the things we really need.
They (the 1%) apparently reason that they don?t need to go to that trouble because in our globalized economy there?s somebody else who can build the really big transformers. It turns out that somebody is South Korea. So when, recently, Pennsylvania badly needed a new very-large transformer they placed an order with the Koreans, who promptly began building it. Two years later, the 400,000 pound item was put on a ship and transported for 26 days at sea to the port of Newark, New Jersey, where it was loaded by crane onto a railcar bound for Pennsylvania.
This little tale is made even more interesting by the fact that these very-large transformers?usually situated inside a compound protected by chain-link fencing?are easily destroyed with a few rounds of fire from a semi-automatic assault rifle.
Thankfully, semi-automatic assault rifles are difficult to come by in the U.S., otherwise there might be cause for concern. The seventeen transformers recently shot to death in California (we can?t explain how this actually happened, since the NRA is only marginally active on the West Coast) are a cautionary tale: If this were repeated on just a little bit larger scale, the Department of Homeland Security has determined, our entire electric grid could be down for months?or even longer. (Come on South Korea, hurry it up?. We?re waiting!)
So my example is this: Why doesn?t President Obama propose that since the 1% have no interest in doing it, the U.S. sovereign government build a plant to manufacture very-large transformers, hire engineers to train unemployed people to do the labor, pay those unemployed trainees for making the effort to learn how to make a giant-sized transformer, then hire those newly trained workers to run the manufacturing process? We could build a backup supply of these critical electric grid components so that in the (increasingly likely) event some crazy, anti-government sociopath seizes the opportunity to turn out America?s lights, we could turn them back on in fairly short order.
That seems sensible. And it?s total nonsense to imagine that we have to depend on using ANY of the 1%?s gargantuan stash of Dollars to do it. Like I said, just totally forget them. Let them play their Monopoly game while we get on with the task of building the world we want to live in.
Blast from the Past. At Daily Kos on this date in 2003?Bush stirs up mob hate against Mexicans:Does anyone really think France is sweating the Freeper "bash France" campaign? And looking at the latest car sales data, it's the American companies that are getting pounded, not the Germans.
But it looks like Bush is encouraged by the Freeper brigades, interpreting it as grassroots support for his war mongering. And he's now trying to focus the guns on Mexico, threatening mob retaliation if our southern neighbor doesn't support our war resolution in the UN Security Council. As Krugman writes:Then came President Bush's Monday interview with Copley News Service. He alluded to the possibility of reprisals if Mexico didn't vote America's way, saying, "I don't expect there to be significant retribution from the government" ? emphasizing the word "government." He then went on to suggest that there might, however, be a reaction from other quarters, citing "an interesting phenomena taking place here in America about the French ... a backlash against the French, not stirred up by anybody except the people."
And Mr. Bush then said that if Mexico or other countries oppose the United States, "there will be a certain sense of discipline."I'd like to say that Bush is "out of control". I'd like to wonder whatever happened to Bush's "humble foreign policy" promises in the campaign. But heck, I've already hit those themes about a million times. Yet while the US media ignores Bush's threats, the foreign media has actually been doing its job: These remarks went virtually unreported by the ever-protective U.S. media, but they created a political firestorm in Mexico. The White House has been frantically backpedaling, claiming that when Mr. Bush talked of "discipline" he wasn't making a threat. But in the context of the rest of the interview, it's clear that he was. I don't buy the rationale for war, but it's clear that any other semi-competent president would've rallied world support by now, without trying to destroy the very international institutions that help keep the peace and souring relations with our closest allies. today's Kagro in the Morning show, developments in the Oscar Pistorius trial are interesting, in what the reveal about "gun culture" without borders. FAT (Frequently Asserted Trolling) on GunFAIL, including the accidents versus negligence controversy, and what to say to the swimming pool trope. Other topics: Issa vs. Cummings; "Disarmed: How Cities Are Losing the Power to Regulate Guns"; Paul Ryan, brown bag lunches, and poverty tautologies; wacko Alaskan Republican tut-tuts sex havers; McConnell strains under the weight of a rifle; that Oscar "selfie"; and is all this Bitcoin theft a sign that the time is right for Operation Privateers of the Caribbean?
By Rachel Goldfarb, originally published on Next New Deal
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What's the Deal: How to Make the Financial System Safer for Everyone with Mike Konczal (YouTube)
Roosevelt Institute Fellow Mike Konczal explains why banks need higher capital standards to prevent another collapse and discusses the economic reform issues that the Roosevelt Institute will be working on throughout 2014.
Obama's Budget and the Politics of Poverty (To The Point)
Mike Konczal speaks with Warren Olney about how the parties aim to split the budget for anti-poverty programs. The GOP would increase funding for some programs, but at the cost of others.
Paul Ryan Accidentally Makes the Case Against Means-Testing (MSNBC)
When Paul Ryan brings up a child who feels unloved because he gets free lunch instead of a brown-bag lunch, Ned Resnikoff sees an opening for giving all students free lunch.
Together, New Haven Activists and Leaders Strike Back Against Wage Theft (In These Times)
For the first time, local police brought larceny charges against an employer who shortchanged his workers. Melinda Tuhus says these steps will help to protect low-wage workers, including undocumented workers.
Unions and Job Security (PolicyShop)
Matt Bruenig counters a recent argument that unions can't provide real job security anymore. He says the point isn't absolute job security anyway, but safety from firing without cause.
The Foreclosure Nightmare Isn?t Over Yet (MSNBC)
Suzy Khimm reports on one family's five-year fight against foreclosure in Maryland. Policies requiring mediation have kept them in limbo, as have the mortgage servicer's repeated runarounds.
Democrat Says CFTC's Low Budget 'Sucks' (The Hill)
Rep. Sam Farr (D-CA) says that the Commodity Futures Trading Commission's lack of sufficient funding could be very dangerous if it handicaps enforcement, reports Tim Devaney.
Of course, you wouldn't ever put yourself in their position, and I'm not saying they deserve immunity, but while it's possible that invoking the Fifth is a smart legal move on their part, I doubt that it will do Christie any good on the political front. For Christie, the biggest impact of this scandal has already been felt: He no longer boasts the post-Sandy crossover appeal that got national Republicans so excited for his candidacy, yet he has failed to capture the enthusiasm of the Republican base.
If nothing else changes, that's where Christie is: A 2016 hopeful who has lost his rationale for running and has yet to invent a new one. And if something does change, odds are it won't be good news for Christie, because unless it turns out that the traffic jam was a plot by Bruce Springsteen to bring down his (self-described) biggest political fan, the only real question at this point is whether Christie was willfully clueless about his organization's political tactics?or if he knew what was going on all along.
Here's the basic reason it's so hard to pass paid sick leave in the United States:
The facts are stark: 61 percent of American workers have access to paid sick days, up from 57 percent in 2009. Just one state and seven cities have laws requiring employers to offer earned sick leave. And some of the occupations in which you'd most want people taking time off if they were sick, for public health reasons, have the lowest rates: Just 24 percent of food preparation and serving workers and 31 percent of personal care and service workers get paid sick days.
But employers insist they need workers sneezing into the food prep line or they'll go bankrupt, or something, and the issue doesn't feel so urgent to legislators whose friends and family all already can take a day off when they need it. And so the U.S. lags behind much of the rest of the world on this as on so many other basic workplace rights.
(Via Bryce Covert)
?Is it accurate that you believe the consequence of engaging in homosexual acts is a separation from God and eternal damnation?? Mogill asked the state?s expert, then added, ?in other words, they?re going to hell.?
?Without repentance, yes,? answered the expert, Canadian economist Douglas Allen, the last witness to testify on behalf of the state in a trial that could make Michigan the 18th state to legalize gay marriage.Because there's no better expert on who may or may not be going to hell than a Canadian economist.
Allen was primarily there to back up previous "expert witness" Mark Regnerus vis-a-vis the Won't Somebody Think of the Children theory of discrimination. As for why his own research conflicts so substantially different from those of other studies, he has a theory on that too.He also said that his study, compared with an American study that found no differences in child outcomes in same-sex families, ?might be better? because Canadians are more likely to be more honest. Well ... alrighty then.
An Army official who was not authorized to speak publicly about the matter confirmed an investigation was under way.
?We can confirm that this matter is currently under investigation and that the individual in question has been suspended from duties pending the outcome of the investigation,? the official said. ?Given that this is still an open case, we are precluded from providing any additional information at this point.?Please note that this happened at a sexual assault legal conference, as if Morse was determined to gain the Army a few extra points in the irony category.
Seriously, though, this is a good example of what rape culture looks like, when even the people charged with prosecuting sexual assault engage in it themselves. It's entirely possible Morse didn't even see the connection between his own actions and the cases he prosecutes.
When it comes to sexual assault, the entire military culture has to change. Top to bottom, through and through. And that means not just trying to address sexual assault as an isolated phenomenon, but massively changing gender relations in the military. Tinkering around the edges will not do it.
Indonesian police have opened fire on peaceful protesters in Jayapura, with at least four gunshot wounds and one death. West Papuan activists and families have been forced to flee to the jungle for safety. Indonesian security forces are conducting scores of raids, sweeps and offensives against West Papuan civilians. The attacks are happening during the visit of National Police Chief General Sutarman with over 200 people arrested across West Papua. Journalists have also been attacked by Indonesian police according to Amnesty International...Read more at San Fransisco Bay Area Indymedia. The Indonesian Police chief says any plans to free Papua from Indonesia won't be tolerated, including Flag raising ceremonies on the West Papuan national Day, December 1st.
Calls for Independence by West Papuans have been made since the sham "Act of Free Choice in 1969". They have suffered a neglected genocide at the hands of the Indonesian military (2004) with continued Repression (2007). Thousands of Papuans took to the streets in 2010 and in 2011 rejecting special autonomy, demanding a referendum on independence. Indonesia plans to build 1,500 km of new roads in the next two years to accelerate ?development', increase military presence, and open up more illegal logging. Three Papuans highlighted the human rights abuses at the APEC meeting in Bali this year by scaling the Australian Consulate?s fence in the dead of night and hand-delivering a personal plea to open the Indonesian province to world scrutiny.
A new academic law and human rights report A slow-motion genocide: Indonesian rule in West Papua (PDF), details the extent of the genocide and abuse of human rights. (Review by Greenleft) Activists have called for Australia to End pragmatic complicity in West Papua in response to comments by new conservative Prime Minister Tony Abbott. Imprisoned Papuan leader Selpius Bobii also responded saying, "We Live In Terror, Mr Abbott".
Related: Waging Nonviolence: Flotilla unsettles Indonesia?s occupation of West Papua | West Papuan National Day Goes Global | West Papuans to join commemoration of Eureka Rebellion in Ballarat More Information: West Papua media Alerts | Freedom Flotilla
Civil society organisations abandoned the COP19 climate change negotiations in Warsaw on mass. Members from Greenpeace, Oxfam, WWF, Actionaid, Friends of the Earth, the International Trade Union Confederation (statement) and 350.org all started leaving the conference at 2pm. This is an unprecedented action, the first time several major civil society groups have staged a mass walkout.
Friends of the Earth International highlighted that the Warsaw Climate Change negotiations were failing, with Tension high in Warsaw talks as G77+China walk out. The role of Australia and reduced ambition of Japan have been widely mentioned. Australia and Canada are seen as the major wreckers, but there has been substantial intransigence from much of the developed world to progressing the negotiations forward on finance, ambition, and a loss and damage mechanism. Poland's Coal Summit has shown the fossil fuel corporatism entwined in this COP with widespread dismay at the coal powered negotiations of COP19 and at UNFCCC official Christiania Figueres who gave the keynote speech at the coal summit
Related: Democracy Now: "Nature Does Not Negotiate": Environmentalists Walk Out of U.N. Climate Summit in Warsaw | "Polluters Talk, We Walk": Civil Society Groups Abandon Warsaw Talks over Inaction on Global Warming | "We Have to Consume Less": Scientists Call For Radical Economic Overhaul to Avert Climate CrisisAnalysis: The Warsaw walkout and the Climate Movement
The weekend of 16th and 17th November saw tens of thousands of people in Canada and Australia out in the streets in over 260 protests against the climate policies of these countries. Australia and Canada are seen as the major wreckers in Warsaw at COP19.
The Saturday protests in Canada occurred from coast to coast to Repulse Bay, Nunavut on the Arctic circle, more than 10,000 people gathered in over 180 events co-ordinated by Defend our Climate. Many protests focussed on stopping further expansion of the Alberta tar sands and pipelines to move the bitumenous oil south to Texas, east through Ontario and Quebec, and west through British Columbia. On Sunday, more than 60,000 people attended climate protests across Australia, protesting the attempt to repeal carbon pricing and clean energy programs by the conservative Government lead by Prime Minister Tony Abbott, elected on 7 September this year, who denied any link between climate change and bushfires as unusually early and intense bushfires raged around Sydney.
Civil Society NGO and local Polish activists also staged a Climate Justice march in Warsaw in association with the COP19 climate change negotiations taking place. Super Typhoon Haiyan set the initial mood at the negotiations with Philippines negotiator Naderev Saño (Yeb Saño) saying "time to take action. We need an emergency climate pathway". There is widespread dismay at the coal powered negotiations in Warsaw with Japan and Australia being particularly singled out.
Related: Australia Indymedia - Tens of Thousands rally for Climate Action across Australia
Authorities of Tacloban City with a population of 220,000 and capital of Leyte province, gave an early estimate that perhaps 10,000 people died from this one city. Many people were surprised by the huge storm surge tidal waves that inundated much of the city. Many smaller coastal villages were also devastated with most buildings destroyed or suffering severe damage. According to the UN Reliefweb report on 14 November the number of affected people has increased to 11.8 million. The official death count from Typhoon Haiyan is currently 4,460 but with numbers still increasing. There were 921,200 people displaced and 243,600 houses destroyed. A total of 2.5 million people are in need of food assistance.
Related: Climate IMC: Typhoon Haiyan: This is a climate crime | Time for turning tears into anger says Walden Bello | Philippine groups demand action on climate finance, loss and damage in Warsaw climate talks | Ejected from COP19 for expressing solidarity to the Philippines | Youth observers expelled from UN climate change talks for Philippines Solidarity | Indybay: Super typhoon Haiyan is climate wake-up call | They destroy We suffer Statement on Yolanda?s AftermathNon-corporate Typhoon Haiyan Relief Efforts: Waves for Water | Haiyan NYC Relief Project | Doctors without Borders | Oxfam International
Climate Negotiations are over for another year with little progress in Doha by any one's measure as the scientific statements on climate change and the impacts we are already feeling as evidenced in record Arctic melting, and extreme weather events like Hurricane Sandy and Typhoon Bopha in the Philippines, and Cyclone Evan in the South Pacific are growing much stronger.
Some of the latest scientific research shows:Sea Level rising 60% faster than IPCC projectionsMethane and CO2 in thawing Arctic permafrost a climate tipping pointCollapse of Siberia's Coastline is Releasing Huge Amounts of CO2Greenland Ice sheet suffers unprecedented surface meltIndian Monsoon more likely to fail as global warming acceleratesSouthern Ocean warming impact on Antarctic Ice Sheet Stability and sea level rise
Photos: Photos by World Resources Institute | Photos by Oxfam | The Verb: Climate March in Doha | The Verb: COP18 Actions Related: Deep emissions cuts urged at climate summit | Towards a Grand Compromise in the Climate Negotiations | COP18, another 'Conference of Polluters' | An open letter to governments and their negotiators | Climate compensation row at Doha | Forest Groups Protest False Solutions | IPCC's Planned Obsolescence: Fifth Assessment Report Will Ignore Crucial Permafrost Carbon Feedback! | Methane and CO2 in thawing Arctic permafrost a climate tipping point