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.
JAMES GOODALE, via Devi Shah, dkshah at debevoise.com. Available for a limited number of interviews, Goodale represented The New York Times in the landmark Pentagon Papers case, when the Nixon White House attempted to stop the Times from publishing top secret documents about the Vietnam War leaked by Daniel Ellsberg. Goodale just wrote the book Fighting for the Press: The Inside Story of the Pentagon Papers and Other Battles.
Eight years to the week after a "Gang of 14" senators joined forces to shake up the U.S Senate and put it to work, obstructionists appear once again to be firmly in charge in Congress’ upper house, Common Cause said today.
DBA Press and the Center for Media and Democracy today released the results of a year-long investigation: "Dissent or Terror: How the Nation's Counter Terrorism Apparatus, In Partnership With Corporate America, Turned on Occupy Wall Street.”
Dam-affected communities and international conservation organizations from South America, the Middle East, Europe, the US and Africa come together today at the International Rivers Conference in Istanbul, Turkey, to debunk the myth of mega-dams as "clean" energy.
Today Greenpeace placed a full-page ad in the Lexington Herald-Leader reminding Senator McConnell that “Free Speech Isn’t Just for People You Agree With.“ The Kentucky Senator has stated he is “deeply disturbed” by the recent allegedly politically motivated audits of tea party groups by the IRS, though he was notably silent during similar activities targeting progressive organizations during the Bush years.
U.S. House of Representatives Subcommittee on Environment and the Economy is holding a hearing today to review a bill that would eliminate any requirement to update federal waste disposal regulations, including regulations that are long overdue for coal ash, one of the largest industrial waste streams in the country.
The union had been led to understand that hearing would take place perhaps well after the Memorial Day weekend. But the surprise decision to move up the hearing forced the union's hand.UNITE HERE is staging a protest in Chicago Monday afternoon. The union's quick move will push other unions, and the AFL-CIO, to consider their positions. Hyatt's poor labor practices?including replacing longtime housekeepers in Boston and Cambridge with low-wage temps?are of particular relevance to hotel workers; as activist Hyatt housekeeper Cathy Youngblood said, "Under Pritzker?s direction, Hyatt has led the hotel industry in a race to the bottom by aggressively subcontracting out career hotel jobs to minimum wage temps. This is not the model that will lead our country to a bright economic future."
But even beyond Hyatt's array of labor issues, there's a lot for unions, and progressives more generally, to dislike about Pritzker. As a member of the Chicago school board and as a donor, she's pushed anti-teacher education policies. She was on the board of a bank that did a big business in subprime mortgages and then collapsed. And her family makes enough use of offshore accounts that Iowa Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley, of all people, kind of has a point when he says "It isn?t just about her or the offshore stuff, it?s about the fact that the president made a big deal out of Romney?s offshore accounts." The president was right to make a big deal out of Mitt Romney's offshore accounts. But the problem with Pritzker is not because Grassley and other Republicans are looking for excuses. Rather, it's precisely because the president was right about the problems with Romney's offshore accounts that his nomination of Pritzker should raise eyebrows among his supporters.
To be fair to Noonan, she's not entirely off the farm on this one (or, rather, the whole farm is tagging along with her; the fences are in a bit of a state of disrepair, these days.) The "dog whistle" bit seems to be the new purported explanation for why something that apparently didn't involve Obama in fact deeply involves Obama, and is worse than Watergate precisely because it didn't involve Obama, or some such. Obama is so evil that he doesn't even have to tell his subordinates to target his enemies, they just do it on based on evil osmosis. Nixon specifically ordered the IRS to go after his opponents. Obama didn't, you see, and that makes the Obama administration ? worse. If you can understand that, you are either a Republican political strategist or under the influence of a drug you don't have a prescription for.
So now we've finally reached the point where they're saying it outright: For a Democratic president, campaigning on his own behalf is toeing the line of impeachable offense. Merely criticizing his opponents is scandal enough; there doesn't need to be anything more than that. The Noonans of the world are willing to work themselves into a rabid lather over things like Death Panels, and whether the president maybe secretly wanted Americans to die in Benghazi because something-something-pineapple, but a Democrat pointing out that a certain Supreme Court decision is a catastrophudge, now that's over the line of propriety. Noonan floated through Iran-Contra like it was a mosquito buzzing in the nation's ear, but a president lavishing insufficient praise on his clumsily self-rebranded "Tea Party" opponents, now that we will not abide. (Did the president even address the Tea Party much, during his campaign? If he didn't make a speech calling them conspiracy-humping rednecks with rampant literacy problems, he wasn't hard on them.)
They're not even trying anymore. The pundit circuit is just a Roman orgy, at this point, there for the glittering self-pleasure of the thing. The same new pseudo-conservative wisdom that went from saying "government is bad" to actively Not Goddamn Governing has now decided that, eff it all, there's just no point in supervising the discourse at all, anymore, not when you get paid the same either way, and get to attend the same social functions, either way, and when you can get ten times the praise for saying something stupid than you can saying something smart. Worse than Watergate because Obama didn't do it? Screw it, go with it, now let's go get drunk.
The new numbers indicate that Obama remains popular, with 79% of Americans saying the president is likable.But it's not just Obama. The Democratic Party went from a 46-48 favorable-unfavorable rating a month ago, to 52-43 in this latest poll. That's a net gain of 11 points.
As for impeachment-screeching Republicans? They're DOWN a net eight points from 38-54 a month ago, to 35-59 this week.
It turns out that:
* The American people just don't think that it's the worst scandal since Watergate that Obama called the Benghazi consulate attack an "act of terror" as opposed to a "terrorist attack".
* The American people just don't care that the IRS spent extra time looking at the applications of political groups?none of which had their applications rejected, mind you. (Well, except for that one liberal group.)
* The American people can't be bothered to care that some reporters were spied on, after the GOP spent the last decade pushing for increased wiretapping powers in the name of "national security". This is exactly what Republicans wanted. No one believes they're really that outraged about it now.
So after the president's supposed worst week ever, with Republicans jumping in glee at the scandals, we find that the president's popularity has inched up, the Democratic Party's popularity is significantly up, and Republicans, at 59 percent unfavorable, are at their highest unpopularity level since CNN started polling the question in 1992.
Way to go, sherlocks.
The tornado left behind incredible destruction. It wiped out entire neighborhoods, leaving behind piles of debris.Emergency crews are busy searching through debris and helping survivors out of their leveled homes. Meanwhile, the tornado is still moving through eastern Oklahoma. News9 in Oklahoma City has a live feed and they are actively following the tornado. As of 4:30 CT, the tornado is on the ground, headed directly towards Meeker, Oklahoma.
Sadly, this isn't the first time Moore, Oklahoma, has been hit by a tornado. It was devastated by one of the most destructive tornadoes ever recorded on May 3, 1999:On May 3, 1999, an unusual confluence of atmospheric conditions in Oklahoma spawned dozens of tornadoes that swept across the state in an hours-long parade of destruction. Thousands of homes were damaged or destroyed, and 19 counties became disaster areas.
The worst toll was in human lives: 44 dead, including three children. Hundreds more were injured.To learn more about the storm or follow the live discussion, weatherdude has an informative liveblog here.
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
This report comes after Hurricane Sandy devastated island nations in the Caribbean before landing on the north east coast of the United States, providing a wakeup call on climate change just prior to the Presidential election.
Also released this week, the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) warned that Greenhouse Gas Emissions Gap Widening as Nations Head to Crucial Climate Talks in Doha, while the European Environment Agency has warned in a new report Climate change evident across Europe, confirming urgent need for adaptation. A recent Price WaterhouseCoopers report warned that Business as usual Carbon emissions heading towards 6°C (10.8°F) of global warming this century. So there is widespread agreement from science and scientists, energy experts and experts in global economics and accounting that we are facing a climate meltdown.
The International Energy Agency warned in their 2011 World Energy Outlook report that we are on a 4-6 degree Celsius trajectory and that 80 percent of carbon emissions infrastructure has already been built and is in operation. We cannot afford to add any new carbon intensive infrastructure that will continue to pollute for 30-50 years, yet the World Resources Institute reveals nearly 1,200 Proposed Coal-Fired Power Plants, the majority in India and China.
But grassroots action is having an impact: thousands rallied against coal across India, and a very first Arab Day of Climate Action (Photos) organised by the Arab Youth Climate Movement occurred on November 10. In the US, the Sierra Club reports victories in stopping the coal rush.Climate IMC | San Fransisco Bay Area Indymedia: Review of Turn Down the Heat | DC Indymedia: First Round of the Last Chance to Head Off More Climate Disasters
Legislation is currently before the Australian Senate to extend the Northern Territory Emergency Response (often called just The Intervention) in 73 aboriginal indigenous communities for another 10 years. The intervention was instituted in 2007 by the conservative Howard Government claiming it was to stop domestic violence and child abuse in indigenous communities. But others like John Pilger claim it was a land grab, about mining or "smashing Aboriginal organisations, demonising Aboriginal people and forcing migration". It arose from the Northern Territory Government Inquiry into the Protection of Aboriginal Children from Sexual Abuse. Investigative journalist John Pilger has debunked the reason for The Intervention with statistics saying in 2010: "Out of 7433 Aboriginal children examined by doctors, 39 were referred to the authorities for suspected abuse. Of those, four possible cases have been identified. In other words, as Professor Alastair Nicholson, a former chief justice of the Family Court, has pointed out, this is no more than the rate of child abuse in white Australia."
The Intervention was continued by the Rudd and Gillard Labor Governments. Initially supported by some aboriginal spokespeople, the top down intervention included extra policing in aboriginal communities, compulsory income management, compulsory acquisition of Aboriginal land, the assertion of extensive powers by the Commonwealth Government over Aboriginal communities, and alcohol and pornography restrictions in prescribed areas. It has been widely criticised as being inefficient, ineffective, has failed to delivered jobs to aboriginal people, racially discriminatory, a denial of fundamental human rights, that won't protect children.
The initial Intervention legislation in 2007 entailed suspension of the Racial Discrimination Act and was strongly opposed by the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission. A 2008 action plan by HREOC to modify the intervention was effectively ignored. In 2009 a United Nations Special Rapporteur on Indigenous Human Rights, James Anaya, criticised Australia finding the Intervention to be a "racially discriminatory treatment of indigenous individuals and communities" and "incompatible with Australia?s human rights obligations" (PDF report | Video News Report). In February 2012 a group of emminent Australians signed a Statement on Aboriginal Rights (PDF) for ending all discriminatory practices and opposing the extension of the Intervention.
Recent consultations with aboriginal communities for the extension have been flawed and perfunctory at best, as evidenced by the Senate Hearing at Maningrida 22 February 2012 (Video). Indigenous people and communities in the Northern Territory are fighting for their freedom. Seven leaders from aboriginal communities where the NT Intervention is in place said in January 2012 'Enough is enough' in a video Joint Submission to the Senate Committee (video).
Related: Stop the NT Intervention | Stand for Freedom | Stand for Freedom Campaign Video | Senate Report | ANTaR Background info on NT intervention Australia Indymedia Coverage: Stronger futures will kill us: Maningrida | Stand For Freedom on Facebook | Aboriginal Catholic Ministry: Committee report ignores concerns | ANTaR concerned that community support was not obtained | National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Ecumenical Commission: Stronger Futures or stronger policing | Uniting Church disappointed by Senate report