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.
After activist and Kalamazoo resident Chris Wahmhoff's felony pretrial, Michigan Coalition Against Tar Sands (MI-CATS) will hold a press conference to raise awareness about chemical oil dispersants found in the Kalamazoo River. Earlier this year Chris protested Enbridge Energy by skateboarding into their pipeline and stopping construction. He was charged with resisting and obstructing an officer and faces 2 years in prison.
The American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of Michigan, along with Cary McGehee of the law firm Pitt McGehee Palmer Rivers & Golden, filed an amended complaint in a federal lawsuit today on behalf of a woman who was forced out of work after she became pregnant.
A statement from Edward Snowden was read by Government Accountability Project (GAP) National Security & Human Rights Director Jesselyn Radack at a reception last night at the Four Seasons Hotel in Washington, DC.
The reception was held in honor of the 100 individuals named Leading Global Thinkers in 2013, an annual list now in its fifth year of the most significant visionaries and leaders in politics, business, technology, and the arts according to the editors of Foreign Policy Magazine.
On Tuesday, Congress passed the Fiscal Year 2014 National Defense Authorization Act, noting that construction of the facility to convert surplus weapons plutonium into reactor fuel commonly known as MOX at the Department of Energy’s Savannah River Site “has been fraught with cost overruns and program delays.”
The American Civil Liberties Union and the Southern Coalition for Social Justice today asked a federal court to hear their legal challenge to North Carolina's sweeping voter suppression law in time for voters to participate in the crucial 2014 midterm elections. In contrast, North Carolina asked the court to delay the trial date well into 2015. The law takes effect next month.
Rep. Doc Hastings (R-Wash.) will chair a House Natural Resources Committee hearing Thursday to orchestrate yet another spurious and highly partisan attack on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for doing its job — protecting rapidly declining species under the Endangered Species Act.
"Today, as part of our efforts to smooth the transition to the Marketplaces for those seeking coverage that begins in January, we are taking steps to ensure that Americans enrolled in the federal PCIP insurance plan will not face a lapse when the new year begins." Medicare spokesman Aaron Albright said in a statement. "We are committed to providing consumers additional flexibilities while they evaluate and select a quality, affordable, health plan that meets their needs.?The PCIP is the Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan, a program set up by Obamacare as a stop-gap in 2010 to provide coverage to people with serious illnesses who had not been able to purchase insurance otherwise. It was intended to end December 31, 2013, when the full law kicks in and they can get coverage on the exchanges. HHS has directed the administrators of federally-funded high-risk pools in every state to call their enrollees and determine if they have been able to get onto the exchange and find coverage. Apparently, enough people haven't had success yet to convince the administration to continue the stop-gap coverage.
Some officials involved with the program estimate that only about half of those high-risk enrollees in some states have successfully enrolled in insurance coverage through HealthCare.Gov.
The process for many of these people hasn't just been made harder by the problems with a web site that hasn't functioned. It is complicated by the complexities of their health care. They need to find plans that will allow them to stay with the doctors and the facilities that have provided their care, as well as coverage for prescriptions and procedures that might not be standard. That deep level of information just isn't available on the federal exchanges, because of the breadth of the states and the systems it has to include. That kind of information has to be searched out with the individual insurance companies, a long and difficult process for many. Giving them more time to complete this process was a no-brainer.
On his radio broadcast yesterday, Bryan Fischer spent two segments laying out his argument that, when the founders of this nation used the word "religion," what they really meant was "Christianity." [...]Well that certainly simplifies things. We simply declare that "religion" means Jesus only and we're done! While we're at it we can also say that when the founders said freedom they meant pants, and when they said liberty they meant a nice warm cup of milk, and when they said quartering of troops they meant standing in line for a Twilight movie.
"If by 'religion,'" Fischer said, "the founders, and the founders of the state of Oklahoma, meant Christianity, then you can ban a monument to Satan because that's not Christianity ... You can say 'no, we're not going to let you do it. Our Constitution protects the free exercise of the Christian religion; yours is not a Christian expression, we're not going to have that monument.' If we don't understand the word 'religion' to mean Christianity as the founders intended it, then we have no way to stop Islam, we have no way to stop Satanism, we have no way to stop any other sort of sinister religion practice that might creep onto the fruited plains"
(Aside: I always feel bad for subjecting people to Bryan Fischer, a mid-tier pseudopundit who is really just so spiteful and vicious and stupid a person that we would probably all be better off pretending he did not exist ... but there's that American Family Association thing. No, these people actually get treated seriously, actually get to appear on the teevee, actually get supposedly serious people to ask their supposedly serious things, actually get to pretend to get all bent out of shape at how cruelly they are treated by anyone who does not particularly like a dose of batshit with their morning coffee. Given that, it seems sketchy to ignore them, and if nothing else knowing the name Bryan Fischer will at least allow you to quickly determine, upon seeing his snarling mug on the teevee, that the producers of that particular show really do think you are an absolute idiot.)
Back to the point, if we must: Eh, I suppose we really ought to put some choice Jefferson quotes in here or the like, but that would mean giving the argument five minutes of respect, or at least two, or at least one, and I don't think we need to do that. Suffice it to say that the world the American Family Association clods are going for would be a morose place indeed, if you are not part of their preferred flock. And just wait until they start explaining which branches of Christianity they consider legitimate and which they don't?the family values tent is a small, small place, and I've always wondered why each one of the various loudmouths on the subject are so sure that their preferred version would win out, if we started thinning the ranks of which sub-religions we were going to respect and which we weren't.
Getting Republicans to agree to extend emergency UI didn't always require leverage, but these days it does, and that means that without coupling the extension with another must-pass piece of legislation, UI faces grim prospects. Democrats have been counting on the need to pass the so-called "doc fix" (legislation preventing cuts to payments to Medicare doctors) as a vehicle for extending UI, but yesterday House Republicans added a partial "doc fix" to the budget package.
Under the legislation, the "doc fix" will last for three months, through March of 2014, so it doesn't completely remove it as a vehicle for unemployment insurance, but it does reduce the urgency for Republicans to move swiftly, because while Medicare doctors won't face any lapse in payments, the long-term unemployed will. It's always possible that Congress could move quickly in January despite the fact that Republicans have given themselves a "doc fix" cushion, but it's going to take a concerted effort from House and Senate Democrats as well as the Obama Administration to push action. (Meteor Blades had a good post on Wednesday about one approach for doing this.)
Given that we're already seeing how Medicare doctors and their patients are getting taken care of while the long-term unemployed are getting screwed, it's worth noting that how the "doc fix" will be paid for:
A proposed short-term "doc fix," meanwhile, would prevent a 20-percent pay cut to physicians by extending cuts to set to hit hospitals that serve primarily uninsured patients.So it's not just the unemployed who are getting screwed, it's also both the insured and uninsured people who go to the hospitals facing the cuts, some of which will close as a result. But if there's a silver lining, it's that the cuts won't actually go into effect until FY2016 instead of FY2015, so just like Congress could in theory undo the damage of cutting off emergency unemployment benefits, it could also undo the damage of screwing hospitals that serve the poor. Good news, eh?
The reductions to so-called disproportionate share hospitals are currently scheduled to begin next year and last through 2022. Under the "doc fix" proposal, the cuts would begin in 2016 but last through 2023, raising about $4 billion.
"I thank the Senate for confirming Nina Pillard to be a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, which for the first time, will have five active female judges on the bench," Obama said in a statement. "Throughout her career, Ms. Pillard has displayed an unwavering commitment to justice and integrity. Her landmark accomplishments on behalf of women and families include Supreme Court cases defending the constitutionality of the Family and Medical Leave Act and opening the doors of the Virginia Military Institute to female students. I?m confident she will be a diligent, thoughtful and judicious addition to the D.C. Circuit."Pillard's work on gender equality and reproductive health rights also caused three ConservaDems to vote against her confirmation: Joe Manchin (WV), Mark Pryor (AR) and Joe Donnelly (IN). They apparently endorse Sen. Lindsey Graham's (R-SC) hyperventilating over Pillard as "the most hard noise, fire breathing liberal" who will "change the judiciary forever." Okay, then.
Pillard's work on gender equality has drawn comparisons to Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the leader of the Supreme Court's liberal wing, who was a D.C. Circuit judge before becoming a justice.
The Senate then spent the night listening to Republicans complain about Obamacare and the nuclear option while the 30 clock wound down on the nomination of Chai Feldblum to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), who was confirmed, 54-41. Then they complained for another three hours before voting on Elizabeth Wolford's nomination to be a district judge for New York. She was confirmed, 70-29.
Majority Leader Harry Reid might be exasperated by Republican tactics, but that isn't going to stop pushing through these nominations. He has threatened to keep the Senate in through Christmas if Republicans insist on these delaying tactics with every nomination. Because the Senate will do its job of confirming the nominees the president puts forward.
[A]lready, some of the country?s most prominent conservative organizations have signaled that Stockman will likely have to go it alone against Cornyn. With less than three months until primary day and only $32,000 in Stockman?s campaign account (Cornyn has nearly $7 million on hand), several top conservative strategists privately suggested the race was a fool?s errand ? or, more kindly, a quixotic effort that Stockman is welcome to pursue on his own.Even the grassroots is wary:
?I would want to see Stockman vetted well so we don?t have an ?oops? moment,? said Toby Marie Walker, a Cornyn critic who heads the Waco Tea Party.Really, now? Steve Stockman is a walking oops moment, so that horse has left the barn. Still, when the head of the Waco Tea Party thinks you might be too nutty for them that's probably less a sign that your campaign is in trouble and more a sign that somebody, somewhere, ought to have staged an intervention for you at some point.
All indications are that Stockman filed for the race as a spur of the moment thing, perhaps?as they say in Toronto?in one of his drunken stupors. Still, the prospect of watching John Cornyn and Steve Stockman try to outflank each other on the right? Wow.
The simmering feud between House Republicans and movement conservatives is finally an all-out war.Okay, if this is a war, let's ask a simple question: Why should anyone who isn't a conservative give a damn?
The tension exploded on Wednesday morning when Speaker John Boehner and outside conservative groups traded sharp barbs over the budget deal Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) crafted with Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.). It only escalated later in the day when the leader of the right-wing Republican Study Committee forced out its longtime executive director for leaking private conversations about strategy to those organizations.
After all, it doesn't appear as though the fallout from the "war" will have any impact on whether or not the Murray-Ryan budget deal passes when it comes up for a vote later today, because between Democrats and Republicans (House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi says her caucus should "embrace the suck"), it appears to be a sure bet to pass. Moreover, while it's better than the status quo, in the bigger picture it represents a pretty big conservative victory, because it sets spending levels even lower than the budget House Republicans passed in 2012 and it does so without even dealing with extending unemployment insurance.
The answer to the question seems to be this: It's amusing watching the right fight amongst themselves, and hopefully weaken themselves ahead of the 2014 election, but the fact that they are at war just highlights how completely off the rails the conservative movement has become. For example, responding to the fired Republican Study Committee staffer, right-wing groups declared themselves under siege:
Conservative activists are hitting back.Okay, but the only thing that Boehner said is that it was ridiculous for right-wingers to complain about the budget because the budget was already right-wing?which is absolutely correct. And the guy who got fired was fired because he leaked the contents of conversations that he had with members of Congress to outside groups. Given that he worked for the members that he was trying to undermine, it sure seems like any rational person would understand why he got fired.
More than 50 high-profile conservatives signed onto a statement Wednesday responding to both House Speaker John Boehner?s harsh words for conservative groups earlier in the day and to the firing of the Republican Study Committee?s longtime executive director, Paul Teller.
?It is clear that the conservative movement has come under attack on Capitol Hill today,? the statement reads.
But these groups don't get that, because they aren't rational. And even though from a substantive perspective they continue to rule the GOP with an iron fist, they believe that they are at war?and are losing it. Insane.
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 Crisis
Analysis: 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 Aftermath
Non-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:
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