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.
Today, residents, community leaders, medical professionals, and clean energy supporters – including the California Environmental Justice Alliance (CEJA) and the Sierra Club’s My Generation Campaign - rallied outside Southern California Edison’s headquarters in Rosemead. Protesters gathered to call on Edison replace the closed San Onofre Nuclear Plant with clean energy instead of dirty gas.
The Fukushima nuclear power plant catastrophe in Japan is about to enter its fourth year. Many questions remain unanswered. Little has been done to shore up the 31 U.S. reactors that are identical in design. Interviews with specialists at Beyond Nuclear are available.
Kevin Kamps Radioactive Waste Specialist. 240.462.3216; firstname.lastname@example.org
Today, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Florida sent a final warning to the Florida Board of Executive Clemency – made up of Gov. Rick Scott and his cabinet – calling on them to reform Florida’s voting policies before they are the subject to international scrutiny at an upcoming United Nations review.
Friends of the Earth International commended a groundbreaking report presented today the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the right to food, which calls for the world’s food systems to be radically and democratically redesigned to ensure the human right to adequate food and freedom from hunger.  Mr. Olivier De Schutter, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the right to food, presented his final report to the UN Human Rights Council after a six-year term as Special Rapporteur.
Today, consumer protection and environmental advocates filed a lawsuit in federal district court against the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for failing to respond to a July 2011 petition in which the groups asked the FDA to give consumers clear, accurate and accessible information about toxic mercury in the seafood they eat.
The UN expert overseeing the use of armed drones has demanded greater accountability and transparency by those states using them – including public investigations into allegations of civilian casualties.
Ben Emmerson, UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism, investigated 37 recent drone strikes in countries. In Yemen he noted a sharp rise in strikes and a “significant number” of civilian casualties since the end of 2013.
? FL-13: With the long-awaited special election to replace the late Rep. Bill Young today, all signs continue to point to an extremely tight race in Florida's swingy 13th District. A new PPP poll for the League of Conservation Voters finds Democrat Alex Sink edging Republican David Jolly 48-45, with Libertarian Lucas Overby at 6. With early voters (who comprise 60 percent of this sample), Sink has a wider 52-45 advantage, but among the 37 percent who say they plan to vote on Election Day, Jolly leads 45-41.
One key thing to note is that Overby only garners 3 percent from those who've already voted while 10 percent of those who haven't cast ballots yet say they plan to back him. Republicans rightly fear that Overby will eat into Jolly's share (American Crossroads even has Rand Paul making robocalls asking people not to vote Libertarian), but the spread between Overby's actual support and putative support highlights how third-party candidates typically see their performance erode when it comes time for voters to pull the lever. If some Overby partisans keep shifting toward Jolly, that means this contest is even closer than PPP's numbers make it appear.
And the apparent Democratic improvement in the share of pre-election ballots cast, according to Pinellas County officials, doesn't look quite as impressive as it did earlier on. Republicans mailed in 43 percent of absentee ballots versus 38 for Democrats, while Democrats cast 46 percent of all in-person early votes, compared to 38 for Republicans. But only around 5,200 early vote were cast in total, compared to 117,000 absentees, giving the GOP an overall 42-39 edge. That's only a touch better for Team Blue than 2012, when Republicans had a 41-37 advantage.
As we've mentioned many times, Barack Obama carried the district that year, but by a very small 50.1 to 48.6 percent margin. Election watchers know that in off years, Democratic performance typically drops compared to presidential years, so Sink can afford very little falloff from Obama's score. In 170 elections held in 2013, Democrats ran behind Obama by an average of 6 percent and did better than the president just 16 percent of the time?and that was mostly before "if you like it, you can keep it" helped curdle sentiment even more sharply against the White House. More recent legislative special elections in Virginia have shown just how brutal the dropoff has been.
Under normal circumstances, Democrats would be at a serious disadvantage in race like this one, just thanks to the timing. Add in Obamacare and the handicap becomes even more severe. But fortunately for Sink, Republicans nominated a Washington lobbyist in Jolly, and Democrats have been able to taint him with D.C.'s stench. Sink's also outraised Jolly by a huge margin, though outside groups have helped make up the shortfall. The fact that she's kept the race this close is actually quite remarkable, all things considered.
A month ago, we felt that Sink still had a small edge thanks to her strong fundraising and the fact that she carried this district (albeit narrowly) in her 2010 run for governor. But with the election upon us, it looks like this race is now balanced on a knife's edge. As a result, Daily Kos Elections is moving this contest from Tossup/Tilt Democratic to pure Tossup.
Be sure to join us for our liveblog Tuesday night after polls close at 7 PM ET to see how it all turns out.
Daily Kos Radio's Kagro in the Morning show podcasts are now available through iTunes.
In addition to our usual mad dash around The Internets to find our morning topics, we'll have a scheduled guest that I actually said I should try to get on the show: Ian Reifowitz will join us to talk about his latest post, "Why are so many conservative politicians brandishing guns?" What are these bozos up to? (OK, that last part is mine.)
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Now Democrats are starting to fight back, deciding they should at least try to counter the tycoons with some low-cost speech of their own. Democrats may never have the same resources at their disposal ? no party should ? but they can use their political pulpits to stand up for a few basic principles, including the importance of widespread health-insurance coverage, environmental protection and safety-net programs.
The leader of this effort has been Senator Harry Reid, the majority leader, who has delivered a series of blistering attacks against the Kochs and their ads on the Senate floor over the last few weeks. In addition, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee has set up a website, www.kochaddiction.com, to remind voters of just what the Kochs stand for, and why they raised $407 million in the 2012 election.The Hill brings us a great quote from yesterday's climate change speeches in the Senate: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) used an all-night climate change campaign in the Senate to once again bash Charles and David Koch.
?It's time to stop acting like those who ignore this crisis ? the oil baron Koch brothers and their allies in Congress ? have a valid point of view,? Reid said Monday evening. ?But despite overwhelming scientific evidence and overwhelming public opinion, climate change deniers still exist. They exist in this country and in this Congress.?Much more on the day's top stories below the fold.
Blast from the Past. At Daily Kos on this date in 2011?Wisconsin legislator files complaint over Walker's stealthy union-busting vote:Madison's Cap Times:
Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca, D-Kenosha, filed a complaint Thursday morning with the Dane County district attorney charging that the Joint Conference Committee that convened at 6 p.m. Wednesday and passed an amended version of Gov. Scott Walker's budget repair bill is in violation of the open meetings law.Earlier, former Attorney General Peg Lautenschlager, who now represents AFSCME, said it was "clear...on it's face" that the conference committee meeting was violated Wisconsin's open meetings law which requires twenty-four hours public notice. The meeting last night was held after less than two hours of notice, far short of the statutory requirement. Even if courts conclude that the meeting was held in violation of the law, it isn't a guarantee that their action will be voided. But at the very least, it gives opponents of the legislation a cause of action to keep the the fight against the legislation alive even as recall efforts pick up steam. today's Kagro in the Morning show, Greg Dworkin brings us "4 Myths About Daylight Saving Time," and new data on the drop in the numbers of uninsured. Team 26's latest Ride on Washington is underway, a few wrap-up pieces on CPAC, and Kevin Drum's "George Bush Lost an Entire Generation for the Republican Party." Zaid Jilani's illuminating piece, "How Working in Washington Taught Me We're All A Little Like RT America." George Zimmerman's peddling autographs at gun shows. Ian Millhiser on what a legit "religious liberty" claim really looks like. Galt Lake City? A private SLC neighborhood wants the city to take over maintaining their streets.
By Rachel Goldfarb, originally published on Next New Deal
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Could a Wall Street Firm be Your Landlord? (Melissa Harris-Perry)
Roosevelt Institute Fellow Dorian Warren points out the possibility that new rental-backed securities from Wall Street could pose a civil rights problem if they capitalize on communities of color.
US Postal Service Inspector General Proposes Launching Low-Fee Public Bank (Real News Network)
Postal banking would aim to help low-income Americans who are currently unbanked, says Roosevelt Institute Fellow Mike Konczal, without the predatory fees they would face at traditional banks.
The Real Story Behind the Detroit Pension Fight and What it Means to America's Future (Alternet)
Lynn Stuart Parramore speaks to Roosevelt Institute Senior Fellow Rob Johnson about the so-called pensions crisis. The key takeaway: cutting pensions is a choice, one that will cause harm for generations.Roosevelt Take: Rob explains how big money in politics has negatively effected public pensions.
More on CBO and the Limits of Economic Analysis (On The Economy)
Jared Bernstein responds to a critique from Roosevelt Institute Senior Fellow Jeff Madrick, arguing that what needs to change isn't the Congressional Budget Office's analyses, but our lack of skepticism.Roosevelt Take: Jeff says the problem is single-point projections from the CBO, which he would do away with.
Unemployment in February Remains Elevated Across the Board (Working Economics)
Heidi Shierholz compares February's jobs report to pre-recession numbers, and argues that the sustained high unemployment across the board is proof that the jobs crisis comes from a lack of demand.
Why Americans Should Take August Off (The Nation)
Vacationing isn't a sign of laziness, writes Bryce Covert; it boosts spending and productivity, both of which would be great for the U.S. economy.
New on Next New Deal
"Honest work, just reward" is a central conceit in GOP anti-poverty plans, but Nell Abernathy, Program Manager for the Roosevelt Institute's Bernard L. Schwartz Rediscovering Government Initiative, says this ignores the realities of low-income work.
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