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 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.
KEVIN GOSZTOLA, kevin.gosztola at firedoglake.com, @kgosztola Gosztola is co-author of Truth & Consequences: The U.S. vs. Bradley Manning. He said today: “This assault on freedom of the press is an outgrowth of this administration’s war on whistleblowers or alleged leakers.” See Gosztola’s articles on whistleblowers at FireDogLake.
A federal judge today temporarily blocked an Arkansas law that would ban abortion care starting at 12 weeks of pregnancy from taking effect. The judge issued the preliminary injunction from the bench following arguments in the American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of Arkansas, and the Center for Reproductive Rights' challenge to the ban.
From Hawaii to Washington D.C., Americans today are celebrating the sixth annual Endangered Species Day and the 40th anniversary of the Endangered Species Act. The Act is one of the world’s most successful environmental laws, preventing extinction for 99 percent of the animals and plants under its care and putting hundreds on the road to recovery.
While pursuing investigations of the Internal Revenue Service’s targeted handling of certain groups seeking tax exempt status, Congress, the White House and the IRS must address the larger problem of political groups masquerading as tax-exempt social welfare groups to hide donors’ identities, Common Cause said today.
Schoolwork has real-life consequences. In this case, one was the resignation of Florida's RNC Latino Outreach Director, Pablo Pantoja. Pantoja, who was born in Puerto Rico, is no longer a Republican.
He stated in his email:A researcher included as part of a past dissertation his theory that ?the totality of the evidence suggests a genetic component to group differences in IQ.? The researcher reinforces these views by saying ?No one knows whether Hispanics will ever reach IQ parity with whites, but the prediction that new Hispanic immigrants will have low-IQ children and grandchildren is difficult to argue against.?
Although the organization distanced themselves from those assertions, other immigration-related research is still padded with the same racist and eugenics-based innuendo. Some Republican leaders have blandly (if at all) denied and distanced themselves from this but it doesn?t take away from the culture within the ranks of intolerance. The pseudo-apologies appear to be a quick fix to deep-rooted issues in the Republican Party in hopes that it will soon pass and be forgotten.I'm not surprised.
Each year since 1914 the NAACP has issued a Civil Rights Legislative Report Card on "bread and butter" civil rights issues relating to the voting records of members of Congress. So as a teacher, a blogger, and a voter, I've decided to issue my own report card, and grades for the faux efforts of the Republican Party to pay lip-service to its stated intentions of conducting outreach to Latino voters.
See more on how below the fold.
McConnell is open to the idea of a special prosecutor, but he hasn?t decided whether to ask for an appointment.Oh pah-leeze. Yes, the Obama administration has been shutting up opponents at a breakneck pace. That's why you don't see any opponents. They're all squelched. Barack Obama personally goes out to all the individual government offices and says, "Hi there, can you make life slightly more irritating for some random guy in Texas who doesn't like me? I'm thinking maybe have him fill out an extra form or something. Yeah. Yeah, that'll do it. Take that, you tea party bastard."
Yes, these bozos in the branch office shouldn't have done it. That's why the IRS made them stop, and had an investigation, and apologized, and why heads are probably going to roll and then some. On the other hand, it's not exactly hard to see why any person of average human intelligence would note that there have been a metric bucketload of organizations cropping up these last few years with oddly partisan names like "Tea Party Wankers" or "Anti-Tax Patriots for Electing Republicans On The Sly" and claiming to be tax-exempt, nonpartisan organizations and think to themselves that there were likely to be a considerable number of scammers mixed in with that lot. Mind you, Karl Rove's Crossroads GPS is one of these 501c3 outfits that gets somehow deemed sufficiently unpolitical, making the whole category into something of a scammer's paradise from the get-go; again, though?bad IRS bureaucrats. Bad.
Still, I find it difficult to get too worked up with world-shattering apoplectic outrage over it, which makes me a bad person, or possibly (even worse!) just not a conspiracy theorist. That's the problem; from McConnell down to the Kings and Gohmerts and Stockmans, all of conservatism has devolved into one big conspiracy theory. It's Breitbartism, all the way down. It's writ right into the movement now, and defined as synonymous with patriotism. You can go from Agenda 21 to ACORN to United Nations gun-grabbers to the powerful solar panel lobby to Benghazi all in one sweeping step; what the precise conspiracy is supposed to be or whether there is f--k-all worth of evidence to support your pet theory is unimportant; it's all about the theater, the very important and very politically motivated and very career-enhancing performance art of presuming everything to be connected to everything. Some IRS officers in a branch office screwed up? For real? Good God?Darrell Issa was probably rendered near-unconscious on his office floor when he heard it, breathing into a paper bag and waving off staffers asking him whether they should call for an ambulance.
Yes, yes, I should be more outraged. Sorry. I already have outrage fatigue, and I've had it for 10 years. The reasons, below the fold:
The New York Times adds its voice to the chorus crying out for action on climate change.The news that atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide, the most important global warming gas, have hit 400 parts per million for the first time in millions of years increases the pressure on President Obama to deliver on his pledges to limit this country?s greenhouse gas emissions.
America cannot solve a global problem by itself. But as Mr. Obama rightly observed in his inaugural address, the United States, as both major polluter and world leader, has a deep obligation to help shield the international community from rising sea levels, floods, droughts and other devastating consequences of a warming planet. In his State of the Union speech, he promised to take executive action if Congress failed to pass climate legislation. ...
Mr. Obama has a firm grasp of the climate issue, and no one doubts that he cares about it. But as is often the case with this president, the question is whether he will exhibit a sense of urgency to match his intellectual understanding.Unfortunately, instead of taking immediate and necessary action on an issue that threatens our economy, our security and the lives of millions in America and around the world, the administration is much more concentrated on addressing all the little nonsense items that have been declared "scandals". So when you're watching that next superstorm closing on an American city, remember that we did manage to fire an IRS administrator who had done nothing wrong. That'll be comforting, I'm sure.
Come on in. Let's see what the rest of the punditry made a priority.
When Bob Woodward publishes the definitive history of Barack Obama's second term (maybe sooner rather than later), this will be presented as the week that Politico pwned the news cycle?and the president lost the village.
I mean that both literally and literarily.Harvard Ph.D. candidates, in this chapter I will compare the IRS' scrutiny of "non-profit" Tea Party groups (among others) to the Nazis' persecution of Jews and homosexuals. SPOILER: This doesn't end well, but it isn't Watergate. Then They Came for Me This chapter will focus on the DOJ's decision to secretly subpoena the AP's phone records. For context, I will again recount the harrowing details of the time that White House economic adviser Gene Sperling threatened to kill me. SPOILER: I'm still alive; just like Watergate. Watergate 2: Electric Benghaziloo These chapters (plural) will consist of nothing but the redacted transcript of a conversation between myself, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, and Alberto Gonzales. The four of us will meet at an undisclosed location for a freewheeling discussion about the numerous crimes that President Obama committed in Benghazi, and where in the world he should be tried for them. I will be played by Matthew McConaughey, or a Matthew McConaughey type. SPOILER: ?????? ?????????, ?????'? ??????? ?? ??? ????. Watergate 3: Watergate Harder In what is certain to be the final chapter of Barack Obama's presidency, I will reveal the sinister connection between "Umbrella-gate" and the assassination of John F. Kennedy. SPOILER: The rain in Spain falls mainly on the brain. Developing...
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