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.
In honor of the 44th Earth Day celebration, the Center for Biological Diversity is distributing 44,000 free Endangered Species Condoms across the country. The condoms will be given away next week by more than 500 volunteers in all 50 states and at dozens of Earth Day events on college campuses nationwide and in major cities like New York, Chicago, Washington, D.C., Miami, Atlanta and New Orleans.
The Vermont Senate today voted 28-2 to approve legislation that would require foods produced using genetic engineering (GE) to be labeled in Vermont. Minor changes made by the Senate must still be approved by the state House, which previously approved the measure (107-37). Pending the governor’s signature, the law would take effect July 1, 2016.
Despite tremendous odds, supporters of a pioneering effort to keep Ecuador's largest oil reserve permanently in the ground have gathered more than enough signatures to qualify for a national vote on the issue in a special election.
U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) today welcomed a Vermont Senate vote to require labels on food containing genetically-modified ingredients.
“I am very proud that Vermont is taking the lead in a growing national movement to allow the people of our country to know what is in the food they eat. GMO labeling exists in dozens of countries around the world and should exist in the United States,” Sanders said.
Today, by a vote of 28 to 2, the Vermont state senate passed H.112, a bill to require mandatory labeling of foods sold in Vermont that contain genetically modified organisms (GMOs). The bill also makes it illegal to call any food product containing GMOs “natural” or “all natural.” Unlike bills passed last year in Maine and Connecticut, which require four or five other states to pass GMO labeling laws before they can be enacted, Vermont’s law contains no “trigger” clauses, making it the first “clean” GMO labeling law in the country.
Statement of Dylan Voorhees, NRCM Clean Energy Director
“It is extremely disappointing that the governor’s opposition to solar energy is holding Maine back on the opportunity for more jobs and cleaner air. His rejection of LD 1252—aided today by his legislative allies in the Senate—means Maine will likely fall further behind in solar energy investments and creation of good quality, clean energy jobs.
Republicans are having a hard time at home this break, now that they have to answer for those 50-plus repeal votes of a law that seems to be working out pretty well right now. That's captured perfectly by ThinkProgress, which brings us Florida Rep. Dennis Ross's latest town meeting.
CONSTITUENT: You?ve voted to repeal it approximately 50 times. Had zero votes on a replacement. So my question is, why do you think it is so good to deny seniors on Part D to make them pay more, about $4,000 more for medicine, and people with pre-existing conditions get denied insurance, have 26-year-olds have a harder time getting insurance because they can?t get on their parents?? Why do you think those are good ideas?Ross actually does have some health care legislation, not that it's going anywhere. He wants more Health Savings Accounts, a solution only a banker could love. That's not going to answer any of his constituent's concerns about increasing access to coverage. Or about how repealing the Medicare Part D provisions would hike seniors' prescription costs. That's not a replacement plan.
ROSS: I don?t. I think one of the most unfortunate things my party did the last three years was not offer an alternative to health care. I?ve always felt that way. I think it?s absurd when I tell people that this isn?t what you should do, but I don?t have an alternative for you.
Republicans still thank they can run?and win?on Obamacare repeal in 2014. If that's going to happen, they're going to have to come up with a much better answer than this.
Leah Gordon, the staff member of U.S. Rep. Vance McAllister who is accused of leaking the video of the congressman?s scandalous kiss, has resigned as his Monroe District Office manager.But don't worry, the kissing congressman isn't a monster?she wasn't forced out:
?We won?t terminate or discipline any employee until after our internal investigation of the security breach is complete,? Terry said. ?(Gordon) resigned on her own.?See? Vance McAllister is one of the good guys. He'd never force someone to quit before getting all the facts, because he knows that far more important than rushing to judgment is to establish the most important fact about this whole sordid affair: Who was the mastermind pulling the strings in the conspiracy to expose his philandering ways?
So to win back the majority, Republicans have to win those two seats in WV and SD, and four more from Alaska, Arkansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Montana, and North Carolina. All the while, they must hold their two endangered seats in Kentucky and Georgia. That's called "running the board."
Head below the fold for a closer look at the GOP's actual chances of victory.
Give Republican Rep. Dennis Ross of Florida credit for being willing to express his theory that there should be no minimum wage directly to a constituent who had been working for that minimum wage for 10 years.
ROSS: No. [...] I think it would do more harm to our economy than anything. You work at Arby?s, the cost of products, the cost of services are going to go up. [...] If we are going to make it a living wage, who?s going to pay for it? Who?s going to pay for it?You see where this is about to go, right?
AUDIENCEMEMBER: I will. I?ll pay 20 cents extra for a hamburger. [Applause]But Ross kept his cool, because he's just that devoted to the Screw You, I've Got Mine philosophy.
[Original questioner]: He said he?ll pay. So if he?ll pay, I?m going to work every day busting my butt. I want to know, would you take a walk in my shoes? Lay your tie and your suit down, just for a day, 24 hours, and take a walk in my shoes. The people that I work with, we?re keeping the economy floating and going in the cycle. But the people that hire, they?re just paying money, just throwing money. But I?m actually working every day. So why wouldn?t you support it?
ROSS: Because it?s not right. Economically, it?s not right. It does more harm to our economy. [...] If the government?s going to tell me how much I can get paid and when I can work and when I can?t work, then we have a serious problem in this country.I think that guy just lost himself a few votes. He's going to have to pander extra-hard to some corporate bigwigs to make up for it, but I think he has it in him.
Today, President Obama called me to discuss his desire for comprehensive immigration reform. The President called me hours after he issued a partisan statement which attacked me and my fellow House Republicans and which indicated no sincere desire to work together. After five years, President Obama still has not learned how to effectively work with Congress to get things done. You do not attack the very people you hope to engage in a serious dialogue. I told the President the same thing I told him the last time we spoke. House Republicans do not support Senate Democrats' immigration bill and amnesty efforts, and it will not be considered in the House. I also reiterated to the President there are other issues where we can find common ground, build trust and get America working again. I hope the President can stop his partisan messaging, and begin to seriously work with Congress to address the issues facing working middle class Americans who are struggling to make ends meet in this economy.To recap:
I'm pretty sure that when the president talks about finding common ground, he means coming up with an immigration reform plan that Republicans like Cantor will allow through the House. That would be far preferable to the current state of affairs, but at least everybody now agrees on the problem: House Republicans do not want meaningful immigration reform, not now, not ever.
Ted Cruz Says It's Too Early To Worry About 2016...because Ted Cruz is most definitely thinking about 2016, given that he made those comments in South Carolina, where the GOP's first southern primary will be held in 2016. According to Politico, the crowd there loved him:
It didn?t take much for Ted Cruz to bring a crowd of conservatives to its feet here.Ever the wet blanket, however, Politico quickly pivoted to say that Cruz faces skepticism from some Palmetto staters:
By the time the Texas Republican senator finished speaking Tuesday night, an adoring audience hailed Cruz and his no-compromise, combative style of conservatism that has made him the scourge of the GOP establishment but a hero of the tea party.
?Electability ? that will be his challenge,? said Republican Lindsey Graham, South Carolina?s senior senator. ?He?s got to show he can put the patchwork together.?Kinda' hard to argue with that point. Cruz is about as electable as Attila the Hun. I mean, Cruz might do a little better, but the point is they would both be guaranteed losers.
Good news, though: As he made clear when explaining why his skeptics were wrong, Cruz is completely unaware of this fact:
When asked about doubts about his electability, he pointed to the grass-roots ?army? and ?diverse coalition? that propelled him to victory in his 2012 Senate race.Dear Ted: Even if the Supreme Court repealed the entire Voting Rights Act, seeing "support from every spectrum of the Republican Party" still won't win you the White House. But it might just win you the nomination. And we'll be rooting for you every step of the way.
?We saw support from every spectrum of the Republican Party,? Cruz said.
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