STEVEN JONAS MD, MPH FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Remember the "Democratic Leadership Council," the DLC (officially dead, but hardly forgotten)? It was a coming together of right-wing Democrats, beginning in the 1980s, to "lead the party to victory." And under the leadership of the likes of Bill Clinton and Al Gore, they did just that. They turned their backs on that awful "McGovern liberalism" and set the party straight on the path to the White House.
They also set it straight on the path, all under Clinton, to, for example, "ending the era of 'Big Government'" (as Clinton announced in his first State of the Union message), ending aid to families with dependent children, to the massive shipment of capital and jobs overseas that was begun with the North American Free Trade Organization and the creation of the World Trade Organization, to the ending of the separation of commercial from investment banking and the concomitant triumph of finance capitalism, which led directly to the Great Recession that we now currently live in, and so on and so forth.
Clinton also established the modern Democratic Party pattern of not fighting the GOP much on the political side either. Take "Whitewater," for example. There was no there there, from the very beginning, and the Clintons knew it. But they stood silent as the GOP yelled and screamed about it, supported in that one even by the New York Times which at that time had an editor who had hated Clinton ever since he was a local newspaperman in Arkansas. (No, the Times doesn't always get it right. See, e.g., Iraq, Judith Miller, and the non-existent "WMD.")
The whole investigation gave us nothing except, oh yes, Ken Starr and the perjury trap he illegally set for Clinton in the Paula Jones case. But did Clinton fight back through all the years of GOP attacks? Ohhhh no!
MARK KARLIN AT BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Yesterday, BuzzFlash wrote about how the de facto decision to let Alberta tar sands oil flow into the US -- and particularly Texas refineries and ports -- has already been made, beginning with the third segment of the Keystone Pipeline that is almost completed.
After we wrote the commentary, the House passed a bill that is a power grab by the big oil companies, TransCanada pipeline, and Canada to build a fourth more direct Keystone XL pipeline to Steele City, Nebraska. It would increase capacity and profit, but it is not necessary for the tar sands oil to flow in the US; it already is.
As Politico reported on the House vote, "The House approved legislation Wednesday to green-light the Keystone XL oil pipeline (the fourth optional segment), giving Republicans a messaging victory heading into the Memorial Day recess."
It's a symbolic victory -- and an assertion of big oil power -- because Alberta Tar Sands oil is already flowing into the US as revealed by two prominent branch line leaks in Arkansas and Michigan.
ROBERT C. KOEHLER FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Maybe the problem is that rape is an extension of military culture. And it's metastasizing, even as legislation to address it stays trapped in congressional subcommittee.
Scandals and outrage come and go, but rape is ever-present. In 2011, a Pentagon report estimated that 19,000 sexual assaults had occurred in the U.S. military, of which barely 3,000 were reported because of the stigma and risk involved in doing so. The "I own you" system of military justice traditionally turns on the victim far more than the accused. That year, in response to the shocking statistics, U.S. Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.) introduced a bill that would, among other things, remove the investigation of rape cases from the military chain of command, which has far more interest in ignoring the problem than prosecuting it.
Now a new Pentagon report is out, estimating that 26,000 cases of sexual assault occurred in the U.S. military in 2012, with, once again, just over 3,000 incidents reported. And Speier's legislation has been sitting the whole time in the House Armed Services Committee, denied even a hearing.
"The military doesn't want this and the committee tends to be very deferential to what the military wants," Speier told Northern California public TV station KQED. "This is one of those issues where what the military wants is not good enough for all the men and women in the military who want to serve without being jumped by a sexual predator in the night."
MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Yes, regardless of the earnest civil disobedience of groups and individuals protesting the 4th phase of the Keystone XL Pipeline, the reality is that within a month or two, tar sands oil from Alberta will be mainlining its way to Houston and Port Arthur, Texas.
How can that be, you ask, when President Obama has not yet made an official decision on the Keystone XL Pipeline?
The answer is simple: he has.
When Obama approved what is known as the southern leg of the pipeline (Phase 3 on the map to the right), the spigot was opened to transport the climate-killing tar sands oil to refineries and ports in Texas – and facilities along the way. The only issue outstanding is whether Obama will approve a northern branch of the Keystone XL Pipeline that will be more profitable and deliver much more volume than the current stitched together pipeline that is nearing completion. The southern leg of the pipeline that runs from Cushing, Oklahoma, to Houston and Port Arthur in Texas should be fully constructed, with oil flowing, before Obama might even decide on the northern "express" leg that is a more direct and lucrative option for its owner, TransCanada.
It is tragically ironic that the extremely crude tar sands oil will flow to Texas just after a new report indicates that "the amount of carbon in the atmosphere is on the verge of hitting 400 parts per million, a new milestone." The extremely large release of carbon-dioxide that is feared by pipeline opponents is a by-product of the process at the source used to extract oil and bitumen (a sludgy form of petroleum) from the tar sands. In short, the ruinous pollution occurs in the production process in Alberta, and again in the refining process in Texas – and in processing facilities elsewhere along the way.
BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
A recent headline at the reliably conservative web site WND.com may say it all: "IRS Targeting Brings Tea Party Back From Dead." After a few years in the political wilderness, thanks to the IRS scandal, the Tea Party is once again in the national political spotlight, and it is clearly prospering from the exposure.
WILL DURST FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Up until about an hour ago, most Americans thought Benghazi was the guy who palled around with John Cassavetes back in the 60s, but now it's obvious we're talking about the foreign policy arm of a multi- ramped tar pit the President has found himself swimming- up to his armpits. Yes, friends, it's pity time at the White House.
After flogging the issue nonstop since September 11, the Fox News Team's persistence finally pushed the story of the Libyan Embassy riot that resulted in the death of 4 Americans over the cliff into the public consciousness. Space available only because both Honey Boo Boo and Duck Dynasty are on hiatus.
The hue and cry from the right is demanding many questions be answered. Was the protest planned or spontaneous? Did the group that initiated the attack have any affiliation with Arab terrorists? Who altered the talking points; the CIA or the State Department? Where were the drones? Queens? Wasps? Chigger mites? How many angels can dance on the head of a bent and broken Romney/ Ryan pin? What would Cheney do?
Having taken all this in, the American people responded with what can only be characterized as even more penetrating questions such as: "Who cares? What difference does it make? Aren't we stuffed to the gills with enough partisan gobbledy goop already? Does anyone really give an albino rat's ass? Isn't there a seafood buffet around here somewhere?"
MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Yes, as the GOP endlessly bamboozles the corporate mainstream media about Benghazi, the multitude of challenges facing the United States continues to mount.
Take for example a widely overlooked "regulation" that rolls the clock back, in many ways, to the Wild West derivatives' market leading up to the 2008 crash.
The New York Times has been one of the few "status quo" newspapers to realize the potentially ominous implications of a new Commodities Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) rule that will allow banks too big to fail to gamble with the economy, as if it were 2008 all over again.
Yes, there has been some increased regulation of Wall Street as a result of the Dodd-Frank law – and other augmented oversight. But it has been far too little counterweight to the powerful plutocratic forces of Wall Street.
WALTER BRASCH FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Julia Trigg Crawford of Direct, Texas, is the manager of a 650-acre farm that her grandfather first bought in 1948. The farm produces mostly corn, wheat, and soy. On its north border is the Red River; to the west is the Bois d'Arc Creek.
TransCanada is an Alberta-based corporation that is building the controversial Keystone Pipeline that will carry bitumen—thicker, more corrosive and toxic, than crude oil—through 36-inch diameter pipes from the Alberta tar sands to refineries on the Gulf Coast, mostly to be exported. The $2.3 billion southern segment, about 485 miles from Cushing, Okla., to the Gulf Coast is nearly complete. With the exception of a 300-mile extension between Cushing and Steele City, Neb., the rest of the $7 billion 1,959 mile pipeline is being held up until President Obama either succumbs to corporate and business pressures or blocks the construction because of environmental and health concerns.
When TransCanada first approached Crawford's father in 2008, and offered to pay about $7,000 for easement rights, he refused, telling the company, "We don't want you here." He said the corporation could reroute the line, just as other pipeline companies in oil-rich Texas had done for decades. TransCanada increased the offer in the following years, but the family still refused. In August 2012, with Dick Crawford's daughter, Julia Trigg Crawford now managing the farm, TransCanada offered $21,626 for an easement—and a threat. "We were given three days to accept their offer," she says, "and if we didn't, they would condemn the land and seize it anyway." She still refused.
And so, TransCanada, a foreign corporation exercised the right of eminent domain to seize two acres of the farm so it could build a pipeline.
BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Diogenes was a fifth century BC Greek philosopher, and a rather controversial one at that. Also known as Diogenes the Cynic, it is said that he took a vow of poverty and often lived in a barrel. He was a social critic long before social critics became cool. Everything we know about Diogenes is through anecdote since none of his writings have survived the centuries. He is probably best known for a stunt: carrying a lamp during the day and claiming to be searching for an honest man. Which brings me, some 2400 years later, to strapping on a headlamp and searching for an honest rendering of the IRS "Scandal" that has been monopolizing the news over the past ten days or so.
With horse racing's Triple Crown no longer up for grabs -- Oxbow defeated Kentucky Derby winner Orb and seven other horses in the Preakness Stakes -- the mainstream media and conservative media and advocacy groups are in search of a whole different kind of Trifecta.
In the spirit of not letting facts get in the way of a good story, the mainstream and conservative media have glommed onto the IRS "Scandal," trying to link it with the Benghazi screw up (but no conspiracy), and the Justice Department's chilling efforts to spy on journalists, and are reveling in calling it Obama's Scandal Trifecta.
While the crux of the scandal is seen as the IRS being overzealous when looking into Tea Party and other conservative groups applying for 501(c)(4) status, the real scandal might be how ill-equipped the IRS has been to actually ferret out groups that are have been doing political work, not social welfare work as required by the IRS to receive 501(c)(4) status.
MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Exhilirated by the promise of transparency, accountability and change, it is painful for progressives and those who believe in the guaranteed rights of the Constitution to find themselves in the midst of a Kafkaesque attack on the public's right to know, journalistic investigation of the government, increased prosecution of whistleblowers and unaccountable executive branch censorship.
It is almost incomprehensible to fathom how a president who is a constitutional lawyer has exceeded all his Republican predecessors when it comes to prosecuting and punishing whistleblowers, expanding executive branch secrecy, declaring the most basic information classifed, and intimidating and surveilling journalists. One can be grateful that the Tea Party has not yet won the White House, but the censorship, prosecution and surveillance state measures being implemented with President Obama's approval are nothing short of creeping fascism. That is not an exaggeration.
On the heels of the extensive Department of Justice violation of the privacy and professional protections guaranteed Associated Press reporters, Glenn Greenwald reports on how the Department of Justice accused a reporter of aiding and abetting the leaking of classified information in order to put him under extensive surveillance and interception of his communications.
As Greenwald points out:
Under US law, it is not illegal to publish classified information. That fact, along with the First Amendment's guarantee of press freedoms, is what has prevented the US government from ever prosecuting journalists for reporting on what the US government does in secret. This newfound theory of the Obama DOJ - that a journalist can be guilty of crimes for "soliciting" the disclosure of classified information - is a means for circumventing those safeguards and criminalizing the act of investigative journalism itself. These latest revelations show that this is not just a theory but one put into practice, as the Obama DOJ submitted court documents accusing a journalist of committing crimes by doing this.