Guest Commentary (3790)
EUGENE ROBINSON ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
The Republican Party's reliance on tea party support is like an addict's dependence on a dangerous drug: It may feel good at first, but eventually it eats you alive.
No House majority leader had ever been ousted in a primary before Eric Cantor's shocking defeat on Tuesday. Republicans who tell themselves it was Cantor's own fault -- he lost touch with his Virginia district, he tried to have it both ways on immigration, he came to be seen as part of the Washington establishment -- are whistling past the graveyard.
Cantor didn't just lose, he got clobbered. His opponent, college professor Dave Brat, spent just $200,000 on the race -- not much more than Cantor's $5 million campaign spent on meals at steakhouses. Yet a powerful incumbent, running in a district whose boundaries were custom-designed for his benefit, lost by an incredible 11 percentage points.
There can be no doubt that the tail is now wagging the dog. The tea party should no longer be thought of as just a faction of the GOP. It's calling the shots.
JIM HIGHTOWER ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
At last, our political leaders in Washington are taking action for low-wage workers and the middle class, striking a bold blow for America's historic values of economic fairness and common good.
Gosh, I hope you don't think I meant Washington, D.C.! No, no — the same old corporate mentality of stiffing workers and stripping any semblance of ethics from the work ethic still rules in that plutocratic roost. Rather than Washington, D.C., it's Washington state I'm talking about, specifically the progressive forces of Seattle who've just produced a landmark $15-an-hour minimum wage. Instead of just talking about the widening gap of inequality and wishing our do-nothing Congress might give a damn about the millions of hard-working Americans being knocked down, the good people of Seattle are providing some much-needed national leadership.
"We did it — workers did this," said Kshama Sawant. She has been a leader of Occupy Seattle, and then became the tenacious, articulate leader of a large grassroots coalition of low-wage workers called "15 Now." Last year, Sawant was elected to the City Council by putting the case for the $15 wage floor directly to the voters.
In addition, Mayor Ed Murray campaigned last year for raising the minimum to $15 — indexed to inflation. Having won, he pulled together a 24-member working group of both labor and business interests this year, and they spent the last four months working together to hammer out details of the local ordinance. On June 2, all nine city council members voted unanimously to adopt it.
BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Earlier this month, The Daily Mirror's Alex Wellman reported that "Members of the Loyal White Knights (LWK) faction of the [Ku Klux Klan] claim an influx of military troops returning to the US from overseas will train recruits in armed combat." Wellman pointed out that "The group, which is thought to be active in at least three states, said it was taking the move to prepare for a race war they claim is coming – along with the collapse of modern society."
While most people recognize that the LWK isn't capable of mounting anything near what they're dreaming about, nevertheless, one's head would have to be deeply buried in the sand not to recognize that there has been a precipitous rise in anti-government rhetoric and acts of domestic terrorism in recent months – as witnessed by the recent anti-government gatherings at the Cliven Bundy ranch in Nevada, the anti-Semitic-motivated shootings in Overland Park, Kansas, an attempted attack on a Forsyth County Georgia courthouse by a man with ties to the Sovereign Citizen movement, and Jerad and Amanda Miller's recent Las Vegas rampage which resulted in the deaths of three people, including two police officers.
ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUTMICHAEL MANN OF
Reposted with permission from EcoWatch.
Paul Krugman has an interesting op-ed in Sunday’s New York Times entitled “Interests, Ideology & Climate.” In this commentary, Krugman argues that the current campaign to deny climate change is steeped more in political ideology than in industry-funded opposition.
I’m a big fan of Krugman’s work, and he makes a number of very good points in this latest commentary. I agree with him that the current campaign to deny the reality and threat of climate change does indeed feed off a very large, ideologically-driven partisan divide that is grounded in anti-regulatory beliefs and libertarian principles.
But I take issue with Krugman’s argument that the massive funding of climate change denial by monied interests like the Koch Brothers doesn’t play an equal role. The fallacy in Krugman’s thesis, in my view, is that the ideological divide that exists with regard to climate change is somehow independent of the massively-funded disinformation campaign. It isn’t.
WALTER BRASCH FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
For awhile, it appeared the NRA leadership committed an act of sanity. But, a few hours later, the pills wore off.
The story begins with a group called Open Carry Texas (OCT). This fringe group rubbed both its brain cells together, wrapped itself in what it erroneously believes is the Second Amendment, and decided it would be great theatre to bring semi-automatic carbines into family restaurants. Waving the yellow "Don't Tread on Me" flags, a common sight at Tea Party rallies, OCT members handed out leaflets, proclaimed their rights to carry weapons and confronted citizens who had little desire to be in a place where civilians were carrying weapons and hundreds of rounds of ammunition, any one of which could shred any one of their internal organs.
Openly carrying handguns in Texas is illegal, but the law permits anyone to openly carry long guns, from BB guns to semi-automatic military weapons.
Almost all OCT members are white men, but there are a few white women who also believe in their "right-to-carry." Among them was a woman in Dallas who openly carried her 10-month-old twins and a semi-automatic assault weapon.
When Chipotle, Jack in the Box, Starbucks, and other coffee shops, restaurants, and department stores told these thugs, who can even make the rural folk of "Deliverance" appear to be civilized, they were welcome to eat, shop, and browse—but leave the weapons at home—Open Carry Texas escalated its public demonstrations.
STEVEN JONAS MD, MPH FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Bush/Cheney War on Iraq. Entitled The Greatest Story Ever Sold: The Decline and Fall of Truth in Bush's America, it definitively took the cover off the Bush/Cheney lies that led the United States into what to date has been the most disastrous war the nation has ever been engaged in.Close to ten years ago Frank Rich, formerly of The New York Times, presently of New York Magazine, wrote one of the best books on the
In a recent issue of the New York Magazine, Rich visits the role of the so-called "liberal media" in making the BushCheney initiative a "go." In a side-bar, he summarizes his overview of the initiative: "The massive blunder of Iraq remains the nation's inescapable existential burden two and a half years after our last troops departed." Now, one must say that in terms of Bush/Cheney's true objectives, that is the establishment of permanent war or at least the permanent preparation for permanent war, that objective has been achieved. True, President Obama has announced that most U.S. troops will be withdrawn from Afghanistan by 2016.
However, one never knows A) what war or wars "of necessity" might pop up in the interim, B) what would happen were a Republican of the neocon persuasion (Ted Cruz, anyone?) were to win the Presidency in 2016. Why there might be just the smallest of gaps in the Permanent War sequence, and certainly the Permanent Preparation for Permanent War would be fully restored. (And even President Obama seems to be moving in the latter direction.) But for our nation as a whole, Rich is right: it was a "massive blunder."
BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
In late May, the BBC reported that "Eurosceptic and far-right parties have seized ground in elections to the European parliament, in what France's PM called a 'political earthquake'." Aftershocks from the far-right's European "political earthquake" are being felt in the United States, as America's White supremacists are celebrating like it's 1999.
It takes an experienced researcher and writer with an international perspective to dissect the recent European parliament elections and try and understand what it means to, and for, the far right in the United States. And, Devin Burghart is the perfect person for the job. In a recent post at the website of the Institute For Research & Education On Human Rights (IREHR), Burghart pointed out that for the most part, America's far right is rejoicing over the results of the elections.
"Many on the American far right, from the Tea Party to hardened white nationalists, paid close attention to the European results," Burghart, vice president of IREHR, wrote in a story titled, American Far Right Jubilant Over European Election Results. "Looking at these votes for nationalist, anti-immigrant, racist, anti-Semitic, and anti-European Union political parties — the American hard right saw hope for the future here at home."
Burghart pointed to several emergent themes including: "1) nationalist, anti-globalist arguments in the age of austerity and financial turmoil, 2) anti-immigrant politics as a winning message, and 3) the necessity of a white electoral strategy here at home."
JACQUELINE MARCUS FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Last week, President Obama gave an emotionally stirring announcement with Sergeant Bergdahl's grateful parents by his side in the White House Rose Garden concerning the return of their beloved son, Sgt. Bowe Berghahl, who's been held in captivity for five years in Afghanistan. Obama explained that they "made a deal to bring home the longest-held American captive of America's longest war."
It didn't take long for Republicans and the right-wing media to attack President Obama for doing something that was morally right for a change: for taking ethical action that brings us closer to shutting down Guantanamo Bay Prison, as I wrote in my last Buzzflash-Truthout commentary, a prison widely known for its illegal practice of indefinite detention, and for its CIA horrors of physical torture and psychological abuses.
Democrat Dianne Feinstein, prosecutor of ethical whistleblowers' Julian Assange (founder of Wikileaks) and Edward Snowden (whistleblower on NSA's surveillance abuses), joined angry Republicans' crazy John McCain, Ted Cruz, and other moral midgets to instigate a bully attack, insisting that the exchange of the Taliban prisoners for Mr. Bergdahl puts American lives at risk, a statement meant to stir up the pit bulls at the corporate media, to block any hope of shutting down GITMO.
After all, most Republicans think GITMO is a symbol of unlimited power to the world, and most Bush-Cheney Republicans have turned a blind eye to torturing human beings in the most sickening, gruesome ways, including raping males with harsh instruments—at GITMO.
DR DAVID SUZUKI OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
World Oceans Day. It's a fitting time to contemplate humanity's evolving relationship with the source of all life. For much of human history, we've affected marine ecosystems primarily by what we've taken out of the seas. The challenge as we encounter warming temperatures and increasing industrial activity will be to manage what we put into them.June 8 is
As a top predator, humans from the tropics to the poles have harvested all forms of marine life, from the smallest shrimp to the largest whales, from the ocean's surface to its floor. The staggering volume of fish removed from our waters has had a ripple effect through all ocean ecosystems. Yet the ocean continues to provide food for billions of people, and improved fishing practices in many places, including Canada, are leading to healthier marine-life populations. We're slowly getting better at managing what we catch to keep it within the ocean's capacity to replenish. But while we may be advancing in this battle, we're losing the war with climate change and pollution.
In the coming years, our ties to the oceans will be defined by what we put into them: carbon dioxide, nutrients washed from the land, diseases from aquaculture and land-based animals, invasive species, plastics, contaminants, noise and ever-increasing marine traffic. We once incorrectly viewed oceans as limitless storehouses of marine bounty and places to dump our garbage; now it's clear they can only handle so much.
ROBERT C. KOEHLER FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Too often "the law" is nothing more than prejudice embedded in jargon.
So the Obama administration, in its attempt to hammer another national security leaker, is directly challenging the right of journalists to protect confidential sources. Administration lawyers, arguing this week before the Supreme Court — which rejected New York Times reporter James Risen's appeal of a Circuit Court decision that could require him to testify in the case against a former CIA officer — asserted, according to the Times, that "reporters have no privilege to refuse to provide direct evidence of criminal wrongdoing by confidential sources."
Wrongdoing is one thing but, wow, "criminal wrongdoing" is quite another. The phrase bristles with righteous fury, summoning a sense of no-nonsense seriousness that sends a tremor to the very foundations of our society. The former CIA guy the administration wants to nail, Jeffrey Sterling, may have passed classified information — this is the government's contention — along to reporter Risen, and therefore endangered the nation's security. Criminal wrongdoing! Same as murder, rape and shoplifting. Freedom of the press doesn't give journalists the privilege to protect people like this.
One problem here is that the discussion of this issue is safely confined to abstract concepts. When we unravel the facts of this matter and put them in a real context of national — indeed, global — security, the legal trumpet-blasting reduces to a kind of weak toot. This is all about nuclear weapons, geopolitics . . . and public relations, specifically, the government's right to orchestrate what the public knows.