Guest Commentary (5150)
KEVIN ESCUDERO FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
The future of the Deferred Action for Early Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program is once again in jeopardy. While there had been talk of ending DACA earlier in Trump's presidency, this threat is more acute and immediate, given the pending lawsuit by more than 10 state attorneys general pressuring the administration to end the program by September 5.
Around 65,000 undocumented students graduate from high school every year, and with the help of DACA, more of those high school graduates are enrolling in and graduating from college. This means that educational institutions, especially colleges and universities, have a key role to play in the debate over the future of DACA. As these schools welcome undocumented and DACA students this fall, it is imperative that they respond to the threats against DACA and devise new, innovative approaches to safeguard the rights of all their community members.
What, exactly, is on the line? The DACA program, announced by President Obama in 2012, provides undocumented young people with the opportunity to obtain a Social Security number, work permit and a two-year stay of deportation, renewable in two-year increments, until age 30. According to a comprehensive, multi-year study conducted by a team of Harvard researchers, the program's success has encouraged undocumented students to pursue higher education and assisted students in finding employment related to their educational training.
BRIAN TERRELL FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
On Monday, August 21, President Donald Trump delivered a prime-time speech almost shocking in its ordinariness. It was such an address as either of his immediate predecessors, George W. Bush or Barack Obama, could easily have given over the previous decade and a half. While hinting at nebulous new strategies and ill-defined new metrics to measure success, President Trump announced that the 17 year old war in Afghanistan will go on pretty much as it has. And the establishment breathed a sigh of relief.
Reviews were glowing. While acknowledging how low the bar had been set, on August 25, the Washington journal The Hill opined that "even the most hardened members of the anti-Trump camp must admit that Monday's speech communicated a remarkable amount of humility and self-awareness, particularly for this president." The timing of the president's crowd pleasing speech was duly noted: "Unfortunately, his very presidential announcement of the Afghanistan decision was bookended by Charlottesville and the president's rally in Phoenix on Tuesday night."
Ten days before, in Charlottesville, Virginia, torch bearing white supremacists had marched in a "Unite the Right" rally to protest the planned removal of a statue of the Confederate General Robert E. Lee. Replete with flags of both the Confederacy and the Nazi Third Reich and traditional fascist chants of "blood and soil," the rally met with resistance from anti-racist activists, one of whom was murdered and others injured when one of the united right used his car as a weapon of terror, driving it into the crowd. There was outrage when Trump responded by condemning the violence "on all sides" and declaring that there are "very fine people" on both sides of the issue.
BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
If you've never heard of the Atlas Network, The Intercept's recent story, "Sphere of Influence: How American Libertarians are Remaking Latin American Politics," will certainly be an eye opener. The Atlas Network aims to rid Latin America of leftist-led governments, limit the organizing wherewithal of unions, and liberal and progressive movements, and reshape Latin America in ways the Koch Brothers, and like-minded US-based right-wing billionaires support.
The existence, and recent successes, of the Atlas Network might help explain why from seemingly out of nowhere, President Donald Trump recently took time away from taking time away, watching Fox News, and his latest tweet storm threatening North Korea with "fire and fury," to bombastically throw Venezuela into the conversation. "We have many options for Venezuela, including a possible military option if necessary," Trump said.
As Lee Fang, the author of The Intercept's piece, recently explained, the Atlas Network is a "libertarian network, which has reshaped political power in country after country, [and] has also operated as a quiet extension of U.S. foreign policy, with Atlas-associated think tanks receiving quiet funding from the State Department and the National Endowment for Democracy, a critical arm of American soft power."
WIM LAVEN FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
When Donald Trump heads to Texas for his photo ops this week it is a completely selfish act. It is the same after every disaster and it reflects a real bifurcation between expertise on disasters and political expedience. Harvey is no different than Katrina or Sandy in that regard. George W. Bush and Barack Obama both had their pictures taken, and there are many lessons. Trump is aware of the clear lesson: stay away. He has even pledged to hold off until that trip can be made without causing disruption in the wake of the Hurricane, but he won't wait.
Presidential visits can divert critical resources. Trump, for example, has maxed out the Secret Service budget for the year already. Security details are only part of it and, on the whole, such visits require significant logistical planning during normal events and times. In the wake of a disaster, however, resources for the visit are pulled from other details, sometimes life and death operations. George W. Bush identified mistakes he made, and he avoided visiting too early during the aftermath of Katrina because he didn't want to cause disruptions. Barack Obama applied these lessons in the days following Sandy. Flyovers are effective, they don't require the volume of resources, but they don't produce the pictures. Politicians crave the boots-on-the-ground photo with the destruction in the background.
CHRISTINE NGARUIYA FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
It had never occurred to me to visit Trump Tower in New York before he came to power. As a form of defiance, I suppose, I had purposely avoided it as a contester to the majority of his administration's work thereafter. But then, one hazy summer afternoon, there I stood, unexpectedly lulled in by a friend from out of town with an innocent curiosity to explore the place.
I stood at the foot of the tower both metaphorically and tangibly taking in the structure and its surroundings. From a few blocks away, it was easy to spot, helped by the fully decked-out police brigade that lined the streets around it. Like many other aspects of this administration's work, it immediately struck a jarring chord with me. All of this disproportionate support for the one building on the street, serving the one and disregarding the masses.
BURT HALL FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
The American people are deeply frustrated with not being fairly represented in Congress and with not having a voice in our democracy. They are demanding an end to our great political divide and a return to a working democracy. For years politicians have been well aware of these concerns and the need for the two parties to be civil and work together. And, they know that trust in government has been at an all time low. But the problem persists unabated.
Republicans now control all three branches of government, yet they haven't had an acceptable administration in years. They allowed a preventable 9/11 and two wars to occur, failed two terms in office, and constantly checkmated the other party's success while offering no solutions of their own. There is something fundamentally wrong in our democratic system and it has to be addressed.
Our great political divide began in a big way when, after owning the White House for 12 years, Republicans lost it unexpectedly to the Clinton presidency. They were outraged at the loss, considered his victory illegitimate and believed he had to be driven from office. The political environment that followed has continued to the present day and is best expressed byRepublican George Voinovich. After saving Cleveland from default as mayor and making Ohio number one as governor, he worked across the aisle during two terms in the Senate (winning all 88 Ohio counties) and always had the ear of the president. He confessed at Senate retirement that the attitude of his colleagues was "We're going to get what we want or the country can go to hell."
DAVID SWANSON FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Washington, D.C., needs a three-dimensional, sculptural Guernica dedicated to and with explanatory information about the victims of U.S. bombings in over 30 countries that the United States has bombed.
And it needs such a monument to the victims of wars now, to help move the country away from war. We can't wait to create the monument after having achieved a society willing to make room for it among the war-glorification monstrosities gobbling up more and more space in the U.S. capital.
With land unavailable for peace in the land of war temples, the obvious solution is a rooftop. The Methodist Building across from the Capitol and the Supreme Court, or the nearby FCNL building, or any other prominent building with a roof could radically alter the DC skyline and worldview.
Bureacratic hurdles would have to be cleared, height kept below that of the Capitol dome, etc. But a rooftop could make a monument more visible, not less. An external elevator could take people close-up to view, learn more, and photograph.
ROBERT C. KOEHLER FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Tempting as it is to isolate Donald Trump as the worst president in history (and "worst" is putting it mildly . . . more like the most narcissistically infantile, the most Nazi-friendly), doing so achieves nothing beyond a fleeting sense of satisfaction.
Yeah, he's scary. His supporters are scary. But he comes in a context.
Whether or not he's impeached, or removed from office via the 25th Amendment, his effect on the country won't go away. Trump can't be undone, any more than an act of terror — or war — can be undone.
But maybe Trump can be addressed beyond a sense of outrage. Maybe he can foment, in spite of himself, not simply change, but national transformation. Realizing this, and seizing hold of the moment he has created, may be a far more effective way of dealing with his unhinged presidency than merely exuding endless shock.
This, of course, is how the mainstream media is dealing with the situation. Journalism has never been so yellow. Extra! Extra! Trump tweets a whopper! Read all about it!
DR. HAKIM FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Ali, Zekerullah, Khamad and I miss Ghulam and his family. We feel sad that life in Afghanistan had finally become too burdensome for them. They are now Afghan refugees in Iran.
We have known Ghulam for many years, Ali and Ghulam being distant relatives and the best of childhood friends. Ghulam lived in community with us for about five years. We were his second family, supporting one another through thick and thin.
Ghulam worked very hard to be a good student. When he transferred to a private school, he topped his class in the exams and thus had his school fees waived.
He felt that doing well in school was the only route to a better life for a poor student.
SYD ROBERTS FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
In recent days, establishment Republicans leaders have started speaking out, either through interviews or indirectly on social media, against Trump's statements following the events in Charlottesville. The platitudes have ranged from generalized disapproval of white supremacy to more targeted assessments of what Trump's comments mean for his capacity to lead the country. Some of the highest profile conservative political figures like Paul Ryan and Ted Cruz have been scrambling to do damage control on this latest controversy, asserting that they have no loyalty to the increasingly vocal white nationalists cropping up around the country. However, when the voting records and platforms of the conservatives condemning them are analyzed, it becomes clear that the discomfort Republicans feel with Trump -- especially concerning his comments following Charlottesville -- doesn't stem from his policies and rhetoric being antithetical to mainstream GOP core values, but because those same values are being presented and discussed in too blatant of ways. The Republican Party's nationalism, inhumane stances on immigration, consistent Islamophobia and unwavering support of the police state are indistinguishable from those exposed by the far right and Trump. The problem for GOP leaders is that Trump's white nationalism isn't disguised with prose or jargon. Republican anger and outrage is stemming from a place of betrayal over the exposure of their foundational values and beliefs, not from a place of moral and ethical objection.
DAVID SWANSON FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
the best 35. Had Congress moved forward, it would not have passed all 35 or convicted on them. But we felt it was important to establish the record and present the options. In fact, I would have preferred to go with more than 35, including a wider range of topics. The fact that someone has abused power in 10 ways should constitute no license to abuse it in an 11th way.Several years back, I led a team of authors drafting articles of impeachment against then-President George W. Bush for then-Congressman Dennis Kucinich. We drafted over 60 and settled on
Believe it or not (hint, hint: I don't need more emails on this) I am aware of the general horror of Mike Pence, but a country that impeached and removed presidents would be a very different country in which the next president would have to behave or face impeachment and removal in turn. Fear of the next person will look ever weaker as grounds for allowing the current person to destroy things as he proceeds with his destruction.
I'm further aware that Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi's team wants Trump around more than the Republicans do, so that the Democrats can "oppose" him. The task before the public is to compel members of both major parties to impeach, not to sit back and observe them doing so of their own volition.
Although several potential articles of impeachment against Trump stand very strongly on their own, and picking any one of them would be sufficient, the very strongest case for impeachment is a cumulative one. I cannot predict which articles, if any, will gain the most popular or Congressional support. I am, therefore, collecting the strongest ones available here at FireDonaldTrump.org. I will add more as the crime wave rolls on. I pushed for impeachment of Bush and of Obama for some similar offenses and some completely different ones. Many of Trump's high crimes and misdemeanors are unprecedented. None are identical to the abuses by those who have gone before him.
BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Trump "has inside information that I don't have," about the Charlottesville protesters, Jerry Falwell Jr., the president of Liberty University, and one of the earliest and most prominent evangelical Christian leaders to support Donald Trump, told ABC News Chief Global Affairs Correspondent Martha Raddatz on "This Week" Sunday. "I don't know if there were historical purists [at the protests] who were trying to preserve some statues. I don't know." Falwell then assured America that Trump "does not have a racist bone in his body. I know him well."
In the eight months since the inauguration, conservative evangelical Christians have stood in near lockstep with Trump. Now, after Trump's belated, insulting, and lame response to the events in Charlottesville, Virginia -- where Heather Heyer was murdered, and several dozen other counter protesters injured -- equating neo-Nazis, white supremacists and white nationalists with counter protesters, his evangelical supporters are facing a critical moment that will test their judgment.
On Thursday, August 17, I posed this question on Facebook: "Why haven't any of the Christian evangelicals on DT's Religious Advisory Commission Resigned?"
Now, in the wake of corporate leaders abandoning Trump's Manufacturing Council, and the resignations of 16 members of the President's Committee on the Arts and the Humanities, will Trump's evangelical advisors – who rarely hesitated to criticize Bill Clinton or Barack Obama -- step up and condemn this president?
ECOWATCH FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUTLORRAINE CHOW OF
Article reprinted with permission from EcoWatch
Energy Transfer Partners' controversial $4.3 billion Rover pipeline has more negative inspection reports than any other major interstate natural gas pipeline built in the last two years, according to a new Bloomberg analysis.
The 713-mile pipeline, which will carry fracked gas across Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio and Michigan and Canada, has been stalled from numerous environmental violations, including a 2 million gallon drilling fluid spill into an Ohio wetland in April.
Rover has accrued 104 violations since construction of the $4.2 billion project in started in March.
NADIA STEINZOR FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Usually when elected officials work on budgets, their aim is to reduce deficits and fund government programs. But then there's the Pennsylvania Senate -- which recently loaded a budget and revenue bill with provisions to gut environmental protections and help the oil and gas industry.
With support from Governor Wolf, the deal would take authority over oil and gas permit decisions away from the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and, in a blatant power grab, give it to the legislature instead. Private contractors hand-picked by drillers would review permit applications. Permits would be fast-tracked regardless of the environmental risks posed and the omission of required information by operators. Public funds would support private projects to expand gas infrastructure and consumption.