Guest Commentary (3871)
STEVE JONAS FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
If the Democrats play their cards right (well, I know, I know, I’m asking for a lot) Joni Ernst should become a major new face of the Republican Party. First, she came from behind in the Iowa Republican primary last June to win the nomination for the upcoming Senate seat over a group of wealthy businessmen. Apparently an important factor in that victory was her famous “as a kid I castrated hogs” ad.
Now she has won the general election against a popular Congressman, a protégé of long-time Iowa Senator Tom Harkin, one of the last old-timey liberals in the Senate. On her way to winning the general election, she made this campaign comment:
“‘I have a beautiful little Smith & Wesson, 9 millimeter, and it goes with me virtually everywhere,’ Ernst said at the NRA and Iowa Firearms Coalition Second Amendment Rally in Searsport, Iowa"
As reported in The Huffington Post, “ ‘But I do believe in the right to carry, and I believe in the right to defend myself and my family -- whether it’s from an intruder, or whether it’s from the government, should they decide that my rights are no longer important.’ ”
HARVEY WASSERMAN FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
The GOP/corporate coup d'etat is nearly complete.
The Republicans now control the major media, the Supreme Court, the Congress and soon, the presidency.
Think Jeb Bush in 2016.
All throughout America, right down to the local level, buried in a tsunami of cash and corruption, our public servants are being morphed into corporate operatives.
Our electoral apparatus is thoroughly compromised by oceans of dirty money, Jim Crow registration traps, rigged electronic voting machines, gerrymandering, corrupt secretaries of state.
The internet may be next. Above all, if there is one thing that could save us a shred of democracy, it's preserving net neutrality. This fight could in fact outweigh all the others, and may be decided soon. Whatever depression you may now feel, shake it off to wage this battle. If we now lose the ability to freely communicate, we are in the deepest hole of all.
The roots of this corporate coup reach where they always do when empires collapse - useless, cancerous, debilitating, endless imperial war.
BILL QUIGLEY FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
I used to live and work in the Irish Channel at Hope House in New Orleans. I worked with families who lived in the St. Thomas Housing Development. More than 1,500 families lived in brick buildings stretched three blocks by four blocks in the area which is now the River Garden apartments.
Some Catholic Sisters who were living in the St. Thomas asked me to join them in serving the poor and I agreed. One of the sisters received a small stipend for teaching religion at Mercy Academy. She told me she would give me her stipend of $250 per month if I joined them.
I knew Catholic social teaching put a priority on helping the poor, so I joined them so I could help people.
I worked with these sisters and the neighborhood families for several years before going to law school. I helped when someone was sick and needed help to go to the hospital, with responding to bill collectors and with filling out government forms.
BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
For those who may be convinced that Obamacare, aka The Affordable Health Care Act - signed into law of March 23, 2010, and now doing well in most states despite its herky jerky rollout and still somewhat negative polling numbers – will not be overturned even if Republicans win control of the Senate, consider how the conservative movement has dealt with the issue of abortion.
Codified as a right by the US Supreme Court in 1973, opponents of reproductive rights have been slashing away at abortion for more than forty years. And while the anti-abortion movement has spawned its fair share of terrorists - true believers willing to kill abortion providers, harass patients at clinics, threaten and intimidate health care workers, bomb and burn down clinics -- the movement has also hit upon a strategy that is literally stripping women of their right to an abortion.
Over the past few years, state legislatures have come up with more anti-abortion legislation than at any time in the law's forty-one-+-year history. State by state, abortion rights have been abridged through new restrictions including a twenty-four hour waiting period, parental consent, forced face-to-face counseling with an abortion provider, and a ban on the use of Medicaid funding (except in extraordinary cases). Clinics, forced by legislation to retool at the cost of many thousands of dollars, have been closing by the droves. In some states, recent legislation has imposed a requirement that abortion providers have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital; a requirement that the American Medical Association and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists say is medically unnecessary.
ANASTASIA PANTSIOS OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Climate deniers are sounding increasingly unhinged as evidence piles up that we’ve got to do something about the way we’re ravaging our planet.Anti-gay activists are sounding increasingly unhinged as marriage equality sweeps the U.S.
Put them together and what do you have? An epic level of head-scratching conspiracy-mongering emanating from the master of that craft, Family Research Council president Tony Perkins, a man who has been professionally obsessed with LGBT people for years.
According to watchdog group Right Wing Watch, Perkins told a caller to his Washington Watch radio program last week that those who are advocating for action on climate change are behind the push for LGBT rights.
The caller offered him an opening, saying that homosexuality is “promoted” because it doesn’t lead to reproduction and that “there’s this anti-life agenda, there’s a total anti-human, anti-life, human beings are a virus type of mentality.”
Perkins took the opportunity to connect that with people working to stem and reverse climate change.
GARY WOCKNER OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
New York Times ran a story about how the oil and gas industry and its high-priced lobbyist/publicist Richard Berman are personally targeting Colorado activists who are working in anti-fracking campaigns. The story is based on a secretly recorded speech given by Berman and his colleague to industry officials in Colorado Springs in 2014 during which he described how the industry was going hard negative and using personal attacks against activists and how the industry must prepare for an “endless war” against environmentalists about fracking.The Oct. 30
I am one of the activists targeted by Berman. If you go to the website Berman highlighted in his speech, BigGreenRadicals.org, then click on “Colorado,” then click on “Gary Wockner,” you’ll see Berman’s hit job (it’s not very accurate or insightful). I’m in good company there, joined by my Congressman Jared Polis, Yoko Ono, Mark Ruffalo and other local Colorado activists with whom I’ve been proud to work over the past couple of years.
A few environmental leaders are taking Berman and industry to task for their tactics targeting me and others. After reading the story in the Times, Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune said, “You know climate deniers and big polluters are desperate when they turn to the tired old tactics of the tobacco industry to try and save themselves.” Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. called Berman “The Oil Reich’s Minister of Propaganda” in this tweet:
Rick Berman: The Oil Reich's Minister of Propaganda & public information. #HOWDOTHESEPEOPLELIVEWITHTHEMSELVES?
PAUL BUCHHEIT FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
posting detailed how upper middle class Americans are rapidly losing ground to the one-percenters who averaged $5 million in wealth gains over just three years. It also noted that the global 1% has increased their wealth from $100 trillion to $127 trillion in just three years.
The information came from the Credit Suisse 2014 Global Wealth Databook (GWD), which goes on to reveal much more about the disappearing middle class.
1. Each Year Since the Recession, America's Richest 1% Have Made More Than the Cost of All U.S. Social Programs
In effect, a reverse transfer from the poor to the rich. Even as conservatives blame Social Security for being too costly.
Much of the 1% wealth just sits there, accumulating more wealth. The numbers are nearly unfathomable. Depending on the estimate, the 1% took in anywhere from $2.3 trillion to $5.7 trillion per year. (All numeric analysis is detailed here.)
Even the smaller estimate of $2.3 trillion per year is more than the budget for Social Security ($860 billion), Medicare ($524 billion), Medicaid ($304 billion), and the entire safety net ($286 billion for SNAP, WIC [Women, Infants, Children], Child Nutrition, Earned Income Tax Credit, Supplemental Security Income, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, and Housing).
BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
For around $300.00, you can purchase your own Halloween Hell House Kit. Back in the day when the Rev. Jerry Falwell was roaming the planet, he hit upon a fantabulous money-making/soul-saving scheme. Why give over Halloween to the hell raisers, candy scavengers and trick or treaters, he thought? Let's get in on the action. And that's precisely what he did.
Churches around the country would set up "Hell Houses," places that young people could visit and get the crap scared out of them.
According to psmag.com's Marc Herman, "New Destiny Christian Center, a Colorado-based evangelical ministry, is the specialist in the programs." Over the years, Hell Houses have become remarkably adaptable to current issues.
While $299.00 will get you the basic kit, a few more bucks will get you "plug-in 'modules,' allowing a particular hell house to address specific sins in one's own neighborhood. The online brochure starts off with a new 'domestic abuse' stage set, moving on to the 'rave scene,' 'drunk driving,' and the 'gay wedding.'"
BOB FITRAKIS AND HARVEY WASSERMAN FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Jim Crow is already the big winner in this year's election.
The corporate elite needs him to gouge the planet, wage perpetual imperial war and rule the rest of us.
So the voting rights of millions of student, elderly, black, Hispanic and other citizens are being lynched.
Which may now decide control of the US Senate, many state legislatures...and the White House in 2016.
The corporate-Christian right has long used the drug war to disenfranchise millions of citizens of youth and color. Gay and reproductive rights, feminism and the politics of hate have mobilized Christian crusaders to flood the polls for the GOP.
But we have turned the corner on the culture war. With the winding down of marijuana prohibition, widespread gay rights victories and more, Republicans now need the outright destruction of democracy itself to win an election...
ROBERT C. KOEHLER FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Democracy! A word, a way of life, our highest ideal: Everyone is equal; no one is marginal.
I still feel the force of this word, though the middle syllable — "mock" — grows increasingly dominant when I hear it, especially now, as election season rolls around again. The enormity of my indifference to this election is balanced by something that feels like grief. The system we live under is . . .
Words fail me. Pardon me while I quote Nietzsche.
"God is dead. God remains dead. And we have killed him. How shall we comfort ourselves, the murderers of all murderers? What was holiest and mightiest of all that the world has yet owned has bled to death under our knives: who will wipe this blood off us? What water is there for us to clean ourselves? What festivals of atonement, what sacred games shall we have to invent? Is not the greatness of this deed too great for us? Must we ourselves not become gods simply to appear worthy of it?"
Writing is either an act of hope or an act of cynicism, and I have always committed myself to reaching for the former in my commentary on current events, no matter how disturbing the events may be. But in this moment, I feel myself walking the edge of cynicism: The system we live under is a joke, a farce, a calculated lie. I say this as someone who believed in it deeply, who embraced our history of expanding inclusiveness.