Guest Commentary (4669)
NIKOLAS KOZLOFF FOR BUZZFLASH
Fresh off his huge blockbuster success with Avatar, James Cameron is taking a commendable stand on indigenous issues in the rainforest. Flying down to Brazil’s Amazonian city of Manaus recently, the film director criticized the Belo Monte hydro electric dam project. “For people living along the river, as they have for millennia,” he said, “the dam will end their way of life. I implore the Brazilian government, and President Lula, to reconsider this project.”
To his credit, Cameron did not simply pop up in Manaus impromptu without getting the full inside story behind hydro-power. With the help of hardworking and dedicated organizations such as Amazon Watch, Cameron toured the Xingu River and attended a gathering of over 100 indigenous leaders from dozens of communities. Not to be outdone, he also visited Altamira, a local town which stands to be flooded by the Belo Monte dam.
Having tackled the thorny problem of environmental destruction in Avatar, Cameron is now adding his own high profile voice to the cause of rainforest preservation. No doubt, the film director has already sensed the disturbing parallels between the virtual, 3-D world of Pandora and the Amazon jungle: just like the fictional Na’vi people, who fight against an earth-based, mining consortium, the Kayapo Indians are fighting to preserve about 500 square miles of their lands threatened by flooding.
DANNY SCHECHTER FOR BUZZFLASH
A Tale of Then and Now, FDR vs Obama: A Story of Shame, Co-optaton, Partisan Bickering and Industry Lobbying To Undermine Financial Reform
2009, The Intent: Speaker Nancy Pelosi: "What I want to initiate is the equivalent of what happened in the 30's. They had something that was called the Pecora Commission. This was the commission that was formed when Franklin Roosevelt took office and they investigated what happened with the markets...We need to know. Some people can tell you one piece of it. Others can tell you another piece of it. But really it's very hard – do you understand it? -- for the American people and the rest of us as we try to make policy as we go forward to see the ramifications of any of the changes we're being asked to make."
THEN: Robert Kuttner: "In 1932 through 1934 the Senate Banking Committee, led by its Chief Counsel Ferdinand Pecora, ferreted out the deeper fraud and corruption that led to the Crash of 1929 and the Great Depression. The Pecora Committee's findings helped change the political mood, and laid the groundwork for the sweeping financial reforms of Roosevelt's New Deal. Roosevelt himself often conferred with Pecora, encouraged him, and depended on Pecora's work to build the public support for reform. He appointed Pecora to one of the newly created results of his handiwork, the Securities and Exchange Commission, though Pecora was disappointed not to be its chairman."
BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH.COM
The appearance, and then disappearance, of crisis pregnancy centers on the list of Lilith-eligible charities sparks online dust-up.
MARC PERKEL FOR BUZZFLASH
Michael Steele, who is head of the Republican National Committee, said that he has less room for error because he's black. He might be correct. Republicans are making a big deal out of the incident where Republican staffers spent almost $2000 at the Voyeur Club, a lesbian bondage strip bar. Although this sounds bad for the chief fundraiser for America's "Party of God", it's not so bad when you compare it to white Republican scandals.
For example, Senator David Vitter was caught paying for sex with prostitutes. Senator Ensign was caught having an affair with a staffer and funneled hush money to her and her husband, possibly breaking the law. Republican Senator Larry Craig of Utah (wide stance) was caught playing foot game in a mens restroom in a police sting to catch men trying to pick up other men for sex. Republican Governor Mark Stanford used state funds to sneak off to Argentina to cheat on his wife and 4 kids and although he is now single again, he's still serving as governor.
FAIR (Federation for Immigration Reform) is un-balanced and unfair on immigration
Although included on the Southern Poverty Law Center’s list of hate groups, FAIR continues to spread its anti-immigration tentacles while building its national profile
By Bill Berkowitz
When the debate in Washington over immigration reform begins to snap, crackle and pop, you can bet that one D.C. anti-immigration powerhouse will be in the thick of the noise. After all, it is the most frequently quoted immigration restriction organization in the United States; its spokespersons are frequent guests on cable television’s news programs discussing such topics as “American ‘Intifada’ in Our Future?” “Driving While Illegal,” and “Should ALL Illegal Aliens Be Deported?”; its president appeared with Lou Dobbs on his CNN program a number of times; over the past few years, its staffers have testified more than 30 times in front of Congressional committees; and, it played a key role in derailing previous efforts at passing immigration reform.
In December 2007, it was listed as a hate group operating in the United States by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), a civil rights organization monitoring hate group activity in the US.
The it we’re talking about is the Federation for Immigration Reform (FAIR) (http://www.fairus.org/site/PageServer), a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) organization that has been around for more than two decades, and which has, over the past few years – during which time the issue of immigration has become a hot-button issue -- vastly increased its public profile.
JOE OF ARIZONALAND FOR BUZZFLASH
This is the story of those who drink the Conservative Tea ("DRINK ME"), the kind that makes your brain small enough to fit down the rabbit hole.
Beyond the sleeping Dormouse, Michael Steele, you may see a sight to behold: dancers in bondage cheered by Young Republican Eaglets, or Tea Partying Caterpillars on mushrooms smoking hookahs.
If you follow the White Supremacist Rabbit a little further, you may run into the delusional mad Hatter, Glenn Beck, reciting his favorite nonsense.
SKEETER SANDERS FOR BUZZFLASH
The Anti-Obama billboards going up in Atlanta are more than "disgusting" and "pathological."
They're also "racist."
What we're witnessing is nothing less than an explosion of paranoia being expressed by a certain class of people -- namely conservative White Anglo-Saxon Protestant males -- who are freaking out not only because a black man is president, but more importantly, the growing realization that WASPs will lose their majority status by the middle of this century.
Loss of majority status for WASPs means an inevitable loss of power and privilege. This has been made certain by the Census Bureau's disclosure late last month that Latino births will outpace WASP births in the U.S. within two years.
SHERRY YARMOUTH FOR BUZZFLASH
BuzzFlash received this heartfelt letter over the weekend in response to Dr. Cassell, a urologist in Florida, who put up a note on his medical office door that persons who voted for Obama should go elsewher for treatment. This guy shouldn't be practicing medicine; send him to work in a Jiffy Lube, but then maybe he won't give oil jobs to persons who voted for Obama. Dr. Cassell clearly has some brain defect, perhaps inserted by alien pod people.
I work at a hospital where anti-Obama feeling runs high. Amongst ourselves and in the break room, care-givers decry his health care plan, complaining about its cost, its unfairness, and expressing doubts that there'll be anything left for us, when our time comes.
The operative phrase here is, “amongst ourselves,” and “in the break room.” That's because we know that when a patient comes through our doors, we don't ask what their favorite baseball team is, what part of town their daddy grew up in, or how they voted for President. Throughout my medical career, I've known many “Send-em-back-to-Mexico” nurses who cared for Mexican children as if they were their own, professionals who honestly believe that California is being overrun by migrants, who would never dream of withholding care on the basis of race or belief. I've worked with Afghan doctors who looked after ornery Babushkas without once commenting on the millions of their countrymen who died at the hands of Russians. That, too, is called professionalism. The idea is this: Got a problem with Irish, or Liberals, or people who voted for Barry Goldwater? Fine. Leave it at the door. Once you put on that badge, or don those scrubs, everybody's equal. If you can't handle that, then you're not fit to serve. Everybody understands that.
RICHARD A. STITT FOR BUZZFLASH
It is worth repeating what the late George Carlin said in a November 2004 interview on the Charlie Rose show. When asked by Rose why he thought the Democrats lost the 2004 election, Carlin responded (paraphrasing), "When the other side has you talking their language then they've got you." That sums up the plight of Democrats' failure to respond forcefully enough to Republican smear propaganda and attack ads.
The Republican apparatchiks have been enormously successful in sucking the mainstream media into their well-oiled propaganda machine and diverting the nation away from the real issues confronting our country. Catch phrases and sound bites like Soccer Moms, NASCAR Dads, Hockey Moms, and Moral Majority which occupied past election cycles have all been coined by Republicans for easy media and public digestion.
John Kerry's inability to respond to the Swift Boat lies, charges that he flip-flopped on the Iraq War fiasco, the inaccurate charge and caricature of Al Gore that he "invented the Internet," former Georgia U.S. Senator Max Cleland's being blind-sided by the loathsome smear ads that he was "...a traitor to his country and a friend of Osama bin Laden," were all constructs of the Republican Party and testament to their devious but artful skills in tarring anyone whom they vow to defeat at any cost.
BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH
Hannity on the Loose: A best-selling book, an expansive book tour and a charity gone rogue
While Sean Hannity’s new book, “Conservative Victory: Defeating Obama's Radical Agenda” will no doubt hit the best-seller list, his so-called Freedom Concerts may be landing on another list; a list of organizations not to be trusted with the public’s donations.
The other day I received an email from the Heritage Foundation -- signed by its president Edward Fuelner -- letting me know that Sean Hannity’s new book has been released. The book, according to Fuelner, “spells out exactly what needs to be done to rescue America from the clutches of a destructive leftist policy agenda.” And make no mistake about it, Conservative Victory: Defeating Obama's Radical Agenda, will be on the best-seller lists before you’ve finished your first cup of coffee on Monday morning. (As of Thursday, April 1, the book was ranked #2 in Amazon’s “Best Sellers in Books” category; #33 in sales rank at Barnes & Noble; and there was only “1 left in stock” over at Powell’s Books.)
NIKOLAS KOZLOFF FOR BUZZFLASH
Move over Coca-Cola: here comes Bolivia.
The Andean nation’s indigenous people have long resented the U.S. beverage company for usurping the name of their sacred coca leaf. Now, they are aiming to take back their heritage. Recently, the government of Evo Morales announced that it would support a plan to produce a coca-based soft drink which would rival its fizzy American counterpart.
GEORGE LAKOFF FOR BUZZFLASH
George Lakoff has appeared on BuzzFlash for many years now, and we have sold his stunningly insightful books as well. Lakoff is a vitally important person whom the White House and Democratic Leadership don't appear to understand, because they are certainly not following his advice and profound understanding about how politics plays out through language, values, and appeals to emotion. The Republicans actually understand Lakoff without probably having read him. The GOP understands that if you win people over on appeals to values and emotion by "framing" issues in a way that make segments of the population feel the Republican outlook echoes their values, the specifics of issues don't matter for the large part. That is why the GOP can get away with so much lying.
The Democratic leadership, on the other hand, thinks you can win an issue by merely persuading people of the reasonableness of the issue. Polling on healthcare reform proves, once again, Lakoff right. At least half of the population disapproves of the concept of healthcare reform as portrayed by the GOP, their right wing media echo chamber, books and think tanks. Yet, most of the people who are swayed by the GOP's "frame" agree with most of the specific proposals of healthcare reform. The Republicans know how to lock in their base through building a "frame" that allows them to bypass specifics.
Now Lakoff, who is a professor at Berkeley, is attempting to focus on a specific issue in California, given that the national Dems appear lost in the wilderness when it comes to communication strategy. He is trying to get passed a proposition that would require the approval of the California state budget by a mere majority, instead of 2/3's, because -- as in the U.S Senate -- the larger threshold not only is not a democratic way to do things, it is paralyzing the largest state in the Union.
That brings us to Lakoff's commentary that he e-mailed to BuzzFlash about how a language change by Attorney General Jerry Brown, who is again seeking to be Governor of California, ruins the "framing" of the proposition and will very likely ensure its defeat because of the changes made by Brown's office in the language. It is a very instructive example for what often happens on the national level with the Democrats.
By George Lakoff, UC Berkeley
With the California Financial Crisis at stake, the impartiality of the California Attorney General has come under scrutiny.
Proponents of the California Democracy Act, a ballot initiative that would restore a majority vote for revenue and budget in the legislature, are asking Jerry Brown, the Attorney General, for a new title and summary. An exhaustive poll has shown that Brown’s title and summary changed the meaning and intent of the proposed initiative by one of the largest margins ever seen in a poll.
MARTHA ROSENBERG FOR BUZZFLASH
Some 250,000 hens at Ohio Fresh Eggs in Harpster died when firefighters "cut power to the chicken barns and ventilation systems to keep the flames from spreading," say news reports.
Did the birds burn to death, suffocate from smoke inhalation or asphyxiate from barn fumes? Ohio Fresh Eggs says only the hens were "euthanized." Their bodies will be sent to pet and animal feed processor G.A. Wintzer & Son Co. in Wapakoneta, says Bill Schwaderer of the Ohio Department of Agriculture.
Factory farms, in addition to their toxicity to workers, animals, the environment and food consumers, are fire bombs waiting to happen thanks to legions of animals packed over their own feces. Barns are so filled with ammonia, last year Maine state officials required medical care after entering barns for a short period of time at a similar egg farm, Quality Egg in Turner.
BILL BERKOWTIZ FOR BUZZFLASH
Celebrated author and long time human rights activist Patricia Nell Warren tells BuzzFlash that it’s time for ENDA to pass.
Despite the occasional setback – the vote on California’s Proposition 8 banning same-sex marriage comes quickly to mind – and the incessant squawking and shameful and manipulative fundraising missiles from the likes of such professional scolds as Lou Sheldon of the Tradition Values Coalition, the American Family Association’s Wildmon family, and Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council, the rights of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities will continue to advance. Nevertheless, there are many more battles – dare I use that word in this overheated political climate – to be fought and won.
Passage of ENDA, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, is one of these impending fights.