Guest Commentary (5050)
STEPHEN CROCKETT FOR BUZZFLASH
The Republican political machine spent over 30 years rigging both our economy and government in favor of corporations and the Super Rich. The result has been a badly broken economy with constantly dropping standards of living for the formerly large middle classes and a democracy severely undermined by corporate money.
After the 2010 Republican tide, corporatism hiding behind a fake "Tea Party populist image" runs everything. Expect things for working Americans to get much worse real fast.
The Republican Party blamed the economic collapse under Bush on Obama. The republicans drove the car (economy) in the ditch. Using their filibuster power in the Senate (along with "Democrat in Name Only" Ben Nelson), they stopped the Obama White House and the Democratic majorities in Congress from making all the fundamental changes needed to fix our economy.
While the Democrats were trying to fix our economy (pull the car out of the ditch and get it going), Republicans were busy cutting the tires on the tow truck and sugaring the gas tank so the engine would not run. Their goal was not to make things better for the vast majority of Americans. It was to regain power to protect corporations and the Super Rich.
BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH
Michael Gerson, President Bush's former speechwriter, and Chuck Colson, former Watergate felon and currently a respected leader on the Religious Right, are both urging conservative evangelical Christians to stay actively involved in politics. Gerson suggests they do politics 'better,' while Colson maintains that it's 'no time for retreat.'
Despite the Religious Right's best efforts to horn in on the Tea Party movement, tea partiers dominated the story of Election 2010. While many tea party-supported political candidates fully embraced the social conservatism of the Religious Right, and the Religious Right held numerous rallies to mobilize its constituency to vote for those candidates, the Religious Right's traditional issues weren't as front and center during the campaign as they had been in the past.
Unlike previous elections where voting against same-sex marriage motivated so-called traditional values voters to go to the polls in large numbers - anti-same-sex marriage activists did manage to oust three Iowa judges who supported legalizing same-sex marriage -- this year's conservative electorate were just as likely to be moved by the high unemployment rates, the housing foreclosure crisis, a generalized anger at government, immigration, and a fear of what might be coming down the pike, thus replacing abortion and same-sex marriage as primary motivating factors.
It's not as if Religious Right organizations rolled over during the campaign. Church & State, the magazine of Americans United for Separation of Church and State reported in its October 2010 issue that, "Rebounding from two difficult years, an array of Religious Right organizations are waging a massive - often under-the-radar - campaign this fall to register church-going voters, drive congregants to the polls and elect favored candidates."
TONY PEYSER FOR BUZZFLASH
Get set for two more years of partisan shrieking
After many Democrats were rudely shown out
And then --- after nothing but pure gridlock ---
The bums who got tossed in will get thrown out.
KEN SHILLING FOR BUZZFLASH
This morning's big winners are Sarah Palin and Sharon Angle, and they'll reward the Tea Candidates with campaign appearances in 2112, and shout-outs from the TV studios of Glenn Beck and Sean Hannity. My sympathies go out, not to Democrats, because soon, the American public will figure out that the Tea Party can't govern much of anything, let alone the nation. They'll need no sympathy at all, because by 2112, the economy will have improved somewhat, and people will realize they like keeping their kid on their own insurance until age 25, they like receiving a notice from their credit card company before they get screwed, and in fact, most Obama-era reforms won't look half bad, given time, and all the while, the two women mentioned above will still be blaming their problems on CBS and the lack of morning prayers in public schools.
But my sympathies go out to Republicans, specifically the last handful who still believe that abortion in limited cases is justified, who believe that there might be a such thing as a good Muslim, and who think that you shouldn't try to force people in public institutions to pray to the Christian God. The Republican party of 2011-2012 will have no place for such a voter, and they'll probably walk across the isle again, like they did in 2008.
Thank you Sarah and Sharon, and all Tea Party candidates. You just handed President Obama a second term.
BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH
Despite being fired by National Public Radio over a bout of public Islamophobia, Williams has land on his feet with a $2 million Fox News Channel contract. In addition, look for him to be used as the poster child for the next conservative-led attack against NPR.
When the history of U.S. journalism is written - or patched together in a 5-minute You Tube video - the name Juan Williams is unlikely to appear. However, when the next attack against National Public Radio is launched by conservatives - and you can expect that to happen in a Republican-controlled Congress -- expect to see Williams, or his likeness, front and center.
The very public recent firing by National Public Radio (NPR) of its longtime contributor, Juan Williams -- after he acknowledged on Bill O'Reilly's Fox News Channel program to feeling anxious over seeing fellow air travelers dressed in Muslim garb -- has resulted in the immediate deification of him by many conservatives. It also appears to have paved the way for a big payday for Williams (a $2 million dollar Fox News Channel contract), and the revival of a tried and true conservative cause - the de-funding NPR.
(It seems a little strange that Williams' would reveal his innermost fears about the clothing that some Muslims choose to wear aboard airplanes on O'Reilly's toxic program. Why didn't he air his thoughts directly on NPR? It still would have been controversial, but it wouldn't have had the stamp of Williams' opportunism writ large all over it.)
The Williams firing appeared to have once again loosed the looney: The Washington Post reported last week that NPR had received, amongst its stacks of hate mail, a bomb threat. NPR spokeswoman Anna Christopher told The Upshot - a Yahoo News Blog -- that "on the advice of law enforcement, we are not sharing details about the threat."
After Williams' firing, O'Reilly declared that "No taxpayer dollars should be going to an outfit that abuses freedom of speech. No more money to NPR," O'Reilly bellowed. The Upshot reported that "O'Reilly producer Jesse Watters ambush[ed] the NPR [Chief] Executive [Vivian Schiller] on the street Monday."
Williams later told O'Reilly that he didn't "fit in their [NPR's] box. I'm not predictable black liberal. You [O'Reilly] were exactly right when you said you know what this comes down to. They were looking for a reason to get rid of me because I'm appearing on Fox News. They don't want me talking to you."
Williams has had a successful career in journalism, he is currently a political commentator for Fox News Channel; he writes for several newspapers including The Washington Post, The New York Times, and The Wall Street Journal and has been published in magazines such as The Atlantic Monthly and Time. And, he was a senior news analyst for National Public Radio (NPR) from 1999 until October 2010.
Williams is also the author of Eyes on the Prize: America's Civil Rights Years, 1954-1965, a biography of Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, and Enough, a book critiquing black civil rights leaders.
For years, stripping funds from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) - under whose umbrella NPR and the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) operate - was a guaranteed fund-raising bonanza for the right. Although conservatives were never successful in de-funding CPB, it nevertheless succeeded in somewhat shifting its political focus.
Recently, Kenneth Tomlinson, who headed CPB from September 2003 to September 2005 and was forced to resign under the cloud of multiple ethics violations, wrote in the Washington Examiner that since the Williams incident unfolded, he had been rethinking his position on the agency and has decided that it was time to defund the agency: "I had long believed that the many tentacles of public broadcasting should be reformed - not defunded. I now realize I was wrong. Federal funding for NPR should be eliminated-as should handouts to CPB and PBS."
During an appearance of "Fox and Friends," Williams, who recently signed a several-million-dollar contract with Fox, also let it be known that the agency should be kyboshed. "Fox and Friends" co-host Gretchen Carlson pointed out that "Some members of Congress are calling for NPR to be defunded." Williams responded to Carlson by saying that he "love[s]" NPR and believes it "is an important institution," whose "quality of journalism is [often] fantastic."
TONY PEYSER FOR BUZZFLASH
He’s unfit to be on the Supreme Court
But each & every allegation
Proves that he’s ready for the GOP’s
2012 presidential nomination.
In addition to Verse-Case Scenario, Tony Peyser writes about California politics with PeyserPoem, a daily feature at KPCC's news-driven page on Facebook called The Freeway. />
BARBARA'S BUZZ FROM ATLANTA
KATHY KELLY FOR BUZZFLASH
Nur Agha Akbari and his family live in Kabul, on an unpaved, pitted
street lined by mud brick homes. When we visited him this week, his
oldest son, age 13, led us to a sitting room inside their rented
two-story apartment, furnished with simple mats and pillows. The
youngster smiled shyly as he served us tea. Then his father entered
Mr. Akbari is a robust, energetic, well educated man from a respected,
academic Afghan family. In the late 1970s, Nur had gone to study
MIRIAM MILNE FOR BUZZFLASH
Midterm elections have a certain logic to them. The party out of power wants a seat so they can "force the President to the table," so they can bring moderation to what is seen as an extremist agenda. Such was the force behind President Reagan's midterm defeat in 1982, when Democrats made big gains after Reagan's first round of tax cuts worsened, rather than improved, unemployment. Similarly, the 1994 "Contract with America" was a repudiation of all things Hillary, and supposedly forced Bill Clinton's agenda to the center.
SHAMUS COOKE FOR BUZZFLASH
The world watches as France once again erupts in protests, demonstrations, and strikes. So much is at stake. If France's corporate-dominated government is able to increase the retirement age, other governments will be empowered to follow through with their plans to do the same.
If labor, student, and community groups succeed in stopping the pension reform -- or toppling the government -- workers in other countries will likewise be inspired to fight back and organize in the French fashion.
WILL DURST FOR BUZZFLASH
The precise word to explain this season's big new trend in campaign financing is obliviousness. Earlier this year, the Supreme Court ruled that everybody is allowed to give as much money as they desire to anybody they choose and absolutely nobody needs to know about it. The upshot of which has all of America knee deep in the oxymoronic spectacle of a very expensive free- for- all.
In a flash, We, the People, have become blind, deaf, and dumb. With an emphasis on the latter. Because nobody cares. La di dah. Makes no difference where these surreptitious tsunamis of decoy dollars are originating from: religious nut jobs, public service unions, defense contractors or foreign benefactors trailing behind them leaky puddles of nuclear radiated waste. Off shore. Under shore. Paulie Shore. Sho nuff is fine.
This de- reform has rendered us totally incognizant of which profligate special interest group is spending how much money for what candidate or why or when or where it's given. And our collective response is to care less than a whale about rain. Orwell was right: Unenlightenment is strength. And with it comes the understanding of what it's like to be a mushroom. Kept in the dark and fed compost. We revel in the delicious bewilderment of knowing influence peddlers are scurrying around shadowy crevasses like cloaked cash cockroaches and the light switch is broke.
What happened was, way back in the bad old days, Nixon committed the cardinal political sin of getting caught abusing campaign funds, so post- Watergate, Congress was shamed into replacing hard money with soft money which slowly turned into liquid money but now the floodgates have opened and that marvelous misty money is morphing into magic money, soon to transform into virtual money until Steve Jobs figures out a way to beam commercials straight into our heads. And if that prospect doesn't drive you right into downtown Crazy Ville, then you were hitchhiking in its suburbs to begin with.
BARBARA'S BUZZ FROM ATLANTA
This is the tenth installment of a project that is likely to extend over a two-year-period which began in January, 2010. It is the serialization of a book entitled The 15% Solution: A Political History of American Fascism, 2001-2022. Under the pseudonym Jonathan Westminster, it is purportedly published in the year 2048 on the 25th Anniversary of the Restoration of Constitutional Democracy in the Re-United States. It was actually published in 1996 by the Thomas Jefferson Press, located in Port Jefferson, NY. The copyright is held by the Press. Herein you will find Chapter 9. You can find a complete archive of the chapters published to date on TPJmagazine.us (lower right hand corner of the home page, http://tpjmagazine.us/