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Guest Commentary (5145)

BARBARA'S BUZZ FROM ATLANTA

http://politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com/2010/11/10/ex-german-chancellor-accuses-bush-of-untruths-in-memoir/ Still lying, still trying to justify the illegal, aggressive, invasion of Iraq, retirement has not changed George Bush one iota!  "Former German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, who left office in 2005, is disputing a passage in Bush's new book that claims Schroeder privately offered the president full-fledged support in 2002 should he decide to invade Iraq.  'The former American president is not telling the truth,' Schroeder said Tuesday according to the German newspaper Der Spiegel."  Some things they never change, or should I just say Republicans never change!

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/11/09/keith-olbermann-hoax-did-_n_781241.html I've always known Tucker Carlson is a slime-ball and now he's proven it to the whole world.  "Tucker Carlson Sent Emails Posing As Keith Olbermann "  The emails were insulting and denigrated Olbermann's boss at MSNBC.  This wasn't just a prank, it was fraud, it was identity theft.  It was typical conservative Tucker Carlson.    

http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2010/10/groups-spend-3-billion-tv-ads/ http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20101110/hl_nm/us_usa_healthcare_insurance http://www.politicsdaily.com/2010/11/09/65-million-spent-on-election-ads-targeting-nancy-pelosi/ "Nearly 59 million lack health insurance: CDC... many of them with conditions or diseases that needed treatment...Both adults and kids lost private coverage over the past decade"  Then there's this, "... $3 billion spent on campaign TV ads" and this "$65 Million Spent on Election Ads Targeting Nancy Pelosi...ads against House Speaker Nancy Pelosi..."  There's something wrong with a political party in America that willingly neglects its poor, its sick, and its children but will spend billions on campaigns to defeat the political party that stands for those people.

NICHOLAS WILBUR FOR BUZZFLASH

Would you believe me if I said that liberal media commentators have higher standards of ethics and integrity than the Supreme Court of the United States?

If you said no, good for you. They don't.

Would you believe me if I said that liberal media commentators are held to higher standards of ethics and integrity than the Supreme Court of the United States?

If you said yes, good for you. They are.

On Friday, 5 November 2010, an MSNBC political pundit was suspended for contributing a total of $7,200 to three Democratic candidates in the 2010 midterm election because it violated a company ethics policy meant to protect and preserve journalistic integrity.

On Tuesday, 9 November 2010,  according to Think Progress and a half-dozen other news sources, Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito paid to attend a fundraiser hosted by the right-wing magazine The American Spectator. Speakers at the event included Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele, hedge fund billionaire Paul Singer, and Chamber of Commerce board member William Walton, according to news reports. Congresswoman Michele Bachmann also attended this political fundraiser.

Think Progress cited directly from the Code of Conduct for United States Judges, which states that, "A judge should refrain from political activity." The code further states:

A. General Prohibitions. A judge should not: (1) act as a leader or hold any office in a political organization; (2) make speeches for a political organization or candidate, or publicly endorse or oppose a candidate for public office; or (3) solicit funds for, pay an assessment to, or make a contribution to a political organization or candidate, or attend or purchase a ticket for a dinner or other event sponsored by a political organization or candidate. (Emphasis added.)

Asked if his attendance and participation in this political fundraiser was a violation of the Court's code of conduct, Alito told Think Progress reporter Lee Fang, "It's not important that I'm here." When pressed and provided with the specific information about this code of conduct, particularly in the added context of Alito having headlined the same fundraiser two years earlier, Alito repeated his defense: "It's not important."

If pitting MSNBC against the Supreme Court seems like an apples and oranges comparison, it is, but not for the assumed reasons. On the surface, it's ridiculous to compare a third-rate TV news agency's code of conduct with that of the most powerful judicial branch in the country. Yes, each has standards, and yes, both share policies that are meant to avoid the appearance of partiality, undue influence and bias. Such ethical canons are vital for both journalists and judges. But there is an obvious difference between reporting on the birth of a baby panda at the city zoo and interpreting the United States Constitution.

Rest assured, this is not a comparison of clout. It is not a comparison of campaign donations versus actual campaigning and public fundraising. This is a comparison of policy enforcement. The comparison is that one suspends those who violate rules and the other outright dismisses the rules as "not important."

NIKOLAS KOZLOFF FOR BUZZFLASH

Does Evo Morales merit a Nobel peace prize for his admirable work on climate justice?

Former prize winners, as well as the Bolivian Congress, believe he deserves it and both have launched an international campaign on behalf of Bolivia's indigenous president.  In April of this year, Morales helped to organize the First World People's Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth, which drew a whopping 35,000 people to the Bolivian city of Cochabamba.  Designed as a kind of counter summit to the official Copenhagen conference of 2009, which proved a debacle in terms of reining in climate change, Cochabamba represented a milestone in social mobilization.

The Andean leader argues that Copenhagen was inadequate in fighting climate change.  Indeed, the agreement only pledged to raise approximately $30 billion over three years to help impoverished nations counter the worst effects of global warming.  Morales' inspired Cochabamba summit by contrast has declared that $300 billion a year is necessary to cope with global warming and calls for the formation of an innovative international climate court.  The Bolivian President's right hand man, Bolivia's ambassador to the United Nations Pablo Solón, has remarked "you might be on one side of the world, but what you do is affecting somebody else in another continent very far away. There might be, there will be, millions of people who are affected, and may even die, because of those actions. Is this not genocide?"

Needless to say, Morales' climate activism has not gone over well in Washington.  When Evo struck out on his own and opposed the Copenhagen accord, which was strongly backed by the U.S. and other heavy emitters at the eleventh hour, the State Department cut its climate aid to Bolivia by $3 million.  "We weren't necessarily expecting this administration to...so blatantly use [the aid cutoff] against one of the poorest countries in Latin America," indignantly remarked Angélica Navarro, Bolivia's lead climate negotiator.

Despite the threats, Morales refuses to back down from his controversial stances.  Striking an anti-imperialist theme, the Bolivian remarks that the atmosphere must be "decolonized" and that rich nations are using more than their fair share of the atmosphere by emitting too much carbon.  In a nod to his own socialistic bent, Morales declares "there are two ways forward: either save capitalism, or save Mother Earth."

Even as the Obama administration obstructs and delays, Bolivians suffer the worst ravages of climate change.  Take for example the Andean nation's glaciers which supply drinking water to cities and which are rapidly disappearing.  If Bolivia suffers from acute water shortages, this in turn could give rise to internal climate refugees, thus further destabilizing an already very impoverished nation.  If that were not serious enough, Bolivia also shares a wide swath of the Amazon rainforest which could be subject to drought [for a further discussion of these problems, see my recent book No Rain in the Amazon: How South America's Climate Change Affects the Entire Planet].

Later this month, Morales will be taking his climate justice crusade to Cancún, Mexico for yet another international summit on global warming.  "If Cancun is the same as Copenhagen," Morales says, "then...the United Nations will lose their authority among people in the world."  It's unlikely, however, that Evo's radical environmental critique will resonate with the world's chief carbon emitters: while Bolivia is pushing for the world to cut its emissions by at least 95 per cent by 2050 and for affluent countries to cut their emissions by more than 100 per cent by 2040 --- meaning they would have to plant trees that more than make up for the fuel they burn ---- a UN climate draft only recommends cutting world emissions by at least 50-85 per cent by mid-century and at least 80-95 per cent for developed nations.  There's a lot riding on Cancún, though unfortunately the event is not expected to draw many world leaders and some believe that no legally binding agreement will result from the meeting's lengthy deliberations.

While a diplomatic fiasco at Cancún would surely be disappointing, the Nobel committee can focus more attention on future summits by awarding its coveted prize to Bolivia's famed indigenous president.  Technically, climate change does not fall under the rubric of peacemaking and disarmament, but in recent years the Nobel committee has been using its prize to throw a spotlight on worthy causes and today the award recognizes the fight for human rights, democracy, elimination of poverty, the sharing of resources and the environment.

In 2004 the committee awarded a Nobel to Kenyan environmentalist Wangari Maathai, and, three years later, to Al Gore for his work on climate change.  The former U.S. president shared the prize with the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change or IPCC which had been writing scientific reports on global warming for two decades.  The panel comprised more than 2,000 researchers from more than 100 countries, and its reports blamed human activities for climate changes ranging from increased heat waves to floods.

It's time for the Nobel Committee to recognize not only high profile former statesmen in the United States but those who campaign most vociferously for climate justice in the Global South.  Many people in the developed world have little understanding of how their actions may affect South America.  That however could change if the Nobel Committee placed a spotlight on Morales, a politician who represents a poor and disadvantaged nation which will be on the front lines of devastating climate change.

MARC PERKEL FOR BUZZFLASH

The Deficit Commission has suggested that the way to cut the deficit is to drastically cut Medicare and Social Security and raise taxes in gasoline. I say wrong!

A better idea is to get out of Iraq and Afghanistan, eliminate the Bush tax cuts for the rich, and raise the cap on Social Security payroll deductions from $100,000 to $250,000.

Before we start cutting services and increasing taxes for the poor and middle class we should eliminate unnecessary wars and raise taxes on the rich. I don't see why rich people should pay a lower percentage of their income to FICA taxes than the middle class.

FRANK SCOTT FOR BUZZFLASH

We approach the annual celebration of peace, love and over consumption as America's longest war threatens to become longer and spread to more nations. But there will be less consuming than usual in a time of political repression, economic recession and social depression.  Class relations are strained by the most unequal distribution of wealth in our history and political divisions are causing canine-like political disputes among confused citizens angrily chasing their own tails.

We fight ourselves under controlling force that prevents us from recognizing commonality by stressing differences. Ethnicities, skin tones and identity groups are used to keep us from confronting a disaster we face in common and even our minds are hyphenated into divisions causing battles of self against self.

Some were near panic over Tea Party victories in the fiasco we call our electoral democracy, insisting that fascism was at hand. Other equally mystified voters crowed of triumph for the common man at having elected more employees of the rich.  Billion dollar campaigns mask the fact that both capitalist parties keep switching crews on the Titanic as the ship continues to sink.

The cancer or polio choice offered the citizenry every two years has more than fifty percent never bothering to vote and results in minorities electing a government bought and paid for by infinitely smaller minorities. No wonder there is growing if baffling disgust with a politics dominated by corporate capital, billionaires and foreign interests.

JACQUELINE MARCUS FOR BUZZFLASH

I miss being pampered. -George W. Bush, October 2010

Everthing was different in the country and in our city, Baghdad. Life was absolutely impossible.  There was no electricity, no fuel, and no potable water.  Even if we wanted to meet, we had to take our chances through car bombs, roadside bombs, mortar shelling, and the death squads that were massacring the city. 

-The View from Baghadad, Sadek Mohammed

In all the years of teaching political philosophy, I've generally harbored a good relationship with my students with few exceptions.  Political Party preferences were irrelevant.   But during the Bush years, the country was divided in a hostile war that went beyond differences of opinion.   It wasn't only that the country was divided into red and blue, classrooms were divided, friends were divided, and families were divided.   For a President who claimed during the campaign that he wanted to be a "uniter" (even though there is no such word, we understood the intent), as usual, Bush meant the contrary. When Bush came to office, it was as if the world had become a hornet's nest of conflict and division.

The corporate media became a megaphone for the Bush Doctrine, Might is Right.


I knew what I was up against in the classroom.  I was armed with the history of Western Civilization, the history of philosophical ideas, liberal and humane principles that withstood the test of time.  Unfortunately, the Greek and Latin meaning of "liberal" (liberalis "noble, generous," lit. "pertaining to a free man,") had been thoroughly demonized in the United States beginning with President Reagan's assault on a beautiful word that is the very foundation of the Bill of Rights and the Declaration of Independence.   The word "liberty" is derived from the Latin: to be free from the shackles of prejudice; "tending in favor of freedom and democracy".

However, the Great Masterpieces of the world cannot compete with the billions of dollars that the oil, coal, weapon and drug corporations dump into the corporate media to influence our children.  When a young student has been raised on Rush Limbaugh, it makes my work as a teacher a miserable experience.

In any event, I was depressed by the general erosion of civil values and laws occurring before my eyes.  The students, mostly Republican, held a cynical disdain toward humane values.   They mocked the idea of being empathetic.  It was as if the Bush policies of war and violence, aided by a corporate media that defended the practice of torture by turning it into a debate under the superficial jargon of defending the country, were spreading across every thread of society.  Suddenly, all things military were fashionable.  The boys shaved their hair like skinheads.  The fashion in clothing became military khaki and camouflaged pants, shirts and boots.   The Hummer was one of the most popular SUV's in the country and there were more Jeep and tank-like models that were copies of the Hummer selling like hot cakes.  The country was turning into one big military state, which was popular and profitable for the big corporations that ran our government. When the practice of torture is defended by the right-wing talk show hosts, should we be surprised how that filters down into our high schools where kids are bullied? The image of Rand Paul's volunteer stomping on a protester's head is the very image of Orwell's 1984.

DANNY SCHECHTER FOR BUZZFLASH


"I'll have the Chateau Mouton-Rothschild from 1982," a Wall Street investment banker recently told his waiter at the latest and greatest shi-shi restaurant in Greenwich Village.  

"Yes sir, but I want you to know, the cost is $$3,950," according to the New York Times.


"No Problem" 

And so it goes at The Lion, where no extravagance is too costly for today's banksters and Lion Kings.  

The men they call the Big Swinging Dicks are back.  In the words of the New York Times, Wall Street is getting its "groove back," anticipating their latest round of bonuses while gloating about how their strategic and undisclosed campaign donations assured that the overdue regulations they fear will be put on hold. 

For them, buying the 2010 election was a small price to pay. Read  Economist James Galbraith's column in how they did it.

Oh, happy day. 

Meanwhile the rest of us cling to our "jobless recovery" while the prospect of inflation engineered by the Federal Reserve Bank threatens what purchasing power we have. 

Increasingly, economists in the know are saying that unless financial fraud is prosecuted, there can be no recovery, as Washington's Blog reports

"As economists such as William Black and James Galbraith have repeatedly said, we cannot solve the economic crisis unless we throw the criminals who committed fraud in jail. 

And Nobel prize winning economist George Akerlof has demonstrated that failure to punish white collar criminals - and instead bailing them out- creates incentives for more economic crimes and further destruction of the economy in the future. 

Nobel prize winning economist Joseph Stiglitz just agreed. As Stiglitz told Yahoo's Daily Finance on October 20th:  

"The legal system is supposed to be the codification of our norms and beliefs, things that we need to make our system work. If the legal system is seen as exploitative, then confidence in our whole system starts eroding. And that's really the problem that's going on." 

OUR RESPONSE:  We Don't Need More Bailouts. We need a Jailout

Support the JAILOUT Economic Justice Campaign by signing the petition at newsdissector.com/blog

We pledge allegiance to Justice for all.  Not to those who steal and defraud us.  Not to those who wrecked our economy. 

We need laws enforced, not winked at with financial settlements that allow those that enriched themselves at our expense, and destroyed the lives of so many, to get off scot-free, often with obscene bonuses and promotions. 

Now, it is time for all of us to speak out and demand that something is done, to stop foreclosures and create jobs. 

We can start with a petition to the President, Attorney General, and political, labor and youth leaders not in the bag to Wall Street.  We can call on the media to do more to cover this story instead of blaming the victims for the crime. 

Will you stand up with us and call for action now? 

Will you sign this simple appeal to the President, Leaders of Congress of both parties and the Attorney General?

Thursday, 11 November 2010 00:06

Beatitudes for Veterans Day

PATRICIA HYNES FOR BUZZFLASH

Blessed is the veteran of World War I, who spent his life exposing the horrors of war for those who fight in it and the willful deceit of those who declare it and seek stature from it.  In his first anti-war novel, Erich Maria Remarque wrote "I see how peoples are set against each other...foolishly, innocently, obediently slaying each other ...While they [the promoters and boosters of war] continued to talk and write, we saw the wounded and dying...The wrong people do the fighting." All Quiet on the Western Front was banned in Nazi Germany.

Blessed are the children of veterans who break the code of silence on the war that never ends: Living with the "attendant nightmares" of their veteran fathers and being "the objects of their war-ridden rage and war-honed violence."  War Is Not Over When It's Over chronicles, through interviews and photos, the spill over of brutal violence against girls and women in five war-ruined countries. The author Ann Jones' own life was "darkened by war." Her thrice-decorated WWI-veteran father turned his war-fed anger and violence on her and her mother.

Blessed is the World War II combat veteran who turned his revulsion at the racism of boot camp and the brutality of war into a life of non-violent activism for Civil Rights and radical witness for peace.  Philip Berrigan believed "...there will be no healing for veterans until we disavow war completely, until we disarm the bomb and the killing machine and ourselves." His lifelong question: "Can I remedy my violence, can I heal myself until I try to heal the body of humankind from the curse of war?"

Blessed is the writer Anonymous for her courage in exposing a taboo subject: The mass rape of an estimated 100,000 women in Berlin (of which she was one) by conquering Russian soldiers over a period of 7 weeks, and the mass rejection of these women, as shameless and besmirched, by returning German men who were emasculated by defeat.  A Woman in Berlin was rejected by German publishers and published only years later in the United States.  The author did not reveal her name because of fear of threats and reprisals.

Blessed is the daughter of two hibakusha, the shunned Japanese survivors of atomic bombs, who has assumed the mantle of speaking out against nuclear weapons and for world peace.  The bombs scarred her parents, both mentally and physically; her father lashed out and her mother withdrew into depression.  "For me," says Miyako Taguchi, who is founder of Hibakusha Stories from Hiroshima and Nagasaki to Future Generations, "I always live with the effects, the reality of the bomb and the modern arsenals of more than 27,000 nuclear weapons. No matter who has them, we are all their victims."

Blessed are all the veterans against wars, current and past, and those who have returned to the countries and peoples they harmed to make reparation.  Blessed are the Veterans for Peace who will walk from November 2-11 in rural Maine to bear witness to the human tragedy that recent wars have caused for local villages, towns and families, including unprecedented rates of suicide among soldiers serving in the Afghanistan and Iraq wars and the many suffering from war-related PTSD, head trauma, and sexual assault.

Blessed are the women veterans who have broken the silence about sexual abuse of women in the military and the minefields they traverse in disclosing it.  Army combat veteran Robynn Murray, sexually assaulted during military training and suffering PTSD from the trauma of war in Iraq, testifies that women fight another war inside the military, a war of rape and sexual abuse.  Blessed are those veterans who have chosen the righteous path of truth-telling about a military more intent on shielding the warrior culture from scandal than on protecting the 1 in 3 women soldiers who are sexually assaulted.

Blessed are the Military Families Against the War who call loudly for an end to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and for the recognition of the exorbitant costs of these wars to our country.  Blessed is the mother, Cindy Sheehan, who upon learning of her soldier son's death in Iraq, was re-born as a world citizen, a woman who knows that the human family is worth struggling for the rest of her life.

Blessed are the September 11 Families for Peaceful Tomorrows, a core of 200 family members directly affected by loss on September 11, who have turned their grief into action for peace.  They opposed the bombing of Afghanistan as a response to their loved ones' deaths; raised funds to be distributed to Afghan families affected by US military action; and documented their first trip to Afghanistan in the educational film "Civilian Casualties."

H Patricia Hynes retired as Professor of Environmental Health at Boston University School of Health and chairs the board of the Traprock Center for Peace and Justice

 

Wednesday, 10 November 2010 03:00

Did the Jewish Vote Trend Republican in 2010?

BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZ

While a large majority of Jewish voters continue cast their ballots for Democrats, the percentage voting for Democratic candidates this year dropped significantly from 2008

During the run-up to the mid-term elections, conservative Jewish groups were hopeful that they would finally be able to break the historic lock that the Democratic Party has had on Jewish voters. To achieve that end, they tried to inject concern over Israel and Iran into the campaign. In several key Senate and Congressional races conservative organizations poured money into television advertisements warning Jewish voters that Democrats, under the leadership of President Obama, no longer had the interests of Israel at heart, and that the administration was shying away from confronting Iran.

In their post-election analyses both Eric Alterman, writing in The Daily Beast ("Jews Snub the GOP. Again") and Eli Clifton writing for Lobelog.com ("Emergency Committee For Israel Found Little Success in Making Israel or Iran a Top Issue" ) maintained that: the Jewish vote stayed firmly in the Democratic column; and, Bill Kristol and Gary Bauer's Emergency Committee for Israel was unsuccessful in trying to make Israel or Iran a significant issue in the election.

According to Clifton, a post-election poll of Jewish voters commissioned by J Street - an organization which identifies as "for pro-Israel, pro peace Americans" - showed that voters' concern over the economy, health care and government spending overwhelmingly trumped their concerns about Israel or Iran. The poll also "showed that Jews continued to vote overwhelmingly for Democratic candidates by a 66 to 31 percent margin."

The good news for Democrats is that in an election where only 38% of the white electorate voted Democratic (down from 46% in 2008 and 48% in 2006), Jews continued to support the Democratic Party by a considerable majority. The bad news is that there definitely was an erosion of support for Democrats by Jewish voters: in both 2008 and 2006, nearly 80% of Jewish voters cast ballots for Democrats. Thus, in an election that saw decreases in the Democratic vote in almost all demographic categories, the Jewish vote dropped by 16%, a loss greater than Protestants, Catholics, and White born-again or evangelical voters. This could partially be explained by the fact that unlike other religious groups, the Jewish vote had a much higher starting point.

Nevertheless, while Clifton gives the Emergency Committee for Israel props for achieving "moderate success ... in winning three out of the five House and Senate races where it endorsed candidates," he pointed out "that neither Iran nor Israel played a significant role in how they voted."

The biggest prize for the Emergency Committee was Pennsylvania, where the group, founded in July of this year, launched "a controversial attack ad in July 2010 targeting the track record of U.S. Senate candidate Rep. Joe Sestak (D-PA), which insinuated that he supported terrorists," the Institute for Policy Studies' Right Web pointed out in a profile of the group. Although Sestak won the Jewish vote, he lost the election to conservative Republican Pat Toomey.

Wednesday, 10 November 2010 01:13

Of Conan O'Brien and Obama

TONY PEYSER FOR BUZZFLASH

After suffering a massive setback, Conan returns
More confident as the smoke has cleared.
His ratings were quite good, so Obama should
Make viral videos and then grow a beard.

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