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Guest Commentary (3893)

2014.11.12.Berkowitz.BFEbola-fearing Fox News host Elisabeth Hasselbeck schooled by Dr. Anthony Stephen Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. (Screen grab via Sam Seder / YouTube)

BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

As of this moment (unless something happened overnight that I'm not aware of), there are no Ebola cases in the US. Was Ebola in the US really President Obama's Katrina, as so many right-wing commentators, radio & television talk show hosts and conservative evangelical Christian preachers claimed? Will the fear mongering/flight-suspending/border-closing advocates apologize to President Obama? Will Bill O'Reilly, Megyn Kelley and Sean Hannity apologize to President Obama? Will Chris Christie apologize to President Obama? Will Pastor John Hagge, who maintained that through his godless policies, Obama was bringing Ebola into the country, apologize?

Will there be more Ebola cases here? Very possible. Is our health system gearing up to make sure it doesn't get out of hand? I think so. Do we need to do much more to stop the spread of Ebola in West Africa. No doubt about that.

We've got an Ebola Czar. Will the Senate please get off their collective duffs and approve a Surgeon General?

2014.11.12.GOP.BF (Image: Jared Rodriguez / t r u t h o u t; Adapted: j-fi, Gage Skidmore)BOB FITRAKIS AND HARVEY WASSERMAN FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Since the Bush-Cheney-Rove theft of the 2000 election in Florida, the right of millions of American citizens to vote and have that vote counted has been under constant assault.

In 2014, that systematic disenfranchisement may well have delivered the US Senate to the Republican Party.  If nothing significant is done about it by 2016, we can expect the GOP to take the White House and much more.

The primary victims of this GOP-led purge have been young, elderly, poor and citizens of color who tend to vote Democratic.  The denial of their votes has changed the face of our government, and is deepening corporate control of our lives and planet.

There’s no doubt the Democrats have alienated their core constituency and given millions of their former supporters little reason to vote.  Perpetual war, blank checks for mega-banks, stiffing the working poor while giving away the planet to the rich----these are all part of the malaise.   Our political landscape is currently defined by corporate personhood and its gutting of the Democratic Party.  

RICHARD A. STITT FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aaaPoorCamden(Photo: Phillies1fan777)Observe any post-election geographical map of the United States whether it is in a presidential election year or a midterm election and close to 90% of the country is red. Red states dictate the direction our country takes like it or not.

But, they fall short in representing anything close to 90% of the population. Add the combined total population of a dozen red states and they barely equal the size of one city in a blue state like California or New York.

Why does this matter? Because each state receives two U.S. Senators you will always see an imbalance in how citizens are represented in our congress. Also, red state voters, even those with low populations, vote in Republican House members almost by default regardless of that politician's qualifications or lack thereof.

Though there are plenty of Republicans in California, for example, the same can't be said of Democrats in the second most populated state, Texas, where there is only a scattering of Democrats plus there is not a single statewide office held by a Democrat.

What has poisoned our democracy is the huge flood of money that the corporate interests pour into our elections. With Citizens United v. FEC and the McCutcheon v. FEC Supreme Court decisions the billions that were spent on this past election paid of huge dividends for Republicans and their money brokers who bankrolled their campaigns.

Tuesday, 11 November 2014 06:35

Swift-Boating Obama: A Conservative Obsession

BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aaaObamaChurch(Photo: Pete Souza)Despite President Barack Obama's weakened political position, as epitomized by the drubbing Democrats took in the mid-term elections, when many of his Democratic Party colleagues avoided him like, well . . . the plague, do not expect conservatives to ease up on the attacks. Swift boating Obama, one of the longest-lasting conservative smear campaigns in history, will continue unabated as Republicans gear up to lead Congress and set the stage for the 2016 presidential election.

Swift Boat Veterans for Truth get, and deserve, a lot of credit for helping sink Senator John Kerry's 2004 presidential campaign. Television ads and a bestselling book titled Unfit for Command, "circulated innuendoes, dubious claims and falsehoods about ... Kerry's patriotism and whether he deserved three Purple Hearts, a Bronze Star and a Silver Star for service in the US Navy during the Vietnam War," The Jerusalem post has reported. After the Kerry debacle, swift boating became part of the political vernacular, coming to mean a campaign of dishonest, unfair, and unreasonable attacks on a political candidate.

From the time Barack Obama defeated Hillary Clinton in the 2008 Democratic Party primaries, and began his journey to the White House, an assortment of conservative activists, Christian Right groups, Republican Party regulars, right wing think tanks, Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, and numerous right wing pundits and radio talk-show hosts, launched what is now one of the longest-running smear campaigns in history; think of it as comparable the Broadway run of Cats.

Monday, 10 November 2014 06:24

Peace as a Human Right

2014.11.10.Peace.BF

ROBERT C. KOEHLER FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

“Individuals and peoples have a right to peace.”

In the beginning was the word. OK. This is the beginning, and these are the words, but they haven’t arrived yet — at least not officially, with full force of meaning.

It’s our job, not God’s, to create the new story of who we are, and millions — billions — of people fervently wish we could do so. The problem is that the worst of our nature is better organized than the best of it.

The words constitute Article 1 of the U.N.’s draft declaration on peace. What alerts me that they matter is the fact that they’re controversial, that “there is a lack of consensus” among the member states, according to the president of the Human Rights Council, “about the concept of the right to peace as a right in itself.”

2014.11.10.Buchheit.BF (Image: Jared Rodriguez / t r u t h o u t)PAUL BUCHHEIT FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Our national wealth has grown by an astonishing $30 trillion since the recession, but most of it has gone to people who were already wealthy.

We are living through a massive redistribution of America's net worth to the beneficiaries of a financial industry that has used cunning and money and power to impose their version of economic "freedom" while deregulating any policies that might have stopped the incessant transfer of wealth.

It's getting worse, by the year and by the month. President Obama's claim that "We've recovered faster and come farther than almost any other advanced country on Earth" applies largely to the people whose wealth accumulation has dramatically pulled up the averages. The evidence is staring us in the face, but the super-rich are only watching their portfolios.

2014.11.9.Talen.BF (Photo: Simon Forsyth / Flickr)

REV. BILLY TALEN FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT​

During the six weeks since the "biggest climate march in history," the CO2 emissions have entered the atmosphere from American cars at two trillion pounds a week. Not only that, Republicans overtook the US Senate. The first one is an odorless gas and the second one farts in suits; they both damage the atmosphere.

Actually, the first Peoples Climate March was wonderful. Our joyous carnavale for the Earth gave us such a release. So many of us felt from the march that finally our climate change issue was expressed openly by as many people as care about it. The hard work in making giant puppets and banners and the declarations on signs – created intense partnerships that could be key in a future climate march that has more impact in the world.

The motive for Peoples Climate March was to change perceptions of the scale of the climate movement, in the eyes of our fossil-fueled politicians and in our own eyes, too. The feeling that we are powerful and on the rise – this is key to our faith that we can change this gone-wrong system. However, the no-politics-please soft center of the march leaves us after a couple months with a very big selfie and a lot of fading pixels.

AKIRA WATTS FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

akirachoiceShouldn't an election be about clear choices? (Photo: photosan0)“Given the choice between a Republican and someone who acts like a Republican, people will vote for the real Republican all the time”

- Harry S Truman

Tuesday, the 4th of November, was a bad night. Call it a shellacking or a drubbing or some other gerund signifying a vicious back alley beating. Whatever you call it, it comes down to a rough election for the Democratic Party. Governorships were lost. At least 11 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives were lost. And the one that really stings is the loss of the Senate: at least eight, most likely nine, Senate seats flipped to give the Republican Party decisive control of the Senate.

It was a bad night.

But you know what it wasn’t? It wasn’t a mandate. It wasn’t a sweeping call for anything. It was a midterm election, with abysmal turnout, in a political landscape that overwhelmingly favored the Republican Party. As disasters go, the 2014 election is all full of sound and fury, signifying, in the end, nothing much at all.

Except that John Boehner and Mitch McConnell are now talking about once more attempting to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Meanwhile, professional political buffoon Ted Cruz is preparing to unleash another blast of idiocy on the nation, by acting as de facto majority leader and turning the Senate into a right-wing morass. McConnell has issued a stern warning to Obama, calling for him to move to the center and not to “poison the well” by doing anything remotely associated with Democratic Party ideals. These are the actions of people who feel they have the weight of history behind them, who think they speak with the voice of the American people, who inexplicably believe that they have a mandate to change the fundamental course of the nation.

I have a frank and anatomically improbable suggestion for all that noise.

STEVE JONAS FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

 joniernst(Image: DonkeyHotey)

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.’ ” 

2014.11.5.Wasserman.BF"No matter which corporate party tries to lead us there, the path to the promised land does not go through the deadly quicksand of imperial war, empty rhetoric or corrupted elections." (Image: Lance Page / t r u t h o u t; Adapted: The U.S. Army, Burns! )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.

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