Guest Commentary (4364)
ECOWATCH FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUTCOLE MELLINO OF
Article reprinted with permission from EcoWatch
Recently, the AP asked eight scientists to grade the comments of top presidential candidates for their scientific accuracy. Coming in at dead last was Ted Cruz. For further proof of his scientific illiteracy, we now turn to the Senate hearing he hosted on Tuesday, Data or Dogma: Promoting Open Inquiry in the Debate Over the Magnitude of Human Impact on Earth’s Climate. All four of the witnesses that Cruz invited to speak are climate deniers “from the discredited fringe of the scientific debate,” as The Hill’s Scott Price wrote.
One of them, William Happer, a Princeton professor, was exposed in an undercover Greenpeace investigation for what is known as being an “academic-for-hire.” Happer agreed to write a report for a Middle Eastern oil company but allowed the firm to keep the source of the funding secret. Another witness, Mark Steyn, does not even have a scientific background. He’s a conservative radio talk show host.
ROBERT C. KOEHLER FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
If Donald Trump can thrive politically by throwing meat to the American id, what else is possible? How about the opposite?
Trump’s most recent attempt to reclaim poll supremacy — his call for “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our representatives can figure out what’s going on” — is not simply reckless and dangerous, but also starkly clarifying. America’s bully billionaire, so rich he doesn’t have to heed the niceties of political correctness, is channeling old-time American racism, as mean and ugly and self-righteous as it’s ever been. Jim Crow is still with us. “The only good Indian is a dead Indian” is still with us.
Americans — at least a certain percentage of them — like their racism straight up, untampered with code language, unmodified by counter-values. Come on! An enemy’s an enemy. A scapegoat’s a scapegoat. Don’t we have the freedom in this country to dehumanize and persecute whomever we want?
JIM HIGHTOWER ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Don Blankenship didn't get what he deserves in his federal trial, but he definitely deserves what he got.
"Guilty," declared all 12 West Virginia jurors who pondered the charge that this arrogant and avaricious CEO of Massey Energy Company willfully conspired to violate America's mine safety laws. As a result of that conspiracy, 29 miners were essentially murdered by the corporation on April 5, 2010, in a horrific explosion deep inside Massey's Upper Big Branch coal mine.
Blankenship, a multimillionaire right-wing ideologue, union-buster, and political heavyweight, ran the Upper Big Branch mine like a lawless third-world operator. It was one of the most dangerous workplaces in the country, because this kingpin of King Coal relentlessly put profit over people, recklessly endangering miners. But coal is, indeed, king in West Virginia, so the laws are written to coddle the royals of the industry. Thus, Blankenship's guilt is to be punished by a maximum of one year in prison — and his diamond-studded legal team intends to have the jury's unanimous verdict of guilt tossed down the dark shaft of judicial favoritism for the rich.
What the mining baron deserved was to be put in stocks on the state's capitol grounds, where he would be subjected to a steady stream of derision from the families of mineworkers who were degraded, made ill and even killed to haul up coal so Don could live in luxury. He escaped that justice, but he'll never shake off the guilty judgment of the jurors — or of the American people who followed the long, widely covered trial that fully documented the rank immorality of this man and his ill-gotten fortune.
He undoubtedly thinks he got away with murder, but in the Court of Public Opinion, his legacy is that he has turned the name Blankenship into a four-letter word.
COLE MELLINO OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Paris and San Bernardino, California, Donald Trump in a press release yesterday called for a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.” This sparked an intense backlash from, not only the general public, but even his GOP rivals and other Republicans.Following the deadly attacks involving Islamic extremists in
Jeb Bush called Trump “unhinged,” while former Vice President Dick Cheney said it “goes against everything we stand for and believe in.”
Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski told CNN yesterday that the ban should apply to Muslims looking to immigrate to the U.S., as well as those looking to visit as tourists “until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on.” He added, “it does not apply to people living in the country, except we have to be vigilant.”
Trump doubled down on his statement this morning. “You’re going to have many more World Trade Centers if you don’t solve it—many, many more and probably beyond the World Trade Center,” referring to the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks in New York City, the deadliest attack on American soil since Pearl Harbor.
Obama’s deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes called Trump’s remarks “totally contrary to our values as Americans.”
BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Ordinarily at this time of year, as I've done in past years, I'd come up with a "War on Christmas" roundup, pointing out a few of the ludicrous incidents where conservative Christian activists are beating the drum for this phony meme, dropping a few of the more interesting "War on Christmas" historical anecdotes, and calling it a wrap. However, since the San Bernardino massacre, some longtime "War on Christmas" combatants are morphing over-the-top "War on Christmas" rhetoric into an all-out attack targeting all American Muslims.
Peter Brimelow, one of the early architects of the modern "War on Christmas" is one of those combatants. In a recent column at the VDARE website, Brimelow maintains that immigration should be suspended – an argument he has made for years – and, he's added a new wrinkle; Muslim Americans should be subject to expulsion from this country.
In a piece titled "San Bernardino: The Answer Is An Immigration Moratorium—And Muslim Expulsion," Brimelow writes: "There is one indisputable fact about Wednesday's shootings in San Bernardino: if the family of Syed Rizwan Farook had not been allowed to immigrate 30 years ago and if he had not been allowed to import his fiancée Tafsheen Malik from Pakistan in 2014 as part of the ongoing 'family reunification' scam, they would not have been able to murder 14 innocent Americans in 2015."
Brimelow argues that after the Charleston Church massacre, the mainstream media launched a "witch-hunt" against the Council of Conservative Citizens "because its—entirely factual—reports of disproportionate black-on-white crime were mentioned by Charleston Church killer Dylann Roof."
WALTER BRASCH FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
On Monday, Nov. 2, every National Geographic staffer was told to report to the magazine's Washington, D.C., headquarters the next day to await a phone call or e-mail from Human Resources.
Ever since Rupert Murdoch's 21st Century Fox corporation bought the magazine in September, there were rumors the new owner would maximize profits by terminating employees. Those predictions came through when Management fired 180 people, and told dozens of others they were being offered "voluntary buy-outs."
The corporation also announced it was eliminating health coverage for future retirees and was freezing all pensions. Management told the public there would be no loss of quality, but it's hard to believe those claims when the same management sliced photo editors, designers, writers, and several fact-checkers from the payroll.
The same day Murdoch terminated 9 percent of his staff, the owners of the Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily News fired 46 journalists, leaving only one copyeditor at the Daily News. A month earlier, the Los Angeles Times cut about 10 percent of its news room staff. The Chicago Sun-Times fired all its 28 photographers, including one who won the Pulitzer Prize, and is relying upon lower-paid freelancers and wire services.
The New Orleans Times-Picayune, which won a Pulitzer Prize for its coverage of Hurricane Katrina, plans to cut one-fifth of its news staff. Beginning in 2012, executive management in Cleveland reduced the newspaper from a daily to three times a week and fired staffers at that time. The Times–Picayune isn't the only newspaper to have downsized its newsroom and reduced frequency. Among metro dailies that are now printed only three or four days a week are the Detroit Free Press and Detroit News, the Seattle-Post-Intelligencer, the Cleveland Plain-Dealer, the Syracuse Advance-Standard, and the Harrisburg Patriot-News. The Times-Picayune, Plain-Dealer, Advance-Standard, and the Patriot-News, all owned by Newhouse Newspapers, slashed their newsroom staff before reducing the frequency. Executive management had claimed there would be no loss of quality; Management was wrong.
WILL DURST FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Get out the big black Sharpie and pull down the official Presidential Campaign Manual because it's time to redact the rules. Reality television star Donald Trump has altered the way politics is played to an extent that is game-changing. Judged on a scale of one to ten, think somewhere in the mid five figures.
First off, candidates no longer have to worry about looking ridiculous. Actual clowns are now allowed to emerge from the clown car. Opportunism is in, while rationality has been swept off the table, along with class, integrity, decorum, common human decency and hygiene.
Two, shooting from the hip requires way too much preparation. Today’s impromptu candidate says whatever pops into his or her little brain. With the emphasis on the adjective.
And number 3, the truth is moot. Veracity is for dummies. The creepily- coiffed developer hasn’t just lowered the credibility bar, he’s buried it with a front loader so deep you couldn’t find it with a diesel powered metal detector.
BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Team Cruz has a plan and a candidate moving up in the polls. For the first few months of the Republican Party’s presidential campaign, Senator Ted Cruz, tucked in below both Donald Trump and Dr. Ben Carson in the polls, refused to criticize either one. At the same time he was solidifying his credibility amongst conservative Christian evangelicals. Whether Team Cruz’s plan will carry the senator to the nomination, and/or the White House remains to be seen, but he has shown that he is a formidable Republican “clown car” who is in it to win it.
The New York Times’ Frank Bruni recently described Cruz as “clearly brilliant” and a “whirlwind of energy,” who, “on any subject, [is] informed, inflamed, precise.” In a column titled “Anyone but Ted Cruz.” Bruni also pointed out that the Texas Senator is a man whose “thirst for the spotlight is unquenchable. … arrogance … unalloyed. … [and who] takes pride in being abrasive.” The Daily Beast’s Nick Gillespie asked in a recent piece: “Is Cruz every bit as big a jerk as The Donald?” Rolling Stone’s Jeb Lund recently wrote a piece on the ascendance of Cruz headlined “Ted Cruz Isn't Crazy – He's Much Worse,” in which Lund asserted that Cruz “knows exactly what he's doing. … He is gaffe proof because the gaffes are not arrived at by error. Ted Cruz does awful things by intelligent design.
PAUL BUCHHEIT FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
There are so many candidates. But the people included here stand out in their various areas of nefarious behavior: warmaking, tax avoidance, consumer gouging, environmental destruction, and criminal arrogance.
1. Charles Koch: Fighting for Prison Reform (So He'll Never Have to Go to Jail)
The "scariest man in America" appeared suddenly sympathetic to the plight of the disadvantaged, advocating for criminal justice reform. But the bill supported by the Koch-funded Heritage Foundation would make it more difficult to charge executives guilty of financial fraud, environmental damage, and other high-level crimes. It's all based on the argument that the guilty party doesn't know he's committing a crime.
Heritage defends "morally blameless people who unwittingly commit acts that turn out to be crimes and are prosecuted for those offenses." Perhaps, in this comical viewpoint, years of oil pollution and years of mortgage lending fraud shouldn't be held against the CEOs who claim they didn't know what their employees were doing.
ROBERT C. KOEHLER FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
It’s too easy to reduce acts of kindness to an “aw, isn’t that nice?” sort of irrelevance. What if we thought about them, instead, as templates for foreign policy?
For one thing, if we did, there would be no such thing as “foreign” policy — no segregation of most of humanity behind borders and labels, to be controlled and, most of all, feared. There would only be getting-to-know-you policy, not in a simplistic sense but with a deep and courageous curiosity . . . because our survival depends on it.
Another way to say this is: War doesn’t work. Bombing ISIS doesn’t work. Closing our border to Syrians — or Mexicans — doesn’t work. Yet “we,” by which I mean the whole world, or at least its community of nation states and terrorists (a single entity, as far as I can tell), go back to this suicidal behavior again and again and again. “France is at war.” We greet terror with revenge. It accomplishes nothing except to make matters worse — infinitely worse — but somehow it feels right at the time, so we keep doing it.
Why are we violent but not illiterate?
I ask this question all the time. It was originally posed some years ago by Washington Post columnist Colman McCarthy. The answer is obvious, of course. We’re taught to read; originally, we taught ourselves to read. We invented written language. The human species is now in the process of inventing something just as crucial: how to love itself, how to engage with itself nonviolently. We’ve been organized for far too long in a state of only partial connection, relying on the presence of enemies to stay in solidarity with our neighbors. We’ve expended, especially in recent millennia, far more of our intelligence and treasure on the means to fortify ourselves from — and kill — the enemy than we have, perhaps, on anything else. Think nuclear weapons.