Guest Commentary (3466)
STEVEN JONAS MD, MPH FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
The Presidential election of 2000 was Karl Rove's first big play on the national stage. He won the election for Bush through a combination of luck (his opponent and the President he was trying to succeed didn't talk to each other much), skill (hiding the true nature of his candidate very well and also managing to get the media by and large to ignore his "military record"), Ralph Nader's 90,000 votes in Florida, threats of violence (which were carried out by a John Bolton-led team that prevented the Miami-Dade Board of Elections from proceeding with its recount, which if it had been done at that stage would have given the election to Gore), and of course a Supreme Court on which the majority was so tilted Republican that it actually said in their opinion, "our giving the election to Bush" cannot be regarded as setting any precedents.
But once getting his man into the White House, Rove went on to have delusions of grandeur that he could create a permanent Republican Majority, and he spoke about it openly. Not that he would be able to do simply by un-manipulated vote totals, of course. And so, in 2004, first he used the issues of religious determinism on gay marriage (the screen for homophobia) and abortion rights to get the necessary Religious Right voters to the polls.
Second, he set up a fairly sophisticated vote-count cheating system, especially in the key swing state of Ohio (in which the vote there, as well as other states, may well have been manipulated in 2000 as well).
BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Anyone who even tangentially follows the travesty that is America's criminal justice system knows that privately owned prison corporations are gaining a deeper foothold in our nation's prisons. The private prison industry lobbies politicians, donates to campaigns of pro-privatization candidates, supports the ongoing War on Drugs, and has helped to shape criminal justice policies like California's three-strikes law. High incarceration rates insure greater profits for the private prison industry.
A new report from In the Public Interest reveals that private prison companies, including two of the largest, the Corrections Corp. of America and Geo Group Inc., are forging deals with state and local governments that provide huge profits based on guaranteed high occupancy rates.
The report, titled "Criminal: How Lockup Quotas and 'Low-Crime Taxes' Guarantee Profits for Private Prison Corporations," "documents the contracts exchanged between private prison companies and state and local governments that either guarantee prison occupancy rates (essentially creating inmate lockup quotas) or force taxpayers to pay for empty beds if the prison population decreases due to lower crime rates or other factors (essentially creating low-crime taxes)," AlterNet's April M. Short recently reported.
ROBERT C. KOEHLER FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
In an agony of stupidity, the government shuts down.
Only some of it shuts down, of course. The part that stays open is the part that's at war. "Those of you in uniform will remain on your normal duty status," the president said. "The threats to our national security have not changed, and we need you to be ready for any contingency. Ongoing military operations, like our efforts in Afghanistan, will continue."
As I once observed, there's no such thing as a relaxed nation. It can shut down what it does right, if clumsily, like feeding people, educating them and helping them through difficulty, but it will only shut down its predatory sense of identity in a state of total defeat by a bigger predator. Not letting that happen is its endless obsession.
This is the sly, primitive, irrational part of government: its reptile-brain function. That's still in full operation. We're continuing to raid, bomb and terrorize Fourth World countries and pointlessly harvest global metadata. We're still "completing our mission" in Afghanistan. We're just phasing out the government functions that have value. Perhaps what we should talk about is a rationality shutdown.
ROBERT SCHEER ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Before he was disgraced into resigning his presidency over the Watergate burglary scandal, Richard Nixon had successfully engineered an even more odious plot known as his Southern Strategy. The trick was devilishly simple: Appeal to the persistent racist inclination of Southern whites by abandoning the Republican Party's historic association with civil rights and demonizing the black victims of the South's history of segregation.
That same divisive strategy is at work in the Republican rejection of the Affordable Care Act. GOP governors are largely in control of the 26 states, including all but Arkansas in the South, that have refused to implement the act's provision for an expansion of Medicaid to cover the millions of American working poor who earn too much to qualify for the program now. A New York Times analysis of census data concludes that as a result of the Republican governors' resistance, "A sweeping national effort to extend health coverage to millions of Americans will leave out two-thirds of the poor blacks and single mothers and more than half of the low-wage workers who do not have insurance, the very kinds of people that the program was intended to help."
JIM HIGHTOWER ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Whacking yourself on the head with a ball-peen hammer would be stupid. But doing it again and again — that's insane.
Welcome to your U.S. House of Representatives, presently led by a pack of Tea Party Republicans. They are so crazed by Obamacare that they repeatedly hammer themselves over the head with it, having voted 46 times (so far) to dismantle, defund, delay, deny, and otherwise destroy this landmark health care bill — all to no avail. They would be hilarious, were they not so pathetic.
But now, their anti-government, anti-Obama obsession has turned into insanity. Acting as though the USA is nothing more substantial than a banana republic, this Tea Party clique of petty potentates has forced a shutdown of our national government. The craziest part of their stunt is the duplicitous claim that finally providing health care for millions of uninsured Americans will have, as one leader of the mad-dog pack put it, "horrific effects."
BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
In 2010, Harold Camping, a founder, and at the time president of Family Stations, Inc., an Oakland, California-based religious broadcasting network, made his boldest proclamation ever: He prophesized that the Day of Judgment would be May 21, 2011, and the world would end on October 21 of that year. May 21 passed without The Rapture, and October 21 was a day like all days ... followed by October 22, 23, and so on and so on and doobie doobie doobie, as Sly and the Family Stone famously sang.
Now, along comes Larry Klayman -- the founder and former chairman of Judicial Watch who is now running a group call Freedom Watch --with his own End Times scenario. This time, however, the only target for Klayman's End Times is President Barack Obama.
Klayman is advocating a November 19, uprising that will jam the streets of Washington, D.C., and force the removal of Obama from the White House.
In a piece published at Renew America and titled "Obama's reckoning to come on November 19!: Klayman Calls for the Masses to Force Resignation of Convicted President," Klayman maintained that Obama was recently convicted by "a people's court of defrauding the American people and Floridians by proffering them with a fake birth certificate."
NNAMDI F. AKWADA FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
In his attempt to encourage the Republican Party to bring up the clean continuous resolution (CR) appropriation bill to the floor of the House of Representatives for a vote and approving the debt ceiling, President Barack Obama indicated that the United States was not a Banana Republic and a deadbeat. Banana Republic is the racial pejorative phrase that was coined and used by the British and other western countries to describe the same colonial protectorates that they stole from to enrich their coffers. These countries were left with vast populations of poor people, intractable political difficulties to benefit the chosen ones and the west, with colonial mentality elites who govern with the venial of entitlement and administer resources with the tint of impunity.
An objective analysis of the "Banana Republic" terminology will reveal the indispensable facts that the United States of America is the current numero uno Banana Republic. This is the country where a small segment of the country led by the Tea Party and Republicans are hell-bent on ingraining their own status quo on the larger society by ensuring that millions of their fellow citizens are without health insurance and coverage. These Republican representatives and Tea Party zealots in congress who are mostly millionaires have hijacked the term "the American People," though they represent the minority within the minority that has continued to decline amidst their quest to take their country back.
PAUL BUCHHEIT FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Conservative columnist Thomas Sowell recently declared, "The history of the 20th century is full of examples of countries that set out to redistribute wealth and ended up redistributing poverty."
Ironically for thinkers like him, the last 35 years have redistributed U.S. poverty by redistributing wealth to the rich. The middle class, once the backbone of a strong American society, has been broken, beaten down, pushed further and further toward poverty levels. Here are five well-documented ways that this has happened.
1. Income Redistribution Is Worse Than Usually Reported
We are told that the richest 1% doubled its share of income in the past thirty years. But from 1980 to 2006, according to both IRS and CBO figures, they nearly TRIPLED their share of income -- and that's after-tax income.
After 2006, the recession set everyone back temporarily, but in the first two years of the recovery, the richest 1% captured an incomprehensible 121% of the income gains (others saw debt rise faster than income).
JOE CONASON ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
By Washington standards, the current government shutdown is an everyday disaster — of a kind we are gradually learning to expect whenever the Republican Party controls Congress. The impending breach of the nation's credit, however, when those same Republicans refuse to raise the debt limit to cover the funds they have spent, threatens a singular catastrophe: unpredictable, global, yet entirely avoidable.
The blame for this disgrace seems to be apportioned properly by most Americans, according to the latest polling data. But the future of the country and the world may well rest on whether voters understand the roots of this crisis — in a party controlled by an extremist faction that is violating every public value that party has supposedly espoused for 30 years and more.
Republicans used to tell us, often with a self-righteous air, that they were the true upholders of constitutional order, the rule of law, fiscal probity, personal responsibility, majority rights and market principles. In their unquenchable zeal to oppose President Obama and all his works, they have discarded every one of those ideals.
They have closed down the government, with all the costs and sorrows that has imposed on the American people, in order to save us all from the Affordable Care Act — a law duly passed under the Constitution and declared to be so by a majority of the Supreme Court, including its very conservative chief justice.
BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Texas Senator Ted Cruz may not win any Mr. Congeniality award, but his recent 21-hour stint at the podium in the Senate trashing Obamacare and bashing fellow Republicans may help him win the hearts and minds of tea party supporters, the Religious Right, and a segment of libertarians. Could that be enough for him to win the GOP's presidential nomination in 2016?
Steve Deace is beginning to think so. "Come January 2017, if you see Ted Cruz taking the presidential oath of office, you'll largely have the Republican Party establishment that hates him to thank for it," Deace recently wrote at Conservative Action Alerts.
Deace, a radio talk show host, claimed that the "sophomoric and treacherous" behavior of GOP officials has essentially "helped elevate the junior Texas senator from 'wacko bird' beloved by the base to a force of nature capable of something no movement conservative has done since Ronald Reagan."
Whatever else one might say about Cruz, there is no mistaking his campaign against Obamacare for a charm offensive. And along the way, his citing of British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain's pre-World War Two capitulation to the Nazis, was aimed at calling out fellow Republicans for their unwillingness to fight Obamacare to the bitter end.