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Bill Berkowitz for BuzzFlash at Truthout 

The Republican Jewish Coalition is hosting a presidential-candidates forum on Wednesday, December 7 at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center in Washington, D.C.

Guess which candidate isn't being invited to participate.

Published in EditorBlog

Mark Karlin, Editor of BuzzFlash on Truthout 

In less than a month, the Iowa caucuses will take place on January 3, 2012.

After the joy of the holiday season, the celebration of a new year, one thing will be certain. On that day, the GOP faithful in Iowa will eat a big bowl of stupid.

As Paul Krugman points out in his December 5 column:

The larger point, however, is that whoever finally gets the Republican nomination will be a deeply flawed candidate. And these flaws won't be an accident, the result of bad luck regarding who chose to make a run this time around; the fact that the party is committed to demonstrably false beliefs means that only fakers or the befuddled can get through the selection process.

Americans became so used to the comforts and unilateral power of empire in the latter part of the 20th century that a significant segment of the population developed its own alternative worldview. This is an outlook and set of "principles" that are not based on facts and actual needs, but rather reflect fantasies - and a retreat to the comfort of a revisionist history of the nation, the world and even evolution.

As Krugman observes:

Yet as I said, the only way to actually believe the modern G.O.P. catechism is to be completely clueless.

And that's why the Republican primary has taken the form it has, in which a candidate nobody likes and nobody trusts has faced a series of clueless challengers, each of whom has briefly soared before imploding under the pressure of his or her own cluelessness. Think in particular of Rick Perry, a conservative true believer who seemingly had everything it took to clinch the nomination - until he opened his mouth.

Knowledge used to be a virtue, a way of advancing oneself and improving the world. Now, among many Republicans, intelligence is something to be viewed as suspicious, a tool of "subversives" who seek to "fool" the true believers. These Republican apostles are the political equivalent of people who believe that snake oil is a cure for cancer.

Published in EditorBlog


Rev. Cary Gordon of Iowa wants you to know that the evangelical community should get behind two candidates who best represent "faith and family." In case you don't know of Reverend Gordon, he introduces himself in an endorsement video.

In an email received by BuzzFlash at Truthout, Gordon advocates for GOP Iowa caucus voters to back a Rick Santorum-Michele Bachmann ticket (although caucus attendees can only back a presidential candidate, which would be Santorum, according to Gordon).

In his email, Gordon is just gaga over a Santorum-Bachmann ticket:

Santorum and Bachmann, Gordon says, have both pledged to reinstate the military's longstanding "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy against open homosexuality, reversed earlier this year by President Obama. "Rick and Michele would make a great GOP match, and would defend Judeo-Christian monogamy, while I think it's increasingly clear Gingrich simply cannot be trusted with the institution of marriage in any sense," Gordon said.

"I think the 2010 Esquire interview with Newt's second ex-wife and former mistress was very troubling," he said. During his recorded interview, Gordon also praised Santorum for championing a Personhood Amendment to the Constitution, something the pastor said was necessary if Americans wished to "stop the barbaric evil of abortion once and for all." Gordon also stated, "Rick Santorum is committed to rescuing this nation from economic disaster, and that's good news for everyone concerned about their families."

O.K., one doesn't know where to begin with this fantasy vision of Rick "man on dog" Santorum, the guy who just a day or so ago expressed his opposition to ensuring that kids with pre-existing conditions are provided health insurance. This is the Santorum, who just a few days ago said that it is good for the poor to struggle with hunger and poverty. This is the Santorum who is proud of endorsements from anti-gay extremists.

Published in EditorBlog

What if Occupy Wall Street is really part of a continuum of progressive mobilization that has been occurring for some time?

Take for example the Wisconsin uprising against Gov. Scott Walker that began months ago and drew more than 100,000 people to the small state capital of Madison. For days, union members, workers, progressives, students, and others rallied together to fight back against an onerous law that was an attack on the economic well-being and dignity of workers.

Other examples of rumblings of discontent and successful action (e.g., the Keystone XL Pipeline protests) among the pro-democracy movement abound. Most recently, Ohio Gov. John Kasich's effort to begin dismantling collective bargaining rights was overwhelmingly repudiated at the ballot box. Organizing a citizens' initiative, as was done in Ohio, to nullify an anti-workers' law - and passing it by a landslide - takes a tremendous amount of energy, organization and shoe leather.

Published in EditorBlog


"Reading newspapers does not give you an uplifting experience, because it never really makes it clear that you won the Irish Sweepstakes," Ohio Republican Gov. John Kasich inscrutably commented at a recent news conference.

Given that Kasich was just battered by a landslide voter rejection of his legislation to end collective bargaining, you'd think that he'd realize that he doesn't have the luck of the Irish.

Kasich was, if one wants to travel down memory lane, Newt Gingrich's point man on the economy when they were both in Congress and Gingrich was speaker of the House. Kasich was sort of the Paul Ryan of his day.

Now, he's an electorally disgraced governor who brags about not being informed. As the web site Political Carnival pointed out, ignorance about the news is touted as a virtue for many Republicans, including Sarah Palin and former President George W. Bush.

The famous British satirist Jonathan Swift wrote in a droll commentary, "This is the sublime and refined point of felicity called the possession of being well-deceived, the serene peaceful state of being a fool among knaves."

Published in EditorBlog


How do you put the First Amendment through a shredder, prevent media coverage and arrest and rough up journalists when you don't want the world to see what you are up to? The answer: become the mayor of New York.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg is not the only elected official who is suppressing a free press guaranteed in the Constitution. But he has best perfected the tin horn dictator art of physically obstructing journalists. Just look at the smashing of Occupy New York under the cover of darkness.

Using the "1984" excuse of "protecting" journalists, Bloomberg has allowed the New York Police Department (NYPD) free rein to prevent the Fourth Estate from being anywhere near questionable police activity. As a result, reporters have gotten roughed up and arrested for doing their jobs.

It's gotten so bad that The New York Times - normally deferential to Bloomberg - printed a November 25 editorial deploring the aggressive NYPD effort to suppress the reporting of, among other actions, the raid on Occupy Wall Street in Zuccotti Park. The Times was blunt in its outrage:

In many countries, using a camera or taking notes can get you into trouble. That is not supposed to happen in New York City. Yet as police cleared Occupy Wall Street protesters from Zuccotti Park in Lower Manhattan on Nov. 15, a number of journalists were roughed up and arrested. Many were prevented by police from documenting what happened that night ...

Before clearing tents and other structures from Zuccotti Park, for example, a police representative asked journalists in the area for press credentials. Reporters and photographers do not need credentials to be in a public area. The passes are supposed to give them better access, but those who admitted having passes were instead herded to a penned area blocks away from the police action.

At another spot closer to the park, police were carrying a protester covered with blood when a photographer raised his camera. When two police officers spotted the camera, they shoved a barricade into the photographer, screaming that he was not permitted to take pictures even though he was on the sidewalk.

In a chilling video, one courageous journalist tries to get the NYPD to allow him to do his job and report the news. Fortunately, the police did not have the "foresight" to intimidate the person recording the encounter.

Published in EditorBlog



Reince Priebus, chairman of the Republican National Committee, sent me an email enticing to me to buy Republican swag as a gift for the holidays. Frankly, I thought it was a parody when I looked at the individual items.

One of the bumper stickers I am still wrapping my brain around for some sense of sanity says, "Vote Democrat: It's Easier Than Working." Then, there's a button that evokes a GOP rapture of sorts: "Visualize No Liberals."

Of course, for sale is the inevitable Republican freeloader slogan: "If You're Not Outraged, You're Not Paying Taxes." Ah yes, "the everything for nothing party."

Priebus' offering of holiday gifts manages to be hypocritical and unimaginative at the same time - sort of like second grade insults.

But what makes it all the more perplexing is how the Republican Party in DC - short of the libertarian wing such as Ron Paul - vigorously affirms subsidizing corporations and Wall Street with tax dollars. That's socialism for the moneyed class that the GOP supports.

This most recently came to light, ironically, with a Bloomberg news report, "Secret Fed Loans Gave Banks $13 Billion."

This occurred under the Bush administration, and it was a clear taxpayer subsidy in the billions of dollars to Wall Street that were not paid back. As Bloomberg Markets magazine reveals, "no one calculated until now that banks reaped an estimated $13 billion of income by taking advantage of the Fed's below-market rates."

This means the working stiff that the GOP so blithely mocks in its holiday "gifts" underwrote Wall Street with taxpayer dollars to the tune of billions of dollars.

Bloomberg news also notes in its analysis of the Troubled Asset Relief Program, "While Fed officials say that almost all of the loans were repaid and there have been no losses, details suggest taxpayers paid a price beyond dollars as the secret funding helped preserve a broken status quo and enabled the biggest banks to grow even bigger."

Published in EditorBlog


Despite the attempt to create a sense of televised urgency with Michael Bloomberg starring as the savior of the public from an "imminent terrorist attack" by NYC resident Jose Pimental, this past Sunday's NYC news event -- co-starring the NYPD commissoner -- was another failed attempt to shore up the multi-billionaire mayor's plummeting image.

Published in EditorBlog


In an initial attempt to justify the horrific and sadistically carried out pepper spraying of seated, non-violent protesters at the University of California Davis, the chief of the university of police claimed that the students had trapped the cops:" “Officers were forced to use pepper spray when students surrounded them”, said UC Davis Police Chief Annette Spicuzza. “There was no way out of the circle”.

But quickly available videos showed that Police Chief Annette Spicuzza either authorized the use of massive amounts of toxic and torturous chemicals on nonviolent, peaceful advocates based on faulty information or she lied. Since the videos show how egregiously incorrect Police Chief Spicuzza was, one can readily speculate the latter.

Indeed, in this particular video -- one of many -- the police appear to surround the group of passively sitting students. In fact, the main police officer who pepper sprayed the students as though he were cleaning his car stepped over them in order to ensure he could inflict the most pain by dousing them in their faces. Meanwhile other officers mingled around on both sides of the victims of the police chemical attack.

Perhaps the truth telling of the modern instant Internet video posting age is the reason that Police Chief Spicuzza has been "temporarily" put on paid leave.

Published in EditorBlog

It may be that in the nano-second passage of news and our attendant inability to look beyond the crises, sensational celebrity scandals and political idiocies of the moment we can quickly forget the child abuse scandal at Penn State, but we shouldn't if American values stand for moral principles beyond tailgate parties at football games.

Former Penn State "legendary" defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky -- right hand man to "legendary" now ex-Nittany coach Joe Paterno -- has been accused of being a serial child sex abuser by the attorney general of the state of Pennsylvania, as detailed in a BuzzFlash commentary, "You Can Say This for the Child Sex Abuse Scandal at Penn State: It Gave the Vatican a Break."

It's still not clear whether suspicions or knowledge of Sandusky's alleged rape of children was responsible for his unexpected 1999 resignation from the Penn State coaching staff and resulting retirement. But it is clear, from many accounts, that Sandusky was allowed full access to Penn State, including the football training facilities.   Indeed, it was in 2002 that Mike McQueary, now a Nittany football coach himself on temporary leave, saw Sandusky forcing anal sex upon a young boy in the team shower room.

According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, as BuzzFlash at Truthout previously noted:

Twenty of the 40 crimes with which Sandusky is charged allegedly took place during the time he worked for Paterno, including three counts of involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, a first-degree felony.

One accuser, now 27, testified that Sandusky initiated contact with a "soap battle" in the shower that led to multiple instances of involuntary sexual intercourse and indecent assault at Sandusky's hands, a grand jury report said.

With all the analysis, including our own at BuzzFlash at Truthout, something was extremely troubling -- in a story full of wretchedly shameful and criminal details that likely are still to be uncovered -- that a strapping college football assistant wouldn't immediately attempt to save a child from sexual deviancy by attempting to stop Sandusky.  In fact, McQueary apparently left the boy to be raped and did not remove him from Sandusky's control (although in a later account -- after the indictment of Sandusky -- McQueary claimed to friends that he had stopped the assault). But the grand jury indictment indicates that McQueary left abruptly and after the fact called his father to ask him what to do. His father, astonishingly, told him to leave the building. McQueary later reported the incident to Paterno.

Why didn't he just yell to Sandusky to stop or hit him over the head with a football helmet? Who would not attempt to halt the heinous act at once? What kind of disassociation from the reality of protecting our children from sexual predators would apparently lead McQueary to abandon the child to Sandusky's sexual abuse? That is indeed a puzzler, from a gut level of the loathing, disgust and intervention that basic decency called for.

The grand jury report indicting Sandusky for multiple counts of sexual child abuse over a period of years details McQueary's encounter with Sandusky's anal rape of a 10 year old. It states -- and this is the official court record of grand jury testimony -- that as McQueary,

entered the locker room doors he was surprised to find the lights and showers on. He then heard rhythmic, slapping sounds. He believed the sounds to be those of sexual activity. As the graduate student [McQueary's position at the time] put the [his] sneakers in the locker, he looked into the shower. He saw a naked boy, Victim 2, whose age he estimated to be 10 years old, with his hands up against the wall, being subjected to anal intercourse by a naked Sandusky. The graduate assistant was shocked but noticed that both Victim 2 and Sandusky saw him. The graduate assistant left immediately, distraught.

Published in EditorBlog
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