BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
In 1995, in the aftermath of the Oklahoma City bombing President Bill Clinton charged that there are "purveyors of hate and division" on U.S. airwaves who "leave the impression, by their very words, that violence is acceptable." Clinton was immediately denounced by right-wing talk radio hosts and their allies for "politicizing" the bombing.
Fifteen years later, Clinton spoke at an event marking the anniversary of the bombing organized by the Center for American Progress, and his “message was clear: Debate and free speech are essential, but leaders must be ‘responsible’ with their words because they fall on the ‘serious and the delirious alike,’ and it only takes one deranged person like Timothy McVeigh to cause massive harm,” Alex Seitz-Wald reported at the web site of Think Progress.
JACQUELINE MARCUS FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
To deny climate change amounts to committing political suicide. When asked about climate change, Romney gave a shockingly ignorant answer: “I don’t know what’s causing climate change.” Paul Ryan won’t even acknowledge the scientific evidence or the weather extremes brought on by climate change.
I suppose Romney could have got away with that answer in the early 1990s, but a politician loses all credibility if s/he denies climate change these days. Global warming is caused by man-made pollution which is creating life threatening weather extreme conditions that we’re currently facing. In fact, if Romney and Ryan had checked, they’d learn that the major oil industry execs have admitted that global warming is real and that it’s caused from man-made pollution. True they don’t want to part with fossil fuels and they’re desperate to keep drilling for the last few drops left on the planet, but they at least admit it.
NIKOLAS KOZLOFF FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
We’re just a few days into the new Republican ticket, and already, it seems, Mitt Romney has been having second thoughts about his running mate Paul Ryan. A big aficionado of radical right wing views and philosopher Ayn Rand, Ryan favors dramatically scaling back social benefits. Though Romney may have felt that he was obliged to pick Ryan, a darling of the anti-Obama Tea Party, the boyish Congressman from Wisconsin may represent more of a liability than a plus for the GOP ticket. Perhaps fearing that Americans’ may wise up to Ryan’s extremist ideas, Romney recently remarked that he would run on his own budget and not that of his running mate.
Over the next few months, will Ryan be forced to walk back some of his controversial views in the interests of political expediency? It would not be the first time, as revealed in classified documents recently disclosed by whistle-blowing outfit WikiLeaks. In late 2008, in the midst of Washington’s financial crisis, Ryan traveled to South America to meet with political and business leaders as part of a congressional delegation. At the time, countries throughout the region feared contagion as a result of the economic meltdown and, needless to say, few had any great regard for the outgoing Bush administration.
STEPHEN PIZZO FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Over the years as a working journalist I was, more than once, confronted by the occasional psychopath. Most lay people associate the term psychopath with folks like the nut who shot up the Sheik temple or the one that opened fire in the Colorado movie theater. But, in fact, those kind of psychopaths are the minority. Most psychopaths are what professional psychologists describe as, "high functioning psychopaths."
I'll get around in bit to explain why any of this matters, but not just yet. First let's get a handle on the kind of person we are actually talking about here.
BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
It is no secret that casino magnate and GOP super donor Sheldon Adelson’s DNA and bankroll is writ large over this year’s presidential election. From keeping the disgraced former House Speaker Newt Gingrich in the race for the Republican Party’s presidential nomination, to pledging as much as $100 million to defeat President Barack Obama, no one man has already had and will continue to have as big an influence over Election 2012.
During the GOP primaries, Adelson – who is worth just shy of $25 billion -- and his wife Miriam gave $21 million to Gingrich’s super PAC, “Winning Our Future,” which kept him alive long enough for conservatives to split their votes between Gingrich and former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum, thus allowing Mitt Romney to ultimately cruise to victory in the primaries.
SENATOR BERNIE SANDERS FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
"We are now in the midst of the fiercest and best-financed attack against Social Security in our lifetimes," Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) warned today on the 77th anniversary of the most successful program in the modern history of the United States. "Hundreds of millions of dollars are now being spent to destroy Social Security and endanger the well-being of millions of Americans. We must not allow that effort to succeed."
In the years since President Franklin Roosevelt signed Social Security into law on August 14, 1935, the retirement program has been one of the nation's most successful anti-poverty programs. "Before Social Security existed, about half of America's senior citizens lived in poverty," Sanders said. "Today, less than 10 percent live in poverty. Since its inception some 77 years ago, through good economic times and bad, Social Security has paid out every penny owed to every eligible beneficiary. This is a remarkable success story," said Sanders, the head of the Senate Defending Social Security Caucus.
THE DRUG POLICY ALLIANCE FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
On Wednesday, the president of Uruguay submitted a proposal to Parliament to legalize marijuana under government-controlled regulation and sale, making it the first country in the world where the state would sell marijuana directly to its citizens. The proposal signed by Uruguayan President José Mujica is part of a package of measures aimed at fighting crime and requires parliamentary approval before being enacted.
Despite Uruguay being one of the safest countries in Latin America, it has faced an increase in crime from drug gangs due to its position on a drug transit route to Europe via West Africa. The aim of the measure is to combat the rising insecurity in Uruguay by removing the profits of marijuana sales from drug gangs, separating the marijuana market from those for other illegal drugs, and avoiding marijuana users’ exposure to drug dealers who also sell coca paste and cocaine. Additionally, the revenues from marijuana sales will be invested into treatment for problem drug users.
BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
On Saturday, Mitt Romney plucked Paul Ryan out of the political closet. The Wisconsin congressman, who has described himself as not much of a political figure and being above the partisan fray, bounded onto the campaign trail. Although the Washington Post reported a while back that Ryan “has a level of disdain for the sort of rank political calculations required of people who want to climb the electoral ladder,” and Politico noted that Ryan has stated that partisan politics is not his “natural tendency,” he is as partisan as they come.
Regardless of how Ryan views himself or how the GOP attempts to shape the “policy guy” narrative, Ryan has never been above the political fray. He was a strong supporter of President George W. Bush’s fiscal agenda and over his years in Congress, he has voted for a host of conservative issues and initiatives.
PAUL BUCHHEIT FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
A grand delusion has been planted in the minds of Americans, that privately run systems are more efficient and less costly than those in the public sector. Most of the evidence points the other way. Private initiatives generally produce mediocre or substandard results while experiencing the usual travails of unregulated capitalism -- higher prices, limited services, and lower wages for all but a few 'entrepreneurs.'
With perverse irony, the corruption and incompetence of private industry has actually furthered the cause of privatization, as the collapse of the financial markets has deprived state and local governments of necessary public funding, leading to an even greater call for private development.
JEFF FULMER FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
I will admit it, when I read Atlas Shrugged several years ago, I got caught up in the scrawling epic with bigger than life characters. Apparently, Paul Ryan enjoyed it too; so much so that in 2005, at a banquet honoring the author, he said, "The reason I got involved in public service, by and large, if I had to credit one thinker, one person, it would be Ayn Rand.” While he has since tried to walk back from those remarks, it’s clear that the Vice Presidential candidate’s political ideology has been heavily influenced by Alisa Rosenbaum, the Russian immigrant otherwise known as Ayn Rand.
What I initially missed in Atlas Shrugged was the underlying themes of superiority of the successful and a disdain for the less fortunate. In Rand’s novels, the poor are basically lazy dullards who deserve their lot in life. Actually, they deserve worse, if only the government would get out of the way and stop propping them up with hand-outs. The Paul Ryan budget proposal, which propelled him to national prominence, reflects the same basic belief system. If the Ryan plan were passed, it would deny eight million people food stamps, thirty million people access to healthcare, and send two million kids into poverty; all the while giving even more tax cuts to the wealthiest in society.