BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
There was a time – and it wasn’t all that long ago -- when “compassionate conservatism” was a bellwether term for conservatives. While some conservatives argued that they were always compassionate, Team George W. Bush made a special effort to emphasize the meme in the 2000 presidential election, going so far as to use it as a campaign slogan. In reality, however, “compassionate conservatism” never really translated itself into public policy – save for a deeply flawed faith-based initiative -- as such issues as income inequality, poverty, gay rights, and racial inequities, never rose to preeminence in the eight years of Bush – and fact were the subject of regressive policies. Nevertheless, in the late nineties, and early two thousands, “compassionate conservatism” was on the table as a political slogan. This of course was before the Obama administration, the Tea Party, the alt-right, and Donald Trump’s takeover of the Republican Party. In 2016, “compassionate conservatism” has morphed into “cutthroat conservatism.”
Over the past several decades, especially since the founding of Pat Robertson’s Christian Coalition, and its subsequent rise as a powerful political force, conservative Christian evangelicals have played a significant role in presidential elections. While many on the Religious Right were less than satisfied with either Senator John McCain in 2008 or Mitt Romney in 2012 and stayed home, those that did turn out to vote, basically closed ranks around both candidates.
The Pew Research Center pegs the number of born-again evangelical Christian American at around the 60 million mark.
This year, however, has witnessed a sort of breaking of the ranks amongst conservative evangelical leaders over whether to support Trump, and concomitantly encourage the troops to work for his election. Jerry Falwell Jr., president of Liberty University, the nation’s most high-profile evangelical college, was an early and enthusiastic Trump supporter. Popular evangelist Paula White and James Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family are also on board the Trump train. On the other side, Michael Farris, a longtime conservative activist and home schooling advocate, isn’t convinced, and has steadfastly refused to endorse Trump, despite receiving a personal visit from Pence.
BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Just before Election Day in November 1982, according to most polls, Tom Bradley, the first African American mayor of Los Angeles, appeared poised to become governor of California. Despite leading in the polls, Bradley lost the election to Republican George Deukmejian. Instead of becoming the first African American governor of California, Bradley became the namesake of something called The Bradley Effect.
The Bradley Effect -- also known as The Wilder Effect -- proposed that voters that said they would vote for the African American candidate were either too embarrassed, or ashamed for fear of being labeled racist, to admit to pollsters that they wouldn’t vote for a Black man as Governor.
According to Ballotpedia, “A related concept is social desirability bias, which describes the tendency of individuals to ‘report inaccurately on sensitive topics in order to present themselves in the best possible light.’ According to New York University professor Patrick Egan, ‘Anyone who studies survey research will tell you one of the biggest problems we encounter is this notion of social desirability bias.’ Some researchers and pollsters theorize that a number of white voters may give inaccurate polling responses for fear that, by stating their true preference, they will open themselves to criticism of racial motivation.”
While most of the above appear to apply particularly to elections where African Americans are facing off again white candidates, this year’s presidential election may contain some of those same dynamics. Some pundits are claiming that a Bradley Effect-like situation might be in play with voters who support Donald Trump, but are un-willing to admit it to pollsters.
PAUL BUCHHEIT FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
There are at least three major American obstacles that are too entrenched in our society to undergo change with anything less than a revolutionary program.
Corporations Continue to Ignore Their Responsibility to Education
The Wall Street Journal says, "Many workers who were laid off in recent decades...don’t have the skills to do today’s jobs. An Apple executive recently lamented, "The U.S. has stopped producing people with the skills we need."
But opportunities for young people have diminished as corporations have rejected their obligation to society. Public colleges and universities have suffered major cuts in funding over the last ten years, while the largest American corporations have avoided hundreds of billions of dollars in taxes by stashing their profits overseas.
Corporate leaders blame government, they blame society, they blame the poor for their own misfortunes. But they don't acknowledge their responsibility to pay for the people and research provided by higher education, especially during the technological boom of the 1990s. Instead they seem to agree with Donald Trump about skipping out on taxes: "That makes me smart." Higher education is one of the main victims of this narcissistic way of thinking.
DAN ZUKOWSKI OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
unconstitutional, calling it a special law that benefits the shale gas industry. The massive Marcellus Shale formation, which underlies a large area of Western Pennsylvania, provides more than 36 percent of the shale gas produced in the U.S.The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has ruled that the state's controversial Act 13 is
The Pennsylvania State Legislature passed Act 13 in 2012 and it was almost immediately challenged by seven of the state's municipalities along with the Delaware Riverkeeper Network and a private physician. The onerous law enabled natural gas companies to seize privately owned subsurface property through eminent domain, placed a gag order on health professionals to prevent them from getting information on drilling chemicals that could harm their patients, and limited notification of spills and leaks to public water suppliers, excluding owners of private wells that supply drinking water for 25 percent of Pennsylvania residents. Act 13 also pre-empted municipal zoning of oil and gas development.
"The decision is another historic vindication for the people's constitutional rights," stated Jordan Yeager, lead counsel on the case representing the Delaware Riverkeeper Network and Bucks County municipalities on the case. "The court has made a clear declaration that the Pennsylvania legislature cannot enact special laws that benefit the fossil fuel industry and injure the rest of us."
On Dec. 19, 2013, the state Supreme Court issued a narrow ruling on the grounds that the law violated the Environmental Rights Amendment of the Pennsylvania Constitution. That ruling returned local zoning rights to municipalities. It also ordered the state Commonwealth Court to reconsider other provisions. The ruling by the Supreme Court issued Wednesday addresses those rulings and should end the litigation.
DAN ZUKOWSKI OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
tiger farms across China, some 6,000 caged cats are kept in filthy conditions and will be killed for dubious medicinal uses and as home decor for the country's newly-rich elite. The sordid business is mostly legal, but hides behind carefully-worded agreements and pretensions of conservation. The issue is expected to be addressed at this week's Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) meeting in Johannesburg.In legal
It is estimated that 60 percent of China's 1.4 billion people use so-called traditional medicines made from tiger bones, rhinoceros horn, bear gall bladder and other exotic animal parts. As China has grown in recent decades, creating a larger middle class and many newly rich entrepreneurs, demand for tiger parts has grown.
China signed on to CITES, but maintains about 200 tiger farms, where tigers are bred to serve this growing market. Claiming that these tiger parts are for domestic consumption, and therefore not subject to the treaty on international trade, China also defends the tiger farms as a captive breeding program that actually helps the species.
However, in 1993, China banned trading in tiger bone, and a 1988 wildlife law that purports to protect endangered species sets forth a policy of "actively domesticating and breeding the species of wildlife."
JIM HIGHTOWER ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
In a 1932 dissenting opinion, Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis noted that the benefit of America's federal structure is that "a single courageous state may, if its citizens choose, serve as a laboratory; and try novel social and economic experiments without risk to the rest of the country."
During my two terms as Texas Agriculture Commissioner, I was lucky enough to get the chance to put the Brandeis proposition into practice. There, we succeeded in establishing a broad network of farmers markets, providing state certification and labeling for organic products, promulgating comprehensive pesticide protections, creating food marketing co-ops, encouraging farmers to grow high-value nonconventional crops (from apples to wine grapes), financing and developing locally-owned ag processing facilities, opening the doors of corporate-controlled commerce so small farmers and food artisans could sell their products in supermarkets and even in international markets, and promoting both water conservation and the use of renewable energy sources, Brandeis' "laboratory" realized!
But — oops — meet unintended consequences of Brandeisian theory: The gaggle of small-minded, far-right extremists who've grabbed the levers of gubernatorial power and established notoriously regressive regimes in Wisconsin, North Carolina, Kansas, Florida, Maine, Michigan, Arizona, Oklahoma, Indiana, and Texas. These governors share an uncanny uniformity in the policies (written by the American Legislative Exchange Council or ALEC) they push and the political language they use — as if operating from a common plan, advancing the same duo of governmental goals:
— To increase the power and profits of the corporate interests that put up the campaign cash that keep the governors in office by delivering subsidies, no-bid contracts, special tax breaks, regulatory benefits, etc.
— To knock down working-class and poor people by such despotic actions as suppressing voter turnout, destroying unions, bashing immigrants, militarizing police forces, slashing education budgets, corporatizing government programs, cutting human services for the needy, holding down wages, using theocratic piety to invade women's bodies and rights, and autocratically pre-empting the democratic authority of activist citizens and local governments.
WALTER BRASCH FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
The New York Post, a Rupert Murdoch tabloid publication that isn’t likely to win a Pulitzer Prize anytime soon, splashed a full page picture of a smiling Jennifer Anniston on its Sept. 21 front cover. In the upper left-hand space it placed all-capitals text: “BRANGELINA 2004–2016.” Inside the Post were four full consecutive pages, and a half page and part of a column deeper in the newspaper, all devoted to one of the most critical social issues facing the country—Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie are getting a divorce.
People magazine put the multi-million dollar couple on its cover, and teased us with the text: “WHY SHE LEFT” and “THE REAL STORY.” US magazine had an “EXCLUSIVE.” ABC, CBS, CNN, FOX NEWS, MSNBC, and NBC evening newscasts all devoted air time to the divorce. “Entertainment Tonight,” “TMZ,” dozens of entertainment-fueled TV programs, Reuters and AP news services, hundreds of daily newspapers and countless online blogs all had coverage of the epic event. The news also dominated the social media, especially Twitter and Facebook.
Barely covered that day by the establishment media was in-depth coverage and analyses of President Obama’s speech the day before at the United Nations general assembly. Also lightly covered was a petition to the UN Human Rights Council by the Standing Rock Sioux sovereign nation to halt construction of a $3.8 billion 1,150 mile pipeline that would not only disturb that nation’s sacred burial grounds and could possibly pollute the Missouri River, but would be built on ground seized by eminent domain by Energy Transfer Partnersof Dallas, Texas.
Why there was negligible coverage of public affairs issues and maximum coverage of a celebrity divorce is based upon economics and poor business practices.
Media profits, once running anywhere from 5 to 30 percent, depending upon the medium, declined significantly in the Great Recession during the last two years of the Bush–Cheney administration. Businesses significantly cut their advertising budgets; consumers stopped subscriptions.
GEORGE LAKOFF FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
As strange as it may sound, the sound symbolism of a name has become an unnamed central issue in the 2016 presidential campaign. As a cognitive linguist, my job is to study the issue and, at the very least, to name it.
Perhaps the best-known discussion of naming occurs in Juliet’s soliloquy in Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. Here is Juliet, proclaiming that all that divides her from Romeo are their family names.
Tis but thy name that is my enemy;
Thou art thyself, though not a Montague.
What's Montague? It is nor hand, nor foot,
Nor arm, nor face, nor any other part
Belonging to a man. O, be some other name!
What's in a name? that which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet;
So Romeo would, were he not Romeo call'd,
Retain that dear perfection which he owes
Without that title.
Shakespeare here was writing about love, not profit or politics. Donald Trump’s father changed the family name from Drumpf to Trump. It was a name change worth billions. Herr Drumpf understood the power of naming, as has his son, who renames his rivals: Lyin’ Ted, Little Mario, Crooked Hillary.
MICHAEL BRUNE OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Máxima Acuña, a 2016 recipient of the prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize, was reportedly attacked at her home in Peru when hitmen illegally entered the property. Máxima was awarded the 2016 Goldman Prize for her fight against the expansion of the Yanacocha Mine, a subsidiary of Colorado-based mining giant Newmont and Peruvian-based mining company Buenaventura. The hitmen that attacked Máxima and her partner, Jaime Chaupe, were reportedly hired by the mining companies.Early Sunday morning,
It is with healing thoughts and a heavy heart we wish Máxima and her partner a quick recovery from this outrageous attack. Máxima has been an inspiration in the fight to protect her land, her livelihood and her community from the greed and destruction of the mining companies operating in Peru. Her bravery and persistence have helped shape the world in untold ways, and we are intensely disturbed by Sunday's events.
The continued attacks and assassinations of the brave environmental and indigenous rights activists around the world is a clear indication that we still have a long way to go to ensure a world that is truly safe, equitable and inclusive for all.
JIM HIGHTOWER ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
To many hard-working people, this is a time of economic uncertainty. Thus, it is important to point out that America's superrich are intentionally and brazenly knocking down the middle class and poor to further enrich themselves. They are aided by clueless, corrupt politicians who don't care about the future of ordinary Americans or of America itself. In these hard times, along comes Donald J. Trump, a swaggering billionaire braggart promising greatness by goading working-class white people into mollifying their pain and anxiety by despising those "other people" situated near them on the social-economic ladder.
The media establishment has erroneously put the "populist" crown on Trump, endorsing his absurd assertion that he might be a billionaire, but he's "our" billionaire, fighting for us commoners!
I'm not telling anyone how to vote, and I certainly understand the inclination to grab the biggest stick you can find to whack the bejeezus out of those holding you and your family down. Trump has sold himself as the biggest, baddest stick around, the "outsider" who pummeled Jeb!, Marco, Ted, and the entire Republican establishment.
But I am here to say, don't be a sucker. There's not a single populist muscle in Donnie's whole plutocratic body. He will sell out wage earners, small business people, and anyone else to serve his own needs or whims, as his lifelong record (as opposed to his recent rhetoric) reveals.