EUGENE ROBINSON ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
It was a necessary retreat, but President Obama made clear Thursday that his bottom line remains unchanged: "I'm not going to walk away from 40 million people who have the chance to get health insurance for the first time."
The president's pledge should be the nation's bottom line as well. It came as Obama surrendered to overwhelming pressure, much of it from fellow Democrats, and allowed individuals to keep their bare-bones insurance policies that do not meet the Affordable Care Act's standards -- at least for a year. The change was meant to correct an imbalance that cannot long be tolerated: More people are being annoyed and inconvenienced by the new law than are being helped.
It should be the other way around, and Obama accepted the blame. "There have been times where I thought we were kind of, you know, slapped around a little bit unjustly," he said. "This one's deserved, all right? It's on us."
The only semi-dodge was when Obama apologized, kind of, for his repeated assertion that Americans who were satisfied with the health insurance coverage they already have would be able to keep it. "There is no doubt that the way I put that forward, unequivocally, ended up not being accurate," he said.
"Ended up not being accurate" is a phrase I might try the next time I have to correct an erroneous fact or a misattributed quotation. I doubt my editors will let me get away with it.
Overall, however, Obama was as contrite as I've ever seen him, and also as resolute. We screwed up, he effectively said, but we're not backing down.
ROBERT C. KOEHLER FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
I felt the music and the fire as the civil rights movement rose from its slumber.
"Repair . . . justice!" went the call and response last week, in the basement of an old Chicago church at the corner of Ashland and Washington. "Restore . . . life! Rebuild . . . community!"
There was Gospel music and hand-clapping, passion and politics. The Reclaim Campaign launched and the Rev. Alvin Love said, "This is just the beginning. It's going to take all of us. We're going to leave this place mobilized, energized and activated. The work begins NOW."
The kids are dying. That's what they call Chicago: "Chiraq." The situation has to change; the community has to rebuild.
"Why is so much violence acceptable?" high school senior Keann Mays-Lenoir asked the audience of about 300 people. "Why are adults sitting back and allowing it to happen? We're in fear of our lives at school. We don't know who will be shot down next. It is not OK for any child to die senselessly.
"It is not OK that my friends and I have already planned our funerals."
JOE CONASON ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
When Wendy Davis proclaimed that she is "pro-life" — a description long since appropriated by conservatives opposed to abortion rights — the right-wing media practically exploded with indignation. How could she dare to say that? But having won national fame when she filibustered nearly 12 hours against a law designed to shutter Lone Star State abortion clinics, the Texas state senator with the pink shoes doesn't hesitate to provoke outrage among the righteous.
Speaking to a crowd at the University of Texas in Brownsville last Tuesday, Davis, now running for governor as a Democrat, made a deceptively simple but profound declaration: "I am pro-life. I care about the life of every child: every child that goes to bed hungry, every child that goes to bed without a proper education, every child that goes to bed without being able to be a part of the Texas dream, every woman and man who worry their children's future and their ability to provide for that."
Her argument directly pierced to the contradiction within the right's "pro-life" sloganeering. So far the feeble answer from the right is that Davis must be "lying" because nobody who supports a woman's right to choose is pro-life.
But that response is merely a repetition that seeks to evade her deeper philosophical thrust. Whatever anyone may think about abortion, the persistent question for self-styled pro-lifers is why they tend to insist on making life so much more difficult for so many children who have entered the world. The same Republicans — and they are nearly all Republicans — most vocally opposed to reproductive rights are also most likely to cut assistance to poor families, infants and children at every opportunity, from the moment of birth long into adolescence and beyond.
ERIC ZUESSE FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
I covered previously the decades-long Koch-operation that got us to where we are (see those earlier posts here, and here, and here, and here). I shall now describe the money-trail from there to Senator Ted Cruz, who directly headed the shutdown-effort in the U.S. Congress.
The two chief contributors to Cruz's political career donated over a million dollars to it (and no other entity donated as much as $100,000 to it). These two top sources of contributions to Mr. Cruz's political career were Club For Growth, and Senate Conservatives Fund, which together donated over a million dollars to it.
Here now is some background on the two top funders of Cruz's career:
The Club for Growth, which was the top donor ($700,000+) to Cruz, was founded in 1999 by Steve Moore. As Right Wing Watch has noted, "Before founding the Club for Growth, Moore was the director of fiscal policy at the Cato Institute, and has stayed on as a Senior Fellow." Here is how iron the Koch's control over the Cato Institute was, and is: David Weigel at slate.com bannered on 25 June 2012, “Ed Crane Steps Down to End Koch Brothers’ Attempted Coup at Cato,” and Weigel reported that the Kochs were firing Crane (who by that time was America’s longest-serving think-tank CEO), because he wasn’t doing a good enough job to “provide intellectual ammunition that we can then use at Americans for Prosperity and our allied organizations” in order to oust Barack Obama and the Democrats, and replace them with Republicans.
As the Right Wing Watch report also noted regarding the leadership of the Club For Growth: "Board Members: CFG President Pat Toomey; Vice President Chuck Pike [who was Toomey's long-time buddy]; Richard Gilder, formerly Chairman of the Manhattan Institute; and Thomas Rhodes, President of National Review magazine," and the CFG is "associated with a variety of right-wing organizations, including the Heritage Foundation." Each one of those entities and persons has been the recipient of much Koch "charitable" cash, even besides the payments for leadership in the CFG. Club for Growth was also overwhelmingly the largest direct donor to Jim DeMint's political career during 2007-2012 ($157,067 as compared to the #2 direct donor, Scana Corp., which is a S.C. energy company, $49,475); Koch Industries itself was #6 (at $22,000); Club for Growth was also the largest direct donor to DeMint's entire political career.
STEVEN JONAS MD, MPH FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
The movie "12 Years a Slave" is described in a Wikipedia entry presumably written by its makers as an "historical drama film." It is a British-American production based on the book by the same name published in 1853 by the African-American man, Solomon Northrup, who endured this agony. It received a limited release in the United States last month, and will be released in Great Britain in January, 2014.
It will be very interesting to see how wide a release it eventually gets in the U.S. It hardly likely to be shown in very many, if any, theaters in the South, except possibly in those catering almost exclusively to African-American audiences. It would certainly not be well-received by those Southerners (and others) who refer to the First American Civil War as, for example, the "War of Northern Aggression" (a term used by the new President of the National Rifle Association, a man who refers to President Obama as a "fake President" and to Attorney General Holder as "rabidly un-American"), nor to those who refer to it as the "War for Southern Independence."
It is fascinating that the first reference cited in the latter document is: "How Should 12st [emphasis added, and yes, that is exactly how it appears in that document] Century Americans Think about the War for Southern Independence?" In that particular article, the author, a Professor of History appropriately enough at the University of the first Secessionist state, South Carolina, calls the First Civil War "Lincoln's War to Prevent Southern Independence."
Of course, at its center was the struggle by the Slave Power to preserve slavery in the states in which it already existed and to expand the "peculiar institution" to all of the then-remaining Western Territories. This is a movie that shows the full horror of slavery. Horror, that is, to those who view what was done to one group of human beings by another as a horror. Presumably those who characterize the war as one for "Southern Independence" or whatever, don't see it that way.
ROBERT C. KOEHLER FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Another crazed, furious loner shocks the world. This time I'm a little too close to the edge of the chaos.
I gape at the TV in disbelief: I'm supposed to fly out of Los Angeles Airport — Terminal 3, no less — that afternoon, but all I see is footage of scrambling police and snarled traffic. If I'd booked an earlier flight, I could have been sitting there when the 23-year-old gunman shot the TSA agent at the foot of the escalator, then wandered through the gate area with his rifle and his grievances.
There are worse things in life than having to reschedule a flight. I postponed my return to Chicago for two days. Now that I'm back, I'm still thinking about last week's killer-rampage spectacle, which culminated in the wounding and arrest of the suspect, Paul Ciancia. Afterward came the media's smattering of sound-bite psychology.
"There were few people that kept to themselves, and he was definitely one of them," a high school classmate told ABC News.
Good enough. As the headline of the story proclaimed: He was a loner. This is the extent of our official understanding. Loner is the new race card, you could almost say — the catch-all bin that separates bad-guys-with-high-powered-rifles from the rest of us. The important thing is their differentness. Even though mass murder has been on a wild upswing since the 1960s, having increased, by some estimates, as much as fourteenfold since then (well exceeding the rise in population), the people who do these things are different from us. They're loners. That's what matters, according to the superficial media.
JACQUELINE MARCUS FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Last Sunday, on NBC's Meet the Press, David Alexrod and Bob Woodward were invited to the "roundtable" to discuss Obama's low approval ratings. Alexrod replied:
Well, you know, I'm having flashbacks when I hear that number, David, because I remember when I was in the White House in the spring of 2010, and we had the oil leak in the Gulf, and Washington was in a twitter about that. And our numbers were damaged by that. And it was, you know, "Why can't they get it done? Why didn't he know what was going on in the mineral and mine service? This is Obama's Katrina."
And then we plugged the leak, got reparations for the people in the Gulf, helped repair the Gulf. And, you know, it wasn't mentioned in the 2012 campaign. So I think it's very hard to make judgments in the midst.
Bob Wooward responded to Axelrod:
It's a good framing of the question. Obviously we don't know. And you're right, health care is not the BP oil spill, it's something that's going to go on for years and decades.
HARVEY WASSERMAN FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Four climate scientists have made a public statement claiming nuclear power is an answer to global warming.
Before they proceed, they should visit Fukushima, where the Tokyo Electric Power Company has moved definitively toward bringing down the some 1300 hot fuel rods from a pool at Unit Four.
Which makes this a time of global terror.
In response more than 150,000 petition signatures from www.nukefree.org and others will be delivered at the United Nations this Thursday, November 7, asking for a global response to this disaster.
Since March 11, 2011, fuel assemblies weighing some 400 tons, containing more than 1500 extremely radioactive fuel rods, have been suspended 100 feet in the air above Fukushima Daiichi's Unit Four. "If you calculate the amount of cesium 137 in the pool, the amount is equivalent to 14,000 Hiroshima atomic bombs," says Hiroaki Koide, assistant professor at Kyoto University Research Reactor Institute. Former US Department of Energy official Robert Alvarez, an expert on fuel pool fires, calculates potential fallout from Unit Four at ten times greater than what came from Chernobyl.
BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
They're not Birthers, wackos, Christian nationalists, or particularly consumed by whether President Barack Obama is a Marxist or a socialist. Nevertheless they are steadfast conservatives hell bent on turning back the clock on the rights of workers; destroying what's left of organized labor, undermining struggles by non-union workers, and eliminating many of the achievements workers have fought for over the past seventy-five years.
Couched as a response to difficult fiscal conditions, Republican governors and Republican-led state legislatures – many of them in battleground states -- have been working hard at eviscerating the rights of public employees. Public workers, however, aren't the only target of wealthy right-wing funders, major corporate lobbies, and corporate-funded lobbying organizations; non-union and private sector workers are also seen as fair game.
And, despite the bad publicity it received over its involvement with Stand Your Ground legislation in a number of states -- information that was revealed in the wake of the murder of Trayvon Martin -- the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) is playing a prominent role in an anti-labor coalition whose agenda is moving along at breakneck speed.
STEVEN JONAS MD, MPH FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Regular readers of mine may wonder why I am spending so much time on Ted Cruz. He did not get what he apparently wanted out of the last budget/deficit crisis, repeal of “Obamacare.” He is being roundly criticized, even by reactionaries in his own party like Sen. Orrin Hatch and former Sen. Trent (Fix my Porch) Lott, for helping to engineer the government shutdown (being roundly blamed on the GOP) and the threat of fiscal default. Nationally, he is polling terribly. Yet he seems not to care. So why, we must ask, is that so. Because in terms of what his real goals are, he didn’t lose. He won.
Ted Cruz had three goals for his “anti-Obamacare” crusade. First, he was clearly out to make himself the legislative leader of the Tea Party Reactionaries in the House of Representatives. As a Senator, to accomplish this he had to do something very unusual in the Congress: reach across the Capitol Rotunda to the other House. But he did that and he became the most visible leader of the “anti-Obamacare” faction in the Congress. (Oh yes, of course the GOP would love to repeal Obamacare, not, as many observers have noted, because it is a bad law [well, since it leaves the system in the control of the “health” insurance companies it is, but that’s another story] but because they are afraid that it will become at least a modest success --- and guess whose name will be on it forever?)
Second, it is becoming more apparent by the day that he (and his powerful, wealthy, Corporate State backers) wanted to place himself in the running, now, for the 2016 Republican Presidential nomination. (Why, he has already gone to Iowa, with the first primary over two years away.) He sees that his path to doing this is to place himself as far to the Right as he possibly can, continuing to follow through on the “Rightward Imperative” that has been central to the politics of the GOP since the time of Goldwater (of which I have written on a number of occasions).