BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
From his early days in the securities industry to his involvement with junk bonds, from serial bankruptcies to multiple violations of environmental standards, from polluting coal mines and steel mills to war profiteering, the Brooklyn, New York-born Ira Leon Rennert has apparently profited from a degenerative ethics disorder.
Now the billionaire whose lead smelters have caused irreparable harm to children; whose use of bankruptcy law evades environmental liabilities, whose RG Steel Sparrows Point mill will likely get away with not having to pay Baltimore the more than $5.4 million it owes the city for water and treated sewage, whose Humvee manufacturing company raked in millions of dollars from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and, whose so-called support for Israel had him help fund restoration of an ancient tunnel system near Jerusalem's Wailing Wall, where the 1996 opening of a long-blocked route set off deadly riots, has incurred the wrath of a gaggle of millionaires in the Hamptons.
THOM HARTMANN AND GREG PALAST FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
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STEVE JONAS FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
It has been said, or at least implied, that Mitt Romney doesn't have any core values.
For example, in a column in The New York Times on June 27, 2012 entitled "Election 2012 Pop Quiz!" Nicholas Kristof illustrated six major policy issues on which the GOP's Presidential candidate has at different times taken diametrically opposed positions. He has said that he would "preserve and protect a woman's right to choose" and has also said (more recently) that he would fight to overturn Roe v. Wade. (Mr. Kristof did not point out that last year he supported the Mississippi "Personhood Amendment," that would have defined a fertilized [human, presumably] egg as a person.) He has said that he is for "full equality for America's gay and lesbian citizens" and has also said (more recently) that marriage has traditionally been between one man and one woman. (The latter is a particularly interesting position to take for a Mormon who had one grandfather who had 5 wives, one of whom, presumably, was one of Romney's grandmothers.)
At different times, Romney has been for and against "government economic stimulus." On the issue of global warming/climate change due to human causation he has taken both sides, the scientifically correct one and the extractive-industries-generated mythological pone, at different times. On the necessity for some form of national health insurance, again at different times he has been for and against it. He has been both for and against financial bailouts for certain kinds of institutions. Finally, to quote directly from Kristof, "Before entering politics, he [Romney] was a registered independent, and on 2002 he declared, ‘People recognize that I am not a partisan Republican, that I'm someone who is moderate, and that my views are progressive.' " So does all of this mean that Romney has no core values, that he just goes along with what he thinks are the politically convenient/correct positions to take at any one time in his political career? Well, I don't think so, and here's why.
WILLIAM RIVERS PITT FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Truth be told, a very, very small part of me has actually been feeling a swell of pity for GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney as these last weeks have unfolded.
This poor sad sack has been getting battered at every turn: the Supreme Court turned his whole show sideways with their rulings on the Arizona immigration law and Obama's health care legislation; when the mandate was upheld as constitutional, he staggered towards the argument that it isn't a tax before reeling back to the position that it is a tax after taking a terrible beating from his own people; his appearance before the NAACP was slightly less well-received than a bad case of the shingles; what was supposed to be his greatest strength as a candidate - his business experience - has become a rotting albatross around the neck of his campaign; and, until this afternoon, the worst part of this whole sordid mess came when conservative pundits like George Will stated in public that he should release his dreaded tax returns, lest he appear to be hiding something.
DEE EVANS FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Over the weekend, the Obama campaign put out a pretty clever campaign video of Mitt Romney singing "America the Beautiful" while displaying various news headlines of Romney/Bain outsourcing claims. I guess because the spot received such notice, the Romney campaign has once again followed the Obama campaign's lead and put out its own video of President Obama singing "Let's Stay Together".
Okay, about this "I'm rubber, you're glue" concept of the Romney campaign, one time would be a coincidence, twice may be a fluke but when every time the Obama campaign does something, the Romney campaign does something to mirror it...now, it's just bordering on lazy. Is it me, or does it seem that everything the Romney campaign says, does or utters is based on what the Obama campaign says, does or utters? Everywhere President Obama goes, Mitt Romney's campaign follows (circling and honking the bus horn by the way...ugh!). When everything you say, do or think is only based on what someone else says, does or thinks, I really think you're losing the battle. By the way, isn't Mitt Romney the one who just recently stated, "When you're responding, you're losing." Very astute synopsis; maybe his campaign staffers missed that memo.
WILL DURST FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
All of America should drop to its knees and thank the GOP for providing us with replacement fireworks. As you undoubtedly are aware, cities all over the country this year were forced to cancel Fourth of July festivities due to fear of fire, glitchy computers and twitchy bureaucrats. Like there's another kind.
The Republican House took great pains to salve our sensory deprived souls by trying to set off enough indoor fireworks to make the San Diego Big Bay Bust look like a fluttering votive candle. It was designed to be a spectacular explosion fueled by ego, obstinacy and behavior so self- absorbed, the casual bystander might assume we were in the middle of an election year.
BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
You wouldn't recognize him on the street and he definitely isn't a household name, but the Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, the President of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference is more than ready for his close-up. With the country's demographics rapidly changing and immigration no longer on the back burner -- but not quite on the front one either -- Rodriguez is becoming more influential with both sides of the political aisle, has been in regular contact with Team Romney, and is drawing ever so much closer to a number of conservative Christian evangelical leaders.
In short, this is Reverend Rodriguez's time.
PAUL BUCHHEIT FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Wealthy individuals and corporations want us to believe they've made it on their own, without the help of government or the American people. Billionaire financier Sanford Weill blustered, "We didn't rely on somebody else to build what we built." He was echoing the words of his famous predecessor, the formidable financier J. P. Morgan, who spouted, "I owe the public nothing."
That's the bull of Wall Street. There are at least five good reasons why the wealthiest Americans need government as much as the rest of us, and probably more.
In his "People's History," Howard Zinn described colonial opposition to inequality in 1765: "A shoemaker named Ebenezer Macintosh led a mob in destroying the house of a rich Boston merchant named Andrew Oliver. Two weeks later, the crowd turned to the home of Thomas Hutchinson, symbol of the rich elite who ruled the colonies in the name of England. They smashed up his house with axes, drank the wine in his wine cellar, and looted the house of its furniture and other objects. A report by colony officials to England said that this was part of a larger scheme in which the houses of fifteen rich people were to be destroyed, as part of 'a war of plunder, of general levelling and taking away the distinction of rich and poor.'"
That doesn't happen much anymore. Of course, the super-rich aren't taking any chances, with panic shelters and James Bond cars and personal surveillance drones. But the U.S. government will be helping them by spending $55 billion on Homeland Security next year, in addition to $673 billion for the military. The police, emergency services, and National Guard are trained to focus on crimes against wealth.
In the cities, business interests keep the police focused on the homeless and unemployed. And on drug users. A "Broken Windows" mentality, which promotes quick fixes of minor damage to discourage large-scale destruction, is being applied to human beings. Wealthy Americans can rest better at night knowing that the police are "stopping and frisking" in the streets of the poor neighborhoods.
GERALD SCORSE FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
The "big lie" is a propaganda technique linked to the Third Reich under Joseph Goebbels. The phrase itself was coined by Hitler in Mein Kampf; it was amplified years later by Goebbels, who generally gets credit for it (if credit is the right word). Goebbels claimed that the inspiration came from across the Channel: "The English follow the principle that when one lies, one should lie big, and stick to it." The Third Reich is long gone, but the "big lie" lives on.
SENATOR BERNIE SANDERS FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
WASHINGTON, July 12 - Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) issued the following statement today on reports that the uniforms to be worn by U.S. Olympic athletes during the opening ceremony for the summer games were made in China:
"The Olympics are a time when Americans take great pride in our nation's top athletes as they strive for gold. At a time when millions of Americans are unemployed, there is no reason why U.S. Olympic uniforms are not being manufactured in the U.S. This action on the part of the U.S. Olympic Committee is symbolic of a disastrous trade policy which has cost us millions of decent-paying jobs and must be changed."