MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
It's the brazenness of the Tea Party and its GOP hold on the House of Representatives that sometimes still takes one's breath away.
After the temporary resolution to the economic hostage crisis that may flare up again in just a few months, House Budget Chair and Ayn Rand acolyte, Cong. Paul Ryan (R- WI), said that he is committed: "to get this debt under control, to do smart deficit reduction and to do things that we think will grow the economy and get people back to work."
But by virtually every account the GOP Tea Party tactics have cost jobs and seriously dented the gross domestic product over the past few years, and certainly in the past few weeks. Even the very conservative pro-austerity Peter G. Peterson Foundation, as noted by Think Progress, issued a report about the devastating toll of the Republican "pay us a ransom" government by crisis:
The report ... finds that cuts to discretionary spending from 2011 to the present have cost the country 1.2 million jobs and 0.7 percentage points of GDP growth. About three-quarters of the $2.4 trillion in total deficit reduction enacted since the fall of 2010 was in the form of spending cuts. The Peterson-commissioned estimate of what that steep reduction in government expenditures has cost is a bit more conservative than previous estimates by other economists, but only slightly less negative.
An October 17 article in The Atlantic states that "the budget wars since 2010 have cost us 12 months in job creation."
PETER MICHAELSON FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Many haters of Barack Obama claim his policies are stifling their freedom. In fact, they dislike him because he's a shining example of what they refuse to become—a civil, considerate, rational, and powerful (in his own self) human being. They want to tear him down so he doesn't make them feel so personally inadequate.
It's like this the world over. Many Pakistanis resent 16-year-old Malala Yousafzai, who won the European Union's human rights award after surviving a Taliban assassin, because she campaigns for women's educational opportunities. A friend of hers said, "Here in Swat, we have seen the hell that is Taliban rule. And yet, some people still say they would much rather side with the Taliban than Malala. Sometimes people never learn."
Stubbornly resentful people like these hang out in the company of a tenacious trio: denial, resistance, and willful ignorance. They cling to their limited sense of self, embrace the status-quo, and stifle their own inner growth. They are inclined to dislike if not hate anyone who, unlike them, is not suffocating from closed minds and hearts.
Hateful people are beguiled by self-image and diminished by self-centeredness. They can't bring themselves to step out from behind an ego-centered mentality that cuts them off from an appreciation of (and emotional connection to) their own deeper humanity and the people around them. Their ego, which demands allegiance to its self-importance, is experienced as their core or essence. Their only reverence is for the sanctity of self-image. Their hatred is for those who discount this "religion."
JACQUELINE MARCUS FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
There is a lot of discussion about how victims of poverty will get hit the hardest from climate change disasters, but how will radical climate changes impact world economies, and the wealthiest members of society?
The consequences have proven that the poor suffer dramatically more from climate change disasters than the rich, but prosperous businesses are also being severely challenged and impacted. No industry falls alone. In the financial markets, everything is interconnected. Climate change is having a crippling ripple effect across global economies.
Consider Fukushima. It can be scientifically argued that climate change played a role in creating the “extreme conditions” of a record breaking 9.0 magnitude earthquake followed by a massive tsunami that led to the ongoing emergency crisis at Japan’s Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant. The released radiation into the Pacific Ocean and the atmosphere threatens the world as we confront an insolvable nuclear meltdown with no end in sight. We now know that we cannot rely on nuclear power after Fukushima.
Due to the high levels of radiation, most of the agricultural region surrounding Fukushima have been reduced to ghost towns. Japan’s fishing industry has lost billions of dollars from the spilled radiation that has spread as far as California. Take a look at these photos for a close up view of Japan’s decimated economy. Global warming does not spare the rich. Everyone on the ship goes down.
MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Okay, we are being sardonic, but wouldn't the fate of the United States be vastly improved if voters had to pass a sanity test to vote?
That would pretty much keep most of the Tea Party and current House GOP obstructionists from casting ballots, given their paranoid delusional and possibly psychotic state of mind.
After all, the Right Wing has been trying to keep minorities, the young, the poor and the non-white elderly from voting through completely unnecessary voter restriction laws, given that there is virtually no statisically significant voter fraud by individuals at the polls. The effforts are vast and widespread to disenfranchise US citizens from their most fundamental constitutional right: the right to vote.
STEVEN JONAS MD, MPH FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
On October 11, 2013, Texas Senator Ted Cruz, a rising star of the Republican Far Right (otherwise known as the "Tea Party"), addressed the annual "Values Voters Summit," sponsored by the Family Research Council, one of the U.S. Christian Right's leading organizations (so much for separation of church and state, on the Right).
Although the word "value" would lead one to believe that the organization is concerned with many different issues, from the future of our species and others as well, to what value should be put on helping the poor (as Christ would likely have done), the "values" with which the organization and the meetings seemed to be principally concerned with sex: namely abortion rights, gay marriage, and contraception (against all three).
In Senator Cruz' speech, at least the portion of it which I heard, to rousing applause he focused on "American Freedom" and the American tradition of welcoming folks to the country who wanted to work hard and succeed. (I guess that this Harvard Law School graduate could not see the contradiction between his flowing rhetoric on past immigration and immigrants and his total opposition to even the very limited "immigration reform" proposed by his fellow Senator of Cuban-immigrant parentage, Marco Rubio of Florida, and passed by a two-thirds margin in the Senate. [It languishes in the House, but then again the "illegal immigration" issue is one of which the Republican Right will never be able to let go.])
And so, knowing something of the positions that Senator Cruz has taken on a variety of political and policy issues, I thought that it would be useful to review exactly what his views on "American Freedom" are.
ROBERT C. KOEHLER FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
What if we had politicians who believed in the abolition of war with as much passion as the Republican right believes in the abolition of taxes?
For me, the question that immediately follows is: What kind of politics draws power from resources other than the deep pockets of billionaires? Just because the world is sick of war, how will that ever translate into serious political action to defund standing armies and ongoing weapons research? How will it ever cohere into a consensus that has political traction? Does Washington, D.C. only have room for one consensus?
For the Democrats to stand moderately tough against GOP right-wing zealots in defense of the Affordable Care Act, Medicare and Social Security, there's no way they could also — even if they wanted to — stand tough on, let us say, nuclear disarmament or a movement toward demilitarization. Such concepts aren't on or anywhere near the fabled "table" of national debate; they're as marginalized as segregated restrooms. This is a deep problem from the point of view of anyone looking clear-eyed into the future.
"'They were all dying,' she said, 'and there was no medicine, and there was nothing we could do.'"
The speaker is 82-year-old Kono Kyomi, one of the "Hibakusha," or survivors of the atomic blasts that leveled Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945, quoted by the Rev. John Dear. She was part of a delegation of survivors who came to the United States last August to commemorate the anniversary of those blasts and speak of their experiences. Their visit included a trip to Los Alamos, N.M., where the Hiroshima bomb was built and still the center of the country's ongoing nuclear weapons research and production.
MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
On Thursday night, October 17, one of the three "nobel prizes" for agriculture -- The World Food Prize -- will be awarded to the executive vice president and chief technology officer at Monsanto (who specializes in GMO research), Dr. Robert T. Fraley.
Also receiving one of the coveted agricultural honors is Dr. Mary-Dell Chilton, founder and distinguished science fellow, Syngenta Biotechnology, Inc. Syngenta is a competitor to Monsanto in the global GMO and pesticide market.
According to the website of The World Food Prize:
The World Food Prize is the foremost international award recognizing -- without regard to race, religion, nationality, or political beliefs -- the achievements of individuals who have advanced human development by improving the quality, quantity or availability of food in the world.
The Prize recognizes contributions in any field involved in the world food supply -- food and agriculture science and technology, manufacturing, marketing, nutrition, economics, poverty alleviation, political leadership and the social sciences.
BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
If the names of the organizations and funders gearing up for the next big battle in California's Culture Wars sound familiar, that's because they are. In addition to the campaign's chief strategist, many of the same organizations and funders that came together to sponsor Proposition 8 five years ago, are teaming up for a signature gathering campaign to place an initiative on the November 2014 ballot that would overturn a bill that providing protections for transgender public school students, which was recently signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown.
The law, which will go into effect January 1, says schools must allow transgender students to use the bathrooms and locker rooms and play on sports teams that match their gender identification.
According to the Transgender Law Center, which cosponsored the bill with Equality California, 44% of transgender people reported experiencing some form of discrimination, assault, or harassment in 2011.
While it is not surprising that the Religious Right hasn't tired of waging Culture War battles, since, among other things, it provides media opportunities galore fabulous fundraising openings, it is a little surprising that the state's Republican Party – which has diminishing official political standing in the state – would endorse the referendum effort.
EUGENE ROBINSON ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
A crazy thing is happening in shuttered, dysfunctional Washington: Democrats are pushing back.
This phenomenon is so novel and disorienting that many Republicans in Congress, especially the tea party bullies, seem unable to grasp what's going on. They keep expecting President Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to fold like a cheap suit because, well, such a thing has happened before. I guess it's understandable that the GOP might have forgotten the difference between bluffing and actually holding a winning hand.
Late last week, Reid began demanding that Republicans not only reopen the government and raise the debt ceiling but that they also make concessions on the draconian, irrational-by-design budget cuts known as sequestration. In political terms, he is demanding that the GOP pay a price for putting the country through all this needless drama.
Suddenly, Republicans who thought it was fine to hold the government and the economy hostage in order to nullify a duly enacted law -- the Affordable Care Act -- are shocked that Democrats would even suggest tampering with another duly enacted law: the Budget Control Act of 2011, which established the "sequester" cuts.
Was Reid moving the goal posts? Of course he was. That's what negotiators do when they have the upper hand.
PAUL BUCHHEIT FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Columbus Day is a good day to consider American exceptionalism, in the broad sense of superiority. Columbus embraced the doctrine from the start, writing about the Arawak Indians in Haiti: "Great multitudes of men came to the shore, all young and of fine shapes and very handsome...I could conquer the whole of them with fifty men and govern them as I pleased."
Conquer them he did, forcing them to find gold for the Spanish explorers, cutting off their hands if they failed.
In the 1600s the Puritans also deemed themselves exceptional, justifying their beliefs with a quote from the Psalms: "Ask of me, and I shall give thee, the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession." In the Pequot War they annihilated the Native Americans of southern New England.
Equality would be forthcoming, it seems, with the words of the Declaration of Independence: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal." But exceptions were made. George Washington's intentions for the Iroquois Indians in 1779 were to "extirpate them from the country." The Native Americans called Washington the "town destroyer." Washington was just the first of many, many Presidents who believed it was America's role to tell others how to live.