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.
NNAMDI F. AKWADA FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
While listening to the radio some days ago in the Washington DC metro area, there was an interview I heard with an air traffic controller. He was upset that his job had might be eliminated. The shocked controller went onto indicate his Tea Party right wing leaning support for cuts within the government but wondered aloud why his job should be on the cutting block This is not entirely unique as corporations and individual members of the elite 1% club have used their stooges -- such as the main street media to wage regimes of miseducation against public sector workers and to misinform the masses adversely impacted by the greed of the 1%.
So from Cyprus to London England, from Greece to Wall Street America, and from Wisconsin to Ohio there is the renewed 1% mantra to blame the victims of financial gluttony instead of calling out the so-called “makers” (who are really the takers). It works on many, like the air traffic controller who might lose his federal job, but still supports the Tea Party.
These economic casualties which are perceived as mere collateral damage, but are actual systematic byproducts of our national and global economic system are depressed, demoralized, and dejected and become unable to connect the dots between their present jobless or underpaid conditions and the accelerating disparity in wealth. There is a failure to link the corporate jets, CEO bonuses, and offshore accounts to the devastation of gross income inequality and accumulation of wealth. Ours is a race for the crumbs of miserly benefits that greedy elites toss our way. We are swift in condemning homeowners that lost their homes in loan mortgage crises without realizing that they were the pawns of the banking cartels and/or turning a blind eye to the financial scams of banks and financial institutions too-big-to-fail.
STEVEN JONAS MD, MPH FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
The Presidential election of 2000 was Karl Rove's first big play on the national stage. He won the election for Bush through a combination of luck (his opponent and the President he was trying to succeed didn't talk to each other much), skill (hiding the true nature of his candidate very well and also managing to get the media by and large to ignore his "military record"), Ralph Nader's 90,000 votes in Florida, threats of violence (which were carried out by a John Bolton-led team that prevented the Miami-Dade Board of Elections from proceeding with its recount, which if it had been done at that stage would have given the election to Gore), and of course a Supreme Court on which the majority was so tilted Republican that it actually said in their opinion, "our giving the election to Bush" cannot be regarded as setting any precedents.
But once getting his man into the White House, Rove went on to have delusions of grandeur that he could create a permanent Republican Majority, and he spoke about it openly. Not that he would be able to do simply by un-manipulated vote totals, of course. And so, in 2004, first he used the issues of religious determinism on gay marriage (the screen for homophobia) and abortion rights to get the necessary Religious Right voters to the polls.
Second, he set up a fairly sophisticated vote-count cheating system, especially in the key swing state of Ohio (in which the vote there, as well as other states, may well have been manipulated in 2000 as well).
MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Although many progressives have criticized the Dodd-Frank Act as too weak, it clearly has some very positive features. An undisclosed Wall Street whistleblower was just awarded $14 million for information that led to the recovery of millions of dollars in investor funds.
Without the tip, the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) might not have uncovered the Wall Street fraud.
SEC whistlebower monetary awards were made possible by a provision in the Dodd-Frank Act that set up a fund to encourage individuals to step forward with information about financial crimes and regulatory violations. The law also requires that the SEC maintain the confidentiality of the whistleblower.
BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Anyone who even tangentially follows the travesty that is America's criminal justice system knows that privately owned prison corporations are gaining a deeper foothold in our nation's prisons. The private prison industry lobbies politicians, donates to campaigns of pro-privatization candidates, supports the ongoing War on Drugs, and has helped to shape criminal justice policies like California's three-strikes law. High incarceration rates insure greater profits for the private prison industry.
A new report from In the Public Interest reveals that private prison companies, including two of the largest, the Corrections Corp. of America and Geo Group Inc., are forging deals with state and local governments that provide huge profits based on guaranteed high occupancy rates.
The report, titled "Criminal: How Lockup Quotas and 'Low-Crime Taxes' Guarantee Profits for Private Prison Corporations," "documents the contracts exchanged between private prison companies and state and local governments that either guarantee prison occupancy rates (essentially creating inmate lockup quotas) or force taxpayers to pay for empty beds if the prison population decreases due to lower crime rates or other factors (essentially creating low-crime taxes)," AlterNet's April M. Short recently reported.
MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
BuzzFlash at Truthout, as any longtime reader knows, is a strong supporter of fewer guns, fewer gun owners and less violence in America.
The number of deaths due to guns in the US dwarfs -- by thousands -- the number of Americans killed by terrorists. Over a decade the differential amounts to tens of thousands dead domestically by guns as compared to US citizens killed by terrorists.
Nonetheless, an incident in Florida this summer caught our attention. A corrupt bank in Panama City Beach was refusing to pay back a millon dollar loan from one Bobby Kirvin that was meant to help keep the bank afloat. After numerous unsuccessful attempts to recover the money, Kirvin's daughter, Daphne, took the matter into her own hands so to speak, according to the Lakeland Ledger:
But when the loan came due a year later, bank executives refused to pay. They were not returning Kirvin's phone calls and wouldn't even give him complete loan documents.
So Kirvin's daughter got her gun.
Daphne Davis invited a top bank executive to her office at the Piggly Wiggly grocery in Apalachicola, pulled out a Smith & Wesson .40-caliber pistol and threatened to shoot him dead.
"I told him my face would be the last one he would see if he didn't get Daddy that paperwork," Davis said.
The documents came 20 minutes later. The bank's directors ultimately repaid most of Kirvin's money.
Ah, what a tale for the NRA!
ROBERT C. KOEHLER FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
In an agony of stupidity, the government shuts down.
Only some of it shuts down, of course. The part that stays open is the part that's at war. "Those of you in uniform will remain on your normal duty status," the president said. "The threats to our national security have not changed, and we need you to be ready for any contingency. Ongoing military operations, like our efforts in Afghanistan, will continue."
As I once observed, there's no such thing as a relaxed nation. It can shut down what it does right, if clumsily, like feeding people, educating them and helping them through difficulty, but it will only shut down its predatory sense of identity in a state of total defeat by a bigger predator. Not letting that happen is its endless obsession.
This is the sly, primitive, irrational part of government: its reptile-brain function. That's still in full operation. We're continuing to raid, bomb and terrorize Fourth World countries and pointlessly harvest global metadata. We're still "completing our mission" in Afghanistan. We're just phasing out the government functions that have value. Perhaps what we should talk about is a rationality shutdown.
ROBERT SCHEER ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Before he was disgraced into resigning his presidency over the Watergate burglary scandal, Richard Nixon had successfully engineered an even more odious plot known as his Southern Strategy. The trick was devilishly simple: Appeal to the persistent racist inclination of Southern whites by abandoning the Republican Party's historic association with civil rights and demonizing the black victims of the South's history of segregation.
That same divisive strategy is at work in the Republican rejection of the Affordable Care Act. GOP governors are largely in control of the 26 states, including all but Arkansas in the South, that have refused to implement the act's provision for an expansion of Medicaid to cover the millions of American working poor who earn too much to qualify for the program now. A New York Times analysis of census data concludes that as a result of the Republican governors' resistance, "A sweeping national effort to extend health coverage to millions of Americans will leave out two-thirds of the poor blacks and single mothers and more than half of the low-wage workers who do not have insurance, the very kinds of people that the program was intended to help."
MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
A short time back, NBC News posted an article profiling some of the diehard anti-Obamacare Americans. It was a portrait in hypocrisy, or perhaps something more than that -- irreconciable imbecility.
Take Greg Collett:
“I don’t think that the government should be involved in health care or health insurance,” says Greg Collett, a 41-year-old software developer in Caldwell, Idaho, who would rather pay the fine for now -- $95 the first year -- than signup....
Collett counts himself among the 29 percent of people who said in an NBCNews/Kaiser poll they are angry about the health reform law. “The issue for me is that it is not the proper role of government,” he said.
Collett, who is married and has 10 children, says the kids are covered by Medicaid, the joint state-federal health insurance plan for people with low income and children who are not covered.
Okay, if you're already dumbfounded, Collett steps into an even deeper quagmire of hypocritical stupidity.
JIM HIGHTOWER ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Whacking yourself on the head with a ball-peen hammer would be stupid. But doing it again and again — that's insane.
Welcome to your U.S. House of Representatives, presently led by a pack of Tea Party Republicans. They are so crazed by Obamacare that they repeatedly hammer themselves over the head with it, having voted 46 times (so far) to dismantle, defund, delay, deny, and otherwise destroy this landmark health care bill — all to no avail. They would be hilarious, were they not so pathetic.
But now, their anti-government, anti-Obama obsession has turned into insanity. Acting as though the USA is nothing more substantial than a banana republic, this Tea Party clique of petty potentates has forced a shutdown of our national government. The craziest part of their stunt is the duplicitous claim that finally providing health care for millions of uninsured Americans will have, as one leader of the mad-dog pack put it, "horrific effects."