WILL DURST FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Hey! You! Yes, you. Sorry. Just trying to get your attention to impart an important warning here. For the next couple weeks, it’s imperative all you good folks out there stay alert and keep your wits about you. Remove the earbuds, no texting while walking and you’d be well advised to brandish a stainless steel umbrella on the street because its awards season and golden- plated statuettes are being tossed about like manhole covers during an underground methane explosion. We’ve made it through the Golden Globes and the Screen Actor Guild Awards, with the Grammies and Oscars right around the corner, so this seems the perfect time to weigh in with the barnacle on the belly of the awards ship: the 15th annual Will Durst Political Animal Awards.
PAUL BUCHHEIT FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Free market idealists argue that capitalism works for anyone with a little initiative and a willingness to work hard. That might be true if job opportunities were available to everyone. But the facts reveal a lack of opportunity, largely because the very system of capitalism that's supposed to work for everyone is betraying its most productive members.
It's a step-by-step process of hypocrisy disguised as free enterprise.
ANN DAVIDOW FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
The most amazing thing about our politics is that the same phony premises keep reappearing and crowding out more relevant people and ideas. Politicians, zombie-like, stare into cameras uttering outlandish opinions that have no rational application, and survive only in the wild gyrations of mental gymnasts and the media outlets that provide them with air time.
We continue to be tormented by the likes of Rand Paul staring zombie-like into the camera, delivering hyperbolic nonsense newly arrived from pals like Sean Hannity and Glenn Beck. Every once in a while, someone in their camp shares a tidbit that almost makes sense, quickly overtaken by the irrelevant discourse more typical of this genre. When I operated a small shop in Connecticut, I was engaged in pleasant conversation with a seemingly normal customer until he began a scary monologue about sixes and Satan as I tried to determine if I could escape without confronting Satan or his surrogate. I experience that same helpless feeling when the right engages in its endless meaningless harangues - - a sense of dealing with people who are just nuts.
MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT Iceland, the Last Hope for Transparent Democracy?
Truthout recently posted an article, "With New Constitution, Post-Collapse Iceland Inches Toward Direct Democracy."
It was a detailed report on how Iceland is on the verge of potential revolution in adopting a populist constitution, while ensuring a transparent government and true freedom of the press. It is not certain that Iceland's new burst of freedom and rejection of the managerial class will succeed, but the promise is exhilarating, according to journalist Sam Knight, writing for Truthout:
Now, Iceland is making headlines for more positive reasons: activists there are in the process of advancing some of the strongest freedom of information laws and journalist protections in the world, and the Icelandic economy, while still beset by problems, is significantly outperforming other crisis-stricken countries.
Most recently, on October 20, a remarkable constitution - written by an elected council with help from the public - took a step closer toward ratification after it was approved in a referendum by a 2-1 margin.
Before the changes are signed into law, the draft must be approved by the Althingi, Iceland's Parliament, approved again by referendum and finalized once more by the legislature after a fresh parliamentary election in April.
Uncertainty is swirling around the status of the constitution, however. Those opposed to it - primarily right-wingers - claim that the 48.9 percent turnout for October's vote doesn't lend the document legitimacy. There is also fear among the constitution's supporters in Parliament that some of their colleagues are trying to abrogate the public's influence by altering the document's content instead of offering the technical revisions they were given the mandate to make.
"I truly believe that our democracies have been hijacked by bureaucrats," said Parliamentarian Birgitta Jónsdóttir, a self-described "realist-anarchist" elected after the Kitchenware Revolution protests which ensued following the 2008 financial crisis and forced the long-ruling conservative government to resign in 2009.
"I don't want the new constitution to be plagued with their language, but the language of the people," she insisted in a Skype conversation with Truthout. "Their time is over. They just can't get over it."
Knight also noted:
"Political parties, liberally oiled by interested parties, no doubt - as they were by the bankers - have managed to thwart the popular will in Parliament," Gylfason said.
"The constitutional bill aims to correct the situation," he added.
In short, Iceland stands on the cusp of possibly becoming the vibrant "horizontal" democracy that the United States trumpets with cliches, but suppresses through an ossified financial/political ruling elite.
ROBERT CREAMER FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
There are two major pillars of Republican economic ideology.
First is "trickle down" economics -- the notion that if we allow the wealthiest two percent to accumulate more and more of the fruits of our economy, the benefits will "trickle down" to everyone else.
The second is fiscal austerity -- the idea that the best response to an economic downturn is to "tighten our belts" and slash critical government spending that we "no longer can afford."
PUBLIC CITIZEN FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Regulators should strip HSBC–the banking goliath that admitted extensive criminal wrongdoing –of its federal depository insurance and right to do business, Public Citizen today urged in letters to two government bodies.
Separately, Public Citizen requested that the Maryland attorney general seek the forfeiture of HSBC’s charter–its grant of authority to do business as a U.S. corporation–because of its admitted illegal conduct.
Finally, Public Citizen submitted FOIA requests to the U.S. Department of the Treasury, the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) seeking all records that pertain to the U.S. Department of Justice’s decision not to criminally prosecute HSBC.
MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF TRUTHOUT AT BUZZFLASH Supreme Court
Yesterday, we wrote a piece on the long-term and devastating impact of the right-wing GOP increasing control over the federal judiciary. It is a toxic impact that will last for decades, as Chief Judge of the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit David Sentelle has shown.
The BuzzFlash at Truthout commentary, "Republican Federal Judge David Sentelle: How the GOP Has Packed the Courts With Partisan Hacks," explains a bit of background on how Sentelle has carried out GOP political objectives through the federal courts since 1985 – and since 1987 on the DC appellate court in a way that has negatively changed the course of US history.
As further background on the Republican federal bench coup (remember it resulted in on a Supreme Court mandated stolen election in 2000), BuzzFlash is reaching back into its early days and providing some context through David Brock, now head of Media Matters.
In 2002, BuzzFlash was one of the foremost promoters of a repentant David Brock. At that time, Brock had written a mea culpa book, "Blinded by the Right: The Conscience of an Ex-Conservative," recounting how he had been a journalistic hit man for the extreme right. Indeed, Brock had been instrumental in igniting the Whitewater and Troopergate stories as a means for the Republicans to pursue the eventual impeachment of Bill Clinton. Brock "reported" for the American Spectator, a right wing attack publication largely financed by Richard Mellon Scaife, who was sort of a one man Koch Brothers in the '90s.
In short, Brock was a key scribe for what was known as "The Arkansas Project," the right wing financed effort to drive Bill Clinton from office despite being elected by the voters of America for two terms. Brock called it a "contract on Clinton" that included his early articles about Paula Jones that stirred up the Ken Starr lynch mob after the Whitewater findings -- the original purpose of the independent counsel -- ended with the exoneration of the Clintons, who had actually lost money on the deal.
JACQUELINE MARCUS FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Some good things are happening in the Aloha state. In addition to House Speaker Joe Souki’s push to legalize recreational use of marijuana for “revenues-equitably” after Washington and Colorado voters passed ballot measures to do the same, House Judiciary Chairman Karl Rhoads introduced a bill to limit free-speech protections to “natural persons”.
At first glance, limiting free-speech sounds suspicious, but the key phrase here is “natural persons.” From the time corporations were ruled by the Supreme Court as “persons” corporate entities have been given all the rights entitled to individuals; and yet, we all know that corporations are not persons.
Thus when the Supreme Court Justices ruled in favor of Citizens United, it paved the way for a flood of advertisements during political campaigns from corporations and other entities—all in the name of “free speech,” as though these corporate entities were individuals, which is the equivalent of calling Wal-Mart or Bank of America individuals with constitutional rights.
JANE STILLWATER FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
How come so many right-wingers, neo-cons, corporate RepubliDems, NRA lobbyists, Fox News commentators and radical-extremist talk-show hosts are currently getting all up in our faces about how wonderful the Second Amendment is? "Second Amendment! Second Amendment!" they cry night and day. That's all we ever hear from these guys. You would think that they might occasionally mention the rest of the Constitution occasionally as well -- but no.
Right-wingers, gun lobbyists, Tea Party congressmen and corporatist-owned radio talk-show hosts all scream and yell and hold their breath and throw temper tantrums about the sanctity of the Second Amendment constantly. But have they ever thrown tantrums or held their breath when other parts of our Constitution were violently stepped on -- especially by they themselves? Er, no.
ROBERT C. KOEHLER FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
The president negotiates our withdrawal from Afghanistan, proclaims mission accomplished — and the wars of the last decade continue winding down to nothing.
We’ll be leaving behind an unstable country with one of the world’s highest infant mortality rates and hundreds of armed insurgent groups. We haven’t rescued or rebuilt the country or accomplished any objective that begins to justify the human and financial cost of this adventure. We just lost.
But we’re the most powerful nation on the planet. How is that possible? And, as Tom Engelhardt asks, “Who exactly beat us? Where exactly is the triumphant enemy?”