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Monday, 28 November 2016 06:56

Donald Trump Shatters the Arc of Justice


TrumpPence 1128wrp opt(Photo: Ali Shaker/VOA)Maybe this much is true. Donald Trump, pseudo-president-elect, loser of the real election, charismatic stump-speech populist whose actual ability to govern may well be non-existent, has inflicted significant damage on America’s political infrastructure.

This is scary, of course, but not necessarily a bad thing. I say this even, or especially, if he manages to assemble a far right, white-nationalist-friendly cabinet and inner circle and start attempting to implement some of the promises he made on the campaign trail. If the Trump pseudo-presidency is “normalized” and we-the-people and the media shrug our shoulders at the rebuilding of Jim Crow Nation — the Wall, the Muslim registry and God knows what happens next — then yes, this is a disaster and moving to Canada is a viable option. But if Trump, instead, is the reincarnation of Bull Connor, someone who makes a dark, hidden ugliness suddenly clear to the public at large, then his rise to power may be the harbinger of profound, positive change.

“I do not pretend to understand the moral universe,” abolitionist Theodore Parker wrote more than 150 years ago, prefiguring the words of Martin Luther King. “The arc is a long one, my eye reaches but little ways; I cannot calculate the curve and complete the figure by the experience of sight; I can divine it by conscience. And from what I see I am sure it bends towards justice.”

But the arc doesn’t bend by itself.


19535228309 6c8e142ec1 z(Photo: Mike Licht)

Perhaps the best analogy for the political situation in United States today is of a man who, intent on ending his own life, has jumped from a tall building. As he free falls, the street below growing ever larger in his eyes, his fate is set. Options are a thing of his past. His decision is now irrevocable -- all that remains are the consequences.

On November 8, in what history will surely remember as the single greatest example of electoral malpractice ever committed, this country chose to make a necrotic, bigoted, pathologically dishonest and sociopathic man-child the leader of the free world. And as with our hypothetical jumper, this decision, having once been made, is now final -- and its impact will be felt for generations. Ready or not -- and count me among the nots -- the Trump presidency is upon us.                                                                                                                     

While the likely consequences of this decision should have been apparent to anyone paying attention long before the votes were cast, now that the election is over they have become blindingly clear. With each reckless appointment and childish temper tantrum, the disaster awaiting us shows itself. And while this commentary will ultimately be about resistance and even possible redemption, the first step must be acknowledging the bleakness of the landscape we face.

Elections, as the cliché goes, have consequences, and right now the consequences of this one are getting ready to slam into the United States with the force of a category five hurricane.

2016.22.11 BF Berkowitz(Photo: Elvert Barnes)BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Those of us who want to build a better world will have our work cut out for us in the months and years ahead, and the commentary and analysis at Buzzflash will be more important than ever. Can we count on your support?

If you've ever wondered what you would do had you been around in 1930s Germany, I'm awfully afraid that you're gonna get a chance to find out. – Dr. Harry Edwards, Edge of Sports, November 2016

The incidents are starting to pile up: From chants by white students of "Build that Wall," at a high school volleyball tournament in Snyder, Tex., where Archer City High was facing off with Fort Hancock, to middle school students in Michigan chanting "build the wall" during lunch the day after the election; from women wearing head-scarfs getting harassed, to young Muslim men yelled at menacingly from passing cars; from a Latina women told to "go back to where you came from" to gay men harassed on the streets of Raleigh, North Carolina, the election of Donald Trump has ushered in a harvest of hate.

In this post-election period where white supremacists, white nationalists, Islamophobes, and anti-Semites seem to feel empowered to do and say just about anything, the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) is reporting that more than 700 incidents of "hateful intimidation and harassment" have already occurred.


hamiltontrumpAlexander Hamilton (Image: Marion Doss)

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Hamilton, the stunning biographical musical that won 11 Tony Awards in 2016 and swept just about every other major theater award in 2016, is the current blockbuster on Broadway. The sold-out production is the brainchild of Lin-Manuel Miranda, who wrote the script, lyrics and musical score. Miranda, who is of Puerto Rican descent, dazzlingly transforms an account of Alexander Hamilton's life -- particularly around the time of the US revolution -- into a multicultural production with a vibrant hip hop-based musical score.

Miranda largely adhered to historical accuracy -- Hamilton is a hero to modern Federalists, such as the late Antonin Scalia -- but by selecting a cast largely comprised of people of color, he recreated the story in a new light. Hamilton's cast and the way the narrative is interpreted point toward the possibility of an inclusive democracy. So does the score, which incorporates the rhythms of a diverse United States. It's a soundtrack that makes clear the contributions made to the US's musical legacy by the people who were marginalized by this country's white founders.

This aspect of Hamilton became an issue when a casting call was issued for non-white actors, as the production was preparing for its first non-New York cast. (The musical is now playing in Chicago.) The right wing promptly started crying crocodile tears over "discrimination." A Huffington Post post article stated:

But what makes Hamilton work so well is the fact that it's a commentary on America's past through the prism of America's present, its future. It works because the historically white, male founding fathers are being played by a predominantly non-white cast of blacks and Latinos (there are alsoplans to cast women in the roles of men).

Now, what would the musical look like if Alexander Hamilton wasn't played by Lin-Manuel Miranda, and Aaron Burr wasn't played by Leslie Odom, Jr, but instead the characters were played by two capable, talented white actors? The show would likely still be entertaining, but the context and the conversation would change. It's like suggesting that "For Colored Girls..." or "The Color Purple" have an all-white cast. It's a completely different show. 

The same article notes, "And if you think about it, Hamilton is perhaps as colorblind as castings come -- when else would black and Latino actors get to play the Founding Fathers?"


At Truthout and BuzzFlash, we don't pull any punches when it comes to criticizing the forces in power. Don't wait to hold the next president's feet to the fire: Make a donation to independent media today!

The infrastructure for mass warrantless surveillance is now in place for cyber racial profiling by a government administration with the will to carry it out. The latter is the systematic use of a spy technology network for purposes of targeting a specific race/s. As disclosed in the National Security Agency (NSA) slides leaked in 2013 by Edward Snowden, the present system of surveillance technology is of global proportions with the capacity to capture, store, and inspect virtually every electronic message (email, phone conversation, internet search, chat, etc.) sent and received by millions of U.S. citizens each day. The selection of racially motivated cabinet members at the highest level of the Trump administration is a clear warning sign that we may be about to witness a firestorm of cyber racial oppression that could end the experiment in democracy our forefathers began more than two hundred years ago.

The NSA presently conducts warrantless searches that have captured and stored millions of communications of U.S. citizens. The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance (FIS) Court has allowed this activity to continue unabated rather than to insist that the technology be equipped with content filtering technologies that block government access to personal information of U.S. Citizens. While, pursuant to the Fourth Amendment, federal agencies conducting terrorism investigations need a court warrant to target U.S. citizens, they do not need such a warrant when their target is a non-U.S. citizen. However, the 2008 amendments to the 1978 FISA law now allow the feds to gather information containing the personal information of U.S. persons when this information is collected tangential to collecting foreign intelligence that targets non-U.S. persons. All that is necessary is that a "significant purpose" of the search is to gather foreign intelligence. Previous FISA law required that "the [only] purpose" of the investigation be to gather foreign intelligence. So, if the feds are conducting a terrorist investigation and they "just happen" to gather information about a U.S. citizen who is engaged in an allegedly illegal activity, this information is admissible for purposes of charging the person with a crime.


Those of us who want to build a better world will have our work cut out for us in the months and years ahead, and the commentary and analysis at Buzzflash will be more important than ever. Can we count on your support?

Protectors 1121wrp opt(Photo: EcoWatch)This Thanksgiving, I'm going to Standing Rock with a delegation of more than 50 people from across the U.S. to cook and serve dinner for 500 Water Protectors, as a small way to give back to Native Americans on our national day of thanks.

Looking back on history, Native Americans saved the lives of newly arrived Europeans in what is now Massachusetts by sharing their harvest in the winter of 1620. The Wampanoag, who had lived in the region for some 12,000 years, taught the settlers to grow native crops. The Wampanoag were not the only tribe to be generous. In the earliest days, many tribes throughout the Americas helped new settlers survive.

The foods the natives shared with settlers were not just growing wild. They were cultivated over many generations by native people who had a deep connection to the land. Today, many vegetables and fruits in our diet were first cultivated by Native Americans, including foods found on the Thanksgiving table—potatoes, sweet potatoes, beans, corn, tomatoes, squash, pumpkin and cranberry. The turkey many enjoy on Thanksgiving Day was first domesticated by Native Americans.

Monday, 21 November 2016 08:17

The Terrorism Targeting Our Grandchildren


Those of us who want to build a better world will have our work cut out for us in the months and years ahead, and the commentary and analysis at Buzzflash will be more important than ever. Can we count on your support?

Children 1121wrp opt(Photo: Saveoursmile)Four decades of American narcissism and greed and exceptionalism have allowed the super-rich to dictate the future path of our nation. We're paying the price now, with environmental disasters, nonexistent savings for half of our families, Americans dying because of expensive health care, and a growing fear of blowback from desperate victims of our foreign wars.

Environment Be Damned

Almost all reputable sources agree that human-caused climate change is killing people, with up to 400,000 annual deaths "due to hunger and communicable diseases that affect above all children in developing countries," and up to 7 million deaths -- over a half-million of them children under the age of five -- caused by air pollution.

The richest people in the world create most of the pollution, yet are the least likely to feel guilty about the effects of their behavior, and the least likely to suffer from the impending environmental damage. This could lead to terror-filled years for the generations to follow us. Even the CHANCE of such misery for their grandchildren should motivate the super-rich to address the root causes of global warming. Instead, they have plans to retreat to impregnable "safe rooms" with food and water, oxygen, medical supplies, and all the amenities for a year or more of underground living.

Saturday, 19 November 2016 07:20

How Republicans Intend to Kill Obamacare


obamacare32 (Photo: Tabitha Kaylee Hawk)

Those of us who want to build a better world will have our work cut out for us in the months and years ahead, and the commentary and analysis at Buzzflash will be more important than ever. Can we count on your support?

There are standard dictionary definitions of the word reconciliation – “the restoration of friendly relations” and “the action of making one view or belief compatible with another” among them – and then there is the Congressional process called Reconciliation. The former suggest comity, the latter is the process by which debate is closed down and a budget bill can be passed through the Senate. With Republicans holding a 52 to 48 advantage over Democrats (including two Independents), Reconciliation is how Republicans intend to overturn the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare.

“House and Senate budget leaders, along with conservative lawmakers, are beginning to unite around a proposal that would avoid a filibuster from Senate Democrats and put a bill repealing key provisions of Obamacare on President-elect Donald Trump’s desk not long after his inauguration—a bill that is likely to earn his signature,” Melissa Quinn, a senior news reporter for The Heritage Foundation’s The Daily Signal, pointed out in a piece headlined “Republicans Begin to Unite Around Obamacare Repeal Plan.”

According to Quinn, the process for repealing Obamacare, an effort that was an epic fail for the GOP over the past few years, is now being honed for immediate action as soon as Trump takes office. And while Republicans are not quite ready to come up with their own health care plan, the process to dismantle is taking on a life of its own.

Under ordinary circumstances, Republicans would need 60 votes to actually pass a bill in the Senate to repeal Obamacare. However, as Quinn reported the day after Election Day, “GOP lawmakers are likely to use a budget tool called reconciliation—a procedure used in the Senate that allows a bill to pass with 51 votes—to roll back key provisions of Obamacare and avoid a Democratic filibuster.”


Article reprinted with permission from EcoWatch

Those of us who want to build a better world will have our work cut out for us in the months and years ahead, and the commentary and analysis at Buzzflash will be more important than ever. Can we count on your support?

Theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking is one of the most intelligent individuals on the planet, which is why his assertion that humanity has only 1,000 years left on Earth and must find another place to colonize is incredibly frightening.

"[W]e must ... continue to go into space for the future of humanity," professor Hawking said in a lecture on "The Origins of the Universe" at Britain's Oxford University Union earlier this week.

According to the Daily Express, the 74-year-old scientist warned that humans are using up Earth's ecological resources faster than it can be replenished.

"I don't think we will survive another 1,000 years without escaping beyond our fragile planet," Hawking said.


savemedicareMedicare is neither an entitlement nor free. (Photo:Glyn Lowe)

Those of us who want to build a better world will have our work cut out for us in the months and years ahead, and the commentary and analysis at Buzzflash will be more important than ever. Can we count on your support?

House Speaker Paul Ryan wants to raise the Lazarus of privatizing (and phasing out) Medicare from the dead. Paul Waldman of The Washington Post writes of the latest Republican effort to put a dagger through the heart of Medicare:

As part of his strategy, Ryan must convince people that Medicare is all but dead already, so we don’t actually lose much by putting it out of its misery. That’s why he says things like, “Because of Obamacare, Medicare is going broke.” This is not just a lie but the precise opposite of the truth, and Ryan knows full well it is; in fact, the ACA extended the solvency of the Medicare trust fund by over a decade. And be warned: Any time you hear Republicans say the phrase “entitlement reform,” understand that phasing out Medicare is what they’re talking about....

If Ryan gets his way, Medicare as a universal insurance program will cease to exist. It will be replaced by “premium support,” or vouchers which seniors will use to buy private insurance. If you can’t afford any of the available plans with what the voucher is worth, tough luck. The whole point is to transfer the expense from Medicare to the seniors themselves. Half a century after Medicare brought health security to America’s seniors, Republicans would snuff it out, leaving some unknown number without any coverage at all and breaking the fundamental promise the government made.

The first deception here is calling Medicare an "entitlement" program. US workers pay into Medicare -- as do their employers -- through the FICA payroll tax, which is deducted from every paycheck. Self-employed individuals have to pay the full FICA tax (which includes) Social Security as part of their income tax. Therefore, Medicare is not a gift. It is an earned benefit.

Furthermore, one of the biggest deceitful conservative talking points about Medicare is that it is "free." Nothing could be further from the truth.

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