MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Glenn Greenwald is fighting mad.
Greenwald, for years and now especially in light of his role as the lead journalist publishing the Snowden revelations of massive illegal US government spying (including on Americans), has shown a pugnacious courage. Unlike the Washington DC corporate stenographer press corps, Greenwald has steadfastly held to the principles of his beat: reporting on government policy and practice in relation to the legal dictates of the United States Constitution.
As BuzzFlash reported on June 24th, "Glenn Greenwald Tells Comcast and DOJ Lackey David Gregory to Shove It":
If you haven't heard about the shellacking Glenn Greenwald gave David Gregory on "Meet the Press" on Sunday, June 23, here's a little background.
Gregory represents the pablum punditry with a status quo bias. His weekly panel of DC insiders passes for serious discussion of public policy without ever piercing the veil of what's behind the curtain in the capital. The program is on a station formerly owned by General Electric and is now the property of Comcast.
So on Sunday, June 23, Gregory was discussing the Edward Snowden NSA leaks and popped this starling question to Greenwald (who was a split-screen guest via satellite transmission on the program): "To the extent that you have aided and abetted Snowden, even in his current movements, why shouldn't you, Mr. Greenwald, be charged with a crime?..."
So this is what Greenwald had to say in response to Gregory's impertinent, smug "this one can only get me more prominent guests from the White House" question. Greenwald responded that it is "pretty extraordinary that anybody who would call themselves a journalist would publicly muse about whether or not other journalists should be charged with felonies."
Later, Greenwald tweeted (in response to Gregory's defense of his question): "Who needs the government to try to criminalize journalism when you have David Gregory to do it?"
BuzzFlash knew Greenwald and interviewed him when he entered the internet as a constitutional lawyer turned journalist who began with his own blog. Eventually, he became a journalist for Salon and the Guardian UK covering US constitutional issues as applied to current government policies.
With the embarrasing revelations of Edward Snowden being journalistically revealed by Greenwald in the lead, the Obama administration is acting like anything but a democracy in throwing a tyrannical tantrum.
PAUL BUCHHEIT FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Scary because he claims "We don't have the power to coerce anybody" while providing massive funding to organizations that attack public education, social programs, worker salaries, business regulations, and the environment.
Scary because he refers to himself with words like 'integrity' and 'principles' while saying "I want my fair share - and that's all of it."
Scary because he declares, "I want my legacy to be...a better way of life for...all Americans." Here is some of the legacy of Charles Koch.
ANN DAVIDOW FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
They keep coming back. It may seem at times as if they've moved on, that the war of words has been won, that sanity will prevail and intellect will count for something once again. Not so fast, dreamers. There are still enough hard-headed right-wingers to gum up the legislative works, and they keep up their stream of insulting, stupid comments.
Last weekend Cruz, Santorum and Trump spoke at a conservative event in Ames, Iowa trying to drum up enthusiasm for what could be future presidential runs. Interestingly, whenever Cruz has been questioned about the fact that he wasn't born in this country, supporters are told that doesn't matter because his mother is a U.S. citizen - - my how things change over time. Not long ago the president's citizenship was questioned even though not only were there documents verifying his birthplace, and his mother was a citizen, something that is never mentioned in the meaningless debate that seems to have a life of its own.
And Cruz insists that the single most important task before conservatives is the repeal of 'Obamacare,' although it is a law about which most listeners have little or no understanding. Swept into oblivion are issues that require something more than a knee-jerk response dictated by members of the far-right voting bloc, and its cadre of simpering supporters who laugh at any deprecating reference to President Obama. Some years ago Joseph Welch, representing the army, confronted Joseph McCarthy during the infamous House Un-American activities hearings over McCarthy's attack on decorated military personnel. "Have you no sense of decency? At long last have you no sense of shame," he thundered. Today we are reminded of his angry words by similar assertions from Michele Bachmann and Allen West that there are large numbers of Communists in Congress.
BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
From its counterinsurgency strategy to Drone strikes, from paying off tribal leaders to training local security forces, from increasing troops to decreasing troops, the Obama Administration has tried almost every conceivable strategy to "successfully" end the war in Afghanistan.
Will the State Department's newly created faith-based office help turn the tide in Afghanistan and in other areas of violent conflict? Will it promote religious freedom for all, including minority religious groups? Will it treat non-believers with respect? Will it become a politicized money-pit for a chosen few religious organizations and institutions?
In its introduction to a wide-ranging discussion titled "Engaging religion at the Department of State," The Editors of the blog The Immanent Frame pointed out that while "There is great excitement in some quarters about the prospects for new partnerships .... this initiative also raises concerns regarding the intersection of religious freedom, religious establishment, and foreign policy."
ROBERT C. KOEHLER FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Stopping crime before it happens is a great idea, but stopping young men for "walking while black" — touted by true believers as the same thing — is a game played by an occupying army.
The tactic is called stop-and-frisk. As practiced by many police departments, including New York's, it amounts to blatant racial profiling. Stop-and-frisk makes it impossible for young men of color to lead normal lives, to walk outside without fear of preemptive police harassment. The long-term hatred and tension it engenders does far more harm to a community than all the questionable good that proponents ascribe to it. Security based on racism is a sham.
So I join in the celebration of Judge Shira A. Scheindlin's ruling Monday in Manhattan's Federal District Court, declaring the New York Police Department's stop-and-frisk policy unconstitutional. She accused the city of "checkpoint-style policing" in minority communities and wrote in her decision, according to the New York Times: "Blacks are likely targeted for stops based on a lesser degree of objectively founded suspicion than whites."
That is, blacks will be stopped for carrying a wallet or cellphone in their pocket, because the bulge could be a gun. The same thing happens in Chicago, where I live, and throughout the country. A young man out walking changes direction; he's stopped and frisked. A young man parks his bike; he's stopped and frisked, accused of riding his bike on the sidewalk. A young man is wearing a hoodie...
DRUG POLICY ALLIANCE FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Today, New York City Comptroller John Liu announced the release of a report calling for a system to tax and regulate marijuana for adult recreational use. The report, to be released tomorrow, comes two days after Federal Judge Shira A. Scheindlin condemned the city's police department's use of stop and frisk – which has resulted in 600,000 unlawful arrests for marijuana possession since 1997 – as racially-biased. That same day, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder called for Americans to rethink the "unintended consequences" of the war on drugs. Comptroller Liu's report details the problems associated with marijuana arrests in New York City -- including racial disparities and the impact of saddling young people with a permanent criminal arrest record -- and the overall financial costs of marijuana prohibition.
The report comes at a time when the federal government and states around the country are engaged in a significant review of drug policies generally and marijuana policies in particular. On Monday, Attorney General Holder noted that the war on drugs has resulted in "the decimation of certain communities, in particular of communities of color" and directed federal prosecutors to develop guidelines for some drug sentencing issues to be handled on the state or local level. Many states have already moved ahead with significant reforms to marijuana policy. Twenty states now permit the use of medical marijuana; fourteen states, including New York and, most recently, New Hampshire, have some kind of decriminalization law on the books; and voters in two states – Colorado and Washington – voted to end prohibition by taxing and regulating marijuana for recreational use for adults over the age of 21. By creating a regulatory regime, Colorado and Washington are bringing under the rule of law the production, sale and use of marijuana. Recent national surveys find that a majority of Americans now favor the legalization of marijuana.
STEVEN JONAS MD, MPH FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
As many of my regular readers know, one of my favorite topics over time has been the contemporary Republican Party and where they are taking the country. I was about to do another one of my speculative columns on that subject when all of a sudden, there was North Carolina right in front of me.
Highly gerrymandered, it has full Republican control of the Executive and Legislative branches. Indeed, it is so highly gerrymandered that the early 19th century Massachusetts Governor, Elbridge Gerry, after whom the carving up of electoral districts into rather odd shapes to meet political needs was named, would likely be embarrassed to have his name associated with what has taken place down there. (Interestingly enough, Gov. Gerry, was one of only three delegates to the original Constitutional Convention who refused to sign the original document because it did not contain a Bill of Rights.) And so, they can just do it!
Thus, if you want to know what a Republican future would look like nationally, just cast your eyes on that state. For them, it's GOP heaven. For the rest of us, well...
This is some of what they are doing...
MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
In a move that is hard to fathom considering how many banks too big to fail are being fined for subprime mortgage fraud, the nation's top house financing regulator, the Federal Housing Finance Agency, is threatening that if the City of Richmond, California, uses eminent domain to save homes for families, mortgages will be cut off for the city.
According to the Los Angeles Times:
The salvo from the Federal Housing Finance Agency came Thursday, on the heels of a lawsuit directed by major Wall Street firms and U.S.-sponsored mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac against the Bay Area city of Richmond.
Richmond is the first to push forward with the plan, also being debated in cities across the state and nation. Richmond wants to require lenders and investors to sell underwater mortgages at a deep discount. The city would then refinance borrowers into more-affordable mortgages.
The federal housing agency, which regulates Fannie and Freddie, on Thursday made clear it doesn't intend to let this happen. The agency said it would instruct Fannie and Freddie to "limit, restrict or cease business activities" in any jurisdiction using eminent domain to seize mortgages.
BuzzFlash at Truthout wrote a three-part series on the grassroots and innovative efforts of Richmond, an econonmically-challenged city in the Bay Area, to maintain a strong community amidst predatory lending and environmental assaults (by Chevron). One of their strategies is to seize foreclosed (or near foreclosed) homes -- meeting certain criteria -- through the use of eminent domain. As BuzzFlash at Truthout reported, Richmond would then resell them to the residents at current market value through a third party lender.
But yet again the Obama administration is siding with the lenders -- the very ones that they are fining (while avoiding criminal cases against them) for everything from nationwide deceptive mortgage practices (in poorer communities), robo-signed foreclosures that are often in error, cash bonuses from banks for deceptive practices, and on and on. It's a thieves den list of mortgage abuse, particularly targeting communities of color.
MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Although many right wingers in the US think of Canada as some sort of socialized government, outside of its universal healthcare system and some other programs, it is on a rightward trajectory under conservative rule.
Given Obama's Wall Street neo-liberal consensus on free trade, oil, the environment (in practice as compared to lofty speeches), and global corporations, Canada and the United States bed down every night right next to each other on economic issues.
So, it was an uplifting moment to see a 14-year old young Canadian woman, Rachel Parent, take on a right wing "business" talk show host, Kevin O'Leary -- of the Canadian Broadcasting Company's (CBC) "The Lang and O'Leary Exchange" -- and decimate his defense of GMO's and Monsanto. Rachel Parent, in a 14-minute CBC segment of the show that aired recently left O'Leary looking like a blow-up doll that had just been deflated and crumpled to the ground.
You can watch the full destruction of a pro-GMO advocate by a young teen (and receive some additional background) by clicking here.
As a 12-year-old, Parent founded a Canadian youth advocacy campaign to require the labeling of GMO foods sold in Canada. (They are not labeled, as our readers know, in the US either.) Her group and efforts can be found on the Facebook page, "Kids Right to Know Club."
BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Coming soon from Oxygen, the network that brings you "Bad Girls Club," "My Shopping Addiction," "Jersey Couture," and "Dance Your A** Off," is "Preachers of L.A.," and it might be the hottest new reality show to air this fall. Judging from the trailer, the show could just as well have been called "Preachers Driving Big Cars & Living in Big Houses," or "Pimped-out Preachers of La La Land."
"Preachers of L.A." is generating a huge amount of buzz. Since the program was announced, the Oxygen trailer has been viewed more than 475,000 times, its Facebook page has over 27,000 likes, and it has more than 950 Twitter followers, and garnered more than 13 million hits on Google.
It is also causing some in the evangelical community to express grave concerns about the show.
Some evangelicals are worried that the lavish lifestyles of the "Preachers of L.A." may lead to another round of Senate investigations of so-called prosperity preachers. Others are concerned that it will resurface memories of other tarnished preachers: the Rev. Jimmy Swaggart's dalliances with prostitutes; Jim and Tammy Bakker's bilking of its flock; Ted Haggard's drug and truthiness problems; Bishop Eddie Long's sexual shenanigans; and televangelist and faith-healer Benny Hinn's moral lapses.