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EUGENE ROBINSON ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aaaACA(Photo: Pete Souza)It's all over but the shouting: Obamacare is working.

All the naysaying in the world can't drown out mounting evidence that the Affordable Care Act, President Obama's signature domestic achievement, is a real success. Republican candidates running this fall on an anti-Obamacare platform will have to divert voters' attention from the facts, which tell an increasingly positive story.

A new report by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimates that, despite all the problems with the HealthCare.gov website launch, 12 million people who previously lacked insurance will obtain coverage this year. By 2017 -- the year Obama leaves office -- the CBO predicts that an additional 14 million uninsured will have managed to get coverage.

Why was the Affordable Care Act so desperately needed? Because without it, 54 million Americans would presently have no health insurance. Within three years, according to the CBO, Obamacare will have slashed the problem nearly in half.

We should do better, and perhaps someday we will. Most industrialized countries have some kind of single-payer system offering truly universal coverage. But if you have to work within the framework of the existing U.S. health care system -- which involves private health insurance companies and fee-for-service care -- the Affordable Care Act reforms are a tremendous advance.

Many Republican critics of Obamacare know, but refuse to acknowledge, that the reforms are here to stay. Does the GOP propose to let insurance companies deny coverage because of pre-existing conditions, as they could before the ACA? Does the party want to reimpose lifetime caps on the amount an insurer will pay? Tell young adults they can no longer be covered under their parents' policies?

I didn't think so.

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

ataseRepresentational image of tasering (Photo: Photolibrium)

When The New York Times (NYT) calls the tasering of students as a "disciplinary" measure torture, it is time to take notice that our schools have been infected with the appalling post 9/11 acceptance of harsh interrogation and discipline.

After all, the NYT has long been reluctant to call many abhorrent and internationally illegal measures used by the United States in the wake of 9/11 torture.  The NYT has preferred the euphemism and more publically acceptable term "harsh interrogation techniques."

Therefore, one must take notice when the NYT published an editorial on April 11 entitled, "Torturing Children at School." One can be certain that the NYT, so squeamish about calling waterboarding torture, did not choose that word without much debate, making the implications of the editorial that much more damning and gruesome.

In particular, the NYT editorial board focuses on the practice of tasering even young students in many public schools, sometimes resulting in death.

PAUL BUCHHEIT FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

acuff
(Photo: derpunk)

David Horowitz, right-wing founder of an organization called the "Freedom Center," argued that blacks should not be paid reparations for the enslavement of their ancestors. Among his reasons are that:

-- There Is No Single Group Clearly Responsible For The Crime Of Slavery
-- Most Americans Have No Connection (Direct Or Indirect) To Slavery
-- Reparations To African Americans Have Already Been Paid

But slavery, in its various forms of physical and mental torment, has been a part of US history from the beginnings of our country to the present day. There are numerous modern-day corporations who profited immensely - themselves or their predecessors - from slave labor. Only token amounts have been paid back, along with a few scattered apologies.

Four eras of abominable abuse can clearly be identified.

BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aaaHoneyMaid(Photo: Mark Fischer)Love 'em or not, everyone has probably experienced Honey Maid graham crackers sometime in their lifetime. Last month, Nabisco, the company that makes Honey Maid Graham Crackers, and Oreos, Chips Ahoy, Nilla Wafers and an assortment of other well-known cookies and crackers, came up with an extraordinary family positive/gay-positive advertisement. And "traditional values" conservatives went, well, crackers. Ironically, at the end of the day, the graham cracker dust-up may in fact benefit both the folks at Nabisco and its chief critics, the American Family Association's One Million Moms.

The advertisement, which was extraordinarily family-positive, started out with two men taking care of their child, and was followed by a diverse group of families spending time together. The New Yorker's Andrew Solomon described the ad: "It shows a two-dad family, a rocker family, a single dad, an interracial family, a military family. The two-dad household is featured at some length; you cannot be distracted away from it. Most striking is the tagline of the ad: 'No matter how things change, what makes us wholesome never will. Honey Maid. Everyday wholesome snacks for every wholesome family. This is wholesome.'"

The response to the ad – issued earlier this month -- was both heart-warming – many people responded in a very supportive way – and super critical. It was the latter responses that caused the company to put together a second ad, which takes the sometimes super-nasty comments and turns them into an extraordinary and inspirational art project, in which two artists glue together the complaints to spell out the word love in cursive.

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

acharlene(Photo: Adrian Snood)Republican governors generally love to bandy about being so-called "pro-life" due to their opposition to abortions.  It is a tragically ironic and hypocritical stance considering that many of them (particularly in the South) are allowing people to die because of a political refusal to expand Medicaid.  

Apparently, to the GOP - which has been obsessed with destroying the Affordable Care Act (ACA) - life is only "sacred" for the unborn.  Once you are a delivered baby, you're on your own.

Gov. Rick Scott (R-FL) and the Republican legislature in Florida are likely responsible for the death of 32-year-old Charlene Dill, a mother of three separated from her husband. Dill did everything the anti-poor warriors in DC demands of those with limited money: She worked three jobs, budgeted her expenses and cared for her children. But she couldn't afford adequate medical care.

She died of heart failure while selling vacuum cleaners on commission.  What could be a more Republican Tea Party story of working tirelessly to provide for one's kids - and then dying because of not being able to afford health care?

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

8036143615 c34c5348ce m(Photo: origamidon)The war on the homeless - in which some cities have passed laws outlawing giving food to the homeless, not to mention longstanding laws against "vagrancy" - has taken a cruel turn. Now, some municipalities are outlawing living in cars and other vehicles.

People who live in cars are one step above the penury of complete homelessness. Denying them the shelter that an automobile provides is another cruel step in the war against people without economic means. Such actions give the term "the war on poverty" a whole new perspective: punishment for not having enough money to afford increasing rents.

The growing war on car dwellers is featured in an April 8 article in The Wall Street Journal: "Homeless Lose a Longtime Last Resort: Living in a Car: Cities in Silicon Valley, Elsewhere Crack Down on Vehicle Dwellers Driven Out of Apartments by Rents."

Nearly 70 cities are considering such crackdowns on people whose vehicles have become their homes, according to the Journal.

ROBERT C. KOEHLER FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aaaEarthrise(Photo: Apollo 8 crewmember Bill Anders)Somewhere between these two quotes lies the future:

"And I would like to emphasize that nobody on this planet is going to be untouched by the impacts of climate change."

"The Judeo-Christian worldview is that man is at the center of the universe; nature was therefore created for man. Nature has no intrinsic worth other than man's appreciation and moral use of it."

The first quote is from Rajendra Pachauri, chairman of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, summing up the dire and much-discussed findings of its recent report: Human civilization — its technology, its war games, its helpless short-sightedness and addiction to fossil fuels — is wrecking the environment that sustains all life. Time is running out on our ability to make changes; and the world's, uh, "leadership" — political, corporate — has shown little will to step beyond more of the same, to figure out how we can reduce carbon emissions and live in eco-harmony, with a sense of responsibility for the future.

The second quote is from radio talk-show host Dennis Prager, writing recently in the National Review Online. He goes on, in his remarkable rant against environmentalism, to point out that "worship of nature was the pagan worldview" and "for the Left, the earth has supplanted patriotism." Eventually he compares environmentalism to loving wild dogs more than mauled children.

Prager's diatribe isn't my normal reading matter and I only bring it up here because I think it has relevance to the leadership void I've been pondering. The contemptuous dismissal of nature as lacking intrinsic worth — an unworthy competitor with God for human allegiance — may no longer have mainstream credibility, but, like racism, it's part of the mindset that has shaped Western civilization.

Wednesday, 09 April 2014 10:37

Eugene Robinson | Share the Torture Report

(Image:<a href=" https://www.flickr.com/photos/truthout/5164043151/in/photolist-asUn64-7TMotC-8VHkQT-7TP8vs-7jRXMJ-7MAJrV-7TyLZT-7aaXLR-7GVTuk-8Sk57K-78SRhs-7tGiLd-9wfVAA-7DA2TG-898z64-7kq9Hr-aoCFSk-7aeLVU-89najf-8LrRjT"> electron; Edited: Jared Rodriguez / t r u t h o u t</a>)(Image: electron; Edited: Jared Rodriguez / t r u t h o u t)EUGENE ROBINSON ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Washington - Torture is immoral, illegal and irreconcilable with this nation's most cherished values. If defenders of the CIA's "enhanced interrogation" program disagree, they should come out and say so. Instead, they blow smoke.

Sexist smoke, at that: Former CIA Director Michael Hayden said Sunday that Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., is being "emotional" rather than "objective" as the intelligence committee, which Feinstein heads, moves toward release of a comprehensive report on CIA detention and torture during the George W. Bush administration.

Feinstein coolly responded that the report is indeed "objective, based on fact, thoroughly footnoted, and I am certain it will stand on its own merits. ... The only direction I gave staff was to let the facts speak for themselves."

Those facts, from what we know so far, are appalling.

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

anyttransit(Photo: Wikipedia)As BuzzFlash at Truthout has been beating the drum about the gloomy imminence of the disastrous impact of climate change, it is worth noting that among the larger contributors to global warming are gas-powered vehicles (think cars and trucks). 

It's not just the carbon dioxide emitted by automobiles, it's the fossil fuel nightmare that has been created by expanding urban areas to exurban locations located at great distances from city centers.  This, in turn, requires more inefficient use of energy (most of it still fossil fuel based) and more car use through the building of more expressways.

According to the Union of Concerned Scientists:

Passenger cars and light trucks represent the lion’s share of US transportation emissions and collectively produce almost one-fifth of the nation’s total global warming pollution. 

All together, transportation generates nearly 30 percent of America’s global warming emissions, including more than one-third of all US carbon dioxide emissions.

The remaining transportation-related emissions come from medium and heavy-duty vehicles (primarily freight trucks and buses), plus aircraft, shipping, rail, military, and other uses.

Remember, as we just noted, that automobiles actually contribute a greater percentage to climate change, due to the creation of an inefficient energy disbursement structure (housing, office parks, shopping) that the car makes possible.

SEC headquarters. (Photo:<a href=" https://www.flickr.com/photos/us_sec/6755484023"> Securities and Exchange Commission / Flickr</a>)SEC headquarters. (Photo: Securities and Exchange Commission / Flickr)ERIC ZUESSE FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT  Bloomberg News reported on April 8 that a Securities and Exchange Commission prosecuting attorney, James Kidney, said at his recent retirement party on March 27, that his prosecutions of Goldman Sachs and other mega-banks had been squelched by top people at the agency, because they "were more focused on getting high-paying jobs after their government service than on bringing difficult cases." He suggested that SEC officials knew that Wall Street would likely hire them after the SEC at much bigger pay than their government remuneration was, so long as the SEC wouldn’t prosecute those megabank executives on any criminal charges for helping to cause the mortgage-backed securities scams and resulting 2008 economic crash.

His "remarks drew applause from the crowd of about 70 people," according to the Bloomberg report. This would indicate that other SEC prosecutors feel similarly squelched by their bosses.

Kidney’s speech said that his superiors did not “believe in afflicting the comfortable and powerful.”

Referring to the agency's public-relations tactic of defending its prosecution-record by use of what he considered to be misleading statistics, Kidney said, "It's a cancer" at the SEC.

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