ROBERT C. KOEHLER FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
"I'm dying to know what it's like to love somebody — to know what it feels like to be wanted." — Art Corneau
So we need a documentary to break the Code of Shame. It's called A Hard Name and came out in 2009; it ran on Canadian public television. (The film is online but, unfortunately, can't be viewed in the U.S. "due to rights restrictions.") Director Alan Zweig found seven ex-prisoners — five men, two women — and just let them speak. The result was the opening of a raw wound: the public exposure of something so deeply hidden, so wrapped in cynical taboo, I could barely listen without screaming: Why?
I hadn't been aware of the film until Dave Atkins of Prison Alpha Ministry in Ottawa wrote to me about it, in response to my recent column about the Hollow Water First Nation Reserve, in Manitoba, where in the 1980s residents began addressing the hidden matter of childhood sexual abuse that was shattering their tiny community. They began talking about it publicly — they had no choice. The secret stain of it was claiming the lives of their children, who were disappearing into the void of alcoholism and drug abuse.
Burma Bushie, one of the Hollow Water residents, called it "the sacredness of a child teaching you." Some of the residents began holding peace circles and speaking publicly about the secrets of their community; the result was the spread of what became known as the restorative justice movement, in the U.S., Europe and throughout the world.
MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Guardian UK reported that 500 authors, including five Noble Prize winners, signed a manifesto calling for a curtailing of the emergence of surveillance states, led by the US:Last week, the
A person under surveillance is no longer free; a society under surveillance is no longer a democracy. To maintain any validity, our democratic rights must apply in virtual as in real space.
What could be a more fundamental right than the ability to think and express oneself freely, without the state gathering a digital mountain of our private lives?
It's no coincidence that the Guardian UK broke the Edward Snowden revelations about he NSA, which confirmed the worst fears about the extent to which the US government has been spying without any significant restrictions -- and casting an extremely wide net that went way beyond what might be needed for national security interests.
WILL DURST FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Think we can all agree these are pretty exciting times. Matter of fact, might be more exciting than we had any inkling. Recent revelations indicate we've all become inadvertent assets in governmental spy operations. You may have thought the NSA was everywhere, but you didn't know the half of it. And no, there shouldn't be a humming red LED under your bed.
The New York Times says our friends at the Black Chamber are not only opening our mail and listening to our phone calls but are now lurking in and monitoring on- line game rooms like World of Warcraft and Second Life. Are those trolls or undercover spooks? Or both? Not just an operations chief but a night elf- hunter guild leader as well. James Bond's new assignment- to enchant a goblin priest. Zelda- a princess, sure, but where does she go at night?
The professional eavesdroppers out of Fort Meade claim their only goal is to thwart terrorism but that's pretty much their answer to everything these days, including lunch at Quizno's. "Why do you always get the Italian combo?" "National Security." "Please clean up the broken glass resulting from your idiot friends' juvenile beer tossing antics." "Can't. National Security." "What happened to your toe?" "National F%*$!#G Security."
Who knows why they're really creeping around? Could be checking out skill sets. Filling emergency requests from division commanders. "Major! Wander around Call of Duty: Black Ops II. We need an infantryman who can go to his left. If he could take out multiple drones with a single RPG, that wouldn't hurt. Then check Grand Theft Auto for someone who can steer with his knees while switching magazines on an Uzi. And requisition more mushrooms from Mario."
BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
There is no doubting that Pope Francis (formerly Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina) is a different kind of Pope; kinder, gentler, friendlier, less judgmental, living simpler, more open, humbler and much more media savvy than many of the previous occupants of the Holy See. Although some progressives are leaping out of their Chuck Taylor All-Stars to get on board Pope Francis' social justice Pope-mobile – and there's nothing wrong with that -- it remains to be seen whether anything concrete comes out of the Pope's critique of trickle down economics and capitalism run amok.
By making his pronouncement he has accomplished at least one thing: he has exposed some of the conservative critics of the Catholic Church's social justice agenda for being hypocritical blowhards. For those who see the Pope focusing on the poor as part of a larger public relations campaign to rebuild the reputation of the Church, the Pope's exhortation ("Evangelii Gaudium") on economic issues has already accomplished several things; news about the Church's financial and sexual scandals have all but disappeared from view.
In an interview over the past weekend, Pope Francis – recently named "Person of the Year" by Time magazine, and The Advocate, a publication focusing on LGBT issues -- responded to the attack on him by radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh.
EUGENE ROBINSON ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
It seems our elected officials have no intention of reining in the National Security Agency's mad-scientist quest to know everything about our communications and movements. If we want our privacy back, we're going to have to fight for it.
Months after Edward Snowden spilled the beans, the NSA -- whose mission is supposed to be foreign surveillance -- is still compiling a comprehensive record of our domestic phone calls. Every time you dial, the government can find out who, what, when and where.
We hear a lot of patronizing talk from President Obama and other officials about how healthy it is that we're finally having a debate about surveillance and privacy, about security and freedom. The subtext, however, is clear: Get over it.
Interviewed Sunday on "Meet the Press," former NSA Director Michael Hayden offered a stunningly dismissive view of the Fourth Amendment: "We're protected against unreasonable search and seizure, all right? It doesn't say that all searches must be based upon reasonable suspicion. So now, unreasonable search and seizure depends upon the totality of circumstances in which you find yourself."
My circumstances, in their totality, are these: sitting on the couch, minding my own business. What am I doing to deserve an electronic stop-and-frisk?
E.J. DIONNE JR. ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Politicians talk about family values but do almost nothing to help families. They talk about parental responsibility but do almost nothing to help parents. They talk about self-sufficiency but do precious little to make self-sufficiency a reality for those who must struggle hardest to achieve it.
How often can we hear that government should be more responsive to the problems Americans face now? But the vogue for simply assuming that government cannot — or should not — do much of anything about those problems leads to paralysis. This, in turn, further increases disaffection from government.
DAVID SIROTA ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Though they are important, let's be honest: Municipal budget figures can be mind-numbingly boring. Even in high-profile, high-stakes dramas like Detroit's bankruptcy, the sheer flood of numbers can encourage people to simply tune it all out for fear of being further confused.
Thus, in the interest of not putting you to sleep or further perplexing you, here are three painfully simple questions about Detroit's bankruptcy. Though these questions have mostly been ignored, continuing to ask them can at least highlight the fact that something nefarious is happening right now in the Motor City.
PAUL BUCHHEIT FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Tax-avoiding, consumer-exploiting big business leaders are largely responsible for these abuses. Congress just lets it happen. Corporate heads and members of Congress seem incapable of relating to the people that are being victimized, and the mainstream media seems to have lost the ability to express the views of lower-income Americans.
1. Corporations Profit from Food Stamps
It's odd to think about billion-dollar financial institutions objecting to cuts in the SNAP program, but some of them are administrators of the program, collecting fees from a benefit meant for children and other needy Americans, and enjoying subsidies of state tax money for that could be performed by the states themselves. They want more people on food stamps, not less. Three corporations have cornered the market: JP Morgan, Xerox, and eFunds Corp.
BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Last week, Newt Gingrich, the disgraced former House Speaker and one of the current stars of CNN's "Crossfire," and Texas Republican Senator Ted Cruz were caught off guard when their conservative brethren came down hard on them for their having praised Nelson Mandela in the wake of his death. For a few days, the right wing blogosphere, always an arena of acrimony, became a landfill of outrage and animosity, which surprised both the Gingrich and Cruz camps. This week, it's Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan's turn to feel the heat and be caught off guard.
Ryan and Democratic Senator Patty Murray have crafted a budget deal that appears to appeal to neither liberals nor conservatives, especially Tea Party conservatives. However, Ryan, who has claimed that the deal, while not fully realizing conservative goals of stripping the government bare, maintained that it is a step "in the right direction."
The budget deal unleashed the dogs of conservatism. The intensity of the barking from fellow conservatives seems to have surprised Ryan. He told "CBS This Morning" that "we were a little caught off guard" by the intensity of conservative criticism.
Generally universally adored by conservatives for his hardline economic and social conservatism, the Ryan-Murray budget deal -- but not the congressman – is being pilloried by some of those very same supporters.
EUGENE ROBINSON ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
The unusual display of reasonable behavior by House Republicans this week should be seen as a retreat — a change in tactics — but not a surrender. Democrats had better note the distinction.
Sooner or later, it had to dawn on the GOP that repeatedly reenacting Pickett's Charge was not advancing the party's agenda or enhancing its electoral prospects. In martial terms, President Obama and the Democrats held the high ground; they were the ones visibly making an effort to govern while Republicans did nothing but throw themselves into battles they were sure to lose.
The "fiscal cliff" showdown last December established the template: House Republicans made absolute and unrealistic demands, Obama said no, Democrats maintained their unity — and Republicans eventually caved amid bitter recriminations. This pattern held all year, through the debt-ceiling fight and the government shutdown. In each instance, I believe, Republicans could have won more concessions if they had chosen to negotiate rather than throw a tantrum.
The GOP establishment, what's left of it, understood what was happening. But far-right pressure groups such as Americans for Prosperity, Heritage Action and the Club for Growth riled up the party's conservative base and infused true believers in Congress with false hope. Not coincidentally, such groups also filled their coffers with fundraising campaigns based on these quixotic battles.