WILLIAM RIVERS PITT FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
For the record, I hope the Affordable Care Act survives and succeeds. I hope President Obama pulls these irons out of the fire and hammers them into shape. I know he and his administration are struggling to enact long-term solutions to a complicated situation in the age of the 24-hour bullshit machine that is the modern "news" cycle, and I deeply and fully appreciate the difficulty of the task.
But I'm pissed, and rightfully so, and I will tell you why.
I believe that government - federal, state and local - can and far more often than not does work for the benefit of the people. If you drive on roads, have your trash collected, eat food that isn't poisoned, drink water that isn't black, breathe air that isn't blue, get a response from fire or health professionals when you cry for help, if you go to court and win, if the snow gets cleared off your street after a blizzard, if your community is rebuilt after a natural disaster, and every single time someone stops for a red light to let you pass, you can thank a government.
STEVEN JONAS MD, MPH FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
In the fall of 1993, President and Mrs. (as she was then know, before she became brand "Hillary") Clinton were gearing up for the introduction of what became known as "The Clinton Health Plan" to Congress. At the Annual Meeting of the American Public Health Association, held in Washington, DC in November that year, a session was held looking for volunteers to speak on behalf of the plan at community meetings to be held the following year. I had a long background in what we used to call "health care delivery systems analysis."
And so I went along to that first session, really a tryout. Each participant was asked to give a brief presentation on the problems facing the US health care system and how they thought that the Clinton Health Plan could help to ameliorate them. I was pleased that I was chosen to participate and invited to come to Washington a couple of weeks later to begin training. I was dismayed, however, when, with no further discussion and certainly no interview for the job, I was asked to become a trainer myself.
These folks did not know me, had engaged in no training for trainers, and it quickly became apparent that they were more or less shooting from the hip. Nevertheless, when we chosen "speakers on behalf of the Clinton Health Plan" were invited to a plenary session at the White House, I fully expected that we would be presented with marching orders and a detailed plan, including talking points, for dealing with the policy and political problems with which we would be expected to deal out on the CHP campaign trail.
Instead, there were several speeches from the designers of the plan about its contents, which were already well-known, and that was about it. No strategy, no tactics, no group meetings, just sitting in lectures. I remember coming home from that meeting and telling my wife at the time, "if this is all they've got, the CHP is going to lose."
EUGENE ROBINSON ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
It was a necessary retreat, but President Obama made clear Thursday that his bottom line remains unchanged: "I'm not going to walk away from 40 million people who have the chance to get health insurance for the first time."
The president's pledge should be the nation's bottom line as well. It came as Obama surrendered to overwhelming pressure, much of it from fellow Democrats, and allowed individuals to keep their bare-bones insurance policies that do not meet the Affordable Care Act's standards -- at least for a year. The change was meant to correct an imbalance that cannot long be tolerated: More people are being annoyed and inconvenienced by the new law than are being helped.
It should be the other way around, and Obama accepted the blame. "There have been times where I thought we were kind of, you know, slapped around a little bit unjustly," he said. "This one's deserved, all right? It's on us."
The only semi-dodge was when Obama apologized, kind of, for his repeated assertion that Americans who were satisfied with the health insurance coverage they already have would be able to keep it. "There is no doubt that the way I put that forward, unequivocally, ended up not being accurate," he said.
"Ended up not being accurate" is a phrase I might try the next time I have to correct an erroneous fact or a misattributed quotation. I doubt my editors will let me get away with it.
Overall, however, Obama was as contrite as I've ever seen him, and also as resolute. We screwed up, he effectively said, but we're not backing down.
MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Ah Thanksgiving, that quintessential of US holidays when the warmth of family and appreciation for the bounty of our nation are celebrated. The tantalizing and comforting aroma of turkey -- with all the trimmings -- lingers as we give thanks and bask in the warmth of those we love.
Some begin the groaning board meal with a prayer; some begin with secular thanks; and some don't have enough money for a proper holiday meal. But this is the day that symbolizes the harvest, the fruit of one's labor, the emotional recognition of the value of work and life and family and friends.
Except that the creeping consumerism of American society has been encroaching upon Thanksgiving. Last year some big box stores started "black Friday" by opening up on Thanksgiving eve. That new retailing strategy is continuing in 2013, with K-Mart breaking a new regrettable milestone by throwing open its doors at 6 AM on turkey day.
ROBERT C. KOEHLER FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
I felt the music and the fire as the civil rights movement rose from its slumber.
"Repair . . . justice!" went the call and response last week, in the basement of an old Chicago church at the corner of Ashland and Washington. "Restore . . . life! Rebuild . . . community!"
There was Gospel music and hand-clapping, passion and politics. The Reclaim Campaign launched and the Rev. Alvin Love said, "This is just the beginning. It's going to take all of us. We're going to leave this place mobilized, energized and activated. The work begins NOW."
The kids are dying. That's what they call Chicago: "Chiraq." The situation has to change; the community has to rebuild.
"Why is so much violence acceptable?" high school senior Keann Mays-Lenoir asked the audience of about 300 people. "Why are adults sitting back and allowing it to happen? We're in fear of our lives at school. We don't know who will be shot down next. It is not OK for any child to die senselessly.
"It is not OK that my friends and I have already planned our funerals."
MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
International Forum on Globalization (IFG), provides evidence that the Koch Brothers could earn at least $1 billion from Alberta tar sand land holdings (with additional profit from their processing plants and related products and services). This is despite the unconvincing Koch Brothers claim that they have no personal interest in the pipeline.A recent study by the
That disconnect reflects a larger problem that befuddles the northern section of the Keystone XL Pipeline decision. Tar sands oil is already flowing into the US and the Koch Brothers are already profiting from it through its conversion into petroleum coke.
Think Progress recently detailed the toxic pollution caused by coke pilings in Detroit and Chicago. The owners of the processing facilities that turn the tar sand oil into petroleum coke at these two sites are, you guessed it, the Koch Brothers. The name of the parent company is, hold your gasp, Koch Carbon.
MARK KARLIN, EDITOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
After 9/11, then President George W. Bush spoke of leading a Crusade against Afghanistan and Iraq. His handlers quickly walked back the use of the word Crusade, given its connotations of endless bloodletting of non-Christians during several journeys of butchery conducted by Christian knights in the Middle Ages. Jews were killed and Muslims in the Holy Land were slaughetered mercilessly.
So it not surprising that Bush is speaking (his spokesperson won't say whether or not he is being paid his usual six digit fee) on November 14 at a Jews for Jesus fundraisier in Dallas. Of couse, the Bush public relations machine is crying fowl at criticisms, that this is just akin to the many other speeches he gives (and gets paid for) as he avoids the public eye (most of his gigs are closed to the press).
According to The Atlantic: "Bush's chief of staff Josh Bolten previously told the magazine that the Bush family is 'very open to and respectful of faiths of all kind, but particularly Judaism.' This decision, to say the least, complicates that reputation." Did we just hear something like, "some of my best friends are Jewish"?
JANE STILLWATER FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
I was watching "The Mentalist" on TV recently, where some guy was being tortured, had a finger cut off with pruning shears and his face caressed with an acetylene torch. Yikes! And even during that nice little detective show "Castle," you can always count on seeing a whole bunch of blood and guts - not to mention the torture scenes and disemboweling now available on "Elementary" and "Body of Proof" and "Revolution" and "Person of Interest" and "Scandal". And these are just the milder prime-time television shows. I'm not even going to get into the nightmare-producing horrors of "Criminal Minds" and "Law & Order SVU" - because I can't even bear to watch those.
And then there are all those currently-popular "undead" shows too. How many times can you torture a werewolf or drive a stake through a vampire's heart before he or she is truly dead? Apparently a lot.
JIM HIGHTOWER ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
In last week's elections, the national media focused tightly on the center ring, where two gubernatorial contests and one mayoral race were spotlighted. The most interesting of these to me was the dazzling, out-of-nowhere, high-wire performance of Bill de Blasio, the free-wheeling, six-foot-seven, progressive populist who shocked New York City's establishment with his landslide victory, becoming mayor of America's biggest metropolis.
That was fun, but so was the clown ring, where two performances deserve our attention. First was a bizarre act of political slapstick that played out far from the Big Apple. Coralville, Iowa, with fewer than 20,000 denizens, had the pleasure of publicly kicking the Koch brothers' kiesters on Election Day! Americans for Prosperity, the chief political arm of the multi-billionaire right-wing extremists, suddenly descended from out of the blue to run a high-dollar campaign against the re-election bids of Coralville's mayor and two city council members. The Koch group snidely called the little town "Iowa's version of Detroit." That was hardly a winning strategy — voters roundly rebuked the rich out-of-towners by voting two-to-one to return all three incumbents to office.
MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
With more than 10,000 estimated to be dead as a result of a typhoon in his homeland, Yeb Sano -- the chief Philippine delegate to the current UN climate change talks in Poland -- vowed to stop eating until serious actions are taken to reduce global warming.
According to The BBC online,
At the opening of the two-week Conference of the Parties (Cop), Mr Sano said he was not just speaking for those who lost their lives but for the thousands who were now orphans.
He told the meeting he would refuse to eat until progress is made.
"In solidarity with my countrymen who are struggling to find food back home, I will now commence a voluntary fasting for the climate, this means I will voluntarily refrain from eating food during this Cop, until a meaningful outcome is in sight."
"What my country is going through as a result of this extreme climate event is madness, the climate crisis is madness. We can stop this madness right here in Warsaw," he said.