AKIRA WATTS FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
“Given the choice between a Republican and someone who acts like a Republican, people will vote for the real Republican all the time”
- Harry S Truman
Tuesday, the 4th of November, was a bad night. Call it a shellacking or a drubbing or some other gerund signifying a vicious back alley beating. Whatever you call it, it comes down to a rough election for the Democratic Party. Governorships were lost. At least 11 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives were lost. And the one that really stings is the loss of the Senate: at least eight, most likely nine, Senate seats flipped to give the Republican Party decisive control of the Senate.
It was a bad night.
But you know what it wasn’t? It wasn’t a mandate. It wasn’t a sweeping call for anything. It was a midterm election, with abysmal turnout, in a political landscape that overwhelmingly favored the Republican Party. As disasters go, the 2014 election is all full of sound and fury, signifying, in the end, nothing much at all.
Except that John Boehner and Mitch McConnell are now talking about once more attempting to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Meanwhile, professional political buffoon Ted Cruz is preparing to unleash another blast of idiocy on the nation, by acting as de facto majority leader and turning the Senate into a right-wing morass. McConnell has issued a stern warning to Obama, calling for him to move to the center and not to “poison the well” by doing anything remotely associated with Democratic Party ideals. These are the actions of people who feel they have the weight of history behind them, who think they speak with the voice of the American people, who inexplicably believe that they have a mandate to change the fundamental course of the nation.
I have a frank and anatomically improbable suggestion for all that noise.
MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
If you haven't read about the 90-year-old man, Arnold Abbott, arrested in Fort Lauderdale for preparing food for the homeless, it is a news item that reveals the legalization of heartlessness in many areas of the United States.
The attempt to margianalize and, in effect, starve the homeless is a topic that BuzzFlash at Truthout has written about in the past. The specifics of the detention of Abbott, however, ominously symbolize how compassion is increasingly becoming outlawed in some cities. According to the The Daily Signal,
Should a 90-year-old pastor face sixty days in jail and a $500 fine for simply giving food to homeless people? The authorities in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. seem to think so.
Arnold Abbott runs a non-profit charity called Love Thy Neighbor, Inc., which seeks to care for the homeless population in the Fort Lauderdale area. Abbott is a World War II veteran, who was awarded two Purple Hearts as an infantryman. He dedicates his charity in memory of his late wife, Maureen.
STEVE JONAS FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
If the Democrats play their cards right (well, I know, I know, I’m asking for a lot) Joni Ernst should become a major new face of the Republican Party. First, she came from behind in the Iowa Republican primary last June to win the nomination for the upcoming Senate seat over a group of wealthy businessmen. Apparently an important factor in that victory was her famous “as a kid I castrated hogs” ad.
Now she has won the general election against a popular Congressman, a protégé of long-time Iowa Senator Tom Harkin, one of the last old-timey liberals in the Senate. On her way to winning the general election, she made this campaign comment:
“‘I have a beautiful little Smith & Wesson, 9 millimeter, and it goes with me virtually everywhere,’ Ernst said at the NRA and Iowa Firearms Coalition Second Amendment Rally in Searsport, Iowa"
As reported in The Huffington Post, “ ‘But I do believe in the right to carry, and I believe in the right to defend myself and my family -- whether it’s from an intruder, or whether it’s from the government, should they decide that my rights are no longer important.’ ”
MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
I was at the Seattle Airport (Sea-Tac) over the weekend, having just gotten off a flight on Southwest Airlines - which uses the word freedom as an associated branding word to such excess that the airline even has a "freedom shop" on their website - when I observed banners in the airport for a Mexican restaurant chain (Qdoba) that heralded "freedom tastes like guacamole."
Given the jingoism and underlying assertions of so-called "American exceptionalism" in Tuesday's election, the concept of a food selection at a US chain of Mexican restaurants representing freedom struck me as symbolic of how we as a nation have trivialized the word freedom into sloganeering. When freedom becomes just another word for selling products, it isn't freedom.
The use of freedom in polishing up the brands of consumer items and services appears endless, once you begin to notice it. Banks, automobile companies, clothing manufacturers, appliance brands - and so many more - promote the idea that purchasing a product will give one more liberty.
MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
It is worth noting that the 2014 Republican rout took place amidst a pervasive resurgence of a "state of fear" in the US. ISIS and Ebola became the fear factors of this election - and an electorate that is trembling because of visions of being beheaded or contracting a frequently lethal disease tends to vote for authoritarian leadership.
Yes, there were numerous other factors in the election, including a likely low turnout of Democrats and Independents due to a variety of reasons. Ironically, many potential liberal voters no doubt see Obama as too militaristic and lacking in vision as an alternative to Republicans. In the absence of viable third party candidates in senate races (except in Kansas, where the Independent Greg Orman lost to incumbent Republican Senator Pat Roberts), the FOX pumping of endless fear - along with radio sensationalist brayers such as Rush Limbaugh - played a significant role in this year's off-year election. Add to that the abiding racism that is constantly being stoked against a black president - even if he governs much like George W. Bush on foreign policy and many "grand bargain" issues - and you have a perfect storm for fearmongers, extremists and peddlers of US jingoism.
Interestingly, BuzzFlash at Truthout received an email from a website that carries news of interest to - what James Risen in his new book, Pay Any Price - calls post-9/11 opportunists and entrepreneurs. The email is a weekly briefing on "Border Security Today: Enforcement, Interdiction and Immigration." An offshoot of a for-profit site, HSToday.US - loaded with articles such as "Cybersecurity Set to be Fastest Growing Homeland Security Market, Report Says” - applauded Australia and Canada the other day for increasing their new legislation to "fight terrorism."
HARVEY WASSERMAN FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
The GOP/corporate coup d'etat is nearly complete.
The Republicans now control the major media, the Supreme Court, the Congress and soon, the presidency.
Think Jeb Bush in 2016.
All throughout America, right down to the local level, buried in a tsunami of cash and corruption, our public servants are being morphed into corporate operatives.
Our electoral apparatus is thoroughly compromised by oceans of dirty money, Jim Crow registration traps, rigged electronic voting machines, gerrymandering, corrupt secretaries of state.
The internet may be next. Above all, if there is one thing that could save us a shred of democracy, it's preserving net neutrality. This fight could in fact outweigh all the others, and may be decided soon. Whatever depression you may now feel, shake it off to wage this battle. If we now lose the ability to freely communicate, we are in the deepest hole of all.
The roots of this corporate coup reach where they always do when empires collapse - useless, cancerous, debilitating, endless imperial war.
BILL QUIGLEY FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
I used to live and work in the Irish Channel at Hope House in New Orleans. I worked with families who lived in the St. Thomas Housing Development. More than 1,500 families lived in brick buildings stretched three blocks by four blocks in the area which is now the River Garden apartments.
Some Catholic Sisters who were living in the St. Thomas asked me to join them in serving the poor and I agreed. One of the sisters received a small stipend for teaching religion at Mercy Academy. She told me she would give me her stipend of $250 per month if I joined them.
I knew Catholic social teaching put a priority on helping the poor, so I joined them so I could help people.
I worked with these sisters and the neighborhood families for several years before going to law school. I helped when someone was sick and needed help to go to the hospital, with responding to bill collectors and with filling out government forms.
BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
For those who may be convinced that Obamacare, aka The Affordable Health Care Act - signed into law of March 23, 2010, and now doing well in most states despite its herky jerky rollout and still somewhat negative polling numbers – will not be overturned even if Republicans win control of the Senate, consider how the conservative movement has dealt with the issue of abortion.
Codified as a right by the US Supreme Court in 1973, opponents of reproductive rights have been slashing away at abortion for more than forty years. And while the anti-abortion movement has spawned its fair share of terrorists - true believers willing to kill abortion providers, harass patients at clinics, threaten and intimidate health care workers, bomb and burn down clinics -- the movement has also hit upon a strategy that is literally stripping women of their right to an abortion.
Over the past few years, state legislatures have come up with more anti-abortion legislation than at any time in the law's forty-one-+-year history. State by state, abortion rights have been abridged through new restrictions including a twenty-four hour waiting period, parental consent, forced face-to-face counseling with an abortion provider, and a ban on the use of Medicaid funding (except in extraordinary cases). Clinics, forced by legislation to retool at the cost of many thousands of dollars, have been closing by the droves. In some states, recent legislation has imposed a requirement that abortion providers have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital; a requirement that the American Medical Association and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists say is medically unnecessary.
ANASTASIA PANTSIOS OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Climate deniers are sounding increasingly unhinged as evidence piles up that we’ve got to do something about the way we’re ravaging our planet.Anti-gay activists are sounding increasingly unhinged as marriage equality sweeps the U.S.
Put them together and what do you have? An epic level of head-scratching conspiracy-mongering emanating from the master of that craft, Family Research Council president Tony Perkins, a man who has been professionally obsessed with LGBT people for years.
According to watchdog group Right Wing Watch, Perkins told a caller to his Washington Watch radio program last week that those who are advocating for action on climate change are behind the push for LGBT rights.
The caller offered him an opening, saying that homosexuality is “promoted” because it doesn’t lead to reproduction and that “there’s this anti-life agenda, there’s a total anti-human, anti-life, human beings are a virus type of mentality.”
Perkins took the opportunity to connect that with people working to stem and reverse climate change.
GARY WOCKNER OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
New York Times ran a story about how the oil and gas industry and its high-priced lobbyist/publicist Richard Berman are personally targeting Colorado activists who are working in anti-fracking campaigns. The story is based on a secretly recorded speech given by Berman and his colleague to industry officials in Colorado Springs in 2014 during which he described how the industry was going hard negative and using personal attacks against activists and how the industry must prepare for an “endless war” against environmentalists about fracking.The Oct. 30
I am one of the activists targeted by Berman. If you go to the website Berman highlighted in his speech, BigGreenRadicals.org, then click on “Colorado,” then click on “Gary Wockner,” you’ll see Berman’s hit job (it’s not very accurate or insightful). I’m in good company there, joined by my Congressman Jared Polis, Yoko Ono, Mark Ruffalo and other local Colorado activists with whom I’ve been proud to work over the past couple of years.
A few environmental leaders are taking Berman and industry to task for their tactics targeting me and others. After reading the story in the Times, Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune said, “You know climate deniers and big polluters are desperate when they turn to the tired old tactics of the tobacco industry to try and save themselves.” Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. called Berman “The Oil Reich’s Minister of Propaganda” in this tweet:
Rick Berman: The Oil Reich's Minister of Propaganda & public information. #HOWDOTHESEPEOPLELIVEWITHTHEMSELVES?