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.
JOE CONASON ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
When Wendy Davis proclaimed that she is "pro-life" — a description long since appropriated by conservatives opposed to abortion rights — the right-wing media practically exploded with indignation. How could she dare to say that? But having won national fame when she filibustered nearly 12 hours against a law designed to shutter Lone Star State abortion clinics, the Texas state senator with the pink shoes doesn't hesitate to provoke outrage among the righteous.
Speaking to a crowd at the University of Texas in Brownsville last Tuesday, Davis, now running for governor as a Democrat, made a deceptively simple but profound declaration: "I am pro-life. I care about the life of every child: every child that goes to bed hungry, every child that goes to bed without a proper education, every child that goes to bed without being able to be a part of the Texas dream, every woman and man who worry their children's future and their ability to provide for that."
Her argument directly pierced to the contradiction within the right's "pro-life" sloganeering. So far the feeble answer from the right is that Davis must be "lying" because nobody who supports a woman's right to choose is pro-life.
But that response is merely a repetition that seeks to evade her deeper philosophical thrust. Whatever anyone may think about abortion, the persistent question for self-styled pro-lifers is why they tend to insist on making life so much more difficult for so many children who have entered the world. The same Republicans — and they are nearly all Republicans — most vocally opposed to reproductive rights are also most likely to cut assistance to poor families, infants and children at every opportunity, from the moment of birth long into adolescence and beyond.
MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
In a recent CNN online article on its "Belief" blog, a scandal about the Affordable Care Act that is rarely written about was explored:
When people talk about the Affordable Care Act, most focus on the troubled launch of its website. But another complication of the law has received less attention: a “coverage gap” that will leave nearly 5 million poor Americans without health care, according to a Kaiser Health Foundation study.
The coverage gap was created when 25 states refused to accept the expansion of Medicaid under Obamacare. The people who fall into this gap make too much money to qualify for Medicaid and not enough to qualify for Obamacare subsidies in their state insurance exchanges. If they lived elsewhere, they would probably get insurance. But because they live in a state that refused the new health care law, they likely will remain among the nation’s uninsured poor after Obamacare coverage kicks in come January.
In short, Red States adopting the total GOP assault on the Affordable Care Act (ACA) refused to accept federal funda for expanding Medicaid eligibility, leaving many of their citizens without coverage that they could receive under the act. But the Republican politics of damning anything associated with the ACA as the work of the devil has left many white and minority Americans in healthcare Hell.
PAUL BUCHHEIT FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
The process is gradual, insidious, lethal. It starts with financial stress in various forms, and then, according to growing evidence, leads to health problems and shorter lives.
Financial stress is brought upon us by the profit motive of capitalism, which offers little incentive to feed hungry children, to treat the sick, to secure us in retirement, to provide job opportunities for middle-class Americans. Some of the steps in the process are becoming more and more familiar to us.
MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
After all, collectively these enhancements to our current regime may not solve another important problem evident within some large financial institutions—the apparent lack of respect for law, regulation and the public trust. There is evidence of deep-seated cultural and ethical failures at many large financial institutions. Whether this is due to size and complexity, bad incentives or some other issues is difficult to judge, but it is another critical problem that needs to be addressed.
The top New York Federal Reserve Bank official, William Dudley, made this rare allegation among Wall Street insiders and government officials late on in his remarks delivered on November 8 at the Global Economic Policy Forum in NYC.
ERIC ZUESSE FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
I covered previously the decades-long Koch-operation that got us to where we are (see those earlier posts here, and here, and here, and here). I shall now describe the money-trail from there to Senator Ted Cruz, who directly headed the shutdown-effort in the U.S. Congress.
The two chief contributors to Cruz's political career donated over a million dollars to it (and no other entity donated as much as $100,000 to it). These two top sources of contributions to Mr. Cruz's political career were Club For Growth, and Senate Conservatives Fund, which together donated over a million dollars to it.
Here now is some background on the two top funders of Cruz's career:
The Club for Growth, which was the top donor ($700,000+) to Cruz, was founded in 1999 by Steve Moore. As Right Wing Watch has noted, "Before founding the Club for Growth, Moore was the director of fiscal policy at the Cato Institute, and has stayed on as a Senior Fellow." Here is how iron the Koch's control over the Cato Institute was, and is: David Weigel at slate.com bannered on 25 June 2012, “Ed Crane Steps Down to End Koch Brothers’ Attempted Coup at Cato,” and Weigel reported that the Kochs were firing Crane (who by that time was America’s longest-serving think-tank CEO), because he wasn’t doing a good enough job to “provide intellectual ammunition that we can then use at Americans for Prosperity and our allied organizations” in order to oust Barack Obama and the Democrats, and replace them with Republicans.
As the Right Wing Watch report also noted regarding the leadership of the Club For Growth: "Board Members: CFG President Pat Toomey; Vice President Chuck Pike [who was Toomey's long-time buddy]; Richard Gilder, formerly Chairman of the Manhattan Institute; and Thomas Rhodes, President of National Review magazine," and the CFG is "associated with a variety of right-wing organizations, including the Heritage Foundation." Each one of those entities and persons has been the recipient of much Koch "charitable" cash, even besides the payments for leadership in the CFG. Club for Growth was also overwhelmingly the largest direct donor to Jim DeMint's political career during 2007-2012 ($157,067 as compared to the #2 direct donor, Scana Corp., which is a S.C. energy company, $49,475); Koch Industries itself was #6 (at $22,000); Club for Growth was also the largest direct donor to DeMint's entire political career.
MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Overshadowed by the recent budget and deficit grand farce in DC, Washington State and Colorado have promulgated the regulations under which marijuana will be sold. This comes in the wake of 2012 referendums that legalized the private growth and use of pot in the two states.
The Seattle Times reported in mid-October that the state Liquor Control Board -- without controversy -- adopted guidelines for cultivation and sales in Washington. Colorado had already set up a framework for implementing the de-criminalization of pot there.
Beyond the social and cultural issues -- and polls -- trending toward the legalization of pot use, the two states will become national models on whether or not the sale of marijuana will lead to sizable increased tax revenue for barebones public budgets.
It is worthy of note that in Washington the Liquor Control Board is in charge of overseeing marijuana legalization. The alcohol industry has generally worked against ending marijuana prohibition. It fears that events such as the Super Bowl will become a pot fueled munchy fest instead of the traditional downing of beer and shots of whiskey and bourbon.
In short, given a pot of consumer money to spend on getting high, marijuana is likely to cut into liquor industry sales.
STEVEN JONAS MD, MPH FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
The movie "12 Years a Slave" is described in a Wikipedia entry presumably written by its makers as an "historical drama film." It is a British-American production based on the book by the same name published in 1853 by the African-American man, Solomon Northrup, who endured this agony. It received a limited release in the United States last month, and will be released in Great Britain in January, 2014.
It will be very interesting to see how wide a release it eventually gets in the U.S. It hardly likely to be shown in very many, if any, theaters in the South, except possibly in those catering almost exclusively to African-American audiences. It would certainly not be well-received by those Southerners (and others) who refer to the First American Civil War as, for example, the "War of Northern Aggression" (a term used by the new President of the National Rifle Association, a man who refers to President Obama as a "fake President" and to Attorney General Holder as "rabidly un-American"), nor to those who refer to it as the "War for Southern Independence."
It is fascinating that the first reference cited in the latter document is: "How Should 12st [emphasis added, and yes, that is exactly how it appears in that document] Century Americans Think about the War for Southern Independence?" In that particular article, the author, a Professor of History appropriately enough at the University of the first Secessionist state, South Carolina, calls the First Civil War "Lincoln's War to Prevent Southern Independence."
Of course, at its center was the struggle by the Slave Power to preserve slavery in the states in which it already existed and to expand the "peculiar institution" to all of the then-remaining Western Territories. This is a movie that shows the full horror of slavery. Horror, that is, to those who view what was done to one group of human beings by another as a horror. Presumably those who characterize the war as one for "Southern Independence" or whatever, don't see it that way.