BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
While hypocrisy runneth over at the White House on numerous fronts, it is particularly glaring when it comes to the issue of immigration. However, thanks to Jennifer Mendelsohn, the woman behind the #resistancegenealogy movement, we know a lot more about the immigrant experiences of the families of some of the administration's – and their media acolytes' -- most strident anti-immigrant voices. And those histories are chock full of the very things the administration has been critical of, including so-called chain migration, the inability to speak English, and the coming to this country to seek work, any kind of work.
In a mid-January Politico piece, titled "How Would Trump's Immigration Crackdown Have Affected His Own Team?", Mendelsohn, a Baltimore, Maryland-based free-lance writer, discussed her work tracking the family histories of anti-immigrant advocates. To put her work in perspective, she cited a comment – that appeared in a 2016 Chicago Sun-Times editorial -- by immigration historian Tyler Anbinder: "From the days of the Puritans to the present, every generation of Americans has believed that the latest wave of immigrants is completely different from—and inferior to—their own immigrant ancestors and could never become true Americans."
ROBERT F. DODGE MD FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
While elected officials of our increasingly dysfunctional democracy debated "memogate," the world became more dangerous as Trump’s Nuclear Posture Review was officially released on Friday, February 2. Ignoring scientific studies of the past decade and growing global sentiment by the world's non-nuclear states to abolish nuclear weapons, with this announcement the new arms race begins and the Cold War resumes.
Scientific studies have demonstrated the potential catastrophic global environmental effects following a limited regional nuclear war, using just 100 12-kiloton Hiroshima-size weapons (of the 16,300 in the arsenals of the nine nuclear nations, which is approximately one-half of just one percent) that would potentially kill two billion people.
This new Doctrine proposes the development of two new generations of nuclear weapons including "low-yield nukes," Submarine Launched Ballistic Missiles (SLBM) and the long-term development of Submarine Launched Cruise Missiles (SLCM). These "low-yield nukes" are 20 kt—same as the larger Nagasaki size bombs that killed more than 70,000 people. Seemingly ignoring the fact that nuclear weapons are nuclear weapons regardless of size with the same horrific initial devastation and radioactive fallout, these weapons are proposed to demonstrate America's resolve in deterring nuclear attack.
PAUL BUCHHEIT FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
reported that up to 50 million American adults had negative wealth and thus numbered among the poorest 10% of the world's adults. This was disputed by Vox writer Matthew Yglesias, who said, "..that's absurd. The poorest people in the world are the people with rock-bottom material living standards."
It's difficult for many Americans to admit the truth about extreme poverty in our country. Our poorest citizens may not be living in a farming village where they eat millet soup and walk a mile for water. But they have to deal withhomelessness, alcoholism, mental health disease, opioid addiction, stress-inducing indebtedness and inequality, and pollution levels that are the highest in the developed world. All of that makes for rock-bottom living standards.
According to Credit Suisse data over the past three years, anywhere from 4 to 10 percent of the world's poorest decile are Americans. That's 20 to 50 million adults. It's likely that many of them are only temporarily in debt, and that they have a much better chance than a third-world villager to climb out of poverty. But it's just as likely that they'll be replaced by other impoverished Americans, especially with an aging population woefully unprepared for retirement, and with the great majority of new job prospects temporary or contract-based, without security or benefits.
BRYANT WILLIAM SCULOS FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Ram ad in Sunday's Super Bowl has been widely denounced across left and liberal media for the use of a speech by Martin Luther King Jr. to sell a truck (even Fox News criticized the ad for not including MLK's advice to only buy affordable cars!).The
The ad raised eyebrows, to say the least, among many viewers for the instrumentalization of Martin Luther King Jr.'s words for commercial purposes. This simple fact did not sit well with people, but it is hardly the first time King's words (and likeness) have been licensed to sell products. Today though people are increasingly discomfited by the use of one of the US's greatest civil rights icon to sell products, and that is surely a sign of progress.
More critical viewers perceived a deeper contradiction at work. King was an outspoken critic of consumerism and, even more explicitly in his later years, of capitalism more generally. The USA Today, Vox, HuffPost and others went further. They discovered that the specific speech used in the commercial actually included a direct criticism of manipulative advertising practices, especially those used to sell cars! Ram's creative marketing team conveniently left that part of the speech out of the commercial.
The above criticisms have echoed across social media -- and completely justifiably so. Ram's use of King's speech to sell a truck is a gross misrepresentation and misuse of one of the greatest Black icons in US history (despite the shocking fact that the company which manages the licensing for King's estate approved the final ad before it aired). But Martin Luther King Jr. was not simply a powerful advocate for civil rights. He was not only a critic of the harms of consumer capitalism. He was also one of the US's greatest antiwar leaders and practitioners of nonviolent resistance.
MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Last November, at the Asia-Pacific summit, Donald Trump was eager to once again vouch for Vladimir Putin.
In this case, it was in regards to an issue hanging over the president's head like a Damocles sword: Did the Russian government interfere with the 2016 election? More specifically, it is a question of whether the Trump campaign colluded with the Russian government to defeat Hillary Clinton in the electoral vote. However, Trump has been backing Putin's denial of any interference in the election, including hacking into state election systems, regardless of whether or not his campaign had knowledge of it.
Trump praises Putin and gives him the benefit of the doubt on a regular basis. Most recently, he even refused to enforce sanctions Congress had passed against Russia for, in part, interfering with the US elections. A CNN report from the November summit once again revealed Trump's abiding faith in the veracity of Putin.
TOM H. HASTINGS FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
“Somebody said 'treasonous.' I mean -- yeah I guess, why not. Can we call that treason? Why not. I mean, they certainly didn't seem to love our country very much.” -- Donald Trump on Democratic Senators and Congress members who didn’t clap for him in his State of the Union speech.
Really? We have a temporary resident of the White House whose definition of loyalty to the United States of America is loyalty to, and expressed enthusiasm for, his boneheaded ideas and false claims of greatness? We would expect such autocratic monomaniacal pronouncements from Vladimir Putin, Kim Jong-un, Rodrigo Duterte, or any other egomaniac warlord. Hitler and Stalin were such demented oppressors. Saddam Hussein, Augusto Pinochet -- the anti-democratic autarchs are easy to name.
BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Here is a sobering thought: Brian Brown, the notoriously anti-LGBTQ president of the National Organization for Marriage (NOM), recently penned a fundraising missive to his supporters, claiming the Supreme Court is just one retirement away from banning same-sex marriage. While Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has indicated that she has no plans to retire, Brown speculated that Justice Anthony Kennedy could soon announce his retirement and, in any case, "it's no secret that most of the liberal justices are quite elderly and the cold reality of life is that nobody lives forever."
Over the past year, Brown has been pummeling his supporters with fundraising appeals. According to Fred Karger's February 2017 piece in The Advocate, "NOM filed both of its 990 IRS tax returns late, late last year, and they showed that revenue is way down, to well under $4 million for the combined NOM and the NOM Education Fund. This is down 400 percent from just four years ago when NOM raised and spent over $16 million."
MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Republican legislators have vigorously and successfully used underhanded tactics to gain majorities in statehouses and Congress, even when the majority of statewide votes are Democratic. Although the GOP employs many strategies to suppress non-white voting, its most successful tool has been gerrymandering.
After the national Census, state legislatures are responsible for carving up state legislative and congressional districts. In 2010, the cast was set, according to a revealing article in Salon about the way in which Republicans worked to ensure a majority in most statehouses and in Congress:
It [the redistricting strategy] proved more effective than any Republican dared dream. Republicans held the U.S. House in 2012, despite earning 1.4 million fewer votes than Democratic congressional candidates, and won large GOP majorities in the Ohio, Wisconsin, Michigan and North Carolina state legislatures even when more voters backed Democrats.
By diluting the Democratic vote in several districts, while drawing the district lines to include more Republicans, an artificial majority can be created that mocks democracy.
DR. BRIAN MOENCH FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
$3 billion, and generates tens of billions for the overall economy. The Super Bowl is the country's iconic sports and cultural extravaganza, and I can no longer bring myself to watch it, or any other football game.The Super Bowl is the US's biggest TV night of the year, watched by over 100 million viewers every year. This one game earns the NFL about
I used to play football in little league, and as a teenager. I loved it; it was my favorite sport and I was pretty good at it. I enjoyed the contact, hitting other boys as hard as I could. As a running back, I especially enjoyed running over other boys to make touchdowns. Every Saturday was filled with the thrill of great expectations, every game was exhilarating, every time they handed me the ball I felt like I owned the world. Even when my team lost I felt like I was still on top of the world.
And then I got injured, and had to give up the game at the ripe old age of 13. I was devastated, almost inconsolable. My dreams were shattered. And it was probably the best thing that ever happened to me.
Maybe because I quit after only three years, I still have decent brain function left. Many others are not so fortunate. Football today has become the equivalent of Roman gladiators, the sacrificing of young men for the guilty pleasures and profit of others.
MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Vladimir Putin restored the Soviet Union tradition of putting on an annual military parade to showcase the country's ability to wage war to the world. It used to be that the annual hours-long show of military wares and troops was a way of intimidating the West during the Cold War. CNN reported on the 2017 event in Red Square:
Russian President Vladimir Putin showed off ballistic missiles, armored tanks and new aircraft systems at a World War II commemorative parade in Moscow on Tuesday.
More than 10,000 troops marched in formation through Red Square to mark Victory Day, an annual event to celebrate the Soviet Union's triumph over Nazi Germany in a series of battles that ended on May 9, 1945....
Yars intercontinental ballistic missiles were among more than 100 pieces of military equipment rolled through the square.
Now, the Washington Post reports, Donald Trump wants to institute a similar parade to demonstrate US military might, to be held on Pennsylvania Avenue sometime this year. The idea is apparently under active discussion between the Pentagon and White House, and Trump is reportedly set on holding it in the next few months. The specific date has reportedly not been set yet.
Trump claims that his inspiration was a special military review he attended on Bastille Day (July 14) last year in France as a guest of French President Emmanuel Macron. Nonetheless, it is hard to think that a president with authoritarian tendencies is not also thinking of promoting US militarization. After all, the US has at least 800 military bases abroad in at least 80 nations. A White House military parade would be a bellicose assertion of US empire. It is consistent with Trump's tendency toward grandiose military statements, such as when he tweeted that he had a bigger nuclear launch button than Kim Jong-un.
Combined with Trump's other authoritarian actions, the idea of a national military parade is another indicator of the president's efforts to consolidate power.