Guest Commentary (3566)
BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Hillary Clinton can be in the news whenever she darn well pleases. David Bossie cannot. As a former First Lady, Senator from New York, and Secretary of State, Clinton is a media superstar. David Bossie is not. However, Bossie, president and Chairman of the conservative organization, Citizens United, has gotten his share of media attention by hounding Bill and Hillary Clinton. The other night, Bossie showed up on the Fox News Channel's "The Kelly File," calling Hillary Clinton a "ruthless political operative," and he didn't mean that as a compliment.
Whatever one thinks of David Bossie, one thing is unassailable; he played a monumental role in the Supreme Court's 2010 landmark ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, which allowed unlimited spending on election campaigns by corporations, unions and nonprofit organizations.
Why's Bossie so riled these days? Ironically, "[Hillary] Clinton may become ... [Citizens United's] beneficiary-in-chief, poised to cash in like no other political candidate has before," Dave Levinthal recently wrote in a piece titled "Hillary Clinton: the 'Citizen United' candidate," which was posted at the website of The Center for Public Integrity, Levinthal pointed out that "the Ready for Hillary super PAC has already raised millions of dollars from tens of thousands of donors and plans to transfer its unparalleled resources to a future Clinton campaign machine. Another super PAC, the previously pro-Barack Obama Priorities USA Action that raised more than $79 million during the last election cycle, has begun transitioning into a Clinton shadow operation."
EUGENE ROBINSON ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
At the risk of repeating myself, the federal minimum wage is far too low and needs to be raised. Republicans who claim to be worried about lost jobs can dry their crocodile tears, because a few simple measures would get all those jobs back -- and lots more.
It has been amusing to watch GOP grandees try to paint themselves as champions of the working stiff. This new appreciation for the struggles of low-wage earners was prompted by a report from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO), which estimates that raising the minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10, as President Obama proposes, would result in the loss of 500,000 jobs.
Never mind that about 25 million workers would get raises, according to the report, or that 900,000 people would be lifted out of poverty. A spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, released a statement saying that the CBO report "confirms what we've long known" and that "our focus should be creating -- not destroying -- jobs for those who need them most."
Boehner is consistent on the issue, at least, if at times a bit overdramatic: In 1996, when he was head of the House Republican Conference, he said in an interview with The Weekly Standard that "I'll commit suicide before I vote on a clean minimum wage bill."
STEVEN JONAS MD, MPH FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Many readers of this column will know of the movie "The Monuments Men." It received a huge build-up through previews and advertising, and also through personal appearances. (I saw John Goodman do an interview for "Morning Joe.") It is about a group of fine art and architectural experts who are assigned to closely follow allied forces through France and Northern Europe as they slowly push the Nazi Army back to Germany and then closing in with the Red Army coming from the East, force the German unconditional surrender on May 7, 1945.
Their assignment (and there was no "Mr. Phelps" to accept or reject it) was multifold: to try to prevent where possible damage to priceless and irreplaceable art and architecture by allied forces, prevent the theft of fine art by the Nazis and in the case of art already stolen, recover it.
As Manohla Dargis points out in her review in The New York Times, "The story's real life heroes were a group of curators, restorers, archivists and the like who served in the Monuments, Fine Arts, and Archives Section, an Allied effort to protect Europe's cultural heritage."
The exploits (and there were many) of the real Monuments Men (and women) are recounted in several books, among them one by Robert Edsel with Bret Witter entitled "The Monuments Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves, and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History." The actual number of monuments men and women was 345. For the purposes of his movie George Clooney whittled the number down to six.
EUGENE ROBINSON ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Washington - Sometimes, when I'm in my car, I crank up the music pretty loud. All you Michael Dunns out there, please don't shoot me.
Please don't shoot my sons, either, or my brothers-in-law, nephews, nephews-in-law or other male relatives. I have quite a few friends and acquaintances who also happen to be black men, and I'd appreciate your not shooting them as well, even if the value you place on their lives is approximately zero.
I know I shouldn't have to ask, but nothing else has worked. The criminal justice system has a mixed record -- Dunn was at least partly held accountable for the burst of mayhem in which he fatally shot Jordan Davis, while George Zimmerman got off scot-free for killing Trayvon Martin. But whatever the final outcome, prosecutors and juries never get involved until after the fact. When mothers have already cried over the caskets of their dead sons. When it's too late.
Davis' killing, if you haven't been following the case, was just as senseless as Martin's. On Nov. 23, 2012, Dunn and his fiancee stopped at a gas station in Jacksonville, Fla., and parked next to a red Dodge Durango with four African-American teenagers inside. The young men made the mistake -- ultimately fatal to Davis -- of having the Durango's music system turned up too loud.
PAUL BUCHHEIT FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
The hypocrisy is spread evenly among corporations, Congress, and free-market apologists, all of whom insult and imperil average Americans with their double standards. Here are some of the worst:
1. Poor People Just Need to Get a Job. But there are No Jobs.
This may be the greatest hypocrisy of them all, because it directly impacts so many Americans. When anti-food-stamp Congressman Stephen Fincher (R-TN) said, "The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat," John Boehner had the answer: "Our job here is not to divide the American people...Its to help every American have a fair shot at the American dream."
But they don't provide that fair shot. In October, 2011 Senate Republicans killed a proposed $447 billion jobs bill that would have added about two million jobs to the economy. Members of Congress filibustered Nancy Pelosi's "Prevention of Outsourcing Act," even as two million jobs were being outsourced, and they temporarily blocked the "Small Business Jobs Act." In April, 2013 only one member of Congress bothered to show up for a hearing on unemployment.
Congress is not the only hypocrite here. In a recent poll that asked if "the government in Washington should see to it that everyone who wants to work can find a job," 68% of the general public agreed, while only 19% of the wealthy were in agreement.
BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
It may not garner the massive box office receipts that Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ did ten years ago (more than $600 million worldwide), but several high profile pastors are doing their darnedest to see that Son of God becomes the next super-successful Christian flick.
A major part of the box-office-seeking strategy, according to Charisma News, is to have well-known pastors, including megachurch pastor, Rick Warren of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., "rent every screen in numerous multiplex theaters across 10 cities for the premiere of Son of God."
Charisma News reported that "Cinemark Theaters is scheduling a few large-scale buyouts on Feb. 27, said James Meredith, head of marketing and communications. 'The interest level for meetings, events, screenings and buyouts seems to be on par with that of major blockbuster, tentpole or franchise movies,' said Meredith."
HARVEY WASSERMAN FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
has announced finalization of hotly contested taxpayer handouts for the two Vogtle reactors being built in Georgia. Another $1.8 billion waits to be pulled out of your pocket and poured down the radioactive sink hole.So the "all the above" energy strategy now deems we dump another $6.5 billion in bogus loan guarantees down the atomic drain. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz
A nuke-powered drone strike on fiscal sanity.
While Fukushima burns and solar soars, our taxpayer money is being pitched at a failed 20th century technology currently distinguished by its non-stop outflow of lethal radiation into the Pacific Ocean.
The money is to pump up a pair of radioactive white elephants that Wall Street won't touch. Georgia state "regulators" are strong-arming ratepayers into the footing the bill before the reactors ever move a single electron—which they likely never will.
Sibling reactors being built in Finland and France are already billions over budget and years behind schedule. New ones proposed in Great Britain flirt with price guarantees far above currently available renewables.
The Vogtle project makes no fiscal sense ... except for the scam artists that will feed off them for years to come.
BRIAN J. TRAUTMAN FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
In one of his most famous writings, "Letter from Birmingham Jail," Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said of injustice, "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly." In other words, the very existence of injustice has implications for us all. Thus, we each have a responsibility to actively challenge unjust power structures wherever they should surface. According to the United Nations, "the immortal words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. have never been more relevant than they are today."
Structural injustices are pervasive in the United States, perhaps more than in any other Western industrialized nation. They include record levels of economic inequality and mass incarceration and attempts to slash entitlement programs, restrict women's reproductive rights, and erode voting rights. Globally, injustice exists more frequently in other forms, such as poverty, hunger, worker exploitation, sex trafficking, resource privatization, and severe restrictions on women's and gay rights. In every corner of the world people's rights and dignity are under constant assault by different forces.
Numerous definitions of social justice can be found in the literature. Some are more comprehensive than others. An inclusive definition may draw from several perspectives. This piece integrates a few such perspectives – an approach which will inform the later discussion on the importance and significance of social justice. Hopefully this examination will grow our understanding of why we must strengthen progressive campaigns that are confronting various ongoing efforts to deny or strip fundamental rights. Such an understanding may help us build a stronger and more ubiquitous nonviolent social change movement.
ROBERT C. KOEHLER FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
"When you go to dig your fields, or make a pot from clay, you are disturbing the balance of things. When you walk, you are moving the air, breathing it in and out. Therefore you must make payments."
Oh, unraveling planet, exploited, polluted, overrun with berserk human technology. How does one face it with anything other than rage and despair, which quickly harden into cynicism? And cynicism is just another word for helplessness.
So I listen to the Arhuaco people of northern Colombia, quoted above at the Survival International website, and imagine — or try to imagine — a reverence for planetary balance so profound I am aware that when I walk I disturb it, so I must walk with gratitude and a sense of indebtedness. Walk softly, walk softly . . .
Instead, I live in this world:
"Deep sea ecosystems are under threat of mass industrialization, warned a panel of scientists on Sunday," according to Common Dreams.
JIM HIGHTOWER ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
In "The Wizard Of Oz," Dorothy assessed the odd things she was experiencing and said to her little dog, "Toto, I've a feeling we're not in Kansas anymore."
Lately, Sen. Pat Roberts has gained a new understanding of what Dorothy meant. The Kansas Republican has been in the U.S. Senate for 18 years, was in the House for 16 years before that, and was a congressional aide before that. So he's been away for a long time, and now that he's running for another six-year senate term. Roberts has learned that the Kansas he thought he was from — a state of relatively moderate, Eisenhower-style Republicans — has become the Political Land of Right-Wing Oz.
A rabidly extremist, Koch-headed, tea party Republicanism has taken hold of the GOP's primary process and blown out the moderates. The upshot for Roberts is that a hard-right core of Republican voters are now howl-at-the-moon lunatics who demand ideological purity over everything else. Worse for Pat, they've put up one of their own to run against him in the August primary.