Guest Commentary (5222)
DANNY SCHECHTER FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUTFascism is one of those words that sounds like it belongs in the past, conjuring up, as it does, marching jack boots in the streets, charismatic demagogues like Italy's Mussolini or Spain's Franco and armed crackdowns on dissent and freedom of expression.
JANE STILLWATER FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
If I were Jesus or Harry Potter, we'd have peace in this world.
Yesterday I went down to Thrift Town in San Leandro and bought my three-year-old granddaughter Mena a used Fisher-Price three-story parking garage and three bags full of recycled Matchbox cars, broken Transformers, miniature horses and a dinosaur. And when we got back home, Mena immediately set to work creating her own little world.
I was so impressed with the world that Mena had created that I decided to create my own little world too.
If you had the power of Jesus or Harry Potter to create any world that you wanted, what kind of world would you create? Here's what I would do:
First, I would make every man on this planet impotent. Yes, that's I-M-P-O-T-E-N-T, you heard me right. Sorry, guys, but not even Viagra will help you here. "But why?" you might ask. Why? So that after ten years' time with no children being born, human beings might actually finally wake up and start appreciating the true wonder of children again and stop starving them, beating them and dropping bombs on their heads.
Second, I'd destroy every single nuclear weapon in the world. It would be as if the Manhattan Project had never existed. Sorry, J. Robert Oppenheimer, but no more glory days for you. And Julius and Ethel Rosenberg will have gotten on with their lives instead of being electrocuted and there would have been no Hiroshima, no Chernobyl and no DU babies born without arms, legs and heads in Kosovo and Fallugah.
Third, I'd wave my magic wand over Wall Street and the Pentagon. Poof. Southern Manhattan would now have a new Central Park
WALTER BRASCH FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Just about anything that could be said about the murders in Tucson has been said.
We know that Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) was holding a "Congress on the Corner" meeting outside a Safeway grocery store.
We know that a 22-year-old named Jared Lee Loughner is in FBI custody, and has been charged with one count of attempted assassination of a member of Congress, two counts of killing an employee of the United States and two counts of intent to kill employees of the United States. We know that six people are dead, that 14 were wounded, several of whom were in grave or critical condition. We know there will be additional state charges filed against Loughner.
We know that among the dead are John Roll, a Republican and the senior federal judge in Arizona, who had come by the rally to support his friend, the Democratic representative; and Christina-Taylor Green, a nine-year-old who was born on 9/11, and died on another day of violence. We have heard the names of George Morris, one of those shot, who tried to protect his wife, Dorothy, who didn't survive; of Dorwin Stoddard, 76, who was killed while trying to protect his wife, Mary; of Phyllis Schneck, a 79-year-old widow who lived in Tucson eight months a year to avoid the snows of her native New Jersey; and of Gabe Zimmerman, 30, Giffords' outreach director.
We know that Loughner was rejected by the Army, withdrew from a community college prior to being suspended, became more abusive the past year, and that many, even before the shootings, have called him mentally unstable.
We know the shooter used a Glock 19 9-mm. semi-automatic weapon, with a 33-bullet magazine, which he purchased legally. We know that Congress did not renew the assault weapons ban, which allowed civilians to own pistols but with only a 10-bullet magazine capacity. And, we also know that sales of Glock pistols following the murders, in a nation steeped in a gun culture, increased by 60 percent in Arizona and 5 percent nationally.
We know that Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik, a conservative in his 30th year in office, called Arizona a "mecca of prejudice and bigotry," and condemned the "the kind of rhetoric that flows from people like Rush Limbaugh," whom he called "irresponsible" and who bases his talk show upon partial and wrong information to inflame his listeners. Three months earlier, the sheriff, possibly the most respected law enforcement officer in Arizona, said the Tea Party "brings out the worst in America," and implied that the atmosphere of hate was partially responsible for the resulting murders.
While most Tea Partiers are White, middle-aged or senior citizens who are angry but not violent, whenever there is violence, whenever there is racism, discrimination, or homophobia, there are Tea Party sympathizers present.
We know that armed citizens, some carrying signs that advocate violence, attend Tea Party rallies, and speak of the overthrow of government.
We know that numerous members of Congress, including Rep. Giffords, had received death threats after they voted for health care reform. We know that some Tea Party leaders openly urged their followers to throw bricks through the windows of those who supported health care reform, and that several offices were vandalized.
We know that during the 2010 mid-term elections, Sarah Palin had targeted 20 Democratic representatives, including Rep, Giffords, by placing cross-hairs targets
PETER MICHAELSON FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
In the wake of the Tucson massacre, President Obama has called for a new era of political civility. If we really want this reform, we need to understand something about the roots of inflammatory discourse.
Many partisans, particularly on the Right, are not interested in any resolution of political issues. The real purpose for the venom they direct at the Left is to cover up their own unresolved negativity and to discharge that negativity on to us.
Nikolas Kozloff for BuzzFlash at Truthout
As more and more Wikileaks cables are released, a true cloak and dagger picture of U.S. foreign policy is emerging. Take, for example, recent documents pertaining to Central America, where the Bush administration sought to bolster its regional allies in an effort to counteract the political influence of Venezuela. Alarmed by rising star Hugo Chávez, who was fast making ideological inroads within Washington's traditional sphere of influence, diplomats promised to collaborate on sensitive intelligence gathering in an effort to halt the region's dangerous shift to the left.
One cable dates to November, 2004 when the region's so-called "Pink Tide" was just getting underway. For five years, Chávez had been in power but in Central America the Bush administration could count on the support of a host of friendly client governments. Indeed, it would not be until several years later that leftists Daniel Ortega, Mauricio Funes and Manuel Zelaya would win the presidencies of Nicaragua, El Salvador and Honduras, respectively. Nevertheless, judging from the cables regional governments were already extremely wary of Chávez.
The tiny Central American nation of Costa Rica has long prided itself on its political independence and long-term stability. The country has no standing army, and during the height of U.S. counter-insurgency involvement in the region some twenty five years ago the San José government played a key role in drawing up a Central American peace plan. More often than not, however, Costa Rica has proven to be a willing partner in Washington's wider geopolitical designs. Indeed, the 2004 cable
STEPHEN PIZZO FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
What's going to be fascinating to watch in the weeks and months ahead is how the Right adjusts to the new "kinder, gentler" rhetorical environment everyone - but them - is demanding.
If you have been a student of the new Right you understand that the gains they've made in American politics have come in direct proportion to a rising level of anger. Some of that anger was there just waiting for affirmation, but much more of it has been ginned up by rightwing talkers like Limbaugh, Beck and FOX News.
The anti-government mantra now hammered home 24/7/365 by these demagogic forces provided both cover and opportunity for rightwing politicians in Congress. It did so by rounding up the lower-common denominator types at the grassroots level by affirming their unease and distrust of a changing nation and world they simply cannot understand, much less accept.
Money and votes followed; money from corporate sources that always fund efforts to neuter government regulations and regulators, and votes from a class of voters only Barnum and Bailey could appreciate.
RICHARD STITT FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
While I was in Tucson in April, 2010 Governor Jan Brewer was in charge of Arizona's statehouse. Her name was not well-known at the time because she had only ascended to that position after the previous governor, Janet Napolitano, was tapped to become Barack Obama's Secretary of Homeland Security. When she announced her intention to run for the state's top spot she found a diamond in the rough - a chance to bash Hispanics and feed into the simmering bigotry being fomented by the likes of J.D. Hayworth (who was challenging John McCain for the Senate) and the subversive, flame-throwing belligerents in the Tea Party.
The diamond in the rough turned out to be the one of the biggest wedge issues in America - Senate Bill 1070, or what I believe it should aptly be called, "The Driving, Walking, And/Or Standing While Brown Bill." Governor Brewer signed the bill into state law on April 23 with the supplication to pray for her election which she won in a landslide on November 2, 2010.
HARVEY WASSERMAN FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
The Second Amendment supports those of us who would control guns - and thus prevent the insane slaughter that compromises our security.
James Madison and the Founders of this nation would be enraged to see the Second Amendment being used to put guns in the hands of the Tucson shooter and so many others like him.
The debate over the violent hate-speak of Sarah "Lock & Load" Palin and her Foxist ilk is long overdue.
But so is a careful national reawakening to what the Second Amendment actually says:
"A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed."
BOB KOEHLER FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Will there be copycats?
Will parents let their children attend political rallies anymore? Will Congress ever come to our corner again?
We witness another impromptu festival of American violence, this one in front of a Tucson Safeway. One more place that used to be safe and ordinary, suitable for children, is suddenly, for one random moment, a free-fire zone. A 9-year-old girl who wanted to learn how government works is among the half dozen dead. Democratic Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, shot in the head, fights for her life.
What do we do now, other than shrug, shudder, grieve?
A few days later, one priority - one - remains standing in the wreckage. How in God's name do we disarm?
TOM HASTINGS FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Christina Taylor Green is a message spirit. She arrived on Earth on September 11, 2001, a day when terrorists armed with no more than boxcutters turned jet airliners into guided missiles and slaughtered almost 3,000 people, mostly civilians. Indeed, she was one of the babies featured in a book, Faces of Hope, that looked at one baby from each of the United States born on that day. The third-grader had been elected to her Mesa Verde elementary school student council and was at the meet-up for congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords with a neighbor adult, Susan Hileman. The two were holding hands when gunfire erupted on January 8.
For me, this child's death engenders the question, How many children will it take?
How many children will it take before the Rush Limbaughs and Sarah Palins stand down from violent imagery and rhetoric? Would it be so hard for them to find language that doesn't evoke killing, shooting and crosshairs? How debilitating to their effectiveness could it be? Do they believe they would lose followers if they honored the spirit of this child and abjured such language? Do they need the kind of followers who only respond to that imagery?
TONY PEYSER FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Bill Maher’s often mocked people with special needs.
My son has autism, so
An intense dislike of Maher has for some time been
My status quo.
But talking about Tucson with Anderson Cooper
I’m willing to admit
Maher made some excellent points and perhaps
Has grown up a bit.
He said this shooting is an example of "small government."
A man mentally undone
Couldn’t manage to get help for any of his many problems
But was able to buy a gun.
DAN HOUGH FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Now of course, as we're seeing with the talking heads and pundits on on television, radio and in the press, there is an attempt to deflect the reality of what has happened in Tucson by trying to promote the idea that there is equal blame to be shared across the political spectrum for the rhetoric that seems to have brought us to this point. But of course, we all know that is utter and complete nonsense.
On the basic premise that having one side tone it down is not enough, I agree. There is ugly rhetoric on both sides, and nothing will change till both sides change the tone of the debate and disagreement. But to suggest equivalance between the so called left and right is just disengenious and quite frankly, insulting.
Take an extreme progressive activist and gadfly like Michael Moore. He considers those on the right and opponents like the Bush Administration enemies, and uses extreme rhetoric and ugly innuendo against them. But in his deeds and words, he attacks them with cameras and microphones, not guns. And he tells those who would be supporters or followers to do the same, as he did in the 2004 election when he urged people to go to the polls with cameras and notebooks to defend the right to a fair election, and not to go to the polls with guns and weapons. It really is one thing to go after those you disagree with an intent to embarrass them, and quite another to go after them with the intent to eliminate them.
JACQUELINE MARCUS FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Among the massive pile of commentaries, I thought someone would write an editorial on the connection between Jared L. Loughner's desire to join the armed forces and his love for killing, and that maybe our war culture has something to do with promoting a violent society? No one, to my knowledge, raised the question-so here's my take on that point:
For ten years, we've been watching the U.S. military and CIA drones blowing up human beings in distant lands. Reports about the dead, the dying and maimed filter through the press as if they were merely video reality game shows that we've grown accustomed to, a way of life that promotes a "culture of war". And the typical American attitude is, "Oh...that's happening to them, not us."
JOSEPH GERSON FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Now it's political assassination and murders in Tucson.
William Faulkner wrote that the past isn't dead, it isn't even past. I'm a veteran of Arizona. As one of the state's leading peace advocates and organizers during the Vietnam War, I had more than my share of death threats, including one left on the accelerator of my car. After President Nixon urged "hard hats" to attack peace advocates, the John Birch Society loosed drunken miners against us, and I was beaten by police and sentenced to prison for the crime of peacefully handing out flyers on a public sidewalk protesting against the use of anti-personnel cluster bombs against Vietnamese civilians.