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Guest Commentary (4605)


             Reading the New York Times the other day, I came upon an interesting article about Hillary Clinton’s upcoming trip to South America.  Not surprisingly, the Secretary of State had no plans to stop in Venezuela, Ecuador or Bolivia, nations which have been critical of U.S. foreign policy.  However, Clinton also intended to steer clear of Argentina, a major country in the wider region.  What can account for such a diplomatic snub? 

            According to the Times, the U.S. diplomat agreed to meet with Argentine President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, but only in Montevideo where Clinton was scheduled to attend the presidential inauguration of Uruguay’s José Mujica.  The Secretary of State intended to fly from Montevideo to Santiago direct, thus bypassing Argentina altogether even though the Uruguayan capital is just a quick hop across the Rio de la Plata from Buenos Aires.

            At the very last minute Clinton changed her travel itinerary and announced she would fly to Buenos Aires, but only as a mere stopover: the Secretary would spend the night in Argentina and then depart the very next morning for Chile in order to assess earthquake damage in the troubled South American nation. 


By Danny Schechter 
Author, "The Crime Of Our Time?"

What will it take?  What are they waiting for? What part of the reality of a systemic crisis that will get worse don’t they get?  

by Martha Rosenberg

Thursday, 04 March 2010 01:56

Paradise Lost

By Robert C. Koehler, Tribune Media Services

We owe the residents of the tiny island paradise called Vieques full compensation for the illnesses they are suffering courtesy of the U.S. Navy — and we owe them so much more than that.

We owe them a full accounting of what was done to their Manhattan-sized island, about 10 miles off the coast of Puerto Rico (the island is part of Puerto Rico and hence part of the United States) between 1941 and 2003, when it served as the Navy’s premiere weapons testing site. Bombs were dropped and guns were tested on the eastern portion of the island at least 200 days out of the year for 62 years; an estimated 80 million tons of ordnance pummeled the island’s fragile, tropical ecosystem over that time, contaminating soil, water and air, and bequeathing an array of serious health problems — cancer, birth defects, cirrhosis of the liver and much more — to the island’s 10,000 residents.

We owe them — how can I put this? — a commitment to sanity in the realm of national defense. What kind of defense involves the commission of war crimes against our own citizens? We owe them a national conversation about who we are and what we’ve allowed to happen in the name of national security and global dominance.


In the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision allowing an unlimited flow of corporate money into electoral politics, the former Minnesota Senator has launched two new ‘center-right’ political organizations focused on traditional conservative principles’ and dedicated to battling liberal think tanks.

When the long drawn out fight for the Senate seat from Minnesota between Democrat Al Franken and Republican incumbent Norm Coleman was finally decided – many, many months after Election Day – no one really expected the vanquished Coleman to ride off into the sunset.

And Coleman didn’t. These days Coleman is hoping to carve out some new political territory for conservatives that is just far enough away from the racousity of the Tea Party movement not to alienate them, and is a healthy distance from the Religious Right and their social agenda.

by Melvin A. Goodman

Secretary of Defense Robert Gates gave a provocative and even dangerous speech at the National Defense University last week that revealed the Cold War thinking of a key holdover from the Bush administration.  With language reminiscent of the worst days of the Cold War in the 1950s, Gates argued that the “demilitarization of Europe—where large swaths of the general public and political class are averse to military force and the risks that go with it—has gone from a blessing in the 20th century to an impediment to achieving real security and lasting peace in the 21st century.”  He concluded that a perception of European weakness could provide a “temptation to miscalculation and aggression” by hostile powers.  Gates didn’t name these so-called hostile powers; indeed, it would have been ludicrous to try to do so.

Instead of haranguing the European members of NATO, who don’t share our views about the threat of international terrorism or the need for a counter-insurgency campaign in Afghanistan (or Iraq for that matter), the United States should be reducing its own global military presence, including its  commitment to NATO.  For the past several years, under both the Bush and Obama administrations, Secretary of Defense Gates has been making the case for turning NATO into an instrument for the projection of power abroad, using Afghanistan as an example of an expanded global role.  The international coalition did not work well in Iraq; it is not working well in Afghanistan; and the results of these efforts point to the dysfunction of NATO as a military alliance. Did Secretary of Defense Gates notice that the coalition government in Netherlands collapsed on the eve of his speech because of the controversy over keeping Dutch troops in Afghanistan?


by David Kirby

Many Americans have no idea where their food comes from, and many have no desire to find out.

That is unfortunate.

Every bite we take has had some impact on the natural environment, somewhere in the world. As the planet grows more crowded, and more farmers turn to industrialized methods to feed millions of new mouths, that impact will only worsen.

The willful ignorance of our own food's provenance is curious, given our Discovery Channel-like fascination with the way in which everything else in our modern world is made. Some consumers will spend hours online reading up on cars, cosmetics, or clothes, searching out the most meticulously crafted or environmentally healthy products they can find, then run down to the supermarket and load their carts with bacon, butter, chicken, and eggs without thinking for a second where -- or how -- any of those goods were produced.


Wouldn’t it be great if American government could finally operate in a more bipartisan fashion? 

No, as a matter of fact, it wouldn’t. 

Bipartisanship is all the rage now, for three reasons, each of which is as abysmal as it is absurd. 

The first is that the Republicans, having given the country a wee taste of their politics these last years and decades, were shown to the exit door by the American electorate in two election cycles in a row.  Now, completely bereft of power except by means of every reprehensible delaying and blocking tactic imaginable, the Great Obstructionist Party is whining at every opportunity about the need for bipartisanship.  But this is an almost entirely foreign concept for them, since, when they had control of the government, they simply rammed their agenda down the throats of everyone on the horizon, including historic allies of the United States, and even – as with Bush’s prescription drug bill – members of their own party in Congress.  If they were running over the French and Germans and even Congressional Republicans, needless to say they didn’t hesitate to make frequent road-kill of Democrats, without so much as a fleeting glance in their rearview mirrors. 

Thus, all the newfangled talk about bipartisanship is simply another in a series of ploys which seek to cripple the Democrats from doing what one would normally expect a party to do once it had won control of the government.  Namely, govern.


Paul Moore is a public school teacher in Florida who has written for BuzzFlash over the years. This past week a story in the New York Times caught his attention. It was about a school board in Rhode Island who fired every teacher (100) in a school because they felt that the school wasn't "performing" well enough, a collective punishment for most likely society's ills. (Since then, the teachers considered suing the school board.) The following scathing commentary on the nation's double standard when it comes to accountability for teachers was sent to BuzzFlash by Moore, from his perspective as a teacher.

Lately I've been trying to figure out which has been the lowest performing US bank. Can't tell if it was Goldman Sachs. Must not have been because they're giving their chief, Lloyd Blankfein, a $9 million bonus this year. Maybe it was J.P. Morgan Chase because they needed a multi-billion dollar taxpayer bailout. But it couldn't be them because their headmaster, Jamie Dimon, is due a $17.9 million bonus. 

Hell, whichever banks it was that nearly plunged this country into an economic Stone Age and martial law, they seem to have gotten a pass. Their excuse, "to big to fail", seems to have actually been bought. There has been no "reconstitution" or "turnaround" for anybody at Goldman, J.P. Morgan, Citigroup, BOA, Wells Fargo, and their gambling buddies at AIG. What a strange form of accountability!


Watching this week's "health summit" in Washington, with both sides barely repressing the urge to turn the Blair House event into the Potomac version of mixed martial arts cage fighting, was discouraging. To get a little peace and quiet I was tempted to switch to ESPN and search for an hour of the world's greatest soccer riots. At least they make better theater. And there are better-defined goals.

But just when you think that liberals and conservatives will never see eye to eye on anything in this country, there comes an alliance that transcends partisan and ideological lines and takes your breath away. The two powerhouse lawyers who fought each other all the way to the Supreme Court to decide whether Al Gore or George W. Bush would become President are at it again, but this time they're fighting on the same side to defend marriage equality -- same sex marriage -- as a constitutional right.

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