Guest Commentary (5124)
BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH
Sarah Palin represents a remarkable brew of celebrity, politics, religion and sex appeal. To borrow a construct from Esquire's Stephen Marche, she "is nothing if not a product of [her] time": instant celebrity, blissful ignorance, a lack of truthiness, and boundless self-esteem.
Whether you like her and get a kick out of her spunk and snark, revel in her celebrity, and find her absolutely fascinating, or you can't stand her, think she's obnoxiously ill-informed, and are tired of hearing and reading about her and her family, Palin is hands down the most compelling political figure in the country.
To fans, her reputation cannot be tarnished, and it won't be, regardless of how many misstatements and gaffes she makes, like her recently calling North Korea, America's ally. The fact that her SarahPAC shamelessly purchased $64,000 worth of her new book, "America by Heart," and is selling autographed copies of same for $100 dollars a pop, is likely to be seen in pro-Sarah quarters as savvy entrepreneurialism.
And, it certainly won't matter to Palin-ophiles if it is true, as comedian Margaret Cho claimed on her blog last week, that Bristol Palin -- her fellow combatant on "Dancing with the Stars" -- was guilt-tripped by her mother
DEE EVANS FOR BUZZFLASH
If I hear one more so-called "Obama supporter" go on national television and claim that he/she is disappointed with President Obama for any issue remotely regarding race, I will plan a Million Man and Woman March myself!
To the Bill Maher's and Gene Simmons' of the world: If you are disappointed in Barack Obama because you voted for the "Black Guy" thinking he would do certain things and behave a certain way, then you have your wires crossed and not only are your values and ideals warped but so is your perception of how you think a Black person should act...and as an African-American I am deeply offended!
I have heard Bill Maher say on several occasions that he supported Barack Obama because he thought as a Black man he would bring that "gangsta" attitude to the White House. Well Bill, I have news for you, not all Black men are gangsta, not all Black men are 'ghetto' and not all Black men are eagerly waiting in the wings to help you and the likes of Gene Simmons assuage your white guilt by being able to say, "I voted for the Black guy."
As for Simmons, he recently went on CNN's Parker/Spitzer and claimed that he voted for Barack Obama to prove some kind of "see, we're not all racists" point about our country and then in the same breath claimed that Obama is nowhere near qualified
JACQUELINE MARCUS FOR BUZZFLASH
Or to put the question differently: Would Martin Luther King Jr. support and defend Julian Assange's efforts to inform the public about war and corporate environmental crimes?
Last night I watched "The Great Debaters" with Denzel Washington again, and it occurred to me that during the arguments given in support of civil disobedience that Julian Assange, publisher of WikiLeaks.org, is practicing civil disobedience and that the Obama administration is on the wrong side of history.
For much of his crusading career, Martin Luther King Jr. was regarded by the U.S. Justice Department and Hoover's FBI "an enemy of the state," a "terrorist", and a "communist". Many more accusations were made against him for his attempt to shed light on human suffering that had its violent roots in the acceptance of racism. Most people remember King for his demonstrations against segregation and racism, but what the history books conveniently leave
DAVID MASCIOTRA FOR BUZZFLASH
The average young American graduates college with $24,000 in debt, according to the Student Debt Project (Link: http://www.
Now, they must take on this unenviable burden in the worst job market in nearly one hundred years. The Student Debt Project also reports
WILL DURST FOR BUZZFLASH
It's the most... wonderful time... of the year. And the most frantic and anxious and mind numbing and expensive. The rewarding part is my on- going seasonal side job as a lumpy elfin holiday gift consultant, where it is an honor and a privilege to be able to pass along some hot tips for this year's Christmas shopping lists. None of which involve surplus uranium tailings from sales to the Iranians.
There's still more than a few of us struggling to climb out of financial holes so deep we're being tickled by the tendrils of redwood roots, but we're not that difficult to shop for. Dollar coins. Discount clothing. Used food. Lint covered gum and pennies. Roadkill wrapped in the Sunday Funnies. We are
NIKOLAS KOZLOFF FOR BUZZFLASH
In Oliver Stone's recent documentary South of the Border, leftist regimes in Latin America are depicted rather idealistically. In country after country, Stone interviews the region's leaders who criticize the United States and present a common anti-imperialist front. Yet, while it's certainly true that politics has taken a decisive leftward shift from Venezuela to Bolivia and beyond, many differences and tensions remain. That, at any rate, is the impression I got when I read U.S. diplomatic cables released by whistleblower Wikileaks.
Previously, in a couple of online articles, I analyzed internal political fissures within the top echelons of the Brazilian political leadership. U.S. cables reveal that some members of the Lula administration harbored suspicions about Venezuela's Hugo Chávez, and, more often than not, saw eye to eye with Washington when it came to wider South American geopolitics. While these revelations are surely eye opening, it now appears
BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH
The extremist anti-abortion activist is hanging out with future Speaker Boehner's staff, criticizing impotent mainstream pro-life groups and urging anti-abortion activists to join him in supporting the airing of a graphic anti-abortion ad during the Super Bowl.
Randall Terry has a plan. And, if he can pull it off it will likely be his most spectacular accomplishment ever. All he needs is about $2.5 to 3 million dollars. Although his plan will culminate on Super Bowl Sunday in Dallas, Texas, it has nothing to do with the actual football game. It doesn't even have anything to do with Ronald Reagan's 100th birthday, which, coincidentally, will be celebrated on the very same day as the Super Bowl. Terry aims to rock your world just as you and your friends have settled down to some fabulous food, a late afternoon-early evening of Super Bowl football, and a handful of spectacularly hyped ads.
If, however, Terry pulls his magnum opus of a scheme off,
SHAMUS COOKE FOR BUZZFLASH
As the recession grinds on, politicians in most industrial countries have an incentive to make exaggerated claims about the supposed coming economic recovery. Some say the recession is over. Obama is in the group that claims we're on "the road to recovery," while other nations can only spot recovery "on the horizon." Below are seven important social phenomena that point to a more realistic economic and political outlook.
1) Central Banks are Dumbfounded. The usual tricks that U.S. and European central banks use to avoid recessions are long-exhausted. Interest rates cannot get any lower. And because cheap money wasn't working, the printing press was turned up a notch, into what the U.S. federal reserve calls quantitative easing -- injecting hundreds of billions of dollars into the world economy, escalating an emerging trade war.
2) Trade War. For a global economy to grow, global cooperation is needed. But in a major recession all countries engage in a bitter struggle to dominate foreign markets so that their own corporations can export. These markets
MARK KARLIN, BUZZFLASH EDITOR FOR TRUTHOUT
Salvador Dali was the master of surrealism, but the Obama administration gave him some competition this week.
The Obama/Clinton State Department warned staff members not to read the WikiLeaks cables that many of the same staff members wrote and had access to, prior to the leak, on a classified government site.
According to The Christian Science Monitor, "The US State Department has directed its staff around the world not to surf the WikiLeaks website, according to employees. The ban is in response to WikiLeaks' decision to publish classified material."
Even more bizarre and chilling: students at Columbia University
TONY PEYSER FOR BUZZFLASH
A sex offender who Gov. Tim Pawlenty
Had pardoned has many protesting
Because this man later victimized a child
With his repeated sexual molesting.
The 2012 hopeful has done well in Minnesota
But the question for Pawlenty
Is how much damage will this pardon do to him?
The answer is ... puh-lenty.
STEPHEN PIZZO FOR BUZZFLASH
What do climate-change and does America's lingering fiscal crisis have in common?
No one with the power to do something to mitigate either has what it takes to do what it will take to keep either from taking all of us over the cliff.
America's once vibrant and, at least marginally progressive economy has been turned into a sucker's game, like Three Card Monte; the dealer and the house always win and the players lured into their game always lose.
And, on the Big Stage, the earth's atmosphere, a century after we began using it as a trash can, is fixing to clean house. And nature cleans house it has not problem throwing the baby out with the bathwater. Yet few in government, and even fewer in industry, are ready to step up the plate and admit that, whether it's their fault or not, they must change if worldwide disaster is to be mitigated. (Twenty five years ago I would have used the term "averted," but we pissed that opportunity away long ago. Now the best we can hope for is to minimize the body count.)
I only mention all this because I've been keeping my own "Denial-O-Meter" on both issues and it's still reading solidly in the red. On the economy, for example, most economists and government/political leaders speak of our current troubles as "an extended and deep recession." No it's not. It's the cliff, and we've gone over it, an event that does not include an eventual return to marketplace normalcy.
Once you go over a cliff it's time to start thinking about how those who survive the fall can change so they aren't just setting the survivors up
LARRY BEINHART FOR BUZZFLASH
It's quite simple really: Tax cuts usually lead to higher unemployment. Tax increases usually lead to lower unemployment.
Since 1950 we have had five tax increases on the rich. Four out of five times unemployment went down.
Since 1950 we have ten cuts to the top marginal rate. Six out of ten times unemployment has gone up.
|YEAR||TOP MARGINAL TAX RATE||UNEMPLOYMENT RATE||RESULT|
|1963||77||5.2||Tax cut/ Unemployment down|
|1968||75||3.6||Tax hike/ Unemployment down|
|1969||77||3.5||Tax hike/ Unemployment down|
|1970||71.8||4.9||Tax cut/ Unemployment Up|
|1971||70||5.9||Tax cut/ Unemployment Up|
|1982||50||9.7||Tax cut/ Unemployment Up|
|1987||38.5||6.2||Tax cut/ Unemployment down|
|1989||31||5.6||Tax hike/ Unemployment up|
The legacy of trickle down economics.
More wealth for the rich, fewer jobs for the rest of America.
(Larry Beinhart is the author of Wag the Dog, The Librarian, and Fog Facts: Searching for Truth in the Land of Spin. All available at nationbooks.org. His latest novel is: SALVATION BOULEVARD. Website: http://www.larrybeinhart.com.)
BRUCE PEDERSEN FOR BUZZFLASH/TRUTHOUT
Why Do I Feel Like a Christian Scientist with Appenditis? (With Thanks to Tom Lehrer)
I always thought myself to be a cautious optimist. Tending to be more moderate and living in the gray areas more than black & white I try to think things through and hopefully do the right thing. Recycling, gardening, donating, animal rights, respecting the environment, etc. are second-nature.
I certainly don't do a perfect job but these things make me feel that I might be doing a small part to make the world a better place. But then I think about all the things out there rearing their ugly heads and realize that no matter what small amount of good we may do.....we're probably screwed anyway.
Sure....there's always the possibility that some little crackpot tyrant will lob a nuclear missile and start something that can't be stopped. Same goes for a meteor hitting the earth, the Mayans being right, a giant sunspot cooking our goose, ETs enslaving humankind or Jesus showing-up, blowing the whistle and throwing most of us out of the pool.
But it's probably not the calamitous stuff that's going to nail us.....it's the stuff that seems to happen progressively. Slow enough that many don't see it or become apathetic to it or are simply too busy to be bothered with it. And by the time it reaches the point where the public-at-large takes notice it's probably too late. What makes it worse is
PATRICIA WELLER FOR BUZZFLASH
Do Republicans ever sit in a room together and begin the discussion with "What can we do for the good of the country?" Because I can't see it.
Whether they were tea partiers or simply the disenchanted, the middle class drove the Republicans to power in November. You reap what you sow, but in our defense, we were mesmerized by the irresponsible reporting of FOX News, the blatant disregard of the facts on conservative talk radio, and the not so veiled implications that a black man, who it was said may not be a citizen but may be a Muslim, could not run this country.
Making the issues of the deficits and debt the mid-election issues du jour, the G.O.P., largely responsible for these problems, now is doing whatever it takes to make things worse. In part, that is because they are doing whatever it takes to bring down the president instead of the deficit, hardly a noble, commendable, or patriotic goal.
Extending tax cuts for the rich makes no sense as it adds a trillion dollars to the deficit. The G.O.P., however, is attempting to hold the White House hostage in order to win on this issue. En masse, the G.O.P. will not discuss anything, including the extremely important Start treaty with Russia, until tax cuts for the rich are extended.
Failing to extend unemployment benefits makes no sense because if you pay the unemployed, they have to spend the money to buy the necessities that they used to buy with a paycheck. This would be good for the economy. But again, en masse, and with the help of some Democrats who apparently do not understand the concept of unity, our politicians let the unemployment benefits expire.
We cannot ignore our beleaguered president's style. In trying to please everyone, he gains nothing. He compromised on the Health Care Reform bill by taking out the public option in addition to other concessions. Republicans now are hell bent on repealing it.
For years, the difference between the two parties has been that Democrats try to, or at least think they can do, what is right for this country. Republicans fail to recognize what is the right thing to do because they are first and foremost power driven, and secondly, they are focused on an agenda that has absolutely no bearing on who we are or where we want to go as a country.
What we have wrought with our November votes is a recipe for civil unrest that will only escalate if our politicians don't start