Guest Commentary (4982)
PETER G. COHEN FOR BUZZFLASH/TRUTHOUT
The United States is now installing a missile shield from Northern Poland through the Mediterranean and Black Sea to Asia and Japan. The nations and warships involved are near to or bordering on Russia and China, though the stated intent is to protect our allies from the missiles of Iran and North Korea.
While the ability of this shield to stop incoming missiles is questionable, our nation is making the political arrangements and the installations now.
Because the various versions of the missile shield systems are still in the developmental stage, they will require continuous upgrading and improvements. As a result, we are entering a phase of continuous spending on this Eurasian shield, while here at home we are cutting back on education, libraries, infrastructure, fire stations, etc. In other words, we are investing in the partial defense of other nations while our children and our national future are neglected.
This is not a partisan issue. Both major parties have participated in funding the Missile Defense Agency (MDA) -- in spite of its questionable value.
While our President has received a Nobel Peace Prize for his good words on abolishing nuclear weapons and progress on reducing our wars in South Asia, he is, at the same time, extending our involvement with foreign nations, placing our troops in critical situations, and stimulating an arms race with Russia and China.
WILL DURST FOR BUZZFLASH
Man oh man, I’m mad. I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore. Take what? I don’t know. And that makes me mad too. Angry. Riled up. Cranky. Irate. Livid. Bellicose. Splenetic. Which has something to do with the spleen. Think it involves leakage. Whatever it is, it can’t be good and I got it.
I’m mad at everything and everybody, but especially at career politicians. Not to mention career pediatricians. From now on, one of my kids gets sick, I’m taking them to see some incensed old coot straight off the street carrying a misspelled sign. Experience is way overrated. Why can’t US Senator be an entry- level position?
I’m mad about paying taxes. Because I don’t like paying taxes. I’m tired of my hard earned money wasted on silly things like roads and air traffic controllers and paramedics and pipeline inspectors. And flossing. I hate that too. Who needs teeth? Members of the lamestream media elite, that’s who. So they can lie through them. Those guys I’m mad at because they keep running stories about me being mad.
I’m mad at the government’s nit picking rules. Let corporations regulate themselves. They know what they’re doing. I’m mad because I have to work two jobs just to get by and I’m mad rich people don’t get more tax cuts. I’m mad about all the jobs that went overseas and I’m mad at unions demanding a living wage. I’m mad my life isn’t better than my parents’ and I’m mad I can’t have everything now and force my children to pay for it. And knowing I’m confused just fuels my maddening.
STEVE PIZZO FOR BUZZFLASH
One of the (many) mistakes attributed to George W. Bush was that he never asked average Americans to sacrifice anything for their country in the “War on Terror," but rather to “just go shopping.”
Well, the GOP decided not to make that mistake again. This time it’s the war on terror of taxes they are fixing to fight, and they want average Americans on board and on the hook. Well, it might not be so much current average Americans on the hook, but rather their kids and grandkids, who will get the bill for it.
In a nutshell their argument goes like this: The top 1% or so of American earners, whose net worth soared over the past decade, and who now have excess dough stacked up like cordwood will blackmail us. They don’t even waste time any longer trying to convince us that, if we let them to keep yet more money they will let some of it “trickle down” to us. Instead they now just cut right to the chase with direct threats: raise their taxes and they will cut us off -- they will stop spending and the economy for the rest of us will get even worse. “One move to tax us one dime more and the economy gets it.”
BARBARA'S BUZZ FROM ATLANTA
Regarding the "financial regulatory overhaul...Representative John A. Boehner of Ohio and other Republican leaders summoned more than 100 industry lobbyists and conservative political activists to Capitol Hill for a private strategy session...Mr. Boehner and his deputies told the Wall Street lobbyists and trade association leaders that by teaming up, they could still perhaps block its final passage or at least water it down." And you thought they worked for you---think again---Repuglicans only take care of those with the most money. Repuglican bosses are industry lobbyists and very very very rich conservative political activists.
How to buy a verdict thanks to the conservative opinion of Democracy! The black-robed conservative Supreme 5 made sure money can buy everything for conservatives and for corporations, including voice, votes, and verdicts! "Supreme Court: Corporations Can Buy Judges...The Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision allows businesses to make unlimited political contributions to judges and politicians. When judges are elected, the need for these contributions inherently turns judges into politicians. Sympathetic judges are corrupt businesses’ most valuable allies. Corporations and their senior officials can commit civil or criminal wrongs with impunity if their case is assigned to a friendly judge." Justice is no longer blind, it now has a conservative price tag and it can be bought!
When Newt Gingrich hasn't got anything left, he makes up lies to stoke fear and loathing. Gingrich is ethically and substantially an empty suit. The way he treated his past wives is a clue as to his lack of moral character. His is to use and abuse, he'll do whatever it takes in his endless pursuit of political ambition. Newt Gingrich is not credible, he is a has been looking for a re-run.
BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH
'Chatter' about a 'truce' in the abortion wars appears to be a 'concerted effort emanating from establishment Republicans anxious to win over/hold on to independents heading into the 2010 and 2012 elections,' says anti-abortion activist Jill Stanek.
Over the past few months there have been several breaches in the conservative movement’s ideological firmament. When Ann Coulter accepted an invitation by GOProud to speak at its HOMOCON 2010 gala, several Christian conservatives lashed out at her. When Glenn Beck declared that same-sex marriage wasn’t a burning issue for him, and “The View’s” Elisabeth Hasselbeck came out in support of same-sex marriage, both were lambasted by the Christian right. When Ken Mehlman, who served as the campaign manager for the 2004 re-election campaign of George W. Bush and Chairman of the Republican National Committee from 2005 to 2007, finally came out of the closet in late August and announced that he was would work with a pro-gay organization, conservatives jumped all over him. And, the controversy over the building of the Islamic Community Center two blocks from Ground Zero has set conservative, inhabiting different sides of the debate, against each other.
Now, with the electoral successes of the Tea Party Movement mounting up, another issue has come to the forefront; abortion.
The question being debated within the conservative movement is whether or not the issue should be highlighted, or even discussed, during the run-up to November mid-term elections. Some longtime GOP politicians and Tea Party activists think the issue should be put on the back burner and the focus should be on the economy. Anti-abortion activists are arguing that raising the issue is a winning strategy.
One of the ironies embedded in this debate is that at least five Republican Party/Tea Party-backed candidates for Senate – Nevada’s Sharron Angle, Kentucky’s Rand Paul, Delaware’s Christine O’Donnell, Colorado’s Ken Buck, and Alaska’s Joe Miller -- are opposed to abortion under any circumstances, including rape and incest.
Democrats should be aware, however, that regardless of how the internecine debates and struggles within the GOP/Tea Party over the primacy of social issues in this year’s campaign turns out, unlike years past, there is no indication that social conservatives are threatening to stay home this Fall.
James Bopp Jr., a Republican National Committee member from Indiana and a founder of the RNC’s Conservative Caucus, recently said that "Any campaign should address the issues that are of most concern to the voters now and which are most likely to lead to success." Bopp added that "Economic and fiscal issues are the most pressing now, so it is appropriate that they are in the forefront of Republican candidates' issues."
MARC PERKEL FOR BUZZFLASH
I'm confused about where the new tea Party stands on sexual issues. On one hand Tea Party backed Republican candidate for Governor of New York, Carl Paladino, sent a pornographic email with a video of a woman having sex with a horse. On the other hand Tea Party backed Republican candidate for Senator of Delaware, Christine O'Donnell, has taken the opposite position. She believes that masturbation is adultery and she is against stem cell research because "American scientific companies are cross-breeding humans and animals".
So on one hand Carl is distributing porn so that his friends can masturbate to women having sex with horses, which also raises the question of what his position is on cross breeding between humans and animals. On the other hand Christine believes masturbation is wrong especially when a horse is trying to crossbreed with a human woman. So as a voter I don't understand what the Tea Party is for or against.
Whatever the Tea Party stands for the Republican voters seem to like these two candidates so much that both won their elections last Tuesday against more traditional Republicans who seem to be losing to these nutcases. I don't understand these Republicans but I can tell you that I wouldn't let them anywhere near my pets or farm animals and I sure wouldn't elect them to public office. I think I'd rather focus on who is going to reverse the damage done to America by the Bush administration.
BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH
These are good times for Gingrich who is in demand as a speaker, recently produced an anti-Islam film with his third wife, has taken to religion and is palling around with some of the more extremist Christian conservatives in the country, and is raking in the dough through his American Solutions for Winning the Future.
He’s everything you might think he is and more; venal, vile and occasionally vulnerable. He has voracious appetite for political power, rhetorical flourishes and for wanting to be thought of as the smartest guy in the room. He’s become more “religious” as time passes, embracing, and in turn being embraced by, some of the more hard-line Christian conservatives in the country. He’s got a lot of money at his beck and call. And, he’s running for president of the United States in 2012; maybe!
Ultimately, "That's up to God and the American people," he recently told Esquire magazine’s John H. Richardson.
He’s Newt Gingrich and despite the ever-apparent smugness that has made him one of the most unpopular politicians in the American public’s minds eye, never-the-less he is ever in demand.
In the wide-ranging Esquire profile titled “Newt Gingrich: The Indispensable Republican," Gingrich, the disgraced former Speaker of the House, author, lecturer, filmmaker, Fox News Channel political commentator, is captured traipsing around the country gathering chits for 2012; speaking wherever (meetings, rallies) and to whomever (GOP/Tea Party supporters). In part what makes Gingrich a potentially viable presidential candidate is that he has become the master of his own domain; garnering big money in support of a series of Gingrich-inspired initiatives and websites.
One of the most formidable of these fund-raising jackpots is called American Solutions for Winning the Future, or American Solutions for short. On its website, the organization describes itself as “a tri-partisan citizen action network of over 1.5 Million members. Our goal is to create the next generation of solutions that will ensure that the United States remains the safest, freest, and most prosperous country in the world.”
Then, there’s Gingrich Productions, which recently released a new film called “America at Risk,” which is hosted by Gingrich and Calista Gingrich, the young congressional aide who became his third wife. A two-minute promo for the film is available at You Tube, where nearly 28, 000 views have been recorded. While that number doesn’t indicate a Gingrich Productions’ blockbuster, another Gingrich You Tube video, titled “Gingrich: I’m Deeply Worried” – an excerpt from a Gingrich appearance at the National Press Club -- has been viewed nearly 1.8 million times.
TONY PEYSER FOR BUZZFLASH
Even before the morning after,
This is already a bad dream; it's
Unwise in general elections to get
In touch with your inner extremist.
SHAMUS COOKE FOR BUZZFLASH
With the November elections quickly approaching, the majority of Americans will be thinking one thing: "Who cares?” This apathy isn't due to ignorance, as some accuse. Rather, working people's disinterest in the two party system implies intelligence: millions of people understand that both the Democrats and Republicans will not represent their interests in Congress.
This begs the question: Whom does the two party system work for? The answer was recently given by the mainstream The New York Times, who gave the nation an insiders peek on how corporations "lobby" (buy) congressmen. The article explains how giant corporations — from Wall-mart to weapons manufacturers — are planning on shifting their hiring practices for lobbyists, from Democratic to Republican ex-congressmen in preparation for the Republicans gaining seats in the upcoming November elections:
"Lobbyists, political consultants and recruiters all say that the going rate for Republicans — particularly current and former House staff members — has risen significantly in just the last few weeks, with salaries beginning at $300,000 and going as high as $1million for private sector [corporate lobbyist] positions." (September 9, 2010)
Congressmen who have recently retired make the perfect lobbyists: they still have good friends in Congress, with many of these friends owing them political favors; they have connections to foreign Presidents and Kings; and they also have celebrity status that gives good PR to the corporations.
Often, these congressmen have done favors for the corporation that is now hiring them, meaning, that the corporations are rewarding the congressmen for services rendered while in office, offering them million dollar lobbyist jobs (or seats on the corporate board of directors) that requires little to no work.
The same New York Times article revealed that the pay for 13,000 lobbyists currently bribing Congress is a combined $3.5 billion. It was also explained how some lobbying firms keep an equal amount of Democrats and Republicans on hand, so they can be prepared for any eventuality in the elections.
PATRICIA WELLER FOR BUZZFLASH
Well old Newt, you think your cute,
When peddling lies and fear.
You tried to shock about Barack,
Guess you've drunk way too much beer.
If you strain to take the reigns
In the 2012 election,
In our way, we'll save the day.
On that, there is no question.
Fears and lies cannot disguise
Your incessant need for power
If we succeed to oust your breed,
It will be our finest hour.
So take your lies and all your wives
And go on about your way.
It's not hazy that your crazy
That's all we have to say.
Tea partiers say such nutty things
Without facts or explanation
But without fuss, we'll stop the "bus"
And from whackos, save the nation.
DANNY SCHECHTER FOR BUZZFLASH
Ben Affleck’s next movie, the Town, is set in Charlestown Mass, known for the battle of Bunker Hill and dubbed in the past by tabloid TV as “hell’s half acre” for all the crimes that take place there. The film, a cops and robbers tale, focuses on a gang that robs banks with extreme violence. Its ads refer to Charlestown as national capitol of bank robberies.‘
Actually the take by the gangsters there doesn’t come close to the amount of money stolen by “Banksters” and banks on Wall Street.
MICHAEL NAGLER AND STEPHANIE V. HOOK FOR BUZZFLASH
Impossible? Not so fast. If we have any doubts about our ability to effect this change, we are condemned to its negative assessment of human potential. We are locking ourselves into a caricature that limits our freedom to ascend to the highest peaks of human creativity. Accepting the challenge, then, how can we unleash the nonviolent potential within ourselves in order to evolve toward a nonkilling world? Here are a few suggestions
First of all, we must conceive of ourselves as active creators of our destinies. We cannot accept the image of ourselves as passive agents, biologically and/or historically determined to kill, even though the nation as we know it was made possible by the killing off of the indigenous populations and maintained through the enslavement of people from the African continent. Indeed, the only way that the United States is going to shake off the atrocities committed in its name is to strike them at the very root: to change the culture that makes killing seem acceptable – in other words, that holds up an image of the human being as separate from others. We must delegitimate the war system, and do so by building alternative methods to accomplish the legitimate need for defense. We must simultaneously shift to an economy of needs and sufficiency rather than wants and scarcity. For the war system feeds on an economy that has us generating ever more artificial wants and rendering us passive consumers for the greed of another. Killing and violence have remained such potent influences in the United States largely because we make money at the expense of others’ suffering, rendering us more afraid of a “lower” lifestyle than we are of killing. We must escape from this trap where our material wants are literally satisfied and paid for by the suffering, sometimes indeed the blood, of others. And why can we not escape it; it is within the potential of every one of us to reduce our material wants.
STEPHEN PIZZO FOR BUZZFLASH
I’ve mentioned before that what bin Laden did on 9/11 was a page right out of Ronald Reagan’s playbook. Sound strange? Well, stop and think about it. After half a half-century long game of Mexican Standoff with the Soviets, Reagan baited the Soviets with his then mythical “Star Wars” missile defense system into bankrupting themselves. While Reagan had nothing that even came close to posing a threat to the Soviet’s nuclear deterrent arsenal, they spent billions more on it in the hopes of overwhelming Reagan’s nonexistent missile shield in space.
Nearly a decade ago bin Laden, and his decidedly un-merry men, created a similar illusion of an existential threat, and Uncle Sucker bit -- big time. Since then we’ve wasted somewhere between $1 - and $2 trillion (borrowed) money, lost nearly 5000 more Americans in battle, created a small legion of concussion-damaged veterans and killed and wounded tens to hundreds of thousands Afghans and Iraqi civilians -- most of whom never had any real reason to hate America, but sure as hell do now.
A stepped right into a trap, a trap built and baited by a nut who lives in a hole in the ground and follows ancient religious rules like eating only with his right hand because his religion tells him to wipe his ass only with his left hand. Yep, that’s the guy who baited the trap, and we took the bait - hook, and sinker.
BOB KOEHLER FOR BUZZFLASH
What does it mean that the New York Times, upon the occasion of President Obama’s announced drawdown of forces in Iraq last week, called our seven and a half years of invasion and occupation of the country “a pointless war”?
The editorial proceeded to do what Obama himself seemed to be under enormous political pressure to avoid: It skewered his predecessor, mildly perhaps, but repeatedly throughout the 645-word editorial: “the war made America less safe,” “it is important not to forget how much damage Mr. Bush caused by misleading Americans,” etc. The editorial even acknowledged an Iraqi death toll: “at least 100,000.”
Why am I underwhelmed — disturbed, even — by this evidence of mainstream disavowal of the disastrous war that had such overwhelming support at its bloody, shock-and-awe onset? While Obama said it was time to “turn the page” on Iraq, the Times and the constituency it represents apparently feel compelled to wad it up as well and toss it into the dustbin of history. And thus, even though 50,000 U.S. troops, a.k.a., “advisers,” remain in the shattered country and our commitment there, let alone our responsibility, is far from over, the Iraq war has officially become a consensus mistake, right alongside Vietnam.
Considering that I agree with the editorial, I marvel at how agitated it makes me. Maybe what troubles me is the unappreciated enormity of the phrase “pointless war” and the easy, consequence-free blame for it assigned to George Bush and his inner circle. Between the lines, I feel the rush to move on, to learn nothing, to throw berms around the insidious spread of responsibility (my God, what if it reaches us?). Better to cut our losses than to cut the Defense budget.
But this was $3 trillion worth of pointless war, which left in its wake a wrecked and polluted country with millions of displaced people, soaring cancer and birth defect rates, “at least” 100,000 dead Iraqis and by some measures more than a million. If we’re actually at the point of acknowledging that the war was a “mistake,” that all this carnage, all this wasted blood and treasure, were “pointless,” isn’t an accounting of some sort required — a pause in governmental operations, a national soul-searching, an inquiry? How in God’s name does the largest military machine in human history get mobilized into a pointless war?
And beyond that, where does our atonement lie? If we have just waged a war of pointless aggression and in the process killed between 100,000 and a million people, who are we? Are we capable of doing it again? Somehow, laying the whole blame on one lying president, who managed to deceive an entire industry of investigative journalists and an innocent, trusting public, doesn’t wash.
Indeed, if that’s the explanation, I would call it criminal naïveté on the part of every facet of American society, beginning with the media, that let itself be suckered into supporting, and continuing to support, a pointless war. And I don’t see anything much changing, despite our dishonorable drawdown in Iraq. We still have implicit faith in the military as the protectors of our safety and look toward the next war being shopped around and focus-grouped with a helpless credulity that would give P.T. Barnum pause.