Guest Commentary (4838)
NORMAN SOLOMON FOR BUZZFLASH
When the wheels are coming off, it doesn’t do much good to change the driver.
Whatever the name of the commanding general in Afghanistan, the U.S. war effort will continue its carnage and futility.
Between the lines, some news accounts are implying as much. Hours before Gen. Stanley McChrystal’s meeting with President Obama on Wednesday, the New York Times reported that “the firestorm was fueled by increasing doubts -- even in the military -- that Afghanistan can be won and by crumbling public support for the nine-year war as American casualties rise.”
It now does McChrystal little good that news media have trumpeted everything from his Spartan personal habits (scarcely eats or sleeps) to his physical stamina (runs a lot) to his steel-trap alloy of military smarts and scholarship (reads history). Any individual is expendable.
For months, the McChrystal star had been slipping. A few days before the Rolling Stone piece caused a sudden plunge from war-making grace, Time Magazine’s conventional-wisdom weathervane Joe Klein was notably down on McChrystal’s results: “Six months after Barack Obama announced his new Afghan strategy in a speech at West Point, the policy seems stymied.”
Now, words like “stymied” and “stalemate” are often applied to the Afghanistan war. But that hardly means the U.S. military is anywhere near withdrawal.
Helpful 411 Regarding The Latest Republican Fiasco
by Tony Peyser
Joe Barton apologized to Tony Hayward;
Startling and odd and creepy.
Why? Well, Joe once worked for ARCO,
Which was later bought by BP.
LAWRENCE S. WITTNER FOR BUZZFLASH
The offshore oil drilling catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico brought to
us by BP has overshadowed its central role over the past century in
fostering some other disastrous events.
BP originated in 1908 as the Anglo-Persian Oil Company—a British
corporation whose name was changed to the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company
two decades later. With exclusive rights to extract, refine, export,
and sell Iran's rich oil resources, the company reaped enormous
ELLIOT D. COHEN FOR BUZZFLASH
According to a June 18 AP article, Homeland Security Chief Janet Napolitano has defended monitoring Internet communications as a “civil liberties trade-off the US must make to beef up national security.” In addition, she said “it is wrong to believe that if security is embraced, liberty is sacrificed.” Unfortunately, it is incomprehensible how “beefing up” national security can be both a civil liberties trade-off and not a sacrifice of liberty. This contradiction betrays the sad reality that the Obama administration has followed the lead of the Bush administration in escalating the abridgment of civil liberties in the US to protect “national security.”
According to Napolitano, there have been an increasing number of homegrown terrorists who have used the Internet to “reached out” to Islamic extremists for training and inspiration; and the AP article points to the recent Times Square bomber, Faisal Shahzad, and accused Fort Hood Texas shooter Major Nadal Hasan as possible examples.
It is not clear, however, how a relatively few instances of homegrown terrorists who may have been influenced by their online activities to become radicalized can warrant government abridgment of the privacy of millions of Americans. However, it is not hard to see how easily such a principle could be expanded to include any private activities that may possibly be linked to radicalization. Thus, the communications that may occur inside a Mosque may be deemed grist for the mill of government monitoring. And the same logic could well be applied to private communications in the homes of Americans because there may possibly be plans afoot by a few homegrown, would-be terrorists.
NIKOLAS KOZLOFF FOR BUZZFLASH
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In surveying the environmental damage unleashed from the BP oil spill, could we be missing the 800-pound gorilla in the closet? While oil poses undeniable ecological risks, methane (CH4) could prove daunting as well. As it turns out, crude which is destroying the Gulf of Mexico contains about 40 percent methane which may suffocate marine life and create vast “dead zones” where oxygen becomes so depleted that nothing is allowed to live.
Methane is a colorless, odorless and flammable substance which forms a major component in natural gas. It is used to heat people's homes, and gets burnt off from crude before oil is shipped to the refinery. Though BP has sought to do just that as it captures crude from its breached well, some of the gas has escaped containment efforts and has wound up in the water. As small microbes living in the sea feed on oil and natural gas, they consume large amounts of oxygen which they require in order to digest food.
That in turn exerts an unfortunate ripple effect: when oxygen levels decrease, the breakdown of oil can’t advance any further. What’s more, most life cannot survive under such conditions. To make it more concrete, think about the plight of the enigmatic giant squid. Living in deep waters, the squid will be severely disrupted by lower oxygen levels. That in turn stands to have an effect on the food chain, since giant squid provide the meal of choice for endangered sperm whales.
While many will focus on methane’s impact upon local wildlife, the compound, also known as marsh gas, also stands to affect climate. Indeed, though some of the methane from the Gulf will dissolve in the water, other parts will be emitted to the Earth’s atmosphere. That is a problem, since methane is already contributing to our global warming dilemma. Once in the atmosphere, methane absorbs terrestrial infrared radiation that would normally move into outer space. This phenomenon can contribute to atmospheric warming, which is why methane is considered a greenhouse gas.
PAUL ROGAT LOEB FOR BUZZFLASH
Effective activism's a long-haul process, not "save the Earth in 30 days, ask me how." But there are some principles that seem to reoccur for people addressing every kind of challenge from the Gulf Oil spill to inadequate funding for urban schools to how to deal with Afghanistan and Iraq. They give us clues on how to reach out to engage our fellow citizens and help us get past our own barriers, not to mention burnout and disappointment. When I was updating my Soul of a Citizen book on citizen activism, an activist rabbi who was teaching the book at a Florida university suggested I gather together a Ten Commandments for effective citizen engagement. Calling them Commandments seemed presumptuous, but I did draw together ten suggestions that can make engagement more fruitful. Some I've already explored in various Soul of a Citizen excerpts. I'll flesh out others in coming weeks. But pulling them together in one place seemed useful.
Suggestion #1: Start where you are. You don't need to know everything, and you certainly don't need to be perfect.
Suggestion #2: Take things step by step. You set the pace of your engagement. Don't worry about being swallowed up, because you'll determine how much you get involved.
BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH
Nile TV International and Israel Today Magazine are pushing a story that Obama admitted he is a Muslim to Egypt’s Foreign Minister, and U.S. conservatives – especially AtlasShrugs.com’s Pamela Geller -- are running with it
You’ve heard the charges many times; President Barack Hussein Obama is a secret Muslim; Obama wasn’t born in the United States; Obama is anti-Israel. Now, for the first time, two news outlets, Nile TV International and Israel Today Magazine are reporting that there is definitive proof that Obama is a Muslim.
How can they be so certain? Because Obama admitted it. That’s right, according to these outlets, Obama evidently straight out admitted he is a Muslim in a conversation with Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit.
According to journalist Dennis Avi Lipkin (alias Victor Mordecai), Gheit appeared on Nile TV's "Round Table Show" in January, on which he said that "he had had a one-on-one meeting with Obama who swore to him that he was a Moslem, the son of a Moslem father and step-son of Moslem step-father, that his half-brothers in Kenya were Moslems, and that he was loyal to the Moslem agenda."
DON WILLIAMS FOR BUZZFLASH
In 2003 I wrote, "If George W. Bush had run for president on a platform of making the world uninhabitable for humankind, he could scarcely have done better at starting us down such a path."
His first nail in the, um, platform was to allow Dick Cheney to select himself as vice-president. His second was in elevating Cheney to the status of co-president almost immediately. In his second administration--two wars and a million deaths later--Bush demoted Cheney, but by then it was too late. Cheney had unleashed forces that will haunt the world for decades if not centuries.
Even now oil gushes from a hole in the bottom of the sea, thanks to Bush, Cheney, Halliburton and BP.
Don’t get me wrong. Obama is not absolved. He’s been worse than disappointing in this crisis. It would’ve been heartening to see him direct an armada of ships from many nations into the Gulf of Mexico to suck up oil and otherwise contain the damage. It would’ve been wonderful to see him in boots and protective gear leading armies of volunteers and actual soldiers to scoop oil off beaches and clean feathers of sea-gracing birds. It would’ve been marvelous to’ve beheld a panel of actual scientists telling us what was really going on and rapidly assessing options proposed by everyone from actor Kevin Costner to Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal.
MARTHA ROSENBERG FOR BUZZFLASH
Despite diehard urban legends in the 1960s about Spanish Flies, "nymphomania," and the proverbial "girl on the gearshift" (who everyone swore they knew), drugs to boost women's libido are not recent. They date all the way back to Roman times when the wife of Augustus Caesar dosed her guests to liven a party and Marquis de Sade did the same, seventeen hundred years later.
Now a new female libido drug, dubbed the Pink Viagra, has husbands, boyfriends, and Wall Street cheering, if not its intended patients.
On June 18 an FDA advisory committee will consider approval of flibanserin, manufactured by Germany-based Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals, for "treatment of hypoactive sexual desire disorder (HSDD) in premenopausal women."
Flibanserin was rolled out at the European Society for Sexual Medicine's annual meeting in Lyon, France last November as an exciting new treatment for libido-impaired women. Volunteers reported the number of "satisfying sexual encounters" they had on the drug increased from 2.7 to 4.5 times a month in pooled data from placebo-controlled Phase III studies in the U.S. and Europe. Placebo worked too, with women reporting satisfying sexual experiences increased to 3.7 a month. (Evidently just thinking about sex, rather than "England," stokes desire.)
To participate in trials, women had to be "in a stable, monogamous, heterosexual relationship" for a year, free from depression and parenting, eldercare, and income stress -- but who does that leave? -- and "willing to try to have sexual activity" at least once a month.
Like Pfizer's 12-year-old Viagra, which was meant as an angina drug until its erectile effects appeared, flibanserin was groomed to be an antidepressant until its effect on female sexual desire surfaced during the study and trial participants didn't want to return their unused pills according to Medpage. It wasn't effective as an antidepressant despite 15 years of forced swim, "learned helplessness," and stereotactic experiments in animals.
BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH
February 6, 2011 is the 100th anniversary of the birth Ronald Reagan. While the official Ronald Reagan Centennial Commission is planning its festivities, conservatives will try to turn it into a full-year of celebrating, honoring and capitalizing politically on the legacy of a decidedly mediocre president.
Earlier this year, the brothers Reagan (Michael, the older one, a conservative radio talk show host, Ron, the younger, a progressive radio talk show host), had a spirited, civil, and public disagreement. They weren’t facing off at a University of Oxford Debate nor did they spend some time with Oprah; in fact, it wasn’t even face-to-face (although a holiday dinner might be quite an event). Rather, through the magic of an assortment of media platforms, the two brothers discussed how their father, Ronald Reagan, might have responded to the Tea Party Movement.
Michael insisted that his dad “would say ‘hear, hear’ to those people who in fact [are] out there rattling their sabers if you will to wake up Washington, D.C.,” he said in an early-February interview with the Business & Media Institute. In another venue, Michael said he believed that his father “would embrace the tea party movement if he were alive today.”
ROBERT C. KOEHLER FOR BUZZFLASH
“Salt remnants of ancient oceans flow through our veins . . .”
Now, along with endangered species, the Gulf spill has given us a new category: endangered oceans.
The challenges presented by the disaster lay before us in their incomprehensible enormity. To what extent have the hundreds of thousands of gallons of the highly toxic dispersant Corexit 9500 that BP has poured into the Gulf aggravated the ecological horror? How will hurricane season complicate the cleanup? Will the flow of crude continue till Christmas? How many cleanup workers have gotten sick, and why? Might the “relief well” also blow?
We can’t solve our problems, as Einstein said, with the same kind of thinking we used to create them. This sums up the situation for me as well as anything — and pushes my despair up against the door of possibility. We’re at the far edge of the industrial age: the age of fossil fuels. How do we proceed beyond it?
HARVEY WASSERMAN FOR BUZZFLASH
BP’s apocalyptic Gulf gusher has put our ability to survive in serious doubt.
We have no reason to believe the end is near -- or even in sight. Nor can we begin to calculate the damage to our Mother Earth…to her oceans, to the core of her being…and to each of us as individual organisms.
Only one thing IS clear: we cannot ultimately survive without a rapid conversion to a Solartopian economy that is totally green-powered. That transformation will be forced by biological imperatives, not money or markets.
MARC PERKEL FOR BUZZFLASH
We live in a nation of morons who just don't get it that running on oil just doesn't work. Everyone expects that somehow President Obama is going to wave a magic wand and the oil spill is going to go away, the coast will be clean, and the fishermen are going to start fishing again. People think that maybe if we give Obama the authority of a king, or maybe if we nuke the hole, that everything is somehow going to fix itself. It's not going to happen. It's time to get off of oil because this spill has proven that oil no longer works.
How many spills do we have to have before we stop drilling for oil? How many wars for oil do we have to fight before we get it? Politicians are crying over the drilling moratorium because 150,000 oil workers might lose their jobs. Good, I say! Every oil worker needs to be looking for a new job. We are a country in deep denial and quite frankly I hope the oil keeps spilling until America finally gets it. Until we get serious about wind and solar energy. We can, for some time, run off of natural gas and coal, but we are officially out of safe oil and we need to stop drilling for it.
BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH
In the lead-up to Christian Zionist Joel C. Rosenberg’s late-June ‘Epicenter 2010” conference, the best-selling author and former political consultant to Netanyahu, has come up with three ways to stop Iran’s nuclear ambitions.
Joel C. Rosenberg is a former political consultant to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the author of Epicenter: How the Current Rumblings in the Middle East Will Change Your World, as well as several best-selling novels. Over the past several years, he has been a strong advocate of a muscular military response – be it from the United States or Israel – in order to destroy Iran’s programs.
In a recent statement, Rosenberg maintained that the Obama Administration’s advocacy of, and the United Nations’ imposition of, new economic sanctions against Iran “are weak and won’t have much effect in stopping Iran from getting the Bomb.” Instead of fruitless sanctions, Rosenberg suggested that only decisive action would effectively deal with Iran’s nuclear program.
According to OneNewsNow, a news service of the conservative Christian advocacy group, the American Family Association, Rosenberg has come up three different decisive scenarios: an all-enveloping blockade that would choke deliveries of gas to the country, massive air strikes to destroy any nuclear facilities, or letting Biblical prophesy run its course.
"To do a blockade or some sort of quarantine...would force Iran's economy to slow down, if not shut down, and then could make the government regime vulnerable to overthrow, hopefully by moderates,” Rosenberg said. "But short of that,” the author added, “it's going to take massive air strikes, either by the United States -- which under this administration is not going to do it -- or by Israel.”