Guest Commentary (5008)
STEPHEN PIZZO FOR BUZZFLASH
These are the forces that rule our lives now – Greed and Creed. And, unless there's a big change, and soon, they will be the end of us.
Pick crisis, any crisis, and you can trace its beginnings, and the fuel that keeps it burning, to one or the other, greed or creed -- often both at the same crime scene.
I'm not going to waste electrons here repeating what others have already posted so, in case you don't get it you can click and read for yourself. Torn from todays news:
DEE EVANS FOR BUZZFLASH
What happened on September 11, 2001 was a murderous act of evil and cowardice unlike any our country has ever seen. And I am saddened to say that what is happening now in this country in 2010 is beginning to boarder not on evil but definitely on a certain level of cowardice.
Many Muslims wrongfully believe that Americans are their enemy. A few hateful terrorists within the international Muslim community have successfully convinced other vulnerable and ill-informed Muslims that because of a few unfortunate actions taken by some Americans in the past, that ALL Americans are evil and mean them nothing but harm.
Does this sound familiar? It should, because the same thing is now happening in this country. A few intolerable, political opportunists in this country have successfully convinced some vulnerable and ill-informed Americans that because of malicious and brutal actions taken by a few Muslims in 2001, that ALL Muslims are evil and mean them nothing but harm.
Congratulations America, we haven’t defeated the extremists, we have become them.
CHRIS VAETH AND ORSON AGUILAR
According to Tea Party hero and U.S. Senate candidate Rand Paul, government should not force private business to abide by civil rights law. Incredibly, Florida’s tax exempt charitable foundations have taken up Mr. Paul’s mantle, and the state’s government is on board.
In late May, Governor Charlie Crist signed Senate Bill 998. This law encourages racial and gender discrimination by explicitly prohibiting Florida foundations from disclosing the race and gender of their employees, board members, and grant recipients.
The law was backed by the Alliance for Charitable Reform, a conservative project of the Philanthropy Roundtable. According to Adam Meyerson, the president of The Philanthropy Roundtable, “If you are thinking of donating money to create a charitable foundation, you may want to consider establishing your philanthropic corporation or trust in the state of Florida.”
He might as well have said, “Florida is a great place to set up shop if you want to redline the poor, women, or people of color.”
BILL NOXID FOR BUZZFLASH
Watching MSNBC’s coverage of ‘the last combat troops leaving Iraq’ for 3 hours reminded of a few brutal realities that still plague this country and this planet. The first being just how far this country remains from any semblance of reality. It’s the kind of delusional denial that truly can only be believed when witnessed from within. As Keith Olbermann was describing the cinematic quality of the “Strykers driving into your living room,” I could really think of only one thing – The aftermath of a 7.5 year all out United States operation to decimate a people and their society.
There’s no way to comprehend the scope and facets of this operation, because you would need a Pentagon for that. From the first day after initial conquest when the money disappeared from the banks and their record of civilization was decimated by the looting of their museums, it was like any other colonial conquest in history, except every excruciating moment of this one was on television. The following 7.5 years of the assimilation of a country went as diagrammed.
From control (denial) of power, water, and even seed monopolization, to re-education ‘schools,’ to monopolization of natural resources, to fostering drug addictions and self-perpetuating violence, etc., what took a hundred years to do to Native Americans was accomplished in under a decade. Quite an example of lessons learned from hundreds of years of colonization.
And in the name of all that is Holy, please do not delude yourself into believing this war is over. 50,000 troops will remain, an ‘unknowable’ number of contractors / mercenaries, and an embassy that makes the Vatican look like the summer home will remain. Certainly, the colonization of Iraq was one of the fastest and most efficient in history. It also needs to be the last.
GREG PALAST FOR BUZZFLASH
BuzzFlash just got off the phone with Greg Palast who wanted to make sure that BuzzFlash got his latest -- and perhaps most droll -- piece posted first (in addition to his site). In it Greg offers his irreverent reflections on THE Mosque controversy (it's really a community center, by the way).
Since everyone seems to have an opinion about the mosque near Ground Zero (and President Obama has two), I'd like to ask you all a couple of questions:
Given that white Christian supremacist Tim McVeigh bombed the Oklahoma City Federal Building, shouldn't we ban white churches from Oklahoma?
As New York City's indigenous Lanape Natives died at Ground Zero by the thousands when overrun by Christian colonists, shouldn't we ban Christian churches from their sacred ground?
If a mosque near Ground Zero is bad, then why not ban all Muslims from downtown New York? For this to work, should we require all Muslims in the city to wear yellow crescents?
My office was in the WTC towers, which will now be rebuilt with all the upscale shops I remember. So, Mrs. Palin, are you saying it's OK for Muslims to shop at Ground Zero as long as they don't pray there?
The new tower will have the old one's Off-Track Betting windows and bars with after-work "happy hours." So here's a solution to make everyone happy: Why not camouflage the mosque as a place to gamble and get into your secretary's panties?
How about disguising it as a discount fashion shop: Kate Mosque? Or as a Disney retail outlet: Mickey Mosque?
JACQUELINE MARCUS FOR BUZZFLASH
I hope you enjoyed your little dip in the ocean Mr. President? I noticed that you didn’t go snorkeling, perhaps fearing that you might swim into a glob of crude oil mixed with a heavy dose of dispersants?
Well, listen, we know you’re in a tough spot. The Gulf is dying, environmentally and economically. Gulf residents are suffering from severe depression. Sea birds and fish have been washing up on the oil-stained shores for months, fishermen turned clean-up workers are being hospitalized from exposure to the toxic dispersant Corexit and are being treated for symptoms that include vomiting brown stuff, discolored urine, and respiratory problems. There are schools of residents lined up to see shrinks… It’s not a pretty picture. So someone’s got to pitch a positive message: It’s all good! And the best person for the job is—well, let’s just say it can’t be the CEO of BP.
Your one night visit, according to The New York Times, was “intended by the White House to spotlight the oil-stricken Gulf Coast as a recreational venue, and was planned after Mr. Obama and his wife urged Americans to vacation here, only to make their own vacation plans for Maine and Martha’s Vineyard."
Mr. President, it was nice of you to come down for a day to Panama City, Florida to cheer the Gulf Coast folks up before racing off to your real vacation place at Martha’s Vineyard, but there’s only one small problem: saying that the beaches are safe doesn’t magically make it safe.
“Beaches all along the Gulf Coast are clean, safe and open for business,” Mr. Obama said. He said he wanted to let “fellow Americans know that they should come on down here,” adding, “Not just to support the region, but also because it’s a beautiful place to visit.”
Correct me if I’m wrong, but shouldn’t the POTUS take the high road of warning the public about the health risks from the toxic oil spill instead of waving from the water for two minutes, shouting “It’s safe everyone! Come on in!”? Did you happen to notice that you were the only one there? Again, I know you’re trying to bust the gloom down here, but safety and health, as unpopular a notion as this is, should come before profits, despite the fallout.
BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH
The Adam Smith Foundation has contributed $498,000 – garnered from who knows who and where -- to Proposition 23, a mostly oil company–funded November ballot measure aimed at suspending the state’s landmark emissions law.
While the name Adam Smith might ring a bell, you’ve probably never heard of the Adam Smith Foundation, the Missouri-based organization that bears his name. These days, the “Show Me” state’s Adam Smith Foundation (ASF) is attempting to promote its agenda some 2000 or so miles to the West, where it has contributed nearly $500,000 to an oil company-sponsored anti-environmental initiative on California’s November ballot.
Adam Smith was a Scottish moral philosopher and political economist who lived during the 1700s. He was the author of The Wealth of Nations (formally titled An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations). As The Concise Encyclopedia of Economics points out: “Today Smith’s reputation rests on his explanation of how rational self-interest in a free-market economy leads to economic well-being.”
The Los Angeles Times’ Michael Hiltzik recently observed that The Wealth of Nations, “Smith's landmark work … is a beacon for conservative activists, especially those who haven’t read it. They think of Smith’s economics as beginning and ending with the laissez-faire tenet that all government interference in the market, like taxation, is bad. But as the conservative intellectual Garry Wills has written, that merely confines Smith in ‘the prison of his popular reputation as the rationalizer of greed.’”
SHAMUS COOKE FOR BUZZFLASH
The recent chaos that erupted when 30,000 people waited hours in the Atlanta, Georgia heat to receive applications for subsidized housing is a mere symptom of a worsening national problem.
The housing market appears to be on a never-ending downward spiral, with the much-discussed "recovery" always around the next corner.
The reasons that such a recovery is impossible at the moment should be obvious: millions of people do not have jobs; millions of others work only part time; millions more work fulltime but make very little money; and additional millions fear losing their jobs.
Under these circumstances, there can be no recovery in the housing market, which will continue to contribute to the broader depression-like economy in the U.S.
Interestingly, an op-ed article in The New York Times, entitled The 30 year Prison, actually took these realities into account when analyzing the housing crisis. The 30 year mortgage is the cornerstone of the residential housing market, which allowed millions of Americans to become homeowners.
BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH
GOProud, a breakaway group from Log Cabin Republicans, is planning a humdinger of a late-September soiree in New York City. Some hard-line Religious Right leaders are apoplectic. GOProud describes Ann Coulter as "the Right Wing Judy Garland." But can she sing?
It may not be as controversial as the building of a mosque two blocks from Ground Zero, but if history tells us anything about the Religious Right’s relationship with The Gay, there should be a hot time, not only on the evening of September 25, when GOProud, the organization that claims to be “the only national organization representing gay conservatives and their allies,” hosts HOMOCON 2010, but during the lead-up to the event as well. GOProud’s special guest will be … let the trumpets ring out … Ms. Ann Coulter.
“The gay left has done their best to take all the fun out of politics, with their endless list of boycotts and protests. Homocon is going to be our annual effort to counter the ‘no fun police’ on the left,” said Christopher Barron, Chairman of the Board of GOProud.
LAWRENCE S. WITTNER FOR BUZZFLASH
The August 9 announcement by Secretary of Defense Robert Gates of cost-containment measures at the Defense Department should not obscure two underlying facts. First, as he conceded, these proposed economies will not result in cutting the overall Pentagon budget, which is slated for expansion. And, second, as a Washington Post article reported, "defense officials characterized them as a political preemptive strike to fend off growing sentiment elsewhere in Washington to tackle the federal government's soaring deficits by making deep cuts in military spending."
But why should anyone want to cut the U.S. military budget?
One reason is that—with $549 billion requested for basic military expenditures and another $159 billion requested for U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan—the record $708 billion military spending called for by the Obama administration for fiscal 2011 will be nearly equivalent to the military spending of all other nations in the world combined. When it comes to military appropriations, the U.S. government already spends about seven times as much as China, thirteen times as much as Russia, and seventy-three times as much as Iran.
Is this really necessary? During the Cold War, the United States confronted far more dangerous and numerous military adversaries, including the Soviet Union. And the U.S. government certainly possessed an enormous and devastating military arsenal, as well as the armed forces that used it. But in those years, U.S. military spending accounted for only 26 percent of the world total. Today, as U.S. Congressman Barney Frank has observed, "we have fewer enemies and we're spending more money." / Where does this vast outlay of U.S. tax dollars—the greatest military appropriations in U.S. history—go? One place is to overseas U.S. military bases. According to Chalmers Johnson, a political scientist and former CIA consultant, as much as $250 billion per year is used to maintain some 865 U.S. military facilities in more than forty countries and overseas U.S. territories.
BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH
“The most compassionate thing we can do for Muslims who have already immigrated here is to help repatriate them back to Muslim countries, where they can live in a culture which shares their values …Why force them to chafe against the freedom, liberty and civil rights we cherish in the West?" —Bryan Fischer, director of issue analysis for government and public policy at the American Family Association, on the blog "Rightly Concerned."
If you haven’t heard of Bryan Fischer, do not worry; read on and you’ll find out just about all you need to know about someone you’d probably rather know little about. Consider this a brief introduction – a sort of Bryan Fischer 101 -- to the man that has become a major spokesperson for the American Family Association, and the person that “has proven himself to be among the most radically right-wing figures within the contemporary Religious Right movement,” People for the American Way’s Right Wing Watch recently pointed out.
Over the past few weeks, I’ve written two stories about the American Family Association’s predilection for launching boycotts. I wrote about how the conservative Christian organization is currently boycotting Sears – claiming that the venerable and vulnerable seller of almost everything is now peddling “smut” – and Home Depot – for being just plain too gay-friendly.
RICHARD STITT FOR BUZZFLASH
Both Supreme Court justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas describe themselves as "originalists," meaning that they believe they possess the innate knowledge of exactly what the Founding Fathers intended when they penned the U.S. Constitution.
Given such an almost reverent standard it is fair to ask a few questions regarding the Judiciary branch of government which, in my opinion, no longer represents the people of our country. It has become so deeply immersed in right-wing ideology that there is little resemblance to the this branch of government today and when the Founding Fathers established it.
Did the Founding Fathers intend that Supreme Court judges sitting on the highest court of the land can decide who the president should be, especially if one of those judges was appointed by the father of one of the complainants? Surely, most of us would agree, that judge should be disqualified from involvement in such an extraordinary decision.
Did the Founding Fathers intend that a judge sitting on the highest court of the land to be cozy with incendiary, hate-mongering partisan extremists who make seditious statements for the sole purpose of undermining and subverting democracy? Surely, you would ask, should a judge deciding cases on the Supreme court be colluding and conniving with a Screech Radio insurrectionist who spouts non-stop hatred and incites violence against our president and elected officials?
Did the Founding Fathers also intend for the spouse of a sitting Supreme Court justice to be actively fomenting hatred, insurrection and subversion, the sole aim of which is to overthrow, even by armed insurrection, a democratically-elected president and political party? Surely, the Founding Fathers did not intend for that to be an admirable or patriotic role of the spouse of a Supreme Court justice?
PAUL ROGAT LOEB FOR BUZZFLASH
Without online technologies, Barack Obama would never have gotten past the primaries. Had Facebook, YouTube, texting, a 13-million name email list and a website developed by Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes been absent from his campaign, he would never have raised enough money, been seen and heard by enough people, or enlisted enough volunteers. Yet progressive hopes are faltering, not only because of Obama's compromises and mistakes and Republican intransigence, but also because far too many of his supporters have come to believe they can act exclusively through these online technologies, to the exclusion of face-to-face politics.
Think about your own political participation since Obama took office, and compare it to 2008. You've probably signed online petitions, clicked to contact your representatives, maybe commented on political blogs. These are valuable activities. I do some most every day. But they aren't the same as knocking on doors, making phone calls, talking politics with people who may disagree with you, and doing all the other things that created the 2006 and 2008 Democratic victories. They also aren't the same as rallying in the streets, attending town meetings, picketing the offices of predatory corporations or destructive politicians, or working in other visible ways to shift America's political culture and pressure on our elected officials to genuinely address our urgent crises. Since November 2008 it's been the political right that's largely dominated public discussion, even though their policies have created our vast array of problems to begin with. Of course they have the advantage of a shameless echo chamber, from Andrew Breitbart to Rush Limbaugh and Fox. But the grassroots right has also been more active on the ground, while those of us who helped elect Obama have acted in mostly virtual ways, leaving us all too often invisible and unheard.
This dual aspect of online engagement isn't new. It's been building since the Internet came of age. But it's worth looking both at how technologies that we now take as for granted as the air we breathe have both empowered us politically and created new traps.
HUGH CONRAD FOR BUZZFLASH
After watching Team Obama in operation for the past 18 months, particularly after his spokesman has demeaned those of us on the left, this question must be asked: How clueless are these guys?
The shame of this operation is that Obama's White House is similar to that of George W. Bush in one way: They can win elections, but they cannot govern. Instead of being a transformative leader as he promised, making bold changes in policy, Democrats are comparing Obama to Jimmy Carter instead of FDR and JFK and LBJ.
No, these are not comments from the "professional left," whoever that may include. Instead, these criticisms are coming from Obama's base, those who stood up for him through thick and thin in his primary battles against Hillary Clinton; those young people and those not-so-young who knocked on doors and filled envelopes with campaign literature while hoping for "change"; those who wrote letters to their local newspapers supporting him when the Republicans demonized him.
Call us what you want, Mr. Gibbs, but we are the ones who sent this president to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., and we are the ones who may stay home in November as a result of your Mayberry-Machiavalian operation.
Some on the left will never be pleased, and that is often the case with any president, whether it be FDR or Ronald Reagan. However, as the poll from Public Policy Polling indicated earlier this week, 85 percent of liberals generally approve of the job that the president is doing.
If so, Mr. President, why is your spokesman demeaning that 85 percent?