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Guest Commentary (4571)

by Bill Berkowitz

Why doesn't Rick Warren -- the mega-church pastor, the best-selling author, the man who hangs out with world leaders, and who has an opinion on just about everything -- condemn the horrific anti-gay legislation pending in Uganda?

Anyone that has followed the career of Pastor Rick Warren knows that he is a very busy man. The founder of the Lake Forest, California-based Saddleback Church has things to do, people to see, and projects to push forward. In this maelstrom of activity, Warren apparently does not have the time nor will to condemn one of the most horrific and outrageous anti-gay proposals to come down the pike in years.

Among other things, Warren recently did an extensive interview with The Pew Research Center's Forum on Religion & Public Life, delivered a sermon at a prayer breakfast in Rwanda before a number of Rwandan leaders, including President Paul Kagame, and he is currently working on a follow-up to "The Purpose Driven Life," a book that has sold more copies than any other book in history, other than the Bible, has been translated into more than 60 languages, and has been on The New York Times Best Sellers list for advice books for one of the longest periods in history. His new book -- expected out in January -- is titled "The Hope You Need."

by Jacqueline Marcus

President Obama possibly will end the occupation in Afghanistan but not in the way we expected. He may be diplomatically working on a solution, an agreement that involves joint-efforts between China, India, Japan, and Russia. We're learning more about Obama's negotiations with China's President Hu Jintao and India's Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in the attempt to seriously tackle the global warming crisis, and Afghanistan is in the mix of that discussion.

Many critics, myself included, have been disappointed by the President's decision to send more troops in what appears to be a prolonged military occupation in Afghanistan. But perhaps we need to cut Obama a little slack before rushing to judgment? After all, Obama is the master of diplomacy, and his negotiations may have sealed a deal to rescue the planet from global warming. He knows that he can't count on Congress.

Diplomacy has been the magic charm. Cheney and Bush antagonized world leaders with their bully threats. Like mafia thugs, the Cheney-Palin attitude of aggression, disrespect for other leaders and their cultures, has created tensions and enemies around the world towards the U.S., leaving no possibility for meaningful negotiations. Bush was notorious for his arrogant assertion, "No negotiations." Bush and Cheney are decaying fossils from the industrial era; they did everything they could to stop "green" progress. Bush's "new world order" was a plan to keep defense contractors and industrialists in power despite the dire consequences. But this can't happen if China is more than ready to go GREEN.

by Linda Milazzo

On January 29, 2001, just nine days after taking office, Dick Cheney created The National Energy Policy Development Group, commonly known as the Cheney Energy Task Force. The task force was charged with the critically important task of designing America's national energy policy. Although the group's efforts would directly impact the entire nation, the new Vice President refused to divulge the names of its members or their specific activities, claiming the Executive Branch's right to confidentiality.

To challenge Cheney's claims of privacy and acquire the names and activities of the task force members, the Sierra Club and Judicial Watch filed Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuits, but the courts denied their initial requests and subsequent appeals. On July 18, 2007, The Washington Post revealed the names of members of the task force, which included executives of major conglomerates Enron, Exxon, ConocoPhillips, Chevron, the National Mining Association, and more.

Cheney's refusal to divulge the identities of the members of his task force was the earliest indication of the absolute power America's 46th Vice President presumed. His refusal demonstrated the covert nature of his Vice Presidency and his belief that transparency was not a requirement of the Executive Branch. The policies and practices predicated upon Cheney's presumption of confidentiality remained constant for the full eight years of his Vice Presidency. They ushered in the era of the Bush/Cheney Imperial Presidency that exercised sweeping authority, bypassed established law, and caused widespread concern amongst scholars and average citizens for the future of our democracy.

A Special Message to Joe Lieberman From His College Roommate

By David Wyles

Over the past few years, we have published appeals to Joe Lieberman by his Yale undergraduate roommate, David Wyles. Today, we are posting David's holiday message to the man who you never want to get in between him and a camera: Joe Lieberman.

I was Joe Lieberman's friend and roommate for all four years at Yale. I supported him personally and politically (helping him to be elected as Chairman of the Yale Daily News, then the most prominent and powerful political position at Yale). We had a number of truly talented people at the News (like Paul Steiger, later to be managing editor of the Wall Street Journal, Bob Kaiser, associate editor of the Washington Post, and John Sacks, chief correspondent for Time magazine), but Joe won the job because he appealed to all factions within the News. Basically, he won the political vote among these factions because he appeared to listen and agree with all of them. He was a "natural" -- so obviously good at politics that I predicted while we were still undergraduates at Yale that he would be the first Jewish President of the United States.

Thank God I was wrong. (Although if Gore had been elected, we probably wouldn't have preemptively invaded Iraq.) When Joe sold out Gore and the Democratic Party in Florida after the  2000 election (blessing all military votes without regard to proper electoral procedures), I lost faith in him. Since then, he has proven himself to be a sell-out to the Bush Administration's War on Iraq, to the Bush nominations of reactionary justices to the Supreme Court (where were his threats of filibuster then?), and now to the fiscal interests of Big Pharma and Big Insurance. He is a wholly owned subsidiary of Aetna and Pfister. He no longer cares about what's good for the American people. He has clearly sold his soul to the Dark Side of capitalism.

Larry Ross, a Christian PR man extraordinaire, has been working to take ‘The Road’ to a religious audience in search of buzz, box office and discussion

By Bill Berkowitz
Two movies with doomsday scenarios highlight this year’s pre-holiday Cineplex fare.  “2012,” a special effects spectacular starring John Cusack, is based on the Mayan calendar, whose end date -- not the end of the world most scholars agree -- is December 21, 2012. In its first weekend at the box office it took in $225 million -- $65 million domestically and $160 million internationally. The other film, “The Road,” is adapted from Cormac McCarthy’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel of the same name, and opened in theaters on Wednesday, November 25. (McCarthy is the author of “No Country for Old Men” and “All The Pretty Horses.”) “The Road” is a complicated tale about a father and son attempting to survive in post apocalyptic America.
Larry Ross, president of A. Larry Ross Communications -- a Christian media company -- was asked by the movie’s production company to take the film to the faith-based community. Ross believes that since “The Road” has already generated significant buzz as well as Oscar chatter, Christians should get in on the action: "The impact [of this film] will not be in the theater but over coffee when discussions happen," said Ross.

by Jacqueline Marcus

Last night, I was shocked to hear that the U.S. plans on staying in the Middle East for at least another 10 more years, according to NBC Nightly News. AND they're planning on raising every kind of tax to pay for it.

Obama failed us. Instead of firing General McChrystal, a ruthless commander who is responsible for "covering up the killing of football star Pat Tillman and condoning torture practices under his earlier command in Iraq," Obama is taking orders from him. More troops for a futile occupation with no end in sight.

It's clear that the U.S. Corporate-Military-Government is in the business of making wars on countries possessing oil. We all know that defense contractors have a lock on our treasury worth billions and billions of dollars. Obama can give all the "rationale" excuses he wants. We know why the CIA-military is in Iraq and Afghanistan and now -- Pakistan. It's always been about the largest source of oil in the world; and the pipeline is necessary if the oil polluters are going to steal it. The "extremists" are the guys that are hindering the U.S. from constructing the pipeline. After all, it's THEIR country, a little fact that our Government and corporate media like to ignore.

And then, of course, there's the CIA's obsession for those drug potential, poppy fields that are worth billions of dollars. This is all common knowledge, easily accessible on the Web. The networks and White House perpetuate the same deceptive and offensive lies and excuses, as if we were incapable of knowing the real facts for invading Iraq and occupying Afghanistan. Just SAY IT, President Obama: The U.S. Government wants control of the Middle East for its resources. Stop lying.

Wednesday, 25 November 2009 03:12

Jeff Fleischer: Permanently Off Base

by Jeff Fleischer

On November 9, Germany celebrated the 20th anniversary of the Berlin Wall's fall. The ceremony was properly affecting, from Angela Merkel and Mikhail Gorbachev walking through a former checkpoint to the thousands cheering for former dissidents such as Lech Walesa. Officials from around the world came to commemorate the long-overdue reunification and what one scholar famously called "the end of history."

That event's impact is hard to overstate. A reunited Germany has continued to rank among the world's strongest economies and become a leader in the creation of the European Union -- a continental cooperative that seemed impossible just a generation ago. For those of us old enough to remember watching young Germans take sledgehammers to the manmade monolith, it's still pretty difficult to believe two decades have passed since the day reunification moved from pipe dream to reality.

Unfortunately, what's equally difficult to believe is that, 20 years later and without any serious threat, Germany remains under heavy military occupation.

There's no longer any realistic chance of any superpower invading Germany. But you wouldn't know it considering the American military still owns 235 sites in Germany -- that's not a typo -- and those sites hold more than 50,000 troops. Exact troop numbers are hard to determine, given that many of those stationed in Germany were temporarily shifted to Iraq or Afghanistan, but the Department of Defense's own records show it still owns or leases nearly 10,000 buildings encompassing more than 39 million square footage in Germany (and uses even more sites it doesn't own). Obviously, this is only a fraction of the presence the military had there during its "Cold War" heyday. Still, polls consistently show that a clear majority of Germans want the bases gone and, more to the point, this costs Americans unnecessarily billions.

by Danny Schechter

Funny how, back in 1929, we had Black Thursday and then Black Friday as the market crashed, plunging the country into a depression. Now we have every retailer in every mall in America on their knees praying for a prosperous Black Friday this week.

Here's the scenario as Thanksgiving rolls around.

TV advertising spikes. Local TV channels start hyping the action at the local malls announcing plans to "go live" without mentioning that they are doing it to attract more advertising, or as part of the deal they already have with sponsors.

If the past is any guide, we will be told how packed the parking lots are -- and they will, thanks to the hype, probably be packed. Part of the reason is the deep discounting and special sales -- what are called "loss leaders" to get customers into the store even if you have to bribe them to come.

What happened last year was that most consumers only bought the sales items and left most of the other goods untouched. No wonder, a number of malls are now in foreclosure.

by Dee Evans

[Editor's note: The following is in reference to a story about Google's purchase of online ads to explain why an offensive image of Michelle Obama keeps appearing in its Google Image search results, and how high it ranks. The story can be found here, but the article does show the offending image of the First Lady.]

Per the article above, can we imagine the uproar had a similar photo of Laura Bush or Nancy Reagan been posted like this?

I am sick and tired of people thinking that they can treat this family like trash. This is the President and First Lady of the United States and regardless of your political views, they still deserve some modicum of respect.

As offensive as the image is, what offends me even more is that they have made a concerted effort to have this photo as the VERY first image that pops up from the Michelle Obama image search. It's funny that some things that have been previously taboo have become "in vogue" with this First Family.

by George Lakoff

Cost-benefit analysis can kill. The failure to distinguish statistics from arithmetic can kill. In the current debate over mammograms, the number of women projected to be at risk of death due to cost-benefit analysis is about 47,000.

That is the approximate number projected to die by the United States Preventative Task Force if their recommendations on scaling back mammograms had been accepted. It is their number, if you do the arithmetic, which they apparently did not.

Their statistics say that the life of "only" one woman in 1900 will be saved if mammograms start at age 40 instead of age 50. In other words, a 40-year-old woman's "risk" of dying from breast cancer in the next ten years is only 1 in 1900. That seems like no risk at all. 1 divided by 1900 equals .000526. About half a woman per thousand. Miniscule, right?

Now, how many women in America would be affected?

The most recent (July 2008) census figures say there are about 304,000,000 Americans, of which 50.7 percent are female. That's about 154,000,000 females. Roughly 80,000,000 of them are under 40 and about another 20,000,000 between 40 and 50. Of the 80,000,000 under 40, each one, under the proposed guidelines, would not get a mammogram until age 50. If "only" 1 in 1900 die as a result, that would be .000526 times 80,000,000, which equals about 42,000.

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