Guest Commentary (3980)
STEVEN JONAS FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Weren't the valiant, courageous actions of civil rights advocates a triumph for social justice? Did it not lead to further advances in that struggle? And if you are referring to the movie, is it not a triumph as well, getting a film that portrays one of the signal struggles of the Movement during the 60s with such searing honesty, no holds barred in dealing with the "Which side are you on?" question, applied to this event? Well, yes, the Selma March was a triumph for the civil rights movement. It played a very important role in getting Lyndon Johnson to support what became the Voting Rights Act. It did lead to further advances in that struggle. The movie is a triumph as well, a brilliantly staged and acted docudrama which, among other things, uses the real Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama, as the setting for the real march that took place across it in 1865.
Ironically enough, the bridge is named for a Confederate Brigadier General, who later, operating out of his law office, became the leader of the Alabama Ku Klux Klan in Selma and went on to become a U.S. Senator from Alabama. This is particularly ironic in the context of the Voting Rights Act and the struggle to enact it. The Ku Klux Klan was founded very shortly after the end of the civil war by an association of ex-Confederate generals, planters, certain Democratic politicians, and other white leadership who wanted to return the civil society in the South as much as possible to what it had been before the Civil War, with the exception of not having the institution of chattel slavery in place.
One of the principal objectives of the Klan, from the earliest days of its founding, was to prevent the newly freed slaves from the exercising the right to vote that had been granted to them by the 14th (1868) and 15th (1870) Amendments to the Constitution. The language of the latter is particularly instructive: "1. The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude. 2. The Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation." But with the power first of the Klan, with the ever-spreading denial of the vote to African-Americans, and then with the institution over a period of some years of what was called the "Jim Crow" laws by the Democratic Party in the South, African-Americans were indeed systematically denied the right that had being guaranteed to them by the 15th amendment.
WALTER BRASCH FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Long before the price of gas and oil began to plummet, socially conscious churches, universities, nonprofit organizations, and local governments began to divest themselves of fossil fuel stock and shock the fossil fuel industry to understand the environmental and public health concerns.
The World Council of Churches, which represents about 590 million Christians in 520,000 congregations, decided in July that to continue to hold fossil fuel stock would compromise its ethics, and recommended that the 349 member denominations consider divesting oil and gas stock.
Six of the eight Anglican dioceses of New Zealand and Polynesia, and four dioceses in Australia divested their portfolios of fossil fuel stock.
PAUL BUCHHEIT FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Just 10 percent of Americans own 91 percent of the nation's stocks and mutual funds, according to economist Edward Wolff (Table 7). Most of the remainder is held by a "middle class" that is steadily losing ground. The bottom 60 percent is almost entirely shut out (Table 2).
Stock owners, some of whom made billions of dollars last year, can defer their income taxes indefinitely, pay a reduced capital gains tax when they decide to cash in, or pass on the capital gains tax-free to their heirs.
Making money is all a game to the super-rich - redistribution toward the top, trickle-down delusions, tax avoidance, and even, for some of them, dabbling in criminal activities. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) once said, "It's really American to avoid paying taxes, legally...It's a game we play...I see nothing wrong with playing the game because we set it up to be a game." Here's part of their game plan:
$2 of every $5 owned today was created in the last five years, most of it from the financial markets, and almost all of it going to the richest 10 percent.
GARY WOCKNER OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
This falls in the “You Can’t Make This Shit Up” category in Colorado.
Yesterday it was reported that a fracking waste company—NGL Water Solutions DJ LLC—that was linked to causing earthquakes is allowed by Gov. John Hickenlooper’s appointed oil and gas commission to increase their fracking waste injection operations, and it was determined that the company did not violate any law or rule when they likely caused the earthquakes.
Further, not only are the fracking waste injections increasing, but the earthquakes are continuing, the biggest of which, in May 2014, was a 3.4 on the richter scale that shook homes and rattled nerves across the region. And, the director of the Governor’s oil and gas commission stated, “We have actively managed this particular circumstance in a way that we feel comfortable with.”
You can read the latest on this Colorado earthquake morass in the BizWest newspaper.
JACQUELINE MARCUS FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
For those of you who can’t recall your Greek mythological beasts, the hydra is mentioned in the tale of the twelve labors of Hercules. It is a dragon-like monster that has many heads. There is no point in slaying the dragon because the heads grow back if they’re cut off. If one head is eliminated, two heads grow back in its place. It can’t be killed because, as legend has it, the middle head is immortal and that’s the one that’s most dangerous when it breathes its poisonous venom at its victims. The monstrous serpent would often rise from the murky waters and terrorize the people.
In a recent New York Times article, The Bushes, as Distinct and Alike as Brothers Can Be, the author attempted to draw a distinction between W. and Jeb Bush. Jeb Bush, who is gearing up for a possible campaign for the presidency, would like Americans to know that he is not one of the Bush heads linked to his brother, George. In other words, he really hates to carry the bad luggage left behind from W.
But as we all know, a hydra is a hydra, and a Bush is a Bush, no matter how many times you cut the head off, the same Bush serpent will grow back again, the same Bush policies of profiting from oil and wars will emerge again and again.
No matter what Jeb says on the campaign trail, he will be burdened with the family’s hydra-albatross around his neck, especially W.’s albatross that carries enormous “torturous” weight, beginning with the mass destruction of Iraq that left hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, and thousands of our own soldiers, either dead, homeless, maimed or poisoned from depleted uranium, a country, incidentally, that had nothing to do with the 9-11 attacks, followed by the shocking CIA Torture Report, under the Bush-Cheney administration’s orders, barbaric torture practices were used on detainees at the US illegal prison,Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. As explained in a NY Times editorial, former military officers described this evil facility as a “betrayal of American values.”
ROBERT C. KOEHLER FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Yes, by all means, the VA is failing American veterans terribly, with wholesale claim denials and scandalous waiting times and a general, contemptuous dismissal of the psychological and physical wounds American vets are coming home with — that is, a rich man’s investment in the waging of war, to the tune of many trillions of dollars, but a pauper’s investment in its aftermath. Something else is going on here as well, however, that’s deeper and darker and not limited to the failure of government programs.
In a column I wrote almost a decade ago, I reflected: “Bush’s war to promote terror — the perfect self-sustaining fear machine — isn’t just generating an endless supply of hardened enemies beyond our borders. It is also creating the conditions of social breakdown and psychological blowback within our borders. Guess what? Under Plan Bush, we’ll never be safe.”
This seems to be coming to pass. If a word like “disgruntled” — which describes, at worst, an everyday sense of being mistreated or snubbed — can flow seamlessly into “mass killing,” then America is at a serious precipice. We’re becoming a heavily armed, mentally ill society. And our primary institutions are either contributing directly to the situation or, at best, failing to notice it.
The obvious mega-contributor to our social breakdown is the unending War on Terror, of course. It’s a war cynically waged in two directions: at the enemies beyond our borders that we’ve manufactured and the collateral-damage-in-waiting who live with them; and at the lower and middle classes (the 99 percent) here at home, who have the nerve to expect a reasonable share of the empire’s wealth.
BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
With Jeb Bush is in full presidential exploration mode, Mitt Romney keeping us all on the edge of our seats about whether he’ll toss his hat into the ring yet again, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie taking it on the chin for being a Dallas Cowboy/Jerry Jones fan-boy while awaiting more Bridge-gate investigations to unfold, Dr. Ben Carson patenting the crazy, Ted Cruz being … well … Ted Cruz, Rand Paul being … well … Rand Paul, how is Mike Huckabee, the former Arkansas Governor and former Fox News Channel talk show host, going to get any play?
The answer is simple: Excoriate President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama for their bad parenting choices in allowing their daughters to listen to the music of Beyoncé, which in Huckabee’s new book titled God, Guns, Grits, and Gravy, he calls “obnoxious and toxic mental poison.”
In an interview with People magazine, Huckabee said: "I don't understand how on one hand they can be such doting parents and so careful about the intake of everything - how much broccoli they eat and where they go to school ... and yet they don't see anything that might not be suitable [in the lyrics and a Beyoncé choreography] best left for the privacy of her bedroom.”
HARVEY WASSERMAN ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Swing state Ohio is plunging ever deeper into the fossil/nuke abyss.
Its Public Utilities Commission may soon gouge the public for $3 billion (BILLION!) to subsidize two filthy 50-year-old coal burners and America’s most dangerous nuke.
Approval would seal Ohio’s death notice.
STEVEN JONAS FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Much has been written about the horror perpetrated on journalists at the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, and shoppers at a kosher grocery store in store in Paris on January 7-8, 2015. One question about which not much has been written, about the attacks and their aftermaths, is the old one from the days of Rome: "Cui Bono" (who benefits)? But before we get to that one, let's consider who didn't.
First of all, the two brothers who committed the massacre at Charlie Hebdo, Cherif and Said Kouachi, said that they were doing it avenge the various depictions of the Prophet Mohammed that they found sacrilegious (the latter, of course, like obscenity, all being in the eye of the beholder). Well, A) they are dead and B) their actions will hardly stop others from depicting the Prophet in the terms that Charlie Hebdo did, or worse. (Of course, in their next issue, the Charlie Hebdo survivors came out with a depiction of Mohammed, sympathetically this time, but nevertheless, a prohibited "graven image.")
Then there was Amedy Coulibaly, the killer at the Jewish grocery. He said that he was protesting against the US, French, and other interventions in the Middle East. Well, there are lots of opponents of those actions, both in the Muslim (and especially Arab) and Western worlds (including yours truly and, I might surmise, many of the readers of BuzzFlash). Coulibaly's action is unlikely to win over many, if any, converts to his cause. So neither they (to be sure) nor their causes can said to have benefitted.
PAUL BUCHHEIT FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
The United States is gradually, but unrelentingly, destroying part of itself. The facts to support this are well-documented, told in many ways from past to present.
The most egregious example of Americide is our country's treatment of African-Americans. Almost everyone agrees about the evils of slavery, once dismissed simply as a Peculiar Institution. But a debate goes on about reparations, with passionate arguments on both sides, ranging from a demand for a Reparations Superfund for jobs and education, to a claim that blacks actually benefited from slavery because of the years of 'reparations' received through poverty programs.
Reparations opponents insist that there is no clear modern connection to the era of slavery. But there is a connection, and it's exhibited in the many profitable corporations -- manufacturers, banks, insurance, railroad -- that had their roots in slavery. Reparations haven't been paid, or, if they have been extended in the form of poverty programs, they haven't worked. Standards of living for blacks have worsened relative to whites in the past half-century. Many of the modern-day practices of our free-market capitalist system are at least partly responsible for this.