JANE STILLWATER FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Yeah, I know. The Bible says that there needs to be four horsemen involved if we are actually going to have a truly genuine Apocalypse -- so having only three horsemen arrive at our doorstep doesn't really count. Or does it? It certainly looks to me like only three lone riders, by working overtime and really putting their hearts and minds into the job, will actually be able to put it off all by themselves!
"And the greatest of these is..." war. Ever since mankind invented the machine gun, it's been all downhill for us human beings. From the trenches of World War I to the jungles of Rwanda and the halls of Columbine and Sandy Hook, war has been the curse of the modern world.
Oops, my bad. Most of the killing in Rwanda was done with machetes. And school shootings can't be considered real wars -- just kids using adult methods to solve problems. Plus World War I was supposed to be "The war to end all wars." Fat lot of good it did there.
In any case, War, our first Horseman of doom, has been doing pretty damn good for himself in the last 100 years, systematically killing hundreds of millions of people and polluting the Earth in the process. And yet people still keep falling for his sweet siren song, time after time -- and then always end up crashed to death on the rocks.
WILLIAM RIVERS PITT FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
The pro-war talking points have been passed out to the Obama-uber-alles people, so I penned this little note to them on a different website regarding their rhetorical nonsense on attacking Syria. If you're having similar problems with these drillbit brainfails, feel free to copy and paste...and, P.S., if you're offended by this, find a mirror and have a long think about why.
I don't give a damn about Rand Paul, or Obama's political standing, or House GOP motivations. If this Syria nonsense makes for strange bedfellows, so be it.
Stop trying to tell me I'm allied with Rand Paul, or screwing the president, or assisting the House GOP because I think attacking Syria is dangerous, foolish madness.
You're wrong, we're right. Period, end of file.
JACQUELINE MARCUS FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Former intelligence contractor Edward Snowden has leaked a new top-secret document that for the first time ever publicly discloses how the United States spends tens of billions of dollars annually on clandestine spy programs.
The Washington Post revealed the so-called "black budget" on Thursday and reports that $52.6 billion was set aside for operations in fiscal year 2013.
Call it a "war on terrorism" and the White House will instantly allocate billions of tax dollars. Call it a "war on wildfires" and, well, you're flat out of luck...
While the president signs off on more surveillance-drone contracts, vast acres of forests through the western states of Idaho, Colorado, Oregon, and California are going up in flames. Watch this video of Colorado's raging fires. And Yosemite Fire Threatens San Francisco Water and Power.
As of last week, 51 uncontained fires spread uncontrollably, making demands on fire crews extremely challenging primarily because the feds are running out of money to fight wildfires at the peak of the season. The U.S. Forest Service is diverting $600 million from timber, recreation and other areas to fill the gap. $50 million is only enough to pay for a few days.
Firefighters work sixteen hour work shifts. Exhausted, they need more workers and equipment than what is normally expected. Firefighters are paid on the cheap, and insurance benefits have been significantly and unfairly reduced. Last month, 19 firefighters in Arizona fires burned to death.
BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
When he started singing "Shut the F**k Up" upon his return to The Daily Show on Tuesday night, with pictures of Donald Rumsfeld, L. Paul Bremer, and William Kristol prominently displayed in the background, it was clear that it didn't take long for Jon Stewart to be back in mid-season form. Stewart, who spent the summer in Jordan directing his first feature film called Rosewater, composed his "Shut the F**k Up" one-line song/chant (which he repeated several times) for a segment titled "Uncle Jonny Stew's Good Time Syria Jamboree."
"Shut the F**k Up" was surgically focused on the pack of neoconservatives -- former George W. Bush Administration officials and apologists -- that have managed to insert themselves into the debate over how to respond to the situation in Syria.
As Buzzfeed reported, "After running through the similarities between the arguments made to justify striking in Syria and Iraq, Stewart compared our foreign policy to seventh-grade bullying; then he eviscerated cable networks for having "The Idiot Parade" — Donald Rumsfeld, Bill Kristol, and L. Paul Bremer — discussing the conflict on TV."
PAUL BUCHHEIT FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
We live in a society that allows one man to make $15 million a day while a low-income mother gets $4.50 a day for food, and much of Congress wants to cut the $4.50.
Are political and corporate leaders even remotely aware of the conditions of society beneath the wealthiest 10% or so?
The following are some of the victims of an economic system that has forgotten the majority of its people.
One out of every five American children now lives in poverty, and for black children it's nearly one out of TWO. Almost half of food stamp recipients are children.
UNICEF places us near the bottom of the developed world in the inequality of children's well-being, and the OECD found that we have more child poverty than all but 3 of 30 developed countries. It's rather embarrassing to view the charts.
BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Feeling that moviegoers didn't get their full bang for their buck the first time around, Cloud Ten Pictures is rebooting "Left Behind." According to leftbehindmovie.com, the "Left Behind" reboot, "will focus on the hours immediately following the rapture," but it won't "cover everything that the first book includes." if an amped-up "Left Behind" is successful at the box office, will more servings of the bestselling "Left Behind" series of End Times novels be green-lighted?
Since the public can't seem to get enough of apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic movies, it will be interesting to see how it responds to a souped up remake – bigger budget, celebrity actors, and a theatrical release -- of "Left Behind," a film based on Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins' series of 16 wildly popular and mega-bestselling End Times/Rapture-ready novels. Total sales for the series surpassed 65 million, and in 1998, four "Left Behind" books occupied the top four places on The New York Times bestseller list.
The Christian Post reported that Paul Lalonde, the founder and CEO of Cloud Ten Pictures, which released the first film adaption of "Left Behind," is the producer and writer of the reboot (along with John Patus). According to the Christian Post, they said they were remaking the film in order "to give it the blockbuster treatment many fans had felt the original version deserved."
EUGENE ROBINSON FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
President Obama's words from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial were bound to be criticized as underwhelming, no matter what he said. The context, though, was nothing short of mind-blowing.
It was a classic no-win situation: On Wednesday, at the 50th anniversary commemoration of the March on Washington, Obama stood where the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered one of the greatest speeches in the nation's history. No one could possibly measure up. It was wise not to try.
Instead of trying to match King's poetic cadences and imagery, Obama paid homage to the "I Have a Dream" speech by echoing some of King's rhetorical devices and using some of the same biblical references. The bulk of the speech, though, was vintage Obama, and anyone unfamiliar with his analysis of the social and economic challenges we face has not been paying attention.
But the context: As Obama spoke, everyone in the crowd knew that he must have been preoccupied with events halfway around the world. Faced with compelling evidence that the government of Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad had shelled a Damascus suburb with chemical weapons, killing hundreds, Obama had spent the past week laying the groundwork for a punitive military strike.
STEVEN JONAS MD, MPH FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
According to Wikipedia: "Elysium or the Elysian Fields is a conception of the afterlife that evolved over time and was maintained by certain Greek religious and philosophical sects and cults. Initially separate from the realm of Hades, admission was initially reserved for mortals related to the gods and other heroes. Later, it expanded to include those chosen by the gods, the righteous, and the heroic, where they would remain after death, to live a blessed and happy life, and indulging in whatever employment they had enjoyed in life."
In his movie "Elysium," set in 2154, writer director Neil Blomkamp has a rather different view of the place. It is not reserved for the dead, but for the very much alive super/super/ultra-rich (read: ruling class) who have apparently survived the dead-zone for everyone else that their policies have created on Earth. And as is well-known by now to most readers of these pages, they have retreated to a vast satellite world that, even though they are hardly dead, they have for some reason named "Elysium."
Perhaps it is because even now, there are members of the present ruling class, not only in the U.S. but around the world from here to China, to Russia, to the oil Kingdoms, to certain European and South American enclaves, who think of themselves as truly above everyone else. They are in their own minds god-like perhaps, and certainly totally entitled to their riches, even if in the process of gaining them they are dooming the rest of mankind to the kind of existence that Blomkamp portrays in his movie.
JANE STILLWATER FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
And just how many of those desperately cash-strapped former students will be staunch and faithful Republicans? Party loyalty doesn't pay off at all these days.
And major funders of the GOP such as the Koch brothers, Goldman-Sachs, Citizens United, Chevron, the American Bankers Association and the Chamber of Commerce don't seem to have a moral bone in their body when it comes to straight-out greed. More GOP voters actually die because of greedy corporate behavior than the number of Americans who were killed in the wars on Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and the Twin Towers combined. Too bad. But then most of these voters were old anyway.
And what about this new Super-NAFTA secret treaty called the Trans-Pacific Partnership that the Grand Old Party is pushing so hard through Congress right now? How is that going to effect seniors after even more of America's wealth is pumped out of our pockets and into the rich-dude Wall Street neo-con corporatist pipeline?
ROBERT CREAMER FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
As lawmakers prepare to return to Washington after Labor Day, a few inside-the-Beltway pundits have blithely predicted that, "immigration reform is dead."
This, in the face of headlines that uniformly declare that the forces of reform – and Progressives of all sorts – have dominated the August town meeting circuit. And the vaunted anti-immigration reform backlash is nowhere to be found -- except perhaps in the imagination of Congressman Steve King.
In fact, there are many good reasons to predict that the odds are very good the GOP House Leadership will ultimately allow a vote on an immigration reform bill containing a pathway to citizenship this year. If such a bill is called, the odds are close to one hundred percent that it will pass.
That is because, right now, there are more than enough votes on the floor of the House to pass immigration reform with a pathway to citizenship if it is given an up or down vote. The only question now is whether the House Leadership decides that it is in their political interest to call the bill.