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Friday, 13 September 2013 06:47

Exceptional, You Bet

EUGENE ROBINSON FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

PutinCockpitWASHINGTON -- As I read Vladimir Putin's sanctimonious op-ed article about U.S. policy in Syria, I imagined the Russian president sitting at the keyboard in a lovely pink negligee.

You will recall that when a satirical painting of Putin in lingerie went on display last month in St. Petersburg, police seized the offending artwork and shut down the exhibit. The artist, Konstantin Altunin, fled the country and is seeking asylum in France. No doubt he wanted to avoid the fate of the punk rock group Pussy Riot, three of whose members were arrested and sentenced to years in prison for an anti-Putin performance in a Moscow cathedral.

So when Putin tries to lecture "the American people and their political leaders" from a position of moral superiority, no one on earth can take him seriously. And as for Syria, the sinister and barbarous government of dictator Bashar al-Assad would not last one week without the military hardware that Russia generously provides. Putin thus has the blood of tens of thousands of innocent civilians on his hands.

Putin's piece in The New York Times does raise an interesting question, however: Has President Obama, the patient seeker of multilateral solutions, now embraced the idea of American exceptionalism

Published in Guest Commentary
Thursday, 12 September 2013 07:54

A Right-Wing Militia's Own Private Idaho

BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

AK47While still basically a fantasy, in early September, organizers of The Citadel, an intentional community for Patriots located in Benewah County, Idaho, "gathered at a twenty-acre plot they have already purchased as a starter base-camp, according to county records," The Nation recently reported. "Whether or not the Citadel is built, the gathering itself is important: it could become the most significant turning point in the militia and survivalist world since Timothy McVeigh bombed the Oklahoma federal building in 1995 and the FBI crackdown on armed paramilitaries that followed."

In January, in a piece titled The Citadel: A Gunner's Paradise in Northern Idaho, BuzzFlash reported that The Citadel was "An ambitious project ... aiming to build housing for between 3,500 and 7,000 'patriotic American families who agree that being prepared for the emergencies of life and being proficient with the American icon of Liberty — the Rifle — are prudent measures. ... There will be no recycling police and no local ordinance enforcers from City Hall.'"

The artist's concept has The Citadel including a perimeter fenced road with numerous castle-style fortified walls towers, interior defensive walls and towers, an on-site gun factory ("III Arms Factory"), schools, an Amphitheatre, a firearms museum and reflecting pool, and a farmer's market.

Published in Guest Commentary
Thursday, 12 September 2013 06:55

Cherry-Picking the "Red Lines" of Evil

ROBERT C. KOEHLER FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

WRIrifle2Why does the president need to address a classroom full of third-graders?

On Tuesday night — hallelujah — he stepped back from the brink of war, but in his address to the nation he spent most of his time justifying his earlier aggression toward Syria, detailing the Assad government's single, heinous deviation from the civilized norms of war.

The ever-fresh PR stratagem of war is to cherry-pick an example of evil behavior on the part of the designated enemy and rally the outrage against it, never, never looking inward at one's own behavior, and in our ignorance bonding as a clan or a nation or whatever in our determination to destroy the perpetrator of said evil.

A little over a decade ago, just after we launched our shock-and-awe bombing campaign against Iraq, I wrote: "Pro-war logic ultimately undergoes a mysterious transformation — from a moral absolutism condemning Saddam to a moral relativism justifying the use of MOABs and daisy cutters and even first-strike nukes, if necessary, to get rid of him. Some of the nicest people you'd ever want to meet have no problem with the slaughter of civilians."

Published in Guest Commentary

RICHARD ROSENTHAL FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Medical cannabisAt age 87, with stage four breast cancer and a survival prognosis of three months, Rheba recaptured her revolutionary soul.

"I'm going to try marijuana for the pain," she told me on the phone from her continuing-care retirement community in Seattle. "Some of my old colleagues are shocked. It's legal here, but they think the only thing that works are M.D.-written prescriptions."

"The last time we discussed it," I reminded her, "you called marijuana 'habit-forming and evil.'"

"I know I did, Dick, and I'm ashamed. I did some research and found I was wrong. My M.D. knew nothing about it, so I got it from James, an emergency room nurse. I'll be taking it in prescribed dosages as liquid drops. If it works, I'll ask him to hold a workshop for the retirees here."

"I'll push my walker all the way from East Hampton to Seattle to see that one," I told her.

"We haven't the time, my dear," she said. "I'd love to see you again, but we haven't the time."

Published in Guest Commentary
Tuesday, 10 September 2013 07:08

Big Lies Need Big Liars

JOE GIAMBRONE FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

PinocchioThe propaganda nation has ascended, and Americans remain profoundly ignorant of what it is their empire does around the world. They largely believe what they are told by authority figures, even if what they are told makes no logical sense. Even if what they are told contradicts the evidence in front of their faces. Even if the liars have clear motives for lying to them. Even if similar situations floated right past the liars in the past without comment, clear hypocrisy.

I have called such pathetic ignorance criminal, naming a new category of misdemeanor, criminal ignorance. In a democracy the citizens are responsible for informing themselves about critically-important situations, and not relying on one side's baseless claims. Sitting back and being told what to think by the government or by the profit-driven media is not informing one's self. The responsibility of citizens, in a democratic republic, is to sort the liars from the truth tellers. When citizens shirk this responsibility they are derelict in their civic duties, as they cannot make sound, rational decisions. Thus the decisions they do make: giving support, voting, influencing others, are negligent, reckless, unsound and should be called out. That is criminal ignorance.

In America far too much of the public is criminally ignorant about most important issues, including war and peace. So they are ripe for the Big Lie, the technique of Hitler, which is now routinely executed by US politicians.

Published in Guest Commentary

JANE STILLWATER FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

ApocalypseYeah, 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.

Published in Guest Commentary

WILLIAM RIVERS PITT FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

SheepFINALThe 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.

Published in Guest Commentary

JACQUELINE MARCUS FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

ForestFireFormer 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.

Published in Guest Commentary
Thursday, 05 September 2013 07:15

Bush-Era War Criminals Should "Shut the F**k Up"

BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Saddam rumsfeldWhen 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."

Published in Guest Commentary
Tuesday, 03 September 2013 05:58

The Coalition of the Screwed

PAUL BUCHHEIT FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

CamdenWe 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.

Children

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.

Published in Guest Commentary
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