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Friday, 01 September 2017 07:10

The Man Who Stood Up to Armageddon

ROBERT C. KOEHLER FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Tony 0901wrp optTony de Brum (Photo: Humanity House)Suddenly it's possible — indeed, all too easy — to imagine one man starting a nuclear war. What's a little harder to imagine is one human being stopping such a war.

For all time.

The person who came closest to this may have been Tony de Brum, former foreign minister of the Marshall Islands, who died last week of cancer at age 72.

He grew up in the South Pacific island chain when it was under "administrative control" of the U.S. government, which meant it was a waste zone absolutely without political or social significance (from the American point of view), and therefore a perfect spot to test nuclear weapons. Between 1946 and 1958, the United States conducted 67 such tests — the equivalent of 1.6 Hiroshima blasts every day for 12 years — and for much of the time thereafter ignored and/or lied about the consequences.

As a boy, de Brum was unavoidably a witness to some of these tests, including the one known as Castle Bravo, a 15-megaton blast conducted on Bikini Atoll on March 1, 1954. He and his family lived about 200 miles away, on Likiep Atoll. He was nine years old.

He later described it thus: "No sound, just a flash and then a force, the shock wave . . . as if you were under a glass bowl and someone poured blood over it. Everything turned red: sky, the ocean, the fish, my grandfather's net."

Published in Guest Commentary

BRIAN TERRELL FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

TrumpPresser 0830wrp opt(Photo: Gage Skidmore)On Monday, August 21, President Donald Trump delivered a prime-time speech almost shocking in its ordinariness. It was such an address as either of his immediate predecessors, George W. Bush or Barack Obama, could easily have given over the previous decade and a half. While hinting at nebulous new strategies and ill-defined new metrics to measure success, President Trump announced that the 17 year old war in Afghanistan will go on pretty much as it has. And the establishment breathed a sigh of relief.

Reviews were glowing. While acknowledging how low the bar had been set, on August 25, the Washington journal The Hill opined that "even the most hardened members of the anti-Trump camp must admit that Monday's speech communicated a remarkable amount of humility and self-awareness, particularly for this president." The timing of the president's crowd pleasing speech was duly noted: "Unfortunately, his very presidential announcement of the Afghanistan decision was bookended by Charlottesville and the president's rally in Phoenix on Tuesday night."

Ten days before, in Charlottesville, Virginia, torch bearing white supremacists had marched in a "Unite the Right" rally to protest the planned removal of a statue of the Confederate General Robert E. Lee. Replete with flags of both the Confederacy and the Nazi Third Reich and traditional fascist chants of "blood and soil," the rally met with resistance from anti-racist activists, one of whom was murdered and others injured when one of the united right used his car as a weapon of terror, driving it into the crowd. There was outrage when Trump responded by condemning the violence "on all sides" and declaring that there are "very fine people" on both sides of the issue.

Published in Guest Commentary

BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Hugo 0830wrp optHugo Chavez mural in Venezuela. (Photo: David Hernández)If you've never heard of the Atlas Network, The Intercept's recent story, "Sphere of Influence: How American Libertarians are Remaking Latin American Politics," will certainly be an eye opener. The Atlas Network aims to rid Latin America of leftist-led governments, limit the organizing wherewithal of unions, and liberal and progressive movements, and reshape Latin America in ways the Koch Brothers, and like-minded US-based right-wing billionaires support.

The existence, and recent successes, of the Atlas Network might help explain why from seemingly out of nowhere, President Donald Trump recently took time away from taking time away, watching Fox News, and his latest tweet storm threatening North Korea with "fire and fury," to bombastically throw Venezuela into the conversation. "We have many options for Venezuela, including a possible military option if necessary," Trump said.

As Lee Fang, the author of The Intercept's piece, recently explained, the Atlas Network is a "libertarian network, which has reshaped political power in country after country, [and] has also operated as a quiet extension of U.S. foreign policy, with Atlas-associated think tanks receiving quiet funding from the State Department and the National Endowment for Democracy, a critical arm of American soft power."

Published in Guest Commentary

BURT HALL FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Broken 0828wrp opt(Photo: Rachel Knickmeyer / Flickr)The American people are deeply frustrated with not being fairly represented in Congress and with not having a voice in our democracy. They are demanding an end to our great political divide and a return to a working democracy. For years politicians have been well aware of these concerns and the need for the two parties to be civil and work together. And, they know that trust in government has been at an all time low. But the problem persists unabated.

Republicans now control all three branches of government, yet they haven't had an acceptable administration in years. They allowed a preventable 9/11 and two wars to occur, failed two terms in office, and constantly checkmated the other party's success while offering no solutions of their own. There is something fundamentally wrong in our democratic system and it has to be addressed.

Our great political divide began in a big way when, after owning the White House for 12 years, Republicans lost it unexpectedly to the Clinton presidency. They were outraged at the loss, considered his victory illegitimate and believed he had to be driven from office. The political environment that followed has continued to the present day and is best expressed byRepublican George Voinovich. After saving Cleveland from default as mayor and making Ohio number one as governor, he worked across the aisle during two terms in the Senate (winning all 88 Ohio counties) and always had the ear of the president. He confessed at Senate retirement that the attitude of his colleagues was "We're going to get what we want or the country can go to hell."

Published in Guest Commentary

DAVID SWANSON FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Peace 0828wrp opt(Photo: Bruce Fingerhood)Washington, D.C., needs a three-dimensional, sculptural Guernica dedicated to and with explanatory information about the victims of U.S. bombings in over 30 countries that the United States has bombed.

And it needs such a monument to the victims of wars now, to help move the country away from war. We can't wait to create the monument after having achieved a society willing to make room for it among the war-glorification monstrosities gobbling up more and more space in the U.S. capital.

With land unavailable for peace in the land of war temples, the obvious solution is a rooftop. The Methodist Building across from the Capitol and the Supreme Court, or the nearby FCNL building, or any other prominent building with a roof could radically alter the DC skyline and worldview.

Bureacratic hurdles would have to be cleared, height kept below that of the Capitol dome, etc. But a rooftop could make a monument more visible, not less. An external elevator could take people close-up to view, learn more, and photograph.

Published in Guest Commentary
Friday, 25 August 2017 07:49

Facing History in the Age of Trump

ROBERT C. KOEHLER FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

TFlag 0825wrp opt(Photo: IoSonoUnaFotoCamera)Tempting as it is to isolate Donald Trump as the worst president in history (and "worst" is putting it mildly . . . more like the most narcissistically infantile, the most Nazi-friendly), doing so achieves nothing beyond a fleeting sense of satisfaction.

Yeah, he's scary. His supporters are scary. But he comes in a context.

Whether or not he's impeached, or removed from office via the 25th Amendment, his effect on the country won't go away. Trump can't be undone, any more than an act of terror — or war — can be undone.

But maybe Trump can be addressed beyond a sense of outrage. Maybe he can foment, in spite of himself, not simply change, but national transformation. Realizing this, and seizing hold of the moment he has created, may be a far more effective way of dealing with his unhinged presidency than merely exuding endless shock.

This, of course, is how the mainstream media is dealing with the situation. Journalism has never been so yellow. Extra! Extra! Trump tweets a whopper! Read all about it!

Published in Guest Commentary

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DAVID SWANSON FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

TrumpBillboard 0823(Photo: Thomas Hawk)Several years back, I led a team of authors drafting articles of impeachment against then-President George W. Bush for then-Congressman Dennis Kucinich. We drafted over 60 and settled on the best 35. Had Congress moved forward, it would not have passed all 35 or convicted on them. But we felt it was important to establish the record and present the options. In fact, I would have preferred to go with more than 35, including a wider range of topics. The fact that someone has abused power in 10 ways should constitute no license to abuse it in an 11th way.

Believe it or not (hint, hint: I don't need more emails on this) I am aware of the general horror of Mike Pence, but a country that impeached and removed presidents would be a very different country in which the next president would have to behave or face impeachment and removal in turn. Fear of the next person will look ever weaker as grounds for allowing the current person to destroy things as he proceeds with his destruction.

I'm further aware that Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi's team wants Trump around more than the Republicans do, so that the Democrats can "oppose" him. The task before the public is to compel members of both major parties to impeach, not to sit back and observe them doing so of their own volition.

Although several potential articles of impeachment against Trump stand very strongly on their own, and picking any one of them would be sufficient, the very strongest case for impeachment is a cumulative one. I cannot predict which articles, if any, will gain the most popular or Congressional support. I am, therefore, collecting the strongest ones available here at FireDonaldTrump.org. I will add more as the crime wave rolls on. I pushed for impeachment of Bush and of Obama for some similar offenses and some completely different ones. Many of Trump's high crimes and misdemeanors are unprecedented. None are identical to the abuses by those who have gone before him.

Published in Guest Commentary

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BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Hypocrite 0823wrp opt(Photo: romana klee)Trump "has inside information that I don't have," about the Charlottesville protesters, Jerry Falwell Jr., the president of Liberty University, and one of the earliest and most prominent evangelical Christian leaders to support Donald Trump, told ABC News Chief Global Affairs Correspondent Martha Raddatz on "This Week" Sunday. "I don't know if there were historical purists [at the protests] who were trying to preserve some statues. I don't know." Falwell then assured America that Trump "does not have a racist bone in his body. I know him well."

In the eight months since the inauguration, conservative evangelical Christians have stood in near lockstep with Trump. Now, after Trump's belated, insulting, and lame response to the events in Charlottesville, Virginia -- where Heather Heyer was murdered, and several dozen other counter protesters injured -- equating neo-Nazis, white supremacists and white nationalists with counter protesters, his evangelical supporters are facing a critical moment that will test their judgment.

On Thursday, August 17, I posed this question on Facebook: "Why haven't any of the Christian evangelicals on DT's Religious Advisory Commission Resigned?"

Now, in the wake of corporate leaders abandoning Trump's Manufacturing Council, and the resignations of 16 members of the President's Committee on the Arts and the Humanities, will Trump's evangelical advisors – who rarely hesitated to criticize Bill Clinton or Barack Obama -- step up and condemn this president?

Published in Guest Commentary

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BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Fine 0821wrp opt(Photo: Flickr / Adobe Creative Cloud)On May 10th of this year, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the FBI issued a Joint Intelligence Bulletin titled "White Supremacist Extremism Poses Persistent Threat of Lethal Violence." The report aimed "to provide new insight into the targeting preferences of white supremacist extremists and the state of white supremacist extremism violence in the United States." Based on an assessment of white extremist violence between the years 2000 to 2016, the report declared that "lone actors and small cells within the white supremacist extremist (WSE) movement likely will continue to pose a threat of lethal violence over the next year."

What the report did not anticipate were "United the Right" rallies like the one in Charlottesville, Virginia, where many tentacles of the white nationalist movement held a well-organized, violent and coordinated display of strength.  

Rallies of white supremacists, the Ku Klux Klan, militia members, alt-right supporters, and neo-Nazis, similar to the "Unite the Right" rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, which resulted in the death of 32-year-old Heather Heyer, and the injuring of nearly two dozen other counter-protesters, will almost assuredly be coming to your town or a town near you.

On Monday, after two days of equivocating about the perpetrators of the violence and hate, President Donald Trump finally condemned the KKK, neo-Nazis, and white supremacists. Barely twenty-four hours later, at a Trump Tower press conference, the previous day's carefully constructed remarks -- tread off a teleprompter -- were swept away by a return to his essence; a bigoted, narcissistic, combative, uninformed leader giving succor to white nationalists.

Published in Guest Commentary

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PAUL BUCHHEIT FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Cash 0821wrpCash. (Photo: Federal Reserve)It could be argued that the greatest American pillaging is the transfer of taxpayer funds into the bloated military, or a greed-driven private health care system that deprives human beings of essential medical care. But the conversion of American technologies into low-taxed plutocratic profit may be the most flagrant attack on the middle class. 

It can also be argued that the products of the technological companies have enriched and energized our lives in numerous ways, and that the high-tech job market has never been better. But the rest of us pay dearly for all the technological benefits, much more than just the hundreds of dollars for phones and phone service. We have lost middle-class jobs and middle-class wealth. We have lost our share of the national productivity that is the direct result of 70 years of taxpayer input into the technologies that have enriched fewer and fewer people. 

Corporate Tax Cuts: Are They Kidding?

Donald Trump and the Republicans want a lower corporate tax rate. But many of the largest U.S. companies have paid ZERO federal income taxes in recent years, and overall the corporate world pays anywhere from 13 to 19 percent, about half the 35 percent statutory rate that they so often complain about.

Published in Guest Commentary
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