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.
MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
In a rare moment of diplomatic candor, US Secretary of State John Kerry told a congressional hearing Wednesday that oil sheiks have offered to pay the United States to unseat Bashar al-Assad as Syrian strong man. The surprising admission came in response to congressional pressure on the administration to explain how yet another military operation would be paid for during a period of prolonged budgetary sequestration.
Apparently trying to assuage concerns about billions and billions of taxpayer dollars financing a "punishment strike" that most legislators know in their guts is the opening salvo in another Libyan style war of degrading the Syrian military (while untold numbers of civilians are also killed in the process), Kerry, according to The Washington Post, revealed more than he probably meant to:
Secretary of State John Kerry said at Wednesday’s hearing that Arab countries have offered to pay for the entirety of unseating President Bashar al-Assad if the United States took the lead militarily.
“With respect to Arab countries offering to bear costs and to assess, the answer is profoundly yes,” Kerry said. “They have. That offer is on the table.”
Asked by Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) about how much those countries would contribute, Kerry said they have offered to pay for all of a full invasion.
“In fact, some of them have said that if the United States is prepared to go do the whole thing the way we’ve done it previously in other places, they’ll carry that cost,” Kerry said. “That’s how dedicated they are at this. That’s not in the cards, and nobody’s talking about it, but they’re talking in serious ways about getting this done."
The conundrum for Kerry is that you can't say "nobody's talking about it" when you've just said that an offer is on the table in case the Syrian conflict becomes a full-fledged Libyan style regime replacement operation.v
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."
MARK KARLIN, EDITOR AT BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
After 12 years of US executive branch deceit, the US Congress is on the verge of backing another war in the Middle East -- this time with a vote.
Make no mistake about it. Obama doesn't mean a word of limiting his actions as commander in chief to a limited strike to punish the Syrians for allegedly using Weapons of Mass Destruction. (As to who dispersed them in a rather primitive fashion it is still not clear, despite alleged definitive statements from White House representatives.)
The odds of the US launching a combined sea-based and airforce bombing attack on the Syrian military command and elite forces, but not provoking some sort of counter-action from Syria, Iran, Hezbollah or even the Al Qaeda rebels who are fighting the Assad regime are about zero. Remember how long it took NATO and the US to degrade the Libyan armed forces before the fall of Gaddhafi? Does anyone anywhere truly believe that Obama intends to stop at one strike as compared to using the strike as the kindling wood.
So we can assume the White House and the pentagon are aware that the counterattack will result in Obama authorizing a full-scale military assault on Syria, although without infantry on the ground (but you can be sure special forces and paramilitary intelligence units are already in Syria as they were in Libya). Needless to say, an attack on US interests or Israel will quickly see NATO nations, including the now sidelined UK, fall in line with a "coalition of the reluctant" to force regime change.
As we noted yesterday in "The White House Keeps Us in Fear to Preserve Military Dominance Over Oil," fear has, since 9/11, been the main emotional manipulator of Americans, allowing the executive branch to project military power without interference. Put simply, the use of fear allows the White House to act militarily to manage regional interests in the Middle East to allow for continued and unimpeded access of the West to its vast oil reserves.
Just remember this: the US military is the largest consumer of petroleum in the world. In one respect, the war machine acts to preserve its own supply of oil without which it could not function, whatever the reserves in the US and elsewhere.
MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
The videos of the deadly gruesome impact of chemical weapons on humans is visceral, ghastly and horrifying. In the modern technological age, we see visuals from mobile cameras, smart phones, video cameras, and we share the horror of writhing bodies, babies and children lined up in coarse linen shrouds, half-buried corpses.
We are, as humans, appalled, feeling an emotion that dredges up a physiological, primeval disgust, an embarrassment at being a member of a species capable of this.
So when President Obama vows the vaguest of retaliatory attacks, he evokes a sense of humanity that we are at home with.
This part, the disgust, the desire for retribution, the empathy we can all share.
But remember this, sear it upon your brains so that your thoughts can put your emotions in balance: Like 9-11 the thirst for revenge turned into a cudgel of fear, like the excuse in Libya of Omar Ghadaffi slaugthering civilians allegedly supporting rebels, like starting a war that has killed tens and tens of thousands in civilians over unfound WMDs in Iraq.
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."
MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Speculate away on the timing of this Department of Justice (DOJ) Historic announcement (the White House wanted to divert attention from the surveillance state exposure fiasco, from the lack of prosecution of Wall Street millionaires and billionaires who committed fraud, from the festering Middle East Weapons of Mass Destruction may kill us if we don't bomb people scare...oh, just name your diversion of mass media news theory), but the White House finally ate the Alice B. Toklas Brownies.
The Obama administration decided that it needed to show that it could actually change something after six years -- instead of business as usual for the ruling elite in DC and then some -- and decided not to interfere in the democratically-passed propositions and laws allowing marijuana use and medical marijuana dispensaries in a rapidly growing number of states.
Thursday was the day of the big announcement in a call that Attorney General Holder held with governors announcing written guidelines that, with some exceptions, will not challenge state or local marijuana legalization.
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.