NIKOLAS KOZLOFF FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Though Obama has frequently spoken of the need for more “green jobs,” he has failed to acknowledge the inherent environmental advantages associated with a curious plant called hemp. One of the earliest domesticated crops, hemp is incredibly versatile and can be utilized for everything from food, clothing, rope, paper and plastic to even car parts. In an era of high unemployment, hemp could provide welcome relief to the states and help to spur the transition from antiquated and polluting manufacturing jobs to the new green economy. What is more, in lieu of our warming world and climate change, the need for environmentally sustainable industries like hemp has never been greater. Given all of these benefits, why have Obama and the political establishment chosen to remain silent?
BRUCE MULKEY FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Bruce Mulkey and Family
By the luck of the draw, in 1943, I was born white, male, heterosexual and middle class. I was instantly granted cultural privileges and advantages that gave me a distinct leg up as I made my way in the world.
I grew up in a small town in Tennessee during the so-called “good old days,” when men were men, women knew their place, blacks were second-class citizens, the poor were “lazy white trash” and the existence of homosexuals was not even acknowledged. The cultural paradigm of the time was powerful, so I internalized those beliefs and looked down on those whom I considered “less” than me.
During my college years, I mixed with students and professors with broader worldviews. I began to question the way women, people of color and folks who had less material wealth than me were treated. After all, weren’t we all cut from the same cloth? Consequently, during the 1960s and ’70s, I was heartened when our nation passed legislation moving us toward greater equality for African-Americans and women as well as toward the alleviation of poverty.
As our culture evolved, I made changes in my own life, including questioning my culturally granted superior status as a white male, working to amend my previously unexamined beliefs about folks who weren’t like me and raising my first daughter in a manner that empowered her to become a powerful, independent woman.
One prejudice that I had not yet confronted, however, was my attitude toward gays and lesbians.
(Photo: Courtesy of Bruce Mulkey)
MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Daily, the politicians and think tanks promote improving our nation's large city public education by turning them over to profiteering operators of charter schools. There's a lot of money to be paid in modern plantation educational contracts.
And that's what vast stretches of urban America have become: plantations for harvesting poor blacks and Latinos for educational corporations and for a vast prison-industrial complex whose tentacles reach out throughout the desolation of neighborhoods whose most common denominator is the lack of economic hope or opportunity. The impoverishment has been that way for decades.
Well there is one source of private funds in these vast areas of destitution: the drug industry. It is capitalism distilled to its essence, with the corner teenager who sells crack as a modern day Fuller Brush Man.
Of course, no one is talking even remotely about providing jobs to these financially blighted areas.
But the status quo government/corporate alliance has figured out how to exploit the residents of these areas to make a profit by creating non-union schools that often perform below the comparable public school level in similar locations.
JACQUELINE MARCUS FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
In his State of the Union speech, President Obama acknowledged the severity of global warming and that action must be taken to replace industrial polluting energy with clean energy technologies.
The President has made some progress insofar as opening the market to green energy by providing tax initiatives and other good incentives, but with off-the-record hot temperatures, devastating droughts across the mid west and western states, and extremely catastrophic weather conditions, toxic coal, oil and gas chemical polluters are still the major providers of energy. They are killing our rivers, lakes and oceans and increasing CO2 trapped greenhouse gases far more rapidly than scientists have predicted. Given the overwhelming crises, the President needs to take a massive leap of action as he led us to believe he’d do, given his speech, when he announced that if “congress doesn’t act then I’ll take executive action.”
It’s pretty obvious to most Americans that our government is merely an extension of these polluting industries. When you see a senator, a congressman or the president, you are looking at a representative of the oil, coal, gas and nuclear industry. They are the “company men” in office – pretending to represent the people. So we know all too well what an uphill battle it is.
MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Gun Cult Leader Wayne LaPierre
If I had a bulletproof vest, I would have put it on this morning based on many of the 300 plus comments (thus far) in response to yesterday's BuzzFlash at Truthout commentary: "Many American White Men Worship Guns Because of Sexual Insecurity, Entitlement, and Profit."
But the intense, paranoid, threatened, gun worship comments only prove the commentary's point: guns are not merely an "inanimate object" -- as the NRA likes to claim – to rabid gun owners; they are a symbol that satisfies intense psychological needs for many white males.
Otherwise, why did these same emotionally over-the-top gun owners -- and again there is a faction of firearms users who are not into needing the gun as a security blanket for their manhood and reassurance of white male power in a changing world -- buy out gun store and gun show inventories of assault weapons after Obama was first elected and after the Sandy Hook massacre? Is there anything but a lizard brain knee-jerk emotional sucking sound of loss of manhood here, or maybe that a black literally now in the "White House" will emasculate the white guys.
That is a long-term racial fear of a great many southern and rural white guys after all. There's no contesting that.
Moreover, to those febrile gun guys who took the time to attack the BuzzFlash at Truthout commentary we ask this: Why do you support gun lobby positions that are so bizarrely dangerous and pro-criminal that they appear to come out of a Monty Python skit. Instead of laughs though, they pose real dangers to individuals and the nation?
The examples of such harmful laws from the insane clown gun posse are legion, but here are just three:
1) The Right to Carry a Concealed Handgun Even if Blind
Take the first paragraph of a 2012 article from the Lawrence Journal-World of Kansas:
A little-known provision in Kansas law that allows the blind and other people with serious physical infirmities to carry concealed weapons in public places likely will not get reviewed by state lawmakers this session.
Kansas legislators are expected to debate a proposal that would allow concealed carry permit holders to bring their guns onto college campuses and into many public buildings.
But the chief proponent of that bill said Wednesday he has no plans to introduce legislation that would clarify a 2010 law change that removed the ability of the Kansas Attorney General to deny a concealed carry license based on a person “suffering a physical infirmity which prevents the safe handling of a weapon.”
This support for blind persons carrying concealed weapons in public places is widespread among many of the more rabid gun owners as discussion boards prove.
Even Glenn Beck got in the action on this one as he oddly pondered should Stevie Wonder be able to pack heat? As Beck argued:
“Inalienable rights” mean that they’re rights that come from God and cannot be taken from you. The right to bear arms is about protecting yourself and self‑defense as long as you are a law‑abiding citizen. It’s not about shooting sports but self‑defense. Is there any reason to believe that Stevie Wonder is not a law‑abiding citizen or insane? Who are you to take the right that was given by God away from somebody who is law‑abiding and a responsible citizen?
Here's the crux of the problem. A blind person pulling out a handgun to ward off a perceived threat in a crowded subway station and shooting away is going to likely injure and kill a lot of people. Beck's argument – an echo of the thumbs up on gun fanatic discussion pages -- is based on religious faith in the divine power of the gun to point and kill the "bad guy" with special gun eyes.
(Photo: Gage Skidmore)
MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
You won't find anyone willing to dare say it much in the media, but a good percentage of the white men who oppose gun control of any sort – and who back measures that would even allow alleged terrorists and straw purchases for drug dealers to buy guns – are just afraid that without their guns, their phallic power will be reduced to size.
You can feel at least temporarily reassured when a long-barreled assault weapon compensates for just another average manhood; it's an irresistable testosterone high to the beleaguered white male.
Call this Freudian psychobabble analysis, but when you add it into the mix of just angry white males who want their guns to show that they are still top dog on the political, social and marital hierarchy, you got a good percentage of the psychologically need gun owners. A gun, particularly assault weapons and lethal militarized handguns, are at least two things: a prosthetic dick and a sign that even unemployed white guys still rule the Western World and sit at the head of the kitchen table.
We're talking about a dying patriarchy making a last stand with the ownership and brandishing of weapons that provide the semblance of ultimate power over life and death.
Sure, there is the rapidly decreasing tradition and understandable ritual of hunting in rural areas, particularly for those who actually need the meat because of near poverty. And there are handgun target shooters who truly regard handguns as a sport -- which they are in some cases. But these white men are a minority in a culture war that causes even elected Democrats to tremble in fear at voting on a gun control measure, even a law that might aid law enforcement in apprehending criminals, but the gun lobby opposes it for some obscure reason to rally their supporters around.
PAUL BUCHHEIT FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Capitalist greed is splitting our country in two. But rather than look objectively at their failures, many of those responsible have been hypocritical, portraying themselves as advocates of freedom and prosperity while the greater part of America slides toward poverty.
Some of the candidates:
1. The "Get a Job" Critic
This usually well-connected person criticizes the jobless for being lazy. But in a recent poll that asked if "the government in Washington should see to it that everyone who wants to work can find a job," 68% of the general public agreed, while only 19% of the wealthy were in agreement.
Apparently they feel the free market will find those jobs. But as they staunchly adhere to their notion, large corporations are holding trillions in cash, transfering millions of jobs overseas, and paying low-level wages to those who have managed to stay employed.
WALTER BRASCH FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Sometime in May, a special committee selected by Boy Scout executives will recommend whether the Scouts should allow gays to be members and leaders.
The decision may have more to do with funding than with any other policy.
Contributions from individuals, major corporations, and at least 50 United Way agencies stopped because of the Scouts’ anti-gay policy. Among corporations that have not made annual six-figure donations are Intel, Merck, CVS, Chase Manhattan Bank, Verizon, Google, UPS, and Levi Straus. Stephen Spielberg, an Eagle Scout, in protest of the policy against gays dropped off the national advisory council.
The national council was also losing funds because of a drop of about 22 percent in membership the past 13 years.
So, the Scouts sent out a trial balloon a few months ago that it was considering whether or not to remove its anti-gay policy, and allow local units to determine their own policies.
That led to a vicious backlash by the nation’s right-wing, with talk show commentators, media pundits and blowhards, conservative politicians, and equally conservative businessmen backing the Scouts’ right not to allow gays to become members. The right wing formed their own associations and threatened to pull their own funding if the Scouts allowed gay members, volunteer leaders, and professional staff.
Never willing to lead, the Scout executives decided there needed to be another "reconsideration.”
The last “reconsideration” occurred in 1974 when the Scouts ended segregation—a few decades late.
Will Durst For BuzzFlash at Truthout (Satire)
The nation held its collective breath and turned not just blue but a veritable rainbow of colors as the Supreme Court spent a goodly part of two days hearing oral arguments on gay marriage. Well, at least they were in the same room as arguments about gay marriage were oralled. In a position to eavesdrop on a series of gay marriage arguments; if they were of a mind to.