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MARK KARLIN, BUZZFLASH EDITOR FOR TRUTHOUT

Are Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas the Bonnie and Clyde of judicial ethics?

There isn't a law that prohibits Supreme Court justices from speaking on controversial issues, but there has been a code of conduct that generally minimizes public appearances that include pronouncements on issues that might appear before the highest judicial body of the land.

Well, Antonin Scalia took that book of ethics and fairness and threw it out the window. BuzzFlash has been running a Scalia watch for over a decade now, and the man never ceases to amaze us in his brazen right-wing pronouncements while "on the road" and on the Court.

In recent months, he has declared in speeches that there is nothing in the Constitution that guarantees rights for women, that the 17th Amendment allowing for the popular election of senators was a mistake, that legislative intent should not be considered in a SCOTUS ruling, and far too many more "Scaliaisms" to recount in a short column. Some of them are just plain stupid - and deadly.

Take Scalia's dissenting court opinion in 2009 that nothing in the Constitution prevents an innocent man from being put to death: "This Court has never held that the Constitution forbids the execution of a convicted defendant who has had a full and fair trial but is later able to convince a habeas court that he is 'actually' innocent."

It's hard to top that one.

Needless to say, Scalia is a favorite of the fringe right wing, and will actually be speaking to the Congressional Tea Party caucus

MARK KARLIN FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

In an age when politics and public policy have become more entertainment than serious debate and deliberation, Truthout provides a substantive alternative.

It offers readers an opportunity to get carried away with the truth: a truth that is free of corporate advertising and influence; a truth that focuses on economic and social justice; a truth that is liberating.

With a surge in readership and the absorption of Buzzflash in the last year, Truthout is having more impact than ever.  

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It is understandable to become dismayed in a nation with so many hateful voices and so many hurtful lies.  We at Truthout are not immune to feeling the pain of an America experiencing economic and social strife, as well as the threat and reality of violence.

But each day, I see the Truthout staff accept the challenge of spreading a bit more truth around in a culture increasingly shaped by television punditry and theatrical political performances.

Big media is not an outlet for the news anymore; it is a script for a corporate agenda mixed with entertainment that happens in between commercials and advertisements.

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Mark Karlin
Editor, BuzzFlash at Truthout

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MARK KARLIN, BUZZFLASH EDITOR FOR TRUTHOUT

If you don't think Keith Olbermann was fired from MSNBC due to Comcast's impending takeover - whatever cover story comes from NBC Universal - I have an igloo I want to sell you in the Mojave desert.

Comcast is a right-leaning, big media entertainment corporation that is about to control content, television, telephone and Internet service, all through one giant portal. Its interests are in dictating what consumers pay, see and hear by owning the delivery system and what it delivers.

Its acquisition of NBC Universal will accelerate an already-monopolized big media presence on television to include content control that extends even to the Internet.

Anybody who thinks that a company that is the epitome of Pac-Man corporate growth is going to tolerate liberal programming on MSNBC that is critical of corporate governance - well, you're floating down the river of "de-Nile."

When Olbermann was suspended for a couple of personal political donations, even though it is hardly an uncommon practice among millionaire broadcasters -especially on FOX - there was a lot of Internet chatter about the role of Philip Anschutz, a billionaire Christian financier of fundamentalist causes, who is allegedly a big shareholder of Comcast.

But whether or not Anschutz is a big shareholder, his Anschutz Entertainment Group (and other large holdings) could be considered, like Comcast, a kindred spirit to the Koch brothers brand of tilting America to the right.

Just as a small example of what we are in store for has to do with a Comcast subsidiary in its home base of Philadelphia: Comcast Spectacor, which owns the Philadelphia Flyers and 76ers, as well as media and entertainment/sports management services.

According to James Wolcott of Vanity Fair the chairman of Comcast Spectacor, Ed Snider, is funding a right-wing cable channel/Internet site called "RightNetwork." Wolcott sniffs at "RightNetwork" as a "pseudo-populist operation" starring an array of right-wing freaks.

Ominously, Wolcott notes "that it was Snider who invited Sarah Palin to drop the hockey puck at the Flyers' season opener in 2008, and Palin's been dropping pucks ever since."

There's little reason to doubt that Olbermann's abrupt exit from MSNBC was the first puck to drop as Comcast slap shots MSNBC away from being a progressive beachhead.

MARK KARLIN, BUZZFLASH EDITOR FOR TRUTHOUT

Put aside the Fox fraudcasting lies and Tea Party vitriol for awhile. The state visit of President Hu Jintao of China has shown how the delusional triumphalism of the right wing has hampered America's growth.

It's nice to take a walk down Disneyland's Reaganesque Main Street and yearn for the days when America emerged as the empire of the Western world after WW II. But when you leave the theme park and look at the for-rent signs on abandoned retail shops, reality sets in.

Yesterday, I wrote about how the incessant whining and bitter sense of victimization of many white Christians on the right - focusing on Sarah Palin as an example - is a drag on the growth of our economy. It is hard to be innovative and economically entrepreneurial when you wake up with a belly full of bile and self-pity.

Then, the president of China shows up: a nation whose economy grew by 10.3 percent last year, a nation who owns a quarter of America's debt; a nation who now has tens upon tens of thousands of jobs that used to belong to Americans; a nation with a large trade surplus (while the US wallows in a huge deficit); a nation whose economy is growing so fast, it's biggest problem is inflation, not a lack of jobs.

If you walk into a Walmart, which champions an image of an all-American corporation, a good portion of the goods - if not most - will be manufactured in China or other Asian cheap-labor nations.

During Hu Jintao's trip, President Obama - a normally impeccably eloquent speaker - was reduced to pleading that America be allowed to sell more "stuff" to China.

You can walk around in an Uncle Sam hat with a misspelled sign about a so-called "Communist" president and yearn for a fairy-tale image of the pre-civil rights '50s, but a real Communist nation that has embraced global trade and imported Western jobs is beating the pants off of the grim weepers of the right.

It's time to tap into the kind of American ingenuity that moves us forward and stop wallowing in self-defeatist hate and politically manufactured nostalgia.

MARK KARLIN, BUZZFLASH EDITOR FOR TRUTHOUT

 

It's ironic that the politics of the right - that champions American "exceptionalism" and triumphant power - steadily complains about its self-perceived victimhood.

This week, Jon Stewart - who lances the boil of hypocrisy with such sardonic skill - devastatingly revealed the methods Sarah Palin uses to position herself as a victim. In fact, Stewart shows how Palin turned the Tucson massacre narrative into a story about her being the prime victim of the mass shooting. It's so brazen that it is almost breathtaking to watch Stewart dissect Sean Hannity's softball interview with Palin.

But listen to Rush Limbaugh, watch Glenn Beck or read some right-wing web sites. The common theme is that white people are victims.

This is, as BuzzFlash has noted before, a particularly appealing theme to white Christians who see the victimization of Jesus as the central religious imagery in their lives.

But after more than a decade of listening to and reading an unending litany of victimhood by the right, I am not very sympathetic.

The sense of white victimhood that Palin exemplifies, in almost a burlesque way, is not only an imagined grievance: it is destructive to America. It is exactly the opposite of a can-do spirit that pulls a nation together.

It's not only a job killer; it's just a killer of everything, including an aggressive economic policy that benefits all Americans.

Because you can't climb your way out of a recession by whining.

 

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MARK KARLIN, BUZZFLASH EDITOR FOR TRUTHOUT

The Republican Party isn't really a political organization at heart: it's a party of deceitful slogans.

For the past few years, most of the Republican mantras have been two- or three-word, emotionally resonating phrases that have been focus-group tested by Frank Luntz, who is kind of like a marketer for cigarettes. He'll make you think that inhaling is refreshing and cool, even while it is killing you.

So, it is somewhat ironic that the GOP is trying to roll back more health care for Americans by endlessly repeating a presumably Frank Luntz-generated message point that reform is "job killing." In fact, it's right in the name of the bill that they are passing in the House: H.R. 2, "To repeal the job-killing health care law and health care-related provisions in the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010."

Why the White House and Democrats didn't outbid the Republicans by calling the original law "The Lifesaving Health Care Act for Americans" we don't know, except that - as BuzzFlash has often said - the Democrats tend to try to explain policy instead of market it.

This is about keeping people healthy, after all, and saving people from becoming bankrupt over medical bills and helping Americans who lose their jobs keep their lives.

It is lifesaving health care reform.

Killing jobs is a nice, crisp, cynical slogan for the times; but saving lives should be the goal of Congress.

If you'd like to receive these commentaries daily from Truthout/BuzzFlash, click here. You'll get our choice headlines and articles too!

MARK KARLIN, BUZZFLASH EDITOR FOR TRUTHOUT

When is rising consumer demand bad for America?

When it comes in the form of guys buying guns used in killings as blood-sport collectors' trophies.

That's what happened in Arizona after the Tucson massacre, when the sales of the Glock handgun used by the killer soared:

Greg Wolff, the owner of two Arizona gun shops, told his manager to get ready for a stampede of new customers after a Glock-wielding gunman killed six people at a Tucson shopping center on Jan. 8.

Wolff was right. Instead of hurting sales, the massacre had the $499 semi-automatic pistols - popular with police, sport shooters and gangsters - flying out the doors of his Glockmeister stores in Mesa and Phoenix.

"We're at double our volume over what we usually do," Wolff said two days after the shooting spree that also left 14 wounded, including Democratic Representative Gabrielle Giffords.

In fact, the specific model - the Glock 19 - with which Jared Lee Loughner caused so much bloodshed, was in particular demand.

Gun fans aren't buying the Glock in such surging numbers

MARK KARLIN, BUZZFLASH EDITOR FOR TRUTHOUT

 

Bullets can kill dreamers, but they cannot kill dreams.

The assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1968 should teach us that. It should inspire us through the mourning and shock over the shootings in Tucson, and the virulent, violent rhetoric of those Americans filled with hate.

In Dr. King's most remembered moment, his "I Have a Dream" speech, he pronounced a clarion call for equality:

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal."

This is not just an equality of voting rights and freedom from discrimination: It is a call for economic justice and the freedom from being victimized by violence.

King implored us:

With this faith, we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith, we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith, we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom

MARK KARLIN, BUZZFLASH EDITOR FOR TRUTHOUT

"Glenn Beck called me and told me to shoot Congressman Giffords, Federal Judge Roll, and gave me a list of other names of people to kill and maim," confessed Jared L. Loughner to the police.

Is this statement true? Was it actually made? Of course not.

But despite all the incendiary rhetoric of violent, right-wing media shills and politicians, despite Loughner's hatred of government that is entirely consistent with the Republican echo chamber line of agitating popular anger and violent recourse by denouncing the government as evil, the mainstream media still falls into dishonest "frames" of reporting on the Tuscon massacre.

It's almost as if they would require Beck's fingerprints on Loughner's Glock to connect the dots. As Media Matters has reported over and over again, Beck can be directly connected to inciting shooters in the past year, including the Oakland gunman who was on his way to kill staff at the Tides Foundation. The Tides Foundation has been a regular target of Beck's conspiratorial tirades, and portrayed as a sinister financial backer of the "evil" liberals. It's not the kind of target

MARK KARLIN, BUZZFLASH EDITOR FOR TRUTHOUT

Can you be rabidly anti-government and not be political?

Apparently the answer is yes, according to the mainstream media, and even some of the progressive press.

It is a bit shocking to read news analysis variations on the Tucson shooter that are phrased along the lines of "Jared L. Loughner was not considered political, although he did express anti-government feelings."

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