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MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaatrumppunchIn openly espousing thuggish violence, Trump is unleashing a firestorm. (Photo: DonkeyHotey)

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Donald Trump is a demagogue who is unleashing the barely restrained violence that simmers under the "grievances" of many Americans who benefit from white supremacy. About that, there is no doubt.

Trump has frequently condoned, praised and even incited physical attacks on protesters at his rallies. The Guardian US reports on a weekend appearance in Nevada, in which Trump continued to ratchet up his incitement of mob rage. A heckler interrupted Trump, and the frontrunner for the GOP nomination responded with direct references to violence:

"You know what they used to do with guys like that when they were in a place like this? They’d be carried out on a stretcher, folks," [Trump] said.

Noting the protester was smiling as he was escorted out, Trump quipped: "I’d like to punch him in the face, I tell you that." It was a remarkable comment from a presidential candidate who appears to be building a momentum that could soon be unstoppable

In a nation awash in violence - particularly gun violence - in which predominantly white males engage in mass and domestic shootings, Trump is providing an authoritative license for resentful white men to act violently. Just replace "I'd like to punch him in the face" with "her" instead of "him," or "them" instead of "him," or "shoot" instead of "punch." Given Trump's open racism toward non-whites, you could also place Blacks, Muslims, Mexicans or other groups that he has defamed in the context of this sentence. This is the fury that Trump is letting loose.

MARK KARLIN, BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaascaliachinAntonin Scalia: the late Supreme Court justice and chief pitch man for the charlatan notion of "originalism." (Photo: DonkeyHotey)

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Those who lost a loved one when Supreme Court Antonin Scalia passed away - particularly his family - deserve our compassion as he is mourned and buried.

However, when it comes to his professional legacy, Scalia left a corrosive trail of rulings and opinions that have been devastating to the principles of democracy and the legal concept of equal justice under the law. We have opined many times over the years about Scalia's pernicious court influence and voting, often based on the most absurd of arguments and defiance of both the Constitution and common sense.

Scalia's ability to wrap up partisan right wing extremism in lofty sounding legalese earned him praise for being "brilliant" from both the right and, not infrequently, left (even if liberals and progressives scorned his conclusions). However, that's like declaring a rotten fish was savory because it was wrapped in a sacred text.

It would be too lengthy to recount all of our columns that revealed how Scalia repeatedly smashed the Constitution and its amendments with a wrecking ball while burnishing the image of a venerable legal scholar. Scalia's University of Chicago law professor background came with a briefcase filled to the gills with hokum.

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aaaaaaaaivankatrumpProfits trump promises to US workers as Donald Trump and Ivanka Trump, his daughter, manufacture a large segment of their fashion lines in China. (Photo: Marc Nozell)

Commentaries like this are published thanks to the generous support of our readers. Help ensure Truthout and BuzzFlash can keep publishing - sign up today to make a small donation each month and keep independent news alive!

Yes, Donald Trump actually does have a few written position statements on major issues other than his bombastic, snarky and not infrequently vulgar soundbites. On his home website you can find, for instance, his stance on "reforming the U.S.-China trade relationship to make America great again." He holds out the promise to US workers displaced by the movement of their jobs to China that a Trump presidency will bring the jobs home:

The most important component of our China policy is leadership and strength at the negotiating table. We have been too afraid to protect and advance American interests and to challenge China to live up to its obligations. We need smart negotiators who will serve the interests of American workers – not Wall Street insiders that want to move U.S. manufacturing and investment offshore. [Last sentence has been italicized by BuzzFlash.]

In September of last year, we posted a BuzzFlash commentary noting that "[Donald] Trump manufactures his clothing line in China and Mexico while bashing them for 'stealing' US Jobs." We embedded a 2012 video clip - that you can still view by clicking through to the essay - in which David Letterman challenges Trump to move his fashion apparel jobs back to the United States. In response, Trump just mumbled and shrugged. His official campaign position on China compared with his own offshoring of jobs to that nation exposes him as a full-fledged faux-populist billionaire hypocrite.

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT 

aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaparmesanIs it Parmesan or wood filler with other assorted less expensive cheese additives? (Photo: JaBB)

Before you sprinkle that bowl of rigatoni with a dusting of Parmesan cheese, you might want to reconsider.

That's because a February 16 article in BloombergBusiness warns, "Some brands promising 100 percent purity contained no Parmesan at all."

Here you were, just about to savor steaming pasta with a tasty flavoring of traditional Parmesan cheese, only to learn that the company who is supplying the cheese to your food mart is using less expensive cheeses - not to mention wood pulp - to create falsely-labeled Parmesan.

However, the issue of wood pulp in grated Parmesan cheese - and other grated and shredded cheeses - as disgusting as it may strike one, is overshadowed by the reality, mentioned above, that some cheeses labeled Parmesan don't include an iota of Parmesan.

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahungerfoodWhy do right wing think tanks support government subsidizing corporations with taxpayer funds? (Photo: Propaganda Times)

Right-wing think tanks are often idea factories whose finished product is the peddling of cruel and soulless public policy papers and positions. 

Consider the upcoming implementation of a federal policy that - thanks to the "improving" economy - may cut off food stamps for as many as 1 million people, according to the Associated Press:

Advocates [for the provision of food stamps] say some adults trying to find work face a host of obstacles, including criminal records, disabilities or lack of a driver's license.

The work-for-food requirements were first enacted under the 1996 welfare reform law signed by President Bill Clinton and sponsored by then-Rep. John Kasich, who is now Ohio's governor and a Republican candidate for president.

The provision applies to able-bodied adults ages 18 through 49 who have no children or other dependents in their home. It requires them to work, volunteer or attend education or job-training courses at least 80 hours a month to receive food aid. If they don't, their benefits are cut off after three months.

Then consider the response of a right-wing think tank to this regulation, which is now kicking in, in many states, because of lower unemployment rates.

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aaaaaaaaaaaaaacllintonkissinFormer US Secretaries of State Hillary Clinton and Henry Kissinger at the 2013 Atlantic Council Distinguished Leadership Awards. (Photo: Atlantic Council)

In most of the post-New-Hampshire-debate punditry, a consensus seems to have emerged that Bernie Sanders won the domestic economic debate by appealing to aspirations, while Hillary Clinton beat him on gravitas and stature in the foreign policy field.

That "conventional wisdom," however, is morally bankrupt and tone-deaf. Why? Consider the fact that the corporate media hardly took note of Clinton's use of Henry Kissinger as a character reference for her self-proclaimed acumen as secretary of state. “I was very flattered when Henry Kissinger said I ran the State Department better than anybody had run it in a long time,” she proudly proclaimed Thursday night. 

Last year, I interviewed historian and author Greg Grandin about his deeply disturbing book about Kissinger's responsibility for the deaths of millions of people through the implementation of his cynical and duplicitous realpolitik, Kissinger's Shadow: The Long Reach of America's Most Controversial Statesman. I asked Grandin about a brief passage in the book concerning Clinton:

Mark Karlin: Help me out with this one. On page 223, you recall how in a 2014 review by Hillary Clinton in the Washington Post of Kissinger's latest book, World Order, she states that she "relies" on Kissinger for advice. You write that [Hillary believes that] "Kissinger's vision is her vision: 'just and liberal.'" Uh, what's up with that?

Greg Grandin: Well, Kissinger is 92, and at this point in life he is as much pure affect as he is power broker. The gestures Clinton mentioned in her review -- I rely on his council; he checks in with me and gives me reports from his travels - are ceremonial, meant to bestow gravitas. Ironically, the worse things get in the world, the more Kissinger's stock rises. He's seen with nostalgia by our political class, as a serious person who had a serious vision. Again, the reality is otherwise.

The headline for the interview was, "Millions Died Because Kissinger Prolonged the Vietnam War for Years After Betraying Peace Treaty."

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aaaaaaaaaaaaaacancer12On World Cancer Day, cancer patients and supporters protested the TPP stranglehold on life-saving medication at PhRMA heaequarters in Washington, DC. (Photo: Public Citizen)

This is where the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) gets personal, for many in the US: It poses a dire threat to those in need of exorbitantly priced life-saving medications.

The advocacy group Public Citizen has compiled a fact sheet of the near-monopoly privileges, price-setting rights and redresses granted to big pharmaceutical firms in the TPP. In large part, they were inserted into the TPP by their trade association, PhRMA. The Public Citizen list of powers granted to Big Pharma in the TPP includes:

  • [Requiring] every signatory country to ensure its domestic laws expand drug companies' monopoly powers, leading consumers and healthcare providers to pay higher prices on more drugs for longer - or go without needed treatment. TPP rules would require countries to enact and maintain laws that expand drug companies’ monopoly powers...

  • The TPP would require each signatory nation to include in its domestic laws granting of new 20-year patent monopoly for new uses of old medicines...

  • The TPP requires developing nations to transition to all of the same pro-monopolistic patent rules that apply to developed nations...

  • The TPP also would allow drug companies to privately enforce this public treaty by skirting US laws and courts to challenge federal, state and local decisions and policies on grounds not available in US law and do so before extrajudicial investor-state tribunals authorized to order payment of unlimited sums of taxpayer dollars...

The bottom line is that Big Pharma would be enabled to delay the development of generic drugs, set industry-imposed high pricing, hobble efforts in the US to reduce the Medicare Part D pricing that is a windfall to pharmaceutical firms, and financially constrain the ability of developing nations to treat serious diseases with less costly drugs. These are only some examples of the grievous concerns raised by the TPP's Big Pharma-favoring. 

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

14824365985 4cca115d95 zHillary and Bill Clinton became fabulously wealthy after Bill left office. (Photo: Mike Mozart)

NBC News blared the headline "Hillary Clinton Struggles to Explain $600K in Goldman Sachs Speaking Fees" this morning in response to a revealing answer that Hillary Clinton gave in a CNN town hall meeting last night, reporting:

"Well, I don't know. That's what they offered," she [Clinton] said when asked about the fees by CNN host Anderson Cooper in a forum televised by the network with less than a week away from the Granite State's first-in-the-nation primary. Clinton had a lucrative turn on the paid speaking circuit after she stepped down as secretary of state, which rival Bernie Sanders has used as fodder against her.

"I wasn't committed to running. I didn't know whether I would or not," she added when asked why she took the money knowing it would look bad if she ran. She said she did not regret taking the money, noting that other former secretaries of states have given paid speeches and saying that no one can influence her.

In analyzing Hillary's financial relationship with Wall Street, Carmen Yarrusso writes for Truthout that,

Collectively, she and her husband Bill have parlayed their political experience into at least $125 million in speaking fees alone. According to Bloomberg, Hillary was paid $12 million in the 16 months after leaving as secretary of state. Knowing she'd likely run for president, Goldman Sachs, Deutsch Bank, Morgan Stanley (and other big Wall Street corporations) gladly paid her $2.9 million in speaking fees.

Given that a primary focus of the Bernie Sanders campaign is to oppose the ability of Wall Street and wealthy 1 percenters to have an inordinate impact on elections, as well as to expose how they foster income inequality and engage in high-risk financial practices, Hillary Clinton's response last night appeared astonishingly bumbling and disingenuous. Furthermore, the issue of her speaker fees - particularly from the three Goldman Sachs speeches she gave for approximately $675,000 in remunerations - has been repeatedly brought up in debates and from reporters. Given that she has said that she will not ask Congress to reinstate the Glass-Steagall Act - and serious concerns exist about her vague assertions that she will get tough on Wall Street - it is a challenge for many voters in the United States to take seriously her claim that she is going to reform the financial industry.

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT 

aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaun32
The paranoid style in US politics extends much further back historically than the John Birch Society's campaigns. (Photo: Campus Liberty Alliance)

It's been a little more than 50 years since Richard Hofstadter, a former professor of American history at Columbia University, published an article in the November 1964 edition of Harper's Magazine entitled, "The Paranoid Style in American Politics." It set forth the historical argument for the persistence of xenophobic and conspiratorial fear within a significant segment of US white society.

The prescience of Hofstadter's commentary was extraordinary - although Hofstadter, who died at the age of 54 in 1970 - would probably argue that his theory was based on trends in US history and therefore was foreseeable. He might contend, perhaps, that he was not predicting the future as much as he was explaining how the Goldwater and John Birch Society followers, circa 1964, were rooted in the ongoing development of a distinctly fear-based strain of politics in the United States.

Hofstadter published his analysis of right-wing politics at the time of Barry Goldwater's rise to become the presidential nominee of the GOP in 1964 – and his loss to Lyndon Baines Johnson in that year's general election. However, Hofstadter's acumen is equally applicable to many of the Republicans who have been running for the party's standard bearer in 2014. Here is just a small portion of what Hofstadter penned in 1964:

If, after our historically discontinuous examples of the paranoid style, we now take the long jump to the contemporary right wing, we find some rather important differences from the nineteenth-century movements. The spokesmen of those earlier movements felt that they stood for causes and personal types that were still in possession of their country—that they were fending off threats to a still established way of life. But the modern right wing, as Daniel Bell has put it, feels dispossessed: America has been largely taken away from them and their kind, though they are determined to try to repossess it and to prevent the final destructive act of subversion. The old American virtues have already been eaten away by cosmopolitans and intellectuals...

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaemanuelChicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel protects the "police code of silence" that buries illegal actions among police officers. (Photo: Viewminder)

Racism is at the center of the ongoing police shootings, brutality, harassment and arrest of Blacks and other people of color in Chicago - and that includes a larger context of the city government's permissiveness toward the Chicago Police Department's plantation-style policing and lack of accountability in general.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel is currently going through a period of "reassuring" the public that he will "reform" the CPD. However, little note has been made of an important jury finding in 2012 that held the City of Chicago, under Emanuel, accountable for condoning and tolerating a police "code of silence" when it comes to violence and misbehavior toward citizens.

The civil case alleged Emanuel's administration, in essence, allowed the Chicago Police Department (CPD) to act with impunity and rarely took steps to hold officers responsible for murders, violence and brutality. In a December 2012 Truthout article, we noted that the jury found on behalf of a plaintiff who was pummeled in 2007 by a drunken off-duty cop, only to have his fellow officers cover up for him. From the outset of his mayorality, Emanuel's corporation counsel and police commissioner did nothing to compel the CPD and its members to reveal how a "blue curtain" that encompassed "the code of silence" came immediately into play after then-officer Tony Abbate viciously beat Karolina Obrycka, injuring her severely.

A local television reporter for the Chicago ABC affiliate - during the 2012 federal trial against the city - observed that the case was about Emanuel's and the city's tolerance of

the blue curtain, an understanding between police officers that they should cover for each other unconditionally and that testimony against a fellow cop amounts to a betrayal of their fellow bond. It is the underbelly of a police subculture that is rarely exposed to this day.

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