MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT Short of rocket launchers, Scalia scorns gun control
In a little noted speech reported in the conservative Washington Examiner, the leading Supreme Court judge who regularly legislates from the bench, Antonin Scalia, signaled that he is ready to further rule in favor of more guns in more hands, with even fewer restrictions than now. Examiner columnist Paul Bedard wrote of an early February Scalia interview with NPR legal correspondent Nina Totenberg:
Conservative Justice Antonin Scalia, decrying America's demonization of guns, is predicting that the parade of new gun control laws, cheered on by President Obama, will hit the Supreme Court soon, possibly settling for ever the types of weapons that can be owned.
Scalia, whose legacy decision in the 2008 case of District of Columbia vs. Heller ended the ban on handguns in Washington, D.C., suggested that the Constitution allows limits on what Americans can own, but the only example he offered was a shoulder-launched rocket that would bring down jets.
Like his good buddy, Dick Cheney, Scalia likes to hunt birds, although – to be fair – we don't know of any accounts where, like Cheney, Antonin has filled a friend's face full of buck shot instead of a pheasant. But we now know he draws the line at shooting corralled birds with a rocket launcher.
USA Today reported that Scalia teased Totenberg before an audience at the Smithsonian Associates:
Asked if the Second Amendment's right to bear arms is as unequivocal as the First Amendment's right to free speech, Scalia said, "We're going to find out, aren't we?" -- an indication he expects the court to hear a gun rights case in the near future.
MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT Scalia admits to legislating from the bench
During oral arguments yesterday about whether or not the Voting Rights Act (VRA) is constitutional, partisan judicial thug Antonin Scalia revealed a new facet of his personality; he is a clairvoyant.
Congressional support for reauthorizing the VRA was overwhelming, even in 2006 when the vote was taken during Bush's second term: the Senate reauthorized it by a vote of 98 to 0. In the House, the vote was 390 to 33.
But Scalia, who has made his trademark being a self-proclaimed "strict constitutional constructionist" who scorns liberal judges who allegedly legislate from the bench, came out of the closet in heaping contempt and derision on Congress for passing the VRA. Although Scalia has long been perhaps the stellar example of a judge who legislates from the bench (on behalf of the right wing), he's usually coded his usurpation of congressional and other legislative powers in legal mumbo jumbo.
Yesterday, however, the Washington Post editorial board chastised Scalia for openly claiming:
"THIS IS NOT the kind of a question [the VRA, particularly Section 5] you can leave to Congress,” Justice Antonin Scalia pronounced during a Supreme Court argument Wednesday….
“It was clear to 98 senators, including every senator from a covered state, who decided that there was a continuing need for this piece of legislation,” Justice Elena Kagan said, in what might seem a self-evident point.
But not to Justice Scalia. “Or decided that perhaps they’d better not vote against, that there’s . . .none of their interests in voting against it,” he said. Later he elaborated on why he feels free to dismiss this particular congressional action: “I don’t think there is anything to be gained by any senator to vote against continuation of this act. . . . They are going to lose votes if they do not reenact the Voting Rights Act. Even the name of it is wonderful: the Voting Rights Act. Who is going to vote against that in the future?”
MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT Deteriorated housing leaves blacks behind
In a Washington Post (WP) article entitled "Study ties black-white wealth gap to stubborn disparities in real estate," the Post offers one more piece of proof that the "post-racial" presidency is nothing more than a soundbite.
The backlash of Tea Party racists and the general Republican Southern strategy of race baiting through code words clearly has defined that this is still a nation of two visions: one of a white Christian patriarchal America with Disneyland dreams of an imaginary Main Street and the other of a multi-cultural society of equality and the celebration of national communal values.
However, the facts on the ground reveal a deeper schism not of visions, but of a vastly unequal economic reality.
According to the recent study cited by the WP,
The large and growing wealth gap separating white and black families is the product of stubborn barriers that disproportionately consign African Americans to less-valuable real estate and lower-paying jobs, according to a new study.
A long-term examination of the financial lives of black and white Americans revealed that African Americans typically face a subtle but persistent opportunity gap that has served to widen financial disparities remaining from a long history of overt discrimination, according to a report to be released Wednesday by Brandeis University’s Institute on Assets and Social Policy.
In short, despite an outburst of bitter racial resentment after Obama's election that continues to this day, blacks are faring worse not better than in the past. Vast areas of urban blight -- where pushing drugs is often the only entrepreneurial opportunity of any livable wage (until you are shot in a turf war) -- have been left to stagnate. These are the urban plantations of poverty that gave birth to the 1968 riots after Dr. Martin Luther King was assassinated. In fact, they have worsened as the last of the remaining industrial and mid-to-large business base has fled these areas.
(Photo: Ryan Thomas)
MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT Brennan Was Number 2 at CIA During 9/11 and Iraq War
Given that we are coming up on the tenth anniversary of the Iraq War, it is worth noting that President Obama's CIA chief nominee, John Brennan, was a Bush/Cheney man at the top level of the intelligence agency during the post 9/11 period. BuzzFlash at Truthout doesn't usually resort to quoting Wikipedia, but it has a good summary of his service for Bush/Cheney and the get-along-to-go-along George Tenet at the CIA:
In 1999 he was appointed chief of staff to George Tenet, then-Director of the CIA. Brennan became deputy executive director of the CIA in March 2001. He was director of the newly created Terrorist Threat Integration Center from 2003 to 2004, an office that sifted through and compiled information for President Bush's daily top secret intelligence briefings and employed the services of analysts from a dozen U.S. agencies and entities. One of the controversies in his career involves the distribution of intelligence to the Bush White House that helped lead to an "Orange Terror Alert", over Christmas 2003. The intelligence, which purported to list terror targets, was highly controversial within the CIA and was later discredited. An Obama administration official does not dispute that Brennan distributed the intelligence during the Bush era but said Brennan passed it along because that was his job. His last post within the Intelligence Community was as director of the National Counterterrorism Center in 2004 and 2005, which incorporated information on terrorist activities across U.S. agencies.
Remember, this was at a time that Cheney, as vice president, was taking unprecedented trips to CIA headquarters in Virginia to muscle the intelligence officers there to create facts to fit the propaganda justification for invading Iraq. There is no indication that Brennan objected or tried to keep the agency independent of the coercion.
More than that, Brennan was a cheerleader for torture and rendition, as Glenn Greenwald noted back in 2008, when he expressed concern about Brennan's role as a national security advisor in the Obama White House:
It simply is noteworthy of comment and cause for concern — though far from conclusive about what Obama will do — that Obama’s transition chief for intelligence policy, John Brennan, was an ardent supporter of torture and one of the most emphatic advocates of FISA expansions and telecom immunity.
Sometimes, it even takes BuzzFlash at Truthout a little time to write commentaries about killer issues, in this case literally.
According to the Wall Street Journal (in a February 15 article), Obama's nominee to head the CIA, John Brennan, ambiguously left open the possibility that US citizens could be targeted for assassination in the United States:
John Brennan, President Barack Obama's nominee to be director of the Central Intelligence Agency, didn't rule out the use of unmanned drones in the U.S. when quizzed about the matter.
Mr. Brennan's written answer came in response to questions from the Senate intelligence committee following his confirmation hearing last week. The Senate intelligence committee released a declassified version of Mr. Brennan's responses in a 30-page document Friday.
Mr. Brennan, the White House's counterterrorism chief, was asked, "Could the Administration carry out drone strikes inside the United States?" His reply was: "This Administration has not carried out drone strikes inside the United States and has no intention of doing so."
A few days back, Democracy Now analyzed excerpts from the Brennan Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on his nomination, including this one:
MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT Al Gore, a Jeremiah Amidst the Global Elite
The former vice president of the United States and rightful winner of the 2000 presidential election has a new visionary book just published that will largely be ignored by the mainstream media.
Why? Because it values democracy over capitalistic excesses. Because it proclaims that the elected officials in DC are just lackeys, in essence, for the moneyed elite. Because it details how the global corporations and financial institutions are now more powerful than nation states. And that's just the beginning of why you won't read much in the media about Gore's "The Future: Six Drivers of Global Change."
As Brad Blog quotes from a Jon Stewart interview with Gore on "The Daily Show" (one of the few outlets that will allow Gore free rein to state his anti-status quo viewpoints), Gore doesn't hold back:
Our democracy has been hacked. It's been taken over. It no longer operates the way our founders intended it to, because of anonymous donors, big money, corporations as people, might makes right. The lobbyists and special interests are now in control. They can't do anything without begging permission from the powerful special interests and it is time that we take our democracy back and it can be done.
But there's so much more in the interview and the book, the kind of enlightened perspective – untainted by corporate and jingoistic propaganda – that it makes you feel like you've found on an oasis after nearly dying from thirst.
PAUL BUCHHEIT FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT There are many self-serving excuses for greed
As we try to grasp the reasoning behind cuts to life-saving programs while billion-dollar incomes and trillion-dollar profits are being made, we must understand that extreme wealth deadens parts of the brain. Empathy and honesty go first. Then rationality, as evidenced by some of the outlandish excuses given by the very rich for their abuses.
Excuses for Inequality
Here's what Goldman Sachs adviser Brian Griffiths said about it: "We have to tolerate the inequality as a way to achieve greater prosperity and opportunity for all."
U.S. wealth distribution has become so extreme that nearly half of America has, on the average, ZERO WEALTH (debt exceeds assets). As for income, the richest 1% seemed to perform the impossible from 2009 to 2011, capturing MORE THAN 100% of the new income gains (income decreased for the other 99%).
As irrational as it might seem to find an excuse for all this, the Heritage Foundation is up to the task, claiming that poor Americans are actually doing quite well with their TVs and air conditioners. Never mind that debt for the poorest quintile of Americans averages $27,000 more than their possessions.
Excuses for Bank Fraud
It seems unlikely that anyone would try to justify the lack of punishment for manipulating global interest rates and consorting with drug cartels. But excuses were readily available. Hyperbole made up for incomprehensibility. Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson warned us that without a bailout the world economy would collapse "within 24 hours." Assistant attorney general Lanny Breuer added that with criminal charges "the entire banking system would have been destabilised."