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MARK KARLIN, BUZZFLASH EDITOR FOR TRUTHOUT

Do you want to know "five reasons liberals aren't as happy as Conservatives"?

John Hall of TownHall.com believes that he has the answers to this rather - shall we say - questionable assumption. After all, so many progressives are in a quandary as to what has provoked the bile, bitterness and hate on the right.

But Hall asserts as one of his five arguments in support of his thesis:

Liberalism just doesn't work very well in the real world: If you spend your whole life advocating ideas that make people's lives worse, that fall apart at the first touch of reality, and that rely on a government that's inevitably slow, stupid, and ineffective, it's not going to be conducive to your happiness.

Actually, Mr. Hall, that made me laugh so hard, my happiness still hasn't worn off.

As his final point, Hall declares: "Liberalism has turned into an extraordinarily harsh, divisive, angry ideology: As a political philosophy, liberalism is centered around hatred and divisiveness."

What can I say?

This column on the conservative site, TownHall.com, is so unintentionally humorous that it left a smile on my face the whole day.

Count me one happy liberal.

Published in EditorBlog

MARK KARLIN, BUZZFLASH EDITOR FOR TRUTHOUT

If you wonder what can explain the pathological hysteria of the Tea Party and right-wing whites, one need look no further than the headline from an Associated Press article today, February 3.

"Census estimates show big gains for US minorities," the headline blares.

The white population is declining and minorities are surging, meaning that the notion of a white Christian nation has a short timeline - and the manic, alternative-universe behavior of the right wing has to do with a race against time with racial change.

How big is the minority growth?

Here are some walloping statistics from The AP article:

U.S. racial minorities accounted for roughly 85 percent of the nation's population growth over the last decade - one of the largest shares ever - with Hispanics accounting for much of the gain in many of the states picking up new House seats.

Preliminary census estimates also suggest the number of multiracial Americans jumped roughly 20 percent since 2000, to over 5 million....

Some 40 states show population losses of white children since 2000 due to declining birth rates. Minorities represented all of the increases in the under-18 population in Texas and Florida, and most of the gains in the child population in Nevada and Arizona.

So, those who have a psyche closely aligned with America identified as a white nation, are feeling emotionally imperiled, and follow any Pied Piper who reinforces their world view that a return to the "real" America is the creation of a white, Christian government.

"The new engines of growth in America's population are Hispanics, Asians and other minorities," a demographer quoted in The AP article said. "But it's just the tip of the iceberg. For the under-18 population - potential voters in the not-too-distant future - minorities accounted for virtually all the growth in most U.S. states."

If you are pulling your hair out trying to understand the inexplicable bile and conspiratorial fantasies of many in white America, look no further than this AP article.

This is their nightmare come true.

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

Published in EditorBlog

MARK KARLIN, BUZZFLASH EDITOR FOR TRUTHOUT

"You can't be neutral on a moving train," Howard Zinn said. Although he died over a year ago (January 27, 2010), no statement could be more timely considering the upheaval in Egypt.

Perhaps we are so vicariously thrilled by people literally taking democracy into their hands and putting their lives on the line - as we were with the suppressed "Green Revolution" in Iran - because we have largely abandoned large-scale protests in the US. Other nations are doing the heavy lifting of democracy, and it excites us with the possibility that it could happen here, that we could stand up to the plutocracy and the status quo elites.

Zinn said that he would like to be remembered,

for introducing a different way of thinking about the world, about war, about human rights, about equality ... for getting more people to realize that the power which rests so far in the hands of people with wealth and guns, that the power ultimately rests in people themselves and that they can use it. At certain points in history, they have used it. Black people in the South used it. People in the women's movement used it. People in the anti-war movement used it. People in other countries who have overthrown tyrannies have used it.

He was an inveterate optimist that the spark of good in all of us can ignite a powerful force that can bring down the rule of the privileged few.

Zinn was also on the advisory board of Truthout, which embodies his view that:

There was a moment in our lives (or a month, or a year) when certain facts appeared before us, startled us, and then caused us to question beliefs that were strongly fixed in our consciousness - embedded there by years of family prejudices, orthodox schooling, imbibing of newspapers, radio and television. This would seem to lead to a simple conclusion: that we all have an enormous responsibility to bring to the attention of others information they do not have, which has the potential of causing them to rethink long-held ideas.

In tribute to Zinn, on the anniversary of his death, Truthout and BuzzFlash are offering his eye-opening, revisionist history of America: "The People's History of the United States."

It's a special gift premium that will cause you "to rethink long-held ideas." And then pass it on to a friend. Germinate the seeds of truth.

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

Published in EditorBlog

MARK KARLIN, BUZZFLASH EDITOR FOR TRUTHOUT

What do Hosni Mubarak and the major United States cable companies have in common?

They have banned Al Jazeera.

That's a shame, because Al Jazeera has great "on the ground" coverage and literally speaks the language of the tumultuous happenings in the Middle East. But in 99 percent or so of America, the only place you can follow Al Jazeera's English channel is on a live feed on the Internet.

According to The New York Times, "cable and satellite companies in the United States have largely refused its requests to be carried."

As you can read in a 2004 BuzzFlash interview with the director of "Control Room," the riveting documentary on the network, Al Jazeera is a Western-style news operation. It is owned by the oil-rich and pro-US Qatar government.

Reporting with the kind of vigor you expect from serious journalism, Al Jazeera takes on all comers. During the invasion of Iraq, the US bombed the Al Jazeera Baghdad bureau from the air and killed a staff member. Currently, the Palestinian Authority claims that Al Jazeera reported on an embarrassing story in collusion with Israel.

Al Jazeera must be doing something right. It is a station that manages to tick off a lot of governments and movements, as well as corporate broadcasting in America.

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

Published in EditorBlog

MARK KARLIN, BUZZFLASH EDITOR FOR TRUTHOUT

The courage of convictions is often measured by the number of feet protesting in the streets.

That was the case recently in Tunisia. It is the standard the corporate mainstream media used during the Iranian "Green Revolution" and, now, in Egypt.

But for far too long, the American media has historically discounted progressive protests in the US - although they give plenty of coverage to the Tea Party and the right wing. Go back to the thousands and thousands of people who rallied in DC against the first inauguration of Supreme Court-appointed George W. Bush. You had to search Google for reports and read liberal bloggers to find out about the outpouring of dissent.

And relatively short shrift was given by the mainstream media to large-scale protests against the invasion of Iraq.

In 2006, however, massive numbers of people - in the millions around the nation - who protested draconian measures aimed at immigrants from Mexico and Central America, did get the attention of the press. And the protests worked, delaying ethnically biased federal immigration "reform" to this day.

But it should be noted that Spanish-language media, not the corporate mainstream media, played a large role in boosting the numbers who turned out and had an impact on spillover coverage.

On Sunday, Common Cause led a group of more than 1,000 people, who objected to an American government manipulated for the interest of billionaires. Their presence shed attention on the secret, annual, plutocratic, political planning sessions of the Koch brothers and their super-rich allies, who were meeting in Palm Springs.

As Van Jones warned the protesters who were "uncloaking the Kochs":

There is another threat. And it is in our country a graver threat. And it is the threat that comes from excessive concentrations of economic power. Excessive concentrations of economic power in our country pose as big a threat, and frankly a greater threat than any concentration of political power. What we have to remember is that our republic is founded not just on the question of liberty, but also on democracy and justice.

Social and economic injustice will not be ended because the oligarchy suddenly becomes altruistic.

Power - particularly when fueled by financial wealth - does not yield concessions without counter pressure.

That is something that we can learn from the people of Tunisia and of Egypt - and a small gathering of advocates for democracy in Palm Springs.

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

Published in EditorBlog

MARK KARLIN, BUZZFLASH EDITOR FOR TRUTHOUT

Senators David Vitter and Rand Paul are introducing legislation to deny US birthright status, guaranteed under the 14th Amendment, to children born on American territory to "illegal immigrants."

What's missing from the proposed law - if passed - is that it needs to require the removal of Emma Lazarus's poem, written in 1883, from the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty. In "The New Colussus," Lazarus intones:

"Keep ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she
With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

In fact, just remove the Statue of Liberty itself from New York Harbor and replace it with a giant "no vacancy" sign.

Vitter and Paul - two politicians with gargantuan contradictions - appear to have a perverse notion of "American exceptionalism," given that all residents of the Unites States - with the exception of Native Americans - are descendants of immigrants.

It's rather perplexing to espouse the self-serving concept of "American exceptionalism" when a key policy that makes our nation extraordinary is the opportunity and strength it has gained from being a beacon of freedom to immigrants from around the world.

Vitter and Rand would extinguish the welcoming light held aloft by the iconic symbol of America rising from the water just a short boat ride from Manhattan.

Were they to accomplish their goal, much harm would be done to our nation's torch of hope.

Published in EditorBlog

MARK KARLIN, BUZZFLASH EDITOR FOR TRUTHOUT

In a FOX interview, Sarah Palin reveals herself to a be a "Spudnut" and calls President Obama's State of the Union a "WTF" moment.

In a rant that, even by Sarah Palin standards, straddled from the profane to the farcical to the illogical to the economically ignorant, it is easy to become haughty and disdainful of right-wing populism based on ignorance, contradictions and slogans.

First of all, given Palin's obsession with raising our children free of profanity, it was strikingly odd to hear her declare President Obama's speech a "WTF" moment. Then she managed to attribute the collapse of the Soviet Union to their launching of the sputnik - a clearly laughable reading of history.

Then came the pre-prepared "Spudnut" moment. What is a "Spudnut"? Well, it is a coffee shop/bakery in Richland, Washington - according to Palin - that has been open for several generations. It was Palin's way of saying Americans survive because of hard work and not government help.

Except that family-owned businesses in America are closing shop at an epidemic rate because they don't have enough customers with money - and because big chain stores, restaurants and malls have put them out of business. "Spudnut" is an anachronism, not the wave of the future, however quaint the anecdote.

The one thing this rather mind-boggling interview reveals is that Palin's brain is caught up in some type of washing machine, with images from 1950's television shows, economic fallacies, revisionist history - along with a little profanity - tumbling around in her head.

Palin is the "Spudnut" of right-wing populist delusion. As Ann Davidow writes for BuzzFlash at Truthout, "We are once again deluged by ignorance and insulted by the least able among us."

 

Published in EditorBlog

MARK KARLIN, BUZZFLASH EDITOR FOR TRUTHOUT

How about Medicare for everyone or Medicare for no one?

After all, the House Republicans are not only trying to kill more Americans by repealing a law that would provide an extra 30 million citizens with coverage; they are also, once again, considering privatizing Medicare.

Medicare has been shown to be a much more cost-effective administrator of health insurance for seniors than private coverage, because Medicare doesn't need to add on marketing and profit costs. So, the House Republicans would abandon seniors to private health care coverage which would mean less coverage at a higher cost. It would also, de facto, lead to health care rationing for the elderly, unless they were wealthy enough to pay for additional care.

It is long past time that the bluff of the pro-corporate, pro-rich Republicans be called. Either we should have single-payer Medicare for all Americans, or we end Medicare altogether.

That will certainly get the attention of Tea Party seniors who are against "socialized" medicine, except for themselves. (And remember, under Medicare, our health system is still private, as compared to England where most health care providers are employed by the government.)

And it would be the just and economic action to take: universal coverage.

Published in EditorBlog

MARK KARLIN, BUZZFLASH EDITOR FOR TRUTHOUT

Why do you go to jail for bouncing a couple of grocery checks, but get bonuses for cratering the American economy?

That's a good question, particularly now that an "official" inquiry has found that the Wall Street casino gambling that nearly collapsed our economy was preventable.

Richard J. Eskow writes in OurFuture.org:

The Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission's report couldn't come at a better time. At a moment when it seems that Washington would rather forget what happened two years ago, it documents the opportunism, bad judgment, and criminality that crashed the world's economy once - and could again at any time.

An interconnected web of Wall Street criminality, discredited ideology, and politicians chasing big money - along with a surprising amount of executive incompetence - has caused continued suffering for millions. At a time when the nation's capital is convinced that CEOs need appeasing rather than policing, the FCIC report is a badly needed return to reality.

The establishment New York Times headlined its January 26 story on the commission quite simply, "Financial Crisis Was Avoidable, Inquiry Finds."

As Eskow further notes, "Wall Street executives weren't mentioned in the State of the Union or the Republican response."

Writing in BuzzFlash just a few days ago, Danny Schechter - who has repeatedly written and even made a documentary about Wall Street as a crime scene - predicted just that: Obama would not mention the looting and loss of hundreds and hundreds of billions of dollars from the American economy. Nor has the Obama administration pursued any prosecution of the culprits. Instead, Obama golfs with them and appoints them to staff and advisory positions in the White House.

Shoplift a little and you get a court date and maybe jail time. Wreck the American economy with complete disregard for those impacted by your recklessness and lawlessness and you get hundreds of millions of dollars in bonuses.

The White House cannot move America into the "future," until it calls to account and rectifies the financial crimes of the past.

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

Published in EditorBlog

MARK KARLIN, BUZZFLASH EDITOR FOR TRUTHOUT

President Obama's "Sputnik moment" State of the Union Speech had something for everyone - and therein lies the problem.

He boasted about the stock market going up and record corporate profits, but companies are still shipping jobs overseas and sitting on their profits or sending them as dividends to shareholders. There is a disconnect between Wall Street's greed and the creation of jobs that Obama doesn't appear to fundamentally understand.

In fact, he called for national unity in the creation of jobs in the same speech in which he touted free-trade agreements, which has been a key catalyst for companies closing factories in the US and finding cheaper labor overseas.

Obama also called for a freeze on discretionary spending at the same time he was cheerleading for investment in rebuilding our nation's infrastructure.

He gave into the deficit hawks, but bragged about the longest war in our history in Afghanistan, which is eating up hundreds of billions of dollars in spending.

He did vaguely support Medicare and Social Security, but blamed rising health care costs for Medicare's "problems," including giving his support to the bogus GOP claim that capping malpractice suits will have a significant impact on medical charges.

He called for eliminating subsidies for oil companies, but was not specific about how the government would help advance a potential job and long-term cost savings windfall in the form of renewable energy and alternative mass transportation, which he appears to support mostly in the abstract. (Although, there was some funding for these ideas in the stimulus package.) And the president includes nuclear energy and "clean coal" in his concept of alternative energy sources.

Basically, ever the mediator, Obama promised something for everybody, when - in doing so - there are fundamental contradictions in implementing all those expectations.

Obama did what he does best: avoid conflict by trying to ignore it.

But, in the end, that's like throwing spaghetti on the wall.

Published in EditorBlog
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