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MARK KARLIN, BUZZFLASH EDITOR FOR TRUTHOUT

I support the Constitution, don't you? But I don't support the fundamentalist, "literalist" Sharia version that the GOP touts.

I think that the Constitution is a remarkable document in the development of governments that empowered individuals against oppressive rule and institutions.

It overthrew the privileged reign of royal lineage and put the direction of America in the hands of the population at large. You could argue that the Constitution is the ultimate populist charter for a nation. But on Thursday, the GOP is putting on a political theater performance in the House by reading the Constitution out loud, even though the new red tide of right-wingers don't support large chunks of it, such as the 14th Amendment, the 17th Amendment, and much, much more.

Here is the preamble to the Constitution:

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

Since when did the GOP promote the general welfare of the nation?

Instead, we get a GOP Sharia "strict constructionist," authoritarian interpretation of the Constitution that is akin to Osama bin Laden's "literal" interpretation of the Koran.

John Boenher, we don't want a fundamentalist, corporate-financed corruption

Published in EditorBlog

MARK KARLIN, BUZZFLASH EDITOR FOR TRUTHOUT

 

As the red tide of Republicans take over the House of Representatives today, we are going to hear a lot of claims that the GOP in Congress is carrying out "the will of the people."

"The voters sent a clear message," we will be told repeatedly as the Republicans take a hatchet to social service programs, while continuing tax giveaways to corporations and the very rich.

But as a "60 Minutes"/Vanity Fair poll released on January 3 indicates, the message sent may merely be that Americans were confused and frustrated by grotesque stereotypes that the GOP had created about key public policy issues.

For instance, in choosing strategies to reduce the deficit, only "four percent [of Americans] would cut the Medicare government health insurance program for the elderly, and 3 percent would cut the Social Security retirement program, the poll showed."

As for the tax bonus for the wealthy that the Republicans just won as their key lame-duck legislature goal, "sixty-one percent of Americans polled would rather see taxes for the wealthy increased as a first step to tackling the deficit" than implementing other spending cuts.

This specific poll aside, other surveys in the past reinforce common sense preferences

Published in EditorBlog
Wednesday, 05 January 2011 01:01

Shark Attack Alert II: GOP Takes Over House

MARK KARLIN, BUZZFLASH EDITOR FOR TRUTHOUT

Yesterday, BuzzFlash humbly warned the White House about trying to negotiate with a shark.

Unlike dolphins, sharks are not known for their intelligence. They are basically lethal eating machines with fins. They have no grand strategy. They don't look toward goals in the future. They just live to prey on other living organisms.

That's pretty much what President Obama has to deal with in terms of the GOP. They are now, reportedly, going to try and destroy the modest gains in health care reform, even though their proposed dismantling would increase the federal deficit. Then, when it comes to the destruction of our economy, the Republicans are going to prescribe more of the same toxins.

Congressman Darrell Issa (R-California), incoming chair of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, is a GOP shark, whom BuzzFlash singled out yesterday. He is bragging - to any mainstream media outlet who will listen to him - about launching multiple "investigation" attacks on the White House.

But Politico reports that Issa is not looking to empower average Americans; he will give more power to special interests: "Rep. Darrell Issa wants the oil industry, drug manufacturers and other trade groups and companies to tell him which Obama administration regulations to target

Published in EditorBlog

MARK KARLIN, BUZZFLASH EDITOR FOR TRUTHOUT

There is not a human being who would try to placate a shark, but apparently President Obama still believes that he can reason with the jaws of the GOP.

It's particularly naive on the part of the White House, since we've been through this all before whenever the Republicans have controlled a national branch of power in the past few decades.

So, it comes as no surprise that Rep. Darrell Issa (R-California), incoming chair of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, is shouting to the rafters that he is going to do everything but a bodily investigation of President Obama and his administration.

Calling the White House "one of the most corrupt administrations" in history, Issa is boasting that he is going to subpoena Obama officials right and

Published in EditorBlog

MARK KARLIN, BUZZFLASH EDITOR FOR TRUTHOUT

As we enter 2011, it is worth nothing that sometimes the more things change, the more they stay the same.

As Thom Hartmann detailed - and was the first author to do so in a prescient, must-read book called "Unequal Protection: The Rise of Corporations and the Theft of Human Rights" - it was a twisted, entangled legal battle in the late 1800s - involving the Robber Barons of the railroad industry - that was the first step to lead to the egregiously pro-corporate Supreme Court ruling in 2010 known as "Citizens United."

Thanks to a mysterious, post-Civil War Supreme Court deliberation, the railroad titans didn't receive a verdict based on the 14th Amendment rights of personhood, but they claimed to anyway. They won the war by using a strategically placed "headnote" on the ruling, even though the court judgment was not based on the issue of corporations having the same rights as people. In short, the headnote gave corporations the ability to jawbone their way into the benefits of "natural personhood" wherever they could.

As one review of "Unequal Protection" observes:

America has lost the legal structures that allowed for people to control corporate behavior.

As a result, the largest transnational corporations fill a role today that has historically been filled by kings. They control most of the world's wealth

Published in EditorBlog

MARK KARLIN, BUZZFLASH EDITOR FOR TRUTHOUT

A winter storm just hit the Northeast hard, but a perfect storm is brewing to stifle the American economy in 2011.

Yes, no doubt economic data will improve somewhat, but the bottom has dropped out of our manufacturing sector - and there is little reason to believe that is going to dramatically improve.

Over 2010, I have posted numerous articles - including prescient analyses by Paul Krugman among others - that indicate that several factors are converging that will further erode our shrinking working class. These ominous trends include:

  • Increased offshoring of production jobs to low-cost-labor nations, facilitated by "free trade agreements"
  • Growing financial investment abroad by beneficiaries of "bonus" tax giveaways to the super-wealthy
  • Accelerating dependence on natural resources from other nations to meet current energy and high-technology needs
  • Accumulation of hundreds of billions of dollars in cash surpluses by corporations to increase dividend payments, stock value and executive salaries and bonuses
  • Growing consumer spending is no longer an indicator of a likely increase in domestic manufacturing, because so many of the goods purchased by Americans are made overseas
  • Rampaging "meme" of reducing the federal deficit and implementing austerity programs will further erode the production sector
Published in EditorBlog

MARK KARLIN, BUZZFLASH EDITOR FOR TRUTHOUT

Retail sales reportedly grew approximately 5.5 percent this holiday season.

That's good news for jobs, but the bad news is that the greatest amount of increased employment may be overseas, not in the US.

A December 28 AP article provides some ominous insight:

Corporate profits are up. Stock prices are up. So why isn't anyone hiring?

Actually, many American companies are - just maybe not in your town. They're hiring overseas, where sales are surging and the pipeline of orders is fat.

More than half of the 15,000 people that Caterpillar Inc. has hired this year were outside the U.S. UPS is also hiring at a faster clip overseas. For both companies, sales in international markets are growing at least twice as fast as domestically.

The trend helps explain why unemployment remains high in the United States, edging up to 9.8 percent last month, even though companies are performing well: All but 4 percent of the top 500 U.S. corporations reported profits this year, and the stock market is close to its highest point since the 2008 financial

Published in EditorBlog

MARK KARLIN, BUZZFLASH EDITOR FOR TRUTHOUT

Michael Moore's Christmas message this year was a quotation from William Rivers Pitt's eloquent Truthout column on the spirit of giving of oneself:

Before Santa and presents and shopping and all the attendant Christmas (stuff) got involved, this holiday was enshrined to commemorate a guy who got nailed to a tree for daring to tell people to be kind to one another. If you have two cloaks, He said, give one away. Remember those who have less than you, be charitable, be good, be merciful.

Truthout's Pitt - a trenchant cynic about current politics, but an inspiring optimist about the powers of the human soul - also gently prods us to be giving and strong in a nation seemingly gone crazed: "Help someone if you can. Hold close to you who and what you love. Be fiercely present in these mad days, to whatever extent is reasonable for you. Remember what we can do, together, if we lean in to the task."

This is more than a compelling message for a religious holiday: it is the resolution we should carry with us into the New Year.

Long after the empty boxes that were filled with holiday consumer gifts have been thrown away, there is still plenty of time ahead to fill the heart of another human being with the gift of care and love.

We just need to find it within ourselves and actualize it. This is the joy we can have every day of the year, not just on a religious holiday.

This is the one, true faith: the faith of our common humanity.

Published in EditorBlog

MARK KARLIN, BUZZFLASH EDITOR FOR TRUTHOUT

Although touted as a populist movement of individual rights, the Tea Party has got some explaining to do when it comes to supporting democracy.

Specifically, not long ago, Tea Party Nation President Judson Philips advocated that only persons who own property be allowed to vote.

In a blog critical of the Tea Party movement, "Tea Party Nationalism," a November column

Published in EditorBlog

MARK KARLIN, BUZZFLASH EDITOR FOR TRUTHOUT

Why does Mary Matalin want money from me? Don't she and her hubby, James Carville, have enough millions between them not to solicit my lunch money?

Based on an email I received from Matalin on December 21, she is passing the can for the Libby Legal Defense Trust. The name of the c-3 charitable fund for a convicted Cheney staffer, who endangered our national security, is a bit out of date. After all, Scooter Libby was found guilty and Bush didn't pardon him, so what is there to defend?

According to Matalin, Scooter deserves his "good name" back, and wants me to pop for a few dollars to help him remove the blemish his crime. Scooter must be feeling really down after exposing a CIA agent engaged in trying to reduce illicit trade in weapons of mass destruction (the ironies abound).

Indeed, Matalin is particularly crestfallen that Scooter's reputation

Published in EditorBlog
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