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Rending the Veil, If Only For A Moment

February 21, 2011

Yes, I know there’s a strong ethic  that bloggers are not supposed to create posts stitched together from other people’s postings and publications. That’s frowned upon either as plagiarism or laziness. But there are just too many revealing articles posted recently that shed essential light on subjects I care a lot  about and are written by people more articulate than I am.  What they have said is more important right now than anything purely original I have to say.  So I’m going to  break that unwritten rule, and refer you to their insights, reflections, and analyses:

*CNN’s Anderson Cooper was widely criticized by his fellow TV newsmen for calling a lie by the Mubarak government of Egypt a lie. To many of his peers this is being “partisan”, sacrificing “objectivity” and is unprofessional, not what journalists are supposed to do. Glenn Grenwald exposes the fraudulent nature of that posturing in “Journalists angry at the commission of journalism”  in his Feb. 14 column at www.salon.com It is the most incisive and succinct analysis I’ve seen in a long time of what’s wrong with mainstream journalism in America.  Truth and lies are not of equal merit nor to they deserve equal attention and equal respect in the name of some imaginary “balance.”  This whole issue reminds me of  an old satirical sketch in which a newscaster solemnly says “Some people say all  Poles should be massacred. Others say no Poles should be slaughtered. We at Channel Seven reject the extremists of both sides, believing the moderate,  reasonable answer lies somewhere in the  middle between these two extremes.” Greenwald nails it when he says “identifying lies told by powerful political leaders–and describing them as such– is what good journalists do, by definition.” It’s not exposing lies that violates objectivity and professional ethics, that makes the journalist a partisan advocate for one side.  Greenwald also notes journalists have little inhibition in applying the word “lie” to  statements coming from “powerless, demonized or marginalized people”– only when the liars are the rich and powerful. These journalists see their job as making the lies sound like reasonable and plausible “opinions,” they must dutifully pass on to the masses without comment.  What would happen if Anderson Cooper (or someone else in a comparable position)  were bold enough to call US government officials “liars” instead of a foreign ruler disavowed by the US and on his way out?  Now that’s an interesting thought! You ought to read the whole article.

I have always been frustrated with the widespread belief that there  is no truth, no facts, or evidence, only varying, arbitrary opinions and since everyone is equal in some sense,  all opinions are equally valid. To me this is obvious nonsense. It is intellectually and morally lazy to think that. I wouldn’t even call it “thinking”. It’s more of a refusal to think, an abdication of responsibility.

*The apocalyptic hysteria over deficits and government spending (“America on the verge of collapse!””) is a cynically manufactured  product of a massive and sustained right-wing propaganda campaign that has fudged the faces significantly.  The propaganda and the conservative poltiicos have convinced a large part of the public and the media that “nothing else matters” but slashing government spending immediately. See Darrell Delamaide’s article “Deficit hysteria grips Washington” posted Feb. 16 on www.marketwatch.com. The hysteria is a distraction from our two much more  dangerous and much more important crises:  persistent 10% unemployment and 10% of American homeowners already suffering foreclosure, quite often through fraud and forgery by the mortgage holders. Neither of these devastating human  crises were caused by deficit spending or the national debt. Even if the “deficit hawks” were to succeed  in massively  slashing social programs, reducing government spending,  and even if they magically made the  deficit disappear overnight,  that would do absolutely nothing to promote jobs and  housing. Nothing.  Let that simple fact roll around in your mind and heart for a while. Go back and read my old posting ” How Dangerous is Our Big National Debt?” (posted on this site last October 29) for some historical perspective. Two obvious, practical, guaranteed, humane  ways to reduce the deficit are first, to put Americans back to work so they have incomes on  which to pay taxes, and two, quit giving more and more tax cuts to the rich,  the latest round of which, ( just two months ago) predictably added $900 billion to the deficit.  The very same  people screaming loudest now are the same ones who knowingly added $900 billion to the deficit last December, as a Christmas present to their rich supporters, which of course will never be called “welfare” or a “government handout” because the recipients are the  rich and privileged.

*”There are three things you need to know about the current budget debate. First, it’s essentially fraudulent. Second, most people posing at deficit hawks are faking it.  Third, while President Obama hasn’t fully avoided the fraudulence, he’s less bad than his opponents–and he deserves much more credit for fiscal responsiblity than he’s getting.”  That’s the lead sentence from the Nobel laureate economist  Paul Krugman’s latest column in the NY Times, “Willie Sutton Wept”,  published Feb. 17  (www.nytimes.com).  “House Republicans, in particular, are literally stealing food from the mouths of babes–nutritional aid to pregnant women and very young children is one of  the items on their cutting block–so they can pose, falsely, as deficit hawks.”  Another voice of succinct sanity and reason, worth reading.

 [to be continued in a subsequent post]

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