The Talking Dog

May 20, 2010, Shades of Gray

Well, we'll start with Kentucky Senate candidate Trey Grayson... well, the guy who beat him in the Republican primary, anyway, Dr. Rand Paul, son of Ron Paul, who is of course, "the Tea Party" movement favorite in Kentucky... and now we know why. In an editorial board interview, it seems, Dr. Paul managed to combine the two obsessions of that movement (libertarianism and, of course, racism) in one sentence, suggesting that the hard part of freedom is believing that the Civil Rights Act should not prohibit blatant racist acts of discrimination (say, "Whites only" lunch counters) by private enterprises. And so here we go again: I find myself not unsympathetic to the stated thrust of Tea Party ideology-- the government is way too big, too powerful and too complicated, and elites (such as Goldman Sacks) are running it for their own benefit and must be stopped-- and unable to embrace the movement at all, because like the rest of the Republican Party (which at least also stands for advancing the plutocracy), its fundamental driving force (if not for its candidates, at least for its "base") is simply racism.. If anything, at least Paul is honest enough not to bother with the dogwhistles anymore and just come out and say it.

And speaking of honest, or the opposite thereof, we'll go to another shade of Gray, the Grey Lady,and to another Senate candidate, and the New York Times' deliberately deceptive coverage of Connecticut Attorney General RIchard Blumenthal's discussion of his military service record, In this case, the Times was spoon-fed a video of Blumenthal evidently saying that he served in Vietnam, which, of course, he did not, resulting in quite the kerfuffle. However, the full video, the context of which the Times declined to provide, shows that Blumenthal cited his usual mantra-- that he served in the military during the Vietnam era, which is true. The Media Matters piece shows that in responding to criticism of the story, the Times behaved as if it were actually the Republican candidate from whom it obtained (and then stenographically reproduced) the "story". In other words, the Times engaged in small-time "gotcha" journalism, catching Blumenthal in a clear slip... but in context, not necessarily a "lie"... despite the clear intent of its hit-piece. (One wonders if somewhere along the line, Blumenthal did anything to piss off one of Pinch Sulzberger's old girlfriends or something.)

Well, then. It's 2010. It seems in so many ways the country, if not the planet, is circling the drain. We have an apocalyptic climate scenario looming, which most of humanity outside the USA recognizes, but we of course, deny (and we won't even mention the insanely apocalyptic oil spill that could devastate if not wipe out marine life in the Gulf of Mexico that is being allowed to worsen because private property is more important to us than life itself). We have a moral/legal crisis that "allows" our government to torture, to summarily execute, to strip the accused of all rights, in the name of protecting our freedom. We have an apocalyptic financial situation, that now results in some kind of a crisis, such as the one we just saw in Greece, every few months. The United States is engaged in two major ground wars in Asia, and there are some who desperately want us in a third with Iran. Our populace is cowed, obsese, medicated, ill-educated, overworked, underpaid, and stressed out on its good days, And I could go on...

But at the end of it all... we have to look at what our underlying values actually are. And it seems for many of us, they are, alas, shades of grey... for Dr. Paul, it means the freedom to be a bigot.. or perhaps, freedom for a leading newspaper to fudge and misrepresent the facts to support some agenda or other.... "freedom" divorced from any kind of responsibility. A gray outlook indeed,