Sunday, March 31, 2013

Random Thoughts

It's been a busy month with many things I've seen/heard but haven't had a chance to write on. Just a few quick hits to get me back in a rhythm, hopefully...

Though relatively tame, it's interesting to note how when Democrats offer racist commentary on non-white Republicans (why, yes, there are some!), there is little or no blowback. I certainly heard almost nothing on this incident involving Elaine Chao (the wife of Republican Mitch McConnell) from any major media outlet. In spite of the fact that they've confused Taiwanese with Chinese and their assertions that, as a "Chinese", she is working in some dark fashion to move US jobs overseas to China as if though she were some sort of modern day Fu Manchu character, I have not seen where the super PAC was punished or suffered any significant blowback as a result. On the flip side, though, when a Republican Alaska representative used the derogatory term "wetback" to refer to Mexican workers, it was plastered all over the mainstream media as another example of how Republicans are racist and even his own party, in their recent attempts to step away from being the party of racist rednecks, demanded (and received) an immediate apology. Both of the incidents were racist yet only one seems to have piqued any significant interest in the media because it fits a preconceived narrative. Yet, to listen to that narrative, racists only exist on one side of the political spectrum.

A friend of mine, some time back, tweaked me to Glenn Greenwald, a journalist with the British paper The Guardian. He is a bit on the left side of the political spectrum and I have found much of what he writes to be cogent and rational (compared to some). But I was super-impressed by his arguments when it came to Rand Paul and his filibuster when it concerned the rationale seemingly put forth by the Obama administration that it could order drone strikes against US citizens under certain circumstances. While the issue was highlighted by many in the media in terms of the radical right-wing legislator frothing against the popular Democratic president serving to valiantly defend his nation against the violent terrorists, Greenwald properly called out the supposedly liberal establishment for failing to stand up for one of its ideals and instead marching in lockstep with the administration simply to adhere to political convention. Whereas protesting against illegal drone strikes against US citizens would seem like something that would have been undertaken by a liberal lion such as Ted Kennedy, it was instead a libertarian (or so I took his approach) who picked up the standard and ran with it. It amazes me how little the Obama administration has continued policies that were originally put in place by his predecessor - who took amazing heat for it - and yet his party is now happily accepting of his actions and quietly acquiesce to those decisions. Of course, both Republicans and Democrats did the same things 12 years ago after September 11, 2001 and then Republicans openly supported while Democrats began to complain as his reign continued. Now, of course, the tables are turned and we see that the issue is not the issues themselves but instead who is in power when deciding those issues.

Finally, I can't say as though I am a big fan of Noam Chomsky but I found this to be an interesting interview. He actually addresses the concern of double-standards both in his views as well as how they are reported in the media. Of course, that does not stop him from continuing to offer very pointed, one-sided points in his critical commentary on US actions while remaining silent in the face of abuses or wrongs committed by those whom he sees as being on the right side of history (Hugo Chavez being one example). Further, the idea that 9/11 could have precipitated a military takeover of the US establishment makes him sound more like a conspiracy theorist than the noted and recognized academician that he is. He sees evil in everything the US does yet has no problem with staying in the US as it will offer him the opportunity to speak as he does - perhaps he realizes that the relative free speech that he enjoys in the US is something that will not be so easily granted in other parts of the world. This is not to suggest that the US does not have problems but he appears to only see problems in the US most of the time while ignoring the same (or worse) in other parts of the world. He admits in the interview that he will call out the power establishment on their wrongs while all but ignoring those committed by those who are in ideological agreement with him. Granted, this is not something that is limited to Mr. Chomsky but nor does it absolve him, either. Frankly, it smacks of the same double standards that seem to apply to almost anyone involved with politics and which renders it as unpalatable on many levels to so many. Even when Mr. Chomsky sees and recognizes it he still continues to act and speak with it in mind, absolving himself from responsibility with the idea that it serves the greater good. Does the end justify the means?