Saturday, November 23, 2013

In the News: George Zimmerman, Obamacare, Chris Christie, Paul Ryan, and Moral Sickness of Cultures

News commentary about disparate topics (though interconnected ones, to my way of thinking) that has caught my eye this week:

Edward Wyckoff Williams wonders how the American system of justice manages repeatedly to exonerate men who commit acts of violence against women and children--including, in the case of George Zimmerman, men with proven track records of such violence, who can be exonerated by courts and juries even when they have a chain of such assaults on their records:

But what is most disturbing here, is how easily and silently the American judicial system aids and abets the sociopathic (and I dare say possibly psychopathic) behavior of men with guns — who threaten women and kill children with impunity.

Timothy Egan notes the parallels between the South's latest lost cause--denying healthcare coverage to millions of citizens on the socioeconomic margins, just because (because of their imagined pigmentation and imagined moral lapses)--and the last lost cause the South defended:

By refusing to expand health care for the working poor through Medicaid, which is paid for by the federal government under Obamacare, most of the old Confederacy is committed to keeping millions of its own fellow citizens in poverty and poor health. They are dooming themselves, further, as the Left-Behind States. 
And they are doing it out of spite.

Paul Rosenberg skewers the complicity of the elite media and the chattering classes who are the elite media's tribal gatekeepers in soft-selling the hard-right agenda of Republican "moderates" like Chris Christie, as these elites try to keep the nation oriented to a "center" that exists in their own heads but not in public opinion:

The "center" elite journalists are talking about is not the center of public opinion, as it pretends to be, but rather, the self-referential center of elite opinion, which they are tasked with helping to construct, legitimate, normalize and ultimately present as existing without any conceivable alternative.  This is particularly true on economic issues, where the public is far to the left of both political parties, as I discussed here recently. 

And a case in point re: the media's complicity in soft-selling hard-right GOP leaders as "centrist" when they're anything but: Alex Pareene on how the media are now (all over again) soft-selling Paul Ryan as a policy wonk who's all about uplifting the poor:

Most annoyingly, it's just accepted, without much pushback, that Ryan is exactly what he's shrewdly marketed himself as. He's a wonk, he's an ideas man, he's reorienting the Republican Party toward real policy solutions to big problems, he's just as at home drinking a Miller Lite in Kenosha as he is ministering to recovering addicts (or hanging with Reince Priebus). This is what Ryan is selling: An even harder-line version of the conservative policy agenda of the last 30+ years. There's never, ever any there there in his proposals. And we've learned this from the last 600 "budgets" he's released! Poor Ezra Klein has learned this lesson the hard way. Ryan may be very sincere in his sympathy for the poor and perhaps even convinced that he can come up with a better way to lift them from poverty than liberals, but there's no coherent way in which slashing food stamps for millions and replacing those cuts with nothing — wait, sorry, I meant replacing the program with “dreams” and “spiritual redemption” — doesn't have the immediate effect of making a lot of poor people's lives harder and meaner. 

Finally, Phil Rockstroh decries the moral vacuity, the sickness unto death, that such a lapse of moral responsibility on the part of a culture's leaders, its powerful media elites and chattering classes, produces culture-wide:

The sicknesses of the soul are mirrored in the disorders of a culture and vice versa. In turn, tracing symptoms is a path to the soul. The symptoms are the soul's means of attempting to be heard. But, all too often, whether it be the obtuse ego of an individual or the obtuse, egoistical guardians of the status quo will refuse to acknowledge the symptoms. The reigning power structure will attempt to deny, marginalize, and demonize the soul's message…its plea for attention, its attempt to gain entry into the protected sanctums of power. Its entreaties are dismissed as merely the complains of misfits—or overreacted to as dangerously radical.

A good pre-Thanksgiving weekend to American readers of this blog. A good weekend to all readers, wherever you may be.

The graphic: a detail from Gijs Van Vaerenbergh's, Pieterjan Gijs's, and Arnout Van Vaerenbergh's "Reading Between the Lines" project.

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