The degradation of the press, of the polity, of nearly everything

I nearly jumped out of my chair this past Saturday morning when, reading the morning's New York Times over espresso and trying to steel myself for the upcoming Glenn Beck speech on the anniversary of the Martin Luther King "I have a dream" speech (which I witnessed in person and reported on for a New Jersey newspaper), I came across the following sentence on Page One in Eric Lichtblau's piece "Financier’s Largess Shows G.O.P.’s Wall St. Support": [Paul Singer] is not new to fund-raising - he raised money for George W. Bush, Rudolph W. Giuliani, the Swift Board Veterans for Truth and, surprisingly, gay rights initiatives - but his prominence has risen lately with his donations as he and other conservatives tap into a rising tide of anger on Wall Street toward Washington." [Emphasis added]

What the hell has happened to the Times - such transparent editorializing on a page-one, above-the-fold story? Indeed, it's more than editorializing in a news story; it's an attempt to swift-boat Paul Singer!

For one thing, hasn't Lichtblau ever heard of libertarians or libertarian conservatives? Does he know nothing about the Cato Institute or the Reason Foundation? Doesn't he realize that there are conservatives in this country who are much more consistent on civil liberties issues than, for example, the editorial board of the New York Times?

Later in the piece Lichtblau notes that Singer has given "significant sums to personal causes that run counter to the agenda of many conservatives." But, of course, those "causes" are right at the heart of the social views of true libertarians and libertarian conservatives who also take a laissez faire attitude toward economic regulation.

So I started out the day depressed over the state of things in our country. And then I heard Glenn Beck's demagogic speech and started to spit nickels. I tried to pass it off as nonsense to be ignored, but Elsa reminded me that it was quite consequential, and so I admitted that we have to take this seriously. I heard the original speech by Rev. King in 1963, and to compare Beck to King (or, for that matter, to compare today's civil rights leaders to King) brings out in me a combination of laughing and crying.

As the saying goes, I'm too old to cry, but it hurts too much to laugh.

NOTE: Chris Faraone’s report from the Beck rally will be online shortly; check his Twitter feed for updates in the meantime.

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