Brain Dropping #32

Brain Dropping #32

         Lies and the lying liars who tell them.  I stole that opening line from Al Franken’s book exposing Fox News and Bill O’Liely (as Franken called him), among many others.  My optimistic friends confuse my well-founded concerns about the decay of our society with an incapacitating pessimism, to the exclusion of a sense of joy at the more positive things in life.  They could not be more wrong.  As a matter of fact, it’s the opposite effect – the more I know about those forces at work which ultimately have an impact on my daily life, whether lies from Bush, Obama and their cohorts, or the machinations of the Koch brothers, or the criminality of Wall Street in manipulating interest rates, the more intense is my appreciation of the good and beautiful things, things in my life.

      Living your life by turning away from the harsh truths of the human condition, ignorance being bliss in the old saw, the more disengaged you become, and live a life of ‘mauvais fois’ – bad faith- as the Existentialists termed it.  The other day I saw an article on the internet about the number of babies in Vietnam being born with deformities as a consequence of Agent Orange, forty years after the end of the Vietnam War – it is in the hundreds of thousands.  In a conversation with a friend I referred to the article.  “Why bring that up,” he said. “It’s too nice a day.”  I flashed on that old joke ridiculing absurd optimism:  A young boy is thrown into a cell filled with shit whereupon he gleefully starts digging and flinging it around, laughing joyously.  “where’s the pony!” He shouts. “Where’s the pony!”

     In a current episode of “Moyers and Company,”  Charles Lewis of the Center for Public Integrity and the author of “935 Lies The Future of Truth and the Decline of America’s Moral integrity” casts his critical eye on the prominent liars among us and the bloody consequences of their lies.  The evidence strongly indicates that when information is distorted or cloaked in secrecy, we no longer have a democracy.  My own take on it is that the suppression of the truth leads quickly and directly to fascism.  Are we there yet? I’ll reserve judgment .   

     All the above can be best summed up by that old Athenian codger and rabble rouser socrates: “The unexamined life is not worth living.”

Al Salzman

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