"Joy and pleasure are as real as pain and sorrow and one must learn what they have to teach. . . ." -- Sean Russell, from Gatherer of Clouds

"If you're not having fun, you're not doing it right." -- Helyn D. Goldenberg

"I love you and I'm not afraid." -- Evanescence, "My Last Breath"

“If I hear ‘not allowed’ much oftener,” said Sam, “I’m going to get angry.” -- J.R.R. Tolkien, from Lord of the Rings

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Today's Must-Read: The Right's War on America

Specifically, the free press. This piece by Brian Beutler is a pretty damning analysis:

Republican Greg Gianforte defeated Democrat Rob Quist in a special election Thursday for Montana’s lone congressional seat, a six-point victory that should horrify you because he won with the full support of the GOP after body-slamming and punching an American reporter—and many of our political institutions, especially the media, are too paralyzed to impose a meaningful consequence on him or his enablers.

Gianforte, a true coward, didn’t admit any wrongdoing until his victory speech, at which point the risks of playacting decency pertained to his criminal case—the police have charged him with assault—rather than the election. “When you make a mistake, you have to own up to it,” Gianforte said. “That’s the Montana way.” I suspect some Montanans would object to the notion that you only apologize once it’s politically safe to do so.

For it was already beyond dispute on Wednesday night, thanks to audio of the attack and a witness account from a Fox News reporter, that Gianforte had attacked the Guardian’s Ben Jacobs. That’s when the process of public accountability began. In a healthier political culture, the condemnation would have been nearly unanimous, and the context of the incident would not have been a matter of controversy. What we witnessed instead was a political media — confronted with a one-sided assault on its most basic freedom — rendered by its own constructs largely incapable of identifying the threat with any precision.

That last sentence is particularly telling: the "free press" has been more than complicit in its own destruction. There are a number of contributing factors -- the corporate takeover of media outlets, leading to an emphasis on ratings rather than journalism (because in the corporate world, it's all about profits), the rise of Fox News (the propaganda arm of the Republican party), the transformation of the Republican party itself into the party of neo-fascist authoritarianism, the reluctance of reporters (or their editors) to offend those in power for fear of losing "access", the emphasis on "balance" and the resulting validation of bullshit by presenting advocates of positions that are, on analysis, grossly un-American as though they had legitimate arguments -- leading to the end result that we're seeing now: through its unwillingness to call out those such as Donald Trump (who called the press "an enemy of the American people" and got away with it), the press has rendered itself impotent, completely incapable (with a very few exceptions) of performing its essential and most basic function.

And so we wind up with something like Donald Trump in the White House, and candidates for public office winning elections after committing very public crimes.

Via Digby.

Addendum: From Tom Sullivan at Hullabaloo, a take on why goons like Gianforte get away with it:

As this morning's headlines attest, Republican Greg Gianforte won yesterday's special congressional election in Montana. One of the noteworthy and little-noticed effects of his assault on Guardian reporter Ben Jacobs was, according to NBC, Gianforte raised $100,000 overnight online. One supporter told CNN the assault charge against Gianforte left her only "more ready to support Greg."

That's your modern "conservative". Read the rest, and then pour yourself a good stiff drink.

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