UPDATE: I realized that I missed the lede when I posted this yesterday. Here’s what I should have highlighted much earlier in the post:
(T)he speed and ferocity of the disinformation surrounding the attack (on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s 82-year-old husband Paul) was remarkable. Within hours, there were wild conspiracies being shared on fringe sites. After a few more hours, those conspiracies had gone mainstream via GOP lawmakers like Ted Cruz and figures like Donald Trump Jr., and ultimately, Donald Trump himself. It just shows how willing Republicans and all the people in that orbit are to dismiss reality and accept something that is obviously and easily debunked, but helps push their own narrative, demonizing their opposition.
What was so shocking was the conspiracies were almost immediately matched with jokes. Donald Trump Jr. and others were posting pictures of a Halloween costume with a hammer and a pair of underwear. At a campaign event this week, Kari Lake made a joke about the attack and it got the biggest laugh of the night. The callousness of that is quite terrifying. It’s startling to see mainstream politicians being so callous and inhumane when an 82-year-old man is attacked in his home with a hammer and almost dies.VICE News’ David Gilbert
As Jonathan Chait noted,
This obfuscation (around what clearly happened to Paul Pelosi) serves two purposes. First, it avoids a disruption in the right’s meta-narrative of victimization. The story told by conservative media is one in which innocent conservatives are relentlessly persecuted by an all-powerful progressive cabal. This persecution justifies the right’s increasingly illiberal methods, which they present as a necessary defensive response to stave off political annihilation. If they were to acknowledge even one episode of a violent maniac attacking their enemy, it would mean contemplating a reality in which evil and blame are more complex.
Second, deflecting this reality allows them to avoid having to confront a faction within their own coalition. If they conceded DePape was on the political right, they would concede that ideas like Trump’s stolen-election lie or QAnon contained at least the potential to inspire violence and criminality. Their denial grew out of an impulse to close ranks. They might be able to afford cutting DePape loose, but they could not afford to alienate those who shared his most important beliefs.
That’s the big lede going into the elections. We have a party — and party leaders — that, in order to maintain the pretense that they are relentlessly persecuted by progressives, will lie and then laugh about an attack on an 82-year-old grandfather that almost killed him.
That’s where we are today. So put that up against all that the Democrats are doing to help all Americans…not just members of their own party.
We are just a few short days away from the 2022 mid-term elections and apparently the Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate in Georgia, Herschel Walker, suggested that voters in that state should compare his resume with that of former president Barack Obama. Stephen Colbert was glad to oblige.
For those who still reside in the reality-based world, it is time to stop obsessing about the polls (which are all over the place and include more than a healthy number of partisan polls flooding the zone in order to throw off the media narrative). Instead, do what Herschel Walker suggested: look at the resumes and the facts. And then work to get out the vote.
An overflow of facts
John Stoehr at the Editorial Board has written an excellent summary of everything the Democrats have done over the past two years. I include the high points but suggest you read the full article for yourself. As he says, no smoke and mirrors are required, just an overflow of facts.
Here’s the reality as Stoehr lays it out:
- Jobs: Achieved the greatest single year of job creation in American history, more than 6 million in 2021, a decrease of 16 million receiving unemployment benefits, and the biggest drop in the unemployment rate in history.
- Manufacturing jobs: The biggest yearly increase in US manufacturing jobs in nearly 30 years. Democrats’ new incentives for key industries have already led to announcements of thousands of new manufacturing jobs.
- Healthcare: Democrats’ new tax credits drove a record 14.5 million Americans signing up through the ACA, including 5.8 million new people getting coverage. They forced drug companies to negotiate prices for the elderly and capped costs at $2,000 per year. This will save elders thousands annually.
- Poverty: The Dems’ child tax credit created the largest-ever one-year decrease in childhood poverty in American history, about 3 million kids. Households saying they didn’t have enough to eat dropped by a third.
- Safety: Passed the biggest anti-violence measure in decades, including the Gun Safety bill and strengthening the Violence Against Women Act.…
- Covid: Biden executed the most successful American vaccination program in history – from under 1 percent of adults fully vaccinated to over 75 percent, with over 500 million shots administered – and from less than half of schools open to almost all of them.
- Roads, bridges, energy: the bipartisan infrastructure bill will finally fix America’s infrastructure. In 2022 alone, repairs are starting on 65,000 miles of roads and 1,500 bridges, with thousands of jobs created.
- Protecting America and our allies: Biden kept the NATO alliance together in support of Ukraine following the Russian invasion, brought in two new countries and took out the world’s number one terrorist, Ayman al-Zawahri.…
- Climate: The Inflation Reduction Act includes the largest investment in history to address global warming. Biden rejoined the Paris Climate Accords and the EPA established strong new fuel economy standards.
- Diversity, equality: Democrats made lynching a federal hate crime, made Juneteenth a federal holiday and Biden appointed more Black women to the US Court of Appeals in one year than any president in history.
- Budget: The Inflation Reduction Act reduces the deficit by $300 billion.
But of course you won’t hear this in the fear-mongering ads from the party which has been taken over by a far right-wing element. It has become a party that seems perfectly fine looking the other way when an 82-year-old grandfather has his skull fractured with a hammer wielded by an intruder who has spent months soaking in the lies of the right-wing media.
Today’s Republicans like to play make-believe, so they scream about…
- Inflation (without noting that Democrats did not cause this and Republican plans, such as they are, will make it worse.)
- They want us to be scared of rising crime (when, in fact, major crimes, including murders and shootings, are down across America, and crime rates are higher in Republican-run states).
- And they play the race-based immigration card (although immigration is up because of the rising number of jobs we have, many of which only immigrants will take).
Focus on the crucial story of the moment
The critical political story of our time is that one of our political parties backed an unsuccessful coup d’etat in 2020 and is working hard at all levels now to wrest power in 2022 and 2024 from legitimately elected officials. I don’t expect the national media to back one political party over another. I do expect national media to be pro-democracy. Unfortunately, as media critic Margaret Sullivan has noted in her recent book, much of mainstream journalism is not up to the task.
Which, unfortunately, is as it has often been.
I have no idea how next Tuesday’s elections will turn out, and I doubt many people making confident predictions do either. I do know that whatever happens, our country will not collapse.
Building, and keeping, a democracy is slow, hard work.
There are steps forward and backward in this process. Powerful forces in the U.S. and around the world don’t want us to be a democracy for all. Sometimes those forces win, and sometimes those looking out for the broader public good are successful. No matter what happens on Tuesday, we have to continue to push for a world that is better for all.
We succeed as a country only when we all thrive. There are wise observers who know all too well where we are headed without a major change in direction, one that recognizes that our left-behind citizens deserve better in part because we will all do better — we will all build hope together — if we recognize that life is a team sport.
More to come…
Image of virtual reality by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay
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