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    • Who Goes To Prison For America’s Crimes? The Whistleblowers.
      There’s a joke about the CIA and torture, in that the only person who went to prison for torturing people was the guy who revealed the torture. Daniel Hale, the guy who revealed that drone bombing killed 90% innocents, is now off to his stint in jail. He seems tough, maybe he won’t be driven to multiple suicide attempts like Manning was by the deliberate mis […]
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“Both Sides”

I think I get to read one New York Times online article a month for free, and I must have read one, because I cannot access Nate Cohn’s piece which is drawing a good deal of heat. I am not against paying for online newspaper reading, but I am not inclined to want to pay the NYT for it, certainly not after their unforgettable twin headlines a few days before the 2016 election. “New emails jolt Clinton campaign in final days.” (There were no new emails). “Investigating Donald Trump, FBI sees no clear link to Russia.” (a lie pushed by the SDNY section of FBI which was loyal to Giuliani, and despised Hillary Clinton. All sorts of top people in the FBI saw clear links to Russia). There is a lot more that the NYT has done wrong in the last four years, though occasionally there is good journalism there, just not enough of it for saving this country from totalitarianism. So I do not pay for it, and thus I missed Mr. Cohn’s column, apparently about how hyperpartisanship is making it impossible for America to move forward. Cohn is quite good on polling and demographic issues, but like his colleague Nate Silver, he likes to opine on larger matters.

So he gives us a truism: hyperpartisanship is not good. But the implication is that “both sides,” Republicans and Democrats; the Right and the Left, are to blame. As one commenter on Cohn’s Twitter page suggested, it is like saying that the Nazis, and the people who fought the Nazis, were both partisan, and thus both at fault. Cohn of course did not mean that, but his essay does highlight how “both sidesism” is pervading opinion media.

We’ve heard a good deal about this over the last several years. It appears to be the fallback position of much of the political media. Why is that? Most obviously, because they and the corporations which employ and pay them, do not want to offend either “side.’ The Right Wing has spent about forty years attacking “the liberal media,” which has predictably caused the media, mostly owned by very rich Republicans, to tend to favor the Right Wing side. A sports fan would call this “working the refs.,” complaining so much about every call against them, that the officials consciously or unconsciously start making calls against the other team. In this case, it would be consciously..

It was obvious to me,and probably to most of us, that the corporate media wanted Trump to win in 2016. The NYT has hated Hillary Clinton for decades. How this started is best known by those closer to it, but I did read that someone who worked there said that hating Hillary was almost requisite if you wanted to be hired as part of the NYT political writing staff. The devastating headlines I noted above were just part of the endless bias against Hillary; and literally, or simply by logical result, for Trump.

After Trump won, it seemed, from what I could glean, that the NYT was bending over backwards to excuse or “understand” Trump, and his supporters. Maggie Haberman, whose mother works for Jared Kushner’s public relations firm, was the leader of that. The television media settled on this “both sides” approach to almost every story. It would be comical if it weren’t so important and dangerous. So whatever Trump or his cohorts did or said, they had to always toss in, “Democrats are also…’ Or, “But the Democrats also must answer for…” Or, “But what about Democrats doing….?’

It has become reflexive. The television media thrives on controversy, which they believe drives views and ratings. They may differ in approach. CNN would always put together panels which would consist of equal members of the Right and Left arguing with each other. MSNBC has some anchors who mostly have guests who agree with them, but other anchors want arguments. Fox is simply endless Far Right propaganda all day, and OAN and Newmax are the same.

And from what I read, since I no longer watch them, the Sunday news talk shows are the absolute worst in doing the “both sides” approach. In fact, my sense is that the guests of Chuck Todd always consist of two Far Right Republicans, one Democrat, and one “moderate” Republican, meaning anyone who is not off the edge. The big problem is that the stories which come out of the Sunday news cycle are essentially spun by the Right, which is why we inevitably read that “Democrats are going too far,”,or “have to answer serious questions,” while “Republicans are gaining ground via new voting laws, while Democrats contend that they are unfair.” We are seemingly always on the defense on Sunday, going into Monday, and it is because of these shows.

Cohn is apparently proposing to argue from higher ground. He is saying that both sides are so locked into intransigent partisanship, that there is no room to meet anywhere in the middle. Obviously, the word “middle” presupposes two extremes, and then a place where they could come together, if only they were not so hyperpartisan.

That may sound reasonable in the abstract, but it is absurd in the political and societal present. What is the middle ground to the insurrection at the capitol? What is the middle ground to the claims of the Republican Far Right that the election was stolen from Trump, and that Trump actually got more votes? You cannot compromise with fanatics. What was the possible compromise with the Nazis? Mussolini’s offer to broker a settlement between England and Germany, where England would stay out of the war and then of course would be invaded and conquered by Hitler? That was suggested to Churchill by some British members of parliament, who of course wanted to ignore the last part. Churchill completely rejected it, of course. We say, “You can’t negotiate with terrorists,’ Then how can you negotiate politically with a group which tried to overthrow our government, kill multiple members of Congress and police officers? That was not some kind of out-of-control mob, that is the base of the current Republican Party.

I guess the implied and extorted negotiation is that, “if we let Republicans pass draconian voting laws to insure that they will never lose elections, they will stop trying to overthrow the government by violent force.” This seems beyond ludicrous, but isn’t that essentially what the both sidesers in the media are saying, with the years of, “We have to try to understand what the Trump supporters want, why they are so angry and disaffected, so we must find them in diners, and have our NYT writers do article after article on them.”?

They might say, “You are showing your partisanship by condemning them, not looking for common ground, or meeting in the middle.” That is a circular and self-perpetuating argument. There is no middle with the current Right. There is no common ground. Occasionally, there might be a bill where the monetary amount can be negotiated, but there are very few of those now. Republicans basically oppose every Democratic spending bill; they come up with some much smaller figure, and do not budge. They cut the corporate tax rate from 35% to 21% under Trump, and now do not even want to go back up to 28%, they want 25%.

That is the monetary part. The rest of it is unnegotiable. Where is the middle ground on voter suppression laws enacted via “The Big Lie,” that there was massive election fraud, and so we must make it as difficult as possible for Democrats to vote? Not only is that an abhorrent lie, it makes it imperative not to negotiate; it would be like negotiating with someone who was robbing your house, as to how much they could take. Where is the negotiation to at least somewhat stop assault weapons violence, when the Right’s position is “no negotiation at all; everything stays exactly the same although there will of course be more weapons sold and more killings.”? Where is the negotiation on trying to at least arrest climate change, when the Right’s position is “no legislation at all.”?

One group, if we can even flatter it by calling it that, will not budge; and then the media demands that the other group try to understand them, or withdraw their own positions. Democrats were never hyperpartisan. Clinton was not, nor was Obama, certainly The hyperpartisanship always came from the Republicans, and has gotten far worse over the decades. Republicans try to block every Democratic bill. It is a sure thing that if the Republicans win the House in 2022, that will be the end of every single bit of legislation which President Biden would propose. If they do not take the House, but win the Senate, they will not bring any legislation to the floor, we have seen that as McConnell’s unyielding tactic If the Republicans take the Presidency in 2024, we will be living in in a Fascist/Evangelical nightmare.

Biden knows this and that is why he is trying to get everything he can passed before the next election. Our democracy is imperiled, not by “by both sides” hyperpartisanship, but by a political faction which seeks nothing less than to subjugate the country, and set up an electoral game where the dice and the wheel are so fixed, that they can never lose. So analysts and pundits who think that they are offering sober and reasoned assessments, with this ‘both sides’ idiocy, are actually playing right into the hands of the unrelenting Far Right, which now contends that every election they do not win is the result of fraud; and are stoking up racist and anti-semitic fury via their insane “replacement theory.” There is a time for war and a time for peace, the Book of Ecclesiastes and the Pete Seeger song tell us. But peace does not come from throwing down all your weapons, and just hoping that the other side will take some pity on you., or walking toward a nonexistent middle, to be mowed down by them.

4 Responses

  1. First a helpful hint: Unlike, say, the Washington Post or the Japan Times (as of a week ago or so), the NYT paywall is entirely cookie-based. Clear the NYT cookies from your browser and you can enjoy tas much as you can stand of their purple prose. Not that I would ever do that.

    I thought it was perfectly obvious why they (not just the NYT, but the WaPo, too [Pravda and Izvestia as Lambert would put it]) hated Hillary:

    1) They hated the Clintons in general, because Bill was not the “right kind” of Democrat. Specifically, he wasn’t from the East Coast. Sure, he went to Yale and was a Rhodes Scholar, but he was decidedly from the wrong part of the country for their taste. Just like Jimmy Carter. Or LBJ. Or Harry Truman. And, of course

    2) She was an “ambitious” woman at a time when that wasn’t considered appropriate. During her husband’s administration, she was more concerned with things like universal health care than with the state of the drapes in the Oval Office or the dinnerware at the White House or appeasing Sally Quinn by throwing nice parties.

    3) And, of course, she was the victim of her husband’s indiscretions. Everybody *loves* piling on a victim.

    On (2), it’s surprising how many Democrats disliked Hillary because of that. I was at a dinner party that my half-brother put on for his Harvard colleagues (all of them good Massachusetts Barney Frank Democrats) back around 2006.When the subject of Hillary came up, every single one of them (male and female) condemned her for being “ambitious” and “pushy”. Because God knows nobody “ambitious” would ever run for President.

  2. I subscribed to the NYT. I pay 4 dollars every 4 weeks. And have been reading it for a year. It is the best 4 dollars I ever spend. I would/could not pay the regular rate and live where I can’t even buy it on occasion. But to read it on line, along with my home town paper (such as it is) and the Washington Post with a good deal too. I am living like a queen. This past year had a tsunami of news. What a year! And to be able to read about it fo 2 newspapers! WOW

    • And I would not criticize you for that because you probably can assess each article critically. But I think the NYT doesn’t write for everybody in America. It writes for influential New Yorkers. And those New Yorkers need to have reasons to justify what they do, especially on Wall Street.
      The NYT gives them reasons.

  3. The “mainstream” media are corporations.

    Their owners are rich, and their higher-ranking employees are either also rich, or at least affluent.

    If the Democrats ever get full control of the Federal Government, the taxes of corporations, and of affluent-and-richer individuals, will probably rise significantly.

    What does Occam’s Razor tell us about this situation?

    ********************************************************

    There are more of us than there are Fascists and Fundagelicals.

    Alas, even a Second Civil War that the fascists lose will weaken our country, and so benefit their ultimate master and manipulator (though I expect the majority of them do not know him as such), Vladimir Putin.

    Again, all “ethnic nationalists” outside of Russia serve Russia, however unwittingly. “Ethnic Nationalists” outside of Russia are mere tools of Russian foreign policy, whether they know it or not–just as, back in the days of the USSR, Communists outside of the USSR were mere tools of Soviet foreign policy, whether they knew it or not, until a few non-Soviet Communist states managed to chart independent courses (most notably China).

    Of course, Stalin thought he could manipulate foreign Fascists for his benefit, too. Then, on June 22, 1941, he woke up with his buddy Hitler’s “friendship” buried between his shoulder blades.

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