Many Republicans admit they are increasingly "concerned"-- as in freaking out-- that Marjorie Taylor Greene is going to be the poster child for their party as the 2022 midterms approach. The Democrats are working to redefine the GOP as the Marjorie Taylor Greene/Lauren Boebert/Mad Cawthorn party... and they've barely even started on the latter two yet. Who could imagine that suburban voters don't appreciate Gang-Greene's extremist QAnon nonsense? If you live in a suburban district expect to see lots of ads like this.
There was a good Frank Bruni column in the NY Times yesterday about how Greene and the whole Grang-Greene are playing victims-- Marjorie Taylor Greene and the Republican Perversion of 'Freedom'. "The Republican delirium drawing the most attention is the party’s indulgence of Marjorie Taylor Greene as she turns madness into martyrdom," be wrote. "Mustn’t alienate the QAnon caucus! Can’t win elections without ’em, and if Democratic leaders aren’t exactly cannibals and pedophiles, well, they want higher taxes on the affluent and more Americans enrolled in Obamacare, which is pretty much the same thing. But there was a less noted sequence of events recently that, in its way, said just as much about how lost the party is. As is so often the case in Republican politics, it involved guns. Many House Republicans have been freaking out, no exaggeration, over the installation of metal detectors along their paths to the House floor. Some of them have pointedly bypassed the devices... Apparently, if you can’t pack heat in proximity to Nancy Pelosi, you’re living in a totalitarian state. That’s not me being sarcastic. That’s Representative Debbie Lesko’s actual interpretation of the events. Lesko, an Arizona Republican, tweeted that the new security screening was proof that lawmakers 'now live in Pelosi’s communist America.'"
Aside from the all too familiar "reflexive attempt to divert attention from the florid craziness in their own ranks and own base by screaming 'communist,' 'socialist' or 'radical left,' ... [there is] the claim that they’re protecting freedom when they’re sanctioning nonsense." He continued that "to anyone who didn’t sense the hollowness of her contrition" [in her 'apology'] in real time, she proceeded on Friday to tweet that she had woken up 'literally laughing thinking about what a bunch of morons' the Democrats were for granting her a stage and a moment that enhanced her celebrity. For good measure, she denounced 'this Democrat tyrannical government.' Then she held a news conference and complained that Democrats 'only care about pushing their socialist agenda through. They only care about taking away our freedoms.'" What the hell is this road-head congresswoman talking about?
It’s the way she waves the flag of freedom, saying that she fights for it while being denied it, that perhaps enrages me most, because it’s such a perversion of that ideal. Michael Tomasky wrote an excellent column in The Times late last year about the way in which Republicans, who have long branded themselves the party of “freedom,” now use the word and its variants in selective, wrongheaded and destructive ways that wind up endorsing recklessness more than liberty. He noted that John Stuart Mill, “one of the key authors of the Western concept of freedom,” rightly recognized that it must stop short of behavior that harms our fellow citizens.
Removing Representative Greene from her House committee assignments-- which the House did on Thursday night by a 230-to-199 vote, with 11 Republicans joining 219 Democrats in favor of her ouster-- wasn’t the death of free speech. Greene remains free, as an individual, to spout the bunk she once spouted. But Congress has the right-- and, I’d argue, the responsibility-- to make crystal clear that such bunk is vile, dangerous and antithetical to anything and everything that democratic government should be about, and to hold Greene to account for her actions. What happened to Republicans’ belief in personal responsibility?
Requiring that people wear face masks in crowded settings in the middle of a once-in-a-lifetime pandemic doesn’t repress individualism. It protects many individuals, so that they’re free to continue breathing and living. Sensible firearms restrictions aren’t an insult to freedom. They’re a bulwark against bloodshed and chaos, protecting the freedom of high school students and others to go about their days without the constant, gnawing fear of being shot.
Meanwhile, Michael Grynbaum pointed out last night that "In just a few weeks, lawsuits and legal threats from a pair of obscure election technology companies have achieved what years of advertising boycotts, public pressure campaigns and liberal outrage could not: curbing the flow of misinformation in right-wing media. Fox Business canceled its highest rated show, Lou Dobbs Tonight, on Friday after its host was sued as part of a $2.7 billion defamation lawsuit. On Tuesday, the pro-Trump cable channel Newsmax cut off a guest’s rant about rigged voting machines. Fox News, which seldom bows to critics, has run fact-checking segments to debunk its own anchors’ false claims about electoral fraud. This is not the typical playbook for right-wing media, which prides itself on pugilism and delights in ignoring the liberals who have long complained about its content. But conservative outlets have rarely faced this level of direct assault on their economic lifeblood." So what happened?
Smartmatic, a voter technology firm swept up in conspiracies spread by former President Donald J. Trump and his allies, filed its defamation suit against Rupert Murdoch’s Fox empire on Thursday, citing Mr. Dobbs and two other Fox anchors, Maria Bartiromo and Jeanine Pirro, for harming its business and reputation.
Dominion Voting Systems, another company that Trump has accused of rigging votes, filed defamation suits last month against two of the former president’s lawyers, Rudolph Giuliani and Sidney Powell, on similar grounds. Both firms have signaled that more lawsuits may be imminent.
Litigation represents a new front in the war against misinformation, a scourge that has reshaped American politics, deprived citizens of common facts and paved the way for the deadly Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol. Fox News, for instance, paid millions last year to settle a claim from the family of a murdered Democratic National Committee staff member falsely accused by Fox hosts of leaking emails to WikiLeaks.
...Yochai Benkler, a professor at Harvard Law School who studies disinformation and radicalization in American politics, said that the president’s lies about the election had pushed pro-Trump outlets beyond the relatively lax standards applied to on-air commentators.
“The competitive dynamic in the right-wing outrage industry has forced them all over the rails,” Mr. Benkler said. “This is the first set of lawsuits that’s actually going to force them to internalize the cost of the damages they’re inflicting on democracy.”