American democracy on the line

Primaries tomorrow! Here’s a Detroit News piece on .. well… GOP undecideds, I guess you could call them.

Matt Gertz/Media Matters:

The right-wing media blackout of Mastriano’s alliance with antisemites

Right-wing media outlets have ignored Republican gubernatorial nominee for Pennsylvania Doug Mastriano’s alliance with Andrew Torba, the virulent antisemite who runs Gab — a social media site notoriously frequented by white nationalists, including the shooter who killed 11 at a Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, synagogue in 2018. By ignoring Mastriano’s friendly dealings with bigots, right-wing media are complicit in ensuring that Torba’s ilk are accepted in the right-wing movement and the Republican Party it supports.

Mastriano, an election conspiracy theorist, right-wing extremist, and January 6 insurrectionist, had embraced Gab, praised Torba for “what you’ve done” in an interview with the infamous Jew-hater, and paid the platform $5,000 for consulting services, Media Matters reported earlier this month. Those revelations triggered weeks of criticism for the gubernatorial nominee, and on Thursday, Mastriano and Torba posted statements responding to the firestorm.

But as New York magazine’s Jonathan Chait pointed out, Mastriano did not condemn Torba as an antisemite or say he would cease their association. Instead, Mastriano wrote, “Andrew Torba doesn’t speak for me or my campaign. I reject anti-Semitism in any form,” before attacking the press for reporting on their association and his Democratic opponent, Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro.


Republicans admit their petulance had no point other than to screw the veterans out of spite.

Matt Pearce/LA Times:

American media wants to save democracy. Is it helping?

The normally strait-laced Associated Press has hired a democracy news editor. “We want to be really clear with people about the threats that we’re seeing to democratic institutions,” executive editor Julie Pace said last year on CNN’s “Reliable Sources,” whose host, Brian Stelter, has been prodding prominent media figures about how they’re covering what he has called the “assault on democracy.”

The Washington Post’s tagline, “Democracy Dies in Darkness,” adopted in 2017, was the newspaper’s first official slogan in more than a century of print journalism. The paper followed up with the creation of a democracy team, with a new emphasis on covering threats to election integrity, ballot access and rules-based government.

Post opinion columnists like Perry Bacon Jr. and Margaret Sullivan have argued for journalists to drop their usual both-sides coverage of politics to more directly cast pro-Trumpian election threats as a threat to the republic.

There are signs that some of those attitudes have also reached the newsroom rank-and-file. While 76% of American adults polled in a recent Pew Research Center study said that journalists should always strive to give every side equal coverage, a majority of journalists surveyed disagreed.



Wisconsin DOJ probes voter fraud stunt as election officials debate absentee rules

With a few clicks of a mouse this week, a conservative activist sent Wisconsin’s elections apparatus into disarray ahead of the Aug. 9 primary.

Harry Wait of Dover, Wis., said he requested absentee ballots in the names of two high-profile politicians be sent to his own address to try to show voter fraud is easy to perform. He contacted local authorities Wednesday to detail what he had done and demand immediate changes, then told as many people as he could about what he considers a serious vulnerability.

The stunt showed that one person and a computer or smartphone could jolt the state’s elections system and forced election officials to weigh making changes to the state’s absentee voting procedures — and whether doing so would make it harder to vote.

It also drew the attention of law enforcement. A spokeswoman for Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul (D) announced Friday his office was investigating the matter after consulting with Racine County’s top prosecutor.

“I broke the law, proving laws don’t work. There, I’ve run rings around you logically.”

Michelle Goldberg/NY Times:

The Anti-Abortion Movement Is in Denial

It is always painful to grapple with realities that contravene your most deeply held beliefs.

A major theme of recent feminist writing has been the chasm between the rhetoric of sexual liberation and many women’s depressing experience of casual sex. I’ve met many idealistic Jews, raised to always give Israel the benefit of the doubt, who’ve been floored when they saw the occupation of Palestine up close. Plenty of people convinced themselves that because the impetus behind pandemic school closures was noble, the results wouldn’t be devastating.

Perhaps some in the anti-abortion movement are wrestling with a similarly discomfiting gap between intentions and effects right now. That, at least, is the most sympathetic reading of the angry denial of prominent abortion opponents when confronted with a predictable consequence of abortion bans: delayed care for traumatic pregnancy complications.

Since Roe v. Wade was overturned last month, there’s been a steady barrage of horror stories, including several of women refused abortions for life-threatening pregnancy emergencies. Rakhi Dimino, a doctor in Texas, where most abortions have been illegal since last year, told PBS that more patients are coming to her with sepsis or hemorrhaging “than I’ve ever seen before.”


A pair of UK pieces on how Conservatives see the next Prime Minister contest:

Patrick O’Flynn/Spectator:

The decline and fall of Rishi Sunak

Truss’s victory is almost a done deal

As a product of Winchester – the public school most associated in elite circles with outstanding mathematical and analytical brains – as well as Oxford, Goldman Sachs and various hedge funds, it stood to reason that Sunak was operating on a higher intellectual plane than were his opponents.

Sunak had every conceivable skill required to take apart complex problems, winnow the evidence and produce optimal strategies. It placed him way above that ridiculous Truss woman who made cringeworthy speeches about cheese imports and pork markets.

Well, as the Sunak campaign makes screeching u-turn after screeching u-turn and takes public positions which are, by turn, insufferably arrogant or obviously intellectually inconsistent, it turns out that the skills which made a lot of people a lot of money – including himself – are not wholly transferable to the political sphere. And that is to put it mildly.

A harsher version of that would be to say that Rishi Sunak is rubbish at politics. How else is one to regard a wannabe prime minister who apparently did not notice that at least half the Tory tribe is passionately opposed to the removal of Boris Johnson?


Patrick O’Flynn/Spectator:

The triumph of Truss

Rishi Sunak looks doomed in the Tory leadership contest

With Sunak having been the ante-post choice of so many political commentators, endless column inches and broadcast minutes are still being spent on the idea that he remains a possible next PM. That conceit is unlikely to outlast the weekend. Once again the herd has moved, to deploy the metaphor Nadhim Zahawi used to explain to Johnson why he was doomed.

The triumph of Truss certainly has dire consequences for Sunak. For a start, he faces a completely fruitless, almost pointless, five-week summer slog of further hustings and TV interviews. Interest in his policy ideas is going to ebb away very fast, even as the likes of Dominic Raab keep loyally churning out clunky social media postings in his favour. Perhaps the Raab family should intervene to tell pater that the sea is no longer closed and the beaches are calling.

See also: Poll: Tory voters prefer Truss over Sunak


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