A Grammar Lesson

There are scores of serious, issue-oriented problems I have with today’s Republican Party. I would love an opportunity to engage their leaders in serious debate. But the first problem I face is that it is not clear who those leaders are. And the loudest people who run for election under the Republican banner seem to have little or no interest in debating anything.

This is evident from the moment most of the Republicans open their mouths and complaint about the “Democrat party” or a “Democrat position.” It is not the “Democrat Party” it is the “Democratic Party” and their purposeful error of grammar reeks of the playground name calling I remember so well from my childhood. There is nothing cute about being called childhood names. Gravy, groovy, garbage, I heard them all.

While that sort of nonsense ended after grade school, my reaction then is the same reaction I have now when I hear Republicans smirk their little semantic game. Summoning my best Soupy Sales or Three Stooges, I dream of pushing their collective faces into a whipped cream pie.

Luckily for me there are smarter and cooler heads who prevail. One is Representative Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), who you may recall led the prosecution for the House in Donald Trump’s first impeachment trial. He did so with great grace and skill. And he did it just days after tragically losing his son.

On March 1, 2023, Raskin gave his House GOP colleagues a grammar lesson on the difference between Democrat and Democratic. He was responding to Representative Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.), who had accused him of trying to censor conservatives by introducing a bill to combat disinformation. Boebert repeatedly used the term “Democrat Party” instead of “Democratic Party”, which is considered disrespectful and inaccurate by many Democrats².

Raskin explained that Democrat is a noun, while Democratic is an adjective. He said that using Democrat as an adjective is grammatically incorrect and politically offensive. He also pointed out that his bill was not about censorship, but about accountability and transparency for online platforms that spread false or misleading information.

Check out the video:

Raskin’s grammar lesson was not only a clever way of correcting Boebert’s mistake, but also a subtle reminder of his party’s values and principles. By emphasizing the word Democratic, he implied that his party stands for democracy, while Boebert’s party does not. He also showed his respect for language and truth, while Boebert showed her disregard for both.

Raskin’s grammar lesson was a rhetorical device that served multiple purposes: it educated his colleagues, and the public who saw the video played on almost every major newscast the next day, on proper grammar usage; it defended his bill against Boebert’s attacks; and it highlighted the contrast between his party and hers. It was an example of how language can be used as a tool for persuasion and argumentation in politics.

The Republican response was predictable. Many made fun of the scarf on Raskin’s head. A typical insensitive unserious dig at a man suffering the side effects of chemotherapy to treat cancer.

“Chemo causes hair loss, tenderness to the scalp, and many times sores,” one Twitter user wrote. “A head scarf protects the regulation of body temperature that is effected by chemo, and protects the scalp. Please be kind to chemo patients, they are fighting for their life.” In fact, this is Raskin’s second battle with cancer, after he overcame colon cancer in 2011.

I was pleased to learn there are some Twitter users who have more class than members of the Republican party.

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The Fox Lies Channel

Here’s a shocker. The people on the Fox News Channel lie. They knowingly lie. They lie all the time. Anyone with the common sense to distinguish between fact and fiction has known this for a long time. But the facts were never so clear as they are in a recent court filing by Dominion Voting Systems.

Here are the basic facts:

  • Dominion Voting Systems is suing Fox News for $1.6 billion for spreading false claims that Dominion rigged the 2020 presidential election.
  • A new court filing shows that Fox anchors and executives privately ridiculed former President Trump’s lies about the election even while promoting them on air.
  • The filing also reveals that Fox ignored warnings from its own staff, experts, and lawyers that the claims were baseless and harmful.
  • The filing includes internal emails, text messages, and transcripts that show how Fox hosts and guests knowingly spread misinformation to boost ratings and appease Trump.

Dominion Voting Systems is a company that sells electronic voting hardware and software. Dominion claims that Fox’s false accusations caused irreparable harm to its reputation, business, and employees, and endangered the lives of its workers and election officials.

Fox News has denied the allegations and moved to dismiss the lawsuit, arguing that it was exercising its First Amendment rights to report on matters of public concern.

Fox has also claimed its evening anchors, the ones with the biggest audience in all of cable television and the most vocal when it comes to spreading outright lies about the political opponents they tend to demonize (my opinion here), are not news reporters but opinion writers. Fox has even gone too far as to take in court the position that no one could view the words of, for example, Tucker Carlson, as factual.

The problems here are multiple. First, opinion columns make arguments based on a foundation of fact. They may take liberties in interpretation. They may be selective when it comes to which facts are included and which are ignored. But they still have a responsibility to the truth and can face the consequences if they do not.

Fox also has cultivated an image that it is a purveyor of news when it has been obvious from day one that it has taken it as its mission to promote right wing thought to such an extent that its coverage at all times of the day is informed by that institutional goal. The “Fox News” logo appears on the screen during what Fox calls its “opinion” parts just as it does during its “news” parts. The original Fox slogans, “Fair and Balanced” and “We Report, You Decide” clearly assert that Fox presents reality others do not.

This is (my opinion again) a bit of chicanery that makes a mockery of journalism. It also makes (yep, my opinion) Fox owner Rupert Murdoch and his lackies public enemy number one.

Still Dominion faces an uphill battle in its defamation lawsuit. The bar is set extremely high, especially when matters of public interest are debated. The framers of the Constitution wrote the First Amendment with a specific intent to protect the kind of political speech that would get a commentator’s head chopped off if it were directed against, for example, the king in a European monarchy.

Dominion must prove Fox willfully made assertions it knew to be false, that it did so with malice, and that as a result, damage was done.

Take the time. Read the material firsthand. You decide.

You can find the full court document here:

Fox lost its motion to dismiss the lawsuit. The trial is scheduled to begin on April 4, 2023.

Cartoon by Kevin KAL Kallaugher for Counterpoint

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The Hypocracy Committee

Kevin McCarthy was so desperate to become Speaker of the House of Representatives he not only gave Jim Jordan chairmanship of the judiciary committee and membership on the oversite committee, he also created a special sub-committee, on the so-called “weaponization” of the federal government for Jordan to run.

This gives Jordan the power, among others, to hire dozens of staff members, paid for by we the taxpayers, to dig up dirt and blast away at President Joe Biden and Democrats.

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The GOP Clown Show

It is said that insanity is repeating the same action over and over expecting to get a different outcome. At least we have a name to put on the Republican clown show on full exhibit in the House of Representatives.

With the entire world watching Republicans, who hold a narrow majority in the House, have failed to muster a majority in the vote for Speaker, the powerful leadership position vacated by Democrat Nancy Pelosi following her party’s loss in the last election.

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Our House is a Mess

For the first time in one hundred years, the House of Representatives could not elect a Speaker on the first ballot.

As the 118th Congress convenes, the first order of House business is the election of a new speaker — and current Republican leader Kevin McCarthy of California is being stymied by a group of GOP hardliners demanding concessions.

To win the gavel, McCarthy needs a majority of the members-elect who are present and voting. But because the GOP holds only a five-seat advantage, a small number of defections is so far stopping McCarthy from gaining the office he’s long sought. In fact, on the first two ballots McCarthy lost his caucus by nineteen votes. That grew to twenty votes on the third ballot. The Democrats were united through it all, supporting minority leader Hakeem Jeffries of New York with their 212 votes.

The House can conduct no other business until a speaker is chosen. For the first time in a century, the vote is requiring multiple rounds.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. The Republicans are too divided to govern, The Democrats are too stupid to get elected.

Updates as appropriate.

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Winners and Losers

We still, the day after, do not know which party will have the majority in each house of Congress. But we do know that this was no red wave, with Republicans sweeping to big time majorities.

I credit myself. Obviously, it was my impassioned plea that got out the vote and produced results that confounded the wisdom of the pundits. Patting oneself on the back is declassee, but all the commentators do it. I may as well too.

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