The headline of the November 14 issue of the Dillon Tribune reads "Beaverhead County Votes Republican." In the celebratory story beneath it J. P. Plutt writes, "If you quizzed the voter on the street in Dillon, he or she would likely say, 'At least Beaverhead County got it right.'"
By "got it right," I suppose the imaginary voter in Plutt's mind is referring to the 69% Beaverhead County vote against President Barack Obama as well as lopsided votes against other Democrats.
Data from the 2010 census might go part way toward explaining the heavy Republican vote, especially in the presidential race. Beaverhead County is 95.3% white. Sixty-nine percent of people over 25 years of age do not have a four-year college degree. It would be an abuse of statistics to claim that the 69% Beaverhead County anti-Obama vote can be directly correlated with the 69% of Beaverhead County voters who don't have four-year degrees.
But it's an interesting coincidence nonetheless.
I suspect that a less obvious factor in the election was the right-wing propaganda sheet called The Dillonite, which appears all over town five days a week. I've been told by friends that we don't need to take this publication seriously. It's a joke, they say.
But I don't see people laughing when they read TheDillonite. They seem to read it as though it were a legitimate source of information.
The Dillonite's unrelenting message to its readers is that Barack Obama is not one of us (that is, the 95.3% of us who are white). He's not on our side and is in fact working against us. In the November 15 issue, there is a "letter to the editor" from Chuck Dishno in which he claims that those who re-elected President Obama are responsible for a series of horrible events that will happen soon.
Among the Obama-caused events that are predicted:
"Sky rocketing energy prices due to Obama's EPA closing down the energy producing states"
"The UN governing the United States instead of ourselves (sic)"
"A dictatorship instead of a democracy that follows the Constitution"
"More toleration of extreme and fanatical Islamists."
Dishno, though he "submitted" this letter and apparently wants us to think he wrote it, didn't actually write it. Like most of the hard-right content in The Dillonite, his submission was copied and pasted from an unnamed right-wing website. If you Google a few key words in it, you'll be shown four or five likely sources, all virtually identical.
Because of limited space in The Dillonite, Dishno couldn't copy and paste all of his source. That's why he shortened part of the opening in his probable source, the white-racist website Granite Grok: "Congratulation to all you Democrats, including Hispanics, Blacks, Asians, Jews, single women, and young people. You all voted overwhelmingly for Obama, so now you own it." Dishno's version begins simply (but confusingly), "Congratulations to the Democrats and Young People! You now own it."
Neither Dishno's similiterate piece nor its semiliterate source deserves our further notice. He and the writer he copied from simply hate Obama and the people who voted for him rather than voting for Mitt Romney.
The point is that The Dillonite feeds local readers this kind of toxic nonsense on an almost daily basis. They have a First Amendment right to do this, of course. But we need to begin thinking about the cumulative effect on our community of this daily onslaught of distortions and outright, hateful lies. Could this onslaught, which can't be answered because The Dillonite doesn't permit their lies to be contradicted, have something to do with a 69% vote against Barack Obama?
Could it be this daily onslaught of lies, as well as racial and educational demographics, that makes J. P. Plutt's imaginary voter on the street proudly state, "At least Beaverhead County got it right"?
-- Richard Turner
Response to "The Sixty-Nine Percent and The Dillonite"
Kudos. At the very least, I have always felt ashamed of the Dillonite Daily, but after 30-some years in the Dillon area I grew accustomed to the weekly serving of stupidity and assumed that most other people recognized it for what it was.
Now that I have been away for a few months in Anchorage, Alaska, a city more remote geographically than Dillon but one that can claim one of the most diverse and interesting populations in the U.S., I realize what what a mistake I made. Even up here in the far north there is nothing that comes close to the ignorance and ugliness reflected in the Dillonite Blight.
And to think the local businesses serve it up like it was some kind of fireside warm and fuzzy.
I am still a Montanan and plan to return home someday. I would gladly take the time to do the needed research to confront this disease, once and for all. You have my permission to publish this comment.
-- Becky Hoffman
There's Always Room for Racist Trash at The Dillonite
(letter to the editor, November 21 issue)
Old white men wrote and signed the Constitution of the United States of America. Thousands of men and women have given their lives to defend it. Millions have come to the United States to enjoy its protections of Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.
Look around at the countries not ruled by old white men and if you find one that suits you, MOVE.
Old White Man
(By the way, Mr. Gore, like most right- wingers who fetishize the Constitution, doesn't know it very well. The phrase "Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness" doesn't appear in the Constitution.)
Budget Cuts? Sure. Let's Start with our Bloated "Defense" Budget
The graphs at the right show how pricey it is to maintain America's $740 billion "defense" industry.
Before we cut social security and veterans' benefits, maybe we should question why we maintain air bases in Portugal and Kyrgyzstan. Maybe we don't need to pay country club fees for top brass.
We've been in a state of perpetual war more or less since 1941. To cut "defense" will be very hard because so many of us have grown up with the expectation that a huge military establishment is an inescapable fact of life.
Unfortunately (and deliberately), this military establishment has become a crucial part of many local economies. It'll be hard to keep them viable when or if the military budget is finally cut.
Lawrence O'Donnell Nails It: Liberalism has been Very Good for America
Somehow the American Right Wing has succeeded in demonizing the word "liberal" enough that most Democrats now refer to themselves as "progressives." It's as though they've come to accept the wine-cheese-and-Birkenstocks caricature of liberals that Fox News promotes.
In fact, as Lawrence O'Donnell points out below, American liberalism has brought about most of what's good about our country. Being a liberal is definitely something to be proud of!
More On Liberalism: Paul Krugman Explains Why He Embraces It
"Modern conservatism is actually a deeply radical movement, one that is hostile to the kind of society we've had for the past three generations -- that is, a society that, acting through the governent, tries to mitigate some of the 'common hazards of life' [he's quoting F. A. Hayek] through such programs as Social Security, unemployment insurance, Medicare and Medicaid.
I believe in a relatively equal society, supported by institutions that limit extremes of wealth and poverty. I believe in democracy, civil liberties, and the rule of law. That makes me a liberal, and I'm proud of it."
Baucus Not Running in 2014; Whom Should We Support to Take His Place?
Of course, it's not up to us. But as a representative group of Democrats perhaps we could offer our best thinking to the state party.
Brian Schweitzer is the obvious choice because of his national prominence. If he runs, he'll win. Which is good.
Denise Juneau's name has come up, too. Could she beat a well-financed hack like Daines? Possibly.