Conservative media, its manipulation of reality and the minds of millions of Americans, is the biggest problem facing our country.
I know what you're thinking: "come on, the biggest problem isn't conservative media. That's silly. The biggest problem is our debt or Iran getting a nuclear weapon or similar". But that is not the case in my humble opinion. Why? Because we do in fact have quite a few significant problems facing our nation and these problems will only be solved by communicating honestly, intelligently and effectively with one another. However, the right wing media, the "obfuscation machine" as I like to call it, does not allow this to happen.
For almost two decades I have listened to right wing talk radio and TV. It all started with Rush Limbaugh, then came Neal Boortz, Sean Hannity, Bill O'Reilly, Glen Beck, Michael Savage, Mark Levin, Laura Ingraham, Ann Coulter, etc. And of course there are those on the blatantly biased Fox "news" channel. Every time I listen to these individuals I witness them lie and misrepresent reality. Every day. 24/7/365. Clearly, their primary purpose is to manipulate conservative voters thinking and they've become multi-millionaires while doing so (recall goal # 1). They are certainly not objective in any way. Not only do the lie and misrepresent reality, many also slander people on a regular basis. We've all witnessed Limbaugh's abrasive comments against women and gay people but I think Savage and Coulter are probably the two worst offenders. I encourage everyone to read these last two individuals books. You will be shocked at the narrow-minded hate that these popular conservatives embrace.
Here is the bigger issue: if they were just a fringe movement that only reached a small percentage of people then there would be no reason to care about what they said or wrote in their books. Unfortunately, that is not the case. These people and their message reach tens of millions of conservatives every single day of the year. Worse, a large percentage of republicans form their opinions of reality based on what they hear from them (ref the "bubble people" description), but a large percentage of what they hear is simply not true. And these people are voting for our leaders. I find this very disturbing.
I could give you a thousand pages of falsehoods that I have heard from them since I started listening and studying conservative media back in the mid-90's, but for brevity's sake I will just mention my "top 10" conservative misrepresentations:
1 - Almost half of registered republicans think President Obama may have been born in another country. Reference: (http://www.outsidethebeltway.com/poll-43-of-republicans-think-preisdent-obama-was-born-in-another-country/). This, even though he was thoroughly vetted by the federal elections committee before he could even run for President. He presented both the legal short form certificate (acceptable in a court of law) back before he ran and then the long form after the conservative media demanded it. And of course his birth was announced in two of Hawaii's newspapers as well. But to this day, many conservatives ignorantly think he was born in Kenya.
2 - Over a third of registered republicans think President Obama is a Muslim. Reference: (http://pewresearch.org/pubs/1701/poll-obama-muslim-christian-church-out-of-politics-political-leaders-religious). This, even after he has stated his Christian faith ad nauseum and has been going to a Christian church in Chicago for the past 25 years.
3 - Almost half of registered republicans believe there are "death panels" (originated by a shockingly ignorant liar named by Sarah Palin) in Obama's new health care law. Reference: (http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/article/2009/dec/18/politifact-lie-year-death-panels/). There is no such thing. What Obama's law contains is a requirement that insurers cover the cost for seniors who wish to see their physician and discuss end of life care such as palliative care. Many seniors have desired this but it was rarely covered by private insurance plans. Obama's plan required it be covered. But because it hits the bottom line of insurers, republicans misrepresented it.
4 - About half of registered republicans think Obama's new health care law is a "government takeover of health care". Reference: (http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/article/2010/dec/16/lie-year-government-takeover-health-care/). It is not. A "government takeover" implies that the government will administer and pay for health care via tax dollars. Further, that it will determine what care costs, what treatment patients get, etc. This is absolutely nothing like "Obamacare". Not even close. What Obama's law consists of, in a nutshell, is that people be required to carry some sort of health insurance policy to ensure that there are no "free riders" who abuse the system and drive up costs for the rest of us who are responsible enough to have coverage. Ironically, this was originally a republican idea pushed by Newt Gingrich back in the 90's. Additionally, the law establishes that insurers cannot discriminate against people who have pre-existing conditions and that children can remain on their parents policies until they reach the age of 26. There are many other positive aspects of his plan too numerous to list here. I suggest visiting several websites to understand the reality of the law: (http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2012/apr/30/closing-part-d-hole-saved-seniors-34b/); (http://www.whitehouse.gov/healthreform/myths-and-facts);(http://newsone.com/1964335/straight-no-chaser-the-facts-about-obamas-healthcare-plan/); (http://www.whitehouse.gov/health-care-meeting/reform-means-you); (http://www.retiredamericans.org/issues/health-care-reform).
One of the more frequent liars about the new law is the aforementioned Sarah "Death Panel" Palin. However, Rick Santorum and Senator Paul Ryan, among others, frequently misrepresent the law as well. In a recent speech Santorum said Obama's law was a "government takeover" 13 times in the course of 20 minutes.
In short, republican leaders once again misrepresent reality to millions of Americans. In this case it involves health care, an extremely important issue facing us all. What a shame.
5 - Republicans state that Obama "coddles terrorists" and is "ineffective against terrorism" even though he ordered the killing of the worlds top terrorist, Osama Bin Laden, and facilitated the killing of several others like Al Qaeda's number 2 man and Egyptians dictator (think Pan Am 103 over Lockerbie) Mohammar Ghadaffi via a drone attack. Additionally, there has been no terrorist attack on American soil since he took office. Regardless, every day conservative media pundits state that Obama has been ineffectual on terrorism.
6 - Republicans think Obama is responsible for high gas prices. This is totally false. No President controls oil prices, esp not in the short term. High oil prices today are a result of high demand from not only ourselves but in quickly developing countries like India and China along with growing turmoil in the Mideast. Reference: (http://www.theolympian.com/2012/04/22/2078216/multiple-reasons-for-high-gas.html). Unfortunately, the republican spin machine lies about this every day. A few weeks ago Sean Hannity stated 23 times in one hour that Obama caused high oil prices. A blatant lie.
7 - Republicans think evolution is a lie even though around 99% of biologists believe it to be reality. Reference: http://www.gallup.com/poll/27847/majority-republicans-doubt-theory-evolution.aspx; http://thinkprogress.org/politics/2010/02/19/82946/texas-evolution/?mobile=nc.
8 - Republicans think climate change is a hoax even though the worldwide scientific consensus is that it is reality. Reference: http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2011-09-01/news/ct-oped-0901-chapman-20110901_1_climate-change-climate-change-conservatives; http://dotearth.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/08/22/a-fundamental-republican-science-problem/; http://www.time.com/time/health/article/0,8599,2096055,00.html);(http://www.ocregister.com/articles/percent-342714-global-warming.html.
9 - Republicans believe Obama hates business, the wealthy and has raised taxes. This is another absurd lie from the republican spin machine that has been pushed very hard.
Obama has actually been one of the bigger proponents of lower taxes for the vast majority of Americans, including lowering the payroll tax (twice) which helped tens of millions of middle class workers and small business owners. Additionally, the stimulus, which was adamantly opposed by most republicans, included almost half a billion in tax cuts. Yes, tax cuts. Obama has also pushed many pro-small business initiatives such as being able to write off the totality of capital expenditures in one fiscal year. A big plus for businesses tax returns. Additionally, Obama pushed legislation to allow corporations to bring off shore profits back home at a reduced tax rate. Ironically, this was opposed by republicans.
Why do republicans lie about this issue? Two reasons: 1) Obama supports raising taxes on the richest Americans, i.e., those singles making over 200K and married couples making over 250K. But since the republican party supports primarily the rich (recently renamed the 'job creators' for political purposes) they are against this. 2) Obama supports tighter regulation on big businesses like the investment banks that almost ruined the entire worlds economy back in 2008. But republicans, since they are all about big businesses short term profits, are against regulation to prevent another meltdown and bailout. Think about that. Republicans are against regulations that would help protect us all from another financial disaster. That is some scary stuff that we should all be very concerned about.
Republicans also like to point out that our corporate tax rates are some of the highest in the world, which is true. However, they forget to mention the reality (what a shock), which is that the "effective" rates, the rates actually paid by corporations after all their deductions, is relatively low (upper teens) when compared to most other nations. In fact, many large corporations such as GE and ExxonMobil, have manipulated the tax code so well that they pay zero taxes, and republicans support this nonsense. Obama and democrats want to ensure these companies pay "their fair share" but, as usual, republican politicians are against this. Why? Because they are all about corporate money and profits of course. Goal # 1. Reference: http://blog.american.com/2012/02/sorry-kevin-drum-even-the-effective-u-s-corporate-tax-rate-is-sky-high/ http://thinkprogress.org/economy/2012/03/30/456005/reminder-corporate-taxes-very-low/... http://www.barackobama.com/record/taxes.
10 - I will leave the biggest one for last since this misrepresentation cost many lives and huge tax dollars: Iraq. For over a full year I listened to Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Card, Rice, Powell, Limbaugh, Hannity and all the rest of the right wing spin machine push for war in Iraq. Day after day, week after week, month after month. I could hardly turn on the TV without hearing them beat the drum for an invasion.
Each time they spoke they implied that Iraq had something to do with 9/11 and that Saddam Hussein was in some way involved with Bin Laden and terrorism in general. They must have made this correlation 1000 times or more. And of course there was also the assertion that Saddam had WMD (Rice's infamous "mushroom cloud" comment) and was a threat to the United States. Eventually the American people bought it. Even many democrats in Congress started to believe the nonsense. And we all know the outcome. As of May 2011: American soldiers dead = 4,454; American soldiers wounded = 32,227; Iraqi casualties = approx 665,000 depending on the source; American tax dollars spent = at least one trillion. Some estimate 3 trillion if you include long term veteran care. Reference: http://www.usnews.com/news/articles/2011/12/15/what-did-the-iraq-war-cost-more-than-you-think; http://articles.marketwatch.com/2011-12-15/general/30778140_1_iraq-war-iraq-and-afghanistan-veterans-budgetary-assessments; http://articles.cnn.com/2006-10-11/world/iraq.deaths_1_gilbert-burnham-death-rate-ali-dabbagh?_s=PM:WORLD; http://usliberals.about.com/od/homelandsecurit1/a/IraqNumbers.htm.
This war was directly caused by republicans and their non-stop, 24 hr media spin machine. It never needed to happen. Saddam was not a threat to the American people. He did not have WMD. He had nothing to do with 9/11, terrorism or Bin Laden. It was all a carefully orchestrated manipulation of reality to convince the American people to support a war. And look what happened. Republicans have a massive amount of blood and treasure on their hands.
So, what am I getting at with all this?
There is a reason the average republican voter believes things that have nothing to do with reality. It is not because they made it up themselves. It is because they have been fed bogus information every day, systematically, by the right wing spin machine, to the point where they live in a land of delusion. As they say, if you tell someone something enough times they will eventually believe it, no matter how ridiculous it is. That is what we have seen over the past decade from the conservative media. Tens of millions of conservatives believe things that have nothing at all to do with reality.
It get's worse. Instead of discussing real issues, we have conservatives spending massive amounts of time claiming that President Obama is a Muslim, that he hates America and that his health care plan will kill your grandmother. They waste time arguing about the validity of basic sciences like evolution and climate change. Meanwhile, our country and our people founder. We languish as a nation, our schools failing, our seniors struggling, our roads and bridges crumble, our jobs are outsourced and our economy slides into mediocrity due to a few greedy percent at the top who could care less about anyone else.
We need to discuss the real, major issues that are negatively effecting our great nation. We do not need to talk about nonsense topics like contraception, how liberals supposedly hate God or if Obama is a "snob" because he advocates higher education. This is childish absurdity promulgated each day by the right. It needs to stop ASAP and we need to start talking intelligently about real problems, problems based in reality, not conjecture or imagination.
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