It’s funny – since the advent of social media, particularly Facebook, I’ve been able to reconnect online with quite of few of the people I was friends with in grade school. Last week, my Facebook messenger pinged, and there was this long message from my old friend Louis about a proposed 28th amendment. The amendment itself seems like a good idea in that it prevents the House and Senate from enacting laws that apply differently to them than they do to the rest of us. Lou’s message to me made multiple false claims about “benefits” that don’t exist, like student loan forgiveness, the ability to retire with full pay after serving only one two-year term, no requirement to pay into Social Security (true until 1984) and that they do not participate in the ACA. This proves yet again how easy it is for the uninformed to get all worked up about nothing out of laziness. It took under a minute for me to debunk the incendiary parts of his email, so why couldn’t he have taken the time to check the facts before sending that stupid message to me?
There is no “Congressional Reform Act”, although bogus emails and text messages have been circulating through the internet and social media since at least 2011. The newer versions include references to Trump, and the message my friend sent me specifically claimed that “Trump wants you to send this to twenty friends…” So now, I know that my friend is member of the right-wing disinformation bubble.
I was most disturbed by that fact that my friend Lou supports Trump despite the last three years of Trump in the White House. I have to assume that Lou’s been getting his ‘news’ from Fox, and I felt it was necessary to respond to my friend rather than just sever ties with him because he has been bamboozled by right-wing media. I hope that Lou realizes that I do not bear him any ill will for his views, and I hope that my response to him (which included a link to this blog!) gives him pause and leads him to enlarge his media intake to include outlets with more journalists and fewer sycophants. State tv may be a useful tool in a dictatorship, but it’s incredibly destructive to our democracy, and I hope that my friends who have continued to support outlets like Fox and OANN will go outside of their comfort zones and try a little fact-based reporting. Sure, the news is bad, and I’ll bet it seems even worse if you’ve been led to believe bullshit only to find out later that almost everything you’ve been told has been a lie.
Here are some facts for my friend, in case he’s still uncomfortable getting them from places like CNN, MSNBC, The Washington Post, The Atlantic, The Daily Beast, The New York Times or even The Wall Street Journal, to name a few:
- The Small Business Aid Program has already run out of money, and the Republicans in Congress refuse to negotiate with the Democrats on another aid bill.
- While telling the public that it wasn’t necessary for healthy individuals to wear facemasks in public, the National Security Council took 3,500 masks from a Taiwanese shipment intended to shore up the national stockpile for White House staffers.
- Trey Hollingsworth, an Indiana Republican representative, has said out loud that allowing more Americans to die of the coronavirus is “the lesser of two evils” compared to the economic impacts of quarantine.
- The CIA warned its employees that hydroxychloroquine could cause sudden death and told them not to try it to treat Covid-19. Trump has a financial stake in the company that makes the drug.
- Trump tariffs are contributing to shortages of hand sanitizer and disinfectant.
- Trump was told by intelligence agencies in NOVEMBER that a coronavirus outbreak could be cataclysmic.
- The Trump administration wasted 70 days in the Covid-19 battle, downplaying the threat, holding back payments, and denying we were at risk.
- A group of 74 journalism professors wrote an open letter to Fox ‘News’ that reads “The misinformation that reaches the Fox News audience is a danger to public health….Your misrepresenting endangers your own viewers.”
- ProPublica reported that Trump’s Justice Department blocked an indictment requested by Texas federal prosecutors against Walmart, after it was determined that they had filled hundreds of thousands of opioid prescriptions despite being warned by their own pharmacists that those prescriptions were coming from ‘pill mills’ and that those pharmacists did not want to fill the scripts. Texas federal prosecutors were told to drop the case by the Trump Justice Department.
- Noise from windmills does not cause cancer.
- There were not millions of votes from undocumented immigrants in the 2016 presidential election.
I hope that this list of facts, some or all of which may never have been broadcast on Fox, will help my Republican friends make a better decision in the upcoming presidential election. Perhaps, if they cannot find it within themselves to vote for Joe Biden, they won’t vote at all.
It should be obvious now, as the federal government decimated by years of Republican deconstruction and neglect and hampered by a complete lack of leadership and direction from the top down is failing to respond to the Covid-19 pandemic in any reasonable fashion, that the entire premise behind the conservative movement has been a lie. Of course we need a robust and functional federal government, staffed by civil servants who actually know what they’re doing and can put things in place to prevent something like this from ever happening again. We all pay for insurance for our cars and houses, not because we want to send insurance conglomerates our hard earned money, but because we all know that, should our homes burn down in a fire or our cars totaled in an accident, we won’t have to wonder how we’ll finance the replacements of these things. This is no different than having teams in place in the government so that, should a pandemic arise, we are prepared.
Trump and his administration deliberately removed the pandemics team put in place by the previous administration because Trump’s fixation on undoing anything Obama put in place is more important to him than any possibility that those Obama initiatives benefit the citizens of this country. Now Trump is threatening to illegally withhold funding for the WHO during a world-wide pandemic. He is doing this in large part as a diversion to his base, so they don’t realize that his own administration and its lack of foresight are the reason why we are now losing 100 Americans an hour to this virus.
So please, my conservative friends, understand that voting for lower taxes is equivalent to agreeing that there is no reason to prepare for pandemics, wildfires, hurricanes, tornadoes, and every other disaster sure to strike somewhere in this great nation in the future. And while the next catastrophe that strikes may not affect you personally, it is no less painful for the citizens who find themselves in the line of fire. Admit to yourselves that continuing to support a party that denies science while forcing their hypocritical religiosity down our throats is societal suicide. They may claim to believe that their god will prevent the planet from burning up, but facts are still facts, and when the oceans rise because they refuse to address the fossil fuel industry’s greed, their god won’t keep their homes dry. I cannot understand anyone supporting politicians who so clearly don’t give a shit about their constituents, voting against their own best interests because they’ve been brainwashed into believing that the ‘other’ is their enemy.
It is time to think not only about yourselves, but your fellow Americans as well. We need everyone to pull together and fight for what is right for the whole country, not just the privileged few. Republican politicians have succeeded in convincing you that they care about you, but the only thing they care about is getting your vote in order to give their donors tax breaks to maintain their own power, while the rest of us are taxed without the loopholes the wealthy are awarded. Election reform to publicly finance elections will give us back the power while taking the influence of the wealthy out of our politics. Only by putting Democrats in office throughout the country can we make sure that our government, at all levels, is chosen by the people and works for the people.
Please – take the time to verify the inflammatory stuff you’re forwarding to your friends. Doing so will help you maintain your dignity while you see what a fool you’ve been.