When my granddaughters were here I told them if I could only teach them one thing it would be to think critically and to think for themselves. I have always been bewildered by people who never delve into important facts that affect their lives; instead they let their friends, talking heads on the media, and hate pieces circulated on the Internet do their thinking for them.
How can adults be so gullible? Is it due to being lazy mentally, culture, ideology or the heat of the South that atrophies their brains when it comes to logic? I make the last statement based on the fact that a recent survey found that 23% of Republicans in the South still believe that Obama was not born in the U. S., in spite of all proven evidence to the contrary. And 32% aren't sure. (Bear in mind, I live in one of those red states in the South - well, southwest - before you southerners get mad at me.) As Jan pointed out on her great blog, Happening HERE, it is obvious that this is not the viewpoint of the blacks in the South; therefore, the percentage of white's that believe this goes up. On Jan's blog you can find a chart that details the areas of the country and the percentage of those who are most gullible.
Paul Krugman cites a recent statement by a man in Florida when he said he wanted the government to keep their hands off of his Medicare. When the Republican Senator pointed out to him that Medicare was a government program the man would have none of it. Facts be damned - my minds made up.
Another lie being circulated (and there are many) is that Seniors will have to sign a pledge that they will commit suicide. This is supposedly to keep the government from having to pay the expensive cost of the last days of an illness. Do you know the origin of this fabrication? It is a clause in the health care bill giving the option of advanced care end of life planning. In other words, it is the option of having a living will directive. I do have one and I hope other elders do, too. But it is not a euthanasia clause as the ones who would defeat this bill claim.
Krugman continues in his op-ed piece by citing that the only thing that keeps our medical care working at all is because of government intervention. Most people who are satisfied with their insurance (I am one of them) are on Medicare or have employer based insurance. The government has rules for the latter that keep the insurance companies in line. Without such mandates, the insurance companies routinely kick the sick out when they need expensive care and deny coverage to the already sick for idiotic reasons. Example: a woman had cancer and was denied coverage because of an acne treatment she had undergone years before. Any excuse will do to let the insurance industry keep their obscene profits.
Insurance companies can deny coverage, kick people off when they require expensive treatment, raise the rates at will and people who are opposed to the Public Option say they don't trust the government. How lame is that? The fact that Veterans, government workers, Medicare recipients and all of our representatives have government insurance doesn't seem to enter the minds of those who decry "Socialized " medicine. Republican representatives are the loudest in using the word 'socialized'. How ironic is that?
Getting back to how and why the anti-reform pundits are so successful in misleading people I want to give an illustration on how it's done.
I have a good friend, a college educated Republican, who gets many e-mails from his friends and family full of these out-and-out lies in the form of hate pieces. Once in awhile he sends them to me to check out the facts. A recent one was a video clip from Betsy McCaughey. Because the clip was long and it would take me over an hour just to download it (that's a problem for another day) I just researched her and didn't watch the clip. The following is the result of my research and what I sent back to my friend about the veracity of Ms. McCaughey.
According to Snopes It seems that Betsy lifted a few words out of an entire sentence in Tom Daschles book, incorporated them into her own sentence and changed the entire meaning of what Daschle had maintained. Of course, she had so distorted his meaning and given the wrong impression that it was bordering on the big lie. She got away with citing him as proof of her assertion by putting his words in quotes in the sentence. How many people reading her claim noticed that little device at deception?
So here's how it works:
Bloomburg published this:
Here is Betsy McCaughey, a staffer at a conservative think tank who also used to be a Republican Lt. Gov. of New York, attacking the economic stimulus plan. Specifically, McCaughey insisted that the policy would create a "new bureaucracy" called the National Coordinator of Health Information Technology, which will "monitor treatments to make sure your doctor is doing what the federal government deems appropriate and cost effective." McCaughey said the federal government would then "'guide' your doctor's decisions," adding, "Keeping doctors informed of the newest medical findings is important, but enforcing uniformity goes too far."
The claim, not surprisingly, isn't true. The National Coordinator for Health Information Technology isn't "new"; it was created by George W. Bush five years ago. More importantly, the measure is about medical records, not limiting physicians' treatments.
In fact, the language in the House bill that McCaughey ... referenced does not establish authority to "monitor treatments" or restrict what "your doctor is doing" with regard to patient care, but rather addresses establishing an electronic records system such that doctors would have complete, accurate information about their patients "to help guide medical decisions at the time and place of care."
So, the opinion piece Bloomberg ran was wrong. Ordinarily, that's hardly worth getting excited about; news outlets run misleading opinion pieces every day. But what's interesting about this particular story is they way in which it spread.
Step One: Rush Limbaugh told his
minions audience on Monday about McCaughey's piece, insisting that a "national coordinator of health information technology will monitor treatments that your doctor gives you to make sure your doctor is doing what the federal government deems appropriate and cost-effective."
Step Two: By late Monday, Drudge was trumpeting McCaughey's mistake with this headline: "'National Coordinator of Health Information Technology' Slipped in to Stimulus..."
Step Three: Fox News and members of the Wall Street Journal editorial board got in on the act on Tuesday morning, arguing that the government will "essentially dictate treatments," thanks to the "secret" provisions in the stimulus bill. FNC's Megan Kelly said the non-existent language "sounds dangerously like socialized medicine," while FNC's Bill Hemmer said the recovery plan includes "new rules guiding decisions your doctor can make about your health care." All of this, of course, is patently and demonstrably false.
Step Four: Limbaugh took a bow yesterday, taking credit for the misinformation campaign, and telling listeners that his show "uncovered" all of this. "I found it," Limbaugh said. "I detailed it for you, and now it's all over mainstream media."
Remember, McCaughey got it wrong. Limbaugh and Drudge took the wrong information and exaggerated it further. Then Fox News took Limbaugh's lies, and stretched them even further still. That none of this is grounded in reality in any way was of no importance to any of these clowns. Untold thousands of Americans, who don't know better, get their "news" from these people, and have no idea they've been lied to.
"This is how the conventional wisdom often gets set in Washington -- an article that 'the right people' read builds among the chattering class and then is distilled out to the people, no matter its veracity. While zombies like McCaughey are still churning out the lies, there's a whole new set -- Rush, Drudge, Fox -- of opinion leaders that get to set the agenda on these matters."