Of Facts and Misinformation

  • Recently there was another GOP debate, and since I’m currently without cable I streamed it online from FOX Business Channel. These debates are wildly entertaining. On the one hand I want to laugh at the lies and misinformation; on the other I think it’s scary that one of these candidates have, perhaps, as high as a 40-45% chance of being the next president. That’s a lot higher than I would like.
  • In Ted Cruz’s opening statement, he says:

In that state of the union, President Obama didn’t so much as mention the 10 sailors that had been captured by Iran. President Obama is preparing to send $100 billion or more to [the leader of Iran], and I’ll tell you it was heartbreaking.

But the good news is, the next Commander in Chief is standing on this stage. And I give you my word if I am elected president no serviceman or servicewoman will be forced to be on their knees in any nation that captures our fighting men and women, and will feel the full force and fury of the United States of America.

I guess the first thing to keep in mind is this debate was being held in South Carolina. There is a large audience in the US for that kind of war- and fear-mongering tough talk, but particularly in the South given its right-wing sensibilities.

Second, Cruz — and for that matter the entire GOP/FOX News talking points — is flat out lying about Iran. As The Young Turks points out, what happened there the other day was actually a huge victory for diplomacy. The American sailors were held comfortably, fed, and released the next day. Iran was just following procedure, just as (you would hope) America would do in the same situation. As it were, the GPS in one of the US ships went down, and they wound up in Iranian waters. That was it.

Ted Cruz also mentions the “$100 billion or more,” which is actually $150 billion due to the Iran Nuclear Deal, which Republicans swear is the worst of all-time. They say Obama is funding terrorism in the Middle East by giving Iran this money.

By agreeing to this deal, Iran is surrendering all but 10 of its major nuclear plants, and 98% of its enriched uranium. They couldn’t build a nuclear bomb even if they wanted to. On top of that, for the next 15 years they are subject to regular inspections from the UN. By revoking this deal the US would almost certainly be engaging in a new war. Being that the majority of the GOP candidates are given extreme campaign contributions from oil lobbyists — who stand to make enormous profits from disarray in the region — it makes sense why the party would like to start another war.

As for the “full force and fury” line… is that really how Americans want to be perceived by other countries? My older brother confronted the reality when he texted me to say:

Pure demagoguery. Pandering right to his base. They loved that shit.

  • As for the Democratic Primary, Bernie Sanders has caught Hillary Clinton in Iowa and is leading in New Hampshire, according to the latest poll.
  • Only recently has Mrs. Clinton began taking Bernie seriously, which one could very easily view as a mistake in retrospect. And to be sure, who could have predicted this? Assuming the inevitable, I didn’t start paying attention even loosely until June, when I saw Sanders in this interview on Realtime with Bill Maher, which is the first time I got excited about our country and politics since the 2008 election, when I helped turn the state of Virginia blue for the first time since 1964. Before that, it was the Bush/Gore 2000 election, which was also memorable. (I guess what I’m saying is every 8 years, I give a shit.)

To be clear, whether it’s Bernie Sanders or Hillary Clinton, a Democratic candidate will be the next president. Republicans have just gotten so far out of touch with society, and actual issues, that it’s hard for me to picture Donald Trump or Ted Cruz winning.

When it comes to the real problems, whether it’s climate change, equal pay for equal work, equality for the gay and transgender communities, raising the minimum wage, changing the corrupt campaign finance system, making college affordable… these are all topics the GOP would rather not talk about, because their interests are tied up in profits, and dividing America. Even staunch conservatives — the ones who will vote for any Republican over any Democrat because their team is Red and the other team is Blue — are actively supporting the opposite of their own interests. That is the insane, albeit masterful, influence of places like FOX News and CNN.

All you have to do is watch ten minutes of a GOP “debate”, which quickly devolves into ad hominem attacks and saying things like “I will bomb every last enemy from ISIS,” to understand how seriously Republicans view themselves. The GOP lost the 2008 election largely due to its stances on immigration, gay people, and women; since then almost nothing has changed. Republicans have still yet to have their Come To Jesus moment, and as a counter to the progress of America they are moving further to the right in an attempt to reestablish the middle.

As far as we can see, this country remains liberal and it remains progressive. That is why Bernie Sanders’s message resonates with so many people, and so many young people, and why for Hillary to have a chance she needs to bend further and further to the left for public support. While Republicans are fixated on bombing ISIS and blaming Obama and blaming Hillary and calling Bernie a socialist like it’s a bad thing, the DNC debates involve outlining specific plans during the presidency. It’s night and fucking day. The only legitimate monopoly the GOP maintains on its followers is its ability to use the media as a vehicle for misinformation.

Once people spend the time to actually educate themselves, they realize there are not always two sides to a story. There are truths, and there are untruths. There are facts, and there is misinformation.

In the age of political correctness and being tolerant of everyone’s beliefs, we’ve become conditioned to accept the point-counterpoint public discourse. And to a large degree I think we’re all dumber for it.

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