Obsessive Gruber Syndrome: Fox News Suffers From Its Own Manic Spin Cycle

A week after some stale and unfortunate comments by M.I.T. professor Jonathan Gruber were revealed, the conservative media circus have drenched themselves in it. And leading the way, of course, is Fox News where there isn’t an hour that goes by without some new and highly hyperbolized reference to Gruber’s remarks.

Fox News Gruber Brainwashing

An analysis by PolitiFact found that mentions of the Gruber affair occurred 779 times on Fox News since November 10th. That’s once every fifteen minutes, 24 hours a day, for eight straight days. It suggests an editorial obsession that exceeds anything they have exhibited for other current news events, including immigration, Ebola, and the battle against ISIL who just executed another American hostage. By comparison MSNBC mentioned Gruber only 79 times and CNN had 27 mentions. Of course, Fox News believes that the rest of the media are inappropriately ignoring the story, but the truth is that there is no news here other than a single person who is not a legislator or White House staffer saying things that no one else has corroborated.

Implicit in the incessant rash of criticism of Gruber, and by extension, the President, is the assertion that supporters of the Affordable Care Act (aka ObamaCare) have lied about its contents. But if you’re interested in an assemblage of ObamaCare lies you need to look at the Republicans and their mouthpieces on Fox News.

Rarely mentioned is the fact that the substance of what Gruber said is not representative of anything but his own opinion. President Obama has dismissed him as a consultant and repudiated his insult to American voters. It has also been noted that ObamaCare is one of the most thoroughly debated pieces of legislation that has ever trudged through the Congress. So Gruber’s flippant references to a lack of transparency simply make no sense at all.

What’s more, it is pointless to reach back in time to a remark about ObamaCare when the bill has already been implemented and the results can be seen in action. There are more than ten million people who have insurance coverage now than did before the bill had passed. Those who have signed up are overwhelmingly satisfied with the coverage and the cost. And there haven’t been any disasters erupting from alleged secrets tucked into the bill.

Gruber - Hatch

The portion of Gruber’s remarks that has received the most attention is where he alluded to “the stupidity of the American people.” Right-wingers have never been shy about calling voters stupid in the past, particularly when discussing those who support Democrats. But in this case they are exploiting the gaffe in order to bash ObamaCare and the President. However, if you edit slightly Gruber’s wording you can arrive at an observation that is unarguably true. And that is that a certain segment of the American electorate is very noticeably stupid: Fox News viewers. They have been conned by the network’s relentless assault on ObamaCare. The current fixation on Gruber is simply a reaction to their inability to criticize the program on substance.

If, however, you are determined to look back to find something relevant to the current health care debate, you might want to check out Mitt Romney’s speech in April of 2006 when he signed the Massachusetts health care bill that was the model for ObamaCare. Romney took time to thank those he relied on to draft and implement his plan. And one of those people was Jonathan Gruber, about whom Romney said…

“I want to thank the many, many people in this room who were critical to crafting and coaxing the bold health care initiative that I’m about to sign. […] Jonathan Gruber at MIT devoted hours and hours to an essential econometric model.”

For an interesting Gruber reference you won’t see on Fox News, here is a clip from the Lawrence O’Donnell show on MSNBC in October of 2011 that identifies Gruber as a “Romney health care consultant.” It will be interesting to see if the Republicans who are hammering Obama for his association with Gruber will cast the same measure of scorn on Romney.

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[Addendum] Fox Nation is already beating on another video where Obama is quoted as saying “I have stolen ideas from [Gruber].” But in this case the video is from April of 2006, when Obama was a senator, and his remarks were about the launch of The Hamilton Project, an economic think tank from the centrist Brookings Institute. So it was before he was president and had nothing to do with health care. But Fox’s deceitful reporting never mentioned any of that.

Stephen Colbert On The GOP’s Pernicious Scheme To “Fix” ObamaCare (Video)

As 2014 began there was a furious racket emanating from the Republican ranks over the Affordable Care Act and how it would be the all-consuming issue in the midterm election. In fact, Reince Priebus, chairman of the Republican National Committee, was so adamant about keeping focused exclusively on ObamaCare that he told the National Review that…

“I think it’s going to be Obamacare all the time between now and November 5. If you ask me what day it is, I’m going to tell you it’s Obamacare. If you want to know what I want in my coffee, I’m going to tell you Obamacare. I’m going to talk about Obamacare all the time because I think it’s the No. 1 issue.”

He barely mentioned again. And as the year wore on, and the program was embraced by millions of Americans whose lives were profoundly improved, those plans evaporated and were replaced with fear mongering over manufactured crises like Ebola and ISIL.

Now that the election is over, the GOP is making noises about “fixing” ObamaCare, but their intentions are, to say the least, suspect. After trying more than fifty times to kill or cripple the program, they are still only interested in fixing ObamaCare in the same manner a Mafioso hitman is interested in fixing a rival mobster. Stephen Colbert took note of this trend (video below) and made it a feature of his program last night. And, as usual, he turned a complex and contentious issue into a hilarious and insightful comedic romp.

Particularly notable was his response to remarks made by “South Carolina congressman and guy who put his wig on backwards,” Trey Gowdy, to Megyn Kelly of Fox News. Gowdy was joining the pile-on against M.I.T. economics professor Jonathan Gruber, who inartfully explained some of the sausage-making that goes on when crafting legislation. [See The Right-Wing Freakout Over An ObamaCare Advisor Is Just More Bullspit]

Gowdy: I would say this to the professor, put down the cognac and the lost writings of J.D. Salinger. You will see how stupid our fellow citizens are. Take a look at last Tuesday night.
Colbert: Yes. If you want to see how stupid Americans are, just look at who they elected last Tuesday.

Stephen Colbert

Indeed. Colbert could have added Joni Ernst, Gordon Klingenschmitt, Jody Hice, Glenn Grothman, Paul LePage, and more to the list of certifiable fruitcakes who emerged victorious. He might also have noted that the claim that the election results represented America are vastly overblown considering that the turnout was only 36%, the lowest turnout since 1942.

Here is the segment from The Colbert Report for you entertainment pleasure:

The Right-Wing Freakout Over An ObamaCare Advisor Is Just More Bullspit

The biggest news for the past few days in the conservative media noise machine has been the remarks of Jonathan Gruber, an M.I.T. economics professor who consulted on the drafting of the Affordable Care Act. Some enterprising wingnut found an old video where Gruber was caught making some extemporaneous, impolitic comments about the passage of the legislation. What he said was that…

“This bill was written in a tortured way to make sure the CBO [Congressional Budget Office] did not score the mandate as taxes. If CBO scored the mandate as taxes, the bill dies. So it’s written to do that. In terms of risk-rated subsidies, in a law that said healthy people are gonna pay in – if it made explicit that healthy people are gonna pay in, sick people get money – it would not have passed. Lack of transparency is a huge political advantage. And basically, call it the stupidity of the American voter or whatever, but basically that was really, really critical to get anything to pass.”

There is no question that such language is damning and an irresistible lure for Republicans salivating at any opportunity to discredit the program and its authors. The problem with the subsequent and expected outcry by the right is that they have entirely misrepresented both the facts and Gruber’s role.

obamacare-conservatives-lie

Contrary to the incessant mantra, Gruber was not the “architect” of ObamaCare. He was one of many consultants to the White House and he served in the same position when Mitt Romney implemented an almost identical bill in Massachusetts. And while his words were poorly chosen, his meaning was not particularly controversial. He was merely pointing out the difficulty of persuading people who often have conflicting interests in enhanced services but an aversion to collecting the revenue necessary to pay for them.

As a result, politicians on both sides dance around the issue of taxes and benefits in order to make successful arguments. And yes, they sometimes are less than completely truthful. And yes, there are Americans who cannot process the complexities of large-scale economic programs and tax policy. So people like Gruber get frustrated by the mindset that demands cheap health insurance, but refuses to consider methods of paying for it. Then he makes ill-considered comments in a public forum stemming from that frustration that give his ideological opponents ammunition to use against him and the policy.

However, when you hear conservatives whine about President Obama or Democrats being untruthful, it is necessary to put their complaints into perspective. For most of the debate surrounding health care, the right has been brazenly dishonest. And their falsehoods were not merely verbal gaffes or misinterpretations. They were outright lies made up from thin air. When scored by PolitiFact there were at least twelve instances where conservatives received “Pants-On-Fire” designations for their patently absurd contentions, as illustrated in this handy infographic.

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Fox News

Anyone with a on open mind who researches these blatant distortions of reality will surely recognize that Gruber’s offense is far less significant than those of the right-wing Fib Factory. Particularly when you factor in that Gruber is not a spokesman for the administration or for Democrats in Congress. However, the lies by opponents of ObamaCare often came from the Republican leaders and banner carriers for their cause. That includes Fox News who is currently burning up their airwaves with condemnations of Gruber and, by extension, ObamaCare. On the Fox News community website, Fox Nation, they posted fourteen articles in one day on this subject.

Fox Nation Obsession

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It is clear that Fox has an activist agenda that is closely aligned with that of the Republican Party. And it is equally clear that they would rather flood the zone with trivialities than to engage in an honest debate about real issues. They are afraid to address the harsh realities that people face when denied access to quality, affordable health care. They would never acknowledge the people who have found renewed hope for themselves and their families since ObamaCare launched. Take for instance this example of a skeptical Republican whose mind was changed when he eventually looked at the facts. It’s just one example of untold thousands that proves that proves that there are things worse than calling people stupid. And that’s treating them that way.

How Effective Would A Travel Ban Be Against Countries With Ebola?

America’s politicians and pundits are engaged in a bitter debate over what to do about the Ebola non-crisis. One of the most fervently argued issues is whether or not to implement a travel ban against countries that are having a problem with Ebola.

GOP Tents America

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Let’s set aside for the moment that the United States is one of those countries, and that conservatives believe that because of our allegedly incompetent president, porous borders, and lax security, it is just going to get worse. So you’d have to ask if the the wingnuts want a travel ban on America.

The remaining arguments center on what benefits and harm will result from a ban on travel. Right-wing politicos have lined up on the side of a ban arguing that it would keep infected persons out of the U.S. On the other side are doctors, scientists, and other public health experts who assert that a ban would serve no purpose because people could still travel to places without a ban and continue on from there to the U.S. In the process they would have slipped though existing monitoring and tracking procedures. In addition, a ban would present an obstacle to the flow of doctors and supplies to the areas that need them most.

What I haven’t seen in any discussion on this topic is a straightforward, unbiased look at the relevant statistics associated with a travel ban. So here is what we are really talking about.

First of all, there is already a de facto ban due to the fact that there are no direct flights on U.S. carriers from the affected West African countries to the United States. However, travelers originating from those countries do arrive here via connections in other countries. The total is estimated to be about 150 per day.

The first (and only) infected West African to arrive in the U.S. was Thomas Eric Duncan. He was a Liberian who began his travel on September 19, without noticeable symptoms. He later became ill and eventually died in a Dallas hospital.

It’s difficult to pinpoint when the risk for Ebola-infected travelers began. So let’s just begin counting on the day that Duncan arrived in the U.S. From then it has been 28 days. With 150 travelers from the affected West African countries arriving every day for 28 days, there have been 4,200 people arriving here from the troubled region. And out of that 4,200 people there has been one – that’s ONE – who became ill with Ebola. That’s 0.0024% of the travelers from West Africa. And for that Republicans and wingnut pundits want to impose a total ban on travel that experts insist will make matters worse.

Three other people with Ebola (all Americans) came home to the U.S. for treatment. They all survived, and no one at any of the hospitals where they were treated became ill. The only transmissions (two so far) occurred at the Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital that treated Duncan.

Just thought you’d like to know.

Shepard Smith Blisters His Fox News Colleagues With Calm And Sense On Ebola

Credit where credit is due. Fox News anchor Shepard Smith opened his program today with a well thought out commentary that put the facts about Ebola into perspective. It was a rare moment of realism and reason from Fox News and it was delivered with passion and a sincere intention to quell the unnecessary anxieties being stirred up elsewhere in the media. Without further ado, here are Shep’s words (and video below).

For the next few minutes I’m going to give you the facts on Ebola. It’ll take just three minutes. But first today, given what we know, you should have no concerns about Ebola at all. None. I promise. Unless a medical professional has contacted you personally, and told you of some sort of possible exposure, fear not. Do not listen to the hysterical voices on the radio and the television, or read the fear provoking words online. The people who say or write hysterical things are being very irresponsible. […]

Indeed. And that includes Fox News.
Fox News Ebola

Again, these are the facts. We do not have an outbreak of Ebola in the United States. Nowhere. We do have two health care workers who contracted the disease from a dying man. They are isolated. There is no information to suggest that the virus has spread to anyone in the general population. Not one person in the general population of the United States.

But that does not apply to Tea-Bola which is ravaging the wingnut constituency in America.
Tea-Bola

Suggestions have been made publicly that leaders and medical professionals have been lying to us. Those suggestions are completely without basis in fact. There is no evidence of any kind of which we at Fox News are aware that leaders have lied about anything regarding Ebola. I report to you with certainty this afternoon that being afraid at all is the wrong thing to do. Being petrified, and that’s a quote, is ridiculous. The panic that has tanked the stock market and left people fearful that their children will get sick at school is counterproductive and lacks basis in fact or reason.

Somebody tell Bill O’Reilly (and numerous other Fox alarmists) who says that leaders have lied and that they should resign.
Fox News Bill O'Reilly

There is no Ebola spreading in America. Should that change, our reporting will change. But there is nothing to indicate that it will. Best advise for you and your family at this moment…get a flu shot. Unlike Ebola, flu is easily transmitted. Flu, along with resulting pneumonia, killed 52,000 Americans last year alone. A flu shot will reduce your chance of getting flu. So get one.

Yet Still Fox fear mongers about an “outbreak” of two.
Fox Nation Ebola Outbreak

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This commentary is an island of rationality in a sea of animus, bluster, and rancid partisanship. It begs the question, how long does Shep have left on Fox?

The Daily Show’s “ObamaCare Apocalypse” Rips Naysayers To Shreds

Once again, the Daily Show demonstrates why they are a better source for news than much of the mainstream press. While conservatives love to bash its viewers for regarding it as a news program, the truth is that Jon Stewart & Company frequently put the so-called “real” news to shame. (For the record, nobody thinks the Daily Show is a news program. They just recognize that it savagely skewers the many deficiencies of the media).

Daily Show Betsy McCaughey

In the “ObamaCare Apocalypse” segment, “correspondent” Jordan Klepper, goes into stark detail about the media handling of the Affordable Care Act (aka ObamaCare). He begins with a montage showing an assembly of talking heads, mostly on Fox News, spewing wild accusations about the health reform’s allegedly disastrous effects.

Klepper: “For years, television pundits have been doing important work sounding the alarm about ObamaCare.”
Lou Dobbs program: “We’re going to be, six to ten months from now, in a massive fiscal crisis.”
Klepper: “Come on, you can do better than that.”
Eric Bolling: “ObamaCare literally may kill you.”
Klepper: “Good, keep going.”
Ben Carson: “The worst thing that has happened in this nation since slavery.”
Klepper: “That’s what I’m talking about.”

This parade of hyperbole is followed by a series of facts that Klepper finds facetiously disturbing. Such as the fact that the program’s popularity is steadily growing, medical costs are declining, more people are insured, and premiums are lower. He then sets out to interview subjects who will cooperate with his ACA bashing, but is frustrated to find only people who actually live in the real world. The highlight is his attempt to interview Betsy McCaughey, the originator of the death panel lie, who abruptly removes her mic and stomps off after the first question. You have to wonder why she agreed to do the interview in the first place only to immediately scamper away.

The segment concludes with a simple, yet profound, observation that sums up the coverage by Fox News and other conservative outlets:

“Luckily, to be an ObamaCare critic, being right is not a job requirement.”

Actually, that could be applied to nearly everything that Fox News broadcasts or is uttered by Republicans in Congress. Here is the whole segment for your enjoyment:

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Fox Nation vs. Reality: Night Of The Living Death Panels

Thank you Sarah Palin. You have managed to poison the public discourse with an utterly insipid and dishonest notion that has attained a measure of immortality due to the persistent ignorance of your followers and the spinelessness of your Tea Party Republican comrades.

Night of the Living Death Panels

That’s right, folks. The Death Panels are baaack. And with no more legitimacy now than when they were first peddled by Palin (who actually stole the idea from wingnut Betsy McCaughey). Of course it is Fox News who is reprising this zombie lie which they had a substantial part in promoting the last time around. This year’s model is back in the news thanks to Fox Nation, the lie-riddled community website whose aversion to the truth is documented in the acclaimed ebook Fox Nation vs. Reality. Their story carries the tabloid-esque headline “Death Panels? Medicare May Start Covering ‘End-Of-Life Discussions’” That phony characterization is a long stretch from the New York Times article to which they link that doesn’t mention death panels in their headline at all: “Coverage for End-of-Life Talks Gaining Ground.”

Fox Nation

The news in this story is that, despite being jettisoned by a nervous Congress, coverage for end-of-life counseling is being taken up by insurance companies on their own as a result of prodding from doctors. That’s because it makes good sense and benefits the patient. It is not an economic issue because, depending on the patient’s desires, health care may cost more (if the patient opts for every life-saving procedure available) or less (if the patient chooses to forego artificial methods of sustaining life).

From the beginning, the death panel term was a perversion of what the actual policy provided. It merely stipulated insurance coverage for voluntary discussions between the patient and the doctor to determine the patient’s wishes in the event of a catastrophic illness. Most medical professionals recommend this because, after an illness strikes, you may not be able to make your preferences known. That leaves it to either the doctors or traumatized family members who often disagree. But the completion of an “Advance Directive” always represents your wishes and never imposes any medical care, or lack of it, on the patient.

Tea Party nut cases took the position that you should not be able to have your insurance cover the preparation of such a directive in consultation with your doctor. They irrationally feared that “end-of-life counseling” was coded language that, when translated by enlightened wingnuts, meant “plotting to kill you.” It’s too bad that such stupidity isn’t covered under ObamaCare. And even though some right-wingers recognized that their misrepresentation of end-of-life counseling was making them look ridiculous, when they adjusted their rhetoric they just switched to a different policy, the Independent Payment Advisory Board, and called that a death panel. They were still wrong. The IPAB was a doctor-run advisory group tasked with identifying the best practices in health care to insure the best outcomes and to avoid unnecessary or exploitative procedures.

When the ultra-conservative National Review agrees that “Insuring End-of-Life Talk [is] Not Death Panels,” then the distance Fox News has traveled from reality becomes ever more clear. They simply don’t care about honestly dispensing information, even when people’s lives depend upon it. And they persist with their campaigns of disinformation even after other conservative outlets have abandoned them.

FOX NEWS ALERT: ObamaCare Website Rollout Had Problems (Who Knew?)

Not too long ago, the Affordable Care Act (aka ObamaCare) dominated the political landscape in both Congress and the media. It virtually sucked the oxygen out of every other issue that didn’t involve Benghazi. But lately there has been a conspicuous absence of news about the program. And Republicans, once devoted to its demise, have all but banished it from their public communications. Until today.

Fox News

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That’s right. Fox News has brought ObamaCare back into the spotlight to announce that a Government Accounting Office report has found that “management failures” led to the botched rollout of the website. The network banged their signature gong and ran their “Fox Alert” graphics to broadcast this breaking news. After all, who would have ever imagined that a lack of managerial oversight and efficiency were responsible for the debacle that accompanied the launch of the ObamaCare exchange?

Thank goodness Fox News is here to enlighten us with their probing journalism. Such tenacity is representative of their professionalism and surely has nothing to do with trying to shove an old and obvious story into the news cycle in order to damage the President’s standing.

Perhaps they are just nostalgic for the good old days when they had a juicy drama with which they could smear the administration. Back when Congress held over fifty votes to cripple or repeal the legislation. At the same time, multiple committees were investigating everything from the faulty website, to alleged security risks, to threats of criminal navigators, to allegations of false audits, and the ever-present fantasy of death panels.

The media, led by Fox News, obsessed over the same issues as they emerged from the GOP committees investigating them. But they added their own scare mongering in an effort to frighten citizens away from the program and hasten its failure. The press falsely reported conservative assessments that claimed millions would lose their insurance, that premiums would skyrocket, and that their personal health and financial records would be compromised.

However, much of that talk has abated in light of the fact that ObamaCare has become an unmitigated success. Over eight million people had enrolled by the end of the open enrollment period. And just about every metric for measuring success has surpassed expectations. Even Republican enrollees have reported being overwhelmingly satisfied. That may explain why Reince Priebus, the chairman of the Republican National Committee, has jammed into reverse. Just last February he told the National Review that…

“I think it’s going to be Obamacare all the time between now and November 5. If you ask me what day it is, I’m going to tell you it’s Obamacare. If you want to know what I want in my coffee, I’m going to tell you Obamacare. I’m going to talk about Obamacare all the time because I think it’s the No. 1 issue.”

Since then he has barely mentioned it. The last substantive comment he had about the program was in March. In May the RNC held their annual Spring Meeting where Priebus delivered a speech that only mentioned it once in passing while addressing a separate subject. His most recent allusion to ObamaCare was earlier this month when he tweeted “Thanks to #ObamaCare, average E.R. wait in California is 5 hours: […] And ‘it’s only going to get worse.'” Unfortunately for him, that comment was scored by PolitiFact and rated as “False.”

So it isn’t surprising that Fox News would jump at this opportunity to re-flog an old subject that had given them so much pleasure way back in, well, February of this year. They can’t hammer away at the actual programs or services that ObamaCare is providing, because most Americans are happy with it. So if the best they can do is to hype a glaringly obvious report that draws conclusions that everyone already knows, then maybe we should let them have their little bit of pathetic fun. After all, it’s either this or Benghazi.

Let The Tea Party Begin: 4.7 Million At Risk Of Losing Their Health Insurance

Oh, somewhere in this favored land the sun is shining bright;
The band is playing somewhere, and somewhere hearts are light,
And somewhere men are laughing, and somewhere children shout;
For there IS joy in Teaville…

…A three-judge panel of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled 2-to-1 along party lines that subsidies for health insurance premiums made available under the Affordable Care Act (aka ObamaCare) are only available to those who purchased their coverage in state-based exchanges, invalidating the 4.7 million citizens who used the federal exchange and therefore…

…they have been shut out.

ObamaCare Ruling

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In this case, the “favored land” where the sun is shining and hearts are light, is the land of Tea Party Republicans who are falling all over themselves celebrating this decision that puts the health – and lives – of millions in jeopardy. And, as usual, it is those who are favored who reap the benefits. Nothing gives right-wingers more undiluted ecstasy than making life even more difficult for people on the lower end of the income scale. These are the same people who cheer executions and holler and spit at children. You know, conservative “Christians.” Even the GOP judges recognized the potential hardship they were creating:

“Our ruling will likely have significant consequences both for millions of individuals receiving tax credits through federal exchanges and for health insurance markets more broadly.”

The good news is that this ruling means very little at the present time. First of all, it was stayed by the court pending an expected appeal. Secondly, the administration will likely request an “en banc” hearing by all eleven members of the court. Presently the court has seven judges appointed by Democrats and four by Republicans. This, by the way, was made possible when Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid removed the super-majority requirement for judicial appointments. Prior to that Republicans were filibustering nearly all of President Obama’s nominees, and even proposed eliminating the three vacancies on the D.C. court. Subsequent to Reid’s maneuver, three of Obama’s nominees received a majority vote and were seated on the court that will re-hear this ruling.

Finally, the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals in Virginia ruled today on the very same issue and found that the federal subsidies were proper and intended by the Congress when the law was passed. As it stands now there are two courts of appeal that have arrived at opposing decisions, but the en banc review by the D.C. court is likely to agree with the 4th Circuit. If so, both courts will have upheld the subsidies. That is significant should additional appeals be brought to the Supreme Court. There is no telling where the Supreme Court might come down, but there is a possibility that they won’t even take the case if two appeals courts agree that there is no constitutional issue.

Whatever the outcome of the legal wrangling, this is another opportunity to observe the right-wing at their worst. They are palpably giddy over the prospect of millions of Americans becoming either uninsured or bankrupt. This is an issue that can have some play in the midterm elections as the threat hanging over the heads of these citizens weighs on their political decisions. In Florida and Texas alone there are 1.5 million people who could lose their insurance. Those are highly motivated votes for Democrats in November making both states more likely to turn blue. Now we just have to get the rest of the Democrats to get motivated and VOTE!

A Dose Of Reality: Children In Texas Are Less Likely To Be Immunized Than Immigrant Kids

The saga of minors from south of the border migrating to the United States in large numbers to escape poverty and violence in their home countries is one of the most heartbreaking stories to emerge in years. These children are often alone and frightened and disoriented in their new surroundings.

Inflaming the tragedy further is the response from soulless right-wing hate squads that have protested these kids as they arrive at detention facilities for processing. Among the dehumanizing taunts that are cast at these innocents by protesters, as well as Fox News anchors and guests, is that the kids are dangerous agents of drug traffickers, terrorists, and gangs. They are described in terms that deprive them of their humanity, like invaders and tsunamis. This allows the haters to ignore that they are just children and transform them into forces of nature that bring nothing chaos and destruction.

Immigrant Kids

One of the most scurrilous accusations being hurled around is that the immigrant children are menacing disease carriers who will infect our precious homegrown little ones and poison the purity of our Euro-American gene pool. They are threatening an epidemic of infectious maladies long thought to have been eradicated in civilized society. However, an article in the Texas Observer addresses this subject with the sort of facts and informed research from which conservatives recoil as if from the plague (irony intended).

The principle discovery in the Observer reveals that the occurrence of illness in the immigrant children is “wildly overstated.” In fact, if one were inclined to be nervous about the infectious status of a child, they would be better off shunning Perry’s Kids – aka the unvaccinated children suffering under the current GOP regime in Texas.

“Before demonizing undocumented children, we should look at the facts: The vast majority of Central Americans are vaccinated against all these [mumps, measles, rubella, polio, tetanus, diphtheria] diseases. Governments concerned about health, and good parents investing in their kids, have made Central American kids better-vaccinated than Texan kids. We fear them not because they are actually sick, but because of powerful anti-immigration narratives that link foreigners to disease.”

The article goes on to note that many Central American governments cover the cost of vaccinations at 100%. Compare that to the U.S. where there are many states, including Texas, where routine health care is unavailable due to the political piggishness of Tea Party Republicans. The article states that “one in six kids in Texas is uninsured, and even insured families often must pay for vaccination.” By refusing to expand Medicaid programs, GOP governors like Rick Perry are tangibly lowering the quality and availability of health care and putting lives at risk. There’s your real death panel.

In addition, the tin-foil hatted movement to persuade people that immunizations are actually government sponsored plots to enrich pharmaceutical companies by mandating vaccinations that will cause autism or other debilitating illnesses, has found fertile ground in places like Texas. Consequently, many deluded parents deliberately refuse to have their kids vaccinated. This is making more of a health crisis in the state than anything that might be attributed to immigrants.

The Observer article is goes into much greater detail and is well worth reading in full. It includes examples of media disinformation about both disease and immigrants (particularly exposing the lies broadcast on Fox News). It explores the historical attacks on immigrants as disease-carriers going back 200 years, when the targets of the allegations were often the Irish or Jews.

This story raises questions about the effectiveness and integrity of the media. While the Texas Observer deserves credit for doing their job, the rest of the mainstream press has been shamefully delinquent. They haven’t bothered to do the research necessary to serve their audience by keeping them informed. But they have pumped up the tabloid exploitation of phony protesters and pundits with obvious political biases. It will be interesting to see if the Observer’s article gets any national attention.

In the end, it is clear that what is motivating the falsehoods about immigrant children is nothing more than pure racism, fear, ignorance, partisanship, and even greed. This is a humanitarian crisis, not an immigration debate. If Teabagging bigots want to push their fixation with border fences and nativist outrage, let them do it after these kids are taken care of and the imminent risks to their well-being are settled.