As Texas Shows, the GOP Big Lie Strategy has Already Destroyed Much of America
- Republicans and their media are lying right now about why people are dying from the cold in Texas.
- The GOP has been embracing lies instead of policy since the Reagan Revolution.
- It's become a way of life for Republican politicians.
- As a consequence, Republican voters are among the most misinformed people in America.
- When the electorate believes lies, democracy doesn't work.
- The Libertarian billionaires who own the Republican Party don't believe in democracy, so this is working out exactly the way they want.
- This is a formula for the destruction of democracy and the rise of fascism.
Back in the 1970s, Texas disconnected its power grid from the rest of the country so they wouldn't have to put up with federal regulation of their energy system. As a result, people are dying across that state right now.
But rather than tell the truth, Republican officials across the state, from the governor on down, are lying to their people.
People are shocked that the Republican Party would embrace lies, from Trump's lie that Covid was "just like the flu" and "will vanish soon" to his lie that he won the 2020 election "in a landslide."
The audacity of these lies is so mind-boggling that many figure they simply must be true:
The lie that frozen windmills are to blame for the failure of Texas's privatized and deregulated electric grid.
The lie that Donald Trump actually won an election that he lost by over 7 million votes.
The lie a $1.5 trillion tax cut for billionaires (the fifth of this size since 1982) made life better for average working people.
Republican Senator Ron Johnson's most recent lie that the attack on the capital wasn't an "armed insurrection."
People are astonished by the audacity of these lies, but equally astonishing is that tens of millions of Americans believe them.
Why would the GOP do this? And how is it that they're getting away with it?
This is nothing new: forty years ago, lies replaced policy as the go-to strategy for the GOP.
The Republican Party, in fact, has been living on lies ever since 1980, when Ronald Reagan, a mediocre B-movie actor, showed how flash and style won elections better than policy and substance.
"Sell the sizzle, not the steak," is an old cliché in the advertising industry, and the GOP embraced it full-on in the 1980s and never let go.
Reagan cut a traitorous deal with Iran to exchange US hostages for US weaponry to humiliate Jimmy Carter, and used the money (in violation of US law) to send weapons to fascist insurgents in Central America so they could overthrow governments that wanted to provide free education and free healthcare to their people.
When he and his Vice President, George HW Bush, were busted for it, Bush's Attorney General, Bill Barr, helped them end the investigation by having Bush pardon Casper Weinberger, Ollie North and several others on Christmas Eve, 1992. Special Prosecutor Lawrence Walsh called it one of American history's biggest cover-ups.
To suck up to bigots, "Christians" and homophobes, for all eight years of his presidency Ronald Reagan refused to do anything about an exploding AIDS crisis, refusing even to use the word AIDS.
Reagan promoted the bizarre notion that the best way to help average working people was to destroy their unions, double their payroll taxes, and massively cut taxes on the ultra wealthy. Americans knew it was awful policy, but he was so charming!
After Reagan left office, the Reagan Legacy Project set out to promote his "sizzle" by erecting statues or naming buildings after Reagan in every US congressional district and every country around the world.
George W. Bush carried on this fine tradition by lying us into two completely unnecessary wars and downplaying the involvement of Saudi Arabia in 9/11, even though almost all the 9/11 planners and participants were Saudis.
Instead, Bush and Cheney told us, we needed to attack Iraq — the world's second most oil-rich nation — and sell their oil off to big Republican-donor oil companies.
Bush also promoted Reagan's big lie about tax cuts, and shoveled several trillion more dollars into the money bins of the billionaire class.
Trump raised political lies to an art form, telling over 30,000 documented lies during his presidency and continuing to lie about virtually every consequential policy issue or event during and after his presidency.
He became a serious Republican presidential primary candidate, in part, because of his monstrous "birther" lie that America's first Black president was not even born in America.
The GOP's house organ, the television network owned by billionaire Republican donor Rupert Murdoch, has been pushing the lie that the Texas power grid failed because a few hundred of the state's over-10,000 windmills froze up.
Their viewers, conditioned by 40 years of Republican lies, are gullible enough to ignore the frozen nuclear plants and failing natural gas generating stations that stopped working because they were never properly winterized — and were never winterized because Texas had deregulated their power grid because the main goal of the state's largest power companies was chasing profits for their shareholders.
Texas Republicans made a deal with the devil, letting their electric utilities shovel hundreds of millions of dollars of profits into the bank accounts of their stockholders rather than putting that money into winterizing and maintaining their infrastructure…and then lied about it.
And it doesn't even seem to occur to Texans that Greenland, Iceland, and all of Northern Europe use similar windmills that have no problem at all because they keep them winterized. They're powering those countries just fine with no freeze-ups at this moment!
Although it was already widely known and accepted by scientists, and even the fossil fuel industry in the 1980s that burning fossil fuels was causing climate change, the Republican Party has lied about it steadily for all these decades.
They lied about the impact of privatizing one of the world's best public school systems, and the result is a hybrid public/profit school system in shambles all across the country.
Republican presidents pushed through "clean air" and "clean water" legislation that, in both cases, made it easier for their big corporate donors to pollute our air and water, and then lied to us about it.
They made it illegal to declare bankruptcy on student loans, creating billions in profits for banksters, and lied to us saying that massive, lifelong student debt would teach young people "individual responsibility." They even got a few Democrats to go along with them on that one, including Joe Biden.
They lied to women, saying that abortion was more dangerous than pregnancy, and then passed hundreds of laws across the country depriving women of easy, inexpensive access to birth control while funding "pregnancy crisis centers" that literally have telling lies to women as the centerpiece of their business model.
They lied to us that "guns don't kill people," and encouraged the sale of hundreds of millions of weapons, turning America into an armed camp and making us the world's only developed country regularly tortured by school massacres.
For 40 years, Republicans have lied to us that Black and brown people are engaging in massive voter fraud, and they use those lies to make it harder and harder for Black and brown people to vote.
In the last few decades, they've expanded their anti-democracy program of lies to make it harder for college students and Social Security voters to cast a ballot, as well.
Republicans lie about the cost of national healthcare systems around the world, and their gullible, deluded voters actually believe that a Medicare For All single-payer system, like Canada and pretty much every other developed country in the world has, would cost us more than what we have now, instead of the reality, which is that it would save us trillions of dollars.
Ever since Ronald Reagan stopped enforcing the anti-monopoly laws in 1983, the GOP has lied to us about the impact of destroying America's small business infrastructure, saying that putting every major American sector under the control of just four or five companies would be good for us: as a result, the average American family pays $5000 a year more than families in countries that enforce anti-trust laws like all across Europe.
Republican-appointed Supreme Court justices lied to us that they know exactly what the Founders thought and meant, as if the Founders were some sort of monolithic group (they weren't). They used this "Originalist" lie to destroy our unions, empower giant corporations, put more guns on our streets, and gut economic and voting protections for working-class people.
They lied to us that they passed "criminal justice reform," when their real mission was to change the "mens rea" provisions of criminal law to make it massively harder to prosecute or convict CEOs when they make decisions that lead to peoples' death. To solidify that lie, they let a few thousand low-level criminals out of federal prison, but millions of low-level nonviolent drug offenders still rot in state prisons across the country.
The foundational premise of our democracy is that the American people are sufficiently well-informed to make decisions for themselves, and to elect representatives who will run the country for the benefit of all people.
But when an entire political party spends two generations telling lies that exclusively benefit billionaires and giant corporations, democracy is substantially weakened.
As Americans figure out that their democracy is no longer working, they become even more vulnerable to even larger, more monstrous lies from political demagogues.
Thus, Donald Trump.
And now the GOP is doubling down on Trumpism, another word for lying as a way of life and as a strategy for politics.
The good news is that our mainstream media, after three years of trembling in the face of these lies and trying to promote "both sides," has started to call out the lies.
The bad news is that social media amplifies Republican lies at the speed of light, and the GOP, having seen how well lies have worked for 40 years and how even outrageous lies have worked for Trump, is doubling down on them with a new spate of anti-voter, anti-woman and other laws.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott openly lies to his people about the cause of their power crisis.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis openly lies to his people about the scope and details of deaths from the coronavirus…and NPR does a major segment comparing California to Florida as if Florida's Covid numbers are truthful.
Georgia Governor Brian Kemp lies to his citizens about "voter fraud" so the white power structure of his state can make it even harder for Black people to vote.
Republican lies, repeatedly told to benefit the Republican donor class of billionaires and giant corporations, are tearing America apart. And the websites and rightwing propaganda operations masquerading as news that promote these lies are today funded by a few Libertarian billionaires and some of America's largest corporations.
If our nation is to survive as a democratic republic, the lies must stop. If they're not stopped, in fact, our nation will resume the slide toward fascism that began in a big way during the Trump administration.
That means the Democratic Party has to stop playing nice and actually start using the word "lies."
Democrats need to call out the lie that tax cuts for billionaires are a good thing, and start reversing the massive tax cuts put into place by Trump, Bush, and Reagan. To do this, they must explicitly point out that we've all been lied to for 40 years.
They need to call out the lie that our privatized education and healthcare systems are among the world's best and serve us well: the fact is that both in America are the world's most expensive, and both have been crippled by Republican policies.
Democrats at the national level, including the president, must demand that Texas Republicans stop lying to, and thus killing, their own people.
The bottom line here is simple: you can either have democracy or fascism. Fascism requires lies to succeed, democracy requires the truth.
Forty years of Republican lies must be called out and repudiated, and the policies and laws based on those lies must be reversed, or America is over.
Originally posted on thomhartmann.medium.com.
The lies won't stop as long as the money flows and people go along with them rather than demand change. Consider such things as things as drug testing, which was started by Carter, and airport body scanners where Obama was aparently paid off in campaign contributions for letting stimulus money be used by an Indian company to produce these in Malaysia. It's bad enough that such things exist, it's beyond horror that Americans line up and accept such abuse. But most do like sheep while singing about being "brave" and "free."
Given how beaten down and really uncomplaining most people are about big government and big corporations, it's no surprise that many will believe big lies. This is especially true if they are devious enough to make them feel like beneficiaries. Cheney's invasion of Iraq made as much sense as if after Pearl Harbor FDR had declared war on Peru. But by appealing to the lowest common denominator of anger and fear he and Bush sold a ridiculous argument for war. In a nutshell that too was the genius of Trump, and why folks flock to mad ideas like Qanon. This won't change until they do.
Another brilliant post, Thom. Day after day. You blow us away, on the show, and with your insights, historical relevent insights and calls to action.
By now, we mostly among this community know, all too well, the level of lies that Republicans are capable of. We know that the raunchiest broadcast media the wealthy right wing ever created regularly spreads it widely to an eager crowd, ready to nod their heads, about radicals and so on, and ignore all factual basis for our society's crises.
I see and understand, just as Thom says, we have a choice now of democracy or fascism. Millions more will die, and be led to their demise, many of them never understanding how they truly came to be in their own peril.
My point is, I think, this. We have to find a way to get more people to break away from this alternate truth reality. Too many of them, are perhaps permanently removed and unreachable. But I have to believe there are more who can return to a more normal factual based way of seeing the world. The question is, truly, how?
How do we effectively combat the well funded sinister architects who are so successfully and quickly now executing this takeover of our country?
Those architects I should insist we admit, do NOT respect us. They play a game using tactics so unfair, and uncivil, we can hardly bring ourselves to strategize how to defeat them.
What can you say? 73,000,000 listened to 33,000 Trump lies in 4 years and still voted for him. The most gullible group of people in history. Trump is still saying that the Election was stolen. Just to reaffirm the idiots.
Rick Perry says Texans will be glad to endure a few days without electricity to keep the Feds out of Texas. I wonder if the ones that died agree with that?
TX Republicans are having to eat their words, blaming electrical outages on Renewables.
Citizens United - banned. I emailed, texted to everyone I knew, that this should not be approved. Yet almost everyone who was a 'Known" Republican sent back that they approved of the measure, because it would help them "beat" the Democrats. It seems that they have beaten themselves. Many live in the states that have the highest COVID rates, poor health care, low wages, some on welfare, (all are white - just saying), and some in Texas. I have had some emails saying how bad it is there today.
(will have to credit "AMBER", I am sure she would even have more to say "what" about)Abbott Blames New Green Deal??? what? Ted Cruz - Texas too cold - gone to Cancun? what?Governor Abbott ask for FEMA aid - Socialism? WHAT
Abbott - reactive not proactive - not the first snow storm and cold snap in Texas. WHAT?
Where there is a Republican, there is a disaster. Ask Texans
The combat can commence thru education. Unfortunately, it will take another generation - one that is schooled properly with facts rather than revisionism - before we see anything like quotidian analysis or just pure common sense.
Cheney, made a forturne with his Halliburton, as a single supplier of most everything for the Iraq war. My friend used to supply food items (wholesale business) to some of the suppliers for the Military. Chaney distroyed these suppliers, they all went out of business. Many lost their jobs, becasue of this. Sometimes actions have a far reaching effect, than most realize. Starbucks could not even give FREE coffee to the Military.
Bet Perry has power or maybe he is in Mexico? Where does Perry think the FEMA money comes from???? Texas has gotten A LOT of FEMA money over the years. Maybe Perry believes in the "Good Fairy?".
The Billionaires get so much in tax cuts, as Thom reported, some of them get a refund. Looks like the rest of us are the ones who pay the bills. Why isn't the Big Oil Billionaires, donating big $ for aid to Texas. Guess they don't really give a D, about Texas!!!
Cruz blamed his daughter for going on the vacation. WOW, he deserves the Dad of the year. Well we know who is the adult in that family - his daughter!!!!
During a State Emergency the Senators are the main Federal Contacts for the Governor. They coordinate with The President, FEMA and other branch's to get aid and supplies. Where was Ted Cruz during this State Emergency?
It takes less effort to believe a lie than to refute it.
One of the worst things for the Homo sapien brain (and therefore society), besides being drugged into a stupor or paralyzed by fear, is to be fed false information. That's because one of the key survival instincts is to detect accurately and then to figure out rationally what's going on in our external environments, which contain all the physical resources to avoid mortal danger and to maintain life. Once mere survival is assured, however, the brain continues its passionate search for the truth of all things, a seemingly impossible yet unstoppable quest of the human spirit.
On the other hand, a unique characteristic of the human mind is a boundless capacity for soaring imagination and great flights of fancy. After all, the brain is essentially walled off, spending most of its time thinking and daydreaming all by itself -- trapped inside a cave, completely alone in the darkness, isolated from the rest of reality. The only connection to life on Earth other than its own consciousness is by way of a fragile network of tiny nerves intricately woven throughout the body and funneled into the prison of the skull.
Probably more than any others, those twin attributes -- the obsessive search for truth and a colorful imagination -- have allowed our species to survive and thrive, evolving in great leaps and bounds to dominate the planet. But to corrupt that delicate mental balance in both individual and collective consciousness with lies, which degrades our ability to understand and respond intelligently to outward existence, is to corrupt the whole world. A quick glance at today's headlines confirms that sad fact.
So yeah, spreading lies is absolutely the worst thing for individuals, for society, for Mother Nature, for survivability, for evolution. Unless our species truly wakes up, the avoidance of truths and the acceptance of untruths will be our epitaph.
Soooo many lies, so little time! They came at us from so many directions during the last administration, I think we are still a bit dizzy. What else could you expect when a bonafide sociopath led the way? The hardest lie to digest from that time is how his cult portrayed Trump.
But as Thom pointed out, the lying has been a cornerstone of the Republican's agenda for a long time. The phrase perception is reality comes to mind. Change how someone perceives the government and TA-DA! magically the government is the problem not the answer.
Without a doubt, there are the folks who succumb to FOX and truly believe. However, I would argue it's obvious over time powerful people chose the lies and decided to expand them. Motives are also obvious: greed, hatred, inhumanity, and winning at all cost to name a few. Thank goodness for all who use the truth to educate. Thanks should go to Thom and media members for presenting the facts.
In spite of Governor Abbott being a slime-ball that takes no responsibility, the Swedes have kindly offered him a master class in operating windmills at low temps. Maybe Greta would take his call. Nah, I take that back, she doesn't suffer fools!
Texas was a Democratic stronghold until George H. W. Bush moved his political machine from CT to TX? After they took TX, they exported Jeb Bush and Rick Scott to Florida. This is how the GOP infection spread from state to state. The majority DOES NOT RULE.
Slave-owners were not the majority, but the legacy of slavery has survived to this day due to mob rule. The majority does not rule.
As President Biden is trying to tell the people, we must unite. Please stop trying to make this a red state vs blue state, POC vs white, Dem vs Rep, truth vs fiction, smart vs stupid. None of that matters when the minority rule the majority. THIS is why dictatorships win; divide the people, conquer the people and own the country.
Unite the country. Know that the red states are majority Democrats who have been lied to for decades and are now captured by the fascists attempting to overthrow democracy.
The wealthy are the corporations and they have no feelings, exactly like corporations. They stopped caring about social responsibility years ago as they began to rob the workers of their pensions, their right to unions, their healthcare, their benefits, their wages, their political voices, their right to privacy, their right to free speech.
Corporations own politicians and have inserted themselves into every part of government. The public/private partnerships is the 21st century trickle-down economics.
Educate and unite the people. We can do it if we work together. Do not divide us into red/blue, north/south, Dem/Rep. We're all people being ruled by the minority. We all want our country back.
#11. Interesting first link. I have to disagree with a few of its places. The second link seemed to risky to open.
Kind of fun watching the Republican Party melt down. Trump will not talk to Nikki Haley. Ted Cruz vacations in Cancun during a State Emergency. Mitch McConnel torches Trump and Trump torches back. Ron Johnson acts like the Insurrection was a tea party (no pun intended) event. Texas Republicans cannot get their foot out of their mouth, and the common folk start to realize that they have been taken.
#11: Thanks for both of those links. The second link is especially nice for its daily updates and its daily pick of a source to report on.
This song from the 70's which references Texas and their (conservatives) disdain for smart energy decisions is pretty ironic now. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bADTlEo0Y30
Of those two media-bias sites, the first one, Media Bias Chart, gives a general picture of the landscape and is useful for cross-checking stories but shouldn't preclude following the reporting from news platforms considered more politically biased (who isn't?) than others -- as long as their individual contributors stick to the facts and link to their sources. I, too, disagree with some of their placements. The second one, Media Bias/Fact Check goes into more detail and rates even more news organizations as they gain popularity but is still only a general guideline.
I'm convinced that in this day and age of information overload the key to chasing down the veracity of reporting on any particular story is to multiple-source, figuring out who to trust. Therein lies the rub. With hundreds if not thousands of news outlets to choose from, that is no small task. But the good ones are out there, plugging away every day with professional journalism, trying to get the truth out. It also helps to peruse original sourcing such as government and university studies, scientific reports, and the first-hand work of dedicated investigative journalists. And of course, nothing beats reading good old-fashioned books.
Snopes.com, FackCheck.org, Politifact, SourceWatch, Press Watch, OpenSecrets, Pew Research Center, The Bureau of Investigative Journalism, The Cook Political Report, History News Network are some of the better fact-checking sites. Media Matters for America, even though it's rated on the left side of the scale, has high factual reporting, as do many other outfits that may be rated with a certain degree of "bias" overall. Democracy Now with Amy Goodman covers stories in-depth that the mainstream media glosses over or ignores. Thom Hartmann is another truthteller with a lifelong commitment to sharing factual history as it relates to current events. (But we already knew that.) It drives the right-wing totally nuts, but the MSNBC lineup also has highly factual reporting despite leaning Democratic -- or maybe because they do lean Democratic. };--))
For climate science, the IPCC is a quality source. The Skeptics Guide to the Universe is a great podcast hosted by scientists and doctors. Thank god, there are many excellent sources for science available at our fingertips. Yesterday, it was absolutely fascinating watching the team at NASA land Perseverance and talk about their upcoming Mar's missions -- a nice respite from planet Earth politics. Their "Marscopter" Ingenuity will no doubt be a big hit with kids, who are the future.
It's impossible to list them all here (information overload), but there are so many places to find high-quality news in the internet age that there is simply no excuse for believing lies and conspiracy theories unless you want to. Even though "a lie can travel halfway around the world before the truth can get its boots on," in the long run, "the truth is out there, Scully." It may get lost in the blizzard of slanted journalism, but it's still there, standing strong, when all the lies finally melt away.
I'm really more in line with the last lines of your second paragraph, deepspace.
Instead of jumping at every hour's latest story-event, I'm more of a reader of
more indepth discussions. So, I'll read Jacobin (lifetime subscriber), or
In These Times, or The Nation and get books from publishers like Verso
or Haymarket Books. Today was the 25th Anniversary day of Democracy Now.
"Men's opinions are not such things as we imagine. It is generally said nowadays that all opinions are right, and if a man shall honestly hold his convictions, he is, without doubt, right. Not so; truth is not changed by our opinions; a thing is either true or false of itself, and it is neither made true nor false by our views of it. It is for us, therefore, to judge carefully, and not to think that any opinion will do."--Charles Spurgeon, circa 1835
Thank you Tom! You know about the various fact-check groups out there. Now if we could unify those fact checkers under an independent watchdog group headed by respected authorities, and then streamline the process so that a timely vetting process would be able to provide a quick and robust truth-counterweight to the information highway, this would begin to undo the damage that's been done. Restoring public confidence in the truth is our first and foremost task, and I agree with you that truth-telling is long overdue on a number of fronts--the future of our democracy depends on a rapid response to this issue.
There has been class warfare for as long as there have been white European settlers on this continent but it is not politically correct to speak of it. By pitting dumb whites against people of color the elites continue to control the economy and the government. The illusion is that this nation has ever been a democracy. When a progressive threatens the elites as with Henry Wallace the VP under FDR, or a Bernie Sanders today, the power brokers work to insure that these men cannot hold national office and alter the balance of power.
To me the replacing of Henry Wallace with Harry Truman in 1944 signaled a return to business as usual. Congress forcing through the Taft-Hartley Act to cripple the unions was the next nail in the coffin.
I have long thought about the type of people who have fled their native countries to come to America and how often it was the most self-reliant and determined. I now think it is time for Americans to seriously consider emigrating to progressive countries.
Too many confuse predatory Capitalism, with some kind of freedom, and often times Democracy? Texas is a great example.
By most accounts, and testimony from HHS Heckler, and C. McClain Haddow, Jeb played a part in stealing money from HUD and Medicare in Florida. Of course he was exhonorated, and was elected the Goveno of Florida! What were they thinking????
Republicans notoriously, do not take responsibility that their position requires.
Freedom without responsibility, is tyranny – or maybe another disaster.
There is absolutely no organic reason that this country should be in the disastrous state it is in. It is mostly the fact that the voting public bites on the PR of the Republican party, and makes the wrong choice for their own wellbeing, and therefore also the wellbeing for the country overall.
Your guest Greg Palace was uninformed retlated to the power interuptions in Texas. Although, reliability regions are interconnected, there is insufficent transmission interconnection to tranmit the power demand which occurred in Texas as a result of the loss of generation. Florida is only has a couple of transmission interconnections to the North. The major load centers are in the South Florida and therefore the power stations. The transmission interconnects are not designed to carry 100% of the demand to another region. Additionally, if Texas had typical transmission interconnects and Texas began to lose generation and did not shed load, the interconnects would have tripped due isolate the disruption to prevent to voltage sags impacting neighboring regions. The solution? You can build infrastructure for every contingency but no one could pay the bill. This is not a Dem or Rep issue rather individual preparedness. A prepared individual would have isolated their water at the street and drained their pipes, filled tubs in advance for flush water, bought some sternos or gas for the grills. We have become soft and dependent on others/government to live our lives. The same tool people use to follow politicians, movie stars and post stupid things provides all the information a person could use and have been relatively unaffected by the weather event.
CrAZY talk from #24 (if you can actually decipher what is being said).
Palast was exactly right about the circumstances leading up to this disaster -
and we're talking about decades, not days. The irony of this overarching
screed of #24 is that it is precisely this mental state that obliges us to rely
on the goodness of proper government action. Government often exists
in order to protect us from ourselves - especially from bimbo idiots who
probably feel that our neighbors to the north (Oklahoma) should have all
been "prepared individual(s)" who built tornado-proof homes. A pox on idiots
like this when they have an emergency situation that was thrust on them.
Quite the coincidence that Rush just passed away. Propably responsible for promoting more of the damn lies then anyone.