I hope you will indulge me for promoting my new book, Antidote to Fact-Free Politics: Debunking the Falsehoods, Fabrications and Distortions Told by Conservatives and Perpetuated by the Media. It’s a culmination of months of research into the partisan lies that are unchallenged by the media, and repeated so often that they have become accepted as true.
The new book addresses 159 of these lies (I could easily have covered hundreds more) and refutes them with facts drawn almost entirely from government and nonpartisan sources. In fact, of the book’s 566 pages, 43 of them are devoted to references. Following is an excerpt taken from the Foreword that may better explain the book’s purpose:
“Why were Democrats unable to leverage the Bush failures and the resulting Great Recession into a majority that lasted at least through two terms of the Obama presidency?
Republicans would have you believe that it is because President Obama was a failure – the worst president in US history. They claimed that the President and a compliant Democratic-controlled Congress were leading the US down a path toward oblivion. Yet, by every objective measure, based on studies by world-renowned economists, the Obama administration was wildly successful in steering the economy back onto firm footing even as much of the world continued to struggle.
Certainly, the Democratic National Committee has to assume some responsibility for the GOP’s resilience. It has failed to create a brand message that clearly and succinctly states the Democratic Party’s core beliefs. As a result, it has had difficulty communicating with voters, and it has been unable to unite the diverse groups and interests that comprise its membership. In fact, the Party seems to foolishly pride itself on living up to the long-ago quote by humorist Will Rogers, “I’m not a member of any organized political party. I’m a Democrat.”
But the lack of branding, alone, does not explain what has happened in recent years. The truth of the matter is that Republicans have a number of structural advantages, including financial support from billionaires and many of the world’s largest corporations. They have an impressive number of litigation-minded “think tanks” determined to shape policy. Until recently, they enjoyed a majority in the US Supreme Court. They benefit from a network of media outlets that allow them to dominate media and control the message. In addition, over the past several decades, they have focused on building an advantage at the state and local level through gerrymandering and the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a group that writes legislation on behalf of corporate sponsors, peddling it to its many conservative legislative members.
In January of 2009, on the very day that President Obama was being sworn into office, Republicans began exploiting all of these advantages in their attempts to undermine the new president and the newly-elected Democratic Congress. Republican congressional leaders agreed to block and filibuster every Democratic initiative in order to make Barack Obama a one-term president. In doing so, they rendered Congress gridlocked and led voters to believe that Democrats were ineffectual.
At the same time, Republican representatives and former Bush officials flooded Sunday morning news shows to peddle a combination of distortions, fabrications and lies – lies that were seldom challenged by the shows’ moderators. The pundits on Fox News Channel repeated the same lies and more. They questioned the President’s birthplace, his religion and his patriotism, not to mention his policies. Talk radio, which has long been dominated by rightwing radio hosts, did the same, often going much farther. They called him a fascist, a socialist, a communist, even a racist. The rightwing blogosphere was worse, offering “proof” that the President was a Muslim interloper determined to destroy the US.
The performance by this combination of ideological zealots, demagogues and cynical opportunists would have made Richard Nixon and his “plumbers” of Watergate fame proud. And it has worked.
In this book, I strive to expose the lies. In doing so, I have relied on a combination of government reports, fact-checking organizations, peer-reviewed academic studies, investigative news reports and government statistics. Bear in mind that Republicans have also used statistics to bolster their narrative. But how you parse the numbers matters. For example, if you judge the Obama administration’s economic policies based on spending and unemployment numbers from the day President Obama took office, you would conclude that he has overspent and underperformed. In fact, that’s what his opponents want you to do. But if you consider what he inherited and the difficulties he faced – a failed economy, high unemployment and a Middle East embroiled in war – and then adjust the numbers accordingly, you will see quite a different picture.”
The book covers a wide range of subject matter ranging from lies about African-Americans to lies about war, and virtually everything in between. If you care about the future of our nation, indeed the future of our planet, I hope you will check it out.