In the closing sentence of yesterday's post, "10 Crazy Things The Right Did This Week," we noted that, "The Conservatives and their spokesman would seem entertaining to the average Martian on his first visit here if it wasn't for the horrific aftereffects of such comments: the belief instilled not only in their Sheeplets that they are telling the truth, but also the belief of the average uninformed voter in the Conservatives' lies after the media and think tanks get through with them," and today's reprint of Robert Sobel's piece in the Examiner, "Misinformed USA: Why average Americans vote for Republicans," tells us why we should never believe, nay - even read - anything from the Conservative "think tanks" such as the Cato Institute and the Heritage Foundation."
"It's not to say that Fox News, the Cato Institute and others like them totally lie because that would be too difficult to pull off. What these think tanks do, is take a fact and twist it to fit their own personal agenda, leaving out key information that would contradict with the platform they're trying to create.""One can only wonder why average working class Americans would vote for a party that is so obvious in their bias towards the wealthy. It would make sense that someone in the top 1% of the income bracket would vote for the Republican party since they have the wealthiest American's best interest at heart. You could even make the case that highly religious Christians would vote for Republicans even though, at times, they vote against their own best economic interests. So the question remains, while scratching your head, why do working class Americans vote for Republican candidates?
"Whether it's Bill O'Reilly, Sean Hannity or other right wing ideologues, Fox News is a tunnel vision information outlet with only one particular agenda that is being pushed through. Millions of Americans watch Fox News, listen to the likes of Rush Limbaugh, Neal Boortz, Michael Savage and others while getting information from right wing think tanks like the Heritage Foundation and the Cato Institute. With big businesses and billionaire allies, the truth and facts in American have gone from a clear right and wrong, black and white situation to muffled shades of gray. It's not to say that Fox News, the Cato Institute and others like them totally lie because that would be too difficult to pull off. What these think tanks do, is take a fact and twist it to fit their own personal agenda, leaving out key information that would contradict with the platform they're trying to create.
"A perfect example in describing the way groups like the Cato Institute operate is a report that came out by alternet.org. In the early 2000s, the Cato Institute released a report that suggested that families receiving welfare were making between $17,000 and $25,000 a year, but the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities countered that claim. The Center for Budget and Policy Priorities showed that the average income for welfare recipients was below $9,000 a year, which is nearly $3,000 a year below the poverty line.
The misinformation also comes from another right wing think tank, the Heritage Foundation. In 2011, when Paul Ryan released the 'Ryan' Republican budget, the Heritage Foundation claimed that unemployment would drop to 6.4% in 2012 and to 2.8% in 2022. A report released by theWashington Monthly pointed out that these claims were extremely exaggerated. The CBO, the Congressional Budget Office, showed the errors of the Heritage Foundation's report and the director of the Heritage Foundation's Center for Data Analysis, William Beach, was forced to walk backed the claims.
"In 2009, the Heritage Foundation released ads attacking the Employee Free Choice Act, a bill that was brought to congress that would give all employees the right to form a union without fear of being fired from their current job. Since the Heritage Foundation is bought and paid for by million and billionaire conservatives, the idea of having workers unite with more power and freedom threatens their control at the top. The ads released painted a false picture about the Employee Free Choice Act, claiming that unions will bully workers into joining them with an attempt to take money from the employee. According to the Huffington Post, the Heritage Foundation 'frame(s) the EFCA issue based on bald-faced lies. Business-financed "think tanks" like Heritage propagandize workers against their own interests in psychologically sophisticated ways, often pulling on their heartstrings and framing their anti-union stance as "common sense."
"Average Americans need to be more informed about what is going in the country, but also where to get their information. The argument isn't about holding a liberal or conservative ideology, it's about facts that are based on truth or information that is based on twisted logic. Americans need to learn to dig a little deeper to find honest reporting, not just believe something that falls in their lap at the expense of a billionaire funded think tank or news organization."
This piece would seem to be a bit elementary for many readers, and note that even in an unbiased description of think tanks -- Wikipedia's entry: "In some cases, corporate interests have found it useful to create 'think tanks.' For example, The Advancement of Sound Science Coalition was formed in the mid-1990s to dispute research finding an association between second-hand smoke and cancer. According to an internal memorandum from Philip Morris Companies referring to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), 'the credibility of the EPA is defeatable, but not on the basis of ETS (environmental tobacco smoke) alone. It must be part of a larger mosaic that concentrates all the EPA's enemies against it at one time.'
"According to the Fairness and Accuracy in Media, right-wing policy institutes are often quoted and rarely identified as such. The result is that think tank "experts" are allegedly sometimes depicted as neutral sources without any ideological predispositions when, in fact, they represent a particular perspective. In the field of education, think tank publications are subjected to expert review by the National Education Policy Center's 'Think Twice' think tank review project.
"A policy institute is often a 'tank', in the intellectual sense: discussion only in a sheltered group protected from outside influence isolates the participants, subjects them to several cognitive biases (groupthink, confirmation bias) and fosters members' existing beliefs. This results in surprisingly radical and even unfeasible ideas being published..."
Note that, "right-wing policy institutes are often quoted and rarely identified as such. The result is that think tank 'experts' are allegedly sometimes depicted as neutral sources without any ideological predispositions when, in fact, they represent a particular perspective."
For a list of Conservative propaganda mills masquerading as "think tanks," such as the Americans for Tax Reform, the Cato Institute, the Kemp Foundation and the American Action Network, go here --> http://think-tanks.findthedata.org/d/t/Conservative. If you see a study by any of them, don't even bother reading it...
Conservative capos were even startled by the obvious bias in a "study" published earlier this year, a flawed piece that a even a middle school student would have been able to find false -- not just misleading, but false (http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/right-turn/wp/2013/05/06/conservative-leaders-slam-heritage-for-shoddy-immmigration-study/). And there's some fantastic irony here as the Cato analysis "...found that immigration reform would add $1.5 trillion in growth over ten years while forcing out 11 million immigrants (the Heritage solution) would lower GDP by $2.6 trillion over ten years," thus putting immigration reactionaries out of business temporarily until they can drum up another "study."
Like all of the Conservative propagandists on the airwaves, the Limbaughs and the O'Reillys, Conservative activist groups calling themselves objective should be an object of scorn, not respect. Their aims are exactly the same: to rid the country of the democratic principals that the Founding Fathers started, and putting a new American feudal system in its place.
"It is dangerous to be sincere unless you are also stupid."
George Bernard Shaw