Fear mongering for fun and profit
November 4, 2014
The election is over. I hope people voted based on facts. Under President Obama, deficits are shrinking, millions of jobs have been created, millions of formerly uninsured people have health insurance and gas prices are dropping.
Republicans have nothing to offer in these areas, so they have to rely on fear. Enter Ebola and ISIS.
Republicans insist that Ebola and ISIS are coming to kill us. Sen. Lindsay Graham, R-S.C., said, regarding ISIS, "This president needs to rise to the occasion before we all get killed back here at home." No hyperbole there.
A recent column by Michael Reagan said, "Instead of training me for a new job, Mr. Obama, train me to use a gun." He claimed that arming Americans would protect us against terrorist attacks. He even used the example of Israel as a way to train citizens. He is apparently unaware that Israel has very strict laws about who can buy a weapon, and the purchaser actually has to know how to use the weapon, just as in Switzerland.
What Reagan failed to explain is how guns would have protected those in Oklahoma City on April 19, 1995, or those in the World Trade Center and Pentagon on Sept. 11, 2001. Reagan asserts the administration is spreading fear, but by making these nonsense claims, Reagan is doing nothing but spreading fear himself, part of the Republican playbook.
Republicans have also criticized the administration's response to Ebola. Several have called for an Ebola czar, saying there should be one person coordinating the response. The person who should be in charge is the Surgeon General, the head of the U.S. Public Health Service.
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Unfortunately, we don't have a Surgeon General at this time. Obama nominated a fully qualified man, Dr. Vivek Murthy, but the Senate couldn't confirm him because he once tweeted that "Guns are a health care issue." The NRA took exception to this, said "No" to this appointee, and Republicans, including Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., bowed down to their overlords and refused to confirm him. Obama had to appoint someone to oversee this current crisis because Republicans blocked the person whose job this should be.
Under President George W. Bush, 2,977 people died on 9/11, and 1,833 died in Hurricane Katrina, many after the hurricane had passed. To Republicans, none of the blame lies with Bush. It was all the Democratic governor and the Democratic mayor's fault.
In contrast, one person has died of Ebola in Texas. Do Republicans blame the Republican governor? Of course not. They blame the Democratic president even though the Dallas hospital botched the situation from the beginning, it's all Obama's fault. One person dead from Ebola. Under Bush, 4,810 dead due to FEMA's incompetence and Bush's disregard for national intelligence. Which is scarier?
Republicans also claim that our border is so porous that terrorists can enter and spread Ebola to Americans. In 2012, there were 21,790 border patrol agents, 10 percent more than in 2008. In 1993, there were 4000. The incoming cases of Ebola haven't been from the border but from airline passengers, so some ignorant folks have proposed a travel ban from the Ebola-infected countries. Since there are no direct flights from those countries, we'd have to ban travel from every country where Ebola might appear. We might as well shut down our economy for good.
Republicans want to cripple and belittle the government with budget cuts and insults, but when a real crisis arises, they want government to be fully functioning, efficient, trained, etc. A recent report said if the CDC budget hadn't been cut, we might already have a vaccine for Ebola. Republicans keep saying, "I'm not a scientist…" and yet, somehow, they feel qualified to make decisions concerning Ebola.
How prepared are we in Nevada? Quite well, according to Dr. Joe Iser, chief health officer for the Southern Nevada Health District. A recent incident, which turned out to be a false alarm, demonstrated that the equipment and training are working. Nevadans, including everyone in Fallon, can remain calm.
ISIS hasn't killed anyone in America. One person in America has died from Ebola; several have recovered. In 2010, 53,826 Americans died from influenza and pneumonia. In 2013, 32,351 died from firearms. We don't quarantine everyone who gets the flu or owns a gun. We don't see Fox News and Republicans whipping people into a frenzy over these issues.
Apparently, American deaths aren't the actual issue. The only issue seems to be, how much can we scare the American people?
Jeanette Strong, whose column appears every other week, is a Nevada Press Association award-winning columnist. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.