Government by extortion |

Government by extortion

My Oct. 9 column discussed voters who get their information from Fox News and internet emails. These sources of information, notoriously deficient in facts, lead these voters to make poor, nonreality based decisions. Ironically, a Letter to the Editor that same day illustrated this principle perfectly.

The letter writer claimed that several mass shooters were Democrats. He quoted almost verbatim from an email that has been debunked several times. Here are some of the claims and the actual facts.

The email says that John Hinckley (who shot President Reagan), Seung-Hui Cho (Virginia Tech), James Holmes (Aurora, Colo.), Adam Lanza (Sandy Hook), and Jared Loughner (Tucson) were all registered Democrats. In reality, no facts back up that claim.

John Hinckley, who wasn’t registered, stalked President Carter before he shot Reagan, so he was bi-partisan. Seung-Hui Cho was a resident alien, so he couldn’t register to vote. James Holmes wasn’t registered to vote. Adam Lanza’s mother was registered Republican; Adam’s registration, if he was registered, is unknown. Jared Loughner was registered Independent.

In contrast, we know that many mass shooters have been white supremacists or right-wing fanatics. Space allows just a few examples, but check these out: Buford O. Furrow, Jr., 1999, Granada Hills, Calif.; Jim David Atkinsson, 2008, Knoxville, Tenn.; Keith Luke, 2009, Brockton, Mass.

Richard Popalowski, 2009, Pittsburgh; James W. von Brunn, 2009, Washington, D.C.; Joe and Jerry Kane, 2010, West Memphis, Ark.; Wade Michael Page, 2012, Oak Creek, Wis. All these killers were white supremacists, many with expressed hatred toward Democrats. So why would anyone believe most mass shooters are Democrats? Because it’s easier to swallow someone’s rant than to check the facts.

My point is not that most mass shooters are right-wing crazies. My point is that information from Fox and the internet is often completely wrong. Republicans and Fox commentators are telling their followers that the recent government shutdown was President Obama’s fault. What is even worse, some of these so-called leaders didn’t seem to realize a “government shutdown” meant that government shuts down! What did they think “government shutdown” meant? Didn’t they realize it meant shutting down the government, even the parts they like?

Speaker of the House John Boehner, R-Ohio, had no clue how to fix this mess. He had several talks with the president, with no results. Boehner said he wanted Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., to agree to the Republican budget. Reid and the Democrats did agree, even though the Republican budget is a disaster. Boehner said he wanted Obamacare repealed or defunded, knowing that wouldn’t happen. The Supreme Court and the last election validated Obamacare. But Republicans still refused to budge.

Finally, they didn’t even know what they wanted except to make Obama look bad. Rep. Marlin Stutzman, R-Ind., said, “We have to get something out of this. And I don’t know what that even is.” The same was true of most of these Republicans. They didn’t understand the consequences, and they didn’t care. They live in a nonreality based universe.

Suppose I am your neighbor, and we have a disagreement over who should pay for something in our neighborhood. I come to you and say, “I want to resolve this, so pay me $100,000 or I will burn your house down.”

You say no.

Then I say, “Okay, I will give you three days to get the money together and then I burn your house down.”

You again say no.

Then I say, “Since you are being so stubborn, I will reduce the amount to $95,000. If I don’t get that, I will burn your house down.”

After you refuse again, I say, “I tried to negotiate and compromise with you. I gave you three plans and you rejected them all. I am now going to burn your house down, and it’s all your fault. You wouldn’t even talk about it.” Then I burn your house down. This is what Republicans call “negotiating.” In law enforcement circles, it’s called “extortion.”

If the president had given in to Republicans, then elections would mean nothing. Democrats could pull this stunt too, shutting down the government if they don’t get their way on immigration reform, or background checks, or any other issue. Government by extortion is not democracy. It is criminal. If Republicans had succeeded, we really would have seen the end of the great experiment we call the United States of America. We would have government of chaos and by chaos, and the country we love may never have recovered.

Jeanette Strong’s column appears every other week.