It's a scary world out there, by BGLewandowski at Flickr.com

Damn, there must be some rather intimidating progressive legislation in the congressional pipeline as my email box is getting filled with right-wing crap again. Today’s email contained a forwarded lengthy diatribe with an itemized list of ZOMG!!! really super-bad things!!!TM the original author claimed were embedded in the health care reform legislation.

And some well-meaning friend had forwarded it along to someone else, who recognized it as nasty right-wing smear tactics and figured I’d know what to do with it.

Get me some gloves and one of those scented dog-poo disposal baggies, stat…

The email forwarded to me contained misinformation culled from DefendYourHealthCare.US — a website registered to Betsey McCaughey.

(Type in the domain name to see for yourself at http://www.networksolutions.com/whois/index.jsp; Betsy did a little no-no by leaving virtually nothing in the info fields except her name and a short-term email address in the registration and some fake info in other fields. Barring any other reason for the weird gaps and pointedly wrong info, one might think she’s apparently too cheap to pay for the private registration service.)

This isn’t Betsy’s first time at bat against health care reform; as you can see from Joe Conason’s article, "Will Bill and Betsy Kill Again?" at Salon.com, she was at it in 1994 against the Clintons’ attempt to reform health care.

Betsy is a member of the right-wing welfare brigade. In other words, she’s a paid shill who poses as a credentialed mouthpiece for right-wing think tanks like the Hudson Institute and the Heritage Foundation, which in turn are supported by hardcore corporatists like Richard Scaife, the Coors and DeVos families, Steve Forbes and many other uber-conservatives. We’ve seen many like her before, spreading their sponsors’ propaganda while wielding their advanced degrees and titles and honorifics like a shield, then collecting right-wing welfare. (If you go to SourceWatch.org and use "pundit payola" in the search field, you’ll find similar specimens of shills who spout right-wing propaganda for pay, some even paid with your tax dollars.)

Some people will point to Betsy’s advanced degree — her profile in Wikipedia says she’s got a doctorate in history — but the people who do this are generally impressed by this kind of stuff and don’t actually vet the degree or the school to determine if the person is really qualified to speak about the subject they’ve been selected to cover.

In Betsy’s case, a doctorate in history hardly makes her qualified to talk about health care, unless she’s going to elaborate about the relative benefits of an herbal decoction of hemlock imparted to Socrates in ancient Greece. What a cheap and efficient cure for political dissent, that hemlock…

Here’s another really fun bit from her unofficial curriculum vitae: she once was a served as a lending officer in the Food, Beverage, and Tobacco Division of Chase Manhattan Bank. Boy, doesn’t that make her qualified on the topic of health care reform?

Chances are very good that Betsy is being paid by corporatists to promote astro-turf and carpet bombing with negative emails. It’s the modus operandi of FreedomWorks, a group which has been discussed here at FDL with regard to its organizing efforts against health care reform.

You’ll see the very same kind of negative emails coming from so-called Christian values groups like the American Family Association, too; I’ve gotten at least a half dozen emails from them in the last two weeks with very similar rant-y content in them billed either as news or as action items.

Funny, they also ask for tax-free donations to their 501(c)3 charitable organization while failing to mention what Jesus would do when it came to health care reform (Gee, would Jesus support health care for everyone, or only for the wealthy? what would Jesus do?).

With this in mind, we need to realize that one of the very best fundraising tools these folks have is fearmongering. That’s why there has been so much scary hype and utter bullsh*t claiming the public option will not only fund and make abortions mandatory, but that the public option will also euthanize the elderly. Of course this is total and complete horse hockey; the public option health care system currently available — the one called "Medicare" — actually extends the life of elderly Americans who might not otherwise have any health care in their declining years.

(It’d be nice if every American could be assured of the same care, you know?)

But elderly folks who get this kind of scary stuff in their email from well-intentioned but poorly informed friends are only too willing to whip open their wallets out of terror and donate to these folks to stave off what they unwittingly believe is impending death-by-health-care-reform.

The ugly negative email is a pretty common play from the right-wing playbook, the one that supports corporations but not people. The originators count on readers who get the email to accept what’s written in them on blind faith (i.e.,"Well I got it in email from a friend, it must be true!!"). They also assume the average American won’t bother to read the actual bill or call their representative’s office with questions.

Ask your friends and family members to watch for this crap in their email from Betsy and her many corporate-supported friends and be prepared to push back, but hard.

Oh, and do read the Wikipedia entry about Betsy; while one should always take Wikipedia with a grain of salt, her entry still makes for enlightening reading.

Photo: It’s a scary world out there, by BGLewandowski at Flickr.com

Rayne

Rayne

Blogger since 2002, political activist since 2003, FDL community member since 2005, geek since birth.

Fan of science and technology, wannabe artist, decent cook, successful troublemaker and purveyor of challenging memetics whose genetics may be only nominally better.

Assistant Editor at Firedoglake and Editor at The Seminal.

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