It isn’t crime that defeats a democracy, it is the lack of getting the facts right.
Today, the country is on the verge of becoming a demo-crazy instead of being a democracy. So many people on both sides are spreading rumors and crazy theories because it supports their position. These irresponsible acts are picked up on the web and before you can find the source to check the facts, the tall tales get moving as fast as electrons can move email.
The latest is a claim by Michelle Bachmann, a conservative and Tea Party favorite. Anderson Cooper, CNN reporter and news show host, asked Bachmann how she would cut the budget. Instead of answering the question directly, she said, “I think we know that just within a day or so the president of the United States will be taking a trip over to India that is expected to cost the taxpayers $200 million a day. He’s taking 2,000 people with him. He’ll be renting over 870 rooms in India, and these are five-star hotel rooms at the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel. This is the kind of over-the-top spending.”
That sounded just a little too good to Bachmann to check the facts. It helped her get attention off what she would cut and supported her position that the Democrats and the President are just tax and spend people.
Rush Limbaugh starting talking about the cost. He said on his show, “in two days from now, he’ll be in India at $200 million a day.” Glenn Beck, not to be out done by just repeating rumors needed to embellish. It turns out to be a “vacation” for Obama that included warships, aircraft carriers, 3,000 people and one tenth of the U.S. Navy. Note that Bachmann said it was with 2,000 people. Wonder were the other 1,000 people came from?
Cooper thought that he should check on this little piece of information. Any responsible reporter should check the facts, especially one as big as this one. It does have to be asked why a representative of the United States congress didn’t ask the same questions before talking about them?
What Cooper found out is a little different then the story making the rounds. The short of it is, the story comes from an unnamed alleged Indian official from Maharashtra (a state in India) talking about the cost of the entire Asian trip by the American President. Now that is a great source.
The Pentagon press secretary, Geoff Morrell is quoted as saying to Cooper, “I will take the liberty this time of dismissing as absolutely absurd, this notion that somehow we were deploying 10 percent of the Navy and some 34 ships and an aircraft carrier in support of the president’s trip to Asia. That’s just comical. Nothing close to that is being done.” He went on to say that the entire war in Afghanistan is costing $190 million dollars a day.
Robert Gibbs, the White House secretary said that for security reasons, they don’t make detailed comments about travel plans and arrangements for the President. But, he did say that, “I am not going to go into how much it costs to protect the president, [but this trip] is comparable to when President Clinton and when President Bush traveled abroad. This trip doesn’t cost $200 million a day.” Trips by Bush and Clinton of similar size to similar destinations cost only about $5.2 million per day, inflation adjusted.
Every day we all need to make decisions about our government and the people that we elect to help operate it. Our decisions are based on the information we are provided. If we have bad information, we will always make bad decisions.
If that bad information comes from people that we place trust in, if they only repeat rumors and stories that sound too good to check, there is no hope, we will be a demo-crazy