Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Lying Dogs Will Put You to Sleep

     In the previous article, More Than One Way for a Dog to Lie, we began examining the Bipartisan Report and showing how they intentionally inflame and misinform readers with propaganda.  Here, we finish our examination of how propaganda puts one's reasoning faculties to sleep and then offer some tips to prevent your mind from being euthanized by garbage media.

BREAKING: House Appropriations Committee Relinquishes Trump Of Wartime Power i

     This Bipartisan Report story begins with the statement that “Trump’s power to wage war in the Middle East is being ripped away from him, and it’s safe to say Trump’s fragile ego is taking quite the pounding Thursday morning. ii”  If that happened, then it is an unquestionably harsh rebuke for Trump.   Apparently, it did happen because a few paragraphs later the article states that “as of Thursday, Trump no longer has the authority to wage war without a determination process with actual members of government.”    Wow, we can’t wait to see the tweets about this!

     Make no mistake, if the House and Senate have agreed to limit Trump’s wartime powers as commander-in-chief, then he has lost an incredible amount of support in Congress.  If we read the tea leaves to divine and foresee what this means in other areas of politics, it is safe to assume that his support in Congress is dropping like a hot rock.  Of course, his loyalists surely attempted to block that bill, so it had to pass the Senate with 60 votes.   Also, to even get enough Republicans, who are still drunk from their tea party, to approve this bill might have been an even bigger hurdle.  We also know that the president would never approve this.  That means this bill passed with a veto-proof majority of 2/3 in each chamber.  This wasn’t just a slap in the face; it was a hair-pulling pimp-slap to the president.  If his support in Congress has dropped this far, then we should certainly expect to see congressional hearings accelerate and should be hearing talk of impeachment from even moderate Republicans.  First, though, where was all the coverage of those things when they happened?

     The reason we did not see that explosive news coverage is because, in the very next paragraph of this fake propaganda piece, Bipartisan Report does a 180° turnaround and states what actually happened: the House Appropriations Committee approved an amendment to revoke the Authorization to Use Military Force (AUMF) in a bill that is under discussion in that committee.  If the writers at Bipartisan Report ever read this blog post, then I really hope they review some basic civics iii.

     They forgot to mention that the bill must actually be voted out of committee before it can be approved by the House, and that, once approved by the House, it goes before the Senate. Neither chamber has voted on this bill yet. They also forgot to mention that Trump would either have to sign the bill before it became law or both houses of Congress would have to override his veto with a 2/3 majority in each chamber.  They also conveniently forgot to mention that the Congresslady who proposed the amendment is also the only current member of Congress that didn’t support the original AUMF under President Bush 15 years ago.

To help the Bipartisan Report review grade-school-level civics.

     Bipartisan Report’s propaganda headline says that Congress “relinquishes” the president’s power 1.  Using the present tense here implies something pretty immediate.  Even if this measure were approved by both houses, it would be vetoed and then have to be passed by both houses again by at least a 2/3 vote in both houses.  That would take at least a week or two if Congress were determined and saw it as a major issue.  The amendment itself, shown in the Bipartisan Report article, says that it does not go into effect until 8 months after it is made law.  Consider all the stupid and damaging things that Trump has done in the 6 months that he has been in office so far.  He could still start a war through his incompetence in the 8-month timespan that he would have left under this bill.  

     (If this bill were actually passed over his veto, however, we would expect that his military advisors would be extremely reluctant to engage ISIS militarily during that 8 months unless they had prior approval from Congress.  But, then again, Trump does not seem to heed advice from others.  So, in effect, there might be an actual immediate effect, if the bill were actually passed.  This is nothing more than arguing a counterfactual: saying, if this happened, then that would happen.  That is not what this article purports to do, however.)

     We hope that the reader noticed that in this final propaganda article from Bipartisan Report, we did not even have to go to another source to attempt to verify the accuracy of the report 2.  The article contradicts itself multiple times.  It also shows an appalling lack of understanding of basic civics.  What is likely to happen to people who don’t read this carefully or who may have forgotten some of the details of our legislative process since they were in school?  Shouldn’t we expect an organization that presents itself as a political news organization to have a grasp of basic civics?

Do you seriously want to let your personal credibility hang on information from a blatant propaganda site?

     As we reported in the Elephant in the Mind, the brain does not have a delete key to automatically remove bad information.  Even if we discover later that the information is bad, a brain first has to process “information” before it can process “NOT information.”  This means that Bipartisan Report’s false propaganda will stay in the brain even after one learns that it is bad information.  As time goes on, one may not be able to reliably recall whether the information is true or not.  If a person thought it was true for a significant time before they learned it was false, then the likelihood of misremembering as time goes on increases.  That means the likelihood of arguing based on falsehoods and making oneself look like an idiot increases multiple times.

     For people that do not scrutinize the article closely 3, they could reasonably conclude that Trump’s support in Congress has become a razor-thin sheet of ice that he may fall through at any moment.  It is then rational to conclude that the intensity of investigations concerning Russian collusion must be intensifying and that we should expect even Republican Congressfolk to begin talking openly about impeachment.  Then, when another month or two go by and investigations remain at their seemingly slow pace and no Republicans call for Trump’s impeachment, what happens?  They will likely become even more angry and frustrated than they are by reading the inflaming rhetoric of Bipartisan Report’s propaganda.  Let’s consider 3 possible outcomes from that increased anger.

Articles in the Fake News Series:

     First, they may decide that all politics are corrupt, disengage completely, and not bother to even vote anymore.  These are people who would otherwise be a reliable liberal vote.  In this scenario, this propaganda robs the left of support.  Second, they may continue to rant and rave based on obvious and easily demonstrable falsehoods.  As we have argued in this series, this makes not only the person posting look stupid 4 but also the entire left looks like a bunch of irrational fools by association.  That weakens our ability to persuade middling, undecided voters.  (Read this to understand why our behavior in debate is important.)  Third, they may just snap, get a gun, and start shooting like the guy who shot the Republican congressmen at their baseball practice.  That does liberals absolutely no favors.  Instead, it gives conservatives talking points and helps them to falsely equivocate between us and them on the issue of political violence.  That false equivocation alienates middling voters whom we could otherwise persuade to support our vision of a good society.  None of these scenarios help promote the liberal vision.  In short, there is no benefit and an incredible amount of detriment to reading propaganda garbage from Bipartisan Report.  All it does is set up false expectations, inflame tempers, and destroy our ability as a progressive movement to accomplish anything.

There's a furnace set on high
And a yearning undefined
But it's time to turn the tide
It's social suicide

In Conclusion.

     We dug no deeper than a couple of days into Bipartisan Report’s postings to find the four articles we critiqued for this piece.  To select those articles, we merely looked at which headlines seemed inaccurate.  Those headlines also were some the most extremely phrased and probably the most likely to be read.  We only looked at 6 or 7 articles and were able to find the ones used here.  Any of them could have been used, though one was such thinly masked opinion that the author could try to weasel around and claim that they forgot to label it as an editorial.  These four provided the best means to highlight their propaganda.  That is just how loaded with propaganda Bipartisan Report is.

     If you are ready to step back off the ledge of propaganda and avoid the abyss of irrelevance that happens when one plagues their mind with poisonous lies, then you can start by no longer falling for Bipartisan Report’s fake-news click-bait propaganda posts.  If you care about promoting progressive values, then you can stand against the euthanizing of our collective intellect.  Here are some further steps that you can take to fight back against this pointless poisoning of our progressive principles that places a pall over our rationality.   

1) Patronize credible news organizations.  Many news organizations do incredible investigative journalism that exposes what our government does.  Those sources, especially print publications, face continued budget shortfalls.  Sites like Bipartisan Report not only steal the work of legitimate journalists, they misrepresent that work by propagandizing it.

2) Post the link to this article or the previous article (There’s More Than One Way for a Dog to Lie, Lying Dogs Will Put You to Sleep) or a meme from this article when you see someone post a fake news or propaganda lie from Bipartisan Report.
a) Remember to focus on the post and not the person posting.  Use this article to help create a conversation about the role of truth in our public discourse.  Refer to the articles Calming the Storm iv and Socrates Strives Forward v to help create a constructive dialogue.  (The art of Socratic questioning really helps to direct a useful exchange with people.)

3) If you are a Facebook group administrator, consider prohibiting this publication from your group or, preferably, use this article to create a dialogue about fake news when you see Bipartisan Report’s propaganda.  Also, consistently challenge garbage propaganda when you see it.

4) If you are a member of a Facebook group, request that group administrators prohibit propaganda from Bipartisan Report.  (Again, it is preferable to create a culture that self-regulates against propaganda, but we cannot always make that happen.)

5) If you like the Bipartisan Report page, unlike it and encourage others to do the same.  You can also report the page.
(Do NOT Block it! That will keep you from seeing their posts. Instead, you can report their posts.)

6) Report propaganda posts from Bipartisan Report.
a) Click on the downward facing arrow (in the red box).

b) Report post > I think it shouldn’t be on Facebook > It’s a fake news story.

7) Share this article.
8) Consider following this blog.

     The Greek philosopher Diogenes used to carry around a lamp in broad daylight. When asked why he replied, “I am searching for an honest man.”  Combatting fake news is one of the topic areas that we focus on at the Diogenetic Light as we search for truth.  We sincerely hope that this article helps you to spot propaganda and other varieties of fake news more easily in the future.  Thank you for reading.

We also write articles on political strategy, policy analysis, and satire. If you need some comic relief after reading this, you may want to check out this:

Antonin Scalia School of Law Offers Master’s in Women’s Law Program

Or this:

Dedicated to Dr. Greg Graffin for the inspiration he’s provided over the years.

1 Let’s set aside the fact that relinquish means to give up, and only the president can give up the president’s authority. Congress can take it away, but they cannot give it up for him.  Or, if they want to use "relinquish," then Congress could "relinquish him of power" but not just "relinquish Trump's power."
2 The School House Rock video is only to demonstrate their utter incomprehension of basic civics.
3 We do not expect the average citizen to remember all these details perfectly. Life is complex and people are busy with many things to think about. Any organization purporting to be a political news organization should have the minimal competence and integrity to not mischaracterize the basic processes of our system of government.
4 Consider how humiliated and reluctant you would be to engage in political debate if someone countered your argument by showing you were completely wrong on an issue so easily fact-checked as the process of a bill becoming law?

Sources: (Unless noted in the article, last check was July 1, 2017)

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