To defeat bullies, punch them in the nose with facts

With the proliferation of social media, it has never been easier to lie, misinform and disinform. To autocrats like Vladimir Putin, who was trained as a KGB agent on disinformation, it is like shooting fish in a barrel. People might say Putin is not such, as he stands for election, but jailing your opponents and controlling the airwaves, does not lend itself to a fair election. This is disinformation in its own right.

The only way to beat bullies who lie, misinform and disinform, is to not believe them and do our homework. Folks like Trump, Kim, Xi, Cuomo, Morrison, Johnson, Nunes, Gosar, Taylor-Greene, Cawthorn, Gohmert, DeSantis, Abbott, et al, do not want to be questioned on facts. They do not handle it very well.

I have many favorite stories about the last former US president not being aware of details, but when one reporter questioned him after the umpteenth time he had said he passed a bill, she pointed out the bill had been passed in 2014 and he was not president until 2017. He was clueless that he did not sign the bill. It is harder to argue when you just don’t know.

If you read Kim’s bio, he is God-like with super-human powers. Really? I expect people like Xi, Putin, and Kim to control the narrative. That is what they do. The uptick in right wing extremism is correlated to Putin’s hackers and trolls controlling the narrative in other countries. He has succeeded in making the west more unruly, due to his shenanigans. My guess is even Putin is amazed at how easy it has been. Common sense is not all that common, Mark Twain is alleged to have said.

What frustrates me is how gullible Americans, Brits, and Australians have been to elect people who overtly lie and bully people to submission. The fact they do this is not newsworthy. The fact that people elected these folks is. Here in the states, we could very well reelect a person who is trying his best to mask evidence that he betrayed his country on top of trying to “burn it all down” as his niece put it, because his shallow ego cannot take losing.

Johnson, who would daily thank his lucky stars for Trump, as he looked better in comparison to the US president, is ironically Prime Minister during the sluggardly Brexit execution as his selected blindness to facts helped precipitate the leave vote. Of course, seeing Johnson get elected was stunning to me, but pales in comparison that we Americans elected a person who has a measurable track record of being untruthful and cheating people as did Trump.

So, what do we do? Read and watch several credible sources of information. What is credible? First, they are not opinion shows. Second, the decibel level is lower with less screaming and yelling and more civil debate. This is a reason I like NPR as one of my sources – thoughtful people sharing news and their opinions whether you fully agree with them or not. Third, the amount of namecalling and labeling is less. Fourth, they will disclose conflicts of interest and provide errata when they get something wrong.

People used to be upset when they found out they were fooled. Now, when fooled by misinformation, they just go back to the source to confirm the facts are not real. The last former US president will have many legacies which will go down in infamy, but the one which may be the worst legacy is calling criticism “fake news.” This term is now used worldwide.

Here is a person who has lost about 64 out of 65 court cases (I lost count above sixty), saying the election was stolen from him and lost every audit and review of election results, and his fans still believe him. That is an unfathomable track record of losing, yet it is fake news according to the former president. Those followers may want to ask why his attorneys are forking out $175,000 in court costs for frivolous cases in Michigan, announced last week. And, one attorney of his has been suspended in two locations (DC and New York) and another is facing disbarment.

Facts. Details. Questions. An untruthful and bullying person’s worst fears.

News that is not news

While I do like reading and watching less biased and more credible news sources, I have dialed it back some. A key reason is even the better sources focus too much on whose tribe is winning or losing on an issue and less on the issue itself. As a result, fewer issues of import are discussed. 

One reason is the politicians focus more on getting or keeping their job and less on doing their job. What results is a mind-boggling amount of time spent keeping things from getting done even when the action is helpful to people and the majority actually want it done. And, it is even more frustrating when politicians are against something they have supported in the past only because the other tribe brought it up

This blocking of actions is aided and abetted by pseudo-news sources and opinion hosts. These sycophants play a heavy hand in the BS that is a poor substitute for facts and data. I sadly expect this from pseudo-sources and opinion host, but it frustrates me when better news sources speak on who is winning or losing as much as they do.

Our infrastructure bill is at least ten years overdue. There are have been multiple bipartisan pushes to get something passed. Even the preceding president mentioned it during his campaign and Democrat leadership actually welcomed discussion, in spite of efforts to rewrite history that they did not. It has finally gotten passed and yet the tribal protections have gotten in the way of saying this is a good thing even though Americans favored it.

So, let’s encourage our elected officials and news sources to focus on the issues and less on zero-sum games of winning and losing. Accelerating action on climate change, addressing global water concerns, addressing the huge plastic island floating in the Pacific, dealing with debt and deficit issues, expanding health care access further, etc. are all issues that need to be discussed and dealt with.

News that is not news can be ignored. And, citing the latest name calling or labelling of a perceived enemy tribe is just reporting on childish behavior. I don’t need the news to tell me some politicians are being childish.