Hot Topic that Never Seems to Go Away: Benghazi
Now a Compare and Contrast
Democrats enacted $1.803 billion for embassy security, construction and maintenance for fiscal 2010, when they still controlled the Senate and House.
After Republicans took control of the House and picked up six Senate seats, Congress reduced the enacted budget to $1.616 billion in fiscal 2011, and to $1.537 billion for fiscal 2012.
The administration requested $1.801 billion for security, construction and maintenance for fiscal 2012; House Republicans countered with a proposal to cut spending to $1.425 billion. The House agreed to increase it to $1.537 billion after negotiations with the Senate.
The administration requested $1.654 billion for the State Department’s Worldwide Security Protection program for fiscal 2012. House Republicans proposed funding the program at $1.557 billion. Congress eventually enacted $1.591 billion after the Senate weighed in.
For fiscal 2013, the administration requested $2.15 billion in funding for the worldwide security protection program, a larger increase from the previous year. The House countered with a proposal to increase the program to $1.934 billion.
See the pattern here – painful isn’t it? So what up, Doc, what’s in play here? Let’s take a look, shall we at some of the tactics this election cycle, which is just starting to heat up – even if that’s possible (more nastiness and heat as is were):
1. Panic Mongering vs Fear Mongering: Panic mongering goes one step beyond simple fear mongering because there is never a break from the fear part. Panic is the idea to terrify and terrorize the audience during every waking moment. Like berating Muslims to worry about swine flu to another recession is next door to homosexuals and their wedding cakes to immigrants taking “our” jobs to the rapture itself, the add in Ebola as government plot, and there the belief over at FOX that seems to be that if your fight-or-flight reflexes aren't activated, you aren't alive. This of course raises the question: why terrorize your own audience? Because it is the fastest way to bypasses the rational brain.
In other words, when people are afraid, they don't think rationally. And when they can't think rationally, they'll believe anything. Does the Left indulge in this? Yes it does, but in all honesty not to the extent that the Right does on Talk Radio and via FOX. There is a strong leftwing-leaning media slant on the web and certainly on MSNBC with some of their talkers and yak yakers, but again not as perverse as the rightwingers, or those paid to appear on FOX (as expert consultants – I love that label).
2. Character Assassination Ad Hominem: Fox does not like to waste time debating the idea. Instead, they prefer a quicker route to dispensing with their opponents: go after the person's credibility, motives, intelligence, character, or, if necessary, their sanity. No category of character assassination is off the table and no offense is beneath them.
FOX and like-minded media figures also use ad hominem attacks not just against individuals, but entire categories of people in an effort to discredit the ideas of every person who is seen to fall into that category, e.g. "liberals, hippies, and now today, progressives.,” et al. This form of argument – if it can be called that – leaves no room for genuine debate over ideas, so by definition, it is undemocratic. Not to mention just plain crass.
3. Invoke Only the Christian Version of God: With morality politics, the idea is to declare yourself and your allies as patriots, Christians and “real Americans” (those are inseparable categories in this line of thinking). Anyone who challenges them is not, well at least most of those things. Basically, God loves FOX and Republicans and America, but hates taxes and anyone who doesn't love those other three things and much more.
Because the speaker is a Benedict and therefore appointed by God to speak on behalf of all Americans, any challenge is perceived as immoral. It's a cheap and easy technique used by all totalitarian entities from states to cults.
4. Populism: This is especially noticeable in an election years. The speaker always identifies themselves as one of “the people just like you who are the targets of the left and their ire as an enemy of our values.” The opponent is naturally, always “an elitist or a bureaucrat or a government insider or some other category that is not of the people, say like a leftist or worse “the mainstream media (but never FOX).”
The idea is to make the opponent harder to relate to and harder to empathize with. It often goes hand in hand with scapegoating. A common logical fallacy with populism bias when used by the right is that accused "elitists" are almost always liberals – a category of political actors who, by definition, advocate for non-elite groups.
5. Saturation: There are three components to effective saturation: (1) being repetitive, (2) being ubiquitous, and (3) being consistent and constant.
The message must be repeated over and over, it must be everywhere and it must be shared across commentators: e.g. “Saddam has WMD, bin-Laden is coming, and your Muslim neighbor is a terrorist.” Veracity and hard data have no relationship to the efficacy of saturation. There is a psychological effect of being exposed to the same message over and over, regardless of whether it's true, or if it even makes sense, e.g., “Barack Obama wasn't born in the United States and he is a Muslim.”
It’s is kind of like the notorious “Big Lie” (you know the one and the era I mean). It goes like this: “If something (anything) is said enough times, by enough people, many, or perhaps most, will come to accept it as truth.”
Two examples based on this point: “FOX: Fair and Balanced” and “FOX is not a GOP Cheerleader.”
How about a simple Ha to end this. The chart above says a lot more than I can write or research about. Now we hear the FOX-led GOP recharged yelling: "Stop HILLARY anyway possible - she will ruin the country ..."!!!
Whew boy. (End Note: If by chance she loses, FOX, et al will blame Bill Clinton and his past, but they had nothing to do with re-generating that past, right?) Right.
Psst: just don't ask Donald J. Trump.
Psst: just don't ask Donald J. Trump.
Thanks for stopping by.