The Watering Hole, Monday, May 21st, 2012: DoD Noise Machine?

PROPAGANDA:prop·a·gan·da: [prop-uh-gan-duh]
1. publicity to promote something: information put out by an organization or government to promote a policy, idea, or cause
2. misleading publicity: deceptive or distorted information that is systematically spread

(Synonyms: slanted, distorted, one-sided, polemical, partisan, extremist, manipulative)

While perusing the recent threads at ThinkProgress, I came across this brief piece with the disturbing headline: “Congressmen seek to ‘legalize the use of propaganda on American audiences.”

The piece referenced an article from BuzzFeed, part of which states:

“In a little noticed press release earlier in the week — buried beneath the other high-profile issues in the $642 billion defense bill, including indefinite detention and a prohibition on gay marriage at military installations — Thornberry warned that in the Internet age, the current law “ties the hands of America’s diplomatic officials, military, and others by inhibiting our ability to effectively communicate in a credible way.”

[Note: While every article that I found on this issue used the phrase, "...in a little-noticed press release...", not one article linked to the press release itself; so, here is the press release from co-sponsor Rep. Mac Thornberry's (R-Texas) website.]

The text of the bill, H.R. 5736, (an amendment to the NDAA) co-sponsord by Rep. Adam Smith (D-WA), can be found here. I confess to be somewhat confused about the conflicting wording in Section 208, “CLARIFICATION ON DOMESTIC DISTRIBUTION OF PROGRAM MATERIAL.”

`(a) In General- No funds authorized to be appropriated to the Department of State or the Broadcasting Board of Governors shall be used to influence public opinion in the United States. This section shall apply only to programs carried out pursuant to the United States Information and Educational Exchange Act of 1948 (22 U.S.C. 1431 et seq.), the United States International Broadcasting Act of 1994 (22 U.S.C. 6201 et seq.), the Radio Broadcasting to Cuba Act (22 U.S.C. 1465 et seq.), and the Television Broadcasting to Cuba Act (22 U.S.C. 1465aa et seq.). This section shall not prohibit or delay the Department of State or the Broadcasting Board of Governors from providing information about its operations, policies, programs, or program material, or making such available, to the media, public, or Congress, in accordance with other applicable law.

`(b) Rule of Construction- Nothing in this section shall be construed to prohibit the Department of State or the Broadcasting Board of Governors from engaging in any medium or form of communication, either directly or indirectly, because a United States domestic audience is or may be thereby exposed to program material, or based on a presumption of such exposure…”

According to a Daily Kos piece,

““It removes the protection for Americans,” says a Pentagon official who is concerned about the law. “It removes oversight from the people who want to put out this information. There are no checks and balances. No one knows if the information is accurate, partially accurate, or entirely false.”

Another article that I came across during my search mentions:

“The Pentagon spends some $4 billion a year to sway public opinion already, and it was recently revealed by USA Today the DoD spent $202 million on information operations in Iraq and Afghanistan last year.”

[Makes ya wonder where the rest of the $350+ billion is spent "to sway public opinion."]

Mediaite, Dan Abrams’ website, has an article about this as well, along with a related article which states:

“United States Central Command (Centcom) is working with a California-based company, called Ntrepid, to produce new software that would help military service people create fake online accounts (known as “sock puppets”) with the intent of spreading pro-America propaganda (or, alternately, quash anti-American sentiment) across various online comment threads, such those found on blogs or message boards. The military has said that the accounts won’t publish comments for American audiences (as that would be illegal) or even in English, but, rather, in Arabic, Farsi, Urdu and Pashto. The accounts would also steer clear of U.S.-based social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook.”

[Oh, goody, they’re creating more sockpuppets and trolls?

It already bothers me that our country has been using propaganda overseas for, well, forever; it already bothers me that taxpayer money pays for such bullshit. But taxpayers having to pay to be lied to by our own military? I realize that this occurs already, with so many TV commercials encouraging young men and women to join the armed services, but this amendment appears to want to broaden those efforts to a scope closer to indoctrination than simple recruitment.

We were already lied to far too many times by the Bush administration in order to fulfill Dubya’s wet dream of invading Iraq. We already hear enough lies from politicians, corporations and other interest groups; whether through various news outlets, media commercial advertising, or opinionated pundits. It is hard enough now to sort through and fight all of the lies, both of commission and omission, that permeate our ‘news’ media. With so few real investigative journalists of integrity out there, how much of the truth will still be able to get through to citizens and voters?

This is our daily open thread — feel free to discuss this topic, or whatever’s on your mind!

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131 thoughts on “The Watering Hole, Monday, May 21st, 2012: DoD Noise Machine?

  1. I agree, Honey. We taxpayers should not be funding programs designed to lie to us. Under current US Senate rules (which I hope are changed next year, despite what I’m about to say), a single Senator can stop this legislation from coming to the floor for even debate, let alone a vote. This one issue alone (and there are others) is enough of a reason to not let it have a chance of being passed into law. The idea that it is “bi-partisan” is meaningless bullshit, as there are enough conservative Democrats who ought to be Republicans anyway. What I fear is the idea that too many Senators on “our side” will view this as a “compromise.” Well, IMHO, you don’t compromise with Wrong, adn this is Wrong!

  2. War enables the acquisition of power and money by and for that percentage of humans who are inclined to crave either or both. Like a pasture bull that craves the power to butt heads and defeat or cower all of his male competition in order that he can then, himself, screw every cow in the herd, the human idiot/equivalent will guarantee that war will always and forever be parcel to human existence. ‘Tis a sad fact to realize that our hope for everlasting peace lies exclusively in the total extinction of our species, but, so far at least, that’s apparently the sole option.

  3. Well given that the culture in this country is one of never questioning the military …. all those Fox new contributors, General Bomb-the-crap-out-of-them and Admiral Kill-them-all and of course Oliver North – they can’t be wrong huh?

    • It says in the article that “Tape sleuth James Carter found that clip…”. He followed me on Twitter before I followed him, once I confirmed who he is. He communicate through Twitter every now and then. Nice guy.

  4. Bluster of the Day:

    “The Iranian nation is standing for its cause that is the full annihilation of Israel,” – Chief of Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces Major General Hassan Firouzabadi.

    • Now there’s a stupid man. He must be the Glenn Beck of Tehran….

      Does he think the Bibi’s and the John Boltons of this world won’t use this stupid sh*t? Probably another idiotic old man being brave with other people’s blood.

    • Sounds like the Maj Gen needs some quality face time with a troop of Silverback gorillas. He’ll be right at home with the chest thumping screechy thing.

  5. I object to one penny of my taxes going toward a machine designed to get me dutifully in line, head down, silently accepting whatever our military and gummint tell me is the truth.

    • What was that movie where Maggie Gyllenhall said she only paid the % of tax that did not go to the DoD? I think the story was a rom-com with her and a tax man, I forget, but I did like Maggie in that role – she pushed my ‘sexy button’

  6. Good article on FDL this AM, around the debunking of some Health Care stats..
    Higher Prices, Not Increased Utilization, Are Driving Health Care Costs
    Key excerpt
    “American health care continues to get more expensive, but the increase is driven by us getting overcharged more for the same services and not by us utilizing more health care. This is a key finding of a new Health Care Cost Institute report on 2010 health care costs.”

    Good read.

  7. And, once again the Catholic Church is putting it’s best foot in it’s papal mouth.
    Notre Dame, dioceses sue over Obama mandate
    Wherein these bloated bastions of dictatorial dogma act like recalcitrant Republicons.

    Key Exerpt…
    …Many faith leaders say the requirement violates religious freedom. The original exemption for religious groups allowed houses of worship to opt-out, but keeps the requirement in place for religiously affiliated charities.

    Obama offered to soften the rule so that insurers would pay for birth control instead of religious groups. However, the bishops say the accommodation doesn’t go far enough.”

    I should sue the Catholic Church for all the money my parents spent on my private school education. On grounds of personal embarassment.

    • Dude, cooties is cooties. Providing birth control to any woman working in the church’s general vicinity, whether they pay for it or not, means they have cooties.

      Get with the program!

    • Time to start taxing the shit out of churches. ALL churches. By the Grace of God, maybe they’ll all collapse and disappear. What a blessing that would be.

      • Tax the bastards – you play politics, then you get taxed. You fondle little boys, then you get prosecuted. What’s wrong with this sh*t?

        • Any church or parish in which fondling or molestation takes place should be permanently and immediately closed down just as would be the fate of any other house of ill repute, and yep, the parties charged must be PROSECUTED, not ignored .

          The topic always brings to mind the wisdom of Denis Diderot who wrote, in Dithyrambe sur la fête des rois “Men will never be free until the last king is strangled with the entrails of the last priest.” Amen.

    • “I should sue the Catholic Church for all the money my parents spent on my private school education. On grounds of personal embarassment.”

      RUC, I feel the same way. And, as I’ve mentioned before, my parents contributed every week toward the building of a new church, on top of their normal weekly ‘tithe.’ The new church never got built – I want their money back!!

  8. And to think that Jed Bartlet went to Notre Dame. It’s a cinch Obama’s girls won’t be going there.

  9. Back home at last. I haven’t been able to keep up with all the happenings over the past 10 days and am not surprised to discover that SSDD still applies. I did relearn that driving 1,800 miles in two days is a butt numbing experience. Good news is, I got to meet Frugal and his wonderful wife.

  10. I just got in from a flying session and spent about 12 minutes sharing a thermal with a very curious Peregrine Falcon. First time I’ve soared with a Peregrine. Soaring with birds isn’t my favorite thing in the world but it’s on my top ten list.

    • Perhaps soaring with a glider isn’t the Pefa’s favorite thing…especially since it can’t be eaten!/////

      You are having entirely too much fun (no there really isn’t such a thing)!

      • Birds know there’s something odd about that funny looking “bird” and really check the gliders out. The funny part is that after many years seeking flying spots all over rural Minnesota I’ve found the best place yet right in the city about 4 blocks from my house. There are big parking lots on two sides and major roads, one of which is a 6 lane highway, on the other two. No matter what direction the wind blows I can catch strong thermals right over the field. I’m going to be very disappointed if the kids have morning soccer practices once school is out!

  11. For those not in the, somewhat, narrow path of last evening Annular Eclipse.

    (we used a very scientific instrument: pinhole in the paper projected on to the pavement. It worked very well)

  12. From a recent TP article http://thinkprogress.org/health/2012/05/21/487438/missouri-employers-block-contraception-coverage/

    “This bill is about religious freedom and moral convictions,” said Rep. Sandy Crawford, R-Buffalo. “This is about sending a message to the federal government that we don’t like things rammed down our throat.”

    Again with the “ramming things down our throat” line. WTF is with these right-wingers? Why must everything they object to be seen as someone trying to ram something down their throats?

    If they aren’t showing how tough they are by threatening some kind of violence (but not literally, of course, unless you really want them to), it’s fighting somebody trying to ram something down their throats. Their thinking has become so binary that this seems to be the only two attitudes they have about something. “We’re either going to kill it, or let it be rammed down our throats.” There really seems to be no other option with these crazy bucking fastards. And to top it off, they think we’re the sick ones. (I know, that’s just Projection on their part.)

    • Pathetic wankers who see the government trying to maintain a level field as taking away the doG given right of your boss to tell you what to do in your private life.

    • I have to believe that there’s a genetic mental flaw, a huge one, that allows for conservative “thought” and action. No otherwise normal beast would ever act like a conservative acts unless it’s either retarded or brain damaged. Too bad we can’t put a finger, yet, on the DNA flaw responsible. Maybe Monsanto could genetically engineer it away.

      • There is a reason conservatives are called reactionary. It is similar to hive type insects where the workers and drones are programmed to protect the queen. While this is functional for ants, bees and termites, one chimp who figures out how to use a stick totally ruins the whole thing.

      • I think there are two kinds of Reichwhiners. All are authoritarians but they are split into sociopaths and the suckers they con into voting against their own interests.

    • Their obsession with cramming things down throats belies their sexual insecurity and not so well masked homophobia.

    • “God says kill the poofs! I won’t apologise for God, he says kill the poofs. I think life is sacred – after all the poofs are killed and every last Filipino loses his foreskin! What’s the problem? I’m the victim here ok?”

    • Thank goodness. Of course R’s believe you’re just lying about and luxuriating in the bounty that huge check brings in.

    • Don’t you have to pee in a cup or anything … you know, just to prove that you are using your unemployment bennies for like food and such?

    • I remember how uncertain the procedure to move to each tier was here in Alabama. Online info was nonexistent and personnel at the ‘career center’ never knew anything.

      • I just had to send in an application for the extension, and got a letter today.

        The letter was really difficult to decipher, since they don’t just come out and say what the letter is about, but I finally figured out that they had extended the benefit.

    • “Ken Bennett said he was investigating President Obama’s birth because he had received more than 1,200 requests from concerned citizens. The group Left Action has asked folks to send requests to Secretary Bennett to investigate whether Mitt Romney is a unicorn. To date, more than 3,600 requests have been sent. ::heh::

      In the comments…. arf, arf

        • “I’ve seen green alligators and long necked geese, some humpty-back camels and some chimpanzees….”

      • Odd they get so flustered/ruffled/indignant when asked the same questions they’ve posed to others.
        Good on Hawaii!

      • It’s obvious Romney isn’t a unicorn but I suppose asking about him being a horse’s ass would be politically incorrect.

  13. From the NYT:

    “In addition to jail, Judge Berman sentenced Mr. Ravi to three years’ probation, 300 hours of community service, counseling about cyberbullying and alternate lifestyles, and a $10,000 probation fee, to be used to help victims of bias crimes.”

    Srsly, the judge’s sentence includes counseling on alternate lifestyles. Good fucking grief, the kid was gay, he wasn’t Wiccan.

    • You raise an interesting point that i just don’t understand.

      Why is it that, when some fundy whines about “choice”, reasonable people don’t respond with; “sexual preference isn’t a choice but religious preference is most definitely a choice”? If rights are to be denied to people who make a choice I would say that gay rights should be protected but religious rights are on shaky ground.

      • And remember too that gayness is an absolute fact, a reality, and not a dream world based on any sort of screwball ancient mythology devised by long-faded men.

    • Yeah, some jerk wad had this story on facebook today, and was asking what people thought of it — while making all kinds of excuses as to why it was really kind of okay.

      I told him “Rape imagery is not funny or effective authority.” He got all defensive and assholierthanthou, saying I was accusing him of something, then deleted his post before I could comment further and un-friended me.

      Naturally, I’m devastated. :roll:

    • “I really do not appreciate in-your-face-type behavior like that,” the unidentified woman said.”

      HI-YO!!! I guess we know which way he was tied to the tree.

      • Heh, I’m selling my stuff on Craigslist, but I’ve never been tempted to look at their personal ads. I think I’d get terminal cooties.

    • I started looking through the mug shots on that site. I didn’t get far, but I liked Number 7, which shows a picture a guy posted on Facebook of himself siphoning gas from a police car while giving the finger. Number 12 was good, too.

  14. I read Reverend Jeremiah Wright’s biography the other day and have been pissed ever since at how the GOP and MSM turned this honorable hero into I pariah. I’m on a mission to correct the wrong doing. Hope my procrastination doesn’t slow me down.

  15. [not the Onion] via a LGF commenter:

    Lot 160 – Ronald Reagan Blood Vial

    The 5” glass vial with a half inch diameter has a green rubber stopper. Dried blood residue from President Reagan (1911-2004) can be seen clearly in the vial with a quarter-inch ring of blood residue at the end of the inserted rubber stopper.

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