Calling all bloggers
Both the Pentagon and the White House have been busy with blogs lately. Bush-friendly blogs, that is. Others might call them "tools of the trade."
Ken Silverstein wrote about recent Pentagon efforts to "bypass the traditional media and work directly with talk radio and bloggers" under the rubric "Surrogates Operation." Obviously, no one, not even independent-minded right wing bloggers, like to be called surrogates, so the Pentagon happied-up the label as "Communications Outreach.” Amazing what a rearrangement of consonants and vowels will do.
Now, we are learning that the Pentagon, in a report published over a year ago, is trying to co-opt the internets to their favour by studying "how the U.S. armed forces and intelligence agencies might influence opinion overseas through foreign bloggers" (all of this via Swedish Meatballs Confidential). This is a fine strategy, really, and the only option left in a world that utterly distrusts anything that comes out of stultifying confines of Washington DC: let's get foreigners to tell our lies for us! Brilliant. I'm surprised it has taken this long.
Actually, it hasn't. The Pentagon has been doing this for a long time. It is only the newly-minted tool of the web -- blogs in particular -- that the Pentagon is figuring out how to turn into a disinformation superhighway. But how do you flush faithful Pentagon disinformation into the shit stream that is the world wide web and expect anyone to believe -- or even notice -- all this wonderful propaganda being sluiced down the tubes and, hopefully, right into peoples' homes. Finding answers to such vexing questions is just one of the many reasons the Pentagon has a $600 billion budget.
The latest effort, this one out of the White House, truly is my favourite because it is operated so openly, and with such willing participants, that is funny. In a sad, sad way. For behold the sight of "Captain Ed" (yes, he does call himself this), of Captain's Quarters, cheerily announcing his White House assignment to gather all like-minded bloggers in order to mainline the White House legal argument supporting Bush's claims of executive privilege over every and anything. I can't quite bring myself to link directly to this White House cheerleading -- fear of being considered a back-door agent is too severe -- so I'll let Cernig send you that way if you want to drill down to the propaganda effort being formulated by independent-minded (isn't that what they always like to believe of themselves) conservatives and the White House.
I'm not quite sure how one reconciles indenpedent-mindedness with being a shill for arguments in support of White House extra-legal activities, but I'm sure they've got that one worked out, too. Amusingly, Cap'n Ed's bio informs his fans that, while actively working as a stooge for the Bush administration, his blog
has led the effort to bring accountability to mainstream media sources.It is from this position that irony thickens noticeably upon further examination.
When Ed Morrissey first launched the conservative political blog "Captain's Quarters" in October 2003, he could hardly have predicted the impact that his venture would have on the media and political debate.And that,
Edward has helped to create a model for success and expansion of the influence of the blogosphere into other communication channels.Really, who knew the White House would be calling on him to organize a government propaganda campaign?! But did you also know that
Ed Morrissey also writes extensively on First Amendment issues for the blogosphere.Yes, how does that go again? Something like,
Congress shall make no law ... abridging the freedom of White House speech, or of the White House press release.The ultimate problem these people face, however, is a big one. No one who might be swayed by rational argument pays attention to them, so wrong, craven and stupid have they been over the years. And those who are already in the camp don't need to be convinced of it anyway. But this is a dwindling number of people in the country and many of those likely don't have a clue what the hell a "blog" even is. Even Republicans, who often bear the brunt of cruel keyboard attacks when they don't tow the hardcore xenophobic line, don't care to know what these White House imps have to say, because they already know the standard positions. The White House, too, is apparently willing to overlook the "savaging" Bush took on his immigration position by all the usual suspects, the same ones now being enjoined to help push the message of unfettered executive privilege. And they will push it exactly nowhere.
Bush's stated claim will stand, or not, and it will be up to Congress to either deal with it or not. As much as I would like them to deal with it, and as weary and dumbfounded as some on the Judiciary committee look, I don't see this going anywhere. Bush will stand firm and the Dems will back away. This is not defeatist but, rather, simply based on the brief history of Bush administration time. And none of it will be dependent on what is written by Cap'n Ed on his blog.
I can't help but think this comes with a price, if not in direct payment to these ridiculous whores (and how dumb do you have to be to do this kind of crap for free?) then certainly in the cost of White House staff, time and expense, which will, once again, by covered by the American taxpayer and the Chinese National Bank. Then again, since the entire operation of the White House is run as a monstrous, vainglorious enterprise of the Republican Party, and paid for by taxpayer dollars, fretting about the time spent by White House staff coordinating a bunch of blog tools seems like pointless nitpicking.