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I’m on assignment, technically on break from blogging, but wanted to briefly comment on a post Wednesday by Noah Schactman at Danger Room. In it, Schactman said it took him “exactly 23 minutes to get Jason “Armchair Generalist” Sigger and Matt “Mountain Runner” Armstrong signed up” for the Pentagon’s blogger’s conference calls that I’ve been writing about. “And neither,” he adds, “is what you would call a fan of this administration.”
It’s great that Sigger and Armstrong will be joining in, because up until now, participants in the conference calls have been broadly sympathetic towards the Bush administration’s view of national security matters, and the conference calls have thus far served as a vehicle for the Pentagon to communicate with a largely friendly audience. But if the conference calls do in fact become a freewheeling forum, it would be contrary to the clearly defined original goals of the Pentagon public affairs office. As I’ve discussed in prior posts, the blogger calls are part of a broader program that is run largely by the administration’s political appointees. One of the memos I cited said the program would be “synchronize[d] . . . with the military and with policy.”
In focusing on the blogger calls I’ve unintentionally obscured components of the Pentagon’s program that are especially troubling: briefings for handpicked civilian defense and national security analysts, retired military officials, and others who are fed talking points and story lines that the administration wants to get out. Unlike with the blogger conference calls, there is apparently no public disclosure of who is taking part in those briefings and no transcripts of what transpires.
When the Pentagon opens up those components to public scrutiny, I’ll stop criticizing the program.
More from Ken Silverstein:
Commentary — November 17, 2015, 6:41 pm
The Clintons’ so-called charitable enterprise has served as a vehicle to launder money and to enrich family friends.
i. stand with israel
I listen to a lot of conservative talk radio. Confident masculine voices telling me the enemy is everywhere and victory is near — I often find it affirming: there’s a reason I don’t think that way. Last spring, many right-wing commentators made much of a Bloomberg poll that asked Americans, “Are you more sympathetic to Netanyahu or Obama?” Republicans picked the Israeli prime minister over their own president, 67 to 16 percent. There was a lot of affected shock that things had come to this. Rush Limbaugh said of Netanyahu that he wished “we had this kind of forceful moral, ethical clarity leading our own country”; Mark Levin described him as “the leader of the free world.” For a few days there I yelled quite a bit in my car.
The one conservative radio show I do find myself enjoying is hosted by Dennis Prager. At the Thanksgiving dinner of American radio personalities (Limbaugh is your jittery brother-in-law, Michael Savage is your racist uncle, Hugh Hewitt is Hugh Hewitt) Dennis Prager is the turkey-carving patriarch trying to keep the conversation moderately high-minded. While Prager obviously doesn’t like liberals — “The gaps between the left and right on almost every issue that matters are in fact unbridgeable,” he has said — he often invites them onto his show for debate, which is rare among right-wing hosts. Yet his gently exasperated take on the Obama–Netanyahu matchup was among the least charitable: “Those who do not confront evil resent those who do.”
Average number of Americans who are injured by chain saws each year:
A farmer in Kenya bit a python who tried to eat him.
A former prison in Philadelphia that has served as a horror-movie set was being prepared as a detention center for protesters arrested at the upcoming Democratic National Convention, and presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump fired his campaign manager.
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“Matt was happy enough to sustain himself on the detritus of a world he saw as careening toward self-destruction, and equally happy to scam a government he despised. 'I’m glad everyone’s so wasteful,' he told me. 'It supports my lifestyle.'”