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Countering Propaganda
Counter-Disinformation Bill Clears Senate

Amid all the media hysteria over Russian propaganda and its effect on the U.S. presidential election, few have noted the quiet advance of legislation designed to counter such threats. Last week, a counter-propaganda bill sponsored by Senators Rob Portman (R-OH) and Chris Murphy (D-CT) passed the Senate as part of the National Defense Authorization Act. The bill is expected to be signed by President Obama before he leaves office.

In a press release last week, Senator Portman laid out the two priorities of the bill:

The first priority is developing a whole-of-government strategy for countering foreign propaganda and disinformation. The bill would increase the authority, resources, and mandate of the Global Engagement Center to include state actors like Russia and China in addition to violent extremists. The Center will be led by the State Department, but with the active senior level participation of the Department of Defense, USAID, the Broadcasting Board of Governors, the Intelligence Community, and other relevant agencies. […]

Second, the legislation seeks to leverage expertise from outside government to create more adaptive and responsive U.S. strategy options. The legislation establishes a fund to help train local journalists and provide grants and contracts to NGOs, civil society organizations, think tanks, private sector companies, media organizations, and other experts outside the U.S. government with experience in identifying and analyzing the latest trends in foreign government disinformation techniques.

The Portman-Murphy bill will be funded to the tune of $160 million over two years: a notable increase from the $20 million demanded in an earlier version. What remains to be seen is how effectively that money will be spent. As Karina Orlova noted in May, raw expenditures are not a reliable indicator of propaganda’s effectiveness, particularly in the Russian case. And it is anxiety over the supposed effectiveness of Kremlin-funded Russian propaganda that appears to have driven the newfound push to pass the bill.

It is most certainly true that hostile powers like Russia have long wielded disinformation and propaganda as foreign policy tools, and that Washington has been slow to respond to this threat. Indeed, as John Schindler noted last year, the Obama White House scrapped a nascent counter-disinformation effort within the State Department before it got off the ground. To the extent that the Portman-Murphy bill can help us remedy these past failures, and equip the government with better data to respond to real threats, it will be a useful effort.

Still, there is no reason to celebrate quite yet. For one, the effectiveness of the new legislation will depend on its implementation by the new administration. Given Trump’s outright dismissal of concerns about Russian hacking and propaganda, he is unlikely to make countering such efforts a priority. Moreover, some experts like Clint Watts have argued that the bill’s interagency approach to fighting propaganda will be inherently unfocused; throwing more money at a government bureaucracy is no guaranteed recipe for success.

Finally, there is the risk that empowering anti-propaganda efforts will only add to the unreasonable panic over Putin-planted “fake news” that has engulfed public debate since the election. We have argued before that such hysteria is overwrought, and that overreacting will only play into Putin’s hands. This does not mean that the Portman-Murphy bill is misguided, or that the threat is not real. But it is important to remember that an effective counter-disinformation effort should help us see the threat more clearly, not inflate it unnecessarily.

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  • Dale Fayda

    What “Russian propaganda” is the political class concerned about, exactly? None of what was revealed in the Wikileaks email dumps has been refuted by neither the DNC, the Clinton campaign nor by anyone else. Therefore, it’s all true. And if it’s true, then it’s not “propaganda”, but rather just inconvenient facts, isn’t it? And that’s assuming that the Wikileaks data came from the Russians – a very big “if”.

    Anyone may access any number of Russian English-language sites and get their fill of their government’s take on things. Whether or not it’s accurate, is another story, but it’s all there for the viewing.

    So, what specifically is this bill designed to prevent from happening? I really curious what the American ruling class considers dangerous Russian propaganda which must countered to the tune of $160M.

    Mind you, I’m no fan of Putin and have wholeheartedly agreed with Mitt Romney when he called Russia our greatest geopolitical foe. But to me, this seems like yet another ass-covering stunt by the government thinking it must “do something”.

    • CapitalHawk

      Even more to the point, let’s suppose these government agencies determine that there is some propaganda out there, during an election, that should be countered. How will that “countering” not also be our government directly intervening in an election with the express purpose of influencing how people see things (and ultimately vote)? And would the followers of the party not in the White House even believe what was said or would they howl that partisans were trying to “steal” the election? Given that our institutions have progressively undermined the public trust in them for the last 40 years, I know which way I would bet.

    • rpabate

      I am not so concerned about Russia. IMO it is a power in decline. It has a declining population and is a one product export economy — hydrocarbons. In fact, I think Trump’s selection of Tillerson is a brilliant geo-political move. What Russia does have is plenty of resources. What it doesn’t have is money and the technology to develop them. That’s where the U.S. comes in and Tillerson is the perfect person for that job. Sure Russia has been a pain in Obama’s butt over the Ukraine and Syria, but that is push back for meddling in their neighborhood and to be taken seriously as a power to be reckoned with. We wouldn’t like it if Russia meddled in Canada or Mexico. In addition, Russia has a growing Muslim problem from the Stans, which should keep them from undertaking too many foreign adventures that ruffle our feathers. Finally, and quite importantly, a Ruusia U.S. detente complicates China’s ambitions. I see China as a much greater potential threat than Russia. I also see the ME descending into total chaos and quite possible nuclear war.. As Samuel Huntington observed, bulges in population growth has frequently been precursors for war. I think this is particularly the case with the ME with their large Muslim populations and centuries old religious conflicts. The raw material, young men with gushing testosterone and no sexual outlets with no prospects for supporting a family, make ripe recruits for military adventure. I love that Trump is surrounding himself with wealth creators. Politicians are wealth re-distributors and wealth destroyers. Their skill set is convincing people that they will make them better off by taking from the wealth creators, and raising money through extortion (the rules and regulation threat) and promising favorable legislation and subsidies to those who cannot make it in a free market (the Green Energy boys are a perfect example).

      • Kev

        Insulting Russia as a “power in decline” has become a cliche, but if anything US and Europe are declining faster. White America is dying, quite literally: more US whites die than get born every year. They are being displaced by low-iq migrants from Latin America. None of this bodes well for US “global leadership”

        • Jim__L

          Honestly, I’m more worried about the sort of corrupt government that Latin Americans are used to, than any “IQ” problems. Education solves most of that; being willing to tolerate a government that is ineffective, dishonest, brutal, cronyist, and hostile to the rights and initiative of the individual, is a much bigger threat.

          • Kev

            You can’t “educate” someone who is simply too dumb to learn. And the fact that different races possess different innate levels of intelligence has been well-documented.

          • Tom

            And by that, you mean the difference between “races” has been found to be, at most, one standard deviation–there’s far more differentiation among racial subgroups than races, and much more variation of individuals. In other words, you’re a fantasist.

          • CapitalHawk

            Tom, yes there is more variation within groups than between groups. Usually more than 3 standard deviations within a group. This is obvious and undisputed. But when you are talking about hundreds of millions of people, the average intelligence of the group is what matters, not the spread. The averaging down of IQ is not a good long term position to be in.

          • Tom

            That assumes, however, that that’s happening. Which it might be, but if it is it’s more because people with high IQ’s aren’t reproducing than because of Latin American immigrants.

          • Kev

            I have noticed you put the word “race” in scare quotes. Why? You don’t think race is real? You think it’s some sort of “social construct”?

          • Tom

            Yes and no.
            It’s not purely a social construct, but it’s not nearly as hard and fast as you want to make it.

          • Kev

            Ok, then explain why black grandmasters are so incredibly rare in chess? Also, nobel prize winners in science – how many are black? Silicon valley entrepreneurs? Blacks underperform whites in every available measure of academic achievement, despite massive amounts of capital dumped into their education. US universities discarded IQ testing because these tests showed blacks trailing whites consistently and by a huge margin. Frankly, the mountain of evidence is so overwhelming, I’m surprised you’re willing to argue over it.

          • Tom

            1. Because chess isn’t part of the culture? I mean, why do you think Russia has more grandmasters per capita than the USA, while Armenia and Israel are third and fourth in the grandmasters per capita ranking.
            2. Because of lack of access to prestigious universities? I mean, come on, at that point you’d have to say that Swedes are smarter than everyone.
            3. As literally everyone who knows anything about education will tell you, the amount of money you spend isn’t nearly as relevant as how you spend it.

            The “mountain of evidence” you’re referencing doesn’t prove what you want it to.

          • Jim__L

            Why in the world do you see race as black / white? Silicon Valley entrepreneurs come in every shade.

        • JR

          Why is a red blooded American named “Kev” cheer the perceived decline of US power?
          Just kidding Sergei!!! How are you doing bud?

        • Spencer

          Just to jump in to correct this, Russia has a TFR (total fertility rate) of about 1.6, meaning that your average Russian woman has 1.6 children over the course of her lifetime. This is called “deathbed demographics”. Logically speaking, women must average 2 children over the course of
          their lifetimes to maintain a given population level, and with the
          possibility of excess mortality 2.1 is consider the equilibrium point. If the women of a particular population have fewer than about 2.1 children on average over the course of their lifetimes, then that population will decline over time. 1.6 is disastrous, especially given Russia’s excess mortality and the residual demographic damage from Russia’s fertility collapse from the early ’90s to the mid ’00s. (Believe it or not, 1.6 is Russia’s fertility rate after it RECOVERED – it got as low as 1.2 about fifteen years ago.)

          American women’s TFR is about 1.9, having fallen from about 2.1 before the recession. The non-Hispanic white female TFR is about 1.8, which is bad from a demographic point of view. However, it has bottomed out and may rise, unlike Russia, whose fertility has “recovered” about as much as it is likely to. There are also different modalities in the American fertility rate – though evidence is sketchy, it appears that religiously observant non-Hispanic white women had a fertility rate of about 2.5 before the recession, while other white women had a TFR of about 1.8. I haven’t seen more recent data, but we may presume a similar pattern is occurring currently (I would bet it has become more intense), so that one section of the non-Hispanic white population is sterilizing itself while another is not. This is partly why population projections can hard to predict over the long term (no one predicted the Baby Boom, and the Club of Rome did not predict the ’70s and ’80s fertility collapse throughout all the world except in parts of sub-Saharan Africa and some Muslim countries).

          Oh, and how much do you want to bet that Russia’s fertility rate is being artificially inflated by Muslim fertility, which is much higher than non-Muslims’ in Russia? The non-Muslim TFR in Russia may be closer to 1.4, which means the non-Muslim Russian population declines by a third every lifetime – if nothing else happens to kill a bunch of people, which, given that this is Russia, is pretty likely.

          The real global peer of Russia is Mexico. Mexico has a population and economy of similar size, and is similarly reliant on petroleum exports, also has grotesquely unequal income distribution, and is similarly endemically corrupt. There are differences – Russia still has a large military infrastructure (almost all of which consists old Soviet hand-me-downs – for example, Russian ground forces still have several thousand T-72s) which it has upgraded with military technology that it has to buy from the West. It has an important geopolitical position (Mexico’s geopolitical position is “America’s chair”). And Russia has a leader with complete latitude and a total lack of principles. But Mexico has a TFR of 2.2, and a vibrant political and civil life. I would bet on Mexico having a better 21st century than Russia.

          As I’ve seen it put, Russia is a country that only has two exports: oil and blonde prostitutes. This is not a profile of a great world power.

          • Kev

            I appreciate you taking a long time to write this, but your post is full of incorrect statistics and ludicrous assumptions:

            TFR in Russia is now up to 1.78 (http://www.gks.ru/dbscripts/cbsd/dbinet.cgi?pl=2415002)
            TFR for white American women is down to 1.71. This number includes non-white children born to white mothers.(http://www.pewhispanic.org/2015/09/28/modern-immigration-wave-brings-59-million-to-u-s-driving-population-growth-and-change-through-2065/9-26-2015-1-30-23-pm-2/)

            Click on these links and educate yourself, although you probably wrote all this just to troll me, didn’t you?

          • LarryD

            I used to worry about Americas low fertility rate, until a reporter let slip that one American woman in five (20%) simply wasn’t having kids at all. Recalculate to find out the fertility rate of the remainder, and you realize the problem is self-correcting. The “recent” drop correlates with the recession and lack of recovery, so let’s check again in 2-3 years.

          • Tom

            Given your fantasies, you might want to check how many of those Russian babies are ethnic Russians. The results might be painful for you.
            For those of us who aren’t racialist fantasists, of course, the question is irrelevant.

          • Kev

            Insists he is “not a racial fantasist”. Goes on to fantasize that babies born in Russia are not Russian…

            Whatever, dude! You may hope that diversity will work out for you, but your grandchildren won’t like it living in a third-world country, believe me.

          • Tom

            You do know that only 80% of the people in Russia are ethnic Russians, right?
            I mean, given that you seem to think ethnicity is everything, your argument here is hilarious.

        • rpabate

          You are incorrect. Russia is a power in decline. It’s only claim to fame is nuclear weapons. Without them it’s a paper tiger. It’s economy is a shambles. What exports of significance are there other than oil and natural gas? Even South Korea boasts a greater breath of exports than Russia. Russia is also suffering a brain drain. What top quality scientist or engineer wants to live in Russia if given the opportunity to move to the West?

          I agree we have to fix our immigration problem. I think that will be one of Trump’s top priorities. The fact of the matter is that the U.S. continues to have the greatest potential of any other country on earth. Unfortunately, that potential is being squandered by the Progressive Left’s madness, especially with regards to climate change, immigration and the idea of global governance.

          Let’s view the U.S.’s strengths:
          1. A continental size country that for the most part is all habitable and, compared with China, is relatively sparsely populated. This means, if we can get our immigration policy right, we have plenty of space for millions of high quality immigrants.
          2. We are a country that has enough fertile land and, with a temperate climate, to be able to be food independent.
          3. We have no threatening countries anywhere near us geographically. Russia has China, a huge future threat, especially since China lacks some of the natural resources like hydrocarbons that Russia has. We also do not have on our southern border countries with a high birth rate and a religion that seeks to dominate the world, lie the “Stans” on Russia’s southern border.
          4. We speak the English language, the most popular second language for the world’s best and brightest.
          5. We still boast the best university system in the world, one that attracts the best and brightest from around the world. This, and the English language, has allowed us to attract to our shores the best and brightest brains from around the world. The problem is that our immigration policy demands that once these people finish their educations they have to, with a few exception, return home. What if we encouraged them to stay. I don’t give a damn what color their skin is as long as they have a brain that can be an asset to our brain pool, and a brain that has not been functionally impaired by ideology.
          6. We are a country of immigrants, so those foreign born with talent have an opportunity to compete on a level playing field with native born Americans. Just look at the talent from around the world that have made Silicone Valley what it is.
          7. We are the largest part of a continent that can be energy independent, so when the Middle East collapses into chaos, we will have the energy resources to carry on. When the Middle East collapses that is when China will become particularly mindful of those Russian hydrocarbon resources. The Russian had better start planning for this.

          No other country in the world can boast about such a basket truly great attributes. Actually, Russia needs us more than we need them, but it would be great if we could work together and be friends. If we do, the a rising Russian standard of living and a growing middle class may instigate political changes toward liberal political order.

          • Kev

            People like you are the reason why I think America is doomed. You’re two generations away from become a third-world country, and you’re completely oblivious to it.

            I agree that some immigrants can have a positive contribution to society, but the majority of immigrants to the US come from low-IQ places like Latin America. Tell me how many silicon valley companies Mexicans have started?

            And besides, whites are already a minority in the 0-5 age cohort – Donald Trump isn’t going to fix this! Give it a couple of generations and American demographic make-up will look a lot like Brazil’s, and nobody sees Brazil as actual or potential superpower.

    • Kev

      It will be used to muzzle conservative websites, just watch!

      • Jim__L

        Ah, the best propaganda has a grain of truth, doesn’t it?

        • Boritz

          Propaganda is communication designed to persuade someone to adopt a particular point of view. The veracity is not spoken for.

          • LarryD

            Thus propaganda can be honest or dishonest. A reputation for veracity is valuable, and can only be achieved by actually being honest.

    • Andrew Allison

      The failure to include domestic disinformation sources such as WaPo, NYT, NPR, etc., is notable.

  • Fat_Man

    Are they going to do anything about the disinformation printed in the NYTimes or WAPo?

    • Disappeared4x

      CNN’s coverage of Tahrir Square was malpractice – ignoring 90,000,000 NOT protesting, and destabilized Egypt.
      CNN coverage legacy of Ferguson MO? BigLie Handsupdontshoot.
      Wikileaks revealed primary sources. How is that ever disinformation?

  • FriendlyGoat

    When Trump gets up to speed stifling our public sources of information, including those from our own government on economics, climate, foreign affairs, and health, we will need to read the Russians and others to learn what is going on in our own country.

    As we have gone from Nixon breaking into the DNC being a crime to Republicans breaking in via Russians and WikiLeaks not being a crime, watch out. You are dealing with a would-be dictator until evidence to the contrary emerges. The Trump response to all this tells you “guilty until proven innocent” is the only sensible approach for citizens. No, I’m not exaggerating. The present winner-take-all “transition” you see going on is more than a clue.

    • Boritz

      Are you saying the New York Times will not continue to be the New York Times? I think they will.

      • FriendlyGoat

        I’m saying the NYT is not the government and never was. You have a very vindictive spinmaster as president. That is the single pair of characteristics shared by every dictator in history. We might as well get up to speed about our present reality.

        • JR

          Of course there will be bitter dead-enders claiming nonsense. Hell, you will be one of them. Doesn’t mean A) anybody has to take you seriously and B) doesn’t mean you will not be ridicules and made fun of.
          I’m trying to maximize my personal utility here, and I’m having a difficult time imagining a more entertaining “it is Russians fault that Democrats are corrupt” line of reasoning.

          • FriendlyGoat

            I am just predicting where this goes from here.

          • JR

            Another thing I like about you is that you are not afraid to go on record. Hell, you even predicted Trump won’t submit his first budget. you didn’t think I forgot about that one, did you? It’s going to be glorious.

          • FriendlyGoat

            I only predicted he won’t submit his first budget in a timely manner because I read that he probably won’t. It was my understanding that tidbit was coming from his own camp.

      • JR

        You got Comrade FG to spew paranoid conspiracy theories for the amusement of the commentariat. Kudos to you Sir. You are a Scholar and a Gentlemen indeed.

    • JR

      I mean, you always sounded like a paranoid old man. Now that you have gone off the deep end, you sound like someone who is completely disconnected from reality. I got to say, your descent into gibberish-spouting conspiracy theorist has been one of my favorite little things about this election. I mean, I always enjoyed making fun of your economic illiteracy, but now you are giving me a lot of fresh material to ridicule you with. Just don’t stop being you, that’s all I’m asking….

      • FriendlyGoat

        Don’t worry. I will entertain you with regularity. My real reply is to Boritz below.

        • JR

          Will entertain me with regularity? You are doing it already. You are by far my favorite unhinged Leftwinger. Your tears are just really yummy.

          • FriendlyGoat

            I don’t cry. I write. Today it was to Boritz.

          • JR

            You do write paranoid conspiracy theory. That’s why we love you. You just make it so easy to ridicule you, I ALMOST feel bad about doing it. But then I get over the feeling bad part.

          • FriendlyGoat

            Someday you will wake up with the “feel bad about it” mood and it will stick (although having nothing to do with me). For many people, this occurs at the time Tim McGraw sang about in his famous song “Live Like You Were Dying”.

          • JR

            Don’t listen to country. I like how you try to convince me that I should feel bad about Trump. Most people would have given up by now. But not you…
            Like a true religious fanatic, your desire to convert is not dulled or diminished by ridicule and facts that prove you wrong. Instead, in your mind, that is the proof that you are right. Being wrong proves that you are right. It’s genius. Not very useful in the real world, granted, but we are not talking about the real world. We are talking about your paranoid fantasies and world that exists only in your imagination.

          • FriendlyGoat

            You should catch up on Tim McGraw. Although he is more a song selector than a song writer, he has quite a collection of songs that could have been called national “service”. He got away with them by having a tough guy image—–and yet—-singing to the country music audience so many things which needed to be said. He has been at it over 20 years.

            As for me, I actually am a religious fanatic, just one who ditched church decades ago because of its politics with Reagan.

          • JR

            Oh I get it. Your religion is Liberalism. Doesn’t make it A) any less of a religion and B) you any less of a fanatic.
            The problem with fanatics (mostly for those who HAVE to deal with them, as opposed to CHOOSING to deal with them) is that their inability to process reality as it exists sometimes harms those around them.

          • FriendlyGoat

            My religion is, and always was, Jesus.

          • JR

            And yet you support a party that wants to legalize partial-birth abortions, gay marriage, persecute people for having the temerity to have religious objections to the latest Leftwing fad. Wow, the cognitive dissonance must be amazing.

          • FriendlyGoat

            I support government (not necessarily a party) which tells truth about current realities. The Dems in my lifetime have come closer to it most of the time than has the GOP. On abortion, the goal is to convince the men to not get ’em pregnant at the wrong times and circumstances. On gays, the commitment of marriage is the best place for them.

          • Jim__L

            Except when Jesus conflicts with the Democrats’ party platform, in which cases He gets kicked to the curb.

          • FriendlyGoat

            Speak for yourself, Jim. You’re a two-issue pony, quite accustomed to being used. I’m not.

          • Jim__L

            One of those issues being Freedom of Religion, which means so little to you…

            … There are about a dozen other issues (defense, balanced budgets, traditional values, demonstrated competence in leadership rather than just time-serving, playing the international game to win, taking a stand against aggressive urbanists, etc etc) that could be that “other” issue. Which of those did you have in mind?

            You’ve been accused here of being a one-trick pony on tax hikes, whereas anyone who’s read much of your work knows you’re bought into the whole of the Democrats’ platform, even when it runs entirely counter to the teachings of Christ. Accusing others of being limited in their issues is really beneath you, FG.

          • FriendlyGoat

            The two issues are abortion and your desire to have some kind of imagined rights under the constitution to denigrate gay people because you think that doing so is a protected religious activity.

            Even if you deny that these are your big two, your preferred election result rode in on them—-and on nothing else—– courtesy of about 25,000,000 “evangelical” Trump votes compared with less than 100,000 which you won by.

            As for balanced budgets, after the tax cuts are done for the billionaires, we can all talk about who the already-poor losers will be.
            As for traditional values—-after some Trump time, no one will know what those even once were.

            As for aggressive urbanists, I’ll just excuse the racist overtone of that one and assume you meant the Silicon Valley folks you once criticized and who are now on track to receive the moon from government.

          • Jim__L

            Trump called gay ‘marriage’ “a done deal” and for most of his life was pro-abortion. If Pence has more influence (and more spine) than he has previously exhibited, that might make a difference…. but Pence happened AFTER Trump won the primaries.

            He rode to victory as being the lesser of two evils on those and many other topics, as well as being the one candidate — the ONE candidate — who held out the hope of changing the type of government that has screwed over the vast majority of America for the last eight (or perhaps twenty-five) years, to the vast advantages of the sort of people you regularly decry.

            And it bears repeating — if you hear the dog whistles, you should think carefully about who’s the dog. People who love suburbs come in all colors, and urbanist Silicon Valley types are predominantly white yuppie hipsters.

            If Trump rode in on anything, he rode in on the battle cry of the Silent Majority — “Die yuppie scum”.

          • FriendlyGoat

            If the church has a “battle cry” and it is “Die yuppie scum”, then it is hopelessly off the spiritual rails—-something (as you know) I have maintained for years. If it believes that it can diminish the “yuppie scum” via tax cuts and deregulation for the “yuppie scum”, it is off the rails of economic logic too—-something else I have maintained for years.

            You see, the “Silent Majority” and the church are the same dog. There is not some other significant dog to which the whistles were sent.

          • Jim__L

            You forget (because it’s an inconvenient fact) that one of the best predictors of support for Trump in the primaries was NOT going to church.

            FG, you just want to lump all the people you don’t like (enthusiastic Trump supporters, people who think Hillary Clinton is a crook, people who aren’t particularly covetous of rich people’s wealth, churchgoers, anyone who thinks it might be reasonable for a nominal Christian such as yourself to value freedom of religion or to pay attention to Biblical teaching instead of the Democrats’ party platform) together. It’s lazy thinking — stereotyping, basically.

            You should get out more, and see that there are night-and-day distinctions to be made among the groups you lump together.

          • FriendlyGoat

            Years ago, Toby Keith had a country song called “I Love This Bar” which noted that a celebrated watering hole had all kinds of people in these opening lines:

            We got winners, we got losers
            Chain smokers and boozers
            And we got yuppies, we got bikers
            We got thirsty hitchhikers
            And the girls next door dress up like movie stars

            Hmm, hmm, hmm I love this bar

            We got cowboys, we got truckers
            Broken-hearted fools and suckers
            And we got hustlers, we got fighters
            Early birds and all-nighters
            And the veterans talk about their battle scars

            Hmm, hmm, hmm I love this bar

            There are many kinds of Trump voters (including, we could easliy imagine, most of the characters at Toby’s bar). The church people, however, are the ones who 1) Put Trump’s election over the top, 2) Should have known better BECAUSE of what they could easily see and hear in Trump’s own words and demeanor.

            Yes, in the primaries, many tried to go with Cruz, Walker, Carson, Huckabee and others. In the end, most of them capitulated to Trump. You may never see this as a spiritual tragedy for America. I am never going to stop seeing it that way.

    • Jim__L

      You think Assange is working for the *Americans*?

      You’re crazy.

      • FriendlyGoat

        If Republicans and Russians can dupe you, they can dupe Assange.

  • Boritz

    What we need is our own ministry of propaganda……..what?………oh.  Never mind.

  • ThomasD

    I’m less concerned about the “fake” news we hear than the real news we don’t.

    The media went out of their way to hide the affairs of John Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, Bill Clinton and John Edwards. And are now up in arms because somebody managed to leak a bunch of unbecoming information out of the DNC/Hillary campaign.

  • Kevin

    This seems like a particularly poorly thought out plan, if it can even be dignified to be called a plan.

    More like:
    There is a problem
    We must do something
    This is something (with $ attached)
    Therefore we must do this (and spend $ on it)

    • Jim__L

      Kevin, you have brilliantly laid out the Democrats’ party platform for the last hundred years.

      • M Snow

        I’m a Republican, but our guys do this too when it suits them. Think farm subsidies, the boondoggle that never seems to die. Thank you, Iowa caucuses.

        • Jim__L

          That doesn’t have the punch it used to. Cruz won Iowa opposing ethanol. The sun will set on farm subsidies soon.

          • M Snow

            Yes he did and I certainly hope you are right, but I doubt it.

          • Jim__L

            “Soon” could mean another generation, of course.

          • M Snow

            I guess in the grand scheme of things that would be true, but considering actuarial tables, I doubt I’d be here to enjoy their end.

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