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Disinformed about the Disinformation Governance Board? Call Chertoff!

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Statement on the Disinformation Governance Board
Statement on the Disinformation Governance Board
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Recently the Department of Homeland Security announced that it was temporarily deactivating its Disinformation Governance Board, a "working group" ostensibly designed to help the government develop strategies to combat fake news.

...instead of ushering in a moment of reflection, the decision that the board's work would be "paused" immediately segued into a new scandal when the DHS appointed former Department of Homeland Security secretary Michael Chertoff to colead a "review and assessment" of the organ's future.

--The Nation

Chertoff. Wait, what!? Chertoff!? What are they thinking? Wait, I'm not sure I want to know the answer to that one. He's the guy who ran DHS during Katrina, and found out about the dead people at the convention center days later, from NPR's Robert Siegal on the air.

It was an especially memorable, terrible day for me, full of awful coincidence. I wrote to a friend: "My nephew died suddenly this morning. And...NPR interviewed Michael Chertoff on the thousands of refugees in the Convention Center, while Chertoff, Head of Homeland Security, pronounced this a rumor."

Head of DHS, with authority to waive an astonishing array of civil liberties protections and eavesdrop, detain and incarcerate *anyone*, even targeting Quaker Meetings in the middle of the "Homeland," and he didn't know people were starving and dying in the convention center days after the flood.

Ok, I'm just staggered at the magnitude of this bad idea. With apologies to E. A. Blair, if you were going to set up a Ministery of Truth, who else could you possibly pick to "lead a 'review and assessment' of 'the organ's future'"? Especially if "the Department's critical work across several administrations to address disinformation" was facing "false attacks" from the likes of "human traffickers."

This particular appointment leads to one inescapable conclusion: clearly the president, in fact no Chief Executive, actually sets policy as we were taught in school is their job. It is embarrassing and shaming to find myself outraged time and again by something so consistently proven bootless. Still it was, we were all taught, the whole point of inventing America in the first place, after the outrages of monarchy.

Not that there was anything noticeably unusual about this administration, but bottom-of-the-barrel seemed to be its main criterion when hiring a Cabinet, from its mediocre beginnings. Anybody would look qualified after the last bunch; but Blinken. Nuland. No wonder Gaza, Afghanistan, Yemen, Ukraine.

I hate the term, but nothing screams "deep state" like resurrecting this shambling, brain-eating zombie to carry on "the Department's critical work across several administrations." There's no way they didn't know Chertoff's abysmal track record of incompetence combined with conflicts of interest. They must see it as an asset. Maybe getting away with such extraordinary brazenness weighs heavily in a candidate's favor. Maybe they just don't care. One can only expect a repeat performance of the Siegal interview.

As to what Biden is thinking, my guess is that it doesn't really matter anymore what a head of state actually thinks. Some presidents surround themselves with yes-men; some with experts. Hard to say which is worse. They get fed this stuff every morning, and stand up at pressers and read the prompts. Surviving a presidential campaign only means one thing now: you're so emotionally dead, you can take the heat. Just the sort of person to lead a nation.

Is this some weird kind of on-the-job training? It's as if there were only a couple of hundred people in the whole country who ever get considered for high office, and they've all been tried, maybe several times, they're known quantities, and then their failures get narrated into achievements. Lately there has been a trend toward former entertainers as heads of state. It started with Reagan. A lot of this crap started with Reagan. He was a movie actor. My first campaign memories start with Eisenhower, a general widely credited with winning WWII. Now it's all happening onscreen, and the skillset required of a head of state is more like that of a porn actor.

Is this the best we can come up with? You (and you could be anybody) probably know seventeen people personally who could take things in a much more postive and viable direction. The sort who would volunteer, who would be ashamed and embarrassed to hire firms of professional liars to get them elected, or to spend more than bus fare on the project. They would focus on hunger and homelessness and public health and carbon emissions. They would uphold human dignity.

But that wouldn't make anybody richer. Except almost everybody who is now fleeing eco-nomic and eco-logic eco-disaster.

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I'm an old Pogo fan. For some unknown reason I persist in outrage at Feudalism, as if human beings can do much better than this. Our old ways of life are obsolete and are killing us. Will the human race wake up in time? Stay (more...)

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