June 30, 2010

Glenn Greenwald on "The Universality of War Propaganda"

Please check out Glenn Greenwald explanation of how the Atlantic's Jeffrey Goldberg is just a standard, mass-produced, dreary government propagandist. They might as well grow these people in vats:

Goldberg apparently thinks that if you can find some citizens in an invaded country who are happy about the invasion, then it demonstrates the aggression was justifiable or at least morally supportable (I suppose I should be thankful that he didn't haul out the think-about-how-great-this-is-for-the-Iraqi-gays platitude long cherished by so many neocons, though -- given the hideous reality in Iraq in that realm -- that's now a deceitful bridge too far even for them).  I'm not interested in an overly personalized exchange with Goldberg, but there is one aspect of his response worth highlighting:  the universality of the war propaganda he proffers.  Those who perpetrate wars of aggression invariably invent moral justifications to allow themselves and the citizens of the aggressor state to feel good and noble about themselves.  Hence, even an unprovoked attack which literally destroys a country and ruins the lives of millions of innocent people -- as the U.S. invasion of Iraq did -- is scripted as a morality play with the invaders cast in the role of magnanimous heroes.

It's difficult to find an invasion in history that wasn't supported by at least some faction of the invaded population and where that same self-justifying script wasn't used...

Read it all.

—Jonathan Schwarz

Posted at 09:05 AM | Comments (32)

June 29, 2010

Money Is Not Real

So, the world's elites have decided to focus all their efforts on generating another Great Depression. Their cunning plan is to destroy their countries in order to save them:

As Europe’s major economies focus on belt-tightening, they are following the path of Ireland. But the once thriving nation is struggling, with no sign of a rapid turnaround in sight.

Nearly two years ago, an economic collapse forced Ireland to cut public spending and raise taxes, the type of austerity measures that financial markets are now pressing on most advanced industrial nations...

Rather than being rewarded for its actions, though, Ireland is being penalized. Its downturn has certainly been sharper than if the government had spent more to keep people working. Lacking stimulus money, the Irish economy shrank 7.1 percent last year and remains in recession...

[David Stronge] moved to reinvent himself, returning to school with thousands of other Irish, in hopes that a higher degree would lead to better prospects. Mr. Stronge plans to seek alternative energy jobs in Britain once he gets his master’s degree in August.

"Ireland isn’t going to spend on infrastructure probably for another 10 to 15 years," he said. "So you have to go to where the opportunities are."

At the D Café, a sandwich shop facing a stretch of empty buildings in Dublin’s Docklands enclave, even that dream seems impossible. “If you’re self-employed and lose your job, you’re entitled to nothing, not even the dole,” said Debbie, the owner, who would only give her first name.

She transformed her convenience store into a deli when Liam Carroll, a property baron, threw up the nearby developments. But the tenants never came, and her business evaporated.

"It’s so destroying," she said, gazing out the window. "We all live day by day, and we don’t know when it will ever pick up."

Of course, much of the world's elite understand exactly what they're doing: i.e., use the economic catastrophe they themselves created as a pretext to kill the welfare state they've despised for 65 years. Nonetheless, a significant chunk of them actually believe they're doing the right thing for everyone.

How is this possible? The best explanation I've seen appears in a 1994 book by John Ralston Saul called The Doubter's Companion. It's a kind of dictionary—the whole book is just him defining and discussing a bunch of words. And one thing he defines is "debt, unsustainable levels of." Everything you need to understand about our current attempt to obliterate ourselves can be found within it. His most important point is that money is not real. Yet somehow we've decided it's a great idea to stop feeding real food to real people and cease educating real children in order to demonstrate fealty to an abstract concept.

My favorite parts are these, but you should go below the fold and read the whole thing:

A nation cannot make debts sustainable by cutting costs. Cuts may produce marginal savings, but savings are not cash flow. This is another example of the alchemist’s temptation...

Civilizations which become obsessed by sustaining unsustainable debt-loads have forgotten the basic nature of money. Money is not real. It is a conscious agreement on measuring abstract value. Unhealthy societies often become mesmerized by money and treat it as if it were something concrete. The effect is to destroy the currency’s practical value.

• • •


National debts are treated today as if they were unforgiving gods with the power to control, alter and if necessary destroy a country. This financial trap is usually presented as if it were peculiar to our time, as well as being a profound comment on the profligate habits of the population. The reality may be less disturbing.

1. The building up of unsustainable debt loads is a commonplace in history. There are several standard means of resolving the problem: execute the lenders, exile them, default outright or simply renegotiate to achieve partial default and low interest rates.

2. There is no example of a nation become rich by paying its debts.

3. There are dozens of examples of nations becoming rich by defaulting or renegotiating. This begins formally in the sixth century BC with Solon taking power in debt-crippled Athens. His organization of general default – “the shaking off of the burdens” – set the city-state on its road to democracy and prosperity. The Athens which is still remembered as the central inspiration of WESTERN CIVILIZATION was the direct product of a national default. One way or another most Western countries, including the United States, have done the same thing at some point. Most national defaults lead to sustained periods of prosperity.

4. The non-payment of debts carried no moral weight. The only moral standards recognized in Western society as being relevant to lending are those which identify profit made from loans as a sin. Loans themselves are mere contracts and therefore cannot carry moral value.

5. As all businessmen know, contracts are to be respected whenever possible. When not possible, regulations exist to aid default or renegotiation. Businessmen regularly do both and happily walk away.

The collapse of the Reichmann financial empire – larger than most countries – is a recent example. The family was able to turn around, walk away and almost immediately begin a new life, promoting the biggest property development in the history of Mexico.

6. There are no general regulations dealing with the financial problems of nations simply because they are themselves the regulatory authority. There is however well-established historical precedent. Mexico effectively defaulted in 1982-83, thus regenerating its economy. The reaction of Western lenders has been to treat these crises as special cases. The sort of thing that only happens to Third World countries. That’s nonsense.

7. The one major difference between private and public debt is that the public sore cannot be based upon real collateral. This makes default a more natural solution to unviable situations.

The question of national collateral was fully addressed in the eighteenth century when it became clear that an indebted people could not owe their national rights (their land and property) to a lender. The citizen’s natural and concrete rights took precedence over the lender’s abstract rights.

One of the most peculiar and insidious aspects of twentieth-century CORPORATISM has been an attempt to reverse this precedence. The managerial imperative suggests that national debts can be indirectly collateralized in several ways. Governments can be forced to sell national property to pay debts (PRIVATIZATION). They can also be pressed to transfer ownership of national property to lenders, as has been done in the Third World.

There is also the threat that defaulting nations will be treated as international pariahs. This is a strange argument since it doesn’t apply in the private sector (see 5). It is also an idle threat, as Mexico has demonstrated (see 6).

8. Debts – both public and private – become unsustainable when the borrower’s cash flow no longer handily carries the interest payments. Once a national economy has lost that rate of cash flow, it is unlikely to get it back. The weight of the debt on the economy makes it impossible.

9. A nation cannot make debts sustainable by cutting costs. Cuts may produce marginal savings, but savings are not cash flow. This is another example of the alchemist’s temptation.

Mrs. Thatcher spent a decade trying to slash the British national debt. She had the advantage of being able to use North Sea oil income for this purpose. The result was a damaged industrial sector, economic stagnation and endemic unemployment.

The payment of debts is a negative process which can only be a drain on investment and growth. The more successful major repayment programs are, the more the economy will be damaged.

10. Strong nations weaken their own economies by forcing weaker ones to maintain unsustainable debt-levels. For example, in spite of enormous efforts on all sides, the Third World debt has continued to grow. In 1993 it was $1.6 trillion. This costs them far more in interest payments sent to the West than the West sends in aid. The practical effect is to make economic growth impossible. The Third World thus constitutes a dead weight in our ongoing DEPRESSION; a barrier to renewed cash flow

11. Civilizations which become obsessed by sustaining unsustainable debt-loads have forgotten the basic nature of money. Money is not real. It is a conscious agreement on measuring abstract value. Unhealthy societies often become mesmerized by money and treat it as if it were something concrete. The effect is to destroy the currency’s practical value.

12. An obsession with such false realities and with debt repayment indicates a liner, narrow managerial approach to economics. The management of an economy is the profession of finance-department technocrats, economists and bankers. Their approach is quite naturally one of continuity. This is a means of denying failure.

To treat money or debt as a contractual matter – therefore open to non-payment or to renegotiation – would mean treating the managerial profession as of secondary importance and unrelated to fundamental truths. What sensible people might see as originality or practicality, fiancnial expers see as a threat to their professional self-pride.

13. Does all of this mean that governments should default on their national debt? Not exactly.

What it does mean is that we are imprisoned in a linear and managerial approach which denies reality, to say nothing of experience. Money is first a matter of imagination and second of fixed agreements on the willing suspension of disbelief.

In other words, it is possible to approach the debt problem in quite different ways.

14. There have been changes which limit our actions in comparison to those of Solon or Henry IV, who negotiated his way out of an impossible debt situation in the early seventeenth century and re-established prosperity. First we have to recognize and protect the investment made by citizens directly (government bonds) and indirectly (bank deposits) in the financing of national debts. Second, there is the new and unregulated complexity of the international MONEY MARKETS, which now constitutes an important corporatist element.

15. Our central problem is one of approach. For two decades governments have been instructing economists and finance officials to come up with ways in which the debt can be paid down and interest payments maintained.

No one has instructed them to propose methods for not paying the debt and not maintaining interest payments. No one has asked them to use their creativity in place of a priori logic.

16. Were the members of the Group of Seven (G7) each to pool their economists and give them a month to come up with modern versions of default, we might be surprised by the ease with which practical proposals would appear.

17. There are two simple guiding points:

A. The appearance of continuity is easily achieved in default scenarios through paper mechanisms which can be categorized as “debt retirement.”

B. What is difficult for a single country in contemporary circumstances is easy for a group, particularly if that group speak for the developed world. See: ETHICS.

—Jonathan Schwarz

Posted at 03:34 PM | Comments (65)

Lara Logan's Huge Scoop

Perhaps you got the impression from Lara Logan's recent interview on CNN that she's a horribly embarrassing suck-up who's proud of refusing to report important information that would embarrass the U.S. government. Au contraire!

LOGAN: There are a lot of very good reporters out there. And to be fair to the military, if they believe that a piece is balanced, they will let you back. They may not have loved it. They didn't love the piece I did about hand grenades being thrown in Iraq that were killing troops. They didn't love that piece, it made a lot of people very angry. They didn't block me from coming back.

So, this hand grenade story sounds great! She probably uncovered a big scandal, maybe about a U.S. defense contractor with ties to former generals that was manufacturing defective grenades that blew up prematurely and killed U.S. troops. No wonder she's so proud of it!

Ha ha:

BAGHDAD, Iraq, Sept. 5, 2007

Iraq's New Danger: Armor-Piercing Grenades
U.S. Army Tells CBS News Al Qaeda Is Killing Soldiers With Grenades

By Lara Logan

An al Qaeda propaganda video dated Aug. 15, 2006, shows a brazen attack on U.S. soldiers with a hand grenade that's more deadly than any other...

It's not a new weapon on the Iraqi battlefield, but CBS News has learned it's being used more now than ever. And for the first time, the Army has admitted this weapon is killing its soldiers...

I realize this seems like a joke, but it's not. Lara Logan wants the whole world to know that she reported that Iraqis were using grenades. Next up for Lara: blowing the lid off the Taliban's brazen use of guns.

—Jonathan Schwarz

Posted at 08:57 AM | Comments (13)

June 28, 2010

What Howard Kurtz & Lara Logan Left Out

So Michael Hastings, the guy who wrote the now-famous Rolling Stone article about Stan McChrystal, was just on Howard Kurtz's CNN show (via Glenn Greenwald). Kurtz brought up this:

KURTZ: [Y]ou wrote a piece for "GQ" magazine about a different kind of embedding, being embedded with the presidential campaign. And you said, "You pretend to be friendly and non-threatening. And over time you build trust, which everyone knows is an illusion. If the time comes, if your editors calls for it, you're supposed to (EXPLETIVE DELETED) them over."

This infuriated Lara Logan of CBS, who I understand just celebrated her sixth birthday:

LOGAN: There is an element of trust. And what I find is the most telling thing about what Michael Hastings said in your interview is that he talked about his manner as pretending to build an illusion of trust and, you know, he's laid out there what his game is. That is exactly the kind of damaging type of attitude that makes it difficult for reporters who are genuine about what they do, who don't -- I don't go around in my personal life pretending to be one thing and then being something else. I mean, I find it egregious that anyone would do that in their professional life.

But here's what Michael Hastings actually wrote in the GQ article that Howard Kurtz mentioned:

The dance with staffers is a perilous one. You’re probably not going to get much, if any, one-on-one time with the candidate, which means your sources of information are the people who work for him. So you pretend to be friendly and nonthreatening, and over time you “build trust,” which everybody involved knows is an illusion. If the time comes, if your editor calls for it, you’re supposed to fuck them over; and they’ll throw you under a bus without much thought, too. (I should say that personal friendships can actually develop, despite the odds.) For the top campaign officials and operatives, seduction and punishment of reporters is an art.

So both Kurtz and Logan left out the most obvious aspect of this (genuinely gross) relationship between reporters and politicians: they're both trying to manipulate each other. It's not the case that politicians—or generals, who are most definitely politicians—are poor babes in the woods, ruthlessly taken advantage of by the Machiavellian journalists. They're trying to screw the journalists just as hard.

It may seem amazing that Lara Logan doesn't understand this, and believes Stan McChrystal & co. are her good buddies and just spend time with her because she's so neat. But it would be cruel to tell her. She'll figure it out for herself next fall in first grade.

—Jonathan Schwarz

Posted at 10:20 PM | Comments (4)

Best Member of KKK Ever


—Jonathan Schwarz

Posted at 08:57 AM | Comments (7)

June 27, 2010

Ask the Jihadist

Yesterday on twitter, Jeremy Scahill griped about the peculiar nationalist frenzy that seems to engulf lots of Americans at international sports events (read from bottom to top):


This made Jeff Poor of Newsbusters.org very angry.

Not that funny so far, right? But here's the funny part:

SLAIMAN ABOU-GHAITH: I was sitting with the sheik in a room, then I left to go to another room where there was a TV set. The TV broadcasted the big event. The scene was showing an Egyptian family sitting in their living room, they exploded with joy. Do you know when there is a soccer game and your team wins? It was the same expression of joy. There was a subtitle that read: "In revenge for the children of Al Aqsa, Osama bin Laden executes an operation against America."

Slaiman Abou-Ghaith was one of Osama bin Laden's right-hand men and an al Qaeda spokesman. That's part of a videotape bin Laden & co. apparently made in mid-November, 2001 as they sat around reliving their moment of glory.

So there are three positions here:

1. Jeremy Scahill: Some people will mindlessly cheer for their "side," whether watching soccer or the slaughter of innocent people. This is a bad thing.

2. Slaiman Abou-Ghaith: Some people will mindlessly cheer for their "side," whether watching soccer or the slaughter of innocent people. This is a great thing.

3. Jeff Poor: People never mindlessly cheer for their "side" when it's slaughtering innocent people, and anyone who suggests they might and draws a connection between that and nationalistic sports frenzies is an "anti-American jihadist."

So there you have it: Jeremy Scahill is an anti-American jihadist for loathing a phenomenon beloved by an anti-American jihadist. Confusing!

P.S. The Abou-Graith statement is interesting in other ways too. Obviously Osama bin Laden couldn't possibly care less about "the children of Al Aqsa" (i.e., Palestinians killed during the second intifada). But his PR people were extremely excited that he seemed to be gaining power in the Muslim world by killing people on the other "side" and casting himself as the champion of those with legitimate grievances. I imagine there was the same kind of excitement in the Bush White House during the first days of the invasion of Iraq.

—Jonathan Schwarz

Posted at 11:07 PM | Comments (23)

June 26, 2010


Here's Jeffrey Goldberg again, writing about how great it was that the Washington Post fired Dave Weigel:

The sad truth is that the Washington Post, in its general desperation for page views, now hires people who came up in journalism without much adult supervision, and without the proper amount of toilet-training...some people at the Post (where I worked, briefly, 20 years ago) still know the difference between acceptable behavior and unacceptable behavior.

But how does this housebreaking of reporters by the adults at the Washington Post actually function? Here's an example from the late eighties, when Saddam Hussein was conducting the genocidal Anfal campaign against Iraqi Kurds, using chemical weapons. This included the gassing of the town of Halabja in 1988.

So how did the Washington Post toilet train its journalists? This is from pages 185-6 of A Problem from Hell by Samantha Power:

Official Knowledge, Official Silence...

[W]hatever the broad knowledge of the facts, the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad gave the impression that the demolition and population transfers were both justified and likely soon to subside...

The U.S. media did not press the matter...The Washington Post's [Jonathan] Randal had visited in 1985, but he could not persuade his editors that another trip would be worth the expensive, the risk and the hassle. Once, when he tried to get the Post to publish a picture of a gassed Kurd, his editor asked, "Who will care?"

At the time, this was a story the U.S. government didn't want covered. So the Post helpfully trained its reporters not to ask questions about it.

But by 2002, this had turned from the wrong story into the right story. It was something the U.S. government very badly did want covered. Someone definitely cared. And so, using the toilet-training he'd acquired at the Washington Post, Jeffrey Goldberg wrote thousands of words about it, with tons of vivid detail:

In the late morning of March 16, 1988, an Iraqi Air Force helicopter appeared over the city of Halabja...

Nouri Hama Ali, who lived in the northern part of town, decided to lead his family in the direction of Anab, a collective settlement on the outskirts of Halabja that housed Kurds displaced when the Iraqi Army destroyed their villages. “On the road to Anab, many of the women and children began to die,” Nouri told me. “The chemical clouds were on the ground. They were heavy. We could see them.” People were dying all around, he said. When a child could not go on, the parents, becoming hysterical with fear, abandoned him. “Many children were left on the ground, by the side of the road. Old people as well. They were running, then they would stop breathing and die.”

Then when Saddam Hussein was on trial in 2006, the Anfal campaign was again the right story. So the Washington Post ran a long article about it, also with lots of detail:

To Amina Khalid Saleem, 54, Hussein is already guilty. She still vividly remembers the morning the chemical bombs pounded her village of Siareh, nestled in the foothills of Gara Mountain. "It entered my nose, and I started coughing, and something yellow began to seep from my mouth," said Saleem, a short, strong-voiced woman in a blue skirt and white head scarf. "Everything around me turned yellow, and it became dark. People were fleeing in all directions."

So whatever you want to say about Jeffrey Goldberg, he's definitely telling the truth when he says Washington Post reporters and he himself have been extremely well trained.

Here's what George Orwell wrote in 1944 about this training process:

One of the most extraordinary things about England is that there is almost no official censorship, and yet nothing that is actually offensive to the governing class gets into print, at least in any place where large numbers of people are likely to read it...Circus dogs jump when the trainer cracks his whip, but the really well-trained dog is the one that turns his somersault when there is no whip.

However, even Orwell never imagined that some circus dogs would brag about their obedience.

—Jonathan Schwarz

Posted at 08:37 PM | Comments (13)

Katie Couric, Poor Barefooted Waif

Katie Couric in 2007:

I remember feeling, when I was anchoring the 'Today' show, this inevitable march towards war and kind of feeling like, 'Will anybody put the brakes on this?' And is this really being properly challenged by the right people?

If only someone somewhere had had the means to do this. BUT WHO?!?!?!?!?!

—Jonathan Schwarz

Posted at 05:34 PM | Comments (11)

June 25, 2010

Five Dollar Friday

Explanation of Five Dollar Friday here. Follow who else is giving on twitter.

I'm violating the rules, because The Whitest Kids U'Know aren't actually doing this for free. I also don't know how to send them money. But someday I will meet one of them and hand them a five dollar bill for this:

I wish I'd made that.

—Jonathan Schwarz

Posted at 09:21 PM | Comments (14)

Bob Somerby Has the Day Off

Hello everyone, I'll be filling in for Bob today.

Jeffrey Goldberg is celebrating the firing of writer Dave Weigel by the Washington Post:

[This is] sort of a happy day at The Washington Post, for the dwindling band of writers and editors there who value such old-fashioned traits as temperance in the expression of personal views; forthrightness; and fairness...

The sad truth is that the Washington Post, in its general desperation for page views, now hires people who came up in journalism without much adult supervision, and without the proper amount of toilet-training. This little episode today is proof of this. But it is also proof that some people at the Post (where I worked, briefly, 20 years ago) still know the difference between acceptable behavior and unacceptable behavior, and that maybe this episode will lead to the reimposition of some level of standards.

Here's Eric Pooley of Time describing a 1999 debate between Bill Bradley and Al Gore:

...the 300 media types watching in the press room at Dartmouth were, to use the appropriate technical term, totally grossed out by it. Whenever Gore came on too strong, the room erupted in a collective jeer, like a gang of 15-year-old Heathers cutting down some hapless nerd.

Jake Tapper, then of Salon, now of ABC, describing the same event:

...at the first debate between Bill Bradley and Al Gore, there was hissing for Gore in the media room up at Dartmouth College. The reporters were hissing Gore...

Howard Mortman of Hotline describing it:

The media groaned, howled and laughed almost every time Al Gore said something...

To be clear, I have no problem with any reporter sneering at any politician. It would be a better world if they all sneered at all of them (as long as it was for things like claiming the power to assassinate U.S. citizens, or making assertions about Iran's nuclear activities that go beyond official U.S. intelligence, rather than not being cool enough). But it's unbearable to have Jeffrey Goldberg lecture the universe about proper journalistic standards.

P.S. It would be interesting to ask the Washington Post ombudsman whether its reporters who were at Dartmouth for this debate, Ceci Connolly and Dan Balz, Michael Powell and David Broder remember and/or participated in this.

—Jonathan Schwarz

Posted at 07:06 PM | Comments (6)

June 24, 2010


This is a famous quote from a Samuel Gompers speech in 1890 in which Gompers explained what (according to him) the U.S. labor movement wanted. The "more!" line is about the only thing anyone remembers about Gompers by now:

GOMPERS: ...it has been said that we will want more; that last year we got an advance of ten cents and now we want more. We do want more. You will find that a man generally wants more...We do want more, and when it becomes more, we shall still want more. And we shall never cease to demand more until we have received the results of our labor.

This is a from a new book by Nicholas von Hoffman about Saul Alinsky called Radical:

In describing [John] Lewis' relationship with Samuel Gompers, the founder of the American Federation of Labor, who with Lewis and Walter Reuther was one of the three most important figures in the history of American unionism, Saul wrote, "They became intimate friends. Gompers trusted Lewis implicitly, and it is reliably reported that whenever Gompers would go on a carouse he would trust Lewis to stand guard against any unfavorable repercussions." In Lewis-remembrance mood, Saul said that actually Gompers would post the large and very tough Lewis in front of Gompers' hotel room door so the older man could safely while away the night making merry with a string of hookers. Lewis told Saul that Gompers would have three women a night. Whether or not that impressed John L., it impressed Saul...

And...the...union...makes us strong!

—Jonathan Schwarz

Posted at 08:14 PM | Comments (9)


One reason I admire Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting so much is their ability to remain calm as they've chronicled decades of shameless deceit.

The New York Times (6/22/10), Washington Post (6/21/10) and Nightline (6/23/10) all reported the remarks of Secretary of State Clinton that "the sky is bright green," with no dissenting views. The discussion on Nightline did include a debate on the subject, but both guests accepted the premise that the sky is bright green, differing only on exactly how bright the green is. In the future it would be appropriate for the outlets to include the perspective of some of the tens of thousands of meteorologists who have studied the sky intensively and unanimously concluded that it is blue.

(Note: not actual FAIR article.)

Today in light of the Rolling Stone piece that did in McChrystal, FAIR's blot takes a look back at the way journalists straightforwardly admit they trade soft coverage for access. I'd forgotten this excruciatingly painful statement by ABC's Martha Raddatz:

A warrior and a scholar, Petraeus is sometimes jokingly referred to as a water walker, since almost everything he touches seems to turn to gold.

All I can say about that is BLARRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR, but FAIR manages to work it into something informed and coherent. Read it all.

P.S. When you say "he is sometimes called a water-walker, because ________" the blank should not be filled with something else metaphorical. For instance, don't write "he is sometimes called a water-walker, because he can charm the birds right out of the trees." See? (BLAAAR.)

—Jonathan Schwarz

Posted at 05:41 PM | Comments (11)

More Good Agitprop

If it were me I would make both the pelican and man the same size, but good agitprop is so rare that I really shouldn't complain. This is by Diane Steen-Hinderlie, from here:


If you liked that, you may also enjoy the only other good agitprop I've seen during the 21st century.

—Jonathan Schwarz

Posted at 03:49 PM | Comments (3)

June 23, 2010

Pat-Tillman-Friendly-Fire-Death-Cover-Up Humor

From here:

BREAKING: Gen. McChrystal approves report stating he was taken out by enemy fire

—Jonathan Schwarz

Posted at 03:08 PM | Comments (10)

June 22, 2010

The Obama Philosophy

Later today when Obama shows up in the White House press room and says, "At this critical moment in our nation's struggle against extremism, we can't afford to lose General McChrystal's wisdom and leadership," this section of Dreams From My Father will help you understand his perspective. It takes place when Obama was as a boy in Indonesia; Lolo is his stepfather:

"Men take advantage of weakness in other men," [Lolo told me]. "They’re just like countries in that way"...He paused to take another sip of water, then asked, “Which would you rather be?”

I didn’t answer, and Lolo squinted up at the sky. "Better to be strong,” he said finally, rising to his feet. “If you can’t be strong, be clever and make peace with someone who’s strong"...

Power. The word fixed in my mother’s mind like a curse. In America, it had generally remained hidden from view until you dug beneath the surface of things; until you visited an Indian reservation or spoke to a black person whose trust you had earned. But here power was undisguised, indiscriminate, naked, always fresh in the memory. Power had taken Lolo and yanked him back into line just when he thought he’d escaped, making him feel its weight, letting him know that his life wasn’t his own. That’s how things were; you couldn’t change it, you could just live by the rules, so simple once you learned them.

He's just livin' by the rules, so simple.

—Jonathan Schwarz

Posted at 05:57 PM | Comments (34)

The Horrifying Scumbag Playbook


There are three steps in this chapter of the Horrifying Scumbag Playbook.

STEP ONE: Your lackeys have murdered someone in full view of the entire world. Whoops! Time to express "regret."

Statement by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, President of Iran, expressing regret about the murder of Iranian citizen Neda Agha-Soltan and others by the Basij militia:

"All of us regret the fact that some people were killed...I was saddened, as well all the Iranian people were saddened."

Statement by Barack Obama, President of the United States, expressing regret about the murder of U.S. citizen Furkan Dogan and others by Israel:

The President expressed deep regret at the loss of life in today's incident, and concern for the wounded.
• • •

STEP TWO: Call for an investigation. No one wants to learn the truth more than you!

Statement on the Iranian government website, calling for an investigation of the murder of Neda Agha-Soltan and others:

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Monday requested the Judiciary chief to hold inquiry into Neda Agha-Sultan’s murder...the president told Ayatollah Shahroudi “to instruct the judiciary establishment to follow up the case of her death...”

Statement on the White House website, endorsing an investigation of the murder of Furkan Dogan and others:

...the United States [supports] the completion of a prompt, impartial, credible, and transparent investigation.
• • •

STEP THREE: Now's the fun part: your Official Enemy has murdered someone in full view of the entire world. You're outraged! Also, you stand with the victims!

Statement by Ahmadinejad, condemning the murder of Furkan Dogan and others, and expressing solidarity with Palestinians:

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Tuesday strongly condemned the atrocities committed by the Zionist regime against the human rights activists on board Flotilla of six aid ships...President Ahmadinejad voiced Iran’s solidarity with the Palestinian nation and said the Islamic Republic of Iran is determined to back the Palestinian nation and its true supporters.

Statement by Obama, condemning the murder of Neda Agha-Soltan and others, and expressing solidarity with Iranians:

I strongly condemn these unjust actions, and I join with the American people in mourning each and every innocent life that is lost...

And I think it's important for us to make sure that -- that we let the Iranian people know that we are watching what's happening, that they are not alone in this process.

PREVIOUSLY IN THE HORRIFYING SCUMBAG PLAYBOOK: You're a longtime genocide denier, not out of conviction but just due to banal power considerations. But the heat is on. Time to call for a historical commission!

—Jonathan Schwarz

Posted at 01:59 AM | Comments (27)

June 21, 2010

Robert J. Samuelson: Why Is He So Incredibly Awful?

Last year Mark Jacobson, an extremely non-crazy engineering professor at Stanford, wrote an article (pdf) making the case that 100% of the world's energy needs could be produced from renewable sources (mostly solar and wind) by 2030. Obviously that's not going to happen, but it is useful as a description of what's physically and economically feasible. If you want to know more, an interview with him is here.

Now here's Robert Samuelson, part of the team of op-ed writers who work assiduously every day to destroy the Washington Post:

Energy Pipe Dreams

Obama held out a gleaming vision of an America that would convert to the "clean" energy of, presumably, wind, solar and biomass. It isn't going to happen for many, many decades, if ever...There are physical limits on new energy sources...wind turbines have limited potential...It's not industry lobbyists who sustain fossil fuels but the reality that they're economically and socially necessary.

I don't think Samuelson is literally in the pay of the oil and coal industries (at least not directly). Yet without addressing any of the many serious people who've studied this, he simply pronounces that significant change isn't possible. Why?

The reason, I'm certain, is he's just the kind of person who in every situation has a deep emotional attachment to the status quo. Everything is already the best it can be. If he'd been alive in 1870, he would have been writing about how we could never switch off of a whale blubber-powered economy. If we followed Mark Jacobson's recommendations, in 40 years Samuelson would be writing about how we could never switch from solar and wind power.

This is a strange but powerful instinct in many humans. Lots of people HATE change, even if it would make the world better and them happier. Here's Richard Feynman describing how he learned this lesson:

I must have been seventeen or eighteen when I worked one summer in a hotel run by my aunt...

I used to cut vegetables in the kitchen. String beans had to be cut into one-inch pieces. The way you were supposed to do it was: You hold two beans in one hand, the knife in the other, and you press the knife against the beans and your thumb, almost cutting yourself. It was a slow process. So I put my mind to it, and I got a pretty good idea. I sat down at the wooden table outside the kitchen, put a bowl in my lap, and stuck a very sharp knife into the table at a forty-five-degree angle away from me. Then I put apile of the string beans on each side, and I'd pick out a bean, one in each hand, and bring it towards me with enough speed that it would slice, and the pieces would slide into the bowl that was in my lap.

So I'm slicing beans one after the other -- chig, chig, chig, chig, chig -- and everybody's giving me the beans, and I'm going like sixty when the boss comes by and says, "What are you doing??
I say, "Look at the way I have of cutting beans!" -- and just at that moment I put a finger through instead of a bean. Blood came out and went on the beans, and there was a big excitement: "Look at how many beans you spoiled! What a stupid way to do things!" and so on. So I was never able to make any improvement, which would have been easy -- with a guard, or something -- but no, there was no chance for improvement...

I tried to explain -- it was my own aunt -- that there was no reason not to do that, but you can't say that to anybody who's smart, who runs a hotel! I learned there that innovation is a very difficult thing in the real world.


BONUS AWFUL: In July, 2008, Robert Samuelson shared these insights with us: "the banking system seems fairly strong" and "the paradoxical thing about today's economy is its strength."

—Jonathan Schwarz

Posted at 11:25 AM | Comments (38)

June 18, 2010

Five Dollar Friday

Explanation of Five Dollar Friday here. Follow who else is giving on twitter.

Today I'm sending a month's worth of $5 ($20 total) to Firedoglake, which is holding a fundraiser right now. It would be worth $20 just for the below video featuring Alan "Distillation of Human Ugliness" Simpson. But Jane Hamsher & co. are some of the very, very few people within the buggosphere who think seriously about how to create sustainable pressure on our gruesome political system. Plus Hamsher is a genuine weirdo, which I always appreciate.

Here's a post Hamsher wrote for their fundraiser called "The Freedom to Say What You Mean, and Fight for What You Believe." I hope this makes you want to donate too:

...do we accept a corporate-sponsored model functioning within the party that ultimately bows to the party’s corporatist goals, or are we willing to fund an independent movement, capable of freely advocating for progressive values from the outside?

FDL has chosen the latter path, and although the rewards are much greater, it’s also much harder. People often don’t realize that the freedom that our writers have to speak their minds, buck the party line and explore the topics that are “third rail” in other places is a direct result of a conscious choice we made several years ago to finance and scale FDL to operate on funding streams that could not be cut off by powerful interests. We’ve worked hard to find and develop the best talent on the internet, pay them for their work and give them the freedom to do so without worrying about whether they’ll get a check or not that month. An enormous part of my job has become making sure that the money is there to give them that freedom, in addition to paying for the platform and the technical support to get their message out.

I’m asking for your help today.

—Jonathan Schwarz

Posted at 02:16 PM | Comments (28)

June 17, 2010

Alan Simpson: Hates Americans, Loves Saddam

Here's how Alan Simpson deals with Americans asking him about the commission he's on that wants to cut Social Security:

SIMPSON: Where do you come up with all the crap you come up with?...Just listen, will you listen to me instead of babbling?...we’re not balancing the budget on the backs of senior citizens. That’s bullshit. So you’ve got that one down...You pick your crap and I’ll pick the real stuff...Let me say things in a way so your fans will understand this, so you can go and be a hero...Well you can go through all the sophistry of babbling that you want to.

And here's how Simpson dealt with genocidal dictator Saddam Hussein in 1990, when he met with him shortly before the invasion of Kuwait:

SIMPSON: I'm glad to have the opportunity to speak with you, Mr. President. I enjoy meeting with frank and direct people...President Bush told us, "Go. I want you to go. Tell him we have perspective"...

You talk about democracy. Democracy is a very irksome and confusing thing. I believe your problem is with the Western media, not with the US Government, because you are isolated from the media and the press. The press is spoiled and conceited.* All the journalists consider themselves brilliant political scientists. They do not want to see anything succeeding or achieving its objectives. My advice to you is that you allow those bastards to come here and see things for themselves.

* Just before Alan Simpson commiserated with Saddam about the "spoiled and conceited" Western media, Saddam had executed a reporter for the Observer.

—Jonathan Schwarz

Posted at 09:33 PM | Comments (19)

June 16, 2010

Dear Talk of the Nation: Thank You for Protecting Me from Relevant Information

Dear Talk of the Nation:

The world is full of important information that suggests the people who run the U.S. lie all the time and/or are insane. I don't want to know about that! It would make me sad, and I've been sad enough ever since I accidentally suffocated my friend Megan's hamster in 1977. That's why I appreciate your ceaseless efforts to protect me from sad, grown-up type facts.

For instance, just recently:

1. When you interviewed Victor Cha on May 31st about the tensions between the U.S. and North Korea, you could very easily have let slip that he had served for three years as Director for Asian Affairs on George W. Bush's National Security Council. But you didn't! Instead, as you told it, he was merely a nice professor at Georgetown. It's exactly this lack of context that helps me to not understand the world.

(It was also great that you decided to discuss the North Korean attack on a South Korean ship just hours after Israel had killed people aboard the flotilla going to Gaza. When Professor Cha explained that a "potential explanation" for North Korea being Crazee is that "they are a nuclear weapon state" and so "not vulnerable to retaliation," a lesser man than Neal Conan might have giggled. More undisciplined giggling might also have occurred when Professor Cha explained the significance of North Korea giving medals to sailors from the responsible submarine. It turns out this means North Korea "does not have peaceful intentions and it's really revisionist-oriented.")

2. When you covered the flotilla story the next day, June 1st, Sheera Frenkel said that "there were no sort of media crews onboard to just film the entire thing as it went down," so we may never "really get to the bottom of exactly what happened there."

Outstanding! I would never want to know that there were dozens of journalists aboard from all over the world, and that in fact they'd been reporting from the Mavi Marmara even before the attack. Thank you so much for not telling me.

3. When you did a show this Tuesday, June 15th about James Clapper, soon to be Director of National Intelligence, there was an awful danger: you might have accidentally informed your audience that in October, 2003, Clapper told the New York Times that Iraq's terrifying weapons of mass destruction had "unquestionably" been moved to Syria.

This would have made Americans realize that the people at the top of the U.S. government are dangerous fruitcakes. We depend on you not to tell us such things, and you came through!

So, thanks again. I look forward to listening to NPR for many years to come, and never, ever learning anything that matters.

your friend,

P.S. Now that you have this email in your possession, I know I can count on you not to pass along this unpleasant information to your audience. They don't want to know, and I know you won't tell them.

—Jonathan Schwarz

Posted at 10:23 PM | Comments (22)

June 14, 2010

Maher Arar Needs Your Help

By: John Caruso

The Center for Constitutional Rights is calling on us all to do something for Maher Arar:

Today, the United States Supreme Court rejected CCR's case on behalf of Canadian citizen and extraordinary rendition survivor Maher Arar against U.S. officials for their role in sending him to Syria to be tortured and detained in an underground, grave-like cell for a year.  This latest decision signals the end to Maher's legal case to obtain justice in U.S. courts.  Now it is up to the White House and Congress: demand action now!

With this latest decision, CCR has exhausted the legal process. While we are deeply disappointed that the courts have been unwilling to recognize Maher's right to have his story heard by an American jury we will continue to pursue every available avenue towards an apology and remedies. This case has become a national embarrassment.  The U.S. refuses to acknowledge or apologize for the crimes and human rights abuses they committed when they sent Maher to Syria to be tortured.  Maher remains on a U.S. Watch List, despite an exhaustive investigation by the Canadian Commission of Inquiry that found "categorically that there is no evidence to indicate that Mr. Arar has committed any offence or that his activities constitute a threat to the security of Canada."

As CCR cooperating attorney and Vice-President David Cole says, "The courts have regrettably refused to right the egregious wrong done to Maher Arar. But the courts have never questioned that a wrong was done. They have simply said that it is up to the political branches to fashion a remedy.  We are deeply disappointed that the courts have shirked their responsibility. But this decision only underscores the moral responsibility of those to whom the courts deferred - President Obama and Congress - to do the right thing and redress Arar's injuries."

So for Maher Arar's sake, click through on the link and spend the minute it'll take you to tell your Congressputz, Senatrollops, and Prevaricator Obama to do the right thing for once in their lives.

— John Caruso

Posted at 05:41 PM | Comments (29)

June 13, 2010

Like Congo Without the Humidity

Holy crap, what horrible news for Afghanistan:

The United States has discovered nearly $1 trillion in untapped mineral deposits in Afghanistan, far beyond any previously known reserves and enough to fundamentally alter the Afghan economy and perhaps the Afghan war itself, according to senior American government officials.

The previously unknown deposits — including huge veins of iron, copper, cobalt, gold and critical industrial metals like lithium — are so big and include so many minerals that are essential to modern industry that Afghanistan could eventually be transformed into one of the most important mining centers in the world, the United States officials believe.

An internal Pentagon memo, for example, states that Afghanistan could become the “Saudi Arabia of lithium,” a key raw material in the manufacture of batteries for laptops and Blackberries.

—Jonathan Schwarz

Posted at 10:48 PM | Comments (46)

June 12, 2010

Ten Dollar Saturday

Explanation of Five Dollar Friday here. Follow who else is giving on twitter.

This week $10 goes to Marcy Wheeler for her years of relentless reading, as well as this joke. In order to encourage myself not to get behind with $5 Friday, I'm going to double the amount for every day I'm ever late. So if I'm 30 days late, I'll have to give someone $2.5 billion. Cross your fingers, Pomplamoose!

Firedoglake only has $28,000 to go on their $150,000 fundraiser for Marcy W., so if you want to donate to this extremely worthy cause go here.


—Jonathan Schwarz

Posted at 07:25 PM | Comments (2)

June 11, 2010

Death by Schumer

9/11 Commission Report:

By his own account, KSM's animus toward the United States stemmed not from his experiences there as a student, but rather from his violent disagreement with U.S. foreign policy favoring Israel...

According to KSM, he started to think about attacking the United States...

KSM describes a grandiose original plan: a total of ten aircraft to be hijacked, nine of which would crash into targets on both coasts...KSM himself was to land the tenth plane at a U.S. airport and, after killing all adult male passengers on board and alerting the media, deliver a speech excoriating U.S. support for Israel, the Philippines, and repressive governments in the Arab world.

Chuck Schumer, 2003:

This is an issue that I have been very interested in, as you have mentioned: terrorism in general...

And the issue we are addressing is very important in our effort the protect America from future terrorist attack...

[T]he 9/11 terrorists were the products of Wahhabism's hateful and intolerant system...

[W]e are once again letting those who hate freedom recruit disciples...

Chuck Schumer, now:

SCHUMER: And to me, since the Palestinians in Gaza elected Hamas, while certainly there should be humanitarian aid and people not starving to death, to strangle them economically until they see that’s not the way to go, makes sense.

1. Chuck Schumer: "Strangle Gaza!"

2. Terrorist attack kills Americans.

3. Terrorist group: "We did it because of U.S. policy toward Gaza."

4. Chuck Schumer on national TV: "They did it because they hate freedom!"

Right now we're only at #1, but I'm sure we'll get to experience #2 through #4 before too long.

—Jonathan Schwarz

Posted at 06:57 PM | Comments (17)

June 10, 2010

Horrible Life Imitates Art

This is from an August 20, 1990 New York Times article, just after the invasion of Kuwait, by the late R.W. Apple, one of their fanciest reporters:

The obituaries were a bit premature.

There is still one superpower in the world, and it is the United States. More than any other country in the world, its interests, its exposure and its reach are global, as the events of the last two weeks have demonstrated so vividly.

Washington is not the backwater that it seemed to some when the action was all in the streets of Prague or at the Berlin wall....there is a rush of excitement in the air here. In news bureaus and Pentagon offices, dining rooms and lobbyists' hangouts, the fever is back - the heavy speculation, the avid gossip, the gung-ho, here's-where-it's-happening spirit, that marks the city when it grapples with great events.

''These days, conversations are huddled,'' said Stan Bromley, the manager of the Four Seasons Hotel, where King Hussein of Jordan stayed. ''People are leaning closer together. It's serious business.''

This from the Emmanuel Goldstein book in 1984:

The consciousness of being at war, and therefore in danger, makes the handing-over of all power to a small caste seem the natural, unavoidable condition of survival. War not only accomplishes the necessary destruction, but accomplishes it in a psychologically acceptable way. In principle it would be simple to waste the surplus labour of the world by building temples and pyramids, by digging holes and filling them up again, or even by producing vast quantities of goods and then setting fire to them. But this would provide only the economic and not the emotional basis for a hierarchical society. What is concerned here is not the morale of the masses, whose attitude is unimportant so long as they are kept steadily at work, but the Party itself. Even the humblest Party member is expected to be competent, industrious, and even intelligent within narrow limits, but it is also necessary that he should be a credulous and ignorant fanatic whose prevailing moods are fear, hatred, adulation, and orgiastic triumph. In other words it is necessary that he should have the mentality appropriate to a state of war.

Washington, D.C. is the most vile place on earth.

—Jonathan Schwarz

Posted at 09:45 AM | Comments (34)

June 09, 2010

Dirk Voetberg's Empire of Hilarious Weirdosity

I don't really know what to say about the Fightin' Guy Lady Tigers of St. Barry High, except that you should watch it:

This is also excellent work from Voetberg & co.:

—Jonathan Schwarz

Posted at 11:51 AM | Comments (5)

My Feelings Are Complicated

A comment here:

The idea that there is some thriving Arab social democratic movement that would have taken root if only Israel and the US hadn't stomped on it is a fantasy. Where is it? Who are all the great moderate Arab liberals?

On the one hand, I'm disgusted by the almost complete disappearance of concern for civil rights in U.S. politics. On the other hand, I wouldn't really be into being lectured about our failings in this area by a Saudi who's never heard of 9/11.

—Jonathan Schwarz

Posted at 10:25 AM | Comments (36)

June 08, 2010

Short Jokes

From over here:

•. One great thing about a Sarah Palin presidency is all the stories about predator strikes will be headlined "Palin Drone"

• The difference between Washington, DC and the Dead Parrot sketch is that in Washington there is no customer

• BREAKING: White House condemns Helen Thomas as "reprehensible" for calling for ethnic cleansing without being Foreign Minister of Israel

—Jonathan Schwarz

Posted at 08:27 PM | Comments (43)


Matthew Yglesias:

Trying to “reassure markets” through short-term fiscal pain is foolish. Not only is it not the case that markets seem worried about this, but short-term contraction doesn’t do anything to address the long-term problem that one might legitimately worry about—health care costs...

In our personal lives, I suppose we’re all familiar with the scenario in which something’s bothering you but you don’t have the wherewithal to address it so instead you take out your negative feelings but lashing out at someone else. It’s psychologically understandable, but it’s also shabby behavior and it certainly doesn’t make anything better. And that’s basically where elite conventional wisdom is heading these days—demanding short-term fiscal rectitude that doesn’t solve anything in lieu of tackling a sticky long-term problem.

The first axiom of Nice Liberalism is that the U.S. government (and all sectors of U.S. elites) are striving to do the very best thing for all Americans. With this as your starting point, you're forced to come up with all kinds of weird interpretations of reality in order to "understand" why the U.S. political system functions as it does.

But in fact, as the Iron Law of Institutions tells us, the people at the top of the U.S. political system are striving to expand their own power at the expense of everyone else, even if that does horrendous damage to everyone else and the U.S. as a whole.

So U.S. (and world) elites are not wandering aimlessly in some kind of psychological fog. They're not doing something "that doesn’t solve anything in lieu of tackling a sticky long-term problem." They are doing something that DOES tackle a sticky long-term problem—i.e., the welfare state, also known as "any government spending on anything except bank bailouts and wars." They've hated it for seventy years, they see the opportunity to mortally wound it, and they're seizing it.

You see how easy it is? Once you discard the mentality that the people in charge care whether we live or die, you no longer have twist yourself into bizarre conceptual knots in order to make sense of what they're up to.

—Jonathan Schwarz

Posted at 10:44 AM | Comments (32)

June 07, 2010

Bradley Manning's Critical Mistake


—Jonathan Schwarz

Posted at 08:56 AM | Comments (53)

June 06, 2010

Karl's Favorite Expert

Speaking of Obama's choice for Director of National Crazy (below), Karl Rove cited the same New York Times article on p. 339 of his recent book Courage and Consequences:

Another possibility is that some weapons may have been dispersed to other countries, such as Syria, before the war. That was the assessment of General James R. Clapper, Jr., then the director of the National Imagery and Mapping Agency (now called the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency). He told the New York Times: "I think people below the Saddam Hussein-and-his-sons level saw what was coming and decide the best thing to do was to destroy and disperse." Clapper said satellite imagery showing "a heavy flow of traffic from Iraq into Syria, just before the American invasion in March, led him to believe that illicit weapons material 'unquestionably' had been moved out of Iraq."

Change, audacity, hope and so forth.

—Jonathan Schwarz

Posted at 02:48 PM | Comments (30)

America: Still Completely Fucking Nuts


• • •

Here's more detail from the October 29, 2003 N.Y. Times story:

WASHINGTON, Oct. 28— The director of a top American spy agency said Tuesday that he believed that material from Iraq's illicit weapons program had been transported into Syria and perhaps other countries as part of an effort by the Iraqis to disperse and destroy evidence immediately before the recent war.

The official, James R. Clapper Jr., a retired lieutenant general, said satellite imagery showing a heavy flow of traffic from Iraq into Syria, just before the American invasion in March, led him to believe that illicit weapons material ''unquestionably'' had been moved out of Iraq.

''I think people below the Saddam Hussein-and-his-sons level saw what was coming and decided the best thing to do was to destroy and disperse,'' General Clapper, who leads the National Imagery and Mapping Agency, said at a breakfast with reporters.

He said he was providing a personal assessment. But he said ''the obvious conclusion one draws'' was that there ''may have been people leaving the scene, fleeing Iraq, and unquestionably, I am sure, material.'' A spokesman for General Clapper's agency, David Burpee, said he could not provide further evidence to support the general's statement.

—Jonathan Schwarz

Posted at 11:19 AM | Comments (17)

June 05, 2010

A Plea for Sanity

It's always sad when governments which enjoy killing people starting quarreling with each other. Can't they come together on shared killing-people common ground? So here's my idea: since Israel kills Turks, and Turkey kills Kurds, maybe they can sign a "Triangular Trade" peace pact if the Kurds are willing to kill some Israelis.

P.S. The funniest part of the whole Israel-Turkey fight is that for decades Israel has happily assisted Turkey by denying that the Armenian genocide was in fact genocide. (Here's an interesting letter on the subject to Shimon Peres.) After the fallout from the flotilla killings I'm guessing the Knesset even now is drafting a resolution in which Israel will suddenly discover it's outraged!!! by the Ottoman Empire's actions during World War I.

—Jonathan Schwarz

Posted at 09:12 AM | Comments (16)

June 04, 2010

Five Dollar Friday

Explanation of Five Dollar Friday here. Follow who else is giving on twitter.

I'll give non-Friday money to the flotilla people, but today's $5 goes to Jonathan Coulton for general beautiful-ness and specifically the song "Still Alive." I hope God will give me credit for being able to do this despite my seething artistic jealousy.

—Jonathan Schwarz

Posted at 11:25 PM | Comments (7)

Cenk Uygur's Disgusting Double Standards

So apparently Cenk Uygur of the Young Turks is whining about Israel killing a 19-year-old Turkish-American man. Boo hoo hoo, says Uygur, why does the Israeli government get to kill U.S. citizens with total impunity?

Somehow Mr. Uygur has CONVENIENTLY FORGOTTEN that the El Salvadoran military ALSO was allowed to kill Americans. And rape them! And they were nuns! You don't see the IDF doing that. All they did is shoot a teenager in the head four times at close range. And somehow that's supposed to be the end of the world!

And what about when Saddam Hussein's Iraq was given the green light to kill 37 U.S. sailors? Why has THAT slipped Mr. Uygur's mind? Israel has never killed 37 U.S. seamen. (It was only 34!)

I'm not a mindreader. I don't know what lies behind Mr. Uygur's bizarre and hateful attack on Israel's completely understandable need to kill Americans. All I know is that foreign governments sometimes want to kill U.S. citizens, and when it happens, the role of real Americans is to dance around celebrating it. (Except.)

—Jonathan Schwarz

Posted at 06:51 PM | Comments (16)

Israel Committed the One Unforgivable Crime

Hey, I remember this article from 1986, when it was about South Africa!

—Jonathan Schwarz

Posted at 02:29 PM | Comments (9)


By: John Caruso

Gaza Freedom March is compiling a list of emergency protests planned for the next few days all over the US and the rest of the world.  Take a look and see if there's one near you (and if there's not, maybe you can organize one).

Posted at 01:16 AM | Comments (7)

June 03, 2010

An Observation


The U.S. government protects its citizens from the Israeli government almost as much as it protects us from Wall Street and BP.


BREAKING: Obama condemns Israel for not killing 19 year-old U.S. citizen with drone

(More 140 character bursts of dismay here.)

—Jonathan Schwarz

Posted at 01:31 PM | Comments (17)

Rerun: Jimmy Carter Sux Eggs

I'm rerunning this from 2007 because I don't feel like writing exactly the same thing again.

I haven't read Carter's book Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid, but judging by his TV appearances there's a real problem with his analysis—it's not radical enough. And because the radical analysis is in fact the accurate analysis, the non-radical story Carter tells has some gaping holes in it. For instance, here he is on Hardball back in November:

PRESIDENT CARTER: So the persecution of the Palestinians now in the occupied territories under the occupation forces is one of the worst examples of human rights deprivation that I know. And I think it's --

MR. SHUSTER: Even worse, though, than a place like Rwanda?...

PRESIDENT CARTER: I'm not going back into ancient history about Rwanda. Right now the persecution of the Palestinians is one of the worst examples of human rights abuse I know, because the Palestinians --

MR. SHUSTER: You're talking about right now. You're not talking about, say...

PRESIDENT CARTER: You can talk about Rwanda if you want to. I want to talk about Palestine. What is being done to the Palestinians now is horrendous in their own territory by the occupying powers, which is Israel.

This actually does seem shifty on his part, and leaves him open to criticism like that of Deborah Lipstadt:

Carter's minimization of the Holocaust is compounded by his recent behavior. On MSNBC in December, he described conditions for Palestinians as "one of the worst examples of human rights deprivation" in the world. When the interviewer asked "Worse than Rwanda?" Carter said that he did not want to discuss the "ancient history" of Rwanda.

To give Carter the benefit of the doubt, let's say that he meant an ongoing crisis. Is the Palestinians' situation equivalent to Darfur, which our own government has branded genocide?

Here's what Carter should have said:

While the situation in Palestine is very bad—far worse than most people in the U.S. know—it's true it doesn't compare to the genocide in Rwanda or Darfur.

But Americans should care about it, for several reasons. First, we're paying for it, unlike Rwanda or Darfur. It wouldn't happen without us. Second, it's the source for enormous hatred toward the U.S. in the Muslim world. This means would-be terrorists can think—as Osama bin Laden did with 9/11—that casting themselves as champions of the Palestinians will make them politically popular if they attack the U.S. So it's really a matter of life and death for Americans.

It's also important to understand why many in the third world, Muslim and not, feel so strongly about Palestine. Here in the U.S. people often ask exactly the question you just did about why it gets so much attention, when on an absolute scale it's not close to something like Darfur. No one here ever gives an honest answer, which leads some well-meaning individuals to believe there really is a double-standard for Israel, perhaps due to anti-Semitism.

So let me give an honest answer, even though it's one many people won't like. It's this—in Europe and the U.S., we look at the past few hundred years and see two great evils: fascism and communism. But for most places on earth, there have been three great evils: fascism, communism, and colonialism. The colonization of the world by Europe and the U.S. killed tens of millions, just as many people as fascism and communism. It was just as cruel. If you ever doubt this, read up on what Belgium did to the Congo, or the British to Tasmania.

And whether it's fair or not, to people in the third world, Israel is a symbol of colonialism. That's not going to change. And they see it just as the victims of fascism would see a fascist state, or the victims of communism would see a communist state.

I realize it's very difficult for Americans to get their minds around all this, but we have to, both for our own sake and the sake of the world.

Of course, Planet Earth would have exploded if a U.S president had said that on live national television. So maybe we should be grateful he didn't. Still, Carter's case will never be convincing as long as he leaves this out.

—Jonathan Schwarz

Posted at 12:07 PM | Comments (44)

June 02, 2010

Ha Ha

May 31, 2010:

In the early morning hours of Tuesday, the Security Council...called for a prompt, impartial, credible and transparent investigation conforming to international standards.

March 19, 2003:

RICHARD BOUCHER: President Bush has talked to Prime Minister Sharon about the death of Rachel Corrie...Prime Minister Sharon assured the President that the Israeli Government will undertake a thorough, credible and transparent investigation and report those results to the United States.

And so it was!

Hopefully this new investigation will meet the same high standards as Israel's investigation of the death of Rachel Corrie...although that may be too much to hope for, since Benjamin Netanyahu does not have the same integrity and high ethical standards as Ariel Sharon. Here's Joe Lockhart, White House spokesman from 1998-2000:

Netanyahu was one of the single most obnoxious individuals you're going to come into—just a liar and a cheat. He would open his mouth and you would have no confidence that anything that came out of it was the truth.

—Jonathan Schwarz

Posted at 03:21 PM | Comments (9)


Emily Henochowicz, recently maimed by the IDF, went to Holton Arms in Bethesda, Maryland. There may literally be no high school in the U.S. that would be worse from the Israeli government's perspective. Holton Arms is a private all-girls school where the richest members of the U.S. political elite send their daughters. Alumnae include Jacqueline Kennedy, Susan Ford (daughter of Gerald), Amy Carter, Julia Louis-Dreyfus and many more.

P.S. Kudos to Holton Arms for putting the same African American student in every picture on their website.

—Jonathan Schwarz

Posted at 11:10 AM | Comments (48)

June 01, 2010

Angry, Confused Monkeys Through History

With perfect timing, the blug Letters of Note has posted this. It's a 1961 letter from Fred Jones, head of the Mississippi state penitentiary, to the mother of Joan Trumpauer Mulholland, a white college student who'd just been arrested for participating in civil rights demonstrations. (Later she would also be in various sit-ins, and is apparently the woman in the middle in this famous picture.)

It turns out all angry confused monkeys sound the same:

I notice that you state that as a mother of a minor that you want to be notified in case of any emergency. What I cannot understand is why as a mother you permitted a minor white girl to gang up with a bunch of negro bucks and white hoodlums to ramble over this country with the express purpose of violating the laws of certain states and attempting to incite acts of violence.

Michael Oren couldn't have said it better himself. Hopefully the flotilla passengers being held in Israel now can get a hold of their own mugshots so they can be hung in museums later.


—Jonathan Schwarz

Posted at 04:31 PM | Comments (19)