Press "Enter" to skip to content

Thursday miscellany

  • So. You think government’s a joke? In Iceland, they know it is.
  • “Two lessons from a rogue ex-cop.” Love that Barry Cooper.
  • “A casino run by the banks, for the banks.” Well said. Darned well said.
  • But there are billions of billions of reasons to be cheerful, anyhow.
  • Or 85 of them.
  • I think this op-ed says it all about Monday’s disaster at sea.
  • Via Jim Bovard: Right to the end, I was about to say that this New Yorker article on Julian Assange and his heroic WikiLeaks was brilliant. It’s an intimate portrait of a secretive man, his world, and especially of the way he and his supporters unveiled the vile collateral murder video to the world. Then suddenly, the author blats out this: “But, unlike authoritarian regimes, democratic governments hold secrets largely because citizens agree that they should, in order to protect legitimate policy.” WTF????? Did anybody ask you whether you wanted such “legitimate policies” as torture and murder covered up by the “democratic” U.S. government? Did you tell the TSA it’s okay to illegal refuse FOIA requests for undoctored test images from its full-body scanners? Did you tell every president since Nixon you agreed with the secrecy of “executive privilege”? Has anybody ever checked with you to see whether you agree that everything the CIA, NSA, etc. ever does is “legitimately” secret? How about all those secret assassination plans — the ones that wipe out all sorts of people, from foreign leaders to babies who just happen to be living in the wrong house when the predator drone comes calling? I could go on. But, New Yorker, get off it. “Democratic” governments keep secrets for exactly the same reason “authoritarian” governments do. Because they are authoritarian governments. And they’re up to no good.

13 Comments

  1. Pat
    Pat June 3, 2010 7:15 am

    WOW. The article on Assange is both mind-tingling and mind-numbing. He is like the scientist with no morality——i,e, he is a-moral. Yet he also has an agenda, an agenda with which I might ordinarily agree. But the devil is in the details.

    I began to feel a little bit manipulated while reading his making of the “Collateral Murder” video. I remember that video only too well. Now——instead of “names have been changed to protect the innocent”——when I read an article or see a video from WikiLeaks, I will wonder slightly in the back of my mind how much information has been “touched-up” to convict the guilty. Sorry, but I don’t see TRUTH in that way. Not that the facts were wrong, but that they were doctored at all.

    In addition: “experimenting” with information (such as auctioning it off, e.g.) will not keep it on the straight and narrow path, and will not allow it to disseminate where it belongs——into the public sphere. As at all auctions, the richest and/or most interested bidder will pursue——and buy——the item, which is not to say the RIGHT person or organization will get it, and will not ensure that the public _ever_ sees it. Time will tell where these “experiments” will lead——but I have a gut-feeling he will lose control of the information he’s trying to provide. If that happens, “institutions” will have won, whether they shut him down or not.

  2. Joe
    Joe June 3, 2010 8:20 am

    Agree with the above comment. The avenues of information can easily become the boulevards of dis-information. And Assange can easily become an unwitting accomplice.

    Don’t know the solution. While the Internet is a dramatic information conveyance, you have to consider the source – always.

    Meanwhile, if you can see it with your own eyes…

    Joe

  3. Victor Milán
    Victor Milán June 3, 2010 9:56 am

    Three interesting perspectives on modern journalism emerge above: an Israeli journalist who deplores the cowardly terrorist attack on an aid ship (and nonetheless manages to blame the victims); “liberal” support for repressive government at home and abroad; and the perception that WikiLeaks frontman Assange might have an agenda.

    My thoughts, poorly organized: if it weren’t for the Net we’d see nothing but servile approval of the aid-ship attack – and the blockade the Turkish ship was running, it’s worth remembering, is a fairly open-and-shut crime against humanity.

    “Liberal” and “conservative” in US politics have little to do with ideology, but constitute faux-competitive branding for pro-oligarchy propaganda. They disagree loudly about believing – or at least doing – the same things.

    As WikiLeaks has been whining on Twitter all morning, there really is a movement by “liberal” outlets to smear them. Of course exposing government repression and corporate corruption interferes with the highest liberal value, the power of government to do good.

    At the same time, of course Assange has an agenda. So does everybody. Everybody might be an agent provocateur, a spy, or just a crook. No one – no exceptions, even (or especially) me – should be trusted blindly.

    Yet WikiLeaks unquestionably provides, and has provided, invaluable service to those who believe in freedom. (And in humanity, which itself is best served by freedom despite generations of widely-promulgated lies to the contrary.)

    The upshot? For me, what the late, great Shea and Wilson portray God saying to Adam in their brilliant ILLUMINATUS! trilogy: “Think for yourself, schmuck!”

    Trust none blindly. Simple.

    And if you value humanity, your freedom, even your life – thank the Gods or whatever blind, impersonal forces you believe in that the vaunted Gatekeeper function of the State/Corporate Complex Media has been broken by the Net. No, we can’t uncritically accept everything we read. Isn’t that realization, itself, a valuable step forward?

    (I told you this was badly organized…)

  4. Kevin Wilmeth
    Kevin Wilmeth June 3, 2010 11:50 am

    “Badly organized”, maybe. But intensely valuable nonetheless.

    Impressive commentary here in general, for a “miscellany” post. 🙂

  5. Claire
    Claire June 3, 2010 12:40 pm

    I agree with Victor. Great analysis.

    Of course Julian Assange has an agenda. Nobody could live as he does and take the risks he accepts without being driven by some passion. In the case of the “collateral murder” video, his agenda is clear from the very URL and the opening rubric. But at least his agenda is out there for all the world to see. Very unlike the agendas of “democratic” governments like ours that insist on operating in secret “for our own good.”

    As to the “collateral murder” video being manipulated … I agree that could be dubious. It wasn’t clear in the article, but there are several versions of that video online and my take on it was that the 38-minute original is unedited (except for explanations added — correct me if I’m wrong on that) and the editing the New Yorker piece notes is on the 18-minute version. As long as an unedited original is made available for comparison, I can’t see a problem.

    Of course Assange or somebody who comes after him could release a deceptively altered document. Or could be used by somebody else with an agenda. I think Victor covers the proper response to that possibility very well.

    Governments, government-like bodies, and friends-of-government have been releasing lies unchallenged for centuries and using those lies to rape the entire world. Some (like the Vatican) built centuries of political power on a cleverly crafted lie (the so-called Donation of Constantine, a forgery that gave the Church all its many claims to temporal, as well as spiritual, authority). Even if Assange or some other individual manipulated the truth, he couldn’t do one tenth, not 1/100th, the harm that organizations like the CIA and the Pentagon do every, single day. And if something like the Internet and somebody like Assange had been around throughout history, IMHO, power would be a lot more decentralized, and “for your own good” organizations would have had a harder time ever getting, let alone keeping, coercive power.

    My $.02.

  6. Pat
    Pat June 3, 2010 2:22 pm

    I didn’t understand that the shorter version of the video was the only one that had been altered to some extent. The article spoke of “static” replacing some conversation, and there was static (perhaps real) in the 38 minute version also. In either case I would have preferred to hear it all, not have it edited for me——by government or WikiLeaks.

    I have no quarrel with Assange; I’m on his side, I agree with his agenda. But I can see where growth and fame may decrease his influence. In fact the article itself seemed to be trying to do just that, by questioning a certain amount of objectivity in his work. I hope that he, or members of his staff, can recognize that and head it off. It is to the mainstream media’s advantage NOT to have him believed, as they are the PR men for the institutions of the world.

  7. Claire
    Claire June 3, 2010 3:47 pm

    Pat, you may be right that both versions were edited. I don’t know. I’ve never watched the 38-minute version, and probably will never watch the shorter and longer versions side-by-side to compare them. I could be wrong in my assumption that the editing was only on the 18-minute version; it’s just the impression the article left me with.

    Assange has been under more attack from “liberals” than from the government establishment, as far as I can see. I think the old civil-liberties wing of liberalism is so close to dead somebody’s soon going to pull life-support. The authoritarians have taken over, and I notice a lot of digs at Assange from people who, a generation ago, would have praised, defended, and perhaps even aided him.

    Not saying he should be beyond critical questioning. Just saying that if anybody has an agenda, it’s the many “respectable” journalists who make snide digs at Assange because they’ve become such suckups to the almighty state — the state whose power Assange and company threaten.

  8. roger
    roger June 4, 2010 7:49 am

    Victor Milán Says:

    June 3rd, 2010 at 9:56 am
    Three interesting perspectives on modern journalism emerge above: an Israeli journalist who deplores the cowardly terrorist attack on an aid ship (and nonetheless manages to blame the victims); “liberal” support for repressive government at home and abroad;

    MMMM why is it regarded as a cowardly terroist attack when the US boards hundreds of ships a year in international waters.Also when the US boards ships the USMC are not armed with paintball guns and hand guns they carry the real deal. Should not the US be branded as terrorists the same.
    How many plane has the US shot down for allegedly carrying drugs, how many innocent families murdered in afghanistan and iraq. Yet no one seems to protest quite the same until you put ISRAEL into the headline.
    Now my wife is a Palastinian christian and we have travelled to Gaza on many occasions and having been to An Nazlah a couple of months ago I didn`t see any shortages in the markets in Gaza in fact you can buy large screen HD screen there, DVD players and all manner of luxury goods.
    The pharmacys are well stocked in An Nazlah.
    All the street lights are gone again but thats because Hamas use the metal tube to make rockets(Israel offered concrete ones free but they were turned down, guess you just can`t make rockets out of them)
    Al shail refugee camp still looked the same, one of the nicest refugee camps in the world complete with own beach front.
    The schools are still a mess because Hamas `requisition` all building materials as they arrive. Fertilizer is still in short supply for crops but that is because the type most requested is nitrate based the principal component of ANFO.
    Hamas have emulated Fatah in their love of top of the range Audis. It is said that Audi sell more there than Paris. Still it`s your tax dollars in action as aid pays the bill for them.
    Hamas rocket attacks go on but the western press never mention them, christians are beaten and robbed in the streets but the western press never mention them, churches and bibles burnt and people blackmailed into paying protection, again never mentioned.
    What most of the press and average european and american know about the reality of living in Gaza could be fitted in a matchbox withroom to rattle.
    If their is nothing in hide in those boats why resist the Israelis, unless you are looking for a good headline for the jew bashing western press. Why has the link to the IHH been blithly ignored?
    Finally ask your self,look as Mas`s page, ask your self, what would the USA do if several thousand rockets had been launched from mexico into the US with the prime concern of killing as many US citizens as possible let alone smuggle illegals.
    Would you accept every US school,including kindergarden, to have an air raid shelter,would you find it acceptable for US schools to have to stockpile gas masks. Would you accept seniors armed with handguns to act as helpers at the schools and to protect aaginst gunmen. Every Israeli school has some or all of those measures.
    Now I am not Jewish but I think Israel does the best it can.
    The USA and the UK have pretty much demolished two countries and killed tens maybe hundreds of thousands of people in response for 9/11 where less than 4000 died,so what should a preportional response from Israel be?
    My wifes parents fear the restrictions on travel, so do we. We Hope soon that her younger brother will be able to join us in Wales where we live. Her elder, brother killed by a defective Qassam rocket that landed on the garage where he worked, was buried in 2007. In 2009 Hamas tore up the graves and burnt them in the street saying that christian bodies polluted the islamic ground. Yet still her parents stay
    I am sorry that I have rambled on some but for too long the west has judged this conflict with scales on their eyes, where Hamas and Fatah , the same ideology that we fight elsewhere, have gotten away with murder. Even Al Jazeera give more accurate reporting than most of the MSM
    I understand if you are reluctant to post this comment both for its length and content, but for once please allow the christians of Gaza a voice

  9. hermestwelve
    hermestwelve June 4, 2010 8:51 am

    Roger, your response is full of logical flaws.

    “MMMM why is it regarded as a cowardly terroist attack when the US boards hundreds of ships a year in international waters.”

    Disregarding the fact that usually, when the US boards ships in international waters, they do it WITH THE PERMISSION of the country under which the vessel is flagged, this is essentially the “you too” fallacy, and/or variant of the “two wrongs make a right” fallacy. Israel either did or didn’t launch a cowardly attack; whether the US has launched a thousand of them, or none, is irrelevant to this question.

    “I didn`t see any shortages in the markets in Gaza in fact you can buy large screen HD screen there, DVD players and all manner of luxury goods.”

    Both a hasty generalization and a confusion of cause and effect. You don’t mention prices. You assert that because something is available to some at some price it is available to everyone. There are plenty of other things wrong with your assertions here but I don’t feel like writing an essay in reply.

    “If their is nothing in hide in those boats why resist the Israelis, unless you are looking for a good headline for the jew bashing western press. ”

    This is a “red herring” or “straw man” argument –take your choice. It’s a variant on the old propaganda line that goes: why do you fear the government listening in on your phone calls, reading your mail, tracking your credit card purchases, searching your home –if you’ve got nothing to hide? Well Hell Roger, why resist anything? Why not just let others do whatever they want to you, regardless of the law or any concept of human rights? Doesn’t seem you’re advocating such passive acquiesce for Israel though.

    As for the “jew bashing” Western media –you’ve got to be kidding. That claim is downright delusional.

    “Would you accept every US school,including kindergarden, to have an air raid shelter…..” yada yada yada.

    Repeat of fallacy #1. We used to have air raid shelters by the way, and “duck and cover” drills for school children in the US. And we have schools with metal detectors and permanent police presence. Maybe Israel has the problems you cite because they do things like attack the people of other countries in international waters, bomb civilians, and all those things you say the US does as well? Perhaps their behavior creates more enemies than it destroys?

    “Finally ask your self,look as Mas`s page, ask your self, what would the USA do if several thousand rockets had been launched from mexico into the US with the prime concern of killing as many US citizens as possible let alone smuggle illegals.”

    What I’d hope we’d do is identify those responsible and bring them to justice, even kill them in the process if necessary. What I hope we wouldn’t do is bomb Mexican cities killing thousands of innocent people who have nothing to do with such attacks. But lets not let your gross exaggeration here go unchallenged –these supposed “thousands” of rockets are how many rockets, and have killed how many people? Here you make an appeal to fear with misleading vividness. The Israelis have killed far more non-combatants than all of their enemies combined have killed Israeli civilians.

    “Even Al Jazeera give more accurate reporting than most of the MSM”

    Here we are in agreement.

  10. roger
    roger June 4, 2010 10:45 am

    hermestwelve Says:

    June 4th, 2010 at 8:51 am

    The prices in Gaza are low enough for my father in law to afford a 42″ hd tv on a bus mechanics wages. Sattelite TV dishes are everywhere as are cell phones. I bought Hanif my brother in law an ipod touch for £185, they are£229 here for the same model.
    Medicines are about the same price as over the border in Israel where ironically many Palastinians go for free hospital treatment. Do you bring a thousand Afghans a week to your hospitals ( and I don`t mean the ones you have bombed or blown up)
    When my wife aunt was diagnosed with breast cancer she was treated in the hospital in Ashkalon for free.
    Yes some house don`t have water but if Hamas can stop ripping the infrastructure down for 5 seconds things could improve.
    You illustrate my point perfectly. The same law that allows the US to board and sink ships off Somalia(which it has as has the UK, Russia and many others) in international waters allows Israel to stop these ships. Either all are legal or illegal. You do not know what is on a ship until it is searched.
    You say you wouldn`t bomb Mexican cities, but you will arm its government. And millions of Iraqis and Afghans would dispute those points with you.
    The thousands of rockets are documented even by amnesty international, and surprisingly even called for to be declared a war crime. The Qassam is unguided therefore inaccurate, does that make it more acceptable. How many have to die before you kill those launching the rockets. In afghanistan, where my eldest son is at the moment I might add, the US has bombed entire villages flat. Do the civillians there feel less pain than those killed by Israel? Or is it right because you say so.
    Yes the European press is biased against anything Jewish take a while reading the papers here or watch the BBC.
    Anyone who has spent time in Gaza knows how well Hamas stage manage the press.
    How many civillians has Israel killed? How do you tell a gunman from a civillian when the gun is gone all dead bodies look the same. Hamas don`t rely on uniforms nor do the militias.
    Question. How many civillians did the US kill in the attack on Fallujah? How many millions in Vietnam?
    I have heard all the varieties of anti semitism before my friend and I hear it again in your reply.Until the Islamists put down their weapons to talk there can never be a peace, bit like the US and the Taliban really! The Israelis act no worse than the UK and the USA and often far better.
    Perhaps they should deploy seamines off the coast of Gaza as the US did with Vietnam? Why is the blockade off Gaza different to the blockade of Cuba or the Falkland islands where all types of ships were searched and in the case of the Falklands sunk.

    You say
    Repeat of fallacy #1. We used to have air raid shelters by the way, and “duck and cover” drills for school children in the US. And we have schools with metal detectors and permanent police presence. Maybe Israel has the problems you cite because they do things like attack the people of other countries in international waters, bomb civilians, and all those things you say the US does as well? Perhaps their behavior creates more enemies than it destroys?

    It`s a daily act there not history. From my mother in laws you can see the trails off the rockets.You can hear the gunfire.They fire them from the west bank too. One of the reasons for the blockage is that Hamas want larger missiles than they can build and they will not fit under the tunnels on the Egyptian border(yes that`s right Gaza has a border with Egypt).This is the border where aid could come in under UN ccontrol but Egypt will not agree to it as they loath Hamas too and do not want to see them heavily armed.
    When Hamas last breeched the border fence to bring contraband across the Egyptians repelled rioters with heavy machine guns mounted on jeeps, but hey thats ok isn`t it.

    You have schools with metal detectors because americans are in love with killing each other. The Israelis because gunmen come over purposely just to murder Jewish children. The fact that 2million Israelis are Arabs both Muslim and Christians seems to escape you.

    Their behaviour creates more enemies than it destroys? Well the USA better brace itself because you`ve created millions more than they ever had. Even the locals in Helmand told my son that they prefer us Brits and they have had bad memories of us for a long time.

    Your yada yada yada comment displays your ignorance and short sightedness to the facts. I suggest you go there sometime but if you go to the West bank or Gaza don`t mention your American you probably won`t come back.

  11. roger
    roger June 4, 2010 11:38 am

    hermestwelve

    I would also add that Hamas is the `elected` goverment of Gaza.
    Could you tell me if Mexico`s president ordered armed raids into the USA to kill citizens. To use rockets and explosives. Would this be considered an act of war? Having seen the response to 9/11 what do you think would be the USA`s response. I suggest to you that it would make operation cast lead look like a tea party. Nearly 9 years after 9/11 you we are still at war. Cast lead like I say a tea party in comparison.
    BTW both the UK and Eire stopped and searched ships during the troubles both in our waters and international. We didn`t askthe USA`s permission then nor that of Col. Gaddafi, from both countries which arms were being delivered. And please do not say that the USA did not know about the shipments as that was disproved in 1982 as the FBI had knowledge which they did not pass on to Thatchers government at the time.

  12. Tim Osman
    Tim Osman June 4, 2010 10:45 pm

    Great stuff! Why did no one alert me that Claire was blogging again!

  13. Claire
    Claire June 5, 2010 9:53 am

    Cause I’m too shy? Because even your best friends won’t tell you?

    Good to see you hereabouts, Tim Osman. 🙂

Leave a Reply