Tag Archive | Saudi Arabia

A Comedy of Censorship

The irony of opening my daily subscription email from Rational Review, a libertarian news digest, and seeing an item from Newsweek about how Russia is planning to ban Facebook from its country unless Facebook stores the data for Russian users inside Russia, which critics are deriding as an attempt to censor and control the Internet, was almost too much hilarity for my brain to take before I’d ingested any caffeine. On the surface, the law actually makes a fair bit of sense (though I’d obviously not support it). Requiring companies not to store user for Russians outside of Russia is a protective measure–surely we can all see why we Americans wouldn’t want the user data of Americans stored, as a matter of routine, in Russia (especially given the anti-Russian hysteria, which is what I’m getting into).

Of course, Newsweek couldn’t help but stoke the coals of aforementioned hysteria by adding at the end of their article:

Facebook representatives told U.S. lawmakers that 80,000 posts from 470 fake Russian accounts disseminated information on its network and that it shut down 5.8 million fake accounts in October 2016.

Alas, we almost made it through one entire article that mentioned “Facebook” and “Russia” without playing it into the anti-Russian propaganda being peddled by lunatics across the United States. To give you some perspective on this addled stupidity, because, only counting photo uploads, there are three hundred million Facebook posts a day. If we include text-only posts, there are two hundred, ninety-three thousand (293,000) every single second. Eighty thousand in one month versus the nearly three hundred thousand made every second is a ludicrously low ratio–enough that it’s not worth mentioning and, indeed, Facebook should be ashamed for mentioning it.

I don’t care for the word “disseminated,” either. The media is notoriously no longer neutral. As I observed in an unrelated article about the mythical “popular vote,” bias in the media takes a number of forms, and the most subtle and insidious is the deliberate choice of loaded words. “Disseminated” is one such word. Almost any word would have been more neutral–perhaps “shared?” Or “posted?” Clearly, the journalists themselves only constitute half the problem; no editor who is good at what they do should have allowed that statement through. Not only is it loaded heavily, but it’s also stated poorly. Briefly, I’d have edited it to:

Representatives of Facebook reported to Congress that 80,000 posts from 470 dummy Russian accounts posted to its network, and that Facebook shut down 5.8 million fake accounts in October 2016.

I’d rate their version as a 4 / 10 (-4 points for blatant bias, -1 point for reuse of “fake” in a single sentence, and -1 for violating parallelism, which is far more important than people think).

Anyway, Newsweek in their article also failed to note who these “critics” are, but one has to give the benefit of the doubt and assume the critics are Russian. After all, it would just be silly for Americans to be accusing the Russian government of censorship when our social media titans are being compelled to report to Congress on what measures they are taking to censor their networks.

Recently on The Call to Freedom, of which I am a co-host with former libertarian vice presidential candidate Will Coley and recovering Republican Thom Gray (live every Sunday night at 10pm EST, and the encore airs Tuesday at 3pm EST at https://www.lrn.fm), I asked Thom Gray what the problem is with Russians posting on Facebook for either presidential candidate, a sentiment with which Will agreed, because it works just like anything else. If Russians, English, the French, the Spanish, the Catalan, or anyone else wishes to post to Facebook, then they’re basically allowed to do that*.

Maybe Facebook should implement a tool where users will never, ever see posts from people who live in countries other than their own.

Sounds horrific, doesn’t it?

This is the Global Age. In half a second, I can chat or play chess with someone in Russia, China, or Pakistan right now. We should be using this technology to communicate with one another, to learn what the other cares about, to learn what motivates them, and to learn that they’re people, just like us. That enormous ocean that once prevented people in the United States from recognizing that the Japanese circa 1940CE were real people was bridged by the Internet and World Wide Web, and we should be rejoicing in this, not freaking out, panicking, and seeking the isolationist approach. And let’s not mince words about this: what people are proposing is effectively isolationism.

In hindsight, I suppose it was always inevitable for the kneejerk reaction. We’ve seen it in countless other ways. Diversity and peace champions celebrate when LGBT people are allowed to exist in peace, but become regretful and remorseful when LGBT people start moving into their neighborhoods and in the vicinity of their children. Of course, similar things happened when black people began moving into certain neighborhoods, too, and when Mexican began coming into the United States. Satirical comedy South Park has drawn attention to this on at least two occasions, in the episodes “Goobacks” and “Here Comes the Neighborhood.” So it’s something we should all be familiar with.

Being able to communicate and interact with people on the other side of the planet instantly sounds great… until they post things you don’t like that allegedly influenced voters, who in turn voted in a way that you don’t like. So, once again, it absolutely must be said: the entirety of this Russian fiasco is the allegation that Russians influenced American voters. The contention has not been that “Russians influenced the election” since the audits of a few states in December of last year showed no irregularities. American voters voted for Trump. The allegation is that they voted for Trump because they were duped by Russians. So even if all the allegations are true, it changes nothing, because an American voter can take information from any source that they like and use it to cast their vote for any person that they like for any reason that they like.

Let’s imagine that the raving paranoids get their wish. Not only does Russia ban Facebook from its country (doing significant damage to the Russian people’s ability to communicate in the process, which, granted, the hysterical lunatics don’t care about anyway), but Facebook implements some sort of stern measure to keep Russian posts, where they might still exist, from appearing to the delicate, confused, sensitive, and gullible American masses. But oh no! Trump doesn’t run in 2020, and instead Ted Cruz wins the Republican nomination, whereupon he finds himself running against Joe Biden (the only standing Democrat that would have a realistic shot of winning the presidency). Unfortunately, Cruz wins the White House.

There are no Russians to use as a tool of challenging the legitimacy of Cruz’s victory and as a method of undermining his presidency. Who else might have such capabilities? The Chinese. I have very little doubt that the Chinese would be the next scapegoat. A few audits would show the voting results are more or less accurate (one has to wonder why they aren’t 100% accurate, though, given that they’re almost all electronic now), which would leave people unable to say that the election was rigged. They’ll resort to the tactic of saying that voters were misled, and it was the Chinese who convinced all the stupid, gullible people to vote for Cruz. Or perhaps the Democrat would win, and Republicans would try that tactic–with the “Obama is a Kenyan Muslim!” thing, they’ve certainly got a history of doing so.

We might go through this entire charade again, and it might culminate in the widespread elimination of China from Facebook. At that point, we could say, “Congratulations, America. You’ve effectively isolated yourself from 25% of the world’s population.” What would happen in 2024, when someone else inevitably won the White House, and the other side picked, perhaps, Brazil as the scapegoat? Or the European Union–unlikely though that is, since we have an enormous blindspot for Europe–see how Spain has invaded Catalonia and denied its right to self-governance, the most anti-democratic thing to happen in the last few decades in Europe, and yet we’ve done nothing to defend the Catalans from the occupying forces of Spain, and many people don’t even consider this a violation of democracy. Let’s face it, if Georgia declared independence from Russia and Russia invaded Georgia, Americans would be yelling and screaming about the invasion and violation of Georgian rights, and… Wait a minute.

See? It doesn’t matter how tyrannical and undemocratic Spain’s actions are. We can’t see them in the proper light, because they’re “western society,” too. So even though they have done to Catalonia exactly what we condemned Russia for doing to Georgia (and going even further, in fact, since Spanish police actually attacked people who were trying to vote, destroyed ballots, and other atrocious things), we don’t call them out on it. We also know that people in the UK, Italy, Germany, and other nations were posting on Facebook about the 2016 presidential election, and that they, too, were “disseminating information,” but we’re not freaking out about that, are we?

Russia is only our enemy if we make them our enemy. There is absolutely no reason we can’t get along with Russia as well as we do with Germany. In fact, we should get along better with Russia, seeing as Russia has never caused a world war–in fact, we once allied with them to fight those world wars–and I don’t think we’ve ever actually been at war with Russia. What is really our problem with Russia? It’s the same problem we’ll have with China in ten more years. They’ve committed two grave sins for which we cannot forgive them:

They refuse to bow to American supremacy, and they aren’t western.

That is the heart of American foreign policy. That horrible, racist, arrogant, entitled, and condescending attitude is the heart of all that the United States does on a global scale. The United States’ position on any country can be deduced by answering three basic questions:

  1. Do they bow to American supremacy? This includes taking no public issue with the USD, of course. There is almost no recovering from this–anyone who doesn’t bow to American supremacy is almost immediately an enemy, unless…
  2. Are they western and mostly white? Although we won’t seriously entertain the possibility that Greece, Germany, or the UK are truly “equal” to us, we will, for the most part, allow the European Union as a whole to consider itself equal to the United States. Individually, however, each country is considered inferior to the U.S., and we wouldn’t tolerate any suggestion otherwise. If 1 and 2 are both false, then #3 doesn’t even matter.
  3. Do they give us oil? Sadly, this is still an important consideration, although it’s not the greatest any longer. It is, however, the reason we’re always kissing Saudi Arabia’s ass, even though they don’t really bow to American supremacy.

If they don’t have the audacity to not be any color other than white European and don’t have the audacity to refuse to bow to American supremacy, then we will tolerate them in much the same way that we handle cats and dogs. They’re quaint and cute little things that exist for our pleasure, and nothing else. If they do have the audacity to not be white European, to not bow to American supremacy, and to not sell us oil, then we don’t care much for them unless we can exploit them in some other way (like how we import cheap goods from China)–and even then we don’t like them, and merely tolerate them.

Our entire foreign policy is built on American supremacy. This is alarming, since the United States is almost certain to be removed from the #1 spot technologically, economically, and military within the next twenty years.

The Russia hysteria can be briefly summarized like this:

How dare Russians act like they have freedom of speech or something, by posting things on the Internet that gullible American voters might believe!

* Let’s not spend four thousand words clarifying that statement, k? You know what I mean.

Bullshit Collection Part 2: Obama’s Veto Overruled By Congress

Some time ago, a bill swept through Congress with surprising agreement, allowing Americans to sue foreign governments for sponsoring terrorist activity against Americans. President Obama vetoed the bill, saying that he feared it would set a dangerous precedent and would give foreign citizens the idea that they could sue the American Government. This is a bit difficult to parse, but bear with me, because…

That means that Obama knows that the shit that we’re getting up to throughout the world is wrong, and he knows that citizens of foreign governments would have legitimate grievances with the United States. We could start with how we bombed a wedding in Afghanistan, I suppose, if we wanted to give an example.

The concern that I’ve had has nothing to do with Saudi Arabia per se or my sympathy for 9/11 families, it has to do with me not wanting a situation in which we’re suddenly exposed to liabilities for all the work that we’re doing all around the world, and suddenly finding ourselves subject to the private lawsuits in courts where we don’t even know exactly whether they’re on the up and up, in some cases.

Yes, President Obama. That stuff you said. That’s the point.

“…exposed to liabilities for all the work that we’re doing all around the world…”

Yes, Mr. Obama. That’s exactly right.

Lots of people have come forward to agree with Obama and to point out how terrible it would be if we set up a system that allowed those smelly brown people to hit back against us. I mean, it’s common knowledge that they can’t hit against us directly–did you even see Operation Desert Storm? If anything is clear is that the countries in which “we’re doing all the work” have no recourse to stop us or to make us pay. Their bombs are crushed by our bombs; their aircraft massacred by ours.

We can impose No Fly Zones, grounding all of their aircraft, from halfway around the world with very little effort. They cannot fight us directly. This, of course, causes them to turn to “terrorism” in the same way that American colonists once turned to “terrorism” against the British. Does the Boston Tea Party ring a bell? How about the tactics of the American revolutionaries? The British fought war stupidly. They stood in a row, shot, and ducked to reload while the person behind them shot. They continued along like that–almost literal “ducks in a row.”

We couldn’t have defeated the British by playing by their rules, and they hated us for it. They called us cowards, cheaters, dishonorable. “You can’t do that!” they said. “You have to stand here, in front of us, as we take turns shooting at each other until someone wins!”

And we said, “Um, no. We’re not doing that. That’s dumb.”

So we shot from the trees. We didn’t form neat ranks and files. We hid in the hay bells, we hid in the trees and among the trees, we surrounded their forces, we shot from the sides, from the backs. And we won. Yet throughout all of that, we were not just terrorists; we were dishonorable terrorists, using despicable tactics because we couldn’t take them in a “fair fight.”

We face the same thing today–people all around the world who simply cannot go toe-to-toe with our military in the way that the American revolutionaries could not have gone toe-to-toe with the British army. For fuck’s sake, we didn’t even have a Navy, and the British Empire had the most powerful Navy in the world. Think about that when you think of places like Yemen and Syria, where our military is consistently “the most powerful in the world,” and theirs is… not anywhere close to that. They cannot take their fourteen F15 jets [numbers I’ve made up] and throw them at our nine gazillion F650 jets.

So they resort to sniping us from the trees, breaking our “rules of civilized war” in the process, fighting us in the only way that they can because going toe-to-toe with us simply isn’t an option–it’s suicide. We scream that it’s dishonorable, that it’s despicable, and that it’s terrorism. And maybe it is, if we could look back with the clarity of hindsight and say that the price of their freedom was bought with the lives of too many women and children, but we have no right to make such a determination in the first place. We are not the world’s police force, and neither are we the world’s judge.

I am continually baffled by the average American's lack of self-awareness.

I am continually baffled by the average American’s lack of self-awareness.

Nothing stops it, sir. That’s the point.

That’s precisely the point.

Anyone who wants to can attempt to sue the U.S. government for terrorism. This doesn’t mean anything. It only means something if a court of law–an impartial one, if we can find extraterrestrials from the Andromeda Galaxy who are anarchists and therefore can view this whole fucking mess objectively and are willing to preside over the case–finds for the plaintiff. Let the people of Iraq sue the American Government for terrorism. Let a court of law determine who is right.

A fair and objective court of law would find for the plaintiff. In Iraq, the United States is wholesale guilty of terrorism. Afghanistan, too, and likely at least a dozen others. Hell, the United States government is guilty of terrorism against the American people. Does this mean that we can sue the American government for terrorism? Because it should mean that.

Jonathon Horn knows, though–just look at what he said. He knows that the stuff the U.S. gets up to in other countries, whether he is okay with it or not, could be called terrorism rightly. If he didn’t think that, then he wouldn’t care whether foreign people sue the U.S. government, because the case would just be thrown out. So he knows. Let’s not just overlook that! It’s critical. He knows that the stuff that the American government does can, in at least a certain light, be rightly considered terrorism.

YES, FFS, THAT IS THE POINT

YES, FFS, THAT IS THE POINT

Germany has no case against the United States and absolutely could not sue us for terrorism. Our interactions with Germany have firmly fallen under the “acts of war” category, and so did the nuclear weapons. Terrorism =/= war. I firmly hate war, but we can’t pretend like an undeclared attack against a helpless nation who can’t fight back is remotely the same as allying with the British Empire to invade Nazi Europe, or that dropping twothose, not “that”–nuclear weapons on Japan is the same as hijacking planes and crashing them into buildings as a declaration of war.

China has no case against the United States, either. We saved their asses in World War 2. Your history sucks, Matt. Please go back to high school. Japan was slaughtering the Chinese, raping them, brutalizing them, torturing them, and China didn’t have much of a military to stand against it. China is the reason that the Allies won World War 2. Hitler was counting on Japan to help him attack the Soviets, coming from the east while Germany came from the west, and Japan instead focused its efforts on China, which proved a bit too big for them to just conquer simply. They weren’t stressing the Soviets, and that allows the Soviets to focus their efforts on the western border, where they lost more lives than anyone else in World War 2, and took the brunt of Nazi Germany’s attack. Then Japan attacked Pearl Harbor, we hit the Pacific Theater, and started advancing toward Japan. Every single island was a grueling battle of immeasurable death, because the Japanese refused to surrender any territory, forcing us to fight for every inch of land that we took. An attack on mainland Japan would have caused extraordinary death. The atomic bombs were a quick solution to a long, deadly problem.

How easily people forget.

The Soviet Union was our ally during World War 2, and so was China. We’ve yet to do anything worth suing over to either China or Russia. We’re about to do some fucked up shit to Russia, but we haven’t yet. China’s gripes could stem from Korea and Vietnam, but we were only in those places as part of a “UN Peacekeeping Effort,” which was a euphemism for “We’ve got military industrial complexes in several of the world’s largest countries that need to continue destroying resources and sharpening their weapons so, lulz, sorry people of Korea and Vietnam.” If anyone can be sued for those fiascos, it’s the United Nations–everyone. And China has no authority to sue on their behalf, because China every bit played a part in creating that mess.

Man, your history leaves a lot to be desired.

Iraq certainly would have a legitimate case. Iran… not so much. There was the virus we infected their centrifuges with–I don’t remember now what it was called–and it caused them to burn through machines at their nuclear refinement facilities, but that can’t be definitively pinned on the United States. We’d blame Israel, Israel would blame the United States; no one could trace the thing back to its source. Hell, didn’t we just give them a few hundred billion dollars? What are they going to sue us for? Giving them money?

I imagine your ignorant ass meant Syria.

Let’s think about Syria for a moment.

We have an established government led by Assad and backed by Russia. Then we have rebels. It started with a series of peaceful protests, Assad said “lol, not in my country” and started killing people and cracking down on protest. Then this happened:

syria

Then we slipped the guy a bunch of weapons and told him to use them to fight off the guards. They did so. This chaos and power struggle caused ISIS, who was already growing and taking territory in Iraq, where we had also left a power vacuum, to sweep into Syria and start claiming territory there, too. Syria absolutely has a case against the United States government. They stoked the fires of instability, provided arms to the rebels, helped create a power struggle, and the resultant mess is what we see today. Now, instead of working with Assad and Syria to restore stability to the country that we helped shatter, we’re only interested in digging the hole deeper, hoping that, maybe, we can dig deep enough and come out on the other side of the planet, standing on our heads.

simply-wrongI find myself becoming leery of people with four-letter names. lol

Alex is simply wrong. We can prove that Saudi Arabia funded 9/11. We can also prove that a Pakistani general gave Mohammed Atta one hundred thousand dollars while Atta was here and training for the 9/11 attack, though “truthers” have made it impossible for me to find this information not on a blogspot site. In fact, it’s actually kinda alarming how the top Google results go to a blog which cites another blog which cites another blog. I actually do have an actual print publication I could go to if I wanted to source the information, but it’s in the trunk of my car, it’s cold outside, and it’s, as the 9/11 Commission Report said, “of little practical significance.”

Oh.

I should have read your comment in full. You are a truther. That’s okay. So am I, and I think it’s sad that “truther” has become an insult. Yes, insult me because I want to know the truth, because I know that things don’t just happily break physical laws, because I know that a building couldn’t have fallen at freefall speeds, and because I remember that THREE TOWERS went down that day, one of which WASN’T EVEN HIT BY A GODDAMNED PLANE.

All three towers went down exactly the same way. One wasn’t even hit by a plane. And I’m the whackjob for wanting answers? You people going “Meh, that’s nothing worth discussing” are the lunatics! I don’t believe anything about 9/11, except that the 9/11 Commission was a provably biased one with ties to the Bush and Bin Laden families, and that the report–which I have actually taken the time to read–makes wonderful fairy tale reading, but is nothing more than that. You expect me to believe that this fire that magically melted steel allowed one of the terrorist’s passports to be found unscathed at 9/11? People, c’mon. That’s clearly planted evidence. How stupid can you be? It melted steel, but left paper undamaged?

Ugh. I’m getting a headache just thinking about it.

I don’t believe the government orchestrated 9/11. The most I will say is that the evidence suggests–like Cheney’s order for NORAD to stand down and the fact that we otherwise have 100% success intercepting aircraft, yet spectacularly failed repeatedly that day–that some powerful elements within the U.S. Government either knew about and allowed the 9/11 attack, or directly orchestrated it. That’s as far as I’ll go, because that’s as far as the evidence supports. Short of a revolution wherein we ransack all the classified documents and un-redact them, we’ll never be able to say more than that.

We’re not over there looting resources, though. You fail at contemporary events. The price of oil is low because the United States has started fracking like crazy, which allows us to get to oil that we couldn’t otherwise get to. We are the reason the price of oil plunged. It was only after the 2003 invasion of Iraq that the price of oil began skyrocketing. I remember paying $4.35/gallon. Now it’s half that. You bloody fool. If we were looting their oil, then the reverse would have happened: the price of oil would have gone down after 2003, and then back up more recently.

It wasn’t about oil, though. You’re too short-sighted. It was about the destruction of resources. Sparring, if you will. Competition fosters growth, improvement, and efficiency. If we want the most powerful military in the world, then what do we need? War. “War is the health of the state,” they say, and that’s certainly true here. We need our military to fight. Necessity is the mother of invention. We need the need to cause us to develop new, better rockets, new , better “defense” wink-wink systems. The military industrial complex cannot just build a bunch of tanks and then go, “Well, that was fun, and we made lots of money.”

No.

It has to then destroy those tanks so that it has a reason to invent new, better tanks. It needs to evaluate those tanks’ weaknesses and improve them. What better way to do all of this than to attack a country that couldn’t possibly pose any real threat to us? That’s all this is: sparring. And we’re massacring people’s lives while we do it. It should come as no surprise to you that immediately after one conflict ends, we find ourselves bogged down in another. That has been the case for decades. Why? What is to be gained? Efficiency, improvement, and growth, because war is competition of our killing machines against theirs.

This isn’t an answer in and of itself, though. Why do we want to make our killing machines better, more efficient, stronger, and faster? What is the purpose? What is the purpose of sparring against so many lightweight athletes?

Russia.

And now the moment has come, as it was always destined to. We’ve improved to ridiculous degrees. We now have fully automated killing machines. Do you really think that we would have military drones capable of dropping smart bombs on an area half a square mile from the comfort of a base in Nevada if we hadn’t had Korea, Afghanistan, Bosnia, Kuwait, Iraq, Libya, and Syria?

Where do you think the Nazis went after World War 2?

Only nineteen people were found guilty at Nuremberg.

And even discounting the Nazi thing as a minor one–which it is, realistically–it doesn’t matter. We made our intentions clear in the 50s that we would fight whenever, wherever. Why did we do that? Because there was the Soviet Union, the only nation in the world still capable of going toe-to-toe with us. That made them Public Enemy Number One, a mentality that, clearly, never went away.

We continued sharpening our swords and using all of these sparring matches to find ways to improve our attacks, strategies, technologies, methodologies, and tactics. The Russians… didn’t. The Soviet Union collapsed and set them back; they are only recently beginning to stretch back out, with action in Ukraine, Georgia, and Syria.

It is the intention of the United States Military Industrial Complex–a phrase I don’t particularly care for, because I don’t have much patience for conspiracy theories, but we are where we are…–to take out Russia now, before they’ve had a decade to spar with other nations and improve their own capabilities. The plan is to hit them now, before they can have sparring training. This will set them back another few decades, and will leave us with no one in the world who can challenge us as we terrorize smaller nations that couldn’t possibly hope to stand against us. We’ll continue competing and improving through the competition, while Russia will be set back more decades.

And then we will reign, the uncontested champion of the world.

This must be stopped.

Do not allow Hillary to win the election.