Rancid Discussion Thread: Blow Me, Rich Dude.

In our last discussion, the wonderful Goldfish Training Institute brought up the whole Chick-Fil-A thing, which, when it was a hot issue, kinda passed me by, in part because I was burned out on First Amendment shit — I learned the hard way that free speech purism is a form of social psychosis –  and also because I had briefly fallen under the influence of far too many people who sublimate their disgust with queers or their own queer selves in a half-baked critique of neoliberal identity politics that rather too obviously and obnoxiously restricts itself to queer equality.

Aaaaanyway,  at GTI’s prompting, I came across this quote about Chick-Fil-A on Corey Robin’s blog, which I liked so much it made me dislike Corey Robin less for attracting commenters who say shit this good:

The notion that anyone remotely serious about the condition of the working class would consider for one moment the “rights” of some poor capitalist as ever having been “infringed upon,” much less that some supposed infringement sets a dangerous precedent which must be opposed, is well beyond my comprehension. 

Now I know all the very sensible people are sick of hearing about how Glenn Greenwald vexes me – and I really don’t want this discussion to be all about him –  but if there is a person doing more to rehabilitate oligarchy, I don’t know who it is. There he was last night doing it again (more text below tweets).

This is not to invite another discussion focused on Greenwald, First Look, Snowden etc.. though I am not, of course, averse to contributions along those lines.  A number of us in these parts have noted how the Snowden Affair has many of the trappings of a liberal savior electoral campaign but with a pitch for toxic billionaires swapped in where the usual insipid class war stuff would be.

I want to talk about the selling of oligarchy generally.  How our gaze is directed to rich white guys’ problems and rich white guys’ solutions and the ideological bullshit — like Greenwald’s vulgar , stupid and repellently self-righteous, Constitutionalism, as just one small example — that goes along with it.  The reason why our gaze is so directed is obvious. What interests me are the strategies used to make this happen and how successful they are at getting so many of us — including myself — to play along.

Let it rip.

Posted in Uncategorized | 115 Comments

Rancid Discussion Thread: ‘Obsessed’ with Greenwald/Omidyar/First Look

The recent dust-up at the Media Lens forum has, among other things, really made me appreciate — even more than usual — the smart, funny, talented people that read and comment here. I’d like to have discussions rolling constantly, but for various reasons I can’t create as many full-fledged blog posts as that requires. So I’m going to try something tonight where I just throw out some food for thought, and see what you all make of it.  You can work with the topic, or you can throw out something else you think is more interesting. If it works out, I’ll make it a regular thing.

Look at these two tweets. Tell me what you think (more below).



I’ll start by saying that the fact that Marxists and anarchists now call a billionaire by his first name is reason enough to keep looking at/writing about the social phenomena that brought that about. So the accusations of monomania for doing so are increasingly wrong-headed, especially since people like Henwood are no less obsessed. They’re just obsessed in a different way.  The right way. Accusing people who critique rather than applaud of fighting a ‘war’ or ‘sour grapes’ just aims to ostracize, in the way Patrick Higgins wrote about here in part 3 of his excellent recent series.

Once  again, I’m with Mark Ames (sue me).  As I have said before, the way left journalists and media watchdog groups like Media Lens and Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting have stood down on this story is nothing short of shameful. The sad thing is, there will be no catching up. There is a timeframe when something is newsworthy, and somehow Omidyar and Co have managed to avoid scrutiny and analysis during their allotted time. They will be old news before they’ve been anything more than the stuff of successive press releases.

There is no question that there is something really very odd about how heavily disciplined and vigorously policed discussion of the Snowden Leaks, Greenwald, Omidyar and First Look is on the left. Why is that?

Tell me what you think. Keep it loose. If you have something else on your mind, let it rip. Links to other interesting stuff welcome. Be cool, be you, as Pierre would say.



This is a continuation from the Media Lens thread, but it’s apropos here since it goes to the weird policing I mentioned. Commenter MickStep informs me that, after a 3-day argument over yours truly provoked by this post, a Media Lens forum user has put a disclaimer on a post linking to material about First Look.  This is an actual quote:

disclaimer: posted in the interests of media criticism and not intended to be an attack on the integrity of Greenwald or anyone else.

Response from another board member:

Love the disclaimer!

Yesterday, the same user promised that she -

won’t link to Tarzie’s work again, given the reaction

Just gets weirder and weirder. Disgruntled members of Media Lens Forum, please do chime in. Gruntled members also welcome.

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Mark Ames vs Amy Goodman and Glenn Greenwald on USAID

Last week the Associated Press reported that USAID — which provides billions in taxpayer cash for overseas “humanitarian” aid programs — created a Twitter-like platform in Cuba as a step toward fomenting a youth revolt against that country’s government. The way three ostensibly lefty journos, Mark Ames, Amy Goodman and Glenn Greenwald responded to this is quite interesting and revealing.

“Is USAID the New CIA?”, asked Democracy Now on Twitter to promote the Amy Goodman segment of the same name.

Good question“, tweeted Glenn Greenwald.

Actually, it’s an astonishingly stupid and misleading question, to the extent it implies that USAID has only now wandered into the dark realm of subversion and regime change, or has always been entirely separate from the CIA in the first place. The dark side of USAID, as well as its partnerships with the CIA have been public knowledge for years, but for those in need of a refresher, Mark Ames has helpfully provided one in “The murderous history of USAID, the US Government agency behind Cuba’s fake Twitter clone.”  After reminding his readers that USAID recently partnered with Greenwald’s boss Pierre Omidyar in stoking regime change in Ukraine, Ames laboriously documents some of the agency’s other projects over the years which include:

1. The Office of Public Safety.

Ames writes:

Under Kennedy’s reorganization, a police training program set up under President Eisenhower, the Office of Public Safety (OPS), was placed under USAID’s authority. The OPS had been set up in 1957 to train friendly overseas police forces how to be more professional, more democratic, less corrupt… — but in reality, the OPS was essentially a CIA proxy…its ranks covertly sprinkled with CIA spooks in hotspots across the globe.

Former New York Times correspondent A. J. Langguth wrote that the “the two primary functions” of the USAID police training program were to allow the CIA to “plant men with local police in sensitive places around the world,” and to bring to the United States “prime candidates for enrollment as CIA employees.”

The account Ames gives makes clear that there was a third function, which was the training of local police in ‘the dark arts of rule-by-terror’.  Ames describes the career of ghoulish Dan Mitrioni who, on the USAID payroll, ran terror schools for cops, training over 100,000 police in Brazil alone. After being stationed in Uruguay, Mitrione sound-proofed the basement of his house before holding classes in torture for local police, where he demonstrated the use of electric shock and vomit inducing drugs on kidnapped vagrants, whom he tortured to death.

Ames goes on to describe all the extremely vicious business OPS and its trainees got up to, such as assisting in the overthrow of Brazil’s democratically-elected president Joao Goulart, and installing a right-wing military dictatorship that would last two decades; repression through murder and torture of the left-wing Tupamoro rebels of Uruguay; in Laos during the Vietnam War, partnership with the CIA in opium-smuggling and the forced resettlement of Hmong families to force them to fight the North Vietnamese; in Guatemala, training of 30,000 police to repress local leftists and later material support for death squads committing genocide against the Maya; in El Salvador, partnering with The Green Berets, the CIA and the State Department to form two paramilitaries that would ‘form the backbone’ of  a death squad system that murdered 75,000 people between 1979 and 1992.

2. In Haiti, via a “democracy promotion” program, assistance to antigovernment, pro-business groups in opposition to populist, left-wing president Jean-Bertrand Aristide, who was overthrown in a coup in 1991, months after he had won Haiti’s first democratic election.

3. In Peru, funding for president Alberto Fujimori’s forced sterilization of 300,000 mostly indigenous women.

4. In Russia during the 1990s, funding for privatization schemes that led to the destruction of the country’s social welfare system and the handing over of public assets to a handful of oligarchs; funding for PR campaigns to promote neoliberal reforms and political candidates.

If it seems I’ve gone into quite a bit of detail summarizing Ames’ piece, it’s so you can fully appreciate the whitewashing banality and ignorance of Greenwald’s and Goodman’s responses to the same story. Goodman, in particular, who I have examined on this blog previously for her peerless ability to be usefully idiotic, outdoes herself in her repulsive opening for an otherwise typically banal treatment of the topic at hand.

Perhaps most shockingly, the Cuban Twitter program was not paid for and run by a spy agency such as the CIA. Instead, it was the brainchild of USAID, the U.S. Agency for International Development, best known for overseeing billions of dollars in U.S. humanitarian aid.

Shocking, Amy? Really? How shocking, exactly? Shocking like the electroshocks that finally killed each of those beggars in Dan Mitrioni’s basement, after an eternity of suffering? As shocking as the car battery with which OPS-trained police caused the hemorrhaging of Dilma Rouseff’s uterus, when Rouseff was a Marxist student? As shocking as the shock therapy that drove Russians into poverty? Or do you just mean shocking like how any reasonably intelligent person is shocked by your unutterable banality and incorrigible stupidity and how admired you are by upper middle class ignoramuses who think of themselves as well-informed and radical because they allow you to bore them a few times per week? That kind of shocking?

After offering up the seemingly mandatory clip of White House spokesperson Jay Carney, Goodman trots out Peter Kornbluh, of the National Security Archive. Ames’ piece borrows from National Security Archive material, so it’s exceptionally odd and frustrating that Kornbluh happily plays along with Goodman’s ‘new CIA’ bullshit.

USAID, perhaps, is the new CIA here. And this all has a whiff of Iran-Contra kind of elements, in which, you may remember, Amy, you better than anybody, you know, back in the mid-1980s, when the CIA was banned from supporting the Contras in Central America by Congress and passed the operations to the National Security Council so that they could be conducted from there. And here we may have a situation where covert operations have simply been passed to USAID, where there isn’t very much scrutiny.

It makes no sense at all from a news standpoint to go as far back as Iran-Contra without mentioning what USAID was doing in Central America only a few years before, or the cozy relationship USAID has had with the CIA over the years. No matter how you look at it, this is a whitewash that goes beyond the usual veil of anomalousness professional lefts reflexively throw over routine state repression and imperialist meddling.

Later in the interview, Kornbluh enthusiastically reports that Cuba -

is changing rapidly into a—from a communist society to a capitalist society. And we can help with that, but we can’t help with that by these silly, surreptitious and absolutely dangerous kind of covert operations.

Yes, of course, we can help with Cuba’s transition to capitalism!  What Democracy Now funder listener doesn’t want to? But quit with the wacky covert stuff, USAID, and bring on the shock therapy!

Not even distorted history intrudes when Glenn Greenwald offers his second worldly-wise shrug at USAID’s  regime-change meddling via The “Cuban Twitter” Scam Is a Drop in the Internet Propaganda Bucket. The first time he shrugged, it was to insist that his boss’s partnership with USAID in Ukraine had no impact on his journalistic independence, clearly the only thing about Omidyar Greenwald believes he or his readers should take any interest in. For Greenwald, the Twitter clone scheme is trivial because ever-so-many other government agencies are meddling online, not least of course, the NSA and GCHQ. What’s one more?

To make his point, Greenwald does his familiar trophy waving — this time previously published Intercept stories and new, predictably redundant documents that no one in their right mind gives a shit about by now. As ever, Greenwald can’t consider there is anything as, or more important, than what he writes about. So a Cuban Twitter clone under the complete control of U. S. government agents stoking regime change, and which attracted tens of thousands of young users, is, from his perspective, no different really from “a system to automatically monitor hotel bookings of at least 350 upscale hotels around the world. . . to detect diplomats and government officials.”

To quote GTI’s comments after I’d first posted:

[Greenwald] made a subtle pivot from “strategy to undermine anticapitalist country” to “damaging the internet.”

[He] might as well have complained that the CIA using exploding cigars to kill Castro undermined the quality of cigars.

Like much of what Greenwald does, it’s so stupid and short-sighted, it’s cringe-inducing, but no doubt USAID and its billionaire partners appreciate it.

Update (link to this update)

Regular readers likely know that I have been highly critical of alleged media watchdog groups for their uncritical, non-analytical approach toward both the Snowden Affair and the First Look media venture to which it is now strongly tied.  I have also written of the bizarre way in which opinion on these matters is vigorously policed and disciplined on the ostensible left.

These concerns came into play two days ago when a reader of Media Lens, a British site that does Chomsky/Herman-inspired media analysis, and which I’ve criticized previously, posted a link to the piece above on the site’s readers forum. In keeping with the forum’s increasingly low bar, a discussion ensued as to whether or not my writing is helpful to the CIA. Some sample comments from forum user emersberger:

The CIA shoud be quite pleased with Tarzie’s output.

I believe the CIA shoud be happy with his output. Why wouldn’t they be?

It is best not to [criticise FirstLook/Intercept] in a dumb, sneering and dishonest way because then it does do the work of groups like the CIA and that is what I’ve concluded about this bloggers’ outbursts.

[Tarzie defended] Owen Jones when challeneged (very politely) by the Eds (telling Jones to disregard the “idiots” in fact), [and engages] in dishonest attacks on Chomsky. Pretty obvious isn’t it? If I’m a CIA guy I’m loving this blogger.

This came with the usual accompaniment of tone-policing by people who think that American radicals aspire to being as dull and passive aggressive as many of the forum’s users, and who believe that imparting unsolicited tips on this is an indisputably friendly gesture. One thing that did not intrude on the conversation much, if at all, was discussion of my post’s merits. After several admittedly angry attempts to refocus the discussion onto Amy Goodman’s and Glenn Greenwald’s whitewashing of USAID, I was banned by the editors.

I won’t go into the back-and-forth, which is available for anyone’s perusal. I will simply quote the editors’ own explanation:

I think it’s not unreasonable to remove someone’s privilege to post on our board when that person has ludicrously described us as ‘models of dishonest and smeary subservience’ and ‘idiotic hypocrites’.

First of all, a clarification: I called them “idiotic hypocrites” on Twitter, not on their forum. Emersberger, in the midst of frothing over my alleged helpfulness to the CIA quoted that tweet, in typically bad faith. Also, the actual offending remark on the board was that  “in relation to Omidyar [the Media Lens editors] are models of dishonest and smeary subservience.”  Media Lens’ truncation of the quote is, I think, deliberately misleading, an attempt to make my accusation seem more sweeping and commensurately less accurate, and to deflect attention from the specific issue it raises.

Second, while I don’t share the popular fascination with hypocrisy, I think it’s relevant here in showing Media Lens editors are less concerned with adherence to posting guidelines than immunizing themselves, and others to whom they’re loyal, from criticism.  I am at pains to see how emersberger’s rhetoric is more compliant with ML’s posting guidelines than mine, putting aside how much more empirically supportable my claims are than his. (More on that later)

Third, I think it is unreasonable for the editors to ban someone for saying unkind things about them, not on any free speech grounds — it’s their forum, they can do what you want — but because it shields them from any but the most tepid criticism.  Do I really have to point out how incongruous that is with what they ostensibly stand for, especially in light of what they had tolerated from emersberger?

Fourth,  I stand  by my statement that the Media Lens editors are “models of dishonest and smeary subservience” in relation to First Look, Pierre Omidyar and Glenn Greenwald. I base this on the following:

1. A quarter billion dollar media play by a Silicon Valley billionaire implicated in the suppression of Wikileaks and other disquieting matters, raises obvious questions for media critics, especially considering the trove of secrets that came with it. You won’t see any of these questions raised by the Media Lens editors, however, who freely admit they will stand down at least until Omidyar’s  venture is more firmly established.

2. They approvingly posted on their forum a pathologizing smear extracted from the grotesque tirade Glenn Greenwald left on my blog in September. Cats Not War blogger Patrick Higgins has discussed this tirade and the pathologizing smear here, using the kind of analysis you won’t find from the Media Lens editors.

3. They did not direct their followers to the Pando report about Omidyar’s partnership with USAID in Ukraine, until Glenn Greenwald’s evasive, fallacious response was published a day later.

4. On Twitter, they laughably RT’d this faux smear directed at me by the parody account @ggreenbacks,  which they later undid, obviously after realizing it was a spoof.

So to summarize the evidence for the ‘ludicrous’ claim that got me banned:

By repeatedly endorsing smears, and indulging smeary, derailing forum users like emersberger, it is entirely correct to say the Media Lens editors are ‘smeary’ too. That they use proxies instead of smearing me outright only makes them cowards.

That this smeariness has been wielded overwhelmingly to shield First Look owner Pierre Omidyar and Glenn Greenwald from criticism makes the charge of subservience equally accurate, particularly in light of their own candid admission of deference cited in item 1, and their timing on Pando’s Ukraine story cited in item 3. That they insist that there is nothing uniquely incongruous between their generosity toward First Look and their ostensible mission and theoretical bent makes them dishonest, as does invoking forum guidelines against a user who does not share their loyalty to First Look while giving a pass to an abusive user who does.

In light of the above, it merits repeating that I was banned from the Media Lens forum after making repeated attempts to refocus the discussion away from smears and tone-trolling and onto Amy Goodman and Glenn Greenwald’s whitewashing of USAID.

To paraphrase comrade Emersberger, if I’m a USAID guy or a billionaire, I’m loving Media Lens.


Update to this update, Media Lens forum clowns Emersberger and  Rhisiart Gwilym are on day three of smearing me for the tone I took with them for smearing me. As with the clownish editors — y’know the guys that RT @ggreenbacks parody smears — it’s the self-awareness that makes them so lovable.

Actually I do have to credit emersberger with a certain savvy. It could not be more obvious to any objective observer that since this post went up over there, he has worked tirelessly at preventing any serious discussion of it. He has succeeded completely, as demonstrated by this post, from a thoroughly depressing facsimile of an adult human, promising to never “link to Tarzie’s work again, given the reaction”, after paraphrasing all of emersberger’s substance-free smears for him.

This is really the year of being told how awful I am by truly awful people. It may not have improved my character, but I am getting slightly better at keeping human garbage in perspective, and also extremely aware of how easily creeps can manipulate dull-witted conformists. A general aversion to lefts in groups has hardened into a principle.

PS – Welcome newbies from Media Lens. Enjoy the dipshit-free surroundings and modern technology. Be refreshed by analyses that start, rather than end, where Chomsky/Herman left off. Say hi! I only bite assholes. Honk if you hate middle class English dabblers in Eastern religion. (Weird ML-related pet peeve)


Commenter MickStep alerts me to the latest on the joke that is Media Lens forum. God.


The Stalinist fun continues at Media Lens. Greenwald loyalist bar-kin has questions for mickstep, who in addition to being a long-time Media Lens member, is a regular commenter here:

Hello ‘commenter mickstep’,

I would like to ask you the following honest question?

Are just here to stoke up controversies with posters as a sort of agent provocateur to give Tarzie writing material to attack ML with?

The reason I ask is twofold:

1) Tarzie highlighting in his blog the provoking post, which was coincidentally (?) posted by none other than ‘commenter mickstep’
2) Because unlike you, most visitors on this board see themselves as stakeholders and they care a great deal about the reputation and integrity of ML which inseparable from its objectives; so basically undermining the effectiveness one is undermining the success of the other. You seem intent on achieving something else altogether.


It doesn’t seem to occur to bar-kin, that what makes Media Lens look bad are users who put disclaimers on their posts so as not to give offense to bullies wielding smears and accusations, backed by ban-happy editors wielding smears of their own.

I don’t make the news, you clueless, authoritarian fuck, I just report it. If you don’t want to embarrass Media Lens, don’t be embarrassing.


Rancid Discussion Thread: ‘Obsessed’ with Greenwald/Omidyar/First Look

Passing Noam on My Way Out: Part 1

The Toxically Useful Idiocy of Amy Goodman

Glenn Greenwald Still Covering for Omidyar on PayPal

A Harbinger of Journalism Saved

No Pierre Omidyar Doesn’t Want to Topple The Government

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Passing Noam on My Way Out: Intermission

This is just a brief post to keep the conversation going and to let people know that I intend to continue with this series. I also want to give people some idea of what I intend for it and where I am going with it.

I am getting a bit of a reputation for purism and for being the guy that hates everyone. This seems odd, really, since my focus is almost entirely on people with vastly more influence and money than I, or most people, have. I can’t imagine what kind of person regards as  ‘everyone’, a group of U.S.-born left celebrities who, in keeping with their distribution in public life, are all white, mostly male and wealthy and whose politics fall within a tightly circumscribed range.  I also can’t imagine taking people with such a narrow, elitist conception of ‘everyone’ — which I increasingly see as a class marker — at all seriously on the soundness of my politics.

I am equally uninterested in appeasing people who think left or anti-authoritarian politics can be in any way reconciled – ever – with shielding influential people from scrutiny. That skepticism, and even anger, toward left icons is fully warranted, seems a surprisingly hard sell for some people, presumably because the fantasy of activist celebrity is just too dreamy to abandon, though also apparently too tenuous to be quietly savored without obnoxiously insisting that others share the dream.

As to purism, I don’t expect any of the people I write about here to be any different than what they are. My point, which should be obvious by now, is that our gaze has been directed to people like Chomsky because they serve power in the guise of defying it. That doesn’t mean these people are entirely without merit. To the contrary, for them to be useful to power in the way I think they are, they have to be in some way useful or attractive to those who wish to temper or disrupt it.  In my first post on Chomsky, I specifically said that I owe a lot of how I see things to him, and I appreciate it. In fact, my present impulse to slap him with a warning label and move on comes out of how I read his valuable work on how the system filters out and punishes disruptive individuals. But in the end I think an assessment of good deeds against harm puts Chomsky in the minus column along with the rest, which is why I feel no obligation to be particularly deferential.

My last post was about Chomsky’s shocking response to Aaron Swartz’s death, which is rich with lessons, both about what Chomsky really stands for, and about who survives in this system and who doesn’t. When contemplating a figure like Chomsky against a figure like Swartz, it is useful to ask yourself, if this person is disruptive, why is the system lavishing him or her with rewards, while this other person was destroyed? Chomsky will die a millionaire in his 80s or 90s. Swartz was made bankrupt and driven to suicide in his 20s. Chomsky began pissing on Swartz’s grave and whitewashing his persecution within days of his death. In fact, Chomsky’s conduct with respect to Swartz is so strikingly awful in its allegiance to both capital and state power, it confirms my assessment of his social function more convincingly than I would have imagined before seeing it for myself.

I have chosen Chomsky for the last phase of what has grown, somewhat haphazardly, into a lengthy repudiation of dissent mediated by elite-anointed rebels.  I made this choice because he really is the full-on embodiment of everything I dislike and distrust in anointed lefts, all wrapped up in unassailable credibility and an anarchist brand. My repudiation of icons has been moving ever leftward, and he is the man at the gates, with the sign that says, ‘This far and no more’.  I am going to breeze on by, but not before having a word.

I think Chomsky’s celebrity marks a turning point, or an innovation, in the containment and shaping of middle class dissent, through the commoditization of revulsion, and the reconfiguration of handwringing as resistance. His legacy has much less in common with politics than religion, where the benefits all go to the priests and those above them, and the yield for everyone else is indefinitely deferred, no explanation required. I will attempt to explore this and related matters in subsequent posts.


Passing Noam On My Way Out, Part 2: Chomsky vs. Aaron Swartz

Passing Noam On My Way Out: Part 1


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The Friends of Glenn

UPDATE for stupid people: The post below does not hold Glenn Greenwald personally responsible for all the many individual acts of debate-stopping bullshit committed daily in his honor on the internet. It simply says that these many individual acts of debate-stopping bullshit are the perfect complement to all the individual acts of debate-stopping bullshit he commits himself, and that there is a mutual attraction and interdependence between him and his most avid fans because of it. Put another way, the piece suggests that Glenn’s most avid fans reflect on Glenn in ways that, say, Obama’s most avid followers reflect on Obama.  In fact, the two groups are quite similar, though each group would certainly insist that their vastly superior politics set them very much apart.

When I say ‘Friends of Glenn Greenwald’, I simply mean the mostly informal network of debate-stopping authoritarians that operate on Greenwald’s behalf in high places and low, though some of them are also his friends in the routine sense.


Here’s my Twitter avatar.


Here’s a customization tweeted at me from an anonymous account last night during a conversation I was having about Glenn Greenwald.


Note how childish, dumb and technically inept it is. Also how homophobic. Then wonder what kind of person attracts fans such as these and even, on occasion, incites them. This incident is no anomaly. They say a picture speaks a thousand words, and this nicely encapsulates what The Friends of Glenn Greenwald have been saying to me for six months now. It rarely gets better.

As anyone who has ever been insufficiently deferential to Glenn Greenwald in public knows, the alleged civil libertarian/savior of journalism cultivates and periodically incites a pack of internet brownshirts who enforce discipline on his behalf. Most of the commentary on this has come from Greenwald’s right, because until recently that’s where most of his acrimony was directed. But as his status increases and his affiliations change, the rare lefties calling him to account are getting a taste of this as well.  Recently British independent journalist Jonathan Cook capitulated completely on some very tepid criticism he had offered only days before, after a swarming by Glenn’s fans and a self-serving lecture by Greenwald himself.

I have become something of an expert on Greenwald’s frothy minions since he first sicced them on me six months ago via this fallacious rant on my blog, in which he deliberately mischaracterized practically every point I had made and obliquely suggested that I kill myself.   Since writing the post that sent Greenwald into a tizzy,  I have been the target of routine trolling on Twitter, usually in the form of extremely childish verbal abuse, but also in the form of lengthy, angry interrogations, akin to visits from Jehovah’s Witnesses vexed by my stubborn unwillingness to see the light. The research wing trawls through old tweets and blog posts looking for things that can be damningly quoted out of context. I am the subject of six Twitter ‘parody’ accounts,  at least one of which simply mixes real tweets with fake for the sole purpose of mischaracterizing me. Glenn himself even cracks wise with this Tarzie parody — which of course endorses its smeary intent — though since vomiting on my blog six months ago, he never replies to me directly.

It’s important to point out that this is not simply the work of the weird anonymous accounts that spring up literally overnight every time I post. I am talking about pillars of civil libertarian society, like the staff person for the Massachusetts American Civil Liberties Union, who excoriated a blog post of mine at great length on Twitter, even though it was cringe-makingly obvious that she hadn’t read one word of it. Not long after, she attempted to do the same thing about an Arthur Silber post she hadn’t read, until fans of Silber, including me, pointed out the foolishness of  talking out of her ass yet one more time. Wikileaks trolled me at length one evening, admonishing me to shut my mouth in so many dreary, condescending words. As I recounted in an update to my last post, the British watchdog group Media Lens approvingly quoted a pathologizing smear Glenn left on this blog in September and, just a few days ago, risibly retweeted a faux smear against me by the parody account Glenn Greenbacks. 

Now the mob would like to convince itself and everyone else that what I have done to Greenwald is no different from what the mob routinely does to me. But even putting aside the absolutely idiotic obliviousness to disparities in numbers and power embedded in that idea, this is just simply not true.  I hurl invective certainly, but I do not lie or smear. More importantly I have raised a lot of questions and concerns, the vast majority of which have not been seriously addressed.  That’s because the mob isn’t simply settling a pathologically petty icon’s scores for him. It’s shielding him from scrutiny.

This is some odd,  shitty stuff, and also very revealing, as Glenn might say, were he its object and not its beneficiary. Never in my entire life have I been subject to so much discipline for a point of view.  I am talking about it now not because I am suddenly fed up with it — this shit rolls off my back at this point. But I think it’s time to realize that this bullshit is by no means incidental. It is very much a part of the Glenn Greenwald story. See, Glenn’s brownshirts really get Glenn and he gets them. Where others see a crusading, fearless journalist, they see what I see — a smeary, dishonest, bullying demagogue. The difference between them and me is they like it, either because they’re smeary little bullies themselves, or because they think the left needs, for tactical reasons, a smeary, bullying demagogue it can call its own, even if he is only a liberal/libertarian knockoff with a reactionary past.

Glenzilla they call him, not because his arguments are good, but because they are so effectively shabby — mostly witless verbal abuse and fallacies. Calling someone a ‘moron’ or ‘insane‘  – which Glenn does frequently — is a bon mot for this crowd.  ‘Serious ownage’, a Long Island brocialist tweeted at me after Glenn had called me stupid 20 different ways. The mystery to me is why anyone who isn’t aligned with the mob in spirit would align themselves in fact. As I’ve remarked before, I see nothing discernibly left or anti-authoritarian in this little subculture, especially as more and more Glenn and his minions punch as hard to his left as they do to his right. Even if I still respected Greenwald, I would be disquieted by this, if not by Greenwald himself, who becomes more weirdly self-intoxicated by the day.  If this is the future of transparency, journalism and ‘the left’,  we’re in pretty bad shape.


Well, it’s not like I didn’t see this coming. (See update 2)  Libertarian sharp tack David here is onto the NSA plot to undermine GG with anon ‘critics’ who say, ‘leak more NSA documents’ and ‘stop redacting.’


Greenwald proving my thesis again that a shared fetish for Tu Quoque fallacies is among the things holding his tribe together.

Glenn, like his “friend”,  peerless troll “Mona Holland”, (Update 3, below) would like to frame this as being all about the avatar when, in fact, its about his whole network of trolls and apologists that he inspires, cultivates, and incites in high places and low. Glenn wants people to believe I am blaming him for the trolls. To the extent that he cultivates and incites them I do. But my main point is how they reflect on him. He’s an authoritarian creep. He attracts authoritarian creeps. Really not hard.

I opened with the avatar, not to blame Greenwald for it, but because it succinctly captures the quality of their ‘arguments’ to date. As so often happens when I post, Glenn and Co are today busily vindicating me, by mischaracterizing the post so as to close debate on it. If these people ever get self-awareness, hide the razor blades. No, don’t.

I can’t speak for RancidSassy, but just for the record,  @JBJabroni10 is someone with whom I chat from time to time, and, as it happens, we have differed with each other over language use. But see, he doesn’t use the language we differ over on my behalf, nor do I make light of it.  Glenn’s “Friend of 20 years, former law partner” and troll captain, “Mona Holland”, repeatedly trivialized the homophobic harassment I described here for two days straight. Then with more of Glenn’s and her patented Tu-but-not-really-tu Quoque panache she tweeted this:

I am by no means obliged to answer for Edmonds about a slur in a blog post, as if it somehow relates to homophobic Twitter harassment directed at me on Glenn’s behalf, nevertheless, let the record show:


From today:


So in keeping with how Glenn and his brownshirts unfailingly vindicate everything I write within 24 hours of my having written it, there was much authoritarian troll merry-making on the interwebs. I don’t have the stomach for seeking it out but I sometimes keep a line open to “Mona Holland”,  Glenn’s alleged “Friend of 20 years and former law partner”, because “her” shtick of dis-informative deliberate stupidity is sometimes entertaining. Nowhere on Twitter is there a person(a) more willing to debase themselves with such monumental acts of crassness and feigned point-missing on behalf of another person.

“Mona” is well-known to anyone who disparages Glenn, as “she” trolls every forum — the Guardian, Twitter and now The Intercept —  busily running interference against the insufficiently adoring. Mona used to show up here in sock puppet form, or rather, with a different name than Mona.  We who she trolls all wonder how she finds us. Even if you don’t use Glenn’s tag or his full name,  “Mona” will find you and set you straight.  She seems to be kitted out with every monitoring device a troll needs.

Anyway, “Mona” trolled me for a half an hour last night, disinformatively insisting, again and again, that my main issue was the homophobic visual slur, not the network of bullying debate-stoppers, like her, that the vandalized avatar simply embodies.  Indeed it was striking how many people think sending homophobic visual slurs to a gay man is the tiniest of things when done in service to a cool gay celeb. “Get over us, you big baby” was the gist of her message. Mona is far from the worst but she’s about the only one I have the stomach for, since she is one of the few who doesn’t act like a psychotic 12-year-old pretending to have grown-up politics.  She’s just an amusingly creepy dumbass for whom Glenn is far too dimwittedly shitty himself to be embarrassed.  Multiply the following by a few hundred at least, add more hatred, shake and you’ll have Glennbot Twitter from yesterday.

UPDATE 2 ( link to this update )

There has recently been a minor fissure in the Greenwald is God consensus: some splintering over things like the PayPal 14; more people are wondering aloud about the slow timing of the leaks and the involvement of the government in reviewing disclosures; a handful of Twitter parody accounts making fun of The Intercept and Greenwald have emerged. Of course, there can be but one explanation for this minor fissure, and just in the nick of time it has been newly filed by Greenwald on The Intercept:

How Covert Agents Infiltrate the Internet to Manipulate, Deceive, and Destroy Reputations

To summarize, dude who travels the internet with gang of creepy thugs who intimidate, smear, disinform and create division, posts cryptic documents alongside highly speculative ‘analysis’,  revealing that creepy government agents work the internet to intimidate, smear, disinform and create division.

It’s only shitty when the government does it, not a billionaire’s lackeys.

I like the bit about “fake victim blog posts.”  So timely!

UPDATE 1 ( link to this update )

Ah shucks, an ex-Mother Jones-er that I hardly ever read just tweeted this:

Funny, how this ‘obsession’ thing goes only one way. Aronsen, who writes probing investigative pieces about conspiracy theorists no one gives a shit about, isn’t fazed at all by the obsessives who’ve smeared and badgered me for the past six months, nor that these people include employees of the ACLU, Wikileaks people and alleged media watchdogs.. The homophobic harassment embodied by the doctored avatar I received last night is no biggie either:

Who cares? He has like 30 followers, what does that have to do with Glenn Greenwald?

Well, actually the account has a password published in the profile. It’s for harass and bounce trolling so we don’t know how many followers the person has. But that’s beside the point anyway, because the tweet was an attempt to harass me during a conversation about Greenwald. What does this have to do with Greenwald, he asks, with the probing curiosity we’ve come to expect from our press. Why nothing at all, except that such things became routine on the very day Greenwald commented here on my blog six months ago. Read the post again, dumbass. Note that bit about how GG interacts with parody accounts.  Read Jonathan Cook’s unprecedented, bizarre capitulation. Read your own tweet and wonder why you aren’t lamenting all the people obsessed with me.

But to speak to the issue of my ‘obsession’,  I already covered that here, when one of your peers attempted a Greenwaldian smear about it. I will add that I would write less about Greenwald if:

1. He lectured the left less. The Snowden Event has been one long, tiresome lesson in incrementalism aimed entirely at people to his left. I was sick of it six months ago and it’s only gotten worse. Glenn thinks expertise in parlaying whistleblowing events into mainstream success equates to expertise in creating change. I beg to differ and am likely to say so from time to time as long as these lectures continue.

2. His minions trolled me less. One thing about anti-authoritarians, the best way to get us to do something is to insist that we should not. This piece, for instance, was inspired by a troll. Greenwald has never repudiated any of this shit. To the contrary, his interaction with Tarzie parody accounts is an explicit endorsement. Troll me less, and watch the Greenwald posts disappear. That means you too, Gavin!!!

3. Other left bloggers and journalists would take this up. Pay special attention to this one Gavin: I would have stopped writing about Greenwald ages ago if others, like you, were on the job. But we both know why that hasn’t happened don’t we? Remember this conversation about why you and others were standing down? I really wish I had the vague promise of a juicy job to hold out to you and everyone else Gavin, because, if I did, potshots like the one you just took — and all the other bullshit covered in this post — would end immediately.

Screen shot 2014-02-24 at 1.58.10 PM


The Absorption of Matt Taibbi by First Look

My Reply to Glenn Greenwald on his Comments

Fuck The Guardian Part 2: Take Your Drip and Stick It

Omidyar’s First Look Introduces The Intercept

No, Pierre Omidyar Does Not Want to Topple The Government

A Harbinger of Journalism Saved

Greenwald Still Covering for Omidyar on PayPal

Posted in Uncategorized | 121 Comments

The Absorption of Matt Taibbi by First Look

As most of my readers probably know, Rolling Stone reporter, Matt Taibbi is the latest trophy taken in Pierre Omidyar’s conquest of the fashionably leftish. He is the first of Omidyar’s First Look employees that I actually read for pleasure, something I have done for several years. With his work on Wall Street, he teaches me things I don’t already know, in a style that frequently makes me laugh out loud. Reading Greenwald, by contrast, has always been a religious ritual of sorts: a glide over tedious, tone-deaf prolixity, in search of a few kernals to affirm that, yes, some small part of my politics has a public proxy, if only an insipid friend o’ Digby’s.

Taibbi is much smarter, has a sense of humor that goes well beyond the pointed use of scare quotes, and a much lower eyeroll quotient overall. So while I am not thrilled to see Taibbi scooped up by the eBay Ministry of Truth, I will at least enjoy the spectacle of watching him be vastly better than Greenwald, putting out a halfway decent magazine on an interesting topic, while Greenwald and his newsletter staff continue their comic journey up Glenn’s ass.

One of the things that is most grimly amusing about Greenwald and Omidyar parlaying a whistleblowing event into cash and power, are the lengths Greenwald’s besotted fans go to see it as something else. Greenwald’s custodianship of the leaks has been equal parts self-serving, reactionary, and subservient, and, since cutting the deal with Omidyar he has tirelessly covered for his boss’s past adventures in free-speech killing and predatory lending. However, there will be no recognizing this among his besotted fans, for whom a sweet deal between Greenwald and Goldman Sachs would surely foretell the imminent decimation of Wall Street.

Since Omidyar has purchased any reporter who might offer an opposing opinion at a bargain bin price — that is, the slim chance of a dream job — there is no one of consequence to talk any sense about this. Even media watchdogs like Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting and the UK’s Media Lens have shamefully stood down entirely. The British independent journalist Jonathan Cook recently got a grim and revealing lesson in how this renaissance in fearless, adversarial journalism now works:

  1. Here he is politely expressing some misgivings about comments Greenwald made in an interview.
  2. Here he is a day later remarking upon the inevitable beatdown to which even polite critics of Greenwald are now routinely subject, and tempering his original position.
  3. Here’s Greenwald giving him a stern talking to, beginning with an objection to the impertinent title of his post.
  4. Here’s Cook capitulating completely, as if he’s just had a visit from the mob.

It bears mentioning that Cook one time believed himself hacked by the Israeli Secret Service, yet nonetheless continues to write critically about Israel.  But one brush with the Omidyar/Greenwald syndicate and he’s down for the count. It is amazing that the people who contemplate an extraordinary spectacle of this kind with indifference, or worse, delight, don’t consider themselves, or Greenwald, authoritarian, but rather, very much the opposite.  But then, as I have said before, Greenwald is an alchemist of sorts, who makes things the very opposite of what they actually are: not leaking becomes leaking; opacity becomes transparency; lying becomes truth-telling; subservience becomes defiance; beatdowns become ‘debates’.

There is no winning with the rubes self-destructively signing on for this bullshit; there is only finding the odd laugh at their expense. Me, I like to watch them twist themselves in knots attempting to reconcile actual facts with their childish Batman/Robin view that something radical and ‘game-changing’ is actually taking place. To that end I offer the following facts about Taibbi, which aren’t likely to cause any dissonance for Greenwald’s myriad libertarian fans, but might create a little heartburn for the disaffected liberals and those to their left. It will be fun to see Glenn’s and Pierre’s Marxists, easily the most idiotically deluded of all their clowns, talk their way around this:

1. He crossed picket lines during a Writer’s Guild strike in 2008 to appear on The Colbert Report and The Bill Maher Show. (source)

2. He thinks Roe v. Wade, the Supreme court decision upholding a woman’s right to an abortion, should be overturned. (source)

3. He doesn’t feel their should be a Federal ban on anti-LGBQT discrimination.

4.  He considers himself “more of a libertarian than anything else”  and believes in “capitalism, small government, etc.” (source)

My buddy Walter Glass did an excellent job reading between the lines of a recent piece by Taibbi which Glass described as “a police ridealong through the apparently apocalyptic wasteland that is 2013 Camden, New Jersey.” Glass writes:

…I’ll leave aside the fact that, in the rest of the article, Taibbi glosses over the pernicious effect of the corporate sector on this area of the country in favor of a half-baked partisan attack on Chris Christie. I’ll leave aside that he downplays the inherent horror of the “Baghdad-style security technology” police state currently being erected in Camden, commenting plaintively that “it looks like it’s working — only the whole thing might be rendered moot in the end by the collapse of the rest of America.” And I’ll leave aside the fact that in an article in which he speaks to a small handful of people who aren’t cops, he refers to the majority of them as “junkies.”

The above quoted passage tells a kind of amazing story — policemen tried to enforce a (stupid) law, were unanimously overruled by the community, and Taibbi apparently couldn’t find a single person from the community to comment on this. This anecdote raises fundamental questions about the war on drugs, “crime-ridden” communities, and policing itself, but Taibbi opts for the Black Hawk Down/Argo “let’s get our people the hell out of there” approach — the ideological underpinnings of the surveillance state nightmare Camden residents are currently living under.

Taibbi is always great when he’s fragging his rich-white-dude peer group …but he’s completely lost trying to explain how the oligarchs’ bad behavior impacts everybody else.

You can find the rest here.

For me, the biggest problem with Taibbi is the problem that afflicts all of the more marginal lefts. Behind all the ‘gonzo’-scented smoke and fire is just one more incrementalist, a rich dude telling tales on the worst-behaved members of his class, while pleading the case for their reformability. Yes, you guessed it regular RH readers, Taibbi is a classic heat vampire, a particularly seductive one, in fact, reconciling some of the harshest critiques of people in power with deftly timed bouts of starry-eyed faith. (Reader Lorenzo explains how Taibbi put this to work for Obama in 2008 and 2012)

There’s a lot of loose talk about sellouts these days, but I think that word is usually mis-applied. People rise because they are already what the person/institution paying them requires. By the time most of us are even aware of them, the crucial filtering is a fait accompli. The necessary shaping happened at home and in school. For Taibbi, that was a wealthy home and private schools. A so-called sellout is, more often than not, just a smart buy. Taibbi, like all the new First Lookers, is fit for an oligarch, just as he is.

Hat tips to: Glenn Greenbacks, Michael StephensonWalter Glass, Lorenzo

UPDATE 1 (link to this update)

Above I said that UK ‘watchdogs’ Media Lens ‘have shamefully stood down entirely’ on the questions raised by First Look Media.  A source close to Glenn Greenbacks told me that this morning Media Lens RT’d the tweet below, and then undid it, no doubt upon realizing it was parody. It’s an understandable mistake since the tweet perfectly reproduces GG’s smeary non-responsiveness, which Media Lens clearly endorses. Way to prove my point, guys! (more comments below tweet)

This is not the first time Media Lens has attempted to ‘engage’ with the questions I’ve raised here in relation to Greenwald’s leak custodianship. In September, after Greenwald’s disgustingly fallacious reply here on my blog, Media Lens extracted a particularly pathologizing passage for their readers’ forum, under the title: ‘Superb response from Greenwald’. Some Media Lens readers complained and they walked it back. The exchange has dropped off of their board, but here’s the tweet where they recanted.

There is no question that bulk buying of left journalists by a tech billionaire implicated in the Wikileaks blockade should be a natural object of concern for groups such as Media Lens, particularly when going alongside the reactionary hectoring Greenwald has been unleashing on anyone who objects. Yet as far as I can tell, they have not seriously addressed it, nor any of the other questions raised by the Snowden Spectacle, at all. But then, as I’ve said, Greenwald makes things into their opposites, and clearly Media Lens is in thrall to the magic.


Omidyar’s First Look Introduces The Intercept

No, Pierre Omidyar Does Not Want to Topple The Government

A Harbinger of Journalism Saved

Greenwald Still Covering for Omidyar on PayPal


Arthur Silber Needs Your Support

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Arthur Silber Needs Your Support

Power of Narrative blogger Arthur Silber is in pretty dire straits on all fronts. He is having financial and medical difficulties and his computer is crapping out. His morale is in decline as well.

You can donate to Arthur via the PayPal button on his blog.

Also, per Arthur’s last post, there are other ways to help:

Amazon Gift Cards would also be most welcome, and I can use them for other needed household items in addition to a computer. I think all you need for a Gift Card is my name and my Amazon email, which is the same (arthur4801 at yahoo dot com). I had considered putting a computer on my Amazon Wish List and hoping for my own personal billionaire to come along and buy it for me, but I’m not even certain what kind of computer would be best at this point. I’ve never had a laptop, so maybe it’s time for that? (Would be handy for bedridden times, among other things.).

As the march of the Omidyarchist Zombies continues apace, Arthur remains one of the genuinely radical voices online, and a great influence on a lot of us. Please help him if you can.


Arthur Silber Checks In

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