Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Quote of the Day


"I think you're underestimating how cynical Americans are about our government already. So unless in these WikiLeaks we are going to learn that the aliens from Area 51 killed Kennedy, stop with the drama."

-- Jon Stewart, attempting to put at least a tiny pinhole in the gargantuan ego of Julian Assange

22 comments:

ntx said...

My take: None of this would have shocked Thomas Jefferson. Hell, none of it would have shocked Marcus Aurelius. Diplomats are duplicitous: knock me over with a feather.

BenoƮt from Ottawa said...

ntx is right.

None of it is very shocking, at least up to now.

Even Canadians don't have that much of an inferiority complex that they can't deal with someone saying they have one. And it can't be but salutary that Iran know that Saudi Arabia thinks in effect they're crazy fuckers. (Again, not that they'll have been very surprised.)

Capt Aclow said...

Making diplomacy harder in the future which then leads to wars occurring more often because there's no other resolution is definitely doing God's work.

Deacon Blue said...

When you get right down to it, the take-home message from all of this is nothing more than our government is shitty at keeping secrets anymore, and we should be lucky that truly epic stuff isn't just hemmorhaging from "secure" databases in D.C.

Captain Splendid said...

Y'know, I understand your dislike of Assange is personal and not political, but it's like Taibbi said in an article about Michael Moore.

To paraphrase: "Yeah, Moore's not perfect, but no one else is doing what he's doing, especially the people who should be doing it."

In other words, we know you don't like him, but you as well be making sure to call Michael Moore fat every time you talk about him.

CNNfan said...

Hah! Jon Stewart used a definite article when he said, "the aliens" meaning Jon has determined Aliens are at Area 51 because "the" is a determiner.

Chez said...

I pick on Assange's prissy arrogance, it's true, Splendid. But I've also come right out and said that while I think the media should be doing a better job of holding just about everyone in power accountable, I don't like Assange and what he's doing with Wikileaks. He seems to really have a hair up his ass specifically when it comes to the U.S. and he's so thoroughly self-righteous that he actually believes he's in a position to all but demand that the secretary of state of the United States step down because she's corrupt. That's nonsense. Most of what he's uncovered hasn't shocked me in the least, and that's because I understand that the government will never tell us everything, not when it comes to diplomacy and certainly not when it comes to war.

namron said...

Captain: Assange's (or anyone else's) disagreement with American foreign policy does not justify the disclosure of known classified information. The legitimate conduct of a sovereign's business and the day-to-day task of governance is not some monstrous plot that must be exposed by a dogged investigative journalist like some Hollywood political thriller. Assange is not Woodward/Bernstein. Unlike a newspaper or TV network, Wikileaks has no public trust obligation to edit the information it discloses. Wikileaks doesn't have to make a payroll, pay legal fees, or answer to advertisers. Its just Assange's little toy. A comparison to Michael Moore is a false analogy. Although Moore may have an agenda, the market place makes him responsible for his content. He's got to make money to have his voice. He also aims at specific targets rather than amorphous corporate greed or government duplicity. Unless there is some deep Watergate-like conspiracy afoot in U.S. foreign policy, Assange should not receive any accolade for the dump of classified information. Treat him as the petulant child he seems to be.

Prophet of Ra said...

I actually like very much what Assange is doing, be it rooted in arrogance or anything else. Yeah, the government doesn't tell us everything, but as the government should be the collective will of the people (especially in our system of government) I think transparency is extremely important, down to what politicians actually think about things.

The reason I think American politics has become such a shit show is because politicians won't even answer simple yes or no questions about their views on things. They make broad generalizations in order to not be held accountable for any of their views to either side of the political scale. If Wikileaks is what we need to get some answers out of them (the media certainly isn't getting them) then I am 100% in favor of it.

I want to know if political leaders in other countries are asking us to bomb Iran. I want to know what China really thinks about North Korea. I want to know if we are really bombing Yemen and having them lie about it. I want to know if Obama is using Guantanamo Bay as a bargaining chip. I want to know if an Afghanistan politician was found abroad with $50mil in cash. I want to know if we seriously don't trust the UN so much that we are instructing officials to spy on UN leaders. I want to know how much my tax dollars are really going to prevent weapons from getting to Lebanon. These things are important to me.

And if he attacks the banks soon, well, perhaps you won't have to worry about him much longer. But I will continue to be in favor of his work.

Our government needs to be more open and honest with the things I am paying for.

Chez said...

You know, this will sound somewhat jingoistic and I accept that. But I actually do take issue with the fact that Assange is a foreign national not only sitting in judgment of the inner workings of the United States government, but believing that he has the right to dictate from both outside and on high what America does in what's ostensibly its best interests. I get that there's an argument to be made that we assert our will in far more pronounced ways around the globe, but for someone who I would imagine values the sovereignty of other countries, Assange seems to have no compunction about sticking it to the big, bad U.S. We make mistakes, certainly, but say what you will -- I still believe that at the end of the day we at least attempt to be the good guys, even if we don't always succeed at it.

SteveR said...

"I still believe that at the end of the day we at least attempt to be the good guys, even if we don't always succeed at it."

There are no good guys or bad guys, Chez. The only distinction is in whose interest (or against whose interest) is the "good" or "bad" guy acting.

Do you really believe that foreign policy isn't, almost always, in a nation's best interests?

Chez said...

A fine point. The notions of good and bad are reversible and can be swapped on a dime, depending on immediate circumstances or the possibility of short-term gain.

French Anonymous said...

"I still believe that at the end of the day we at least attempt to be the good guys"

Chez, I didn't think you were that naive. Shit, you do believe that there are countries that "attempt to be the good guys" ?

Every single country in this world is being its own "good guy" - as in taking any action whatsoever that may sustain or further its own influence.

Some countries do it through diplomacy, economics, and selling the right arms to countries or individuals that are up for some flesh rippin' in a convenient place. And some countries just like to do some of the flesh rippin' themselves, now and then.

Both types of countries are being "the good guys" without the least concern for human life or welfare, be it of its nationals or of foreigners. I mean, we're all of the same species, hunting ourselves into extinction is pretty dumb.

Switzerland is an exception. They respect very much Swiss life. They don't partake in wars. They don't test atomic bombs. Not even on their own soldiers or civilians.

But perhaps you think that US is special among others war-mongering countries, because it's keeping such a close tab on how many of its soldiers are killed ? Perhaps the US opinion thinks it's out of pity for the poor national human meat ? It's more out of keeping polls happy and getting reelected, just like everywhere else.

I've been wondering lately if your strange belief on "some wars being just" stemmed from the US involvement in WWII. It can't be out of Religion and Promised Land and other nonsense, nor out of the Vietnam war, so ?

I have no doubt that the US soldiers themselves felt like they were giving their lives for Europeans, and I respect them a lot for it. Allied cemeteries are better kept than our own soldiers' cemeteries. Only their lives could have been spared in favour of Russian lives, who were Allied too, right ? Since Russia was well on its way to free Europe all by itself, before US and Great Britain (and North Africans and exiled French) came to the rescue of mainland Europe. But somehow US and Great Britain weren't having any of it.

Don't believe it's out of kindness that Western Europe was not freed by the Soviet Union. If the Soviet Union had not been a serious threat for US and England, I would have been raised a communist. So what.

But in order to limit Soviet urges of conquest, the US did not stop at freeing several countries. It also made ashes of hundreds of thousands of civilians. Twice. Is that "attempting to be the good guys" ?

All rant aside, if just wars were to exist, WWII would have been a just war on the German side. The Triple Entente had done everything in its power to reduce Germany to dust and famine after WWI. Obviously some revenge & conquer was in order.

Chez said...

Um, if you say so.

Anonymous said...

"We make mistakes, certainly, but say what you will -- I still believe that at the end of the day we at least attempt to be the good guys, even if we don't always succeed at it." haha...please.
You don't go out of the US much, uh?

Chez said...

Actually, yeah, I get out every chance I get. Take all the shots you want (safely behind the anonymous tag, of course), I stand by the idea that not always but for the most part, we try to do the right thing. We're a big country and a world superpower and, as much as it will offend your fragile sensibilities to hear this, overall we've still treaded lighter on the world than any preeminent power in global history. Yup, we fuck up quite a bit -- and I'm certainly not forgiving some of the rotten things we have in fact done or the negligence we've sometimes displayed, but I think that like most countries that maintain diplomatic relations outside their borders, we do our best.

namron said...

In support of Chez, I would venture that the per capita rate of US residents who have had their genitals hooked up to a car battery by the Government is the lowest in the world in the latter half of the 20th century and into the 21st. It is not naive to aspire to "good-guy ness," even if failure is common.

French Anonymous said...

I've finally found a way to read some of the secret cables of Wikileaks, despite my dear governement, and it really does look like US agents genuinely care about the countries they are reporting from.

Well, unless we're dealing with practical issues, like where to stock their cluster bombs. Aren't those thingies weapons of mass destruction ? Ain't that E-V-I-L ?

Anyway. That's quite a feat. I would not bet that French secret documents are that polite. I still like American people a lot. It's a refreshing kind of ingenuity.

Chez said...

At least you still have all that good food.

French Anonymous said...

@namron : as for ingenious uses of electricity, you sorely underestimate US creativity. Remember, the electric chair ? Remind me how many US people are killed a year by the US government via death sentence ? There's not a single one in Europe.

Besides, from images of New Orleans in the aftermath of Katrina, I'd say that I've never seen such brutality in the treatment of civilians after a natural catastrophe. Full armoured black-clad guys with guns ? For a flooding ? Unarmed people with boats and food and covers, that's what you'd see everywhere else... except in very unstable third-world countries.

We have issues too, but we're a much more peaceful society.

And yep, I'm anonymous, but Chez has my email adress, I'm no chicken.

French Anonymous said...

Chez, if you ever come to France, I'll be very happy to treat you to some of our food...

Kevin Davis said...

I can't help but think your opinion on Wikileaks releasing documents is married to your visceral disgust of Assange himself. I must agree with Captain Splendid above about Taibbi's point on Moore... so what that they haven't released a conspiracy about Jesus going to Iraq to kill Saddam Hussein, they did release video of civilians being killed if you remember. But more importantly, they're establishing themselves as a place where future "megaleaks" could occur. I think that's good news in the name of transparency for all of us despite the fact that their leader is a douchebag.