Progressives – part 5

*edit, June 29, 2020 – I’m coming around to seeing things a wee bit differently in regard to climate crisis. I’m more certain than ever that there’s an ‘environment’ crisis, which Rockefeller health care tends to cover up and is a reason why we shouldn’t expect the powers that shouldn’t be to stand by this capitalist project. Jon Rappoport’s investigations and reports really shine a light on that, showing how things like swine flu are more likely the result of awful industrial practices that produce massive amounts of toxins than nature, aka viruses. Can human activity affect the climate? If you exploded all the nuclear bombs at once, I’m pretty sure that you’d have not just an environmental disaster, but a climate disaster as well. Short of that, perhaps you wouldn’t. Or perhaps you would, depending. I am not a scientist. But I do know that imperfect humans, namely the Benefactors in power, are ruining the earth. That is primarily mental and spiritual ruin, but from ruined minds you get things like pesticides, nano tech and nuclear bombs.

“Trump meddled in Ukraine, and he’s not alone” by Aaron Maté and Max Blumenthal (The Grayzone)

Here’s the factually incorrect intro to the above linked-to article:

As Donald Trump appears caught attempting a quid pro quo, Max Blumenthal argues that the Ukrainegate scandal also highlights a web of corruption and meddling inside Ukraine implicating other prominent US figures and institutions.

The above intro is all in bold in the original, but I will just bold part of it so as to better make my point. Donald Trump does ‘not’ appear to be attempting a quid pro quo with Volodomyr Zelensky. (There’s always that background quid pro quo, the racket of NATO as well as the “global protection racket” that is the military-industrial complex together with the political class and its foreign policy elements, but that has nothing to do with Donald Trump personally. It’s simply gangster capitalism as practiced by the pros, namely the United States.) Read the transcript of that phone call for yourself. I link to it below. I have a lot of problems with The Duran, but Alexander Mercouris has really followed Russiagate, Ukrainegate and the impeachment hoax closely and his commentary on all of that is, mostly, excellent. If there is any major failure by him in regard to his reportage on this, it is that he perpetuates the charade of a real contest between the Dems and the Repubs.

What’s up with Max Blumenthal? His use, in his latest book titled “The Management Of Savagery,” of the term “civil war” to refer to the multinational assault on Syria is what prompted me to shape this latest installment of progressives in the way that I have. How many little things can a progressive get wrong (over time) before we need to stop and examine him or her closely? Trump didn’t meddle in Ukraine. You aren’t an Assad worshipper just because you don’t join with the regime change crowd in demonizing him for the purpose of regime change in Syria, a position that Max et al took at one time for sure. Nor is lying about Syria – which Max et al may have done in the early stages of the multinational assault on Syria – something that genuine progressives would do. And working with other self-identified progressives (like Tom Secker) who lie about Syria, and who lie about the journos who are reporting factually on Syria, isn’t progressive. As for Max’s book, While it is no doubt of value, it actually fails in a big way when it hangs 9/11 entirely on blowback, as it does.

I thank James Corbett for cluing myself and many others in about the true nature of 9/11, which I’d be very surprised to learn that Max actually isn’t aware of. 9/11 was first and foremost a crime and the main perpetrators were not the Arab plane hijackers. Visit James Corbett’s website and click on “9/11” in the tag cloud to call up a ton of excellent research into all things 9/11.

All of that misfiring by Max (and his associates) is impossible to ignore. Is Max trying to let the American empire off the hook with his mischaracterization of 9/11? And is that, alongside his stubborn insistence that there was a genuine, peaceful uprising in Syria that Bashar al-Assad put down with violence, and his assertion that there is a civil war in Syria (in the book only, at this point in time), something that he believes will sell his book better? Max would no doubt point to the incident with Politics & Prose Bookstore, where they cancelled his book discussion event, as proof that the establishment is against seeing his book widely disseminated. Perhaps. And perhaps Ricky Gervais’s rant was not as unwelcome, by the establishment, as some commentators would have us think, for the establishment plays dirty and deceit is an important weapon in its arsenal. (“We Need to Talk About That Ricky Gervais Monologue at the Golden Globes” by Vigilant Citizen) Bernhard, of the Moon of Alabama website, characterizes Max as a cynical salesperson (riffing off of Max’s own statements about that kind of person), which Vigilant Citizen’s interpretation of Ricky Gervais’s rant reminds me of.

“Finally, the most pernicious myth spread about me, Max, and Rania is the notion that our views evolved out of “opportunism.” This is such an outrageous lie it is hard to know where to begin.” – by Ben Norton, “Initially getting the Syria war wrong, learning from past mistakes, and correcting lies”

In the early stages of the attempted regime change in Syria (beginning in 2011; but Syria was in the West’s sites before that) I recall a few negative references to Max Blumenthal’s coverage of that development. (Those were by Barbara McKenzie and others or just by Barbara. I don’t recall.) I did not examine the controversy closely. Barbara McKenzie (who I have tried to contact but find to be out of reach; I don’t and won’t do Twitter, where I see she resides) was critical of Max’s and Ben Norton’s coverage and she’s been right about much (Bana al-Abed and Greta Thunberg for example), but got it wrong with her support for Sibel Edmonds’s awful attack on Eva Bartlett and Vanessa Beeley. I don’t know whether Barbara regrets that. And how often do you see self-identified progressives, or any journos or bloggers, admit that they were wrong about something?

Progressives sometimes get it wrong. Whether you’re well-intentioned or not, you’re sometimes going to make mistakes. But, over the years, I have been dismayed to see so little mea culpa from progressives who get it wrong. (After Sibel’s meltdown and James Corbett’s examination of her terrible behavior, Why is Douglas Valentine, author of the killer book “The Phoenix Program,” still associated with her? Has she apologized for her attacks on genuinely independent journos trying to tell people the truth about Syria and the terrorist White Helmets and did I miss that? I certainly haven’t been visiting Newsbud and don’t intend to, unless I have some very good reason.) There is a lot of false pride out there and progressives are not immune to it, clearly. As an adult, I can attest that adults don’t like to be corrected. We are all imperfect. But we can choose to have humility. If we do choose to have some humility, then we might sting when corrected, but we will also swallow our pride and try to sort ourselves out. There’s too much false pride and too little humility in the world and progressives are not outside of that world.

Max Blumenthal and Yasha Levine

I recently read Yasha Levine’s book, “Surveillance Valley,” which is dynamite but not perfect. I was dismayed by Yasha’s establishment talking point about Julian Assange’s decision to seek asylum in the Ecuadorian embassy in London, and so after thinking about it I decided to email him about it. Either he didn’t get the first email or he decided to ignore it. When he responded to my second email, he didn’t say whether he had received the first one. He was curt. He made it clear that he thinks Julian is a hero. But he didn’t say boo about his own establishment statement. Was that because he didn’t appreciate a nobody questioning him, an expert? Never mind that I am a fan (with qualifications for sure). Never mind that I donated to his documentary, “Pistachio Wars.” Never mind that I bought his book and recommend it to everyone. One could interpret his response to me as “fuck off Rick.” See for yourself. I’ll correct some of the obvious but small typos in my original letter to him just so that the email message isn’t an eye-sore:

Hey, Rick — I don’t think Assange is the enemy at all. Whatever his politics and his personal faults, he’s a fucking hero and what’s being done to him is horrible and crime against journalism.

On Dec 23, 2019, at 2:52 AM, Rick Battams wrote:

Hi Yasha. This is my second attempt to email you. I don’t know whether you received the first email I sent or whether it was blocked. I know that emails can be blocked because I caught gmail doing that to me, twice.

I’m familiar with Pando (now sold and scary) through my interest in Pando writers’ exposure of deep State player Pierre Omidyar. I never subscribed to Pando and so couldn’t avail myself of all that Pando offered. But why would I subscribe to a techie media org when I am not knowledgeable in the tech side of computers and the internet? I know that you once wrote for Pando and am fairly trusting of your work. I liked your book, “Surveillance Valley,” which I emailed you about (and I’ve donated to Pistachio Wars). There were a couple of off things there and [I] would like to get some clarification on your position on Julian Assange. Do you really think he’s the enemy? You were wrong (or worse, malicious) in your offhand comment about why he went into the Ecuadorian embassy. You hinted that JFK’s domestic economic policies were good. They weren’t. His Keynesianism was applied on behalf of the military industrial establishment and the wider capitalist class. That’s all. (Bruce Levine and Richard Walton, authors who Paul Street put me onto [not personally although I’ve communicated with Paul, who, to my surprise was mystified by the idea of camelot propaganda], are two great sources of info on the Kennedys, even though they are establishment. Then there’s Noam Chomsky and Seymour Hersh. There’s not much that’s non establishment or half decent establishment when it comes to history about the Kennedys.) There was one other issue I had with your book, but I forget it offhand. As I said, I thought the book was otherwise awesome.

What has kept [me] from going further (donations, sub[s]criptions) in support of your work is my failure to get an answer mainly on your position on Julian Assange. That’s a big deal to me. No, I don’t worship Julian, but is [he] a tool the way Jacob Appelbaum, or even Edward Snowden, is? Is he the enemy?

note: I will use this email from you (re Twitter) in an upcoming blog post about censorship (in a series I do titled Avalanche Snapshots).

Rick Battams (A Yappy Trade Barrier)

Considering some of the lies told by the corporate press in an effort smear Assange and win over the public in order to make it easier for the Corporatocracy to continue torturing Assange, one wonders what Levine meant by Julian’s “personal faults.” See Caitlin Johnstone’s article titled “Debunking All The Assange Smears.”

Yasha Levine:

“But Assange kept firm control of WikiLeaks, even after he was forced to go into hiding at the Ecuadorian embassy in London to escape extradition back to Sweden to face an investigation of rape allegations.” – page 243 of “Surveillance Valley”

Caitlin Johnstone:

“Smear 3: “He was hiding from rape charges in the embassy.”

“No he wasn’t, he was hiding from US extradition. And his arrest this month under a US extradition warrant proved that he was right to do so.

“People who claim Assange was “hiding from rape charges” are necessarily implicitly making two transparently absurd claims: one, that Assange had no reason to fear US extradition, and two, that Ecuador was lying about its official reasons for granting him asylum — that in fact the Correa government was just in the business of protecting people from rape charges for some weird reason.

“For its part, the Ecuadorian government was crystal clear in its official statement about the reasons it was providing Assange asylum, saying that “there are serious indications of retaliation by the country or countries that produced the information disclosed by Mr. Assange, retaliation that can put at risk his safety, integrity and even his life,” and that “the judicial evidence shows clearly that, given an extradition to the United States, Mr. Assange would not have a fair trial, he could be judged by a special or military court, and it is not unlikely that he would receive a cruel and demeaning treatment and he would be condemned to a life sentence or the death penalty, which would not respect his human rights.”

“A lot of the rank-and-file Assange haters you’ll encounter on online forums are just completely clueless about what political asylum is and how it works, because they receive their information from the same mass media which led seventy percent of Americans to still believe Saddam was behind 9/11 six months after the Iraq invasion. They either believe that (A) Assange found some strange loophole which enabled him to hide from all criminal charges simply by staying in an embassy, without any permission from that embassy’s government, or that (B) the Ecuadorian government hands out political asylum willy nilly to anyone who’s been accused of sexual assault. These beliefs can only be maintained by a rigorous determination not to think about them too hard.

“Assange wasn’t hiding from justice, he was hiding from injustice. His sole concern has only ever been avoiding extradition and an unjust trial, which was why he offered to go to Sweden to be questioned if they would only provide assurances that he wouldn’t face onward extradition to the US. Sweden refused. America refused. Now why would they do that? If Sweden were really only interested in resolving a rape investigation, why wouldn’t they provide assurances that they wouldn’t extradite him to the United States in order to accomplish that?

“The fact that Assange was perfectly willing to travel to Sweden and see the investigation through is completely devastating to the “he’s hiding from rape charges” smear, and it casts serious doubt on the “he’s a rapist” smear as well.

“The US government tortured Chelsea Manning. Trump’s current CIA Director was called “Bloody Gina” because of her fondness for torture on CIA black sites. He had every reason to be mortally afraid of extradition, and to remain so. The correct response to anyone claiming Assange should have done anything which could have allowed him to be extradited is, “How well do you think you’d fare under torture, tough guy?””

James Corbett

Relatively recently I became a registered member of James Corbett’s “The Corbett Report,” after once hesitating to give Sibel’s site consideration for a donation because of her connection to James. (Obviously, James is no longer affiliated with Newsbud.) How ironic. In a video that James made when many of his supporters insisted he respond to Sibel Edmonds’s awful hit job on Eva Bartlett, Vanessa Beeley and Patrick Henningsen (who, unfathomably, pushes the Tor browser. See here for a reason why progressives should stay away from Tor.), he eviscerates her presentation. You can watch the Sibel Edmonds’s video in which Sibel, and her (former?) associate, Spiro Skouras, attack Eva’s and Vanessa’s reports exposing the White Helmet terrorists, and James’s video about it, here: “The Destruction, Or Self-Destruction, Of Newsbud” While I didn’t care for James’s examination of Noam Chomsky, I have found that I agree with him on much else and I find him to be a valuable and very non-establishment source of information. (My one quibble would be that James is a climate crisis denier. James also has no time for the Green New Deal scam, and neither do I, but Why is he so convinced that unrestrained – neoliberal – capitalism can have no impact on climate?)

One of the most important areas of research that James has dove into is the subject of 9/11. And Chomsky’s lack of interest in that subject (in certain respects), and lack of encouragement for those who would look into that subject, are no doubt the source, or the main source, of James’s negative view of Chomsky. I still think that James’s show on Noam Chomsky, titled “Meet Noam Chomsky, Academic Gatekeeper: The Corbett Report” was heavy on smear and light on fact and I look at that in this blog post: “Meet Noam Chomsky, Academic Gatekeeper: The Corbett Report.” But I also think, and thought, that there’s something off about Chomsky’s failure to encourage those who are inclined to research 9/11 to do so. That wasn’t the Chomsky I knew. (If Noam Chomsky is a gatekeeper, then it’s not because he tries to shut down certain views, at least directly, but it would be because he discourages those with certain views from expressing them. I don’t agree with some definitions of ‘gatekeeping’. See my essay on Gatekeepers. I have also written about something I call ‘demonstration thinking and behavior’. Max is engaging in ‘demonstration thinking and behavior’, in relation to 9/11, when he writes a book, ostensibly from a progressive’s standpoint, in which he presents a version of 9/11 that is a result of blowback and nothing more.) These days, I can’t support Noam Chomsky the way I once did. He has gone over to the dark side and that began to be apparent to me in connection with his reportage on Syria. The very first thing that he said about it that I completely disagreed with and found to be, without doubt, off, was his assertion that Israel had no interest in seeing the Syrian regime removed.

“In a recent Intercept interview with the beautiful soul Mehdi Hassan, Noam Chomsky resumed his efforts to recruit the political Left into a scheme to support US imperialism.

“In the interview, Chomsky spoke about his reasons for trying “to organize support for opposition to the withdrawal” of US troops from Syria. US troops ought to remain in Syria, he said, to deter a planned Turkish invasion and to prevent what he warned would be the massacre of the Kurds. Yet weeks after the Turks moved into northeastern Syria nothing on the scale of massacres had occurred.

“The high-profile anarchist, former champion of international law, and one-time outspoken critic of wars of aggression, supports the uninterrupted invasion of Syria by US forces, despite the fact that the invasion is illegal and contravenes the international law to which he had so frequently sung paeans.” – by Stephen Gowans, “The United States has produced very few anti-imperialists. Noam Chomsky is not among them.”

As I finish reading the last few pages of “The Management Of Savagery – How America’s National Security State Fueled the Rise of Al Qaeda, ISIS, and Donald Trump,” some of that book’s funniness has me both thinking about all of the above and reviewing Barbara’s info. And it also has me wondering about Max, et al, and his organization, “The Grayzone,” which, at least up to now, I have found to be indispensable. Who funds the Grayzone? (Was the swat team visit to Max’s house and his subsequent abuse at the hands of law enforcement a false flag operation directed at progressives? See “Journalist Max Blumenthal arrested on false charge in DC.” Yasha Levine talks in his book “Surveillance Valley” about how Jacob Appelbaum regaled his progressive audiences with accounts of how he was moving about and trying to keep out of sight in order to evade the evil State which had targetted him. In reality, he worked for that evil State.) But what are we to make of a website like The Grayzone when its owner is spouting establishment talking points about Syria (and the ‘fake’ effort of the Dems to impeach Donald Trump) while reporting factually on it, and most everything else, at the same time?

“There is a large body of commentators in the West who define themselves as ‘left’, ‘progressive’ and ‘anti-imperialist’ insofar as they condemn Israel’s crimes against the Palestinians. Their claimed support for the Palestinians is offset by virulently opposing anything that threatens Israel’s interests in other areas, such as investigation into the role of Mossad’s activities outside of Israel . Israel’s interests are likewise to the fore when it comes to drastic change in Syria (seen by Hillary Clinton as essential to Israel’s interests as far back as 2006) – the ‘soft Zionists’ have been promoting the externally created revolution in Syria from the outset.

The Thirdwayers

“Sharing most of these characteristics are a group of people who espouse a ‘third way’ whereby ostensible anti-imperialists criticise their governments’ interventionist policies but at the same time have promoted the revolution and been determined opponents of the Syrian government. While in theory they oppose external intervention, they at the same time facilitate such intervention by peddling propaganda to that end.

“For five years, people like Max Blumenthal, Ben Norton and Rania Khalek have actively promoted forced regime change in Syria, insisting on the validity of the popular revolution, characterising the Syrian president as a butcher, and alternately vilifying and patronising those who were unconvinced by the NATO narrative.

“At the same time there has been no attempt by proponents of the Syrian war to engage with the anti-war activists who have been carrying out and sharing research on the conflict – instead they have contented themselves with unfounded slurs on the intellect and integrity of supporters of Syria.” – by Barbara McKenzie, “The Rebranding of the Anti-Syria Left”

In Max’s book, published in 2019, he repeatedly characterizes the multinational attack on Syria as a civil war! Whereas, In a live show that he does with Ben Norton, Aron Maté and Rania Khalek on January 3, 2020, he and the others refer to ‘the Syrian proxy war’. I don’t recall anyone in the show saying, even once, that the multinational assault on Syria was a civil war. Ben, in that same show, refers to the multinational assault on Syria as a “world war.” I don’t know about a world war, but the character of the multinational assault was (or is) such that had it gone awry, had it intensified, it could have resulted in something we no doubt would be calling world war. Nowhere in that show does Max use the term ‘civil war’. But I have never heard him say that he was wrong about his use of the term. (Is he just thinking that more readers of his book than not will want to see the label of “civil war” in it?) See: “US escalates war on Iran and Iraq – Discussion with Rania Khalek, Max Blumenthal, Ben Norton, Aaron Maté.”)

Max, in his book, refers to “the government’s violent repression of its own opposition’s protests” (page 160) without mentioning that those protests themselves were violent. And he seems to accept reports (by sources I am not familiar with) that paint a picture of an internal Syrian uprising, when there was none. (By now, Max would definitely know the truth about all of that, ergo…) Max quotes Max Abrahms who oversaw a research team that conducted numerous interviews (of whom?), concluding that 77 percent of those interviewed blamed “both the Syrian government and the foreign fighters for their flight.” (page 222) Uh huh. “According to the data they collected, only 16 percent of refugees held Assad entirely responsible for their flight.” Who is Max Abrahms?, because others who have also been on the ground in Syria do not report that Syrians within Syria were fleeing from Syrian soldiers. Nor does that make any sense. Terrorists were coming at Syria from all sides, sending mortars into civilian areas and those civilians fled to the terrorists?! Max accepts Abrahm’s characterization of the chaos following the assault on Syria, and the government’s response to it, as a two-sided, as opposed to one-sided, “genocide.” That’s nuts. Syria in fact did ‘not’ attack anyone. It was attacked. And however you want to describe that assault – genocide? Is that wishful thinking? – it ‘was’ one-sided, but Syria was not the aggressor.

“This blinkered view was further consolidated as Western media chose to report on the government’s violent repression of its own opposition’s protests…” – Max Blumenthal, page 160, “The Management Of Savagery – How America’s National Security State Fueled the Rise of Al Qaeda, ISIS, and Donald Trump”


“The Arab socialist policies of Gaddafi and Saddam were an anathema to Washington. Socialist policies limited the space in which U.S. banks, corporations and investors could maneuver in their never ending quest for profits…

“The Assads were targets too, and for precisely the same reasons. If one believed the views of U.S. officials, the United States’ campaign to force Bashar al-Assad from power only began in 2011, and then only in connection with his government’s response to the outbreak of unrest in March, 2011; on the contrary, Washington was motivated to eliminate Assad because he was an Arab nationalist threat to corporate America’s pursuit of profits in the Arab world. Washington labored to have the world perceive the Syrian insurgency as the product of a vicious crackdown on pro-democracy dissent by a brutal dictator. Not only was this a misrepresentation (the insurgency was Islamist-inspired and what democratic content it had was meager at best), it was sheer hypocrisy and indicative of Washington’s lack of sincerity. Washington had no particular dislike for vicious crackdowns on pro-democracy dissent; its Arab clients – all of them anti-democratic kings, emirs, sultans, and military leaders – were doing precisely what U.S. officials accused Assad of doing, except in their case, Washington averted its gaze. “We give a free pass to governments which cooperate and ream the others as best we can,” a U.S. official explained in a moment of candor. The Saudis, Qataris, Bahrainis, Turks, Egyptians and Jordanians cooperated with Washington in protecting and promoting the interests of U.S. banks, investors and corporations in the Middle East; the Syrians did not. Accordingly, Washington’s regional allies got a free pass to crack down on dissent without restraint, while the Syrian government was reamed for reacting to the eruption of violent unrest on the streets of Syrian towns in the same manner U.S. authorities would have reacted to violent unrest on U.S. streets.

“Demonstrations against the absolutism of monarchy and for representative democracy in Saudi Arabia and Bahrain were paid far less attention to be the Western mass media than was the insurgency in Syria. The Saudi and Bahraini demonstrations were crushed violently, with tanks, by Washington’s allies, and so Washington said nothing. By contrast, U.S. officials used febrile rhetoric to shape public understanding of Damascus’s “vicious,” “crackdown,” “dictator,” and “strongman” were bandied about with little restraint. There were anti-government demonstrations in Syria, to be sure. But they were violent demonstrations. Police officers were killed. Government buildings were burned. The state reacted with force; but what state doesn’t react with force to an insurrection? Nevertheless, what was a normal reaction of a government to violent unrest on its own streets was portrayed by Western officials, and in train, by the Western news media, as an illegitimate and brutal crackdown. Not only that, the crackdown, we were told, was ordered by a vicious “dictator,” a description which elided the reality that the supposed dictator, having received a majority of votes in a referendrum, ruled with the consent of the governed, unlike the kings, emirs, sultans and field marshals who made up Washington’s roster of Arab allies.” – Stephen Gowans, pages 85-87 of “Washington’s Long War On Syria”

I’d like to say that there’s a positive and a negative way to view the difference between Max’s and Ben’s early and later reportage on the multinational assault on Syria. But I’m not sure that I can. One the one hand, Their early reportage (which I am getting mostly from Barbara McKenzie’s poorly constructed articles, which do not employ proper punctuation and provide very few useful links, and from Bernhard of Moon of Alabama) is awful in some respects and may explain why, despite what appears to be a positive learning curve (unless it’s a positive deception) leading to reportage that is now very good, there is the odd discordant note that can be, perhaps, viewed as a product of earlier bad learning that hasn’t yet been corrected. On the other hand, and this is positive, the gulf between the earlier awful stuff and what Max and Ben write and say about Syria today is immense, with the reportage that they do now being good, important and very useful. What mitigates against that forgiving view is the reported failure of Max et al to in any way come clean about their earlier reportage, most of which (where it concerns their pro imperial positions on Syria) they’ve deleted from blogs and other social media.

“Five years after the war on Syria began those three “cynical salespersons”, who had consistently propagandized for more war on Syria, turned around and started to write in favor of the Syrian government side while either forgetting to mention or even hiding their earlier position.” – by b, “Max Blumenthal Says He Is A “Cynical Salesperson Posing As Journalist”. He Is Right.” (Moon of Alabama)

I don’t think that Max would agree with b that that is what he is saying about himself. It looks to me more like a case of b’s interpreting Max’s words and deeds that way. But there’s no doubt that Max was on the wrong side of justice in regard to Syria in the early period of the assault on Syria starting in 2011. For example, from an article he wrote titled “The right to resist is universal: A farewell to Al Akhbar and Assad’s apologists,” we get this:

“I can not disagree with anyone who claims that the United States and the Saudi royals aim to ratchet up their regional influence on the backs of the shabby Syrian National Council while Israel cheers on the sidelines. Though it is far from certain whether these forces will realize a fraction of their goals, it is imperative to reject the foreign designs on Syria and Lebanon, just as authentic Syrian dissidents like Michel Kilo have done. Yet the mere existence of Western meddling does not automatically make Assad a subaltern anti-imperial hero at the helm of a “frontline resisting state,” as [Amal Saad] Ghorayeb has sought to paint him. Nor does it offer any legitimate grounds for nickel-and-diming civilian casualty counts, blaming the victims of his regime, or hyping the Muslim Threat Factor to delegitimize the internal opposition.

“In the end, Assad will be remembered as an authoritarian tyrant whose regime represented little more than the interests of a rich neoliberal business class and a fascistic security apparatus. Those who have thrown their intellectual weight behind his campaign of brutality have cast the sincerity of their commitment to popular struggle and anti-imperial resistance into serious doubt. By denying the Syrian people the right to revolution while supporting the Palestinian struggle, they are no less hypocritical than the Zionists who cynically celebrate the Syrian uprising while seeking to crush any iteration of Palestinian resistance. In my opinion, the right to resist tyranny is indivisible and universal. It can be denied to no one.”

Here’s some more of the earlier, truly awful, stuff that Max and Ben report about Syria and Bashar al-Assad:

Ben Norton:

“56 Dead in One Day, a Glimpse of Assad’s Brutality” (February 5, 2015)

“If you want to see why horrible reactionary groups like Al-Nusra and even ISIS have support among some Syrians, try taking a look at the crimes the fascist Assad regime commits on a daily basis.

“On 5 February 2015 alone, Assad bombed a civilian area in Kafr Batna, a suburb of Damascus in southern Syria, massacring 56 Syrians. 10 were children and four were women…

“Syrian civilians must endure horrific attacks like this every single day. Since Assad first tried to drown the nonviolent popular uprising against his fascist regime in blood in 2011, the Syrian regime has dropped thousands upon thousands of bombs on civilian areas—and has engaged in systematic campaigns of torture, starvation, and rape.

“These hellish scenes are not from a Hollywood film; they are the real-life horror film Syrians must endure day in, day out. This is the laboratory of blood out of which Al-Nusra and ISIS emerged.

“Blame Assad for brutally destroying the progressive and secular resistance against his murderous fascist regime—and blame the US-backed Gulf states for supporting the reactionary Wahhabi elements of the opposition (and Turkey for funding ISIS in order to destroy the Kurdish resistance)—not Syrians for standing up to bravely fight for not just food, justice, and dignity, but for their very lives.”

“US Government Essentially Sides with Assad” (January 20, 2015)

“If anything, as of early 2015, Obama’s halfhearted lip service to opposing Assad appear to just be a way to seem consistent. After all, the US has spent years heavily criticizing the Assad regime. By telling the public that it has now changed positions, and now supports the Syrian dictatorship, Obama would just be asking for further criticism of his fatuous foreign policy—especially from the jingoist far-right GOP and its media.

“For, once again, the US and many of its Western allies (excluding the Wahhabis) see Assad as the “lesser evil” against Salafism. More and more evidence demonstrates that this is the case. Just as the US supported Ba’athism in the 1960s, in order to undermine communist movements, today it may very well do the same, in an effort to quell Islamist movements.

“Even leading supporter of US terrorism Alan Dershowitz, live on RT (which wholeheartedly whitewashes the fascist Assad regime), has essentially backed Assad, arguing the dictator “reduces terrorism” — ignoring of course his brutal state terrorist campaigns of mass bombing, torture, starvation, and rape of civilians, including children (not that US apologists ever take into consideration state terrorism).”

What a mess that is! Ben can’t acknowledge what even Bashar al-Assad’s enemies can acknowledge, sometimes, namely that Assad is ‘fighting’ terrorists. And to the extent that there may be any indication that the West is beginning to have second thoughts about letting Syria go to terrorists, Ben, at least at this earlier time, goes ballistic. War and terror are the only way to deal with ‘dictator’ Assad in Ben’s mind! And the lies that Ben is spouting there! Is this the same Ben Norton who I listen to, and read, today? I wrote those words before finding Bernhard’s (One name is all he ever gives and he only denotes it with the letter “b.”) articles dealing with the changing views (but not all) of Max, Ben and their associate Rania Khalek and a few other related articles, including one by Ben where he issues a mea culpa. (Did Max issue one? I don’t know, but his recent book gives signs that he’s still helping the establishment out with its anti-Assad, and therefore anti-Syria, rhetoric.) I can’t judge as believable or unbelievable all things said in the context of ‘he said that I said’, from all sides, because there are always two sides to every story and I don’t have inside knowledge. But I did find Ben’s July 11, 2017 mea culpa (“Initially getting the Syria war wrong, learning from past mistakes, and correcting lies”) to be faulty in one sense, namely in the sense that he clings to the idea that Bashar al-Assad was an awful, violent dictator. (That’s 2017. Exactly what does Ben say today?) ‘If’ Ben truly believes that, then that is not a basis for us to reject his mea culpa. (It makes Ben wrong but sincere.) But I come back to my assertion that at this time, Max et al should know better. (I do think that those who are on the right side of justice here – 21st Century Wire, Barbara McKenzie, Stephen Gowans – may be tweaking their stories about Bashar al-Assad in order to bolster their own narratives. I find that no one – good or bad, pro human rights or anti human rights, pro imperialism or anti-imperialism – is honest. That’s the world we live in – for now.)

“I came to see that millions of Syrians feared total collapse above all else. They did not want the government to be torn apart, as the US and its allies did in Iraq and Libya. That does not mean the millions of Syrians (the majority of the population) living in government-held territory were all — as the exiled opposition would have us believe — automata who worshiped Bashar al-Assad.

“Given the extreme violence the Syrian military has dispensed in the war and the many crimes committed, Assad is an easy target.” – Ben Norton, “Initially getting the Syria war wrong, learning from past mistakes, and correcting lies”

Max Blumenthal:

I went looking for some of Max’s writing on The Grazyone and found virtually nothing from his earliest period. I will have to provide some of Barbara’s statements about what Max wrote, instead, which I’ll do. Near the end of this post I found links to other criticisms of Max online, namely by Bernhard (no last name ever given), of Moon of Alabama. Where is all the stuff that Max wrote in 2015, because there’s almost nothing on The Grayzone?

Nafeez Ahmed and Tom Secker

I did come across one article in searching through articles on The Grayzone that disturbed me, but not because of outrageous things Max himself said about Bashar al-Assad or those not demonizing Assad for regime change purposes. One of Vanessa Beeley’s and Eva Bartlett’s most vicious critics is Nafeez Ahmed, who I thought was okay when I first discovered his writings. (See “Correcting the record: Nafeez Ahmed is clueless in his smears on independent journalists” by Eva Bartlett.) He’s anything but okay. In one of his 2016 articles (“European support for far right extremism reaches 1930s scale”), Nafeez stated that “Whatever the flaws of this system — and they are real — it has permitted peace within Europe for 66 years.” (I commented that that wasn’t true and my comment was there for some time, until the righteous Nafeez Ahmed removed it. Is that what Nafeez Ahmed, and Medium, is all about?) Another professional scam artist, namely Tom Secker, wrote a good article about the military-entertainment industrial complex (“Contracts Reveal How the DEA Exercises Control Over Television, Film Productions”), presented in Mint Press News, which I attached a comment to in the comments section following the article, warning readers that, while Secker’s article is a keeper, he nevertheless is not so righteous. (Mnar Muhawesh, the owner of Mint Press News, does not hold the view that Vanessa and Eva, who Nafeez and Tom attack, are anything but solid journos, to my knowledge. But there she is, carrying those fakers’ articles. And one of her staff writers, Alan Mcleod, looks really funny to me. He recently wrote an article in which he blamed the Iranian shoot-down of flight 752 on Boeing, full stop! Mcleod consistently pens articles that present discordant notes. He’s also connected with the fake progressive organization FAIR.)

Tom saw my comment about his article and followed me back to my blog where he proceeded to harangue me, making the argument that because I stated that Syria was on Russia’s border, all that I said was therefore wrong – until I reminded him of his friend Nafeez Ahmed’s statement about no war in Europe, at which point he made the point that he was bored with me and left me in peace. See “Tom Secker, The Professional Scam Artist.” So, besides Max’s above fails, and his involvement with the George Soros-funded Alternet (which hosted The Grazone for a short while), there’s also that article by him (that I just discovered) titled “The self-invention of Maajid Nawaz: Fact and fiction in the life of the counter-terror celebrity,” which he co-authors with Nafeez Ahmed (and which article, interestingly, includes mention of “The war in Bosnia”).

Here’s the comment that I left on Mint Press News, attached to Tom Secker’s article and infuriating him:

I am alarmed at how some really good fakers so easily wiggle their way into the good graces of the remaining useful alternative media. I read some pretty awful stuff (all opinion, no links to supporting info) on Tom Secker’s website a while back. I read a lot. But I hadn’t bookmarked it. I only remembered it. Any one of the (still principled) alt media staff who read what I read would have remembered it too. So when I mentioned it in on a website (I’d have to do some forensics to be able discover which, for I forget, although I have an idea), Matthew Alford took exception. I lumped him in with Tom Secker, innocently (but, yes, perhaps a little carelessly). I apologized for that, but celebrity writers/bloggers rarely acknowledge apologies from nobodies who they rightly call out for their mistakes (which slight them). They publicly slam you and then move on. ‘They’ can’t accept an apology, especially to nobodies. (Ray McGovern had no time for my apology on Consortium News, after I had mistakenly confused him with Stephen Cohen. I may be closer to Ray’s age than many, but I’m not as mentally sharp. That makes me evil I guess. I said something stupid about Jeffrey Sterling, which brought forth a sharp retort from Kevin Gosztola. I apologized and Kevin very kindly forgave me, publicly. So it can be done with no harm to one’s reputation.) Alford didn’t say a WORD about the substance of my complaint about his dear, dear, dear friend Tom. That was your choice Matthew.

Tom Secker: “For all their anti-war posturing and claims about caring for the Syrian people, Bartlett and Beeley are nothing other than paid apologists for Russian and Syrian state brutality.”

source: “ClandesTime Special – Rorschach Politics: The War in Syria” by Tom Secker:

I wonder whether Tom would blame his attack on Vanessa Beeley and Eva Bartlett (and you really need to read the entire article in order to get how deep and intense that attack is) on Sibel Edmonds. In regard to his reportage here (the article I link to), Either Tom is a complete idiot who someone without the Force could play mind tricks on, or he was coming from deep inside the dark side (knowingly and willingly harming the truth and those speaking it). He makes a few good points (that I’ve made myself, about Assad not being perfect), but they are in the service of evil, harmful propaganda.

The bolding in the above quote is not in the original. Max?

“ClandesTime Special – Rorschach Politics: The War in Syria” by Tom Secker (Spy Culture)

Blumenthal via McKenzie:

“In letter and interview Blumenthal reiterates his position on the Syrian war: ‘the Syrian army’s pornographically violent crackdowns on what by all accounts is still a mostly homegrown resistance’, the regime’s responsibility for massacres such as Houla; ‘the Assad regime’s campaign to delegitimise the Syrian opposition by casting it as a bunch of irrational jihadis’. According to Blumenthal, Assad ‘makes Israel look like a champion of human rights’.

“There is an interesting attempt to correlate Hezbollah with al Qaeda and ISIS: ‘ironically [the Syrian regime] seem to have little problem with Hezbollah’s core Islamist values’. One wonders what the people of Maaloula, very thankful to be liberated from jihadists with the help of Hezbollah, would make of Blumenthal’s implication…”


“By 2012 there was abundant proof of FSA atrocities, including cannibalism, decapitation and sectarian massacres, but this did not stop Blumenthal tweeting approvingly in August ‘Protest in the occupied Syrian Golan Heights in support of the #Syrian revolution’.”


“Assad supporters have, we are told, a tendency to Islamophobia, ‘I noted a while ago that Islamophobia informed certain Assad apologists’ MB 12/4/13; or fascism and Stalinism, ‘when you see someone defend Assad, remind them that Fascists & far-rightests throughout europe support Assad’ 12/4/13.”

Moving on…

And, I now know, courtesy of James Corbett and the research that James has done (which taps a great deal of research by others), that 9/11 was not primarily the result of blowback, as Max asserts in his book. 9/11 was primarily a major crime and the major perpetrators were American.) One progressive org after another is disappearing or defecting, going over to the dark side, not always terribly visibly (or, in that sense, whole-hog), but in fact, dragging progressives along with them by cranking out much anti-establishment or establishment narrative-debunking material while also sneaking in the odd statement, or presenting a position here and there, that is in fact pro establishment. I put the drinking of the impeachment hoax Kool-Aid in that category, although that suggests that those ones are drugged and not thinking clearly. The self-identified progressives who have drunk that particular Kool-Aid are powerful, not weak, thinkers, making their ‘choice’ to go along with the Dems hoax reprehensible. I’ll list some of them below.

I just watched Consortium News defect and blogged about that. (Johnathan Cook wrote a dreadful article boosting the Green New Deal and smearing all those who question it and who don’t buy the line that Greta Thunberg is a hero. She’s a victim, but will not be once she understands what happened but goes along with it. My comments attached to that article were disappeared.) I’m also fretting over Mint Press News where, alarmingly, one of its staff writers, namely Alan Mcleod, keeps saying off things. Following the downing of flight 752 by an incautious Iranian military, he wrote an article – signed off on by Mnar Muhawesh? – blaming Boeing! And that was it. About the same time, genuinely progressive journos were examining that event, digging into the subject and coming up with all kinds of relevant information, namely info that did ‘not’ let the American Empire off the hook. (See my blog post titled “There is no sacrifice (of others) too great to make for the desired regime change to happen.”) I was already leery of Mcleod due to his association with fake progressive organization FAIR, which I looked at in my blog post titled “Progressives – part 4.”

Where is the honesty? No one, good and bad, is honest. Here’s a great video by Alexander Mercouris and Alex Christoforou (who I have major disagreements with but set that aside) debunking the quid pro quo that the Dems are lying about and which too many self-identified progressives buy into:


“The statement made during Taylor’s October 22 closed-door deposition suggests that Trump did not, in fact, threaten to withhold aid from Ukraine while speaking to Ukranian President Volodymyr Zelensky on July 25th.

““July 25th is a week after the hold was put on the security assistance. And [on] July 25th, they had a conversation between the two presidents, where it was not discussed,” Taylor stated in the course of intense questioning from Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-TX, pictured at top).

“Ratcliffe then asked, “To your knowledge, nobody in the Ukrainian Government was aware of the hold?”

““That is correct,” Taylor replied.

“It wasn’t until a month after the phone call that Ukraine had discovered there was a hold on US aid, Taylor explained during his testimony. The US ultimately released the aid on September 11 without any action being taken on the part of Ukraine, a fact which demolishes claims of any kind of quid pro quo between the two leaders.” – by ? , “Bill Taylor Transcript Reveals Rep. Ratcliff Destroyed Quid Pro Quo Narrative During Hearing” (Liberty Bell)

“Full Transcript of Trump’s Phone Call with Zelensky” (21st Century Wire)

To read the not very long telephone conversation between Donald Trump and Volodymyr Zelensky see the above linked-to article, which also carries the ‘whistleblower’ complaint that the Dems and other scammers have also thought to use to impeach (smear, really) Trump. And, again, How can you smear ‘smear’ itself? But from the establishment’s standpoint, they simply don’t want Trump, who is one of them but ugly and buffoonish, to win the next American presidential election.

Trump, who said the terrorist-fighter Qasem Soleimani, who he murdered, was the world’s biggest terrorist didn’t even know who the Quds forces were just a short while ago.

The Whistleblower Is Not A Whistleblower

Some ‘Quid Pro Quo’ Kool-Aid Drinkers:

Paul Street

An excerpt from the above linked-to article follows:

“He recently called Republicans who may oppose him “human scum”—echoing the vile and genocidal language of Adolf Hitler and Jair Bolsonaro—and in June 2018 he described F.B.I. officials who had investigated him as the “scum on top” of the agency…

“Earlier in the day, before impeachment, Trump released a rambling, rage-filled six-page letter loaded with absurd and unproven charges, accusing House Democrats of “subverting democracy” by launching a “partisan coup.” The fascistic letter absurdly portrayed Trump as the victim of a “socialist” plot. It ignored the mountains of evidence accumulated by the House Judiciary Committee showing that Trump tried to bribe Ukraine’s newly elected president, Volodymyr Zelensky, into digging up dirt on a U.S. presidential rival by withholding military assistance from Ukraine.”

“Trump’s attempt to extort assistance from Ukraine in his political campaign against his Democratic Party presidential rival Joe Biden is straight out of the U.S. Constitutional Convention’s case for including the impeachment clause.”

If those above FBI officials were participating in the awful Russiagate conspiracy, then Paul’s on the wrong side of justice here. Is Trump a buffoon? Of course he is! Anything that he sees as not supporting him is a socialist plot. That doesn’t make the crime of trying to remove him via lies about Russia hacking the 2016 election true, nor does it make lies about him bribing Volodymyr Zelensky true. This was a big fail on your part Paul. Read the phone transcript folks! That bribery is NOT there. The phone call did not focus on Joe Biden. And had it, let’s remember that Joe Biden is up to his eyeballs in criminality and much of it is connected to Ukraine! So you want to impeach Trump for exposing ‘actual’ criminal activity on the part of his political rival? ‘If’ that was what Trump was up to – and it wasn’t – that would not be the awful thing that all of these self-identified progressives would have you think that it is.

Ralph Nader

An excerpt from the above linked-to article follows:

“Trump should be impeached and convicted. If the supine Republican-controlled Senate fails to convict Trump, the voters should landslide him in November.”

Ralph’s article is awful. The weasely above statement doesn’t specify ‘what’ Ralph thinks Donald should be impeached for but it would be proper to interpret it as referring to the phony impeachment process underway, in which case Ralph implicitly endorses the lie about bribery at the center of it.

Henry Giroux

An excerpt from the above linked-to article follows:

“Trump’s crimes far exceed what is stated in the impeachment documents…”

“Acquiescence to Trump has become a defining feature of the Republican Party, in spite of his celebration of demagogues such as Kim Jong Un, whom he called a “real leader…”

Slamming Trump for seeking dialog with North Korea is strange, when you are trying to make the case that Trump is all about violence. Not to mention, It’s the establishment that has demonized North Korean leaders for years as a prelude to any hostility that the world’s hegemon may seek to direct at North Korea, beyond what it’s already dishing out in various ways. Henry Giroux, like so many professional scam artists, is good with words. But when you use enough, then things, even little things, can slip out that expose you, if you’re not solid. I suspect that Henry Giroux is on the wrong side of justice and not just in relation to the phony impeachment hoax underway right now in the US.

“At the conclusion of the Pacific War, the war in the Pacific theater within the larger global conflict that was World War II, Koreans looked to the Soviet Union for inspiration. The Bolshevik Revolution in 1917 had inaugurated the anti-colonial movement, and the Bolsheviks inspired the “wretched of the earth” to emancipate themselves, a project to which the Soviet Union contributed admiringly. Across the globe, communism resonated with oppressed people. It no less resonated with Kim Il-sung, the founder of the DPRK, a charismatic anti-Japanese guerilla leader who would very likely have won the national elections planned by the United States and Soviet Union for post-World War II Korea had Washington not scuttled them in favor of elections held within its own occupation zone, whose outcome it could control. The United States blocked the creation of an independent, unified (and very likely communist) Korean state, by creating an alternative state every bit deserving of the obloquy “puppet state” as was Manchukuo, the state created by Japan in neighboring Manchuria in 1932 under the nominal leadership of the Chinese and actual leadership of the Japanese. The traitors Washington recruited to staff its puppet state served as the public face of the Republic of Korea. They were “advised” behind the scenes by a coterie of US officials, the most important of which were the US ambassador, the CIA station chief, and the top US military official in Korea, the latter of whom had (and continues to have) operational control of the ROK military. The quislings participated in the political partition of Korea to thwart the achievement of their compatriots’ left-wing political aspirations, fought an anti-insurgency war in the south to crush left-wing guerilla, accepted the occupation of the Korean peninsula by US troops, and acceded to their own military’s subordination to US command.

“Korea has long strugged for freedom, from Japanese control in the first half of the twentieth century, and subsequently from US domination from 1945 to today….” – by Stephen Gowans, pages 14 & 15 of “Patriots, Traitors And Emperors – The Story Of Korea’s Struggle For Freedom”

Chris Hedges

“They turned on him not over an egregious impeachable offense—there have been numerous impeachable offenses including the use of the presidency for personal enrichment, inciting violence and racism, passing on classified intelligence to foreign officials, obstruction of justice and a pathological inability to tell the truth—but because he made the fatal mistake of trying to take down a fellow member of the ruling elite.

“Yes, Trump pressured Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky to give him dirt on Biden and his son, Hunter Biden, and there probably is some. Yes, it appears the U.S. president withheld roughly $400 million in military aid to Ukraine in order to exert leverage over that government.”

Chris is lying or else he is absolutely asleep at the wheel.

Ann Garrison

Now the impeachment frenzy is just as ridiculous and just as likely to backfire. For one, the Bidens’ corruption in Ukraine should be investigated, and for two, Joe Biden, as vice president, is more guilty of extortion than Trump…

Biden’s proudly guilty of extortion to enrich his son and protect him from prosecution in Ukraine, but the Democrats don’t want us to take that as seriously as Trump’s counter extortion in conversation with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky…

Trump didn’t bribe Zelensky. The business that he referred to, all of which just about everyone is calling ‘aid’, is stuff the US does all the time. The actual accusation of quid pro quo that Ann ‘chooses’ to believe has validity, didn’t happen and has no validity.

Let’s see how many of those self-identified progressives admit that they were wrong in the coming months.

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1 Response to Progressives – part 5

  1. Anonymous says:

    The oil patch is full of them. Oklahoma has created the Republican Progressive..

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