Home > Annals of Mendacious Punditry: When the Shill Enables the Kill
Annals of Mendacious Punditry: When the Shill Enables the Killby Open-Publishing - Wednesday 6 June 2007
by Jason Miller
Jonah Goldberg is the living, breathing embodiment of virtually all that is pernicious in the malignant socioeconomic and political structures collectively known as the American Empire. Yet tragically, this scheming sycophant to the cynical, privileged criminals of the US plutocracy reaches countless millions through myriad corporate media conduits as he weaves his sophistic arguments supporting nearly every morally repulsive aspect of United States foreign policy.
Rising to his position amongst the US mainstream punditry elite through vigorous and shameless self-promotion based on his mother’s involvement in the Clinton-Lewinsky scandal, young Jonah quickly learned our culture’s ferocious appetite for the sordid, the lurid, and all that validates our collective pathological narcissism euphemistically called the American Dream. To this day, he skillfully crafts malevolent agitprop to convince and reassure us here in the United States that it is our unconditional right to murder, exploit, invade, and oppress as we preserve and advance the “American Way.”
To get a sense of the extent of his reach and his penchant for promoting himself, take a gander at the bio sketch he penned for himself. (This appears at National Review Online):
“Jonah Goldberg is editor-at-large of National Review Online for which he writes his thrice-weekly column “The Goldberg File” and a contributing editor to National Review. Goldberg also writes a nationally syndicated column distributed by Tribune Media Services, which appears often such newspapers as the Kansas City Star, the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Washington Times, the Orlando Sentinel, San Francisco Chronicle, the Manchester Union Leader, and others. He also writes a regular media criticism column for The American Enterprise magazine. Mr. Goldberg was a contributing editor and columnist for the now-defunct Brill’s Content.
Mr. Goldberg is also a CNN contributor and regular panelist on Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer. He is an occasional guest-host on Crossfire and has appeared on numerous television and radio programs.
Since Mr. Goldberg became editor of National Review Online, it rapidly become one of the dominant players in web journalism, earning high praise from The Columbia Journalism Review, Vanity Fair, the New York Times, the Washington Post, and The Christian Science Monitor. The New York Press concluded that National Review Online is “by far the best political online operation going today.”
Jonah Goldberg is a former television producer who has credits in a wide range of productions. He was the senior producer of Think Tank with Ben Wattenberg, the award-winning public-affairs program and he has written and produced two PBS documentaries. Prior to his work in television Mr. Goldberg was a researcher at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington DC. An award-winning journalist, his writing has appeared in The New Yorker, Worth, the Wall Street Journal, Commentary, The Public Interest, The Wilson Quarterly, The Weekly Standard, the New York Post, Reason, The Women’s Quarterly, The New Criterion, Food and Wine, The Street.com, and Slate.”
It is a tragic indictment of our so-called “Fourth Estate” that an enabler of egregious war crimes enjoys such a massive megaphone through which to shout his virulent lies.
Consider this assessment of Goldberg by Professor Juan Cole of the University of Michigan, a preeminent expert on the Middle East:
“Extremist rightwing hawks like Jonah Goldberg used their privileged position as pundits to terrify the US public that Iraq was a threat to the US. He repeatedly said in the buildup to the war that Iraq was a menace to the US, and he repeatedly brought up North Korea’s nuclear weapons as a reason for a preemptive attack on Iraq.
Iraq never has had nuclear weapons. Iraq never has been as close as two decades from having nuclear weapons. Iraq dismantled all vestiges of its rudimentary and exploratory nuclear weapons research in 1991. Iraq did not have a nuclear weapons program in 1992, 1993 and all the way until 2002, when Jonah Goldberg assured us Americans that we absolutely had to invade Iraq to stop it from imminently becoming a nuclear power just like North Korea….
Jonah Goldberg is a fearmonger, a warmonger, and a demagogue. And besides, he was just plain wrong about one of the more important foreign policy issues to face the United States in the past half-century. It is shameful that he dares show his face in public, much less continuing to pontificate about his profound knowledge of just what Iraq is like and what needs to be done about Iraq and the significance of events in Iraq.”(1)
*Now that we have some background on Jonah, let’s subject some of his writings to critical scrutiny:
On 12/15/06, Goldberg opined in “Iraq Needs a Pinochet”:
“I think all intelligent, patriotic and informed people can agree: It would be great if the U.S. could find an Iraqi Augusto Pinochet. In fact, an Iraqi Pinochet would be even better than an Iraqi Castro…
Now consider Chile. Gen. Pinochet seized a country coming apart at the seams. He too clamped down on civil liberties and the press. He too dispatched souls. Chile’s official commission investigating his dictatorship found that Pinochet had 3,197 bodies in his column; 87 percent of them died in the two-week mini-civil war that attended his coup. Many more were tortured or forced to flee the country.
But on the plus side, Pinochet’s abuses helped create a civil society. Once the initial bloodshed subsided, Chile was no prison. Pinochet built up democratic institutions and infrastructure. And by implementing free-market reforms, he lifted the Chilean people out of poverty. In 1988, he held a referendum and stepped down when the people voted him out. Yes, he feathered his nest from the treasury and took measures to protect himself from his enemies. His list of sins — both venal and moral — is long. But today Chile is a thriving, healthy democracy. Its economy is the envy of Latin America, and its literacy and infant mortality rates are impressive.”
Here Mr. Goldberg crests the summit of the Everest of American hubris. Pinochet was the United States’ instrument to advance the “noble” agenda of free market ideology. Under the guidance of Henry Kissinger (an unindicted war criminal), the CIA and ITT (a major US corporation with significant business interests in Chile) carefully orchestrated the coup (including the assasination of the popularly elected leftist, Salvador Allende) which brought Augusto Pinochet to power.
Interesting that Jonah boasts that Pinochet “built up democratic institutions” when Augusto himself once quipped, “Democracy is the breeding ground of communism.”
Since communism is anathema to Goldberg and his ilk, Jonah would need to exhaust himself with mental gymnastics to overcome the gross inconsistency between Pinochet’s alleged accomplishments on behalf of democracy and Augusto’s belief that democracy bred communism.
Even if our master prevaricator managed to overcome such a hurdle, how could he hope to resolve the glaring contradictions created by attributing the proliferation of “democracy” to an autocrat installed by the CIA through assassinating a leader elected by the people of a sovereign nation?
To justify and rationalize the perpetual imperialism necessary to satisfy capitalism’s insatiable demand for new markets, cheaper labor, and inexpensive raw materials, the United States needs adept professional liars like Jonah. His apologia for Pinochet, a tyrant who had been charged with over 300 crimes (including egregious human rights abuses and massive embezzlement) before he died in 2006, demonstrates Goldberg’s unswerving allegiance to the cause of the moneyed elite.
Penned in October of 2001, Mr. Goldberg’s “Time to Return to Colonialism?” offers a particularly revealing look at the nature of his character and his agenda:
“SUDDENLY, serious people are rethinking an old idea that’s time has come again: colonialism.
For years, colonialism has been discredited. It was considered racist on the left to point out that many people lived better and more productive lives under, say, British rule than they have without it (Belgian rule is another story)….
…. But Americans may be willing to listen to a serious argument for American Empire. And now we have it. Max Boot, the features editor of The Wall Street Journal, has written a cogent and measured essay in the Oct. 15 issue of The Weekly Standard explaining that our problems abroad don’t stem from too much American “imperialism,” but too little.
Boot runs through the litany of American foreign policy failures in the last decade and, uniformly, he finds our mistakes stemmed not from an arrogance of power, but from a reluctance to use it.”
Who are these “serious people” who are “rethinking an old idea that’s time has come again?” They are obviously seriously deranged reactionaries if they truly desire a return to colonialism. Jonah’s attempt to repackage and revitalize Kipling’s “White Man’s burden” is the height of arrogance and reeks of racism and totalitarianism.
Sorry Jonah, but the incredibly sorry state of affairs in much of post-colonial Africa, the murder of 600,000 Filipinos, the slaughter of 3 million Vietnamese, and the annihilation of 600,000 plus Iraqis are but a handful of many poignant examples which demonstrate the abject immorality of colonialism and reveal the fact that ultimately, human beings are willing to kill and die before sacrificing their sovereignty to a brutal oppressor.
Jonah, most of us are now living in the Twenty First Century. Join us.
Goldberg delivered a gem in December of 2006 when he sang the praises of a malefactor of monumental proportions in “Jerry Ford’s Magic”:
“And now we have dear, sweet Jerry Ford. Everybody, it seems, loves Ford. Ted Kennedy even gave him a Profile in Courage Award a few years ago. But there’s an interesting difference. Ford was Tito Puente-ized early. His decision to pardon Richard Nixon — the courageous act for which he later got his Profile award — elicited enormous criticism and, some argue, cost him the election in 1976. But he quickly rebounded and was never hated the way Reagan, Goldwater or Nixon were…
….But Ford’s legacy is more important than the maneuvering of ideological partisans. Politics is about moments. The American people in 1974 yearned for a respite from the ideological clamor of the previous decade. Ford, by the sheer force of his own character, turned the Oval Office into the calm eye of a storm the American people had grown all too weary of.
Daniel Patrick Moynihan said Ford was the most decent man in politics he’d ever met. Ford’s ‘luminous affability,’ in the words of the National Review, ‘enabled him to unite the country instantly, magically, in a way that would have been impossible for the (men) who had been lining up for the job. … This accidental President was exactly — for the moment — the right man.’
Considering the ideological clamor of the current moment, it’s tempting to ask who the right man, or woman, today might be.”
“Dear, sweet Jerry Ford” pardoned a man who ordered secret, illegal bombing campaigns in Cambodia that liquidated 600,000 human beings. How about we give him a posthumous “Profile in Cowardly Participation in Mass Murder Award”?
Let’s not forget that Ford and Kissinger also green-lighted and supported Suharto’s invasion of East Timor, which resulted in the slaughter of 200,000 innocent people.
Jonah reveals his true agenda behind his sickening hosannas for Ford, an abject war criminal, when he asserts that “it’s tempting to ask who the right man, or woman might be” to give us a “respite” from the “ideological clamor of the current moment.” Who indeed, Mr. Goldberg, will rise up to provide cover for the current crop of malefactors in DC and prevent a mass revolt against your precious establishment, which has been rotten to its very core for years?
Jonah scribbled, “What Protestors Don’t Get: Globalization=More Democracy,” in February, 2002:
“For example, if multinational corporations threaten democracy, how come the number of democracies grew simultaneously with the rise of the multinational corporation? It’s hard to pinpoint an exact date for when the “multinational corporation” or “globalization” began, but over the last 30 years we’ve been told that democracy is increasingly threatened by these diabolical forces. The funny thing is, the number of democracies has been rising, with occasional fluctuations, pretty much nonstop.”
Obviously Mr. Goldberg has a unique vision of what democracy entails. Where are these democracies about which he raves? Would Chile under the Pinochet regime have qualified as one? We don’t even have a democracy in the United States. In fact, there is very little left of the constitutional republic which existed before the evisceration of our Constitution.
Corporations, spawned by a rapacious economic system driven by selfishness and greed, are structured as tyrannies. Given the fact that oligarchic corporations wield such immense power in the United States, and throughout the world, it is lunacy to assert that “the number of democracies has been rising” in conjunction with the proliferation of corporate influence. Unfortunately for Jonah, a whole comprised of totalitarian parts cannot be a democracy. Unless of course one subscribes to Goldberg’s nonsense and defines a plutocratic imperial power and its neo-colonies as democracies.
In August of 2001, Jonah graced us with “Americans Wouldn’t Tolerate Terrorism at Home”:
“In fact, it’s worse than that because Israel never intends to kill innocents. When terrorists kill Israeli civilians, Israelis attack terrorist strongholds, military targets and bomb-making infrastructures.
Sometimes, they’ve even used rubber bullets. But even when the “payback” is unambiguously severe, it is always delivered to grown-up, declared combatants. Hence, when Palestinian innocents die it is virtually always an unfortunate byproduct of Israeli action. When Palestinians kill, innocents are the target.”
The more one reads his work, the more apparent it becomes that Goldberg’s objective is to vindicate as many ruthless oppressors as his seemingly infinite capacity to lie will allow.
According to information updated on May 31, 2007 at http://www.ifamericansknew.org/, since September of 2000 Israel has killed 934 Palestinian children while Palestinians have killed 118 Israeli children. A total of 4,098 Palestinians and 1,021 Israelis have died in the conflict over the last seven years. Over 31,000 Palestinians have suffered injuries; only 7,600 Israelis have been wounded. The United States subsidizes Israel to the tune of over $7 million per day while giving the Palestinians nothing. Israel has been targeted by 65 UN resolutions (each of which, being the rogue state that it is, it has ignored). The Palestinians have not been censured by the UN once. Israel is holding over 10,000 Palestinian political prisoners and the Palestinians hold one Israeli captive. While Israel has demolished over 4,000 Palestinian homes, the Palestinians have razed zero Israeli houses.
“…Israel never intends to kill innocents.” Do you think the family members of those innocents that Israel has killed at a 4:1 ratio give a dam about the intent of the IDF, Jonah?
Israelis pack a wallop with those “rubber bullets,” don’t they, Mr. Goldberg?
What Goldberg fails to reveal in his commentary is that the “Israeli action” which causes innocent Palestinians to die as an “unfortunate byproduct” represents the implementation of the ultimate Zionist objective, which is to eradicate Palestinians from Gaza and the West Bank through oppression, economic strangulation, and, when they can get away with it, direct military action.
As for the wounded and dead Israeli civilians, they are the tragic victims of retail terror carried out in response to the wholesale terror waged by their government and that of the United States.
“Wanted: An Iranian Saddam” from January of 2006 offers quite an impressive display of mental contortions and truth distortions, even for one as ethically limber as Jonah Goldberg:
“Conventional wisdom holds that there are really only two options for dealing with Iran: military strikes (by us or Israel) or the usual bundle of conferences, ineffective sanctions and windy UN speeches that lead to nothing….
But there is a third option that, alas, has become less and less likely in recent years: regime change from within. Pro-democracy — or at least anti-mullah — sentiment has been building in Iran for over a decade. In recent years there have been huge protests against the regime. Soccer stadiums full of Iranians have chanted “USA! USA!” In 2004, polls of various sorts indicated that anti-regime attitudes were held by up to nine out of 10 Iranians.
Iranians are a proud, nationalistic people and would probably rally around their government — or any government — were it threatened from without. That’s one reason Ahmadinejad has been rattling his sabers so much lately: It’s an attempt to bolster his unpopular regime.
A coup by sophisticated and serious members of the military would be great news. Even better would be a popular uprising. And best of all would be a combination of the two.
An Iran with an old-style military dictatorship charged with defending democratic institutions would be an enormous, epochal victory for the West and for the Middle East. That would go a long way toward guaranteeing success in Iraq and would neutralize the threat of the Iran’s nuclear ambitions, even if they decided to pursue a bomb. After all, the argument about nuclear weapons is no different than the argument about guns. The threat is from the people who have them, not from the weapons themselves. Lots of countries have nukes; we only need to worry about the ones run by whack jobs.”
Writing from an ahistorical perspective so typical of the corporate media in the US, as Jonah laments that the “third option” of “regime change” is becoming “less likely,” he neglects to remind readers that the United States has been there and done that in Iran. In 1953 the CIA installed the Shah to replace Iran’s prime minister, Mohammed Mossadegh. (Mossadegh, elected by the people to serve in parliament and by parliament to become prime minister, had exhibited the audacity to nationalize the oil industry to prevent US ally, Great Britain, from reaping nearly all the profits from Iran’s petroleum.)
By 1976, the Shah’s rule had evolved into such a brutal tyranny that Amnesty International declared that Iran had, “the highest rate of death penalties in the world, no valid system of civilian courts and a history of torture which is beyond belief. No country in the world has a worse record in human rights than Iran.”
It was the blatant US violation of Iranian sovereignty that catalyzed the 1979 revolution, hostage crisis, and subsequent formation of an Islamic government, a government which remains understandably hostile to Western intervention in its affairs. “Regime change” worked so well the first time. Why not try again, eh Jonah?
“An Iran with an old-style military dictatorship charged with defending democratic institutions would be an enormous, epochal victory for the West and for the Middle East.” Wow! Jonah veered way outside the parameters of rational thought with that bizarre conclusion. “Old style military dictatorships” and “democratic institutions” are components of antithetical political structures. His column on Pinochet and this piece seem to indicate that Mr. Goldberg suffers from the delusion that the two can somehow coexist. Or perhaps he simply regards the intellect of his readers with such contempt that he thinks they will swallow his nonsense.
As for his assertion that, “lots of countries have nukes; we only need to worry about the ones run by whack jobs,” George Bush has the largest nuclear arsenal on the planet at his disposal. If Jonah’s statement is true, we have tremendous cause for concern.
As nauseatingly opportunistic as his mother, Lucianne Goldberg, a woman who spied on George McGovern for Nixon in the 1972 presidential campaign and advised Linda Tripp to tape her conversations with Monica Lewinsky, Jonah has few peers in the punditocracy who can match his mendaciousness or the degree to which he has prostituted himself.
May his readers, listeners and viewers recognize that he is nothing more than a shill for exploitative imperialists who impose their will on the world through acts of economic extortion and wholesale terror.
Further, let us hope that one day he reaps the bitter harvest of the noxious seeds he so eagerly sows.
* As Jonah has so proudly informed us, his agitprop appears in numerous media outlets, but the source for each of the excerpts in this analysis was the online version of the Jewish World Review.
Jason Miller is a wage slave of the American Empire who has freed himself intellectually and spiritually. He is Cyrano’s Journal Online’s associate editor (http://www.bestcyrano.org/) and publishes Thomas Paine’s Corner within Cyrano’s at http://www.bestcyrano.org/THOMASPAINE/. You can reach him at JMiller@bestcyrano.org