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CNN’s Fareed Zakaria can dish it out but can’t take it 

CNN host Fareed Zakaria is now calling to censor social media because he was offended by The People’s Cube satire about his writings. Without mentioning that our satire was a hyperbolic buildup on his own recent writings, Zakaria cries for government protection of his hurt feelings, making it clear that he can dish it out but can’t take it. Taste your own medicine, Fareed.

“Progressives” have trolled, ridiculed, satirized, maligned, insulted, bullied, and lied about conservatives since the inception of the Internet. But once they see the signs of oncoming traffic, they cry and run to mommy – or to the nanny state in this case – asking to make it a one-way street once again, where only they can ride their tricycles, wear funny hats, and fling poop at those whom they consider inferiors. Watch Fareed Zakaria on camera wiping his face from the poop flung at him.

Fareed’s Take: I was the target of Internet trolling

An open letter to Fareed Zakaria from The People’s Cube:

Dear Fareed,

There have been studies showing that a foreign-born author’s unique perspective can help the natives to boost their own creative thinking through the so-called “schema violation,” which occurs when our world is turned upside-down. You may argue that your “otherness” benefits and enlightens this country, with an implication that those unwilling to be enlightened by you are bigots who resent your “otherness” and won’t have their old schema to be violated by a newcomer.

Like you, I am a foreign-born author whose English is a second, or, rather, a third language; I know what it feels to be “the other.” I also like to help the natives to boost their creative thinking by turning their reality upside-down and sending their temporal and spatial cues off-kilter (my website,The People’s Cube, is one such big schema violation). I don’t resent anyone’s “otherness” as long as they don’t attempt to make me comply to theirs. In sum, I am not concerned with your ethnic or cultural “otherness.” It is your ideological “otherness” that bothers me, which makes you indistinguishable from the next run-of-the-mill, native-born “progressive.”

Now that we got the implication of bigotry out of the way, let’s get down to business.

On January 2, one of our contributors posted a satirical response to your Washington Post articlewhere you apparently gloated over the premature deaths of white males in America. Our author took your argument to its logical conclusion, adding the need to exterminate white females as well – through Jihad, rape, and sex slavery as recently seen in Europe and elsewhere. This parody wasn’t meant to be taken as factual reporting, given the context of our website and especially considering the author’s credentials at the top: Chedoh, Kommissar of Viral Infections, Hero of Change, Prophet of the Future Truth.

On January 14, you responded to our satire in your Washington Post article titled, Bile, venom and lies: How I was trolled on the Internet, and today you started your show on CNN with a segment titled, Fareed’s Take: I was the target of Internet trolling, in which you were mostly reading your earlier article from the teleprompter. Among other things you claimed that our story “was cleverly written to provide conspiracy theorists with enough ammunition to ignore evidence” and complained that some people took our “reporting” seriously and reposted it in social media with impolite comments, all of which led you to conclude that someone must create a mechanism in social media “to distinguish between fact and falsehood.” And since that someone can only be the government, your statement can only be understood as a vague call for the government censorship of the Internet.

However, neither your article, nor the CNN segment mentioned that our grotesque fiction was based on your own controversial ideas that many Americans found insulting and grotesque. Why? Was it because such an admission would have undermined your argument that people were angry at you over nothing?

And why in the world, Fareed, did you decide to bring up the term “radicalization,” which in today’s world is mostly associated with Islam? Do you have such a tin ear – or do you really think that if you broaden the definition and talk about “American radicalization,” people will begin to see the two as morally equivalent? Do you think they are morally equivalent, Fareed?

Fine, let’s talk about radicalization.

For you, sitting on the top floors of your well-protected media establishment’s ivory tower, it’s easy to downplay the threat of Islamic radicalization and throw the “Islamophobia” labels at all those little people down at the street level. The only radicalization to which your skewed radar is attuned is the faintest sound of protest from the little people, when they get fed up with your condescending elitism and begin to rebel against the “progressive” establishment. That’s what scares you the most, doesn’t it, Fareed? That’s when you mouth off your grave concerns on CNN and write in WaPo about the threat of radicalization.

But who is at fault that Americans no longer trust the establishment and its media? Have you considered the possibility that none of this would be happening if you and your colleagues weren’t so radical yourselves, feeding the people with half-truths, distortions, propaganda, and outright lies, placing your Utopian “progressive” ideology above facts, smug and secure in your impenetrable media castle? Did it occur to you that you and your media establishment may be the very reason why so many people suddenly like Donald Trump, whom you so despise, and nothing you say on the subject can change their minds because no one trusts you anymore?

When you talked about a study where “simply by talking to one another, the bigoted students had become more bigoted,” has it even occurred to you how perfectly this describes your “progressive” echo chamber, where tolerance towards opposing philosophical viewpoints is nonexistent? If you think that calling those who disagree with you “bigots” makes you an anti-bigot, let me share a little secret. There are two kinds of bigots today: the bigots and the anti-bigots, and it’s hard to say which kind is worse.

A good example of “group polarization” involving radical “anti-bigots” is JournoList – a highly biased group of about 400 left-wing journalists and political activists who for three years (2007-2010) participated in a private online echo chamber where they, in violation of public trust and professional ethics, conspired to coordinate media attacks on conservatives, to promote certain issues while burying others, and to influence the 2008 elections in favor of Barack Obama. To paraphrase Kolbert’s study, “Simply by talking to one another, the radical left-wing journalists had become more radical left-wing journalists.” To use your exact quote, “It is how radicalization happens and extremism spreads.” Say, were you just as worried about “group polarization” then as you are now?

Another example of such “group polarization” and radicalization is a knee-jerk impulse of allegedly mainstream journalists to describe anyone who doesn’t lean left as “far-right,” as you have demonstrated in your CNN segment, or “ultra-right-wing,” as you have demonstrated in your segment.

Isn’t it a little too late to complain about America’s radicalization, Fareed? Where were you during the George W. Bush years, when your fellow “progressives” trolled, ridiculed, and slandered the U.S. President and his supporters, with full support of the mainstream media? When there no longer was any distinction between a drug-fueled street protester and a media commentator?

Did you complain when “progressive” satirists collectively created a false, hyperbolic reality around Bush, conservatives, Fox News, and America in general, which was then regularly disseminated as the truth around the world, translated into many languages, and contributing to the anti-American sentiment? Some of my own family members in Russia and Ukraine still honestly believe that those “facts” really happened. As you so eloquently stated,” the people spreading this story were not interested in the facts; they were interested in feeding prejudice.” Did you complain then, or did it feel too good to let go?

You refer to a scientific study of Facebook users, which found that “people mainly shared information that confirmed their prejudices, paying little attention to facts and veracity.” That sounds reasonable. For example, even without a scientific study I know that an overwhelming majority of your fellow “progressives” believe that Sarah Palin has actually said “I can see Russia from my house,” paying little attention to the fact that it originated as an SNL skit. Did you complain about that in 2008? Were you at all concerned that Tina Fey’s “Palin” videos might confuse voters and skew the election? Probably not; it was just satirical hyperbole, right?

What if social media encourage misinformation, rumors, and lies, you ask. But did you ask the same question when misinformation, rumors, and lies were coming not from social media but from a seasoned mainstream journalist named Dan Rather – or, more recently, The Rolling Stone Magazine? Or, worse yet, from the nation’s political leaders whom you support and admire? Wasn’t the entire debate on and implementation of ObamaCare based on misinformation and lies? Were you alarmed when Joe Biden told a black audience that the Republicans would put them back in chains?

Did you speak against radicalization when the “hands up don’t shoot” movement, based on misinformation, rumors, and lies, and encouraged by the mainstream media, resulted in looting and the destruction of property, followed by the murders of innocent police officers?

The answer to all those question is “no.” You have never violated the “progressive” schema, Fareed. You’ve been a loyal Party soldier, albeit a mediocre creative thinker, having traded your “otherness” for conformity and sacrificing your unique perspective to what you thought was “progress.”

Examples are plenty; more can be provided upon request. Now let’s talk about victimhood.

You say you are the victim because you have received some hateful messages and comments. I have also received many hateful messages and comments from your fellow “progressives” over the years. Now what? You claim you have received a late-night phone call that woke up and threatened your young daughters. Indeed, Fareed, making threatening calls is a crime. Did you file a police report? Did the police trace the number and find the perpetrators, who are hardly a sophisticated organization behind an impenetrable firewall? If not, I can’t believe every claim that comes from a confirmed plagiarist. You may as well claim that someone kicked your three-legged puppy and it made you cry.

While you played the world’s saddest song on the world’s smallest violin, I was the one who took the real hit. Snopes.com, a “fact-checking” website rooting for the “progressive” team, has not onlydebunked our satire as they’ve done it many times in the past – this time they also made an unsourced and slanderous allegation that our site is “known for spreading malware.”

Next, some busybody contacted one of our advertising providers, Content.ad, which then declined to pay our advertising earnings due to “serious quality issues.” The money we lost as a result may be small change compared to your CNN contract, but if you were penalized for your writings in the same proportional amount, I’m sure your righteous indignation would go well beyond just one article in WaPo and a five-minute segment on CNN.

There is only one victim of lies, prejudice, and institutionalized bias here – and it ain’t you, Fareed. But don’t let this stop you from playing your upside-down game of “victims and radicals” while you still can.

So you think your opponents are radicals? Here’s a news tip: down here in the streets below you, it’s the other way around: growing numbers of Americans see you and your media colleagues as radical ideological hacks. You can call them any name you want, adding ultra-, far-, uber-, and other hyphenated insults; that won’t change the fact that their thinking is the norm and yours is not. Like all normal people on this planet, they don’t respond well to insults. But they are also the ones who make sure you have the freedom to call them radicals.

Oleg Atbashian
AKA Red Square
People’s Director,
Department of Visual Agitation and Unanimity

EDITORS NOTE: This political satire originally appeared on The Peoples Cube.

Bibigate – The Contretemps over Netanyahu’s Speech to Congress on Iran’s Nuclear Program

Last Saturday night a retired U.S. Navy officer said “I’ll bet you even money that Bibi will withdraw from the proposed speech before a joint session of Congress”. I joshed him and said “I wouldn’t count on it.”

Sunday, I received suggestions that Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu should have a Plan B given the rising contretemps in the media over US House Speaker John Boehner’s invitation to talk about Iran before a Joint Session of Congress. There  was a welter of criticism from the White House, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and mainstream media talking heads  included David Brooks of the New York Times and  Chris Wallace and Shepherd Smith of  FoxNews.  They were admonishing Speaker Boehner and Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer with terms like “dicey, wicked more for photo op” and “partisan politics” and “unwise for Israel.”  It was ostensibly about the lack of courtesy shown the President by not giving prior notice to the White House of the invitation extended to Netanyahu.  There was pique by certain unnamed senior officials in the White House over what some might call Bibigate.

However, let us remember there was increasing  bi-partisan support for new Iran nuclear sanctions legislation despite  the President’s warning that he would veto it if it was passed. New Jersey Democratic Senator Bob Menendez was particularly incensed at the President for his questioning his motivations.  Menendez said: “The more I hear from the administration and its quotes, the more it sounds like talking points that come straight out of Tehran. And it feeds to the Iranian narrative of victimization, when they are the ones with the original sin.”  Lest, we forget, the President had threatened a veto if increased Iran legislation passed.  It was abundantly clear in the January 16th Joint Press Conference at the White House when the President Obama agreed with UK PM David Cameron’s remarks, urging Senators on Capitol Hill not to take up new sanctions legislation at a “sensitive time”. Thus, one could speculate that Speaker Boehner’s invitation to Netanyahu on January 21st to speak to a Joint Session of Congress in early March was a rebuttal to the President.

The rancor over Bibigate was visible in the final week of January into February.  Wednesday, January 28thCNN released a clip of Fareed Zakaria’s February 1st GPS interview with President Obama.  Obama suggested that a visit with Netanyahu was “inappropriate,” as it was too close to the upcoming March Knesset elections.  The President said, “I’m declining to meet with him simply because our general policy is, we don’t meet with any world leader two weeks before their election, [I] think that’s inappropriate. And that’s true with some of our closest allies.”  Those comments engendered another rebuttal that the White House may have been giving tacit support to the involvement of Presidential Campaign aide Jim Byrd in advising the Labor-Hanuat opposition to Netanyahu in the Knesset general elections.

Friday, January 30th, Jeffrey Goldberg published an interview in The Atlantic with Israeli Ambassador to Washington, Ron Dermer, a former US Republican strategist and member of the Netanyahu’s inner circle.   Dermer discussed the background for Boehner’s issuance of the invitation to Netanyahu to speak to Congress on Iran. Dermer suggested that while the Prime Minister “meant no disrespect towards President Obama … Netanyahu must speak up while there is still time to speak up”.

That led Cornell Law Professor William Jacobson on the blog Legal Insurrection to opine that Obama’s not offended; he just wants Bibi out of office.

The Hill round up on the Sunday Talk shows had comments from Rep. Paul Ryan on NBC’s “Meet the Press” and Arizona Senator John McCain on CNN’s “State of The Union.”  Over the issue of Speaker Boehner’s invitation to Netanyahu Ryan said,” The Invitation to Israeli prime minister was ‘absolutely’ appropriate. I don’t know if I would say it’s antagonizing”.  McCain drew attention to the new low in U.S. – Israel relations under Obama saying, “It’s the worst that I’ve ever seen in my lifetime.”

Virtually out of nowhere, Sunday, February 1st, commentary from an “Insight” blog post of the Israeli Institute for National Security Strategic Studies at Tel Aviv University shed light on a bizarre theory of what was behind Bibigate.  The author of the INSS post, Zaki Shalom, suggested:

The backdrop for the Administration’s expressed dissatisfaction with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s intention to present his position on negotiations with Iran to Congress, creating a rather transparent linkage between Israel’s positions on negotiations with Iran and sanctions, and U.S. willingness to assist in combating the Palestinian attempt to exert international legal and diplomatic pressure on Israel.

On Thursday, January 30, 2015, the Senate Banking Committee voted out a ‘softer’ version of the Kirk –Menendez Sanctions legislation by a vote of 18 to 4, including six Democrats.  As reported by The Hill, the legislation:

… Would impose sanctions on Iran if a comprehensive agreement to roll back its nuclear program is not reached by June 30 and would allow the president to waive sanctions indefinitely for 30 days at a time.

However, the bill would be shelved until March 24th for a possible floor vote.  Senator Bob Corker (R-TN) said, “All of us understand it’s not going to be voted on before March 24”. While the measure may portend a possible override vote should President Obama veto it that still requires Senator Menendez to keep the group of 17 Democratic Senators who support this version of sanctions legislation in the bi-partisan alliance.

Israeli concern over a weak final agreement by March 24th  is reflected  in a Times of Israel report published  Sunday, February 1st,” US sources deride Israeli ‘nonsense’ on Obama giving in to Iran.”  Israeli  sources contend that Iran is likely to get 80 % of what it is seeking- the ability to continue enrichment with  upwards of 9,000 centrifuges, especially the advanced IR-2s. The Israelis believe that would give Iran nuclear breakout within weeks.  Add to that mix Iran flaunting pictures in a ToA  report of a Medium Range Ballistic Missile (MRBM) capable of covering all of Europe. That is to be followed in 2015 to 2016 by one cap ICBM range. Of course there a number of us who believe that Iran may already have purchased nuclear weapons from rogue regimes, but may lack nuclear warheads, which are likely to be supplied by North Korea to be mounted on those ICBMs.

Especially as the President observed, there is less than a 50/50 chance of reaching an agreement. Then assuming the current polls are correct and Bibi retains the ability to form a new Knesset coalition after the March 17th election, he may speak with both authority and strength.

As a usual astute observer of Israel from Europe, Imre Herzog, opined when I wrote him on my side bet “you might win the bet”.

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared in the New English Review. The featured image is of U.S. House Speaker John Boehner and Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu. Washington Times File Photo  5-24-2011.

Is President Obama questioning the loyalty of American Jews?

The Jerusalem Post published an article with a comment allegedly attributable to an Obama White House senior official that has caught the ire of American Jews and Israelis, “US perceives Israel as encouraging anti-Obama backlash among Jews”.  The JP article noted:

A US official close to President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry said both men are disturbed over what is being perceived in their inner circle as “Jewish activism in Congress” that they think is being encouraged by the Israeli government, Israel Radio reported on Thursday.

The official has informed Israeli government figures that the president and secretary of state are disappointed over repeated attacks made against them by leading members of the Jewish community in the US.

According to Israel Radio, Israeli diplomats and foreign officers have warned against this trend. According to officials based in foreign missions, the Israeli government is increasingly being viewed as fanning the flames among American Jews by encouraging them to promote the official government position while making no room for opposing viewpoints.

Earlier this month, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon apologized after it was reported that he called Kerry “obsessive” and “messianic.”

In response to this JP report Stuart Kaufman sent an email to me and other colleagues with this comment:

This is dangerously close to the old anti-Semitic accusation of dual loyalty.  We are now on seriously perilous ground.  The rulers of the land are beginning the effort to isolate Jews – to set us apart.  I can’t stress how dangerous this is.  We Jews and those who are our friends must strike back hard.  This serpent can’t be permitted to grow without a major response.

What Kaufman was referring to was the emergence in 19th Century Europe of die Judenfrage, the Jewish question, criticizing Jewish subjects or citizens of being disloyal because of conflicts between nationalism and Zionism; the return of the Jewish people to what is now Israel.  It was from this well of hatred that anti-Semitism arose in the Vienna of the Habsburg Empire, Wilhelmine Germany and the fin de siècle France during the Dreyfus Affair.  It would become transformed into the international Jewish conspiracy forgery of the Czarist secret police, The Elders of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion.  Later it becomes embedded in Hitler’s anti-Semitic tract Mein Kampf that lit the match for the Holocaust of Six Million European Jewish Men, Women and Children during World War Two. Mein Kampf is today one of the most popular books in the Arab Muslim world promoted by the Muslim Brotherhood, whose founder Hassan al Banna was an acolyte of Hitler.

Watch this Youtube video of  Julius Streicher, the notorious publisher of the Nazi tabloid Der Sturmer, ranting about Anti-Semitic judenfrage:

In light of that, how callous was this alleged comment from the Senior White House aide in the Administration.  Is the White House really questioning the loyalty of American Jews? Or are the President and Secretary of State simply complaining about Israeli cabinet members and some “American Jews” criticizing them? Are the President and Secretary of State really against Americans, Jews and others, supporting Israel defending its hard won sovereignty against people who would destroy it?

Yesterday, we saw clear evidence of that threat with the World Economic Forum interview of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani by Fareed Zakaria of CNN.  We heard translations of Rouhani  saying he would neither destroy 15,000 centrifuges nor stop building or swap  plutonium producing heavy water reactors at Arak for energy producing light water ones. He was also telling the West that sanctions were illegal.  The Obama White House  Press Spokesman Jay Carney said , in response to  reporters’ questions about President Rouhani’s CNN interview, that  Rouhani’s comments were for domestic consumption back home in Tehran.  AIPAC didn’t think so. They sent out a blast email containing  a link to the CNN interview with Rouhani for its members and others to view.

Rouhani’s CNN interview was a deliberate poke in the eyes of the P5+1 and the denizens of the West Wing at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. To warn American Jews they better not defend their Jewish cousins in Israel from this threat was both dangerous and a blatant display of ingratitude towards an ally protecting our assets in the Middle East. Some thanks for Shin Bet saving Amb. Dan Shapiro and his striped pants and skirts brigade in Tel Aviv at the US Embassy and others at the Jerusalem conference center from Al Qaeda attacks orchestrated by Ayman al-Zawahiri’s local henchman in Gaza.  Even peace mongering nonagenarian Israeli President Peres at Davos in response to Rouhani’s interview called  for a boycott of Iran.

Perhaps Members of Congress concerned about these White House follies, both domestic and foreign can express their disdain for accusations like this from the Administration. They could politely sit on their hands and not applaud at the President’s State of the Union Address next Tuesday, the 28th when the President inevitably will do a victory lap about engagement with Iran over its nuclear program.  That would send a visual rebuke captured on national and international TV.  An image that would convey a message that even Iran’s President Rouhani, Foreign Minister Zarif and Supreme Ruler Ayatollah Khamenei wouldn’t require a Farsi translation. The more courageous among US Senate members in the audience of the Joint Session could immediately take up the Nuclear Weapons Free Iran Act, S. 1881 and pass it resoundingly next Wednesday.

After this episode we can understand former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates’ criticism of the mind numbing political apparatchiks in the West Wing inner circle portrayed in his memoir, Duty. Gates has been unfairly maligned by the liberal media reviewers for betraying his trust with the Obama team while Secretary of Defense by releasing his book prior to the end of the President’s term.  In sharp contrast Thomas Ricks published a praiseworthy review of Gates’ memoir, “In Command”, in the New York Times Sunday Book Review.  Note Ricks’ conclusion that provides a measure of the author:

But Gates is doing far more than just scoring points in this revealing volume. The key to reading it is understanding that he was profoundly affected by his role in sending American soldiers overseas to fight and be killed or maimed. During his four years as defense secretary, he states twice, he wept almost every night as he signed letters of condolence and then lay in bed and meditated on the dead and wounded. He was angry and disappointed with White House officials and members of Congress who appeared to him to put political gain ahead of the interests of American soldiers. Fittingly, he concludes the book by revealing that he has requested to be buried in Section 60 of Arlington National Cemetery, the resting place of many of those we lost in Iraq and Afghanistan.

More  than 10,000 American Jews serve in our military.  American Jewish servicemen and women have fought and died in both Iraq and Afghanistan.  Perhaps they are buried in Section 60 of Arlington National Cemetery that Secretary Gates wrote about in his memoir.  Watch this Forward  Vimeo video about two  valiant American Jews who served honorably and fell  in Iraq and Afghanistan.

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared on The New English Review.