Everything America or Israel does is de facto legal

The relative evil of any given atrocity is evaluated in reverse by the character of the party committing it

The other day I sent out to paid subscribers the latest in our series of pieces about the culture-wide shift going on in the service industry. In this one I spoke with the owners of a lauded Portland, ME bar about how actually treating their workers well has paid off. What a concept right?

“I’m sure you’ve seen these articles about how ‘nobody wants to work’ and how ‘people would rather be on unemployment.’ It’s fucking bullshit,” Briana Volk said. “People want to work. Our staff is thrilled to be at work. For the most part. Probably not every day! But we have no problems hiring. People want to work but they want a living wage. They want healthcare. They want to live and save money and go on a trip or do whatever the hell they want to do with their money, I don’t care. But they want to be able to make those choices without feeling like they’re putting their mental or physical health on the line to serve a fucking cocktail.”

Wow can you fucking believe this? ONE WEIRD TRICK.

Meanwhile here’s this fucking guy saying what every Republican and a good percentage of Democrats think out loud.

“These people aren’t worth $15 an hour.”

You cannot respond to this type of shit with anything remotely like honesty or you’ll get in a lot of trouble!

Since it went well last time I’m also going to offer this promotion again. For the next ten or so people who subscribe yearly for the full price I will send out a copy of one of my books. If you want to take advantage of it reply to this email to let me know.

Ok here’s my main thing for today.

I know it should not at this point but it nonetheless still surprises me how the United States insists upon maintaining the collective delusion of our of unassailable national virtue all the while continuing to be the most prolific exporter of violence around the globe. Any attempt to tell the truth about this very simple fact — that we and our apprentices in Israel are the authors of some of the most despicable war crimes in recent history — is cause for an apoplectic political meltdown. Especially when it comes from someone like Ilhan Omar (if you know what I mean.) And not just from the Republicans from whom you might expect this type of disingenuous bullshit but also from the Democrats from whom you also might expect this type of disingenuous bullshit. Cowards all.

As I’ve written in here before our military exploits are essentially the large scale version of how the police operate within America which makes sense because America itself is the self-styled cop of the world: incapable of addressing any situation without bungling in guns blazing sowing endless pointless destruction in our wake. One boot on an innocent’s face the other boot stomping firmly on our own dick.

While it’s bad enough that we cause so much suffering what’s worse is that then on top of that and also like cops we need to be big fucking pissing babies about it whenever anyone tries to call us out on our bullshit. Barbarians and martyrs at once. There’s no difference between what’s coming out of the Democratic leadership right now than what you typically hear from any police union when someone has the temerity to suggest that they might perhaps acknowledge they’ve got something of a temper problem. Catch Nancy Pelosi and the rest of the leadership in the role of fucking Pat Lynch of the New York Police Benevolent Association. Crying and hitting you and crying and hitting you and crying and hitting you.

I was reminded of this bit from a previous Hell World:

Or maybe the whole stupid affair just reminds us of the most American lesson of them all which is if you get enough guns you never have to say you’re sorry. If you’re capable of enough potential violence much like the police themselves then you get to be the scary one and the victim at the same time. It’s the perfect system.

In case you’re not sure what I’m talking about take a look at all these fucking losers:

Do you know what Omar even said by the way because it was nothing like morally equating America and Israel with terrorists. She could have said that and it would be true but she didn’t.

What she actually said on Monday during a hearing in the House Committee on Foreign Affairs when speaking to Secretary of State Antony Blinken was basically this: If the United States does not recognize the International Criminal Court — which we do not by the way unlike 120 other countries that have ratified the treaty giving it jurisdiction over war crimes — then where do victims of those crimes in conflicts between for example Israel and Palestine and in Afghanistan go for justice?

“I haven’t seen any evidence in either case that domestic courts can and will prosecute alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity,” she said.

“And I would emphasize that in Israel and Palestine that this includes crimes committed both by the Israeli security forces and Hamas. In Afghanistan, it includes crimes committed by the Afghan national government and the Taliban. In both of these cases, if courts can’t or won’t pursue justice and we oppose the ICC, where do we think the victims of these supposed crimes can go for justice? And what justice mechanisms do you support for them?”

Soon after she posted a video of the exchange and wrote “We must have the same level of accountability and justice for all victims of crimes against humanity. We have seen unthinkable atrocities committed by the U.S., Hamas, Israel, Afghanistan, and the Taliban. I asked @SecBlinken where people are supposed to go for justice.”

It’s a good question that was of course manipulated by Republicans into allegations of anti-semitism and terrorist-sympathizing and all of the usual canards. Tom Cotton a man who would have us somehow engaged in even more war crimes than we already are if he had his way told her to go back to where she came from.

After that a dozen Jewish members of the House put out a statement that also called her an anti-semite and a terrorist sympathizer. Just in softer language.

Ignoring the differences between democracies governed by the rule of law and contemptible organizations that engage in terrorism at best discredits one's intended argument and at worst reflects deep-seated prejudice. The United States and Israel are imperfect and, like all democracies, at times deserving of critique, but false equivalencies give cover to terrorist groups.

That’s just the thing. We aren’t governed by the rule of law. By refusing to ratify the ICC’s Rome Statute we have maintained that we are in fact above it. Everything America or Israel for that matter does is de facto legal because we are the ones doing it. Sure we may have to do unsavory things at times but since our hearts are in the right place any violence is tempered by our good intentions. The relative evil of any given atrocity is evaluated in reverse by the character of the party committing it. When the bad guys do bad things it’s obviously bad. When the good guys do bad things it’s regrettable but necessary.

Before long Omar clarified her statement.

On Monday, I asked Secretary of State Antony Blinken about ongoing International Criminal Court investigations.

To be clear: the conversation was about accountability for specific incidents regarding those ICC cases, not a moral comparison between Hamas and the Taliban and the U.S. and Israel.

I was in no way equating terrorist organizations with democratic countries with well-established judicial systems.

She wasn’t but she could have and it would have been fine.

Still this wasn’t enough for Democratic leadership who never saw an opportunity to throw one of their more progressive members into the wood chipper they could pass up. They put out a statement of their own also mischaracterizing her point.

Legitimate criticism of the policies of both the United States and Israel is protected by the values of free speech and democratic debate. And indeed, such criticism is essential to the strength and health of our democracies. But drawing false equivalencies between democracies like the U.S. and Israel and groups that engage in terrorism like Hamas and the Taliban foments prejudice and undermines progress toward a future of peace and security for all.  

We welcome the clarification by Congresswoman Omar that there is no moral equivalency between the U.S. and Israel and Hamas and the Taliban. 

Jack Mirkinson over at Discourse Blog summed this all up well I thought.

As so often happens, these politicians are engaged in a hefty bit of projection. They are accusing Omar of being in thrall to some poisonous ideology, but there is nothing more ideological than the assertion that, merely because America is America and Israel is Israel, you must discuss the atrocities they carry out in some special way. Accusing someone of antisemitism because they think that Israel might have a case to answer in the ICC is as ideologically destructive as it gets, as Omar herself pointed out.

The representatives here are not disputing Omar’s statement that America and Israel have committed atrocities. How could they? The existence of American and Israeli military atrocities is an objective fact, as indisputable as the existence of climate change. They can’t say that she was somehow “targeting” America and Israel for special criticism because she was careful to be “fair and balanced” and say that all sides have things to answer for.

No, their problem is that Omar implied that the United States and Israel deserve to be held accountable in exactly the same way as anyone else on the planet—that two countries do not deserve special treatment under international law. They hate the idea that something Israel has done could be worthy of the same level of criticism as something Hamas has done. If that is not a “deep-seated prejudice,” I’m not quite sure what is. I’d say that these Democrats should be ashamed, but that would imply that they know the meaning of the word.

Nowhere in all of this is any serious inquiry into the wrongdoing in question. Instead the conversation has become about how terrible it is to talk about it all freely.


Speaking of which check this out.

You will have likely read this bombshell ProPublica investigation into the taxes of the richest people in America from the other day. Surprisingly they pay basically nothing compared to the rest of us.

Experts have long understood the broad outlines of how little the wealthy are taxed in the United States, and many lay people have long suspected the same thing.

But few specifics about individuals ever emerge in public. Tax information is among the most zealously guarded secrets in the federal government. ProPublica has decided to reveal individual tax information of some of the wealthiest Americans because it is only by seeing specifics that the public can understand the realities of the country’s tax system.

Consider Bezos’ 2007, one of the years he paid zero in federal income taxes. Amazon’s stock more than doubled. Bezos’ fortune leapt $3.8 billion, according to Forbes, whose wealth estimates are widely cited. How did a person enjoying that sort of wealth explosion end up paying no income tax?

In that year, Bezos, who filed his taxes jointly with his then-wife, MacKenzie Scott, reported a paltry (for him) $46 million in income, largely from interest and dividend payments on outside investments. He was able to offset every penny he earned with losses from side investments and various deductions, like interest expenses on debts and the vague catchall category of “other expenses.”

In 2011, a year in which his wealth held roughly steady at $18 billion, Bezos filed a tax return reporting he lost money — his income that year was more than offset by investment losses. What’s more, because, according to the tax law, he made so little, he even claimed and received a $4,000 tax credit for his children.

Don’t worry though. As the WSJ reports the IRS is on top of the situation. They’re going to get the ass of whoever it was that provided us with all of this true information about how America actually operates. Not the thieving billionaires mind you just the guy who illustrated the theft.

This is so fucking grim and hilarious man. I’m trying to write something funny about it but there’s really no way to make “Marco Rubio thinks survivors of terror attacks shouldn’t have to pay their student loans for exactly one year” any funnier than it already is.


I’ve written in here a few times about student loans and specifically about how forgiving them would not be some sort of regressive handout to the well off.

This seemed pretty self-evident to me but now some nerd has gone and looked at the numbers. Turns out it’s indeed true.

You can read the paper here but in summary:

1. Contrary to common misperceptions, careful analysis of household wealth data shows that student debt cancellation—at all proposed levels—is progressive; it would provide more benefits to those with fewer economic resources and could play a critical role in addressing the racial wealth gap and building the Black middle class. The reason for this progressivity is simple: People from wealthy backgrounds (and their parents) rarely use student loans to pay for college.

2. More substantial student debt cancellation plans, like the Warren-Schumer plan, are in fact more progressive.

3. Income eligibility cutoffs and income-driven repayment are inefficient and counterproductive ways to achieve progressivity


OK that’s all for today. Goodbye.