Home > Energy, environment, Humboldt County > Alexander Cockburn is dead

Alexander Cockburn is dead

Radical journalist and Humboldt County resident Alexander Cockburn died of cancer last night in Germany. He was 71.

Here he is talking about “nuke-loving Greens and man-made global warming” outside his home in Petrolia last year.

  1. Percy
    July 21, 2012 at 9:15 am

    Had the pleasure of seeing him speak at HSU and followed him in the AVA. What a great, thoughtful man he was. He will be sorely missed in an age where too many people form opinions without any thought whatsoever.

  2. July 21, 2012 at 9:26 am

    No good news this morning at all. Very sorry to hear this.

  3. Joel Mielke
    July 21, 2012 at 9:28 am

    There was a good interview with him on Doug Henwood’s brilliant interview show in 2010. He was a brutal critic of the left, and despite his shrill tone he was usually worth reading.

  4. Plain Jane
    July 21, 2012 at 9:49 am

    He was a fearless journalist whose principles were unwavering. He skewered the corrupt regardless of political ideology and brought us views not available in the MSM. I hope his daughter’s and friends’ pain from his loss is assuaged somewhat by the respect he received and so richly deserved his readers and fellow journalists.

  5. Plain Jane
    July 21, 2012 at 9:52 am

    so richly deserved *from his readers

  6. Anonymous
    July 21, 2012 at 10:05 am

    Mr. Cockburn appeared on Thursday Night Talk several times when I hosted it any years ago. His refusal to preach to the choir made for provocative conversation.

  7. jr
    July 21, 2012 at 10:19 am

    I have been a reader of his column in the Anderson Valley Advertiser since it began sometime around 1987 and had the opportunity to hear him at the Caspar Inn when he released “Corruptions of Empire”. He will be missed.

  8. July 21, 2012 at 10:35 am

    Brilliant, funny, and overflowing with contempt for facts with which he disagreed. Classic Cockburn. “A commitment to bullshit” indeed: AC knew somewhat of that.

  9. Noble
    July 21, 2012 at 10:36 am


  10. Labtech
    July 21, 2012 at 10:40 am

    The death of a loud mouthed fool…His “critique” of global warming flies against established science and the hottest summer on record.

  11. Mitch
    July 21, 2012 at 10:45 am

    Alexander Cockburn was and remains a shining example of an honest man. Agree with him or disagree, he is hugely deserving of our respect. My condolences to his friends and family.

  12. Eric Kirk
    July 21, 2012 at 10:54 am

    I met Cockburn while I was still in law school. I was in San Francisco and caught a ride with a mutual acquaintance, to Patrick Hallinan’s DA run kick-off at the Irish Community Center (on St. Patrick’s day over corned beef sandwiches and green beer). Immediately after entering the car he introduced himself and asked what I did. I told him, and his response, “Oh. Do you really think the world needs another lawyer?”

    I met him on another occasion when Bruce Anderson was in Garberville to promote his side of the Bari-Cherney bombing. He sided with Anderson in believing that the authorities and the Bari-backers were deliberately avoiding investigation of her ex-husband.

    I often didn’t agree with him, but I’ve always loved his iconoclastic writing.

  13. tra
    July 21, 2012 at 11:25 am

    Cockburn was always entertaining, and sometimes informative, but I have a hard time taking his views on climate chance seriously, because his contrarian opinion, while expressed in an extremely confident tone, turns out to be based on extremely weak arguments. He repeats numerous myths, canards, and red herrings promulgated by the climate change denialist crowd, including the claim that in 1970s the scientific community was just as convinced about “global cooling” as the scientific community is about human contributions to greenhouse-gas-driven climate change today. That, of course, is complete nonsense.

  14. tra
    July 21, 2012 at 12:08 pm

    Reading my last comment, I’m afraid it comes across as impolitely negative, considering that the post was about his recent death. On the other hand, I suspect Cockburn would have been pretty dismissive of the custom, within “polite society,” of withholding criticism of the views or actions of recently-deceased public figures. And I have no doubt that he would much rather have his views be critiqued and criticized, rather than ignored and forgotten.

    At any rate, while Cockburn may occasionally gone barking up the wrong tree — as in the example Eric gave of his comments on the Bari bombing investigation, and the global warming denialist comments in the above video — more often than not his polemical assaults were aimed at much more worthwhile targets, and certainly gave us a lot to think about.

  15. Erasmus
    July 21, 2012 at 12:11 pm

    I met Cockburn at a tribute to Deerhawk, who was in the final throes of his own battle with cancer in 2003. When I introduced myself to him, I stated that his column in ‘The Nation’ was one of the few reasons I subscribed to the magazine. “Dreadful publication, isn’t it?” was his response. —— Cockburn’s iconoclasm sometimes seemed like the contrarianism of the semi-educated. His objections to mainstream views on global warming have been dealt with by scientists, and I somehow think it poetic justice that he should die during the hottest summer in recent memory. On the subject of Israel, Cockburn came close to bigotry. He never grasped the historical roots of the unending crisis in the Mideast and failed to place blame in Palestinian hands, preferring to cast those grasping Jews as the sole villains — though he would have fitted into Israeli society much more easily than into Hamas-run Gaza. He was more clear-eyed about Iraq than his ex-friend Chris Hitchens was. ——- Want to read something by Cockburn that shows him at his best? Get a copy of his book ‘The Golden Age is Within Us,’ a memoir full of interesting reflections. I told him that the book was my favorite among his writings, and he agreed with me. RIP.

  16. Amy Breighton
    July 21, 2012 at 12:47 pm

    If the Left agrees that man-made carbon is not the apocalypses, will the Right agree that universal health care isn’t either?

    We have many other accomplished word-smiths on the Left and the Right locally…and we could learn much from their public debates.

    Too bad local media never provides the forum!

  17. tra
    July 21, 2012 at 1:00 pm

    The radio interview Joel linked to above includes some of Cockburn’s razor-sharp criticism of the state of the media today. As a bonus, he criticizes media critics as well.

    Thanks for posting that link, Joel. Cockburn comes across much better in that interview than he does in the interview above. Of course you have to look to his writings for a real taste of the kind of scorching commentary that Cockburn was capable of delivering.

  18. Eric Kirk
    July 21, 2012 at 1:02 pm

    This quote is making the rounds of the Internet.

    Alex Cockburn cheering the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in the Village Voice, Jan. 21, 1980: “We all have to go one day, but pray God let it not be over Afghanistan. An unspeakable country filled with unspeakable people, sheepshaggers and smugglers… [I]f ever a country deserved rape it’s Afghanistan. Nothing but mountains filled with barbarous ethnics with views as medieval as their muskets, and unspeakably cruel too…”

  19. July 21, 2012 at 1:34 pm


    All of the planets are heating up.

  20. July 21, 2012 at 2:50 pm

    Mr Cockburn was a great talent and a free thinker. He will be missed.

  21. Plain Jane
    July 21, 2012 at 4:05 pm

    Cockburn was wrong on climate change, Amy. Here is John W. Farley’s rebuttal.


  22. Thirdeye
    July 21, 2012 at 4:51 pm

    Gotta love an old school Communist curmudgeon who sticks his thumb up the butt of New Left political correctness, even when he’s wrong.

  23. Sonia Baur
    July 21, 2012 at 5:37 pm

    Alexander Cockburn was an eloquent and articulate man: he had an enormous memory and vocabulary which he used to grace his written works. He seemed to me to be, by nature, rather perverse, but that is a good quality in a journalist.
    He did sign his name to his writings, unlike “Plain Jane”, “Erasmus”, “tra”, “Mitch” and the many “anonymi”, all of whom seem to me have no right to a public opinion; as they have no desire to take personal credit for their thoughts. What I mean is that I have no need to give them any more credence than they give to themselves. Harsh words. Who am I to make such proclamations? Just a person with a name….

  24. July 21, 2012 at 5:57 pm

    Sonia Baur,
    We “anonymies” have free choice. Some of us “anonymies” know that the word ‘person’ in legalise translates into slave, commodity, resource, corporation. ‘No person shall’ is the beginning of most legalise laws. My body was Named (not NAMED) at birth. It belongs to me, as do my fingerprints and image – I choose (NOT voluntary compliance) when, where, how, and why to oblige any one of us with such.

  25. July 21, 2012 at 6:04 pm

    Time manages to get to all of sooner or later. Eric Kirk says: “I’ve always loved his iconoclastic writing.” With seeming presumptuous Kirk, I ask you, What’s your problem with me?

  26. Plain Jane
    July 21, 2012 at 6:20 pm

    Sonia Baur has a right to her opinion whether she uses her name or not. So do we. Her hostile tone and conclusion that people who don’t use their real names “have no right to a public opinion; as they have no desire to take personal credit for their thoughts” is illogical and authoritarian. She is free to apply her own judgment to opinions based on any criteria she likes, but to claim that people have no right to express anonymous opinions is outrageous.

  27. Mitch
    July 21, 2012 at 6:34 pm

    (off topic)


    Just for the record, Mitch is my name. I don’t use my last name on most blog postings, but I’m hardly intending to be anonymous. For example, I use my last name on my postings to http://humboldtagainsthate.blogspot.com, because of the nature of that blog. I’m hardly hiding.

  28. Walt
    July 21, 2012 at 6:48 pm

    To the last armchair Stalinist: “Умри ты сегодня, а я завтра!” You today, me tomorrow.

  29. jr
    July 21, 2012 at 6:55 pm

    Sonia: What’s so wrong with using a nom de plume? It worked for Samuel Clemens.

  30. Labtech
    July 21, 2012 at 7:29 pm

    Frankly, I don’t get the outpouring of praise for Cockburn. He was a rabid anti-semite and a luddite. The world is better off without him.

  31. Eric Kirk
    July 21, 2012 at 8:07 pm

    Time manages to get to all of sooner or later. Eric Kirk says: “I’ve always loved his iconoclastic writing.” With seeming presumptuous Kirk, I ask you, What’s your problem with me?

    The problem is that you’re too predictable.

  32. Giggles
    July 21, 2012 at 8:35 pm

    Tra, sorry I usually find your comments apt and to the point, but I distinctly recall science suggesting that human activities could trigger new ice ages. In fact we tested on it for over 20 years at the college level, only recently have text books shifted the other way.

    And I’m not the only one. Read here (http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2003/nov/13/comment.research) for a 2003 article outlining concerns even then that “global warming” might trigger an ice age as the earth is currently in an Interglacial period of natural warming. Whether global surface temperatures continue to rise or not will be seen over the next few years, but one years’ data (‘the hottest summer on record’) is first of all false as temperatures have been much higher in the past and recorded in the rocks laid down at that time, and second inconclusive of trends.

    “The Earth is on Fire” is a great way to frighten people, and frightened people are easily controlled. The “global warming scenario” approaches a religion – now quite divorced from science – especially as proponents attempt to use guilt and fear to control others.

    We really have no clue what happens next. Take a look 20, 50, 100 years ago to find out that most “predictors” back then did not either.

  33. Thirdeye
    July 21, 2012 at 8:55 pm

    Labtech :
    Frankly, I don’t get the outpouring of praise for Cockburn. He was a rabid anti-semite and a luddite. The world is better off without him.

    Sure, anyone who questions the blatant racism of the Israeli apartheid system is a rabid anti-semite. Uh-huh.

    The world would be better off without religious chauvinists of any variety. ANY variety. Get it?

  34. Labtech
    July 21, 2012 at 9:20 pm

    HhhjjjkkklllThird Eye, yes, I get it. Like Cockburn you’d like to get rid of the Jews.

    Unless you are math and science literate you’re not really able to understand the climate science.

  35. Eric Kirk
    July 21, 2012 at 9:40 pm

    Cockburn was anti-Israel in many ways, but I’ve read nothing that suggests he wants to “get rid of the Jews.” Can you cite something in particular?

  36. Amy Breighton
    July 21, 2012 at 10:09 pm

    They have their churches, media, Rotary, Chamber of Commerce, nearly every political office and bureaucratic seat….forever….

    Will there be a local memorial service so that we can come together to honor one of the few journalists that had any integrity?

    He might have been wrong about the extent of human’s role in global warming, but he had every right and reason to question the benefactors and the money behind the science.

    His contributions to our understanding of the excesses of contemporary empire will be counted among the painfully-few who heroically shouted too little, too late.

  37. What Now
    July 21, 2012 at 10:58 pm

    Viewing zionism outside of it’s racist confines is absurd.
    The current coalition of messianic Judaism along with the Dominionist and Millenialist Christian fascists is vivid proof that socially speaking, our specie has devolved.

    Evidently, OSHA regulations and safety handling procedures in the workplacehave been insufficient in protecting LabTech from exposure to substances that cause severe brain damage.

  38. Freezing in Europe
    July 22, 2012 at 2:23 am

    Warmers “have a committed interest in bullshit. They’re hysterical, and hysterical people are dangerous.” Right on, sir. His was a voice of reason, speaking truth from Humboldt County, the belly of the beast of junk science, neo-paganism, and neo-tribalism. Rest in peace, my man.

  39. Plain Jane
    July 22, 2012 at 4:55 am

    Giggles, from 1965 to 1979, 62% of climate scientists were predicting warming, 27% had no stance and only 10% were predicting warming. “The fact is that around 1970 there were 6 times as many scientists predicting a warming rather than a cooling planet. Today, with 30+years more data to analyse, we’ve reached a clear scientific consensus: 97% of working climate scientists agree with the view that human beings are causing global warming.”


    The mini ice age that The Guardian references is regional and would be caused by global warming melting glaciers, causing the slowing and cooling of the Gulf Stream which today mitigates the winter weather in its proximity. They call it “climate change” rather than global warming now to reduce confusion, but as the global temperature rises as a whole, there will be regions that get colder and hotter in the different seasons, some colder all year and some hotter all year. Global warming CAUSES climate change.

  40. Grin Reaper
    July 22, 2012 at 7:32 am

    Cockburn’s disrespect for truth and others and his apparently narcissistic opinion of himself included an astounding disrespectful and gratuitous obituary for comrade Judi Bari in Nation Magazine. That he went out of his way to slam her moments after her death was just another of many, if you’ll allow, nail in his coffin of legitimacy. I’ll use the exact same verbiage he opened his piece with and parlay back: “Cancer nailed poor Alex Cockburn.” Now allow me to say: Good riddance.

    Did any actual thing get better because of his mean-spirited stroll on our beautiful, overheating, Kennedy killing, war-filled blue green planet that he so cavalierly and from a safe distance issued his ignorant and meaningless proclamations from? Or let me ask the converse: did some harm come from it? I’ll await an answer but not for long. Cockburn was a cog in the lie machine, a faux lefty like his fellow regurgitating prevaricator Mr. Anderson, The Bully of Boonville. I understand that a somewhat decent and entertaining writing style can mask the motives and false logic of those bastions of disinformation and others. But those who admire them as they tear down the truth in many matters of importance to us all are at best, ticket holders to the carnival’s freak show. Alas, the Beard is dead.

  41. Freezing in Europe
    July 22, 2012 at 8:57 am

    In Thailand, thousands of indigenous farmers are being fined off their land in the name of global warming. A Thai government bureaucrat has created a carbon footprint model which determines exactly how much heat is produced from any given activity. According to this model, farmers, who have been raising their crops for generations, are exceeding the model limit and are therefore illegally contributing to global warming. Fines have been levied in an amount far exceeding what these people earn in a lifetime. The land is seized and these people have become homeless refugees in their own country. The program, under which this land grab is being conducted, is promoted and funded by the United Nations Commission on Global Warming (or some such imperial sounding name). This story is being played out throughout the developing world, especially in Asia and Africa. Inform yourselves, and learn what misery, and wealth, this new religion is creating.

  42. Mitch
    July 22, 2012 at 9:08 am

    Alexander Cockburn said what he thought. I think he was right about some things, wrong about others. But when Alexander Cockburn expressed his opinion, you could be confident that he was not just trumpeting the line of the day, and that you ought to investigate what he was saying, because there was a good chance he’d figured out something you hadn’t. That’s so incredibly different than when almost anyone with a large mouthpiece uses it today.

    I’ve created separate threads for global warming and blog anonymity, topics that were moving this thread away from a discussion of a genuine local human being who recently passed away. Can this thread continue as a discussion of Alexander Cockburn?

  43. Giggles
    July 22, 2012 at 9:30 am

    Plain Jane, 100 years ago 100% of U.S. Geologists agreed that Alfred Wegener (a German meteorologist) was full of shit when he proposed that the continents moved over time. They continued to belittle his ideas and persecute him and his memory for years. (See here for “Utter Damn Rot” and other pithy quotes http://pangaea.org/wegener.htm) It wasn’t until the late 1970s that the U.S. Geology establishment began to accept that Wegener was right and that the continents move relative to each other. It was another decade or more before 50% of all Geologists were comfortable with the idea of moving continents.

    So fast forward to your numbers… it doesn’t matter if 100% of people in a field think the Earth is flat. Time and time again they’ve been proven wrong by open-minded people who go out and actually study the situation.

    I applaud people for raising alternative viewpoints and despise those who dialectically force the herd to fear and cower. Alternative viewpoints are good, look at how many times we’ve been told totally wrong things by those in power, (e.g. “I never had sex with *that* woman.”) just to stay in power.

    The instant knees start jerking is the time to check the assumptions. Of course, any reasonable scientist knows that “global warming” is real simply because 10,000 years ago most of North America was covered by ice. Now it is not. Therefore the globe has warmed.

    Human effects in the Greenland ice cores show up at least 2,000 years ago. Climate has gone up and down since then. It was warmer during Egyptian and Roman times, then became cooler during the “Middle or Dark” ages quite possibly as the result of massive volcanic activity, and has warmed since.

    Every year vast amounts of what is now the U.S. was burned by the hunter gatherer cultures the European whites removed from the landscape. That CO2 was no longer released. One scientific study even proposed the loss of the prairie burns as a cause for a mini-ice age in Europe!

    (R.J. Nevle ”et al”., “Ecological-hydrological effects of reduced biomass burning in the neotropics after A.D. 1500,” ”Geological Society of America Meeting”, Minneapolis MN, October 11, 2011 . [http://gsa.confex.com/gsa/2011AM/finalprogram/abstract_196092.htm abstract]. Popular summary: “[http://www.sciencenews.org/view/generic/id/335168/title/Columbus_arrival_linked_to_carbon_dioxide_drop Columbus’ arrival linked to carbon dioxide drop: Depopulation of Americas may have cooled climate],” ”Science News,” November 5th, 2011. )

    So humans have had diverse effects on climate for thousands of years without causing this huge upswing before. Humans burned coal as part of the industrial revolution for nearly 300 years without causing a huge raise in temperature. And early steam engines, locomotives and such were not efficient; they consumed sometimes 10 to 1 what our machines do now.

    The rise of the train denuded much of North America of her trees… as they were removed for “ties” under the rails and also for the insatiable iron horses dragging population and supplies cross-continent. And still temperatures didn’t rise so high.

    During WWII huge amounts of petrochemicals were burned “to save the Earth” from the Axis, but there was no sudden temperature rise after that.

    Personal automobile ownership soared from 1950 to 1968 as did truck transportation, but there’s no matching change in the global temperatures, in fact, there was a string of extremely cold years in the 1970s which led scientists to suggest human moderated cooling was possible.

    And then the temperature began to go up.

    Something in the last 50 years is different, but exactly what remains for open minded researchers to figure out.

    Is it the personal automobile spewing by the millions as people sit in traffic jams every morning and night? Is it coal burning power plants? Is it the rise in algae respiration due to increased nitrates coming down the rivers from over-fed agriculture? Is it, as one researcher found, methane from cows raised for fast-food restaurants?

    One researcher pointed out that the culprit in the latest rise could be the aerosol injection from all our airplanes could because if you follow the curve of “air miles traveled” it nearly matches the curve of “global temperature rise” but whether that’s a statistical artifact or a real match remains to be seen.

    The cause is important however. If it’s something we can change, like CFCs that were banned to close the ozone hole (which is working) we can do it. But if it’s not really “our fault” or the activity really at fault isn’t the one changed, all the carbon taxes and Thai farmers displaced will be activities wasted moving the deck chairs, whilst our Titanic keeps sinking.

  44. Mitch
    July 22, 2012 at 9:32 am


    I’ll respond on the global warming thread.

  45. bambalito
    July 22, 2012 at 9:33 am

    I quit reading Cockburn after his slamming of 9/11 investigators. He went with the status quo, like a lot of faux lefties – including Gnome Chompsky, Amy Goodwrench, and Bill Mowyers. All afraid to rock their own media boat on that one. Not to mention the Boonville bullshitter.

    Where Cockburn really lost it though was the global warming denialism. Just ask the Inuit native people in Greenland, and you will be unable to nurse any doubt on that one. Why would such a smart guy not be able to see it? Who knows. Maybe just couldn’t bring himself to believe such a sad thing. So he lost all credibility in the last decade or so.

    Still a great writer in his time, and he made his presence known with courage. RIP.

  46. Mitch
    July 22, 2012 at 9:37 am

    And I quit reading bambalito when I realized he or she thought misspelling people’s names was clever argumentation.

  47. Plain Jane
    July 22, 2012 at 10:10 am

    Bambalino is funny because the first place I read a thorough report discrediting 9/11 truthers was at Counterpunch, written by no less than Alexander Cockburn himself.

  48. July 22, 2012 at 10:32 am

    Eric Kirk replies, “The problem is that you’re too predictable.” And Cockburn wasn’t? Come on, I smell the slight stench of hypocrisy here, Kirk. You trying to say NOW, that I’m not “iconoclastic” in what I write? If I’m so damned “predictable” why is it you do NOT understand me? By the way what does not loving someone have to do with being too predictable?

  49. Mitch
  50. Thirdeye
    July 22, 2012 at 1:39 pm

    Joe, the fun thing about Cockburn was that he was completely unpredictable. He was in nobody’s pocket.

    LabTech would have us believe that all Jews are religious chauvinists.

  51. July 22, 2012 at 3:04 pm

    “Joe, the fun thing about Cockburn was that he was completely unpredictable. He was in nobody’s pocket.”

    …and I’m not? Oh, well. I think there’s a whole generation of people that would disagree with Eric. Anyway, I think people are confusing consistency with predictability. Since when is it the rule that one must be totally unpredictable to be seen and heard and, God forbid, loved?

  52. Labtech
    July 22, 2012 at 3:33 pm

    Eric Kirk :
    Cockburn was anti-Israel in many ways, but I’ve read nothing that suggests he wants to “get rid of the Jews.” Can you cite something in particular?


    Much more along these lines if you care to search.

  53. Grin Reaper
    July 22, 2012 at 5:02 pm

    I looked it up on the web and what I found is exactly what I guessed I find, given the modicum of education I have. “Exactly what the Thai governments motives really are have yet to be seen, though history shows us clearly that methods like these are used when vested interests want the land cleared of the people who get in the way of the get rich schemes, in much the same way that the “Highland Clearances” were used during the 18th and 19th centuries in Britain.”

    I would add it is just like the land grab by the European Christians against the land-based people they called pagans that they burned at the stake. That was the new religion and relatively speaking still is.

    In other words, the Thai farmers are not being pulled off their land because of global warming. They are pulled off their land because the government and rich oligarchy want it for themselves. Global warming is just the excuse used this example. Weapons of mass destruction is another excuse used to grab land (and oil). More often than not, Christianity is the excuse, that cursed new religion.

    And even if it were a misguided effort by the government to stop global warming, it has nothing to do with whether Global Warming is a scientific reality, as almost every climate scientist affirms.

    And I might be projecting, but I have a feeling that Freezing in Europe couldn’t really give a rat’s ass about people being removed from their land. If I’m wrong, let’s start with the Native Americans and start righting that wrong first.

  54. July 22, 2012 at 7:59 pm

    For sure! And, since Richardson Grove is of major local concern, anyone for a trip to Sacramento to search through the archives – pre 1849 – for a Treaty? There’s gotta be one somewhere.

  55. Joel Mielke
    July 22, 2012 at 8:10 pm

    All Labtech can dig up is a screed by Alan Dershowitz (a vile man) to back his claim that Cockburn was an anti-Semite. What a surprise.

  56. Thirdeye
    July 22, 2012 at 8:34 pm

    Labtech, that link makes a pathetically weak case from a pathetically weak source. The whole dust-up had to do with former Senator James Abourzek’s calling Alan Dershowitz a “snake” in an interview. Note that that term was used to refer to Mr. Dershowitz personally, not Jews in general or even Zionists. Dershowitz went on to claim in the Jerusalem Post that it was equivalent to when Senator Theodore Bilbo referred to Jews as “kikes” on the Senate floor. Abourzek then referred in Counterpunch (Cockburn’s mag) to Mr. Dershowitz’s statement as calling him anti-semitic. Mr. Dershowitz objected because the words “anti-semite” or “anti-semitic” did not appear in his Jerusalem Post piece. That’s a weaselly, weak defense, because it was obvious that his analogy between what Abourzek said and what Bilbo said was intended to slime Abourzek as an anti-semite.

    Dershowitz also raised the specter of “anti-semitism” in his defense of Michael Milken from insider trading charges. The guy is a complete manipulator.

    For your part, you are trying to slime Cockburn as an “anti-semite” for having Abourzek’s piece, with its accurate characterization of Dershowitz’s slimy attack, in his magazine. Both you and Dershowitz are manipulators of the slimiest, most dishonest kind. Maybe “snake” is a term that applies to both of you.

  57. Labtech
    July 22, 2012 at 10:05 pm

    Miunlike Mielke you should actually read Dershowitz’s comments on Cockburn, if you want to understand this issue.

    There are no anti-Semites in Mielke’s world. Just Jews like him who cringe publicly whenever they are attacked.

  58. Labtech
    July 22, 2012 at 10:10 pm

    Thirdeye lacks e intelligence to follow the Dershowitz argument. But. So of couse he attempts to vomit on the Jews.

  59. Thirdeye
    July 22, 2012 at 10:21 pm

    Labtech, anyone can follow your own link, read the arguments, and decide whose characterization is accurate. It’s pretty obvious what you are.

  60. What Now
    July 22, 2012 at 10:23 pm

    Alan Dershowitz still claims Irgun was a noble group.
    Murderous thugs to a person.
    And those same murderous thugs have been dominating Israeli politics since 1948.

  61. Labtech
    July 22, 2012 at 10:38 pm

    Murderous thugs? You must be thinking of Hamas.

  62. July 22, 2012 at 10:42 pm

    Michael Tomasky steps up with a memoriam that gets at what made Cockburn special at first, and what remained unique. I won’t forgive him the liberties he took with truth, but Cockburn ran blood through a pen like few ever do.


  63. Thirdeye
    July 23, 2012 at 12:00 am

    Thanks for the link, gulo.

    Cockburn took a lot of heat for his critique of the estimates of the death toll during the Holomodor (Stalinist forced collectivization of agriculture), but his arguments made sense. The largest part of that death toll was from famine, and it was around 3.5 million, not the 20 million figure seized upon by cold war propagandists and apologists for Nazi atrocities. . Part of that famine was due to mismanagement by the collective system. A large part of that famine was due to sabotage by those resisting collectivization. The figures on foodstuffs and livestock destroyed are pretty astounding. So the reality of the tragic consequences of that civil conflict, with both sides guilty of disregard for the well-being of the populace, was quite different from the picture of gratuitous mass deportations of peasants to die in Siberia that we’ve been sold in the west.

  64. July 23, 2012 at 8:57 am

    And Corey Robin has a roundup of a dozen-plus “reminiscences, remembrances, and reflections” on Cockburn here:

  65. What Now
    July 23, 2012 at 11:55 am

    NO Labtech, I’m specifically alluding to Irgun, Sharon’s Elite Unit 101, the massacres and raids on Palestenian villagers in the 40’s and 50’s, land siezures, the orchestrating of refugee massacres in Lebenon by Sharon and co,. Moshe Dayan’s admission that the ’67 and ’73 wars were provoked by Israel the 1st for military gain, the 2md for territorial acquisition, the 2nd for geopolitical gains,more land siezures, ignoring the Camp David accords, assisantions of innocent people abroad (Mossad’s record for killing the wrong people is as big as killing it’s enemies)more land siezures, cross border strikes, non-adherence to IAEA and UN mandates,the economic and political blocade of the occupied territiores,and punishing the Palestenian people for not voteing in a government that Israel approved of.

  66. lostit
    July 23, 2012 at 1:49 pm

    In Memoriam:

    Alexander Cockburn, co-editor with Jeffrey St. Clair of CounterPunch, has died after his silent two-year battle with cancer. Although he didn’t please everyone, his was an important voice. His mother was an English aristocrat and his father was a hell-raising journalist. Alex had the traits of both of his parents. He was educated at Oxford and was an engaging conversationalist.

    Alex lived in the US for a long time and became a US citizen a few years ago. He wrote for the Village Voice and in the Reagan years had a column on the op-ed page of the Wall Street Journal, something that would be impossible today.

    I will miss him and so will people who do not know who he was. The force has been weakened.

    I will have more to say about him at a later time.


  67. Labtech
    July 23, 2012 at 2:51 pm

    What Now: How predictable. You try to rewrite history, conveniently deleting decades of Arab atrocities in Israel, the Jewish homeland. Reminds me a Cockburn’s spirited defense of Saddam Hussein.

  68. Mitch
    July 23, 2012 at 3:03 pm

    What Now,

    I don’t know what sources have provided your information that the Six Day war in 1967 was conducted for military gain. Here’s one online source:


    Again in 1967, in the run up to the Six-Day War, Israel’s existence seemed to hang in the balance. As the armies of Egypt, Syria and Jordan openly prepared for battle against Israel, and Arab leaders and the Arab “street” called for its destruction, Israel faced frightful choices. “We had already started thinking in terms of annihilation, both national and personal,” explained Lt. Yossi Peled, a Holocaust survivor who was at the time a lieutenant in the Israel army. Israel’s Defense Minister Moshe Dayan, realizing the immense military challenge that would be caused by an Arab attack, told his cabinet: “God help us through if they hit us first.” Chief of Staff Yitzkhak Rabin had a nervous breakdown, which for a short time kept him from his duties.

    Of course, I don’t know the veracity of either side, but this sure doesn’t sound like Dayan decided to go to war for military gain, unless by that you mean prevention of the annihilation of his state.

  69. Mitch
    July 23, 2012 at 3:19 pm

    I’ll also offer two excerpts from Wikipedia’s entry on The Six Day War. Obviously, it is impossible to tell the complete story; equally obviously, the sides will always see it differently.

    On the eve of the war, Egypt massed approximately 100,000 of its 160,000 troops in the Sinai, including all of its seven divisions (four infantry, two armored and one mechanized), four independent infantry brigades and four independent armored brigades. No fewer than a third of them were veterans of Egypt’s intervention into the Yemen Civil War and another third were reservists. These forces had 950 tanks, 1,100 APCs and more than 1,000 artillery pieces.[64]

    That’s Egypt. Syria had 75,000 troops at their border with Israel. Jordan had 55,000 troops at their border with Israel. Iraq provided 100 tanks and a battalion. Pakistan sent pilots. Aircraft came from Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, among other countries.

    Israel had 250,000 plus people in its “military and reserves,” but that’s because just about every able-bodied man in Israel was part of the reserves.

    Even as plans were made for an offensive operation [by Israel], Israeli society prepared for an Arab invasion. Israeli civilians dug fortifications and defenses, and preparations were made for evacuating children to Europe. About 14,000 hospital beds were readied. Antidotes for poison gas victims, expected to arrive in waves of some 200, were stockpiled, and Germany donated some 20,000 gas masks. Some 10,000 graves were dug. Diaspora Jews played a key role in the preparations. Volunteers arrived in great numbers, and preference was given to young and skilled bachelors.[81]

  70. Plain Jane
    July 23, 2012 at 3:40 pm

    “just about every able-bodied man in Israel”

    Israel has had universal conscription since 1965.

  71. What Now
    July 23, 2012 at 4:37 pm

    How predicatable of you, Labtech-switch to another issue (Saddam Hussein).Another “right war for the wrong reason” fugue, or is it all on behalf of Erstaz Israel (from the NIle to the Euyphrates0.
    I wouyld direct you to read “How Israel Lost”, written by an ashkenazim, so you can drop THAT crap load of anti-semitism.
    Further reading and articles can be found here:
    When the International Zionist Lobby (Jewish Congress)sent a group to look at Palestine in the 1890’s they reported back, “the bride is beautiful but she’s already spoken for”.
    That never stopped the patriarchs so it certainly didn’t stop the ashkenazim. They just added the Brit-Israel followers and the European banking houses to their precious YHWH.
    Pro-Zionists conveniently ignore the portion of the Balfour Decl;aration (a disgrace in it’s own right) that called for a Palestenia state along with a Jewish state.
    The height of anti-semitism;give the ashenazim someone else’s home so they;ll leave here.
    Cockburn nailed a bullseye when he declared that the level of Israeli criminal atrocities can be directly determined by the amount of claims they make about anti-semitism.

  72. Labtech
    July 23, 2012 at 4:37 pm

    PJ: Where did you get that idea? Universal conscription is still under discussion in Israel.


  73. Plain Jane
    July 23, 2012 at 4:37 pm

    I wonder if the Jews would have been given better land some place where they’d never have to worry about their neighbors if it wasn’t for the desire to have a non Arab military power in the region because of the oil.

  74. Plain Jane
    July 23, 2012 at 4:38 pm

    Conscription exists in Israel for all Israeli citizens over the age of 18, although Arab citizens of Israel are exempt (but Druze citizens are conscripted); other exceptions are made on religious, physical or psychological grounds (see Profile 21). The normal length of compulsory service is currently three years for men and two years for women.

  75. Plain Jane
    July 23, 2012 at 4:40 pm

    Labtech STILL doesn’t understand the importance of context. He thinks you can just leave the word “reform” out of a sentence and it means they are still discussing whether to have universal conscription. Sad.

  76. What Now
    July 23, 2012 at 4:44 pm

    Mosche Dayan on the 6 day war:

    “I know how at least 80 percent of the clashes there started. In my opinion, more than 80 percent, but let’s talk about 80 percent. It went this way: We would send a tractor to plough someplace where it wasn’t possible to do anything, in the demilitarized area, and knew in advance that the Syrians would start to shoot. If they didn’t shoot, we would tell the tractor to advance farther, until in the end the Syrians would get annoyed and shoot. And then we would use artillery and later the air force also, and that’s how it was.

    “Also, later, he stated his regrets:

    “I made a mistake in allowing the Israel conquest of the Golan Heights.”
    Same tactics used today.

  77. July 23, 2012 at 4:59 pm

    Cockburn, Jews, Israel, oil. Oil, nothing to do with oil – that’s illusion. There’s more oil in North Dakota than any other spot on the globe. And the guns are all drawn, and the tanks are all out . . .waiting for the call: “To arms!” I say this because of the originies there, and wonder how awful it must be them. Bended Knee wasn’t so long ago.
    My screen view isn’t totally to the left, so I don’t know if I can check the ‘Notify me’ boxes.

  78. Labtech
    July 23, 2012 at 5:03 pm

    Well, we’re off in la la land, where facts and history have no meaning at all. Good territory for Alexander Cockburn and his gullible fans. I’ll leave you to discuss just two of Cockburn’s favorite facts of life: Global Warming isn’t happening, Saddam Hussein was a great leader. For the record, Israel has never had universal conscription. It’s a Zionist conspiracy.

  79. July 23, 2012 at 5:04 pm

    Wow, I tried to stop that post when I saw “Bended Knee” – you know I meant “Wounded Knee”.

  80. Plain Jane
    July 23, 2012 at 5:04 pm

    Did you mean Wounded Knee, Forest Queen?

  81. Labtech
    July 23, 2012 at 5:05 pm

    “Bended Knee?”

    This thread is a riot!

  82. Plain Jane
    July 23, 2012 at 5:06 pm

    LMAO at Labtech.

    Forest Queen, what is your source for the claim that there is more oil in ND than anywhere else?

  83. Plain Jane
    July 23, 2012 at 5:07 pm

    Labtech thinks they are discussing reforming what doesn’t exist.

  84. Mitch
    July 23, 2012 at 5:18 pm

    What Now,

    I’ll refer you to Wikipedia’s entry on Mandatory Palestine. The British Mandate in Palestine covered the territory now known as Israel and Jordan. Many people felt that the Jewish state should get parts of what is now Jordan, just as many people felt that parts of what is now Israel should be under Arab control.

    There’s no doubt that the middle east is a British and Western clusterfuck. To attempt to find one single good guy or one single bad guy is going to be a failure, no matter who tries. That never seems to stop people, though, so this is the end of my participation in this thread.

  85. July 23, 2012 at 5:26 pm

    The American’s Sovereign Bulletin Jan/Feb. issue this year.

  86. Plain Jane
    July 23, 2012 at 5:43 pm

    The highest guesstimate I’ve seen was 24 billion and that by the guy who is selling shares in it. The govt. estimates around 5 billion; but even if there was 24 billion, that’s only enough oil for the US for 3 years.

  87. What Now
    July 23, 2012 at 7:19 pm

    “this is the end of my participation in this thread.”
    Great timing and appropriate exit, Mitch;the “clusterfuck” that is wikipedia.

  88. What Now
    July 25, 2012 at 2:32 am

    Netanyahu government in crisis over drafting orthodox Jews
    By Jean Shaoul
    25 July 2012
    The Kadima party has pulled out of Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu’s coalition government only two months after joining it, over the Likud leader’s refusal to force Israel’s orthodox Jews to carry out military or some other form of national service.

    With Netanyahu expected to have difficulty pushing through his austerity budget, despite a majority of 66 seats in the 120-member Knesset, it is likely that he will call a general election for next January. The issue of conscription, which is creating confusion and divisions within the working class at the very time when discontent is growing over social inequality and the soaring cost of living, will likely predominate in the run-up to the election.

    The decision by Kadima leader Shaul Mofaz reflects bitter political divisions within Israel’s ruling elite. Israel is a highly militarised state, spending at least 9 percent of its GDP on defence, higher than other developed countries. Despite possessing the only nuclear arsenal in the Middle East, Israel treats all its neighbours in the region as existential threats. It enforces an illegal occupation of the West Bank, East Jerusalem, Syria’s Golan Heights, and Gaza, ruling over an Arab population that, with Israel’s own Palestinian citizens, will soon out number Jewish Israelis—and serves as Washington’s policeman in the oil-rich Middle East.

    Israel requires young men to serve in the IDF for three years and then at least a month a year until the age of 40. It is the only state in the world to require compulsory military service for young women as well, although they are not required to serve in combat units. Israel has until now provided no alternative to active service and does not recognise conscientious objection for pacifist reasons.

    But despite conscription, many Israelis do not serve in the military. Arab Israelis are not enlisted for obvious political reasons, given that the army’s main day-to-day function is to suppress the Palestinian population, but Bedouins and Druse do serve.

    Under the Tal Law, religious Jews are exempt if they can show that they are attending religious seminaries, while Orthodox women are exempt altogether. Furthermore, the soaring inequality that pervades Israeli society is reflected in an increasing number of poor and marginalised Israelis deemed “unfit” or “unqualified” for mental or physical reasons. There are also a number of young people who refuse to serve for pacifist reasons or—and this is more prevalent—refuse to serve in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

    Taken together, this means that only about 50 percent of young people serve in the IDF. For a state as dependent as Israel on military forces grossly disproportionate to the actual population—particularly in the event of a major new war like that threatened against Iran—such a rate of attrition is disastrous. But the small religious parties, which have been able to act as kingmakers in Israel’s fractured political system, have opposed any attempts to conscript the ultra-Orthodox.

    Kadima, which promotes itself as a “centre right” party, won the largest number of seats in the 2009 general election but, unable to form a coalition, was forced to cede power to Netanyahu’s Likud, which went into a coalition with right-wing nationalist and religious forces.

    When Netanyahu announced last May that he would be holding an early general election, which Kadima was expected to lose, Mofaz joined Netanyahu’s coalition and the elections were cancelled. To aid Kadima in claiming it had secured some concessions, Netanyahu pledged to change the Tal Law, which allows ultra-Orthodox Jews to defer military conscription indefinitely if they are enrolled in religious seminaries. The law, struck down in February by Israel’s Supreme Court as unconstitutional, is set to expire at the end of the month.

    Netanyahu also promised to reform the electoral system and restart talks with Palestinians, an empty gesture since he refuses to halt settlement construction in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem. The Levy Committee appointed by the prime minister has concluded that Israel’s presence in the West Bank does not constitute an illegal occupation and that the Fourth Geneva Convention regarding the protection of the local population by an occupier does not apply. It sees no legal reason to stop Israeli citizens living in the West Bank and recommends the retroactive authorisation of dozens of settlement outposts previously regarded as illegal under Israeli law.

    Despite Kadima’s claims to want peace with the Palestinians, it has pulled out not over the settlement drive but over demands that will lead to the even greater militarisation of Israeli society.

    Following the agreement with Kadima in May, Netanyahu set up a committee chaired by Kadima legislator Yohanan Plesner, which called for at least 80 percent of draft-age Orthodox men to perform military or some sort of “national” service by 2016, with stiff financial penalties for those who evade the draft. This provoked the wrath of the Orthodox community, with thousands taking to the streets in a protest demonstration.

    The ultra-Orthodox Jews, known as Haredi Jews, are largely poor, since they do not work. Israel’s media have long labelled them as “draft dodgers” and “scroungers” who live off state handouts.

    This campaign has served to channel inchoate and unfocused social and political discontent into a conflict based on an alliance among all those supposedly upholding Israel’s “secular traditions”, thus subordinating the working class to bourgeois forces, while secular and religious parties alike form alliances as necessary to defend the interests of their wealthy patrons.

    In Tel Aviv, secular reservists organised a rally attended by about 20,000 people calling for an end to exemptions for Orthodox Jews under the banner, “We are no longer suckers”. They insisted that everyone “shared equally in the burden of defending the state”. Some threatened that they would refuse to carry out reservist duty if the government failed to extend the draft law.

    Yuval Diskin, the former Shin Bet chief, said, “The time has come to end state payment to those who don’t take part in the national burden, since we know that it just encourages draft dodging”. He added, “Equal conscription is a concern that is shared by right and left and is part of the ethos on which the state was founded. It need[s] to be done wisely in consultation with all parts of society, but it needs to be done resolutely, because there will always be those who oppose it.”

    Diskin’s comments reveal concerns about the prevalence of draft dodging broader than the highly problematic and counter-productive issue of the ultra-orthodox Jews. Indeed, their requirements for separate facilities, including special food and units with no women, have led to the proposals for alternative forms of “national service.”

    Forcing the religious Jews to serve would set a precedent. It would enable pressure to be put on the small but increasing number of young people who are evading the draft or reserve duty because of their dislike of the army’s suppression of the Palestinians.

    Other participants at the rally included former army chief Gabi Ashkenazi, former deputy chief of staff Moshe Kaplinsky, Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai, and former Labour and Histadrut leader Amir Peretz. Kadima supported the rally, although Mofaz was booed and asked to go home.

    Some of the leaders of last summer’s social protest movement have taken up this reactionary line that substitutes an obligation to do military service for genuine social equality, thus blurring the entirely different interests of the ruling elite, which speaks for Israel’s oligarchs, and the broad mass of Jewish and Palestinian Israelis. Furthermore, such a line serves to promote nationalism and patriotism and cuts across attempts by some in the movement to appeal to the Palestinians.

    Itzik Shmuli, the Student Union chairman, speaking at the rally, called on the Prime Minister to extend the draft. He equated the call for an “equal draft” with last year’s mass social justice protests, arguing that sharing an “equal burden” played a major part in creating a just society—a theme that has become the leitmotif of what remains of the now deeply divided protest movement.

    Faced with opposition from the religious parties in his coalition, Netanyahu abandoned the Plesner committee’s recommendations and called for a phased introduction of the draft extension.

    As well as Kadima, he was also opposed by his secular ultra-rightist coalition partner, Avidgor Lieberman’s Israel Beiteinu. The party called for mandatory conscription for all Israelis, including Palestinian Israelis, in a bill that was defeated in the Knesset on Wednesday.

    Kadima, whose popularity with the electorate has plummeted, is now riven with divisions and is expected to splinter.

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