Weekly Roundup: That’s Not Very Cash Money Of You Edition

One of our most, ah, energetic commenters accused us here at Riverside Green of “staying silent” on the Jamal Khashoggi “situation”. I am not certain why he thought I should write something on the topic. At least forty-five journalists were killed in 2018, including the four killed by Jarrod Ramos in the United States earlier this year. (As seems to be the usual practice nowadays, Ramos was demoted to white after the fact.) Approximately 150 journalists have been killed since I started this site, and never have I written a word about any of them.

After reading a bit about Mr. Khashoggi and his likely fate, however, I thought that it might be worth a few words to discuss just how oddly, and perfectly, the situation serves as synecdoche for many of the issues currently occupying the national conversation. None of this is meant to be conclusive; please feel free to offer your opinions below, whether you agree or disagree with me.

In no particular order, here’s what strikes me about the Khashoggi case:

What gives President Trump, or any American, the right to take action here? Khashoggi was, in the words of the BBC, “close to the Saudi royal family and also served as an adviser to the government… he fell out of favour and went into self-imposed exile in the US last year. From there, he wrote a monthly column in the Washington Post in which he criticised the policies of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.” Khashoggi was not an American citizen; he was here on a so-called “genius” visa to work for the Post. This Quartz article admits that while immigrants and visa holders are entitled to due process and the protection of the law on American soil, under no circumstances is the United States obliged to act in the interest of immigrants when they are visiting their home countries, as Khashoggi was legally doing when he stepped into the Saudi consulate.

Would the situation have been different had he visited the Saudi embassy in the United States? Almost certainly; this country takes a dim view of bone saw killings that take place near American soil, even if the embassy is legally Saudi. It’s worth noting that we, as a country, have permitted Saudis to beat their servants on American soil without repercussion in the past. Still. Khashoggi would have been smart to do his paperwork in the United States.

Turn the situation around for a moment. The United States, unlike Saudi Arabia, does not enforce the death penalty for criticizing top government officials. But it does enforce the death penalty for other offenses, including deliberate train derailment and “hate crimes”. Imagine, if you will, that an American citizen goes overseas to Saudi Arabia to work for Al-Jazeera. While he is there, he contrives to derail a train. He then willingly enters the American consulate in Turkey, at which point he is black-bagged and put on a Learjet back home. Once he is home, an American jury sentences him to death by lethal injection. What, exactly, is Saudi Arabia going to do about it? Tell us that we can’t enforce our laws? Of course not. So what makes us think we can do it to them? Also, Saudi Arabia is not a democracy — it is a kingdom, one in which insulting the king is a terrorist act punishable by death. The United States has no jurisdiction over Saudi Arabia or its citizens, period.

Our American media elite believes itself to be above the law. Peel the onion back far enough and you will find out that most of the outrage regarding Khashoggi comes from the fact that he was a scab O-visa employee of the Post, and therefore a supercitizen. The precedent for this was set by Post columnist Carl Rowan. Thirty years ago, Rowan, an African-American writer who was a staunch advocate of gun control, lost his temper with a white teenager and shot him using an illegal handgun. The NRA made him an honorary member. displaying a finely-calculated sense of trolling well before the World Wide Web came into being, but a DC jury decided, quite sensibly, that under no circumstances should a journalist have to go to jail for breaking the laws he so strongly supported prior to breaking them. The resulting mistrial resulted, amazingly, in the prosecution dropping the case, presumably because it would just be too much effort to see it all the way through. That’s right: for once in history, a mistrial actually meant that the defendant went free. (In the real world, for people who don’t work at the Post, it means your defense attorney’s bill just doubled.)

In an Obama presidency, this would be water under the bridge. We live in Abilio “Jim” Acosta’s world now, where the media has decided that taking Trump down is 95% of their job. The Khashoggi thing has the potential to make Trump look bad, so it’s being given legs that it would not have had four years ago. Under Mr. Obama’s administration, American citizens, and their teenaged children, were deliberately killed by drones. It didn’t cause much media drama at the time. By contrast, Mr. Trump is being flogged not for the deliberate extrajudicial killing of an American citizen but for being insufficiently angry about the Saudi decision to execute a royal subject. Can any of my more left-leaning readers construct a rationale for why this is not a double standard?

Alright, that’s all I have to say about it for now.

* * *

This week, I argued against the bonesaw execution of American luxury sedans.

27 Replies to “Weekly Roundup: That’s Not Very Cash Money Of You Edition”

  1. -Nate

    I got side tracked by reading the land yacht article ~

    You seriously think there are sufficient big car buyers to make a profit ? .

    Wow .

    I love ’em yes but hate driving one and sold my GMC 3/4 ton pickup because it was too damn long to dive easily in town .

    If I still lived in the sticks it would have been perfect but Caddies and Lincolns don’t sell in Peoria, do they ? .

    -Nate

    Reply
  2. CJinSD

    Don’t be too surprised when anyone who could be convinced that this constitutes a story about Donald Trump doesn’t respond to reason.

    Reply
  3. John C.

    I think Jack makes a great point about the super citizen status of Khashoggi. Remember he was the nephew of Robin Leech’s favorite arms dealer and much of his early journalism were interviews with Osama. No doubt they didn’t play like Acosta interviews with Trump but rather two connected Saudis shooting the breeze about how best to stick it to Uncle Sam. Not our friend, yet exactly who the Washington Post would go to for a “local” voice. A descended from crooks guy who’s ill gotten gain got him into the right schools.

    Remember Trump also has found it more useful to work with the Saudis rather than Iran as Obama and Christiane Amonpour would have preferred. So the Saudis must pay. At least in dealing with the House of Saud he is dealing with descendants of actual achievement. It couldn’t have been easy to chase the Hashemites out of Mecca and Medina. What have these super citizens ever done but steal and spit.

    Reply
  4. hank chinaski

    I can’t say I’ve been comfortable seeing a string of our Presidents bow and scrape to the Saudi royals, and I cringed when Creepy Uncle Joe (Biden) had to sit in the penalty box for stating the obvious, that various terror attacks against us were funded by Saudis. Still, I’m old enough to remember when they turned off the spigot and understand that the petrodollar helps to prop up the ponzi that is our economy (even if it is only the cleanest dirty shirt).
    Trump has partially deflected this by mentioning the eight figure weapon sales that benefit our MIC and that’s as good an answer as any.

    Somewhat related: Britain refusing sanctuary to Asia Bibi.

    Reply
  5. rambo furum

    Is there any reason, moral and not pusillanimously economic, not to sanction Saudi Arabia to the greatest extent possible?

    Reply
    • Jack BaruthJack Baruth Post author

      My opinion is that we should have regime changed the place on September 12, 2001 and that it should have become an American territory like Guam.

      In 2018, however? What’s the argument for doing it?

      Reply
      • Ronnie Schreiber

        With a huge, indolent, and entitled royal family (there are something like 40,000 princes), an economy completely dependent on crude oil sales, extremist Wahabi influence, and an active Shia resistance, I’m not sure it’d be worth our while to have the kingdom as a U.S. territory.

        While it would be foolish to expect revolutionary changes there, it would be nice if MBS moves Saudi Arabia from a totalitarian state to an authoritarian state. As Jeane Kirkpatrick pointed out, authoritarian states have a decent chance at becoming free societies, totalitarian states not so much.

        Reply
      • gtem

        We should have let the Saudis and Israelis try to deal with Hussein themselves in the first Gulf War, and definitely NOT built our airbases there. That was one of Bin Laden’s biggest bugaboos (that and the whole Israel thing): infidel troops on holy lands. I think the ME would be much more stable had that first Gulf War played out on its own without our involvement. Forced cooperation by Israel and Saudi Arabia and (gasp) Iran to deal with Iraq may very well have lead to some longer term stable diplomatic relations between all three.

        https://goo.gl/images/ZVo9Rm

        Reply
    • ScottS

      Maybe because Saudi Arabia is engaged in a proxy war with Iran for dominance in the middle east and the West cannot afford Iran gaining control of the region. The arming up of Saudi Arabia isn’t simply to allow a bunch of greedy warmongering capitalist to get rich selling weapons. The alternative is to send our own forces into the fray.

      The screaming over Jamal Khashoggi is noting but the leftist, globalist media pushing back against Western influence in the region. With the Obama-Iran nuclear proliferation treaty, the victory of Globalism over Western/Capitalism was all but over . . . until Hillary faltered and lost the grip on power.

      Reply
      • hank chinaski

        No. It could be argued that Iran wouldn’t be a theocracy at all without our previous meddling.
        The only solid argument for maintaining Western Influence there now is that it will likely be worse for us when the Chinese move to fill the power vacuum (which will happen anyway, as elsewhere).

        In another timeline, we never gave the Chinese favored nation status to vault them into power, never signed NAFTA, and let the Saudis and Iranians duke it out on their own, at most trading weapons to both sides for oil.

        Reply
  6. Jim S

    I’m curious all, has anyone seen a blog called “All Generalizations are False?” I deliberately didn’t link to it, but just google the name. I’d be interested in your reactions to it, especially Jack and Mark’s.

    I agree with Jack’s analysis here. Saudi citizen on Saudi soil = internal Saudi issue. It isn’t good, and we shouldn’t be faulted for saying so, but that is about as deep as our involvement should be.

    I’m not much of a Trump fan. He is every A-hole boss I ever worked for writ large. I like a few things he has done, I don’t like a lot of things. That said, he is his own worst enemy and he makes it too easy for his enemies. He seems to have a pathological need to always have an answer; to be the smartest guy in the room whether or not he has any knowledge of a situation. If he could learn to say “we are studying thus and such issue and will make a statement when we are ready” instead of spouting a bunch of stuff (I want to say BS but it is too potentially inflammatory) whenever asked he would deprive every journalist within hearing of the pleasure or pain of proving that once again he had no knowledge of what he was talking about.

    Reply
  7. gtem

    Off topic but seeking input from Jack and others:

    I’ve got a burning desire to try out dirt/paved oval track racing in the cheap “hornet”/fwd class, or the upcoming Ford panther division as mentioned in the last ice racing installment. Also have a kiddo on the way. At what point in young parenting would it be reasonable/possible to dip ones’ toes into a bit of cheap racing? I’m assuming I’ll have my hands so full that it won’t be until they (plural:2,3?) are starting grade school and I’ll relegate myself to spectating and living vicariously in the mean time. Anyone have any experience? I really wish I had gotten this bright idea about 3 years ago when I had massively less responsibility.

    Reply
    • Reese B

      I have no good advice on how to do this while managing a family, but speaking as generally as possible, I don’t think you’ll regret taking whatever small steps you can towards getting out there, and don’t turn down any opportunity that you’re even remotely able to accept, even if it’s unclear how you’ll actually fulfill it.

      Not that I’d recommend taking advantage of anyone’s kindness, but if you can find (or afford) indefinite storage, just extend the timeline and get out when you can.

      Reply
    • Jack BaruthJack Baruth Post author

      If you can put 2-3 hours a week into your car, you can go hornet racing in the spring/summer. The key is in making time on a consistent basis. If you have time to sit down and look at your computer… take that time and work on the car.

      Reply
      • -Nate

        *THIS* .

        It’s how I manage to have the bewildering array of junkers, er fleet of fine classics i do :

        Biy ’em as junk and work your behind off making them at least run and handle properly if maybe not look great, that part takes $$$ and skills I don’t have .

        For ice racing the looks aren’t important but learning how to weld would be good .

        -Nate

        Reply
      • gtem

        Honestly more than a time or even money thing, I think the optics of the whole situation is what dooms the whole endeavor at the moment. If I can get a few buddies to pitch in AND it’s stored elsewhere, then maybe.

        The cars themselves don’t look too pricey or difficult to mess with, here’s a turn-key Civic that’s already been inspected for the speedrome for $1k. Worse case scenario the D series pops and you go junkyard shopping for a new one to swap in:

        https://indianapolis.craigslist.org/cto/d/97-honda-civic-ex-5-spd-racer/6757002391.html

        Reply
  8. carrya1911

    As best I can tell, Kashoggi seemed to be an opponent of the recent bend towards moderation that the Saudi crown has taken…under pressure from a new foreign policy team that isn’t inclined to play to lose as we’ve essentially done for the last 50 years and the realities of needing US backing to counter Iranian hegemony.

    In other words, Kashoggi was a guy trying to keep Saudi as the entity that funded the 9/11 attacks, funded the spread of Wahhabist Islam that has spread an islamist cancer across the world, and generally being an unforgivable asshole. Which, when you consider the predilections of the Washington Post, figures.

    I’m at a loss as to why I should give a flying fuck that the Saudis…who have been specialists in barbarism for longer than I’ve been on this planet…decided to do what Saudis have done to shitloads of other people to this particular guy. Other than it would be a possible cudgel to use against Trump and attempts to break up the 1,000 points of light global order pushed by all the smart people who never met a country they didn’t want to invade but get the vapors over the idea of using our own troops to defend our own borders.

    The Saudis are thugs.

    As long as the Kingdom exists, it will be propped up by thuggery.

    The question is do we have Saudi thugs intent on setting Western Civilization on fire and producing yet more Bin Ladens, or do we have Saudi thugs who are busy trying to counter a common enemy in Iran and who, as a result, are less damaging to our interests.

    It’s fucking hilarious watching people who have portrayed Castro as a complex figure now suddenly demand that the United States do something dramatic because one old school Saudi thug got butchered in an embassy in Turkey.

    Turkey, by the way, being a nation that has imprisoned and abused scores of journalists with nowhere near the level of acrimony displayed that we see over Kashoggi.

    To quote a friend in a think tank: Follow the money. Whose interests are served by pushing this as a huge deal? Turkey’s increasingly dictatorial Erdogan for one. The old Saudi establishment. People in DC who got lots of funding from the old Saudi establishment…including lots of DC think tanks. Etc.

    The establishment types in DC picked an awful strange time to suddenly get queasy about Saudi thuggery. There are reasons for that and altruism ain’t among them.

    Reply
  9. Kevin Jaeger

    I’m certainly done caring about what Arabs do to each other. There’s a massive slaughter happening in Yemen and Syria and honestly, our main concern should be to ensure no one runs out of ammunition.

    I noticed when Iran and Iraq were busy with each other they tended to bother the rest of us a lot less. Let us hope that one of these civil wars ends up serving a similar purpose – in which case we should stand back and sell them weapons.

    I used to care a little bit about that part of the world, and I figured if they just had a chance to overthrow some of those thuggish regimes something better would follow. I have been fully disabused of that notion by now.

    Reply
    • gtem

      “Our main concern should be to ensure no one runs out of ammunition”

      Why? The vast majority of people over there are perfectly normal humans that would love to just be left alone and raise families. Inviting unrest by having the CIA funnel weapons to Islamist head-choppers doesn’t do anyone any favors. Liberated Aleppo was able to have a lit Christmas tree for the first time in years when the Syrian army retook control. Secular-ish strongmen seem to be the only recipe for a palatable level of stability, prosperity, and things like education and rights for women in that part of the world. But don’t try telling Hillary that, that’s mansplaining.

      ” and I figured if they just had a chance to overthrow some of those thuggish regimes something better would follow.”

      Reformed neocon eh?

      Reply
      • Panzer

        You Russians just don’t get it do you?
        You have your hazy memories about how great everything was under Brezhnev and how you ‘beat the Fascists’ with 27 million dead – like that number makes you better than us – and so you act like Fascist dictatorships are the way to go. *facepalm*
        No, headchoppers funded by the Saudis are not the answer, but it amazes me how you people default to Autocracy – That shit breeds the headchoppers. The only reason why the Russian Federation remains solvent is its natural wealth. You all act like you’re better than the Ukrainians, but in reality you’d be doing worse than them without the Oil.

        Reply
    • carrya1911

      Well…the US government is trying to tax the UK Royal family because one of them made the mistake of marrying a US citizen.

      There’s no limit to our government’s appetite to do fucked up shit.

      Reply

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