Wednesday, August 30, 2006

AP v. Reality

AP reporter Robert Burns covered a speech by Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld yesterday about Iraq and terrorism. With the customary partisan zeal, Burns did a typical AP job of spinning, fabricating, and doing both ham-fistedly. QandO lays it out point by point. #2 is the one that really makes me shake my head slowly:

What AP says Rumsfeld said:
In unusually explicit terms, Rumsfeld portrayed the administration's critics as suffering from "moral or intellectual confusion" about what threatens the nation's security and accused them of lacking the courage to fight back.

What Rumsfeld said:
Over the next decades, a sentiment took root that contended that if only the growing threats that had begun to emerge in Europe and Asia could be appeased, then the carnage and destruction of then-recent memory of World War I might be avoided. It was a time when a certain amount of cynicism and moral confusion set in among the western democracies. When those who warned about a coming crisis — the rise of fascism and Nazism — were ridiculed and ignored.

Indeed, in the decades before World War II, a great many argued that the fascist threat was exaggerated — or that it was someone else’s problem. Some nations tried to negotiate a separate peace — even as the enemy made its deadly ambitions crystal clear.

It was, as Churchill observed, a bit like feeding a crocodile, hoping it would eat you last.

There was a strange innocence in views of the world. Someone recently recalled one U.S. Senator’s reaction in September 1939, upon hearing that Hitler had invaded Poland to start World War II. He exclaimed:

"Lord, if only I could have talked with Hitler, all this might have been avoided.”

Think of that!

[...]

And in every army, there are occasionally bad actors — the ones who dominate the headlines today — who don’t live up to the standards of their oath and of our country.

But you also know that they are a small percentage of the hundreds of thousands of honorable men and women in all theaters in this struggle who are serving with humanity and decency in the face of constant provocation.

And that is important in this “long war,” where any kind of moral and intellectual confusion about who and what is right or wrong can severely weaken the ability of free societies to persevere.

Wha . . . how . . . ? Rumsfeld didn't come close to saying what Burns claims he did. Burns simply cherry-picked (inaccurately) two similar phrases -- which Rumsfeld used to warn, first, against an inarguably destructive 1930s post-war mindset and, second, of the consequences of military misconduct -- and twisted it into an alleged accusation leveled disparagingly at administration critics.

It's a lie. It's the AP.

Most frightening of all: Forbes, CNN, ABC, and even FOX ran with it, unedited. As QandO so neatly puts it, "And you wonder how myths and memes get started?"

(h/t/ Power Line)

More "Peace" Activism from the Left

The city of San Francisco has approved a permit for local defense attorney Robert Breeze to hold a "Death to Israel" rally. Breeze brandishes the typical intellect we've come to expect from the Left. In his words:

The President of Iran has an excellent idea. . . . I would like to see them move Israel to Virginia and put all the current Virginians in a concentration camp. Then we'll see how popular Israel is [in the United States].

Now, I don't see this as a First Amendment issue. Any second-year law student knows that a government entity is virtually forbidden to ban speech on the basis of its content. Although exceptions can apply, I don't think those exceptions apply here. [As an interesting thought experiment, however, consider what that particular city would do if presented with an application for a "Death to Palestine" or "Death to Castro" rally.]

What piques my interest here is the flagrance of this particular example of anti-semitism from yet another left-wing nutjob. Usually, the "Death to Israel" mantra gets chanted at nominally "Pro-Palestinian" or "anti-war" rallies. Here, the very purpose of the rally is to invoke the eradication of the Jewish nation.

Of course, Breeze offers the now-tired, predictable (and totally unbelievable) self-defense of anti-semites everywhere: "I've never really discriminated against anybody that is Jewish. It's not anti-Semitic to criticize Israel."

How about to call for its eradication?

Plame-less

Remember the Valerie Plame "scandal"? Remember how a special prosecutor was appointed to investigate the "leak" of a "covert" CIA agent's identity by "White House officials" to "exact revenge" against the agent's "diplomat" husband, Joe Wilson? Remember how Newsweek (and other media outlets) were trumpeting the "imminent indictment" of Vice President Cheney for being the "leaker"? Remember how the President was accused of "thuggishness" and petty "score-settling"? Remember the howls from Democrats that the leaker should be "frog marched" out of the West Wing?

Yeah. Well, not so much. The Plame saga ended this week with the revelation that Plame's identity was revealed to Bob Novak by Richard Armitage, a former State Department official who has been an outspoken critic of the Bush administration since long before he left his Foggy Bottom post.

This was Big Headline Stuff when the media thought they might get to mount Cheney's (or Rumsfeld's or Perl's) head on a wall. And now that the "leaker" is a Bush opponent?

Cue crickets.

Not surprisingly, Christopher Hitchens does the best job of wrapping up the affair. If you don't read Hitchens, start doing so. If you really want to know what this Plame story is all about, go to Hitchens' website and read some of his old articles about Joe Wilson, his trip to Niger, the yellowcake uranium issue, and the real upshot of the "outing" scandal. Do so, and you'll understand the difference between an administration trying to fight a war and an opposition party that is more interested in opposing the administration than in winning the war.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Great News

I'm back, and still trying to dig my way through more than a week's worth of accumulated mail, email, voice messages, etc. I'll resume regular posting once I can see my desk. For the time being, I offer this bit of cheerfully delightful (if unofficial) news:

Saddam Hussein was forced to watch the South Park Movie. Repeatedly.

If you haven't seen the animated movie, suffice to say Saddam appears as himself . . . engaged in a gay relationship with Satan.

I just hope someone translated the movie for Saddam so he wouldn't miss any of the many, many jokes crafted at the expense of his dignity.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

A Pause

Alas, just as I was picking up momentum, professional obligations will tear me away from blogging for a week or so. I hope my regular readers (both of you) will come back once I resume posting. Check back around the 28th.

Color Me Stunned

A group of 85 high-profile entertainment figures apparently took out an ad in today's L.A. Times to opine about the current situation in the Middle East. Take a moment and imagine what it might say.

Yeah, that's what I thought, too. But we were wrong. The Australian Herald Sun summarizes:
NICOLE Kidman has made a public stand against terrorism.

The actress, joined by 84 other high-profile Hollywood stars, directors, studio bosses and media moguls, has taken out a powerfully-worded full page advertisement in today's Los Angeles Times newspaper.

It specifically targets "terrorist organisations" such as Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in Palestine.

"We the undersigned are pained and devastated by the civilian casualties in Israel and Lebanon caused by terrorist actions initiated by terrorist organisations such as Hezbollah and Hamas," the ad reads.

"If we do not succeed in stopping terrorism around the world, chaos will rule and innocent people will continue to die.

"We need to support democratic societies and stop terrorism at all costs."

A who's who of Hollywood heavyweights joined Kidman on the ad.

The actors listed included: Michael Douglas, Dennis Hopper, Sylvester Stallone, Bruce Willis, Danny De Vito, Don Johnson, James Woods, Kelly Preston, Patricia Heaton and William Hurt. Directors Ridley Scott, Tony Scott, Michael Mann, Dick Donner and Sam Raimi also signed their names.

Other Hollywood powerplayers supporting the ad included Sumner Redstone, the chairman and majority owner of Paramount Pictures, and billionaire mogul, Haim Saban.

Are we actually seeing Hollywood liberals making a moral stand against terrorism? Making value judgments about other cultures? Refraining from blaming George Bush and American imperialism for at least some of the world's problems? Holy smokes.

Seeing Bruce Willis listed is unsurprising. But Dennis Hopper? Huh. Perhaps it's time to replace the U.N. with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. The brainpower level is comparably low, but at least the latter is willing to call a terrorist a terrorist.

(via Powerline)

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

I Wish I'd Thought of That

Why vote for Democrats? Because if you do, they'll cure cancer.

Simple as that.

Israel: To the Right

I do not follow Israeli politics closely. But I am generally aware that the center of gravity in Israel's Knesset (Parliament) shifted toward the center (if not to the left) when Ariel Sharon left his traditionally right-wing Likkud party and formed Kadima, a coalition built largely on the premise that Israel must abandon certain occupied terrorities in order to forge lasting peace. It was as a member of Kadima that Sharon served as Prime Minister from 2005 until his incapacitation earlier this year. (Sharon also had previously been Prime Minister for five years while a member of Likkud.)

Sharon's change of heart notwithstanding, he is near death and no longer a political force. In the wake of what Israelis are widely perceiving as a failure by the government to exert sufficient military muscle during the recent conflict with Hezbollah, what political changes are in the offing?

My uneducated guess is that things are about to shift dramatically to the right. Kadima's star will fade and Likkud will re-emerge. Israel flirted briefly with a policy of disengagement and forbearance with respect to surrounding states and terrorist groups. I imagine that experiment, having failed, is over.

Israel depends on deterrence. The cease-fire with Hamas damages Israel because it gives hope to those terror groups (and states) that would take up arms against the Jewish nation. Ergo, the next time things flare up (oh, and they will), Israel will have to work double-time to restore the requisite dread of its military prowess. In other words, when Hezbollah regroups (oh, and it will), Israel will combine airstrikes and a full ground invasion -- scorched earth-style -- and bad press be damned. I won't be surprised if targeted assassinations of Hamas leaders in Gaza and the West Bank pick up again, too.

Israel will never win a public relations battle. But as Golda Meir famously said: "Better a critical editorial than a praiseworthy obituary."

Monday, August 14, 2006

Realism Unburdened by Reality

Lee Hamilton, director of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington has a curiously obtuse op-ed in the Indy Star today. Hamilton seems to be hearkening for a return to realism in international policy. His thesis is that the United States must recognize the limitations of its ability to effect change in other nations and must govern its strategy accordingly. In Hamilton's words, "[t]hat means we have to apply our power pragmatically." In vague terms, I have no problem with this truism.

Realism, of course, was the predecessor approach to the current administration's much-misunderstood "neo-conservatism." Realism dominated American foreign policy during most of the twentieth century, and it held -- still holds -- that we should seek international stability -- even if that sometimes means dealing with dictators and taking a hands-off approach to situations abroad that offend our classical liberal values.

Neo-conservativism, by contrast, pushes the principles of freedom and democracy to the fore of foreign-policy decision making, on the premise that -- ultimately -- the spread of democratic values will dry up the swamp of radicalism and the helpless hopelessness that drives subjugated populations throughout the world to blame their lots -- increasingly violently -- on external forces (namely, the West).

I'm not taking sides in the realist v. neocon debate. But I am compelled to point out some intellectually dishonest components of Hamilton's push for the former.

First, Hamilton prescibes his preferred policy in re: weapons of mass destruction:
We should oppose the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, but not invade a nation because they are suspected of seeking these weapons. The better and more sustainable way to proceed is through a strong, international arms control framework -- with multilateral efforts to secure dangerous materials, highly intrusive inspections of all countries, and robust pressure on those who break the rules. Had we allowed intrusive United Nations inspections to continue in Iraq, we could have gotten a clearer idea of the threat, and could have altered Iraq's behavior without an invasion.

This last sentence is stunningly misleading. It presumes that the United States prevented the U.N. from conducting thorough inspections in Iraq. In fact, it was Saddam Hussein who shut down the inspections. President Bush and then-Secretary of State Colin Powell could not have gone to greater lengths to try and persuade Saddam -- by means of the U.N. Security Council -- to restart the inspections as a condition to preventing war. To blame the U.S. for Saddam's intransigence is so provably obtuse as to call Hamilton's motives into question.

As for the "multilateral efforts" Hamilton ballyhoos -- how are things going so far with Iran? The "strong, international arms control regime" already exists. The system of "highly intrusive inspections" already exists. And "robust pressure" has already been applied. But at the end of the day, they all depend on the consent of the target state. Isn't that the very program that failed with respect to Iraq? Iran? North Korea? At bottom, it's all talk. When a regime refuses to comply with international demands, there has to be a next step. The U.N. will never take that step because most of the world treats "multilateralism" as an end unto itself, rather than a means to achieving some useful progress.

Hamilton continues:
Regime change is desirable when faced with particularly odious governments, but we can modify the behavior of regimes without using force. Communist regimes changed across Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union without an American shot being fired. The way to seek similar results in other countries is through economic and political engagement or pressure. Nations should not fear us unless they take action that directly threatens our vital interests.

Here, Hamilton neglects to explain that realism prevailed in the Cold War because a fundamental prerequisite for successful realist policy existed in respect to the Soviet Union; the Soviets were also realists -- they were rational actors. That doesn't mean communism is rational. What it means is that Soviets made decisions based on a cost-benefit analysis that placed primary value on survival. It was because decision-makers on both sides of that conflict feared annihilation that the world escaped nuclear devastation.

Try and apply that doctrine to Islamic apocalypticians who view death in the quest to destroy infidels as the noblest of endeavors. What do they fear? Only failure -- not death. Given that Islamic radicalism poses the single gravest threat to peace and stability in the world, it is rather lazy of Hamilton to ignore it in the course of his preaching, particularly because the ideological problem he ignores increasingly dovetails with the weapons-proliferation problem about which he facilely prescribes dependence on cooperation.

Hamilton does allow for the use of force in the case of "an imminent threat to national security," but he insists that it must be undertaken only with "international support" so we don't lose "legitimacy." This is actually something of a departure from realism as I understand it. Yes, it is important to have and keep allies. And yes, influence matters, and the appearance of "legitimacy" is important in retaining influence in the world. But a realist government that determines it must use force to stave off "an imminent threat to national security" cannot be deterred from action because France prefers to think humanity has trancended the passee need for such barbarie or because a United Nations populated by tinpot dictators thinks keeping a lid on American military might is Job One.

Hamilton's piece limps to a conclusion by boldly proclaiming the merits of eradicating AIDS, promoting free trade, and reducing dependence on fossil fuels. Hooray.

In sum, however, Hamilton makes a case for a brand of realism that is both blind to the most pressing ideological threat in the world today and slavish in its deference to internationalist processes and institutions that have consistently proven themselves roadblocks to the pursuit of American interests. It reads rather like an eloquent version of a Kerry campaign speech.

(via RealClearPolitics)

Insert Here

Venezuelan Presidente Hugo Chavez provides a rare, insider's view of what it takes to prop up a dictator.

Cuban Presidente Fidel Castro will presumably be up and around once that funky-looking object has been reinserted. No word on when the, er, procedure will take place, but Fidel is quite plainly looking forward to it.

(Seriously, look how . . . lovingly Fidel and Hugo grip that . . thing. Creepy.)

Islam in Britain

London's Observer carried a shocking editorial yesterday. It's shocking -- for the left-wing rag -- because it dares conclude that British Muslims have no justification for becoming terrorists.

So that's good news. Now the bad news -- the comments section provides a great deal of insight into the prevailing mentality of British Muslims (and, in some instances, socialists). Here are a few quotes:
  • Why are you being so defensive? It is absolutely true that Islamic terrorism is provoked by Western aggression against Moslem countries.
  • This piece might as well have been written by Rush Limbaugh. You cannot have a serious discussion about any form of terrorism without addressing political grievances.
  • Good point that these allegations of a terror plot are just that at this time, and the timing could not be better for Mr. Blair.
  • Now I know why I gave up buying the Observer! Nobody, apart from Bush and Blair, has ever suggested that the cause of terrorism is 'Islamic fascism'.
  • The crimes comitted by the British Empire far outway anything done by Islamic extremist but of course they don't count do they.
  • I suggest that the real culprit hiding behind these other countries is the Anglo-Saxon/Zionist racist upper class.
  • Since when have the government spoken a single word of truth concerning the so-called war on terror. Lets be clear its nothing more than a propaganda campaign to get us to give up our freedoms, democracy and to hand the country over to the big corporations that own New Labor
  • As it has often been said. "It`s all about the oil."

And on and on and on. It's the West! It's the Joooos! The poor Muslims just can't help themselves. Murder is inevitable.

(So submit or die, infidel.)

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Attack of the Phones

Below the fold of this week's London terror bust story has been what seems a ceaseless stream of reports of (mostly) middle eastern men in the U.S. being arrested on suspicion of terror-related activities. In each of these incidents, it has been reported that the suspects were in possession of huge (or at least larger than normal) quantities of mobile phones.

It started with the arrest of two men in Dearborn, Michigan on terror-financing and money-laundering charges. The men had recently purchased 600 phones in Ohio (they also had a map of every Wal-Mart from Ohio to North Carolina).

Just yesterday, three Pakistani men were arrested in Michigan after they bought dozens of phones (three at a time -- the store limit); they were found to have more than 1000 in their possession altogether.

Earlier in the week, two men from Georgia (the country -- not the state) were busted outside of Pittsburgh with 15 prepaid phones and $4200 in cash. And bad visas (the INS papers -- not the credit cards).

In addition, an unidentified man attempted to purchase more than the "store maximum" number of cell phones at a dollar store in Saginaw, Michigan yesterday. He got away.

This rash of phone-fetishism might lead a terrorism-wary American to ask, "WTF?"

At least some of these suspects contend that they purchased the phones in order to sell them at a profit overseas. Maybe. But that doesn't explain the very specific Hezbollah-support charges pending against the Dearborn purchasers. Or maybe it does.

At least some law enforcement officials believe this phone-resale scheme may be a pointed fund-raising effort specifically for terrorist groups.

Putting aside that the resale/fundraising scenario may be true (and it may), what else, exactly, might terrorists do with thousands of cell phones? We know cell phones have become popular remote detonators for improvised explosive devices in Iraq. Might they be put to the same use here? If so, where are the explosives?

Perhaps terror groups might use the phones in a disposable fashion -- that is -- discarding them after a single use to make it harder for law enforcement to trace them or track them.

Whatever the reality is (and I suspect we'll learn more in the coming week) -- somethin' just ain't right. Watch this one.

(h/t Michelle Malkin)

Friday, August 11, 2006

Magic Time

Be sure and pour out a little Manishewitz tonight for the IDF, kids.

I am Shocked, SHOCKED

London liquid-explosives terror suspect Waheed Zaman reportedly met "many times" with far-left British member of Parliament George Galloway. For the good of the community.

Galloway denies it. Which is almost surprising, given Galloway's well-documented and unabashed willingess to support terrorism.

Whether George spent time musing jihad with Waheed or not, it's good to know that Waheed "had a lot of respect" for George. Now there's an endorsement even Ned Lamont could be proud of.

Let's See . . . I'll Take Modern Middle Eastern Leaders for $500 please, Alex (with apologies to Jeff Goldstein)

Alex Trebek: Okay, Benedick. And the answer is: "reasonable," "not anti-Jewish," "sincere hope for peaceful coexistence with the West," "impressive," "smart as Hell," "rational," "rather attractive," "savvy," and "good looking."

Benedick:

Trebek: 10 seconds, Benedick.

Benedick:

Trebek: Time's almost --

Benedick: -- Er, Queen Noor?

Trebek: Ooh. Sorry. SORRY, Benedick. The answer we were looking for is, "Words Mike Wallace used to describe Mahmoud Ahmadinejad."

Benedick:

Trebek: But that's okay, you still have the board.

Benedick:

Trebek: Benedick, please select a category. And please, er . . . stop . . . glaring at me like -- like that.

Benedick: You've got to be fucking kidding me, Trebek. That's bullshit. Ahmadinejad -- the guy who said he was going to nuke Israel and that the U.S. would be next? That Ahmadinejad?

Trebek: Benedick, please don't get angry with me. I didn't even write the question, let alone interview the President of Iran. The quotes are accurately attributed to Mr. Wallace. I'm not agreeing with him, mind you. I mean, I'm a frickin' pacifist Canadian and I know that nutjob needs to die already.

Benedick: Wallace or Ahmadinejad?

Trebek: Do I need to choose one?

Thursday, August 10, 2006

On the Bright Side . . .

. . . allow yourself to stop and reflect on the fact that the bad guys had a really, really bad day today. That's a lot of planning, training, money, personnel, and operational security down the drain.

And, by the way, Fox News just confirmed that the plot was unearthed by an undercover British agent. God Bless you, 007. Now disappear on a life raft with a hottie for awhile. You've earned it.

Benedick's 100% Foolproof, Easy-As-Pie, Eight-Step Program For Ending Once-And-For-All The Threat Of Radical Islamic Terrorism

Step 1: Destroy Israel.

Step 2: Withdraw all American troops from all over the world; bring 'em home (because we support them).

Step 3: Repeat after me: "There is no God but Allah, and Mohammed is His Prophet." Again. AGAIN!

Step 4: "Honey, try this burka on for size. Yes, I know it's hard to breathe, but it's for peace."

Step 5: Behead all the infidels on your block who refuse to give up their heathen gods.

Step 6: Arm your children and teach them to hate the dog-pig-monkey Jews.

Step 7: Lalalalalalalalalalalalala!


Step 8: Kick back and enjoy a nice warm cup of qahwah.

London Terror Plot Update:

It's all Bush's fault.

Let's hear it for the liberals. Way to keep your eye on the ball, gang.

UPDATED (8:31 p.m.): This is nice, too: Britain just apprehended 21 terrorists who were imminently expected to blow up 10 American commercial airliners, the FBI nabbed two terrorist suspects in possession of "airline information" in Michigan the day before, but President Bush's real reason for raising the terror threat level to "severe" was to deflect attention from Ned Lamont primary win in Connecticut.

This sort of claim evidences malicious dishonesty, hyperemotional derangement or abject stupidity.

(Possibly more than one of the above.)

Fauxtography: The Definitive Word (So Far)

The blog Zombietime has done us all the favor of summarizing the entire fake-photography issue in a single post. Of course, there will be more. This story's only a few days old and widens every day.

Meanwhile, Powerline points out that the Green-helmeted man featured in so many pictures of the dead and wounded in Qana is not, as our media have claimed, a civil defense worker or a medic or a rescuer. He is a Hezbollah propaganda director. Powerline's source, of all things, is the German media. (Huh, who'da thunkit. Good for them.) Go watch the video.

What Terrorist Threat?

In case you haven't turned on a television or a radio in the past 6 hours, you should know that British authorities have uncovered (and stopped) a massive plot to explode airplanes en route from London to points in the United States. Apparently, the Brits have been following this plot closely for some time and sprung early this morning because the attacks were "imminent." Which is to say, had they not intervened, we'd all be huddled in front of our televisions right now or heading to our sub-basements.

The British authorities have arrested 21 (apparently) British-born Muslim men, who were planning to smuggle liquid explosives disguised as beverages and detonators dressed up as common electronics onto airplanes. They reportedly planned to explode the planes in mid-air.
8/10 could have become the next bleak milestone after 9/11 and 7/7. We thank the British counterterrorism folks for their fine work. I am certain the Muslim community in Britain will be outraged -- by the arrests, of course, not by the plot.

U.S. air travel will be highly inconvenient for awhile, as the threat level has been raised, and passengers are not permitted to bring any kind of liquid, lotion or gel as a carry-on item. But this is a win.

("There is no terrorist threat," right, Michael Moore?)

Not surprisingly, the conservative blogs are all over this, and Michelle Malkin even posted last night (before the UK plot story broke) a summary of the arrests of two suspected terrorists in Dearborn, Michigan. Some quick facts on those arrests:

Deputies stopped Osama Sabhi Abulhassan, 20, and Ali Houssaiky, 20, both of Dearborn, Mich., on a traffic violation Tuesday and found the flight documents along with $11,000 cash and 12 phones in their car, Washington County Sheriff Larry Mincks said.

Abulhassan and Houssaiky admitted buying about 600 phones in recent months at stores in southeast Ohio, said sheriff's Maj. John Winstanley. They sold the phones to someone in
Dearborn, a Detroit suburb, Winstanley said.



It's unclear whether the Dearborn arrests are related to the UK plot, but we'll undoubtedly learn more in the coming days.

So, while conservative blogs join mainstream America in being highly attuned to this morning's reminder that we are embroiled in a war with those who seek to murder us at every turn, what are the left-wing blogs focused on? DailyKos -- the cornerstone of the left-wing blogosphere -- doesn't seem to notice. This morning's headlines over there range from Lieberman's defeat (of course), poll results in Ohio, and . . . well, several more articles gloating about Lieberman's defeat. Not a word about the foiled terror plot.

Why? I suspect it's because even acknowledging that such a plot existed would lend credence to what President BusHitler has been harping on about for the last five years. You know -- the War on Terror, extremist ideology bent on our destruction, Islamic fascism seeking to wipe out Western freedoms, blah blah blah.

Under no circumstances may a Kos devotee write anything that could be construed as anything but a flat denouncement of the BushCheneyHalliburton monster. Must . . . ignore . . . reality.

Why Israel Fights

The guys at PowerLine have been kind enough to supply this video, created by an Israeli freelance journalist and television producer. Just click the play button in the lower left-hand corner.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

More Photo Fraud . . . Lots More

As has become customary, as soon as one blogger discovered a piece of evidence demonstrating fraud perpetrated by the MSM, other bloggers have joined the hunt. The result is a dizzying array of photos that are, as it turns out, facially fake or staged.

It started, you'll recall, with a photoshopped picture by Adnan Hajj (who has since been fired by Reuters). But there's oh, so much more.

Jeff Goldstein at Protein Wisdom and Michelle Malkin collect the results of blogger scrutiny.

In perhaps my favorite example, Gatewaypundit demonstrates -- devastatingly -- that the New York Times ran a staged photo of a dead body. Staged, you ask? How can you tell? A broader review of the whole sequence of photos demonstrates that the body isn't dead at all. It (he) is posing. Don't believe me? Look for yourself.

Here's the photo the NYT ran:



Okay. Dead guy. Check. Take note of a few things, though -- his shorts, for example, and his lack of a shirt. Pay attention, because you will see this material again. (You might also note that, for a body dragged from a bombed-out building, every part of his body -- except his palms -- is amazingly dust-free.) I know this sounds callous, but bear with me.

Now, here are several other shots taken the same day -- after the same airstrike -- by the same photographer. In this first one, check out the guy with no shirt (his back to the camera). Recognize those shorts? Oh, and for future reference, take note of the hat he's wearing. And keep in mind that what he is apparently doing is picking up debris.



In this next one (below), shirtless, hat-wearing guy is assisting the photographer, pointing something out in the rubble. This is a better view of his face.



In this next one, shirtless, hat-wearing guy has left the photographer, presumably so he can return to his duties assisting in picking through the rubble. Again: hat, shorts, no shirt.



Now, the shirtless guy in the hat in each of the previous three pictures looks very much alive. You got all that? Good. Now look once again at a larger version of the dead-guy photo (below).



It's the Same Guy. Same shorts. No shirt. And -- oh, what's that clenched between his left elbow and his body? It's his hat! Don't want to lose that during the photo shoot. Of course, the only dirty parts of the guy's body are his hands. Might that have something to do with the fact that, moments earlier, he was picking through debris in front of the same photographer?

In fact, now that you've seen the evidence laid out, there are some other questions that might come to mind. Like, where's the evidence of trauma to the body (e.g., blood)? What exactly is tank-top guy trying to do? Is that any way to remove a body from a bomb scene? And, given the energy with which the bystanders in the previous photos were scurrying in search of something, why are none of the folks in the background of the main photo in any way interested in tank-top guy's discovery?

This last photo -- the one the New York Times published -- is an obvious fraud. The photographer certainly knew it (having earlier received personal assistance from the same individual now playing dead). One must accept either that the Times' photo editor is less capable of spotting fakery than layman bloggers are, or that the Times ran the photo knowing it was staged. Either way, how much can we rely on Times' coverage of this war? Of anything?

And that, folks, is not even close to everything. Check out Jeff and Michelle for more, including a hysterical sequence of photos in which various, pristine-condition childrens' toys are found miraculously laying around unscathed on top of assorted heaps of rubble. Sublog has dubbed it the "Passion of the Toys." Definitely take a look.

And it's only going to get worse as the blogosphere continues its work. Bias in the media? Noooo.

Results

So, McKinney's out. Finally. County Commissioner Hank Johnson took 59% in the Georgia 4th Congressional District Democratic primary, and Cynthia will have to go find a new forum for race-baiting and conspiracy-theorizing.

In Connecticut, Lieberman lost to upstart Ned Lamont -- albeit more narrowly than was expected. Now Lieberman will seek the same Senate seat as an independent. What happens as a result of this primary will have repercussions throughout Congress. Lamont is a creature of the far-left. Can he win a general election in a state filled with historically independent-minded voters? If he does, what signal will that send America regarding the center of gravity of the Democratic Party?

Stay tuned.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Finally?


Might we finally be rid of Cynthia McKinney (again)? Early returns have her down 73.8% to 26.2% in her primary runoff against the decidedly less insane Hank Johnson.

McKinney, of course, is famous for such memorable displays of public service as:
  • striking a capitol police offer and later calling him a racist for doing his job;
  • accusing George Bush of having known about the 9/11 attacks in advance and allowing them to happen in order to help the Carlyle Group with its defense-industry investments;
  • introducing legislation to reopen the investigation into the death of rapper Tupac Shakur; and
  • accusing Department of Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff of "negligent homicide" in connection with Hurricane Katrina.
It's all public record.

Then there was the time her dad blamed "The J-E-W-S" for McKinney's failed 2002 re-election bid. Which is quaint.

It's time Cynthia left "public service." For good this time.

This Just In . . .


. . . from the "Are You Frickin' Kidding Me" Department. ABC News has just published a breathy expose, reporting that -- wait for it -- President Bush is "overweight." Actually, the headline uses the word "chunky."

Where was ABC News when we had a president who was actually so fat that his secret service codename was "Porkchop"? Presumably making apologies for his "indiscretions." Like it did in a completely pointless 2004 article.

But it must be known to all that Bush is fat. 'Attaway to speak truth to power, folks. Isn't there any, y'know, news happening today?

Baby Steps

I was surprised and delighted to receive a kind e-mail from Brad Sparks, the proprietor of a website called mixeye.com, graciously offering to publish my "Takedown" post from yesterday to his readers. I gratefully accepted the offer, as this sort of exposure is precisely what a new blogger prays for.

Not surprisingly, I'm happy to commend Brad's site to Primary Reason readers. Mixeye covers a variety of timely and important issues -- ranging, presently for example, from the psychology of terrorism to amazing technological advances to medical atrocities in China. These matters (and others) are addressed from a variety of perspectives by some very talented writers.

Mixeye will permanently join our (currently short) list of links in the right-hand column.

Many thanks to Brad, the first established web publisher to welcome Primary Reason into the blogging community.

Big Day in Connecticut (Updated and Updated Again)

Today is Connecticut's Democratic Senate primary showdown between Joe Lieberman and Ned Lamont. If you haven't followed the race, the incumbent Lieberman has trailed in the polls as Lamont's far-left (mainly anti-war) rhetoric has infected the state's Democrats.

Lieberman is the Democrat whom Republicans love most, mainly because he has supported President Bush unapologetically in the ongoing struggle against Islamic terrorism. This is precisely the attribute that has made him vulnerable within his own party. Indeed, Lamont's cronies have subjected Lieberman to some really sick attacks, including a photoshop job depicting Sen. Lieberman in blackface (an alarmingly popular mode of political tantrum on the Left these days).

This morning's news reports show Lieberman having closed the gap in the primary, but some pundits believe Joe's chances of winning the general election are not diminished if he loses the Democratic nomination and runs as an independent (which he has pledged to do), in which case he'd own the centrists of both parties.

The really interesting thing about this primary is that it offers a glimpse at what amounts to a massive struggle for control of the Democratic Party. The Far-left thinks it has a choke-hold on things, thanks to its "netroots" movement (conservatives aren't the only ones who blog -- we just don't portray our political opponents in blackface). I hope they're wrong. We'll find out in November, but today's outcome will provide some tea leaves for pundits to peer at.

UPDATED (10:39 a.m.): I just came across this WSJ Op-Ed by Lanny Davis, a self-described "anti-war liberal" who served as special counsel to President Clinton for several years. Titling his piece "Liberal McCarthyism," Davis shares his recent experience with the extreme hatred of the far-left wing of the Democratic Party. Having committed the sin of supporting Lieberman, Davis and an unnamed fellow "anti-war liberal" were subjected to hateful e-mails, constant vitriol, and even physical threats.

Have any moderate Republicans out there been threatened or shunned because of their lack of extremism? I don't think so. But conservatives are the savages, eh?

UPDATED AGAIN (3:24 p.m.): Apparently, Lieberman's website and e-mail system have been under attack since last night. Lamont professes his ignorance of the matter. Hopefully, the Connecticut Attorney General will comply with Lieberman's request for an investigation. Can you even imagine what would happen if Republicans carried out DOS ("Denial of Service") attack like this on a Democratic candidate's website? I can. The Reverends (Al 'n Jesse) would be in front of a bank of microphones insisting that black voters were being disenfranchised.

(And CNN would be carrying it live.)

Monday, August 07, 2006

Surprise

Bloggers everywhere are presently scouring the work of Adnan Hajj, the Lebanese stringer for Reuters who has been caught doctoring photos. It appears most of the blogosphere is working on the Reuters or yahoo databases. So -- moving a step further -- what's in the google universe that can help us evaluate the motivations behind Hajj's manipulation?

Look below. I think this captures Hajj's neutrality nicely.












Below is another interesting one; the photo, by Hajj, accompanies an article about rabbis who support the Palestinian "right of return," which is the political mechanism by which (some) Muslims hope to destroy the existence of a Jewish state.














(If you're not familar with the "right of return" concept, look here: Wikipedia on "Right of Return.")

Note in particular the sign behind the rabbis. "Martyrs Square." Sounds like a quaint name for a suburban shopping center. (Probably a Hechinger's going in right behind.) And underneath, there's CNN's favorite word, "massacre." Is this a candid shot? Is it staged? It sure would seem to make an argument, namely: "Hey, look. Even some rabbis gathered at the site of Israeli atrocities/massacres/genocide to acknowledge that Israelis are devilish murderers! I guess the Palestinians were right all along."

Problem is, news photos shouldn't make arguments. The Hajj scandal is likely only the beginning. Bloggers around the world will be revisiting photos from a variety of news services published in recent years.

Read This Now.

Washington Post reporter accuses Israel of wanting its citizens to die for the PR value. Is his claim true? Of course not. Is it frightening that an MSM "journalist" is publishing such a thing?

Oh, indeed.

Takedown -- The Power of Blogs

[If you read blogs regularly, this is old news to you, so skip it.]

Inaugural readers of this page are undoubtedly acquaintances of mine (and acquaintances of my old friend who will soon co-blog here), most of whom are probably not regular blog readers. For your benefit, it's worth pointing out why I think this medium is so important and why I've opted to dip my toes in it.

A shifting segment of American news consumers have for years lamented the "liberal bias" in the mainstream media ("MSM"). For a while, it was just the hard-core Righties. More recently, closer-to-the-center types like myself have joined the ranks of the concerned. Our liberal friends categorically deny that any such bias exists, and they concurrently point to Fox News by way of arguing, "even if there is liberal bias on some networks (and I'm not saying there is), no matter, because it is countermanded by overt conservative bias on that so-called 'Fair and Balanced' cable giant."

Ideological impasse ensues.

The problem conservatives and/or Republicans (not precisely the same groups, mind you) had for decades was that the MSM had a monopoly on the mass distribution of ideas. A few networks controlled the images. A few newspapers controlled the narrative. Conservatives could complain at their imperialist cocktail parties about the unfairness of it all, but there was no one with the means and opportunity to demonstrate it methodically to a meaningfully broad public. News editors certainly weren't getting the job done -- at least not to the satisfaction of the aforementioned Rethuglican types.

Then the internet thing happened. And suddenly millions of people had the opportunity to reach vast audiences. The monopoly was over -- not a Berlin Wall moment exactly, but the beginning of a true sea change. More importantly (because millions of random jackasses with high-speed modems do not necessarily equal progress), smart, accomplished people from every conceivable discipline were able to bring their expertise to bear on public issues of the day.

A massive barrier was gone.

Suddenly, the MSM was subject to a layer of editorial scrutiny unparalleled in the history of mass communication. No matter what subject was covered in a news report (broadcast or print), somebody who was an expert on the topic could independently evaluate the coverage and expose manifest errors (intentional or otherwise). Not in a printed journal read only by university professors. Not in a letter to the editor. In a blog. Accessible to any curious soul with a modem.

The result? Demonstration by example:

In September 2004, during the peak of the presidential election campaign, CBS's Dan Rather broke the blockbuster story that President Bush had been afforded special treatment while in the National Guard, at the behest of politically connected senior officers. The source? National Guard memos dated 1973. Result? Scandal. Fireworks.

But within a matter of days, a little-known (outside techno-savvy conservative circles) blogger named Charles Johnson, proprietor of a blog called Little Green Footballs, took a sledge hammer to the memo, and -- thus -- to the story. He proved that the memos -- purportedly typed on a ca. 1973 typwriter, could actually be re-produced exactly using Microsoft Word in its Times New Roman font. Charles' efforts kicked off the dramatic unraveling of the entire affair, because other private citizens with internet connections pitched in. Typwriter repairmen, military clerks, and forensic document examiners alike reviewed the evidence and offered their educated opinions. They nearly unanimously agreed that the memos were not what they purported to be.

Turns out, the memos were indeed fakes that had been provided to CBS by a Texan kook with a long-standing political grudge against Republicans. Indeed, the kook had provided the memos to a CBS producer on the condition that CBS put him touch with the Kerry campaign. (Which was done.) In fact, after all the questions had been asked and answered, it became clear that at least the producers behind the story (and probably Rather and others) were ideologically motivated (and journalistically unethical), and that the whole thing was a sham. When the smoke cleared, all Dan Rather could say in defense -- defense! -- of the "story" was that the memos must have been "fake but accurate." Dan Rather, by the way, departed CBS shortly thereafter, ignominiously concluding 24 years as anchor and managing editor of CBS News. That's big.

That's blogging.

A couple of days ago, Charles did it again. This time, he caught a Lebanese Reuters photographer photoshopping a picture from Beirut to make the scene of an Israeli airstrike look more catastrophic. Not only does Reuters now have egg on its face (it has fired the photographer and pulled everything he ever shot for the firm), but other bloggers have discovered more fakes from the same photographer that were published by Reuters. The basics are below in the "Pallywood" post, but the story continues to develop (and widen), thanks to folks like the PowerLine guys and Jawa. A whole lot of what we've been fed visually about this conflict, it has become clear, has been faked or stage-managed, and all in an anti-Israeli direction. There are now dozens (if not more) photos under serious suspicion, and it's still early in the story.

Questions pile upon questions. How much of what we've seen from Reuters is true? Is this issue limited to the present Israel-Hezbollah conflict? Has it infected Iraq coverage? Is Reuters the only international media outlet that has employed Hezbollah- (or al qaeda-) sympathizing stringers? As this story grows -- and as other instances of journalistic fraud are exposed -- the blogs will increasingly make the public aware.

The net effect, we hope, will be that mass media outlets have no alternative but to be objective. With "An Army of Davids" waiting to pounce on any misstep, the media will have no choice but to rededicate themselves to neutral reporting. We hope.

And so we blog.

I Say, Madame, What Is That Scent You're Wearing?


It's Cheese!

CNN: ISRAEL MASSACRES LEBANESE CIVILIANS! (Updated)

(oh, and a few Israelis died, too.)

Since I'm rather new to blogging, I haven't yet grown weary of pointing out despicable bias in every-day reporting by MSM outlets. CNN, in my view, is the worst offender on television.

Today, CNN.com brings us a top story entitled, "Lebanon's PM: 'Horrific massacre' as 40 killed in airstrike." Here's how the story begins:

Lebanon's prime minister said Monday an Israeli airstrike on the southern village of Houla left 40 people dead.
"An hour ago, there was a horrific massacre in the village of Houla in which more than 40 martyrs were victims of deliberate bombing," Fouad Siniora told Arab foreign ministers in Beirut. A Lebanese law enforcement source told CNN an estimated 60 people were trapped in the rubble of homes in the Houla area. Six homes were destroyed, and fires engulfed the area, the source said.
The Lebanese president is taken at his word, of course. And that word -- massacre -- is too quickly applied to Israeli military actions in general (and repeated and repeated by CNN). It is applied even when the claimed number of deaths is completely false (i.e., Jenin), and even, as here, where Israel warned people ahead of time to leave BECAUSE IT WOULD BE DROPPING BOMBS SOON. If Israel meant to "massacre" civilians, why would it warn them? Do I really need to point out the idiocy of this accusation?

The piece then recounts the destruction of Lebanese homes, the spread of fires, other Israeli airstrikes, "heavy explosions," and even a further, apparently important quote from Lebanese Prime Minister Siniora: "If these horrific actions are not state terrorism then what is state terrorism?"

If Siniora is truly so ignorant that he cannot recognize the difference between state-sponsored terrorism (Hezbollah) and efforts of the terrorists' putative victims to defend themselves (Israel), then perhaps any hopes that Lebanon's new, "Democratic government" can co-exist peacefully with Israel are futile. I suspect, however, that his rhetoric is one part genuine grief and two parts self-preservation. He knows who wields the real power in Lebanon. It's not him -- it's Hezbollah. And his grief is undoubtedly fueled in part by his own impotence to de-fang Hezbollah, which is entirely the source of the Lebanese suffering.

Of course, CNN makes a cursory attempt to be "neutral." If you scroll down 19 paragraphs, you will see the following: "On Sunday, Hezbollah rocket attacks killed 15 Israelis." Of course, CNN quickly clarifies that a dozen of them were reservists. So they don't count as much, I guess.

UPDATE (12:05 p.m.): Here we go again. The good prime minister has now revised his "massacre" claim. Seems only one person died in the Israeli airstrike, not forty. Of course, since CNN splashed the "massacre" meme all over the globe earlier this morning, the bell cannot be unrung. Oopsie!

George Washington - The Musical

This little ditty's been making the e-mail rounds lately. It constitutes the Paul Bunyon-ization of our nation's first president. The tune's been stuck in my head for a week. Perhaps posting this LINK will purge my brain.

It's silly. It's wrong. It's, it's . . . "Six-foot twenty, @#$%ing killing for fun . . . ."

[Warning: contains profanity, adult themes, animated violence.]

Nagasaki Delusion

James Carroll's Boston Globe column this morning posits what he calls the "Nagasaki Principle," which is -- in his view -- a dual effect on the collective American psyche of having dropped a second nuclear bomb in the closing hours of World War II, a day after Hiroshima was decimated by the first. Carroll summarizes this dual effect thusly:

The Nagasaki principle comes in two parts. It can operate at the level of close combat, driving fighters to commit atrocities that, in normal conditions, they would abhor. It operates equally at the level of the commanders, leading them to order strikes out of desperation, frustration, or merely for the sake of ``doing something." Such strikes draw equivalent responses from the other side until the destruction is complete. After the fact, massive carnage can seem to have been an act for which no one is responsible, like the result of a natural disaster.

That's when a second aspect of the Nagasaki principle comes into play -- the refusal to undertake a moral reckoning with what has been done.

Carroll proceeds to accuse Americans of demonstrating a phenomenon called "Nuclear Amnesia," in which we share "a profound forgetfulness about the context and consequences of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki."

With a dearth of continuity, Carroll wraps up his psycho-history lecture by musing that when 9/11 occurred, Americans knew we deserved some form of "pay-back." Carroll leaves the impression that he believes we had it coming (because of our national sin, committed decades earlier and multiplied by our blind hindsight). Carroll finally laments that we allowed our appropriate sense of having earned the attacks to be overcome by a sense of "victimhood," which drove us to "launch[] a war whose momentum has carried the world into the unwilled and unforeseen catastrophe that unfolds today." For example, Carroll suggests, the only reason crazy dictators like Kim Jong Il and Pan-Islamic apocalypticians like Mahmoud Ahmadinejad even seek nuclear weapons is because our past behavior "licenses" them to do so.

To recap: America dropped the second nuke, and therefore deserved to be attacked on 9/11. We should have shut up and accepted that we deserved it, rather than taking any action against those who attacked us. And now look at the mess the world is in. Shame on you, America. Shame on you.

There are so many holes in Carroll's dirge that I cannot expound on them all. But I should point out that Americans do not rejoice in having used nuclear weapons to defeat Japan. We do not celebrate the dropping of the atomic bomb on Nagasaki. Nor do we take lightly the implications of nuclear weapons. During a long Cold War with the Soviet Union, it was precisely our appropriate dread of nuclear weaponry (offensively as well as defensively) that permitted more than four decades of conflicts, standoffs and skirmishes to be resolved diplomatically or -- at worst -- conventionally.

To cite America's conduct in World War II as a justification for Islamic terror attacks on our soil is morally bizarre. Worse, the suggestion that we also consequently lack the right to defend ourselves against the threat of further such attacks is, well, suicidal. I don't see any connection, in fact, between the history of our long-ago war with now-ally Japan and the modern threat of Islamic terror; Carroll makes no effort to point one out.

And that throw-away conclusion -- the badness in the world is all our fault -- just boggles the mind. It demonstrates the untenable lengths to which those who disagree with prevailing American policy will go to portray America as the world's Great Satan. James Carroll may hate himself. Indeed, the evidence suggests he may have ample reason to do so. But he should cease and desist from presuming to speak for the rest of us.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Pot Meets Kettle


Michael Moore: "Movies aren't very good anymore."

Tune in next week, when Moore will deplore the sorry state of American health, fitness, and personal grooming.

"Pallywood"

It came to light today (thanks, as usual, to LGF) that Reuters published a doctored photo of Beirut that purported to show massive plumes of black smoke billowing from the scene of Israeli airstrikes, but that in fact had been (badly) photoshopped, presumably by Lebanese photographer Adnan Hajj. Jeff Goldstein (among others) has a complete round-up of the details, most recently the fact that Reuters has fired Mr. Hajj (it really had no alternative).

Among the more interesting details of the story is that Hajj is the same photographer who captured the now-famous images of the civilian casualties in Qana There is growing speculation among conservative bloggers that the events at Qana were at least partly stage-managed, a concern the Israeli government is reportedly investigating with some assistance from the International Red Cross (though I am instinctively dubious about any "assistance" offered to Israel by that organization).

In fact, the enemies of Israel have a demonstrated penchant for theater. The folks at seconddraft.org released a short documentary last year called "Pallywood" in which they prove, compellingly, the extent to which many of the images of Israeli "atrocities" against Palestinians the media so unhesitatingly delivers to us are in fact fabrications. This includes the so-called 2002 "Jenin massacre." The complete film is available on Google Video: Pallywood

What is most shocking about this film is neither the fact of nor the extent to which Israel's enemies manipulate the media; rather, it is the brazenness with which western media outlets record what they know to be fakery and pass it off as truth to millions of news consumers. So long as it is damaging to Israel's image.

I'll have much more to add on this topic, and the Israeli self-defense action in Lebanon generally, in the coming days. Israel needs all of its friends -- it's true friends -- right now.

Humble Beginnings

Blogs these days are like lawyers. There are far too many of them. The majority are rather unprofessional. And chances are, you can find one that will espouse any conceivable position on any conceivable issue. Since I am already one of America's far-too-many lawyers, I might as well become one of its far-too-many bloggers, too.

Whatever brought you here, welcome. I hope you find something of interest, and I hope you'll come back soon. I'll compose a brief self- introduction in the near future, but for now there are more pressing matters to discuss.