Sunday, September 18, 2005

What is Essential and Invisible to the Eye

Little Green Footballs and Mudville Gazette both have a link to Dr. Richard Landes' Pallywood, a .wmv that can be downloaded and viewed. It is a short video that focuses on footage of Palestinians besieging an Israeli checkpoint that is used in 60 Minutes. Landes uses the outtakes and a frame by frame analysis to show, convincingly in my view, that much of it was entirely faked. My favorite is the footage of a group of fighters setting up an empty room into which they will later be firing, supposedly in combat with the Israeli checkpoint, then watching the a clip of the same footage, sans the setup, as news. My next favorite scene is viewing the dozen 120 mm main tank cannon 'hits' that were allegedly inflicted on a Palestinian hospital and watching the journalist sagely record what may safely be called evidence of his ballistic ignorance on his own film. Most of it is funny, some of it outrageously so, like the dead men who fall from biers in staged funerals and climb back on again. But what is truly frightening about Pallywood was articulated by the blog Solomonia: "this is very exciting - not just because of the way it exposes this particular scandal, but the way it will cause people to re-examine everything they see in television media. It's very important stuff."

Some may argue that 'the Israelis and the US military are also cooking up stories', but that is beside the point: because the point is that nothing on packaged television can be inherently trusted, and Pallywood demonstrates that. If the 60 Minutes host can dish out fantasy -- as he unambiguously does in this case -- then who else can you trust? The answer in my view, is no one. An earlier post noted the existence of enemy "combined media-arms" teams. Col HR McMaster described their role in the enemy order of battle at Tal-afar in this way: "In each of their cells that they have within the city has a direct action cell of about 100 or so fighters. They have a kidnapping and murder cell; they have a propaganda cell, a mortar cell, a sniper cell -- a very high degree of organization here." Pallywood shows one of those "propaganda cells" at work in front of an Israeli checkpoint, and their product on 60 Minutes. How many products of propaganda cells may you have viewed lately?

Let's suppose, for the sake of argument, that 'the Israelis and the US military are also cooking up stories' and feeding this fiction to the public via the press. Rather than being a counter-argument this tu quoque is simply an acknowledgement of worse: that the entire information-gathering arm of the press, which is what civilians have for an intelligence service, is potentially debased. Whatever one's politics or point of view this is clearly an unacceptable state of affairs. The Internet has proved essential in providing the public with a means of cross-checking the MSM's output. Because liars can rarely get their story straight, as policemen who interview suspects separately know, many obvious untruths are instantly uncovered. But this is not enough. It would be desirable if the public could 'drill down' into a story until it possessed the primary data. To a some extent, people can do this already through VOIP telephony, email, posting boards, satellite imagery, etc.

Watch Pallywood. You will laugh, but you may also cry.

50 Comments:

Blogger Meteor Blades said...

Agreed that wherever we stand on the political spectrum, invented news (whether by Palestinian propaganda cells or Foxaganda teams) is unacceptable.

As an honest journalist (retired), I was quite interested in this comment of yours:

Because liars can rarely get their story straight, as policemen who interview suspects separately know, many obvious untruths are instantly uncovered.

Having been on the police beat in two cities for several years, I can attest that it's not hard to instantly uncover falsehoods in cop stories, either, although they are much more practicted at it.

9/18/2005 07:47:00 PM  
Blogger Andrew said...

Oy, Wretchard, you got some spam problems here.

Anyway, glad to see you saw the video. Quite amazing, huh?
A personal story: When the Al-Dura case made news (the 12 year old Palestinian boy who was killed in 2000), my crazy right-wing sister in Israel told me that she thought it was fake. I said to her no way, that she should look around and face up to the fact that he got shot and that was that. I had to apologize to her a few years later (after apologizing for believing in Oslo).

9/18/2005 07:58:00 PM  
Blogger wretchard said...

Andrew,

Have deleted the spam. Should say to all those spam marketers that I will ruthlessly torch everything of the nature.

9/18/2005 08:34:00 PM  
Blogger ex-democrat said...

W: do you really believe these MSM hacks don't know they are being taken for a ride? let's be real: if they were sincere they would be screaming blue murder based on this.

9/18/2005 10:04:00 PM  
Blogger ledger said...

Wretchard: "Rather than being a counter-argument this tu quoque is simply an acknowledgement of worse: that the entire information-gathering arm of the press, which is what civilians have for an intelligence service, is potentially debased. Whatever one's politics or point of view this is clearly an unacceptable state of affairs. The Internet has proved essential in providing the public with a means of cross-checking the MSM's output. Because liars can rarely get their story straight..."

In times of war certain entities will go to extreme lengths to misinform the public. Some call it propaganda. And, in such circumstances the public information-gathering arm (MSM) will be debased. I think we are seeing this with 60 minutes/Pallywood junk. This Pallywood piece should be correctly labeled as pure propaganda.

Web sites like Lgf, Mudville Gazette, Solomonia and the Belmont Club are doing good job of exposing said propaganda. Sometimes this misinformation is quite harmful to our troops or innocent civilians - the widely disseminated 'Koran Flushing' fabrication not only got civilians killed but also endangered our troops. There really should be more physical consequences for spreading enemy propaganda over the public airwaves.

I don't know about the legalities but, I suspect 60 minutes and its parent company have violated FCC rules (and possibly other laws). I would like to see some genuine penalties for blatantly aiding the enemy via the public airwaves.

If any of you have any ideas on genuine penalties for spreading enemy propaganda using the public airwaves let's hear them.

9/18/2005 10:28:00 PM  
Blogger heather said...

There is another issue here: the MSM has become overloaded by people enraptured by the Glamour of Anchorperson Heaven, and who have slid easily through "Journalism school" on their way to the Top of the Heap. Journalism is much like Education school: a lot of blather, and no actual learning. In fact, this generation of the Western Elite is just plain ignorant, people. We are seeing the result of some 3 decades of falling education standards (and we can't say we didn't see it coming.)

Our hope is in the US Armed forces, who are attracting smart and energetic people, and then giving them rigorous training. The danger is that the Armed forces will ultimately take the Power that comes with competence.

The West's civilian elite, on the other hand, is revealing itself to be frivolous as well as ignorant. this is now dangerous to our safety and welfare.

I am beginning to understand what happened to Republican Rome, as it fell happily into the arms of the Emperor. Hey. By doing so, it bought another 300 years of Roman hegemony.

9/18/2005 10:48:00 PM  
Blogger neuroconservative said...

Wretchard --

Have you seen the brand new CBS news "blog" called The Public Eye? They just ran a story on the captured Iraqi stringer -- I felt the need to call your work in this area to their attention.

Perhaps this new blog can be used to seek CBS' official reaction to the Pallywood revelations. I will certainly try tomorrow.

9/18/2005 11:08:00 PM  
Blogger Dymphna said...

Heather is spot-on. The philosophical connections between graduate schools of education and those of journalism are quite striking. They attract the same kinds of poorly educated, not-very-bright students; people who are good at getting good grades but whose faculties of critical thinking have long since atrophied.

The graduate studies programs in most of the arts and humanities suffer from this dearth of intelligence and knowledge. In fact, by the time the University is through with students in these disciplines -- after they've had them for 6 or 8 years -- they're not fit for much other than to teach.

J school grads need science, statistics,economics, rhetoric, a little philosophy, and lots and lots of history. But they don't seem to know much about any of these fields. In the end, they can only parrot "information" and most of that is ill-informed trivia that changes with the news cycle. Any group of people who can devote so much time to Cindy Sheehan, et al, is incapable of gravitas.

Our only task is to avoid giving them our time or resources. Get rid of the TV and 60 Minutes' propaganda is moot; ignore Newsweek and such just as you would People magazine. In fact, to the extent that you recognize any of those people, to that extent you've been taken in by the whole scheme.

Journalists have always been opinionated; it's part of their make-up. It is only in the last generation or so -- when people began to take them seriously at the same time that they began to be pretty faces with vacuous minds -- that the idea of truth became more fungible.

One amusing thing about newspeople is their immense credulity. Since they know so little, you can convince them of almost anything. Unfortunately, thought, satire goes right by them since they don't have hold of the original meme to begin with.

What a farce.

9/18/2005 11:56:00 PM  
Blogger Dymphna said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

9/19/2005 12:08:00 AM  
Blogger Dymphna said...

meteor blades--

are we to infer from your equation of criminals/dishonest cops that you believe both endeavors to have the same merit?

I have known criminals in my work and I *never* found them honorable or trustworthy, though they were often very needy and sad. Most of them had experienced evil up close when they were way too young to protect themselves from it.

I have known cops thru the same means -- my work -- and have experienced many of them as principled, if jaded. Yeah, a few bad ones here and there stand out, but they were always a minority.

To say that cops are simply more practiced at covering falsehoods is to introduce a moral equivalency between them and criminals. Do you mean you find no difference between cops and criminals? I don't mean anecdotes about bad-cops-I-have-known. Everyone has mendacious cop stories. I'm asking if you think cops and criminals are the same only cops have more practice at lying.

If that is what you are claiming, can you back up this charge?

If you are not saying they are morally equivalent, what *are* you saying here? Words matter, sir.

9/19/2005 12:11:00 AM  
Blogger Daffersd said...

These were Palestinian cameramen employed by France 2.

We should insist that the MSM should give an apology for screening propoganda to its viewers as news, this is unacceptable.

9/19/2005 02:35:00 AM  
Blogger Marcus Aurelius said...

I have taken to calling the MSM the Mainstream Misleaders.

Part of it is ignorance. For example any story involving technicalities of the military and its tools is bound to be misreported.

Part of it is a group of people who never meet anyone who personally disagrees with them. How could George W. Bush get reelected? I don't know anyone who voted for him?

Bernard Goldberg puts it well. The journalists are all surrounded by those who think alike so their views do not become one of many different reasonable views, their views become the only reasonable views they make contact with. So there is no one to question their contentions and they publish.

How else to report on Tal Afar as a defeat for the Iraqi Government and the Coalition forces?

9/19/2005 05:07:00 AM  
Blogger diabeticfriendly said...

Within the specific issue of "Palestine" news coverage from the MSM use palestinian stringers, also those reporters that are actually brave enough (like the italian that film crew that filmed the lynching of the 2 israeli reservists Yosef Avraham & Vadim Novesche in Ramallah in 2000) are also pressured:

ITALIAN JOURNALIST APOLOGIZES TO P.A.
A representative of Italian Television apologized to the Palestinian Authority for screening the video of the lynching of the two Israeli soldiers - and had his press card suspended.

Riccardo Christiano, Italian TV's representative in Israel, wrote to the PA: "To my dear friends in Palestine, We bless you, and feel that we must clarify that the photos of the events in Ramallah were taken by
a private Italian station, and not by official Italian TV.
We emphasize to you that we respect the proper journalistic work guidelines with the Palestinian Authority. Be sure that we would never do something like that."

The letter was published in the PA's Al Hayat al-Jadida.

http://www.geocities.com/CapitolHill/2527/press104.htm

It's not new, it's sickening and yes it's news from Palestine

9/19/2005 05:11:00 AM  
Blogger wretchard said...

One root of this problem is "access journalism". Since stories are sold for money, who controls access controls news profits. The more interested we (including you and I) are in a story, the more power we give to the gatekeepers on the ground.

9/19/2005 05:27:00 AM  
Blogger andrew k said...

My Father is a retired Civil Engineer with incredible world experience. He has lived and worked around the world including Iran, Hong Kong, and Indonesia to name a few places. Being an engineer he has an analytical mind and yet he has a hard time not putting stock in what he reads/sees in the MSM, espescially "well established" orgs like PBS, NPR and 60 Minutes. He's no fool but it's hard to break 60 or so years of habit, espescially when the overwhelming consensus of these outfits seems to be that Bush is really Dr.Evil in disguise.

Recently I pointed him to Michael Yon's blog which he seemed to understand but at this point in his life I don't see him changing his ways. What to do?

9/19/2005 06:05:00 AM  
Blogger RWE said...

It has been a common practice for 30 plus years for TV news crews who arrive late to the site of a fire or crime to ask that the authorities stage a false rescue, shoot some water a a building that is no longer burning, or crouch behind their cars with guns point at a since-departed crimminal so to convey the impression of real, live, coverage of the event.
And the authorities generally go gamely along; it hurts no one and everybody like to be on TV.
But this appears to have been a case of the camel's nose getting under the tent. It was a short, slippery slope for the TV people to make their jobs even easier by faking even more action.
And now the stench from the whole camel in the tent is overpowering.

9/19/2005 06:10:00 AM  
Blogger ex-democrat said...

andrew k -- you nailed the $64,000 question. one that i think about every day.

9/19/2005 06:17:00 AM  
Blogger ex-democrat said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

9/19/2005 06:20:00 AM  
Blogger ex-democrat said...

mercifully, the NYT is all over this problem and has already taken steps to clean up dodge by pointing the finger at ... Geraldo!

9/19/2005 06:21:00 AM  
Blogger Solomon said...

Thank you for the link, Wretchard. I think you and your readers will also not want to miss the interview I conducted with Landes, here.

The degree to which the "Pallywood" phenomenon exists as a brazen effort to manipulate outsiders could not happen without several factors in operation, among which are -- local stringers (who all the outside press rely on), a system controlled through violence where reporters dare not violate their expectations, and an outside world eager and willing to play along (for various reasons).

Keep an eye on Second Draft, I know there's more to come.

9/19/2005 06:25:00 AM  
Blogger wretchard said...

Solomon,

That interview was a gem. Prof. Landes seemed compelled, almost in spite of himself, to follow where his mind led. And all of a sudden, all his old certitudes took on a strange cast, as if transformed into a geometry that couldn't possibly exist on earth. The one problem was that it did.

9/19/2005 06:37:00 AM  
Blogger wretchard said...

An excerpt from Landes' interview at Solomon's site:

Now I personally think that if you can't pass judgments, you're not going to last long. It doesn't say much about you as a moral being."

"I had a student who came to me the other day during office hours. He's doing a paper on the Nazis. He's writing a bibliographical essay and there's a book he's describing, and his summary says something along the lines of, 'This was a very interesting book, but it's pretty biased and I don't know how much I can rely on it, but there are still some facts I can use even though most of it is biased.'

What's its bias, I ask him? 'Well, it's very critical of the Nazis.'" Landes laughs and shakes his head.

9/19/2005 06:41:00 AM  
Blogger sirius_sir said...

Wretchard,

As discussed here before, one problem for the gatekeepers of the news is that the more interested observor now is more sceptical and has more avenues to information than once was the case. Although the major media gatekeepers may, for the most part, still control the primary flow of information, they cannot control its analysis and eventual deconstruction. And when a story like Pallywood gets out it just makes the people responsible for disseminating such blatant propaganda-as-news look ridiculous.

It is perhaps inevitable that the American people--even if only on a gut level--should get wise to this sort of thing.

So much talk about Iraq being 'just like Vietnam' and yet... it doesn't quite feel the same, does it?

Some people are even beginning to ask: Would we even have 'lost' that war if the press hadn't gotten the story wrong?

I sense something loosing its grip.

9/19/2005 06:45:00 AM  
Blogger anybudee said...

It has been axiomatic with me for years to mistrust the MSM. It used to be that you could sort out useful info by simply taking the position that they were ALWAYS lying. Now that has even become more difficult.

As Keith Green sang:

"Oh, my job keeps getting easier
As time keeps slipping away
I can imitate your brightest light
And make your night look just like day
I put some truth in every lie
To tickle itching ears
You know I’m drawing people just like flies
’cause they like what they hear

I’m gaining power by the hour
They’re falling by the score
You know, it’s getting very simple now
’cause no one believe in me anymore

Oh, heaven’s just a state of mind
My books read on your shelf
And have you heard that God is dead
I made that one up myself
They dabble in magic spells
They get their fortunes read
You know they heard the truth
But turned away and followed me instead

I used to have to sneak around
But now they just open their doors
You know, no ones watching for my tricks
Because no one believes in me anymore"

And as someone else sang, "What's puzzling you is the nature of the game."

9/19/2005 06:55:00 AM  
Blogger pragmatist said...

I am shocked ... shocked to find
the MSM concocting lies and saying
it is the truth.

Remember the MSM in 2000 when
Gore recieved more votes but
"lost" the election?
[quotes inserted so as to not
upset those who still "believe"
in the MSM]

It will be interesting to see how
the MSM processes the lastest
election results from Germany.

The pro-American candidate
received more votes.

Somehow, I'm sure the MSM will
simply disregard the truth. As
they ALWAYS do.

9/19/2005 07:06:00 AM  
Blogger diabeticfriendly said...

http://littlegreenfootballs.com/weblog/?entry=17558_Palestinian_Child_Abuse#comments

A Palestinian boy holds a toy gun during a Hamas celebration ceremony in Gaza city September 18, 2005.

lot's of luck... it's as real as it gets folks..

more honest reporting from gaza...

speaking of honest reporting:

please go and look at this site, it's wonderful!

http://honestreporting.com/

9/19/2005 07:15:00 AM  
Blogger diabeticfriendly said...

off topic...

things are getting interesting for iran now that korea (north) is giving up it's nukes... (2nd time i think?)

will this impact russia's fiddling with iran?

will this effect iran and the iaea today?

will this effect syria and iranians in NK?

9/19/2005 07:21:00 AM  
Blogger Orbit Rain said...

I've been burning the divx version of this to DVD to give to people...Go to http://www.videohelp.com/ to figure out how to do it... I used Vso DivXToDVD 0.5.2 to convert, and Nero to burn.

http://www.dvd-guides.com/content/view/98/59/

9/19/2005 09:11:00 AM  
Blogger Aristides said...

Wretchard's post of 6:41 exposes the analytical problem of today's media: Journalists take objectivity to mean fairness; they understand their primary imperative to be, "Get both sides of the story."

The problem is thus: if an entity is objectively bad, or even objectively evil (and both do in fact exist in the real world), the journalist's drive for fairness makes his reporting inherently biased towards evil, because he will reestablish the statistical median artificially and inaccurately, which has the effect of watering down knowledge and discarding lessons of history. A phenomenon like Nazi Germany, which produced data with a negative to positive statistical ratio of about 1000 to 1, becomes a much different creature when a supposedly enlightened journalist revisits that balance and creates a negative to positive ratio of, lets say, 11 to 2.

The sophistication of our journalists, as we are well aware, also inaccurately skews objective good, but in the other way towards bad. This is even embraced by journalists, if by implication, when they claim dissent as a virtue of its own, without regard to that which is dissented from. The inevitable "but" that attends good news from Iraq is a true, but disproportionate, qualifier, much like "Mussolini making the trains run on time." The confines of time and space make even mentioning it suspect. If the qualifier appears in a 600 page book, its harm is limited. If it is mentioned in a 600 word article, it is almost obscene.

Objectivity is hard, there is no denying that, but the short-cut rule of "fair and balanced" is a sure way to miss it. It speaks of a loss of judgment, a misplaced value system that can only gain credence in an abstracted world that has ceased interacting with reality. Journalists in that sense are cultural autistics and historical amnesiacs.

Most things are non-neutral, so a neutral approach to reporting news is bound to fail. When there is a finite space to report almost infinite data, proportionality must be adhered to. Anything less is unsophisticated.

9/19/2005 09:27:00 AM  
Blogger Hanba'al said...

Andrew,

I had that rude awakening you described about 2 years ago when one person dearly to me has all analytical trainings and still fail to apply those trainings to analyze news, political blatherings, or anything dealing with belief system that matters. I was then very obsesive to pursue the $64,000 question mentioned by ex_democrat, namely why a person could be such smart in certain fields with rigorous analytical trainings suddenly become instantly an idiot when dealing with news, politics and belief systems. It seems that they have been transformed into 2 different persons sort of like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, a mutiple character disorder in a weak sense.

My theory is that the tools we've learned are stored in our conscious memory (library) and to access that tool, we have to be aware of its existence and have pathways to access that library's section. The pathways are aware consciously at first, by using the tool and since we have a huge library as big as a universe literally, the pathway to that tool section is not established if approaching from another door. For our curiosity in news and political opinions, that door might be short-changed with a path into a slippery slope hence render that the analytical tool section inaccessible for the rest of that person's life.

I strongly believe to cure this problem immediately, the person need a very strong dose of rude awakening to break the mold and I think that chance is very low in probability because it is exactly very low in people's system of priority. Hence at the quick glance, the battle over MSM's strong hold of the public's mind is an uphill fruitless, disappointed battle for a long time. We will win at the end, but whether the victory will come too late or not, in dealing with the Islam fanatics, the Pallywood and its accomplices, your guess is as good as mine.

9/19/2005 09:44:00 AM  
Blogger RWE said...

Relative to Wretchard's comment on the Landes interview:
Does anyone recall the fate of the House Historian that Newt Gingrich tried to bring in post-1994? A very qualified historian and college professor, she was attacked and soon had to quit her new post because she had provided a critical evaluation of a student's term paper. The paper was on racism, with Nazi Germany as one example. Her critcism was that the paper described what had happened without explaining what the thought process was for people such as the Nazis. The paper did not attempt to explain why the Nazis committed such crimes, or even how they rationaized it amongst themselves.
In the MSM this was transmuted into the new House Historian being an advocate of the Nazi viewpoint!
It appears that for some people even describing a particular viewpoint in a historical analysis is tantamont to outright advocacy.

9/19/2005 10:51:00 AM  
Blogger Meteor Blades said...

dymphna, my point is that I have encountered quite a number of cops whose lying turned innocent people - that is, people who did not commit the crime of which they were accused - into criminals. I was not saying that cops and criminals are "morally equivalent." But, as I am sure you agree, a cop who lies under oath is a criminal.

aristides: I agree with much of what you said. However ...

* Getting "both sides" of the story is problematic because almost all stories have MORE than two sides.

* The complaint is made, on the one hand, that journalists/reporters are opinionated and, contradictorally, that their reporting exhibits "misplaced values"; that is, they are opinionated in the wrong direction. Too many people - I say this of both left and right - question a journalist's accuracy or objectivity when the contents of a story doesn't jibe with preconceived notions.

As for "historical amnesia," I'm familiar with the trait, and it's scarcely endemic only to the typical journalist.

All this being said, I doubt anyone posting here is more critical of journalism - both as taught in the classroom and practiced in the news room - than I.

9/19/2005 12:17:00 PM  
Blogger cjr said...

This is one of your most important post yet. Basically, no news source is reliable. Everyone has a political ax they want to grind. Therefore, the only way to get at the truth is: get done to primary sources, look at the real underlyintg data and your critical reasoning skills to determine what is true and what is spin. I've been trying to do that for qutie a while and the most interesting thing that I have found is that the most reliable source of information I can find is .... the US Military. I found this quite astonishing. Now, given what I have said above, I dont expect anyone to believe me. However, I do challange you to do your own research. Use your own critical reasoning skill......

9/19/2005 12:44:00 PM  
Blogger Old Dad said...

I think many of us made a mistake years ago. We took the media seriously.

There was a time when we didn't expect much from the newspaper besides entertainment and local news. Radio changed that, and so did WWII. We took the media seriously because we had few choices. And it was convenient that the media got behind the war effort. That made it easy to canonize Edward R. Murrow and others.

And then TV made them institutions, but all the while they were full of crap, and we willingly swallowed all of it. Can you think of bigger crank than Walter Cronkite? Don Imus maybe.

But the tide is turning. The Emperor has been naked for quite some time now, and no amount of J school mumbo jumbo will put his clothes back on. After all, they're just trying to sell advertising, and God Bless them for that.

Keep your BS meters finely calibrated.

9/19/2005 01:37:00 PM  
Blogger Peter UK said...

I think that the reason that intelligent, educated people are blindsided is because in their professional careers they do not encounter such chicanery.The old saying "Bullshit Baffles Brains" is true,that is why conmen thrive.
An engineer,such as the gentleman mentioned,would never imagine that a metallurgy report he had asked for would be faked.a used car dealer on the other hand id going to kick every tyre.
One very intelligent aquaintance asked why would such a body lie,"Easy,because such a body is a liar".It doesn't compute for them.

On the subject of directors and cameramen,it has to be remembered that all of them see themselves as Eisenstein.

9/19/2005 03:37:00 PM  
Blogger The Mad Fiddler said...

You don't have to be a genius to witness an event, then the next morning read an unrecognizable description of that event in a highly-reputable rag like the New York Times, to grasp that you can NOT depend on journalists to accurately report what happens. Sadly, many people grow up without having that experience. Or maybe they experience it but dismiss it as significant because it seemed to involve only some trivial mundane event rather than some enormous upheaval.

The saddest thing about the Western News Media serving as willing accomplices to faked Palestinian stories, is that there is a deep well of sympathy for the misery of the Palestinians. Americans have no desire to see the Palestinian people living in squalor and desparation, and the horror of their lives is NOT solely the result of Israeli policies. Some of the neighboring Arab dictatorships have routinely have slaughtered their own citizens over the decades of the last century to keep them in line.

Those neighbors bear much of the responsiblity for the suffering of the Palestinian Arabs. The cash for oil that has flowed into the coffers of the various Arab dictators and thugs, has created a wonderful legacy of palaces, titanic statues of those thugs, private brothels, hunting lodges, mansions, estates and retreats to be enjoyed while bodyguards practice with high-tech weapons and vehicles. The Arab world is awash in lucre, but it is in the hands of beasts who terrorize their own people to keep them subservient. Muslim countries are few only a few exceptions harshly repressive authoritarian regimes, headed by tiny groups hoarding vast wealth and telling their people that their suffering is the fault of Israel and the U.S.

If journalists of the alleged mainstream news media actually gave a shit about the plight of the Palestinians, they could begin to alleviate the situation by simply showing conditions as they are, without embellishment. Instead, the left (including the alleged news media) are obsessed with bringing Amerikkka low by any means, and the Palestinian cause is to them just one more brick to throw at our heads.

9/19/2005 03:55:00 PM  
Blogger Buddy Larsen said...

Good stuff, Wretchard...if you have a specialty--an area of the human endeavor that you can see better than most (and if you can't take credit for the gift of talent, you surely can take credit for the desire to express it, and for learning the craft of doing so)--then this post is from the center of that specialty.

9/19/2005 06:47:00 PM  
Blogger PSGInfinity said...

Aristides @ 9:27

The next problem we're going to have is the sharp operators making the 'move' to "informed, analytical reporting" that is little more than agitprop. Worse, actually, since it'll be dressed up as Responsible Journalism. Just you wait. Just you watch.

Combined with the dumb one's moving into hysterical, shrieking temper tantrums, and we have a truly ugly scene...

9/19/2005 07:29:00 PM  
Blogger PSGInfinity said...

meteor blades @ 12:17

'Doctors make the worst patients' is the aphorism, I believe. All I know, is that no one is harder on technicians than I am (I'm a computer tech)...

9/19/2005 07:32:00 PM  
Blogger Buddy Larsen said...

Certainly a journalist who 'games' the presentations, must have the ethics question always in back of his/her mind.

Throw out the ideologues and fellow-travelers and what remains will be individuals who see themselves as 'fair-play' advocates.

In the present example, somehow the IDF is in a sort of automatic lose-lose situation with a large portion of the communications industry: To win against the terrorists is to lose against the journos.

That this circumstance offers an unacceptable reciprocal should be a clanging alarm alerting the western press that something somewhere is badly amiss.

Of course, observing that something is amiss is crucial to prompting the question "what is amiss?"

One possibility of what-is-amiss is that "fair-play for the downtrodden" has rather arbitrarily come to exclude asking why the downtrodden are downtrodden in the first place.

Such a question brings 'history' into history, as a sort of rectifier, or lense. A lense factory turning out de-focused lenses wouldn't last long in a fair-market optics industry (de-rectifing being such a naked assertion of the "will-to-power").

So, a question might be, what is it about this optics industry which shields it from the laws of nature (as abstracted within the so-called 'marketplace')?

Beats me. Maybe it's very individual--the universal elementary playground, where some kids never resolve learning that everyone else feels just about as special as they themselves were happiest feeling that they alone were, and who hence become subsersive (experiencing power as automatically immoral, regardless of alternatives and/or the lack, and even in clear evidence that a first-effect is to prevent immediate horror).

Western culture with no aversion to solipsism may not actually be "western culture". Solipsism may be the reciprocal of respect for a higher power.

9/19/2005 08:58:00 PM  
Blogger Richard Landes said...

This is a fascinating and very high level discussion and immensely gratifying. When i was preparing the Second Draft website one of the most common responses i got was, "Keep it simple. People in cyberspace have short attention spans... don't be too academic." Part of the gamble was to address an audience in cyberspace that was not academic but capable of serious thought. On one level, it was a gamble i couldn't not take. Because if we don't get significantly smarter, we're in deep doodoo. This site offers real hope.

9/19/2005 09:02:00 PM  
Blogger wretchard said...

Richard Landes,

Thanks for responding. Your work is excellent and speaks for itself.

9/19/2005 11:28:00 PM  
Blogger Buddy Larsen said...

Lan Nguyen @ 9:44:

"...We will win at the end, but whether the victory will come too late or not...your guess is as good as mine."

Quite a concept, there, Lan. Native speakers wouldn't ordinarily conceive of victory as anything able to come "too late", as the literal meanings cancel each other. You're pulling a lot of communicative power out of a 2nd language--my hat's off to you.

9/20/2005 01:25:00 AM  
Blogger sirius_sir said...

buddy larsen @ 8:58:

So, a question might be, what is it about this optics industry which shields it from the laws of nature (as abstracted within the so-called 'marketplace')?

I think it's the marketplace at work, and at least part of the problem is that journalism has become a source of entertainment, and so there is now a need to offer up stories of 'interest'--and so that becomes the driver, not veracity. In this regard, a mayor or parish president who blubbers incomprehensible and insupportable assertions of blame is a better subject than some sedate fellow who can calmly explain these assertions as just so much hooey.

It's the funhouse mirror effect, which is always good for a laugh. The problem is, the press thinks it's being serious.

Maybe, for those who persist in being idiots, the only solution is to satirize them unmercifully.

9/20/2005 05:15:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

rwe: Academic on Parade.
(any of your family encountered this one, Buddy?)
Academic Bullies
AcademicElephant brings us a cautionary tale that illustrates the wisdom of her decision to maintain anonymity as a blogger.

She relates that Brian Leitner, who holds an endowed chair in law and is also a professor of philosophy at the University of Texas, was presumably offended by a comment to his blog made by a graduate philosophy student.
The student writes his own blog The Good and the Right, and he made the mistake of indicating his upcoming attendance at an academic conference.
The exalted tenured professor, panties thoroughly in a wad, commented:
So a rude, reactionary and not very bright Emory grad student will be attending conferences in Madison this weekend. I’ll have to ask my friends to look for you, you are a piece of work.
What blatant nonsense--as the author of The Good and the Right points out, Leitner regularly spews out the most vile ad hominem diatribes against the Bush administration; that's his right, of course, but for Leitner to accuse anyone of "rudeness" is hypocritical in the extreme.
. Bernoulli Effect

9/20/2005 05:51:00 AM  
Blogger Buddy Larsen said...

Haw haw...let's hope for more Mr. Stick Figure interviews (Sirius' "satirize unmercifully" link). Today's elite--esp. Prof Leitner's type--bring to mind Lincoln's little ditty "If this is coffee, please bring me some tea; but if this is tea, please bring me some coffee."

9/20/2005 06:21:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

"Yeah, that's it, you're the Ed McMahon of journalism. You should be proud."
---
There was a great sound clip of "Mr. Ed" going orgasmic when Bill got out of the hospital.
Kept screaming about
"How Great He Looks"
due to the new, slimmed down version of Bubba.

9/20/2005 03:43:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Writing for the fevered folks of Counterpunch, Michael Neumann applies the principle of charity to the alleged snipers that shot at rescue/medical evacuation choppers, but does not do so in regard to the President and his administration.Now suppose you were a pissed-off thug living in filthy water, with the dead floating by, with crying, dying, frightened, hopeless victims all around you.
You might fire on a helicopter just to make it clear that being left to rot was not acceptable.
Or, if you were calm enough to think things through, you might ask yourself: what leverage do I have? What do those who have power over thousands of helicopters and rescue craft, over hundreds of thousands of rescuers - those smug assholes asleep at the wheel - what do they want that I can deny them?
Just one thing, to me anyway, comes to mind: the snipers could deny Bush and his minions their face-saving operation, their little bit of success, their triage.
---
This vitriol is but a snippet of the complete text. Some more dispassionate and reasoned critique of America from the good professor is Here.
His thoughts on antisemitism Here. Just remember, since he's Jewish himself, he cannot be antisemitic.
---
After Endless Pages, we get to this:
"In short, the real scandal today is not antisemitism but the importance it is given. Israel has committed war crimes.
It has implicated Jews generally in these crimes, and Jews generally have hastened to implicate themselves.
This has provoked hatred against Jews. Why not? Some of this hatred is racist, some isn't, but who cares? Why should we pay any attention to this issue at all? Is the fact that Israel's race war has provoked bitter anger of any importance besides the war itself?
Is the remote possibility that somewhere, sometime, somehow, this hatred may in theory, possibly kill some Jews of any importance besides the brutal, actual, physical persecution of Palestinians, and the hundreds of thousands of votes for Arabs to be herded into transit camps?
Oh, but I forgot.
Drop everything.
Someone spray-painted antisemitic slogans on a synagogue
."

9/20/2005 04:13:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Academic Migrant Worker's Blog Spot

9/20/2005 04:17:00 PM  
Blogger diabeticfriendly said...

Abbas: No armed gunmen on Gaza streets after Saturday

Today: A pickup truck carrying masked terrorists armed with missles blew up at a Hamas rally at the Jebaliya refugee camp in the Gaza Strip on Friday. At least least 19 Palestinians were killed and 85 injured, hospital doctors said.

Glad to see the Palestinians are starting early!

9/23/2005 11:32:00 AM  

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