Remember yesterday, when I let 'Real Life' get in the way of making a normal-sized post? Well, today's the day I make up for it, with a post that would flatten the mailman underneath it (or at least strain his hip flexors) were he to attempt a delivery. Enough ado:
Today's SES Research tracking poll, based on a three-day rolling sample, has the Liberals at just 34%, versus the Conservatives' 31% -- within the margin of error. The Grits have dropped 7 points since the campaign began, while the Tories are up 3.Even more intriguing is the latest poll, which, according to the Globe & Mail, has startling news about the all-important province of Ontario (where elections are won and lost):
Ipsos-Reid president Darrell Bricker noted that the key polling trend is in Ontario, which has just over one-third of all ridings. The Conservatives and the Liberals are tied at 36 per cent - a sharp change from the 22-point lead the Liberals enjoyed mid-month when the party stood at 49 per cent. The only explanation, Mr. Bricker said, is the impact of the unpopular provincial budget of Liberal Premier Dalton McGuinty.Those of you who are Canadians know this is stunning news - Conservatives and Liberals in Ontario are currently tied. Amazing!
Saddam Hussein's Iraqi regime indisputably harbored terrorists and supported terrorism. Under the Bush Doctrine that won resounding bipartisan assent in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks, and that remains as worthy today as it was back then, that should have been more than enough to justify deposing Saddam, even if there had not been ample evidence of - and decisive consensus about - his intentions and wherewithal regarding weapons of mass destruction.
Yet, although there should be few, if any, matters more important to national security than boring into the linkage between Iraq and militant Islamic terror, the very idea of linkage has been discredited. Thanks to a withering campaign waged by ideological opponents of U.S. military operations against Iraq - led by the mainstream media, partisans such as former Clinton counterterrorism czar Richard Clarke, and disgruntled factions of the so-called intelligence community whose anonymous carping to sympathetic journalists has now reached a fever pitch - conventional wisdom now holds that secular Saddam could not conceivably have collaborated with Osama bin Laden's jihadist network.
It is, however, pigheaded blindness masquerading as wisdom. There are abundant strands of connection. It is, moreover, breathtakingly irresponsible for the press generally, and for an intelligence community purportedly dedicated to securing America from further attacks, to be ignoring or dismissing countless salient questions, rather than moving heaven and earth to answer them.
Why hasn't this man been indicted for perjury?For more information, we turn to CNS:
It turns out that President Bush and other top members of his administration had nothing to do with the decision to let members of Osama bin Laden's family depart the United States in the days immediately after 9/11, despite the suggestions of Democratic Senators Barbara Boxer of California and Charles Schumer of New York.Why is this a big deal? Read on:
Clarke, the former White House counter-terrorism official and author of a recent book blasting the Bush administration's handling of intelligence leading up to the terrorist attacks, told The Hill newspaper last week that he gave the go-ahead for two members of the bin Laden family and other Saudi nationals to leave the U.S.
"It didn't get any higher than me," Clarke told The Hill . "I take responsibility for it. I don't think it was a mistake, and I'd do it again."
However, back in March, testifying before The National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States (9-11 Commission), Clarke described a different scenario regarding the attempts by the Saudis to depart the U.S. "The request came to me and I refused to approve it," he said at the time.I know I promised to leave the Clarke issue alone (only because I thought it was clear that the man was a liar), but it's important to keep things like this at the forefront of one's mind, and a timely reminder is helpful in that endeavor.
Delve a little into Spurlock's past, however, and you'll find a man willing to exploit society's most vulnerable people to make a cheap buck and get some cheap fame -- usually by having them put odd things into their mouths.But, as Radley points out, despite his best efforts, CNBC got to him:
He started out with a personal website called TheCon.com (now, curiously, wiped completely clean from the web -- even from the Internet archive). There, Spurlock would pay homeless people and poor folks $100 or more to, for example, chew and swallow dog feces. He'd then charge his website users to watch video feeds of the stunts.
Now Spurlock gets famous slamming McDonald's for selling willing consumers a product he feels is too unhealthy to put into their bodies.
Spurlock has been approached several times to do on-air debates with his critics. He always refuses. In fact, he won't even do a show when a critic is to appear directly before or after him.
BARTIROMO: Some skeptics have done the math.No wonder he doesn't do many interviews with critics - they tear him apart!
Mr. SPURLOCK: Sure.
BARTIROMO: And they say there's no way that you can conclude eating three full meals a day...
Mr. SPURLOCK: Yeah.
BARTIROMO: ...at McDonald's would get you anywhere close to 5,000 calories a day. Were you snacking? Were you eating something else?
Mr. SPURLOCK: Of course I--of course. Do you have a snack in the afternoon? We all get snacks in the afternoon. You have lunch and then later in the afternoon you're like, 'Wow, you know what? I'm a little tired. I'm going to get a cup of coffee. I'm going to get an apple pie. You know, I'm going to go get--I'm going to get a muffin.' You know, we all go get coffee in the afternoon or some--something to tide us over until dinner so, you know, it's not unrealistic. And the fact is--and I love the other thing they say. They say, 'Nobody eats like this. Nobody'...
BARTIROMO: But that is--that is a fair complaint. Nobody does eat like that.
Mr. SPURLOCK: Well, isn't--you--but here's--you don't eat three meals a day--but I have...
BARTIROMO: And certainly you don't eat three McDonald's meal a day and then have apple pie.
BARTIROMO: What about this woman--she's a competitor, actually, of yours--Soso Wiley.
Mr. SPURLOCK: Yeah.
BARTIROMO: OK. She's also doing a film. She ate McDonald's just the way you did.
Mr. SPURLOCK: Sure. Yeah.
BARTIROMO: Only McDonald's.
Mr. SPURLOCK: How great is that?
BARTIROMO: And sh--she lost 10 pounds.
[Spurlock has a lot of extraneous 'Sure's in the following, they've been 'elipseed' for space]
BARTIROMO: Let--let's talk about your e-mail. We have a part of it here...
BARTIROMO: 'I am amazed at the work currently being done by McDonald's...'...
BARTIROMO: '...in conjunction with their franchisees to create and deliver healthy alternatives to their consumers.'...
BARTIROMO: 'I believe your involvement will show what most people are witnessing: that McDonald's is committed to the healthy future of America.'
Mr. SPURLOCK: Yeah.
BARTIROMO: Did you--you wrote that?
Mr. SPURLOCK: Of course--of course I wrote that...
Mr. SPURLOCK: It's because I'm trying to get an interview. What do you expect me to say. Do you want me to say, 'Hey, you horrible people, you know, come talk to me'? You've got--look, you've got to be realistic. You know, it's like you're not going to call somebody up and, you know, call them a (censored) sucker and you want an interview.
BARTIROMO: There you go.
Mr. SPURLOCK: You know, you're going to call somebody up and you're going to say, 'Hey, I like--I'd like to have an interview with you. Let's--let's sit down and talk about this.' Yeah.
BARTIROMO: So part of it was your lure into getting them to talk to you...
Mr. SPURLOCK: Oh, yeah, yeah.
BARTIROMO: ...by writing that e-mail.
I'd noticed that this summer's huge blockbusters, the first summer crop conceived and shot in the post-9/11 world, include (so far) a Trojan War epic by a director who sees it as analogous to the disastrous Iraq war, an incoherent global-warming diatribe, and (once it hits screens) a "documentary" beloved by the French that all but accuses Bush of piloting the 9/11 planes himself. I'd noticed that there hasn't been an Arab, Muslim, or Muslim country portrayed in any kind of negative light (let alone in connection with terrorism) since True Lies.Ah, but it would be racist to, you know, include the facts in a film from Hollywood. You know, the fact that the majority of the perpetrators of 9/11 were Saudis (and were thus of Arab ethnicity), or that all of those against whom we are currently embroiled in war happen to be Islamic. That's racism. And it infringes on our pluralistic sensibilities. It's evil. So evil that we have to lie to preserve our own morality.
But forget about that. Forget. Forget.
America is locked in a vortex of all-encompassing jingoism that pervades our entire pop culture and political discourse, stifling all dissent from the approved party line of racist, McCarthyist state-approved terrorism both at home and abroad.
Now doesn't it feel better without all those nasty facts in the way?
In the late 1980s, public television stations aired a talking head series called Ethics in America. For each show, more than a dozen prominent thinkers sat around a horseshoe-shaped table and tried to answer troubling ethical questions posed by a moderator.Okay, break time. Now you've got the setup. Here comes the crushing uppercut:
This episode was sponsored by Montclair State College in the fall of 1987. Its title was "Under Orders, Under Fire," and most of the panelists were former soldiers talking about the ethical dilemmas of their work. The moderator was Charles Ogletree, a professor at Harvard Law School, who moved from expert to expert asking increasingly difficult questions in the law school's famous Socratic style...
Ogletree asked Downs to imagine that he was a young lieutenant again. He and his platoon were in the nation of "South Kosan," advising South Kosanese troops in their struggle against invaders from "North Kosan." (This scenario was apparently a hybrid of the U.S. role in the wars in Korea and Vietnam.) A North Kosanese unit had captured several of Downs's men alive-but Downs had captured one of the North Kosanese. Downs did not know where his men were being held, but his prisoner did. And so Ogletree put the question: How far will Downs go to make the prisoner talk? Will he order him tortured? Will he torture the prisoner himself?...
Downs did not shrink from the questions. He wouldn't enjoy it, he told Ogletree. He would have to live with the consequences for the rest of his life. But, yes, he would torture the captive. He would use the knife. He would do the cutting himself. He would listen to the captive scream. He would do whatever was necessary to try to save his own men. While explaining his decisions Downs sometimes gestured with his left hand for emphasis, except that the hand was a metal hook...
Then Ogletree turned to the two most famous members of the evening's panel, better known than William Westmoreland himself. These were two star TV journalists: Peter Jennings of World News Tonight and ABC, and Mike Wallace of 6o Minutes and CBS. Ogletree brought them into the same hypothetical war. He asked Jennings to imagine that he worked for a network that had been in contact with the enemy North Kosanese government. After much pleading, the North Kosanese had agreed to let Jennings and his news crew into their country, to film behind the lines and even travel with military units. Would Jennings be willing to go? Of course, Jennings replied. Any reporter would-and in real wars reporters from his network often had. But while Jennings and his crew are traveling with a North Kosanese unit, to visit the site of an alleged atrocity by American and South Kosanese troops, they unexpectedly cross the trail of a small group of American and South Kosanese soldiers. With Jennings in their midst, the northern soldiers set up a perfect ambush, which will let them gun down the Americans and Southerners, every one. What does Jennings do? Ogletree asks. Would he tell his cameramen to "Roll tape!" as the North Kosanese opened fire? What would go through his mind as he watched the North Kosanese prepare to ambush the Americans? Jennings sat silent for about fifteen seconds after Ogletree asked this question. "Well, I guess I wouldn't," he finally said. "I am going to tell you now what I am feeling, rather than the hypothesis I drew for myself. If I were with a North Kosanese unit that came upon Americans, I think that I personally would do what I could to warn the Americans."
Immediately Mike Wallace spoke up. "I think some other reporters would have a different reaction," he said, obviously referring to himself. "They would regard it simply as a story they were there to cover." "I am astonished, really," at Jennings's answer, Wallace saida moment later. He turned toward Jennings and began to lecture him: "You're a reporter. Granted you're an American"-at least for purposes of the fictional example; Jennings has actually retained Canadian citizenship. "I'm a little bit at a loss to understand why, because you're an American, you would not have covered that story." Ogletree pushed Wallace. Didn't Jennings have some higher duty, either patriotic or human, to do something other than just roll film as soldiers from his own country were being shot? "No," Wallace said flatly and immediately. "You don't have a higher duty. No. No. You're a reporter!"Ready? It gets worse:
Jennings backtracked fast. Wallace was right, he said. "I chickened out." Jennings said that he had gotten so wrapped up in the hypothetical questions that he had lost sight of his journalistic duty to remain detached. As Jennings said he agreed with Wallace, everyone else in the room seemed to regard the two of them with horror.When I read that the first time, I seethed. An emotion that was not unfamiliar to the scene:
"What's it worth?" [Retired Air Force general Brent Scowcroft] asked Wallace bitterly. "It's worth thirty seconds on the evening news, as opposed to saving a platoon." Ogletree turned to Wallace. What about that? Shouldn't the reporter have said something? Wallace gave his most disarming grin, shrugged his shoulders and spread his palms wide in a "Don't ask me!" gesture, and said, "I don't know." He was mugging to the crowd in such a way that he got a big laugh-the first such moment of the discussion. Wallace paused to enjoy the crowd's reaction. Jennings, however, was all business, and was still concerned about the first answer he had given. "I wish I had made another decision," Jennings said, as if asking permission to live the last five minutes over again. "I would like to have made his decision"-that is, Wallace's decision to keep on filming. A few minutes later Ogletree turned to George M. Connell, a Marine colonel in full uniform, jaw muscles flexing in anger, with stress on each word, Connell looked at the TV stars and said, "I feel utter . . . contempt."Just breaking the text up here for better formatting...
Two days after this hypothetical episode, Connell Jennings or Wallace might be back with the American forces--and could be wounded by stray fire, as combat journalists often had been before. The instant that happened he said, they wouldn't be "just journalists" any more. Then they would drag them back, rather than leaving them to bleed to death on the battlefield. "We'll do it!" Connell said. "And that is what makes me so contemptuous of them. Marines will die going to get ... a couple of journalists." The last few words dripped with disgust. Not even Ogletree knew what to say. There was dead silence for several seconds. Then a square-jawed man with neat gray hair and aviator glasses spoke up. It was Newt Gingrich, looking a generation younger and trimmer than when he became Speaker of the House in I995. One thing was clear from this exercise, he said: "The military has done a vastly better 'job of systematically thinking through the ethics of behavior in a violent environment than the journalists have." That was about the mildest way to put it.Now do you understand? Are they all like this? Perhaps not. But if this is a prevailing mindset, then the Media have more than earned every ounce of every human being's disgust.
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