Sunday, 11 November 2007

NOTHING, MINUS ONE

Ken Berwitz

I have pointed out over the last several months that hillary clinton has no qualifications to be president.  None, zero.  Within that claim I have also pointed out that the one thing she was asked to do within her husband's eight year administration was run the health care task force, and that it was an utter disaster. 

In case you have forgotten, Ms. clinton's task force came up with a health care plan for the country so out of whack with reality that almost every DEMOCRAT voted against it, along with every Republican.  And for good measure it was fined almost $300,000 for being run illegally.  Google "Ira Magaziner" and read the particulars on that fine, it's quite an eye-opener.

So what does the clinton war room do with the fact that her one "accomplishment" in all this time puts her right up there with wrong way Corrigan and the captain of the Titanic?  What is their strategy to get by this?

Here's what they did, courtesy of the New York Times:.

Bill Clinton Says His Wife Took the Rap on Health Care

ALBIA, Iowa, Nov. 8 Former President Bill Clinton said Thursday that he should receive more blame than his wife for the failed attempt to revamp the nations health care system more than a decade ago.

You know how much she cares about this, Mr. Clinton told an audience in Glenwood, Iowa, according to an account on MSNBC. She has taken the rap for some of the problems we had with health care the last time that were far more my fault than hers.

In her Democratic presidential bid, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York has placed health care at the heart of her domestic policy agenda. Her rivals have sought to portray her experience on health care as an example of why a fresh approach is needed to truly change and improve the system.

As he campaigned here Thursday, Senator Barack Obama of Illinois said Mrs. Clinton could not claim credit for trying to overhaul health care if she did not accept any of the blame.

All I know is that part of the record shes running on is having worked on health care, he said, so its kind of hard to gauge if one of her claims is to have experience in this issue to then suggest that somehow she doesnt have anything to do with the fact that it didnt work.

Throughout the week, Mr. Clinton has injected himself into the Democratic campaign, suggesting to audiences that several candidates had unfairly heaped criticism upon his wife during a debate last week in Philadelphia.

Asked about the role Mr. Clinton has been playing in the race, Mr. Obama grinned, saying, Were focused on trying to deliver a message of the kind of president I would be and why I think I would be the best nominee for the Democratic Party.

As more reporters gathered around, a spokesman for Mr. Obama tried to end the impromptu session. But before Mr. Obama walked up the stairs to his bus, he added one more thing, My understanding is President Clintons not on the ballot.  .

That's the strategy.  They trot out hubby Bill to guffaw a little, bite his lip a little and say that it wasn't her fault at all, he should take the blame. 

And, being bill clinton, he of course gives no specifics on why it is his fault, so if he is ever questioned about any of the loopy ideas in hillary-care he can look you in the eye and say he never claimed to be involved in that part of it. 

Classic bubba-talk, from the undisputed champion.

But wait, there's a bit more here.  Clinton's vague little mea culpa raises another question -- one that neither the Times article or most mainstream media are going to explore, if their history is any indication:  If hillary clinton wasn't actually in charge of health care, then what DID she do for 8 years as "co-president"? 

One look at Ms. clinton's record as a senator tells you she has accomplished little in that office over the past 7 years.  No major legislation, a lot of meetings, but no accomplishments of note.  You would have to go back to her "performance" as the czarina of Arkansas education to find her last "accomplishment".  And believe me, she doesn't want you to learn how that turned out.

So I ask again:  What are hillary clinton's qualifications to be president?  Can someone - anyone - tell me?


THE VAST CREDIBILITY GAP IN MIDDLE EAST JOURNALISM

Ken Berwitz

Did I say "gap"?  How about "grand canyon"?  .

Here, courtesy of www.pajamasmedia.com and investigative reporter Richard Landes, is one of the most important articles about middle east journalism you will ever read.  It details the absolutely fraudulent reportage from that area, by "stringers" who are in reality dedicated partisans.  And guess which side they're partisan towards?

Importantly, much of the article concerns itself with the infamous "al Dura" fraud.  Remember Muhammad al Dura, the 12 year old Palestinian Arab boy who was supposed to have been shot by Israeli soldiers?  It was a worldwide story and a worldwide scandal -- a public relations disaster for Israel. 

The problem?  It was a hoax.  A fraud.  Subsequent investigations showed that it was Palestinian Arab fire, not Israeli, that killed this young boy.  That, of course, did NOT get the publicity it deserved.

Please read the article below.  I won't put any commentary after it, because if this doesn't tell you the real story, nothing I say afterwards will convince you.

Read every word.  Then think about it every time you read anything from the middle east that purports to be factual:

Al-Dura and the "Public Secret" of Middle East Journalism

The evidence emerging from the ongoing Al Dura trial in France indicates that Western journalists are fully aware that some of the footage they use in their reports on the Mideast conflict is staged, charges Richard Landes. When confronted with the pervasive evidence of staging in the case of Al Dura, the reaction of France 2, which ran the story, has been essentially that everybody does it.

by Richard Landes

In the summer of 2006, Reuters News Agency, humiliated when bloggers caught them duped by obvious photographic manipulation, fired both the photographer and the chief of their photographic bureau. They then removed all the photographers photos from their news archive. In so doing, they acted decisively in punishing two of the cardinal sins of modern journalism: creating evidence and getting duped by created evidence.

These principles i.e., the ethics of a free press go so deep, that Westerners apparently have difficulty imagining that others might not share our commitments. Thus few people believe claims that footage of Muhammad al Dura, the twelve year old boy allegedly gunned down by Israelis at Netzarim Junction on September 30, 2000, was staged. Charles Enderlin, the correspondent for France2 who presented the tale to the world, derisively and successfully dismisses such claims as a conspiracy theory as ludicrous as those about 9-11. How absurd: Palestinian journalists would not do such a thing; and if they did, the Western media would catch it. To this day, most journalists still ask, Who killed al Dura? not, Was he killed in the footage we see?

And yet, one of the major differences between Western journalism and self-styled Islamic media men emerges on just this issue of the permissibility of staging the news and attitudes towards what constitutes honest information. According to the Islamic Mass Media Charter (Jakarta, 1980), the sacred task of Muslim media men [sic], is on the one hand to protect the Umma from imminent dangers, indeed to censor all materials, towards that end, and on the other, To combat Zionism and its colonialist policy of creating settlements as well as its ruthless suppression of the Palestinian people.

So when asked why he had inserted unconnected footage of an Israeli soldier firing a rifle into the Al Dura sequence in order to make it look like the Israelis had killed the boy in cold blood, an official of PA TV responded:

These are forms of artistic expression, but all of this serves to convey the truth We never forget our higher journalistic principles to which we are committed of relating the truth and nothing but the truth.

When Talal abu Rahmah received an award for his footage of Muhammad al Dura in Morocco in 2001, he told a reporter, I went into journalism to carry on the fight for my people.

These remarks serve as an important prelude to considering the France2 rushes that will be shown in court in Paris on November 14 in the Enderlin France2 vs. Philippe Karsenty defamation case. These tapes were filmed by Talal abu Rahmah on September 30, 2000, and for seven years, Enderlin has claimed that the tapes prove him right and show the boy in such unbearable death throes that he cut them out of his report. But several experts who have seen the tapes (this author included) claim that the only scene of al Dura that Enderlin cut was the final scene where he seems alive and well; and still more disturbingly the rest of the rushes are filled with staged scenes. Indeed there seems to be a kind of public secret at work on the Arab street: people fake injury, others evacuate them hurriedly (and without stretchers) past Palestinian cameramen like Talal, who use Western video equipment to record these improvised scenes. Pallywood: the Palestinian movie industry.

Which brings us to a problem more complex than the fairly straightforward observation that Palestinian journalists play by a different set of rules in which this kind of manipulation of the truth is entirely legitimate. What do Western journalists do with these products of propaganda? Do they know these are fakes or are they fooled? Do they tell the cameramen working for them and using their equipment that filming such staged scenes is unethical and unacceptable? And if they do, why do cameramen who have worked for them for years Talal worked for Enderlin for over a decade when he took these rushes continue to film these scenes. And how often do our journalists run this staged footage as real news?

Here the evidence provided by the Al Dura affair suggests that, in some sense, journalists are in on the public secret. When representatives of France2 were confronted with the pervasive evidence of staging in Talals footage, they both responded the same way. Oh, they always do that, its a cultural thing, said Enderlin to me in Jerusalem. Yes Monsieur, but, you know, its always like that, said Didier Eppelbaum to Denis Jeambar, Daniel Leconte, and Luc Rosenzweig in Paris.

As an echo of this astonishing private complacency, Clment Weill-Raynal of France3 made a comment to a journalist that he meant as a criticism of Karsenty: Karsenty is so shocked that fake images were used and edited in Gaza, but this happens all the time everywhere on television and no TV journalist in the field or a film editor would be shocked.

The implications of this remark undermine its very use in his argument: How can Karsenty defame Enderlin by accusing him of using staged footage when, as Clment Weill-Raynal here admits, everybody does it? Is it wrong to do this? And if so, why does Weill-Raynal criticize Karsenty for blowing the whistle? If not, wheres the defamation?

We may have stumbled here onto the very nature of public secrets and the value of a good reputation: everyone can cheat so long as no one is caught. Its okay for the insiders to know, but the effectiveness of the (mis)information depends on the public not knowing. As Daniel Leconte reproached Eppelbaum: the media may know [about this staging], but the public doesnt. Indeed, the public must not know. CNN advertises itself as The Most Trusted Name in News, not because it struggles against the influences, like access journalism, that destroy trustworthiness, but because it knows how important trust is to their audience public consumers of news. Thus, even if Western journalists use staged footage regularly, they cannot admit it. And, if denial doesnt work, then, apparently, the next move is to say, its nothing; everyone does it.

An incident at Ramallah, however, suggests that Western journalists have systematically submitted to Palestinian demands that they practice Palestinian journalism. On October 12, 2000, to cries of Revenge for the blood of Muhammad al Dura, Palestinian men tore to pieces the bodies of two Israeli reservists. Aware of the potential damage, Palestinians attacked any journalist taking pictures. And yet, one Italian crew working for a private news station, at great risk to their lives, smuggled out the footage. Eager to avoid being blamed, the representative of Italys official television station RAI wrote to the PA that his station would never do such a thing,

because we always respect (will continue to respect) the journalistic procedures with the Palestinian Authority for (journalistic) work in Palestine

Just what are these journalistic procedures? Do they resemble the rules of the Jakarta charter, including the censorship of anything damaging to the Palestinian cause (no matter how true), and publication of anything damaging to the Israeli cause (no matter how inauthentic)? The PA, apparently unaware that this is not how journalism should be done in the West, published the letter.

But on the side where modern journalism allegedly reigns, such revelations were profoundly embarrassing: even the normally timid Israeli government temporarily suspended the press card of Roberto Cristiano, and no one in the normally aggressive Western media objected. Cristiano had violated the basic rule of Western journalisms omerta, and openly admitted shameful practices. The public consumer of Mainstream Media (MSM) news needs to ask, How many journalists adhere to these Palestinian rules, and how much does that adherence distort, even invert, our understanding of what goes on in this interminable conflict? Can we afford this public secret?

Nor can we expect the MSM to discuss this willingly. On the contrary, awareness of the importance of trust often enough leads journalists to hide their mistakes rather than admit and learn from them. As a French friend put it to me: No one admits publicly to mistakes in France. Its a sign of weakness. While these are the rules of honor-shame culture, civil society depends on having people prefer honesty to saving face, no matter how painful that may be. And while we cannot expect people to volunteer for public humiliation, we can and must insist that there are limits to both individual and corporate efforts to resist correction.

This is Charles Enderlins problem with the al Dura case. He has, with his eagerness to get the scoop, foisted upon an unsuspecting world, a nuclear bomb in the world of information warfare. As Bob Simon put it (wmv file), to the background of a medley of Pallywood images: In modern warfare, one picture is worth a thousand weapons. And no image has done more to inspire the desire for violent revenge and global Jihad than this icon of hatred (wmv file) To admit his mistakes, to release the public from this images thrall and alert us to the possibility that such colossal errors not only occur, but go years without correction, would destroy Enderlins career.

Moreover, Enderlins failure, at this point, seven years later, implicates the larger MSM who, with their refusal to even allow the critique to air, protect him. This dilemma may partly explain why the MSM in France has scarcely mentioned this case; why they had nothing to say about the initial trial until Karsenty lost, at which point they leapt into print to reassure the public that the image choc of the Intifada was not staged. Enderlin, after all, is not some Palestinian hack, even if he trusts and therefore regularly channels the work of such journalists. He is perhaps the best known and most widely trusted European correspondent in the Middle East. Surely, as a Jew and an Israeli, he would not report false stories that blackened his own countrys name. They must be true.

More ominously, just as Al Dura represents a higher truth for Muslims a justification for hatred, a call to revenge so does it carry symbolic freight with Europeans. Catherine Nay, a respected news anchor for Europe1, welcomed the image:

The Death of Muhammad cancels out, erases that of the Jewish child, his hands in the air from the SS in the Warsaw Ghetto.
How ironic! The Europeans use an image produced by those who admire the Nazis and dream of genocidal victory over the Jews, to erase their own guilt over the Holocaust. In so doing, Europe has atoned for its sins against the Jews by empowering its Muslim extremists.

So not to admit such mistakes, destroys the very fabric of the civil society that allows a free press. In the long history of blood libels, no people have benefited from embracing the twisted hatreds they evoked.

At what point does self-protection become self-destruction, not only for the journalists who deny their errors no matter how costly, but for the public that believes them? As an Israeli journalist remarked: Every day I have to walk the fine line between loyalty to my sources and loyalty to my audience. How grievously have our journalists betrayed us, their audience, for the sake of finding favor in the eyes of their sources?

Palestinian journalists, in their own ethical declarations, argue that their role is to defend their cause and weaken its enemies. Journalism for them is war by other means; the media, a theater of war. Honesty and fairness do not intrude on this ethical prescription, but merely present a requirement for versimilitude designed to deceive susceptible Western audiences and incite Muslim rage.

In this clash of journalistic cultures, how often has the Western media played the useful idiots to Palestinian demands. How often have they presented Palestinian truths to us as news? And if they have done so as often and as destructively as Pallywood and its greatest success, the Al Dura Affair, suggests, how much longer will they persist?


THAT CHAVEZ CHARM

Ken Berwitz

In 1948 Robert Taylor starred in an entirely forgettable movie called "That Saxon Charm", about Matt Saxon, a Broadway personality whose ego was so high and personal attritbutes so low that no one could stand him.

Sometimes I think hugo chavez, the dictator (don't tell me his last "election" was legitimate, save it for jimmy carter) is trying to become a real-life version of Saxon.

We've seen and heard his increasingly bizarre antics for years, so it is no surprise that he leans this way.  But read the following Associated Press article and see just how far over the edge he's actually gone:

.

Spanish King Tells Chavez to "Shut Up"
Nov 10 06:13 PM US/Eastern
By EDUARDO GALLARDO
Associated Press Writer
SANTIAGO, Chile (AP) - The king of Spain told Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez to "shut up" Saturday during a heated exchange at a summit of leaders from Latin America, Spain and Portugal.

Chavez, who called President Bush the "devil" on the floor of the United Nations last year, triggered the exchange by repeatedly referring to former Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar as a "fascist."

Aznar, a conservative who was an ally of Bush as prime minister, "is a fascist," Chavez said in a speech at the Ibero-American summit in Santiago, Chile. "Fascists are not human. A snake is more human."

Spain's current socialist prime minister, Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, responded during his own allotted time by urging Chavez to be more diplomatic in his words and respect other leaders despite political differences.

"Former President Aznar was democratically elected by the Spanish people and was a legitimate representative of the Spanish people," he said, eliciting applause from the gathered heads of state.

Chavez repeatedly tried to interrupt, but his microphone was off.

Spanish King Juan Carlos, seated next to Zapatero, angrily turned to Chavez and said, "Why don't you shut up?"

The Venezuelan leader did not immediately respond, but later used time ceded to him by his close ally Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega to answer Zapatero's speech.

"I do not offend by telling the truth," he said. "The Venezuelan government reserves the right to respond to any aggression, anywhere, in any space and in any manner." 

.

You might or might not like Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero (he's certainly no favorite of mine), but you have to admire him for standing up for his country, which is exactly what he did.  Because by calling Zapatero's predecessor a "fascist" chavez was saying the people of Spain had freely elected a fascist.  That is an insult to Spain.

And how about King Juan Carlos telling this little pus pimple to shut up?  I salute him for having the blunt honesty to say what chavez had coming.

Where did chavez think he was, to talk like a maniac and a fool and think he could get away with it?  The UN?


MOVIES THAT SUPPORT THE USA? HOLLYWOODN'T

Ken Berwitz

We have been at war for 5 years in Afghanistan and over 4 years in Iraq. 

We have removed the taliban from ruling Afghanistan and the country has had free elections.  We have removed saddam from ruling Iraq and the country has had free elections. 

You would think that someone, somewhere in Hollywood, would find something good to say about this. 

But that would not be so.  You can't find one feature film in all this time that has treats anything we have done in either country in a positive light.

You can, however, find film after film that does not.  Though the public's reactions to these wars have ranged from tremendously positive, to mixed to negative over the years, but Hollywood has never presented anything but negative.

The good news, however, is that these geniuses have been punished severely for it.  By who?  By you, that's who.  Virtually every negative film about the wars and our soldiers' actions during this time has been a loser at the box office. 

Want the specifics?  Then read this piece that I pulled from www.breitbart.com and there they are:

Hollywood is casualty of war as movie-goers shun Iraq films
Nov 9 11:21 AM US/Eastern
The wave of recent films set against the backdrop of war in Iraq and post-9/11 security has failed to win over film-goers keen to escape grim news headlines when they go to the movies, analysts say.

In a break with past convention, when films based on real conflicts were made only years after the last shots were fired, several politically-charged films have gone on release while America remains embroiled in Iraq.

Almost without exception, however, the crop of movies have struggled to turn a profit at the box-office and in many cases have received a mauling from unimpressed critics as well.

"Rendition," a drama starring Reese Witherspoon and Jake Gyllenhaal about the CIA's policy of outsourcing interrogation of terror suspects, has taken just under 10 million dollars at the box office, a disastrous return.

Oscar-winning director Paul Haggis's latest film "In the Valley of Elah," about a father investigating the death of his son in Iraq, earned favorable reviews but less than seven million dollars following its release in September.

Even the action-packed "The Kingdom," starring Jamie Foxx and Jennifer Garner, fell well below its 70 million budget with around 47 million dollars in ticket sales.

The poor returns do not augur well for more war films due for release in North America later this month, notably the Robert Redford-directed drama "Lions for Lambs" and Brian De Palma's hard-hitting "Redacted," based on the real-life rape and murder of an Iraqi schoolgirl by US soldiers.

Lew Harris, the editor of website Movies.com, said the films have struggled to be successful because the subject matters of Iraq and 9/11 remain too close to home. And in many cases, the films have not been entertaining enough.

"These movies have to be entertaining," Harris told AFP. "You can't just take a movie and make it anti-war or anti-torture and expect to draw people in.

"That's what happened with 'Rendition' and it has been a disaster," he said.

"People want war movies to have a slam-bang adventure feel to them ... But Iraq is a difficult war to portray in a kind of rah-rah-rah, exciting way.

"And it's just too close to home. The Vietnam war movies didn't start until long after the war was over.

"But here for the first time you're seeing things that you're reading about in the newspaper or seeing on television in movie theatres. I'm not sure that's something that people want. A lot of people go to the movies to escape."

According to Gitesh Pandya, an analyst with website boxofficeguru.com, cinema-goers were unenthusiastic about spending money for movies about subjects they see on television at no cost.

"I just think it's something that people are not willing to pay top dollar to see, especially when we get so much coverage at home for free," Pandya told AFP. "At the end of the day it's not content people are willing to pay for."

Pandya said the subject matter of the films also made them particularly vulnerable to poor reviews.

"Older-skewing films are affected by reviews a lot more than a movie aimed at teenagers. It's possible for a teen movie with horrible reviews to be a commercial success; but for films targeting an older audience, the reviews can make or break them," he added. "And the reviews for these films have not been great."

Veteran television producer Steven Bochco, whose 2005 television series "Over There" about a platoon of soldiers fighting in Iraq ended after just one season, said it was hard to engage audiences in a "hugely unpopular war."

"TV is fully saturated with this war and I don't know if you can do a serious drama about this war and locate any angle that would overcome the negativity about it," he told the New York daily Newsday.

Iraq films remain a difficult sell for audiences because of the swirl of confusion surrounding the rights and wrongs of the conflict, he added.

"World War II was hugely romanticized in terms of its fiction. There were unambiguous villains, and the feeling we were fighting the right people over the right issues, as opposed to this war, which many people feel is misguided.

  .

In discussing this nothing-but-negative phenomenon with people, I have found there to be no shortage of rationalizers who tell me that "The only reason they make movies is to make money.  If they could make money from a movie that takes the other side they would be doing it"

Well I think it's fair to say that this assumption is belied by the fact that the movies they are making do not make money.  And they aren't trying the other side anyway.

But I admit that it's fun to see the "explanations" by Hollywood leftists that the reason their anti-war movies are down the tubes is that people are so anti-war.  Sure, that's logical:  People won't see the movies because they are in agreement with them.

That's Hollywood for you.  Who says fantasy is dead?

 


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