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Archive for the ‘Truth’ Category

God bless Victoria Jackson.

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Banking on the Media

Barack Obama claims to be a member of the Banking Committeehe’s not—to take credit for something it did. Good grief. If a Republican had done this, it would be front-page news all over the country!

UPDATE: John Hinderaker asks whether Obama could be a serial liar. Today he lied about his own prediction about the success of the surge. Something interesting is going on here. Democrats have to change positions in Presidential elections; they have to swerve to the left for the primaries and then swing to the center-right for the general election. This poses a problem: How do you explain the shift? John Kerry earned the “flip-flop” label in 2004 because he couldn’t answer that question. Obama now seems to be trying to address it by denying that he ever held his earlier positions. Since many of them are well-known, and since many of them are documented on YouTube and in other ways, this doesn’t seem like a very promising response.

FURTHER UPDATE: Is the media becoming disenchanted?  Gabriel Sherman says so.  I doubt it, myself—or, at least, I doubt that it matters, since I think even those media members who do become disenchanted will suppress it for the good of the cause.  There is a limit to that, however, for the one thing the media care about more than the cause is themselves.

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…you ought to make sure it’s in working order. Iran tested missiles that can reach Israel, releasing a photograph of a successful launch. Oops! Only three of the missiles actually fired. That doesn’t make for a very impressive front-page photograph! So, what to do? Photoshop to the rescue! Kudos to Charles Johnson for figuring it out.

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That’s how Jon Randal describes the bloggers who exposed the “death” of Muhammad al-Dura as a sham. Anne-Elisabeth Moutet asks how Charles Enderlin and French 2 TV perpetrated a fraud, and finds a culture of unaccountability and closing ranks that has little interest in the truth.

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Scripted Reality

I used to be a fan of some reality TV shows, especially Survivor. But I lost interest when the fourth season seemed staged; Vecepia Towery won the Marquesas competition only because management wanted her to. Nevertheless, I was shocked a few years later when I learned from a Hollywood insider that Survivor had writers just like any other show.

I didn’t think the same was true of politics. Increasingly, however, I’m convinced that it is. Hillary’s planted questioners have made news this primary season. But that’s only the tip of the iceberg. In Germany, politicians whispered about a Turkish man departing from the intended script, and were picked up on the microphone:

While a young and allegedly reformed violent Turkish criminal, asked by the talk show host: “What could Germany have done to offer you a better existence”?, answers “Well, nothing specific really comes to my mind. All the opportunities have been there, you just have to look for them a little bit”, a shocked Secretary of Justice and the Turkish MP have the following exchange:

Mutlu: “Has he not been briefed”?

Zypries: “He has”!

Their mimics clearly show how they disapprove of the conciliatory words of their political client. So, the take of PI and others, including myself, is that the State media in Germany is presenting biased and doctored contents to the tax paying audience who pays for their own media indoctrination.

If someone had told me even a year ago that much “news” was scripted I would have dismissed them as an extreme right- or left-wing lunatic. Now, I’m beginning to think it’s true more often than most of us suspect. Please, get me help before it’s too late!

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Immanuel Kant wrote a short essay, “On a Supposed Right to Lie Because of Philanthropic Concerns,” in the Berlin Press in 1799, replying to a criticism of his views by Benjamin Constant. Constant described a case in which you allow a friend fleeing a murderer to take refuge in your house. The murderer comes to the door and asks whether the friend is there. Must you tell him the truth? Kant responds that you must: “To be truthful in all declarations is, therefore, a sacred and unconditionally commanding law of reason that admits of no expediency whatsoever.”

Almost all students of philosophy side with Constant, finding Kant’s willingness to insist on moral absolutes “let the consequences be what they may” outrageous. The ancient Chinese philosopher Yang Chu famously wrote that he would not pluck a single hair from his head to save the entire world. Kant’s moral absolutism seems to imply that one could not pluck a single hair from someone else’s head in order to save the entire world. One doesn’t have to be a consequentialist to find this unacceptable.

It’s surprising, therefore, to find the vast majority of Congressional Democrats, as well as some prominent Republicans, committed to Kant’s moral absolutism. The House-Senate conference committee on the intelligence authorization bill have added language that would restrict interrogators to techniques in the Army Field Manual, which mandates Geneva Convention rules. That means that one could not slap, threaten to slap, place in a cold room, or feed cold food to a terrorist, even if that terrorist has information that could save millions of lives. Congress is about to stipulate that one may not pluck a single hair from a terrorist’s head, even if it would save the entire world.

I have no moral qualms about waterboarding, slapping, holding people in cold rooms or uncomfortable positions, and other aggressive techniques if there is good reason to believe that the person being interrogated has information that could prevent terror attacks. These techniques fall short of torture as traditionally understood; they do not inflict “severe pain and suffering,” which international law takes as essential to torture. Indeed, when it comes to the ethics of interrogation, I’m on the Jack Bauer end of the spectrum; I’d be willing to inflict severe pain and suffering if it were necessary to stop a terror attack. But that’s the beauty of waterboarding; it’s more effective than inflicting pain and suffering while also being more humane. It makes torture unnecessary.

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Another Hate Hoax

A black firefighter finds a noose and threatening note in an East Baltimore fire station. It turns out he put it there himself. (HT: Drudge.)

Still no word on the incident at Columbia. The Justice Department started an investigation six weeks ago. How long can it take to view a security tape?

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