Patterico's Pontifications

7/25/2004

“I’m Not a Pessimist. I’m a Realist.”

Filed under: Air Security,Terrorism — Patterico @ 10:27 pm

The recent Annie Jacobsen “Terror in the Skies” episode seems a little like a Rorschach test for your views on terrorism — a little like the Bush Administration’s treatment of the available intelligence before the war.

As the Washington Post recently noted in an editorial, “no evidence has been presented that intelligence on Iraq was deliberately falsified for political purposes.” Essentially, the rap on Bush is that he and his top aides were too pessimistic — they too readily saw the available evidence in the worst light.

It seems to me that the reaction to Ms. Jacobsen’s story is similar. There is a set of facts out there that could be interpreted either way: as a completely innocent set of circumstances, or as a group of terrorists conducting a dry run.

Some say: Don’t panic. Maybe Iraq is developing nuclear weapons; maybe not. Maybe it will give WMD to Al Qaeda; maybe not. Maybe those 14 guys are musicians with weak bladders. So what if half of them defy the captain’s order, and leap up upon final approach? There could be an innocent explanation. Until we know for sure, let’s not over-react.

Folks like me are willing to say: I don’t know which interpretation is correct — the pessimistic one or the optimistic one. But something about 9/11 has made me less critical of those in power who choose to treat every potential threat seriously.

Which way do you come down?

How Many Times Do We Have to Explain This?

Filed under: Media Bias — Patterico @ 10:11 pm

A New York Times Comments (3)

48 to 2

Filed under: Dog Trainer — Patterico @ 10:03 pm

48 to 2. That’s the ratio of stories in the L.A. Times touting Joe Wilson’s allegations (48) to stories covering the Senate report that destroyed his credibility (2). Details here.

To be fair to the Times, some other mainstream newspapers are even worse.

Control Room

Filed under: Terrorism — Patterico @ 3:13 pm

The wife and I saw Control Room over the weekend. Not only is it a compelling film, it’s also required viewing for anyone who wants to understand the mentality behind Al Jazeera. On a deeper level, it reminds us that a huge part of the war that we are fighting is a war of public relations. And make no mistake: this is not primarily a war of ideas. It’s also a war of images — of perception.

And we are losing this war badly.

Case in point: by far the most likable person in the film is Lt. (now Capt.) Josh Rushing, a U.S. press officer. He is earnest and credible. He’s an American with his heart clearly in the right place. He’s a Marine who advocates the American position, and is frustrated with the unfair portrayal of our efforts in Iraq — but also understands that our problems in the region have deep roots, among them the Israel/Palestinian issue. He clearly respects the Iraqi people, and wants badly to communicate to those people that we are there to help them. He also wishes that Al Jazeera would tell Arabs more about the evils of Saddam’s regime, to put the horrors of the war in perspective.

In a moving moment, Lt. Rushing thoughtfully describes his reaction to footage of injured and dead Iraqis, as compared to his stronger reaction to similar footage of Americans. He says that, when he realized that he cared more about the dead Americans, it bothered him, and made him realize that he hates war. But, he adds, he is not convinced that we can yet live in a world without war.

Lt. Rushing is compassionate, well-spoken, and portrays an image of absolute trustworthiness. In short, he is the face that we want to portray to the world — especially the Arab world.

And guess what? The Pentagon is silencing him.

Yup. You can read about it in a Salon.com article titled Muzzling a Marine (viewing of annoying commercial required):

Rushing comes across as a sympathetic character in the movie — earnest and thoughtful, a patriot and a skeptic — with shrewd observations about partisan media coverage (Al Jazeera and Fox) and the failure of U.S. media to fully explain what is happening in the Middle East. But now the Pentagon has silenced Rushing, 31, ordering him not to comment on the movie. And as a result, the 14-year career military man, recently promoted to captain, plans to leave the Marines, his wife told Salon in an interview Thursday.

The director of the film, Jehane Noujaim, is disappointed with the Marine Corps’ decision:

“The smartest thing the Marine Corps could do right now is to have him as their spokesperson,” she says. “He’s someone who blasted apart all of my stereotypes about the military; he’s somebody who, on a daily basis, interacted with Arab reporters — he was on both sides — and he’s somebody with a great deal of useful insight into what was going on. I don’t understand it.”

. . . . She also added that Rushing is a compelling figure not only for Americans, but for Arabs as well. “People trusted him,” she says, and for Arab viewers, he comes across as someone who has the potential to change the way they look at the American military. “And he was really excited about talking to the lefty press. These are channels that the U.S. military doesn’t address very often, and it was very disappointing to me that he was just silenced.”

If this is how we are waging our war of images and ideas, we are going to lose, folks.

One related point: the Al Jazeera executives in the film defend their broadcasting of wounded and dead Iraqis, arguing that this is true journalism. Clearly, the way Al Jazeera relentlessly broadcasts these images — showing them before every cutaway to a commercial — does not serve the highest ideals of journalism. Still, the executives have something of a point. There has been a virtual embargo on such images here in the U.S. And that’s a real problem.

One reason is that, when a blatant propagandist like Michael Moore shows these images in a film like “Fahrenheit 9/11,” people witnessing these images may be seeing them for the first time. They may feel lied to by our press, which they will correctly suspect has hidden these images, for the most part. This confers a false sense of legitimacy upon the rest of Moore’s dishonest movie. Unsophisticated moviegoers cannot be blamed for thinking: “If Moore is the first person to tell me the truth about the horrors of this war, maybe he’s the first person to tell me the truth about all these other things as well.”

That’s not good.

As a reluctant supporter of this war, I hate it when people oppose the war by telling lies. But it also disturbs me that we are having the full truth hidden from us as well. Let the opponents of the war make truthful arguments, and let one of those arguments be that there is a true human cost to this war.

And yes, we the supporters of the war must then respond with our own truthful arguments, regarding the horrors that took place in Iraq before the war, and that would still be occurring there if we had not invaded.

Wouldn’t it be nice if U.S. Marine Capt. Josh Rushing were one of the people out there making this argument on our behalf?

Chirac a Jerk? Here’s Literal Confirmation

Filed under: Humor — Patterico @ 2:36 pm

I have definitive proof, via an AP story, that Jacques Chirac has at times acted like an utter and complete jerk:

Chirac is probably the most America-friendly French leader in modern times. Unlike his predecessors, he doesn’t mind speaking English in public, and he loves to reminisce about his time in New York as a young man, working as a soda jerk.

Thanks to alert reader Hank K.

More on the Expired Visas Issue

Filed under: Terrorism — Patterico @ 2:24 pm

Michelle Malkin reports that our vaunted authorities released those 14 Syrian musicians before checking to see if they had valid visas.

The jury is still out as to whether they were here legally or not. But the fact that the government didn’t even check before letting them go is cause for alarm.

Seat Open on Watcher’s Council

Filed under: Watcher's Council — Patterico @ 11:46 am

A seat on the Watcher’s Council is up for grabs. Go grab it.

Dan Okrent: A True “Readers’ Representative”

Filed under: Dog Trainer — Patterico @ 11:11 am

Dan Okrent, the ombudsman for the New York Times, asks: lengthy e-mail debate with her, thinking that I could surely get her to see reason. I don’t bother anymore. In clear cases, I’ll send her the initial e-mail — just to say I tried to get something done — but the subsequent debate just isn’t worth my time.

If Gold could bring herself to criticize her paper in the straightforward way that Okrent does today, she would gain credibility in the eyes of a lot of readers. And she might then actually earn the title “Readers’ Representative.”

UPDATE: Thanks to Instapundit for the link. I hope readers who enjoy this post will bookmark and/or blogroll the site, and return often.

L.A. Times Piece on Bloggers

Filed under: Dog Trainer — Patterico @ 10:47 am

Regular readers will remember my Tuesday post reporting a rumor that the L.A. Times would do a feature on bloggers in today’s Sunday edition. Well, the rumor has come to pass.

I suspected that it might be a hit piece on conservative bloggers, but it’s not. The piece, titled Bounced Bloggers, is about the bloggers whose credentials for the Democratic Convention were revoked.

The piece gives a short excerpt from each blog, and quizzes readers as to whether the blog’s credentials were revoked. Answers are given at the end.

One of the blogs mentioned is INDC Journal, a member of our very own Watcher’s Council. Nice going, Bill — and nice cartoon. Too bad you can’t see it on the web version of the Times piece.


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