Patterico's Pontifications


Investor’s Business Daily on Changes to “The Path to 9/11”

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:32 pm

After complaints from Bill Clinton and his cronies, “The Path to 9/11” has been edited — and Investor’s Business Daily is not happy:

[N]o amount of script rewrites will change that it was Clinton, not “general indecisiveness,” that let Osama bin Laden avoid capture or death at least three times on Clinton’s watch.

. . . .

Clinton admitted his culpability in February 2002 when he told a Long Island Association luncheon crowd in Woodbury, N.Y., how and why he passed on one opportunity to kill bin Laden and much of the Taliban supporting him.

In May 1999, the CIA tracked bin Laden to Kandahar, Afghanistan, where he was expected to remain for five days. Clinton said he considered bombing Kandahar and that “I could have, on any given night, ordered an attack” but didn’t out of concern that women and children might be killed.

. . . .

At the meeting to discuss a retaliatory strike [for the bombing of the USS Cole], it was met with almost universal opposition. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, who charges that her scenes in the movie are “fabrications,” said then that because of troubles between Israel and the Palestinians, “Bombing Muslims wouldn’t be helpful at this time.” So the trigger was never pulled.

Again, I’m not interested in the blame game — but I’m also not interested in allowing Democrats to rewrite history according to the mythology of left-wing blogs. If the lefties stop doing that, maybe we can get back to blaming the real culprits: the terrorists. And maybe we can commemorate the awful anniversary of 9/11 in the sober way that it deserves.

Vegetative Woman Not Vegetative — Experts Are Shocked, Stunned, and Amazed . . . Again

Filed under: General,Schiavo — Patterico @ 7:20 pm

The Washington Post today reports on an unprecedented experiment to detect awareness in patients previously classified as vegetative:

According to all the tests, the young woman was deep in a “vegetative state” — completely unresponsive and unaware of her surroundings. But then a team of scientists decided to do an unprecedented experiment, employing sophisticated technology to try to peer behind the veil of her brain injury for any signs of conscious awareness.

Doctors were shocked by what they found:

Without any hint that she might have a sense of what was happening, the researchers put the woman in a scanner that detects brain activity and told her that in a few minutes they would say the word “tennis,” signaling her to imagine she was serving, volleying and chasing down balls. When they did, the neurologists were shocked to see her brain “light up” exactly as an uninjured person’s would. It happened again and again. And the doctors got the same result when they repeatedly cued her to picture herself wandering, room to room, through her own home.

Doctors were also stunned:

I was absolutely stunned,” said Adrian M. Owen, a British neurologist who led the team reporting the case in today’s issue of the journal Science. “We had no idea whether she would understand our instructions. But this showed that she is aware.”

and they were shocked again:

“This is a very important study,” said Nicholas D. Schiff, a neurologist at the Weill Cornell Medical College in New York. “It’s the first time we’ve ever seen something like this. It really is kind of shocking.”

The article cautions that people should not take these findings and leap to the conclusion that they are applicable to the Terri Schiavo situation:

But Owen, Schiff and others stressed that the research does not indicate that many patients in vegetative states are necessarily aware or likely to recover. Schiavo, in particular, had suffered much more massive brain damage for far longer than the patient in Britain, making awareness or recovery impossible, they said.

“I’m quite confident that [Schiavo] would not have responded in this way,” said James L. Bernat, a neurologist at Dartmouth Medical School. But, he said, the findings indicate that current methods of evaluating awareness are unreliable. He added: “Still, if Schiavo had reacted this way, I would be shocked and stunned.”

OK, I made up that last line. But my point is very real: the experts are often wrong. This is a point I have made before (for example, see UPDATE x3 to this post). But it keeps getting made again — all the time.

Recall the case of Terry Wallis, the man who was in a minimally conscious state for 19 years, and whose brain then “spontaneously rewired itself.” The doctors were wrong about him too:

Wallis was frequently classified as being in a permanent vegetative state. Though his family fought for a re-evaluation after seeing many promising signs that he was trying to communicate, their requests were turned down.

When doctors turned out to be wrong about Wallis, they were amazed:

Krish Sathian, a neurologist and specialist in brain rehabilitation at Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta, US, describes it as an amazing finding. “The bounds on the possible extent of neural plasticity just keep on shifting,” he says. “Classical teaching would not have predicted any of these changes.”

Why, doctors would have bet money it never would have happened this way:

Most neurologists would have been willing to bet money that whatever the cause of it, if it hadn’t changed in 19 years, wasn’t going to change now,” [Dr. James] Bernat said. “So it’s really extraordinary.”

An amusing side note: the research in the Wallis case was led by Dr. Nicholas Schiff — the same guy who was shocked by the revelations in today’s Washington Post article. He termed Wallis’s case “miraculous” — but apparently thought that the era of brain-related miracles ended with Wallis.

So evidently, these doctors can be shocked and stunned by the power of the human brain . . . and then quickly retreat back into their natural state of all-knowing complacency — only to be shocked and stunned again when the next extraordinary case comes along.

Maybe this will help explain why some of us weren’t so quick to write off Terri Schiavo’s life just because some “experts” assured us that she was in a persistent vegetative state with no hope of recovery. I’ll concede that, with the autopsy, the experts were almost certainly right — and they usually are.

Except when they’re not — at which point they become shocked, stunned, and amazed.

Democrat Threats to ABC’s Free Speech Rights Are Hardly “Unprecedented”

Filed under: Civil Liberties,General — Patterico @ 6:19 pm

Some folks are calling “unprecedented” the Democrats’ mafia-style implicit threats to yank ABC’s broadcast license.

Unprecedented? Ha! This is just what Democrats do.

Let’s take a short walk down memory lane, shall we? From a UPI story from August 3, 2004:

Several members of Congress sent a letter Tuesday to Rupert Murdoch, owner of Fox News, to express their opposition to what they say is the network’s “unfair and unbalanced” bias towards the Republican Party.

The group, composed of 38 Democrats and Independents from the U.S. House of Representatives, has requested that Murdoch meet with them to discuss their concerns.

“The responsibility of the media is to report the news in an unbiased, impartial and objective manner,” the letter reads.

“It seems clear that Fox News network has a deliberate bias in favor of, and often serves as an extension of, the Republican Party’s policies and ideology.”

. . . .

The letter’s co-signers include Rep. Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill., a member of the House Democratic Leadership, Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., ranking member on the House Judiciary Committee, and Rep. Pete Stark, D-Calif., ranking member on the Joint Economic Committee.

Here’s the kicker:

A spokesman for Rep. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., said there were legislative avenues that the group could pursue as a secondary measure but declined to speculate on what those might be.

I highlighted this two days later in a post titled Liberals vs. The First Amendment.

The idea of Democrats as anti-free-speech thugs is hardly new.

UPDATE: And Hot Air reminds us of the anti-Kerry documentary that was pulled after “Democratic activists began making noises about challenging the stations’ broadcast licenses when they came up for renewal” — and after Kerry spokeman Chad Clanton said: “I think they’re going to regret doing this, and they better hope we don’t win.”

The Path To 9/11 – More on the Continuing Debate

Filed under: General,Government,Media Bias,Movies,Politics,Terrorism,War — Justin Levine @ 1:00 pm

[posted by Justin Levine]

Instapundit nails it on the head today. Read his post, along with all the links he provides.

Like him, I most certainly do not blame the Clinton administration for 9/11. I do blame them for constantly trying to distort history by claiming to have been focused like a laser beam on terror throughout their tenure, and then implying that everything was going swimmingly in the anti-terror effort until Bush came into power. That is an out-and-out lie – and one that the “Path To 9/11” powerfully dispels.

But you know who I think comes across as the worst in this film? [Not including the terrorists themselves obviously.] It actually isn’t anyone in the Clinton cabinet. It is (more…)

L.A. Times Ignores Democrat Senators’ Thuggery

Filed under: Dog Trainer,General — Patterico @ 6:47 am

Democrat Senators threatened ABC’s free speech rights yesterday, and the L.A. Times has failed to report it.

Yesterday several Democrat Senators signed a letter to ABC that mentioned the network’s free broadcast license, and implicitly threatened to pull it due to the content of “The Path to 9/11”:

The Communications Act of 1934 provides your network with a free broadcast license predicated on the fundamental understanding of your principle obligation to act as a trustee of the public airwaves in serving the public interest. Nowhere is this public interest obligation more apparent than in the duty of broadcasters to serve the civic needs of a democracy by promoting an open and accurate discussion of political ideas and events.

. . . .

Should Disney allow this programming to proceed as planned, the factual record, millions of viewers, countless schoolchildren, and the reputation of Disney as a corporation worthy of the trust of the American people and the United States Congress will be deeply damaged. We urge you, after full consideration of the facts, to uphold your responsibilities as a respected member of American society and as a beneficiary of the free use of the public airwaves to cancel this factually inaccurate and deeply misguided program. We look forward to hearing back from you soon.

Predictably, today’s L.A. Times story mentions nothing of the United States Senators’ implicit threats to ABC’s broadcast license. Rather, it quotes the portions of the letter dealing with the movie’s alleged factual inaccuracies:

[Complaining former Clinton officials] were joined Thursday by Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada and fellow Democratic Sens. Richard J. Durbin of Illinois, Debbie Stabenow of Michigan, Charles E. Schumer of New York and Byron L. Dorgan of North Dakota, who sent a joint letter to Iger asking that the broadcast be canceled.

. . . .

In their letter, the senators questioned the political leanings behind the miniseries.

“Frankly, that ABC and Disney would consider airing a program that could be construed as right-wing political propaganda on such a grave and important event involving the security of our nation is a discredit both to the Disney brand and to the legacy of honesty built at ABC by honorable individuals from David Brinkley to Peter Jennings,” the letter said.

There is a mafia-style threat by elected U.S. representatives to the political free speech of a major U.S. broadcasting network — and the L.A. Times blows the story, even though it’s right under their nose.

Did you expect anything different?

UPDATE: I should note that the article states that it is “from the Associated Press.”

That Vast Left-Wing Conspiracy

Filed under: General,Media Bias — Patterico @ 6:35 am

From FireDogLake to the front page of the San Jose Mercury News . . . no stopping to fact-check.


Even relatively obscure right-wing blogs such as Patterico’s Pontifications, written by Los Angeles County attorney Justin Levine, have been favored with advance screenings. Levine reciprocated by declaring that the film is “free of political spin, politically correct whitewashing and partisan wrangling” and “one of the best made-for-televison movies seen in decades. … The Clinton administration will likely go ballistic over this film.” In its politically-spin-free way, Patterico pontificates, the film also “lays out viscerally powerful arguments in favor of the Patriot Act and airport profiling.”

San Jose Mercury News:

Patterico’s Pontifications, a right-wing blog written by Los Angeles County attorney Justin Levine, said the miniseries is “free of political spin, politically correct whitewashing and partisan wrangling” and that “the Clinton administration will likely go ballistic over this film.”

Hey, at least they didn’t call me “obscure.”

And at least the newspaper is correcting the error. Per commenter aunursa:

The San Jose Mercury News issued a correction in today’s paper: “A front-page article Thursday about the controversy surrounding ABC’s “The Path to 9/11″ incorrectly identified Justin Levine. Levine is a guest blogger on the Patterico’s Pontifications Web site and works in radio.”

I see no correction at the FireDogLake post. They should be more diligent about corrections; after all, their stuff is going straight to newsprint without any fact-checking.

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