August 6, 2006

Updates: Floyd Landis, Lebanon, Crackers

War, Lies and Digital Photography

From time to time I comment on Marc Cooper's blog. Cooper was once an interpreter for Chilean Socialist President Salvador Allende, did newscasts on KPFK (the LA-area Pacifica station), and later did radio for The Nation, a venerable left-wing magazine. I don't agree with Cooper, but he's smarter and more of a critical thinker than most of the lefty bloggers out there.

Cooper posted here and here on the blogosphere controversy over the Israeli bombing in Qana, Lebanon, which I alluded to in this post.

Cooper took the view that expressed suspicions in the right and pro-Israel side of the blogosphere that there was something suspect about the Qana story were the right-wing equivalent of the left-tinfoil theories about 9/11 having been staged:
Or maybe none of this really happened as it appears. Perhaps the Hezbollah took a page from the playbook of the Great 9/11 Conspiracy. Just as the Bush adminisitration faked the planes flying into the Towers (by using USAF craft), did the sinister Hezbollah lease a couple of F-16's, paint them up as Israeli Air Force jets, and then turn them againt half of Lebanon? You knever know. Especially if facts no longer have any meaning.
I'm not going to try to unravel the truth about Qana. The best summing-up I know about appeared on the Volokh Consipiracy, by David Bernstein, although the story continues to develop.

Meanwhile, though, a Reuters photo of parts of Beirut burning turns out to be covered with photoshopped smoke. Apparently the unadorned photo wasn't dramatic, or outrage-producing enough. So much for the wisdom and professionalism of MSM editors. Reuters is this year's CBS News, I suppose.

The use of propaganda, especially about outrages, trumped up or not, is nothing new in wars. What's more to the point is that the vaunted "objectivity" of MSM is belied by its evident vulnerability to hoaxes and staged events, especially those that decrease its cognitive dissonance but depicting the world as it already believes it to exist.

I think a degree of candor and rationalism in reporting and commentary is a good thing, but unbiased reporting is rare. That's why I detailed my presuppositions on the Israel-Palestine issue, before commenting on recent events.

"Say it Ain't So, Floyd!"

I don't know whether my face should be red, but in this post I gloated about Floyd Landis's comeback in the Tour de France. It was a "sod the Frogs" moment.

Two tests have now come back that are strong evidence that Landis took synthetic testosterone just before his comeback. Apparently the test protocol includes testing for isotopes such that body-produced testosterone can be distinguished from the synthetic variety. I don't want to rush to judgment, but it looks bad for Floyd.

I'm not a Puritan when it comes to the use of performance-enhancing chemicals in sports; perhaps the rules are too strict. But they are the rules, and a number of Landis's rivals were excluded from the Tour at the start because of doping of one sort or another.

One of the virtues of sport is its relative objectivity. If you win, it's because you're faster, or stronger, or more skilled. Sport has been a vehicle by which athletes born in poverty, obscurity and oppression have been able to triumph simply because they were better. If the rules say "no drugs," then no one should use them. It's a shame for the sport.

Saltines and Racism

Some commenters have accused me of racism because, among other things, I've criticized MSM for omitting the race of perpetrators of crime, and ignoring the enormous variations in crime and incarceration rates between blacks and whites. Some facts are taboo.

Meanwhile, a prominent California legislator, Democrat Don Perata, called opponents of driver's licences for illegal aliens "crackers" the other day. An opponent of Joe Lieberman posted a picture of him in blackface. But Mitt Romney is pilloried for an innocent use of the term "tar baby."

What was the cliché about whose ox is gored?

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