Friday, November 6, 2009

Cancer: Cured! McCarthy: Crucified! Jews: Demonic! Studies in Crap digs up Wichita's The Defender

By Alan Scherstuhl in Studies in Crap
Nov. 5 2009

The Defender Magazine

Representative Quotes:

"History will give [Senator McCarthy] a rightful place above all inferiors." (February, page 2).

"[The American Medical Association] hopes to have a blitzkrieg going -- the objective being to exterminate all of the minority healing professions by 1958." (September, page 2)

Liberty weeps. In 1955, when the United States senate dared to censure its anti-communist inquisitionist Joe McCarthy, few Americans heard the spirited nonsense roared by Wichita evangelist Gerald B. Winrod in The Defender, his monthly journal of sermons and horseshit. Only Winrod dared call the censure "crucifixion."

In The Defender, " ... Talk of serpents summoned by Jewish magicians in ancient Babylon leads right to Jewish 'tentacles' shaping American life: They control radio, TV, an 'invisible government,' and an ADL as powerful as the FBI. Groff detests the Talmud, that expansive archive of rabbinic thinking, almost as much as he adores repetitive synonyms. 'The contents of the Talmud explains why the Jews are strange, different, and odd' ... "

That means that some of Winrod's predictions turned out to be wrong, such as when he claims that McCarthy's speech in response to the censure "will be studied as a political and literary masterpiece in high school and college textbooks of the future," which just goes to show you that even time itself has a liberal bias. Hazarding why even Eisenhower turned red, Winrod speculates on powers greater even than presidents:

"It is now known that during all the months that the White House was maneuvering things against Senator McCarthy, the Time and Life publishing outfits had one of their key men stationed at the President's elbow."


Wednesday, November 4, 2009

David Horowitz Hosts Dutch "Scholar" who Faces Prosecution for Inciting Race Hatred

Controversial Dutch Pol Renders His Message
By Bryan Schwartzman
October 29, 2009 Bryan Schwartzman

Geert Wilders

A controversial Dutch lawmaker and fierce critic of Islam received an overwhelming positive response from a largely Jewish audience in Center City, just days after several dozen students protested outside Temple University, the parliamentarian's first local stop. Both events took place under tight security.

Geert Wilders, the leader of the Netherlands Freedom Party, has angered Muslims by claiming that terrorism and violence are central components of Islam, as opposed to products of an extremist, fringe subset.

Wilders is facing charges of incitement to hatred in his native country for producing a short film called "Fitna." The documentary has been widely viewed on the Internet, and essentially argues that the West is under siege from radical Islam.

Wilders, who has called for limiting Muslim immigration to Europe, has portrayed himself as an advocate of free speech. He's even become a darling in certain conservative circles.

"I have nothing against Muslims. I do have a problem with Islam," said Wilders to a burst of applause during an Oct. 22 speech held at the Union League of Philadelphia. "The Koran is an evil book; it calls for murder, terror and war."

Attended by about 200 people, the speech served as the inaugural event for the David Horowitz Freedom Center--Philadelphia. Formed less than a year ago, the local center is meant to serve as the East Coast headquarters of the Los Angeles-based organization run by Horowitz, a one-time liberal turned conservative firebrand. Horowitz is the editor of the right-leaning Web site

According to its mission statement, the Philadelphia center will focus on campus activity and academic freedom by helping ensure that critics of Islam -- as well as pro-Israel speakers -- are allowed to offer their viewpoints without being quashed.

Wilders' Temple speech drew a number of protesters, including Jewish students, and created a controversy on campus as to whether or not he should have been permitted to speak at all.

Some of the proceeds from the Union League event will go toward Wilders' legal defense back home, said Horowitz.

The issue of how to relate to Muslims in America -- and Islam, in general -- has proved a divisive one for the Jewish community. Those on the left have, for the most part, advocated dialogue and engagement, while the right has espoused a more confrontational line. The same can be said for Israeli relationships with Arabs in the Mideast.

Theory Works Both Ways

Rabbi Nancy Fuchs-Kreimer, who directs the Department of Multifaith Studies and Initiatives at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College in Wyncote, did not attend the speech.

But she said later in an interview that it can be highly misleading to highlight individual quotes from the Koran -- as Wilders' does -- and call it representative of Islam in totality.

Using that same theory, back in the Middle Ages, Christian leaders would pore through the Talmud to pick out passages to be used against Jews.

Said Fuchs-Kreimer: "Judaism is a very diverse, evolving religious civilization. The same is true of Islam."

The Myth of Fox News' Ratings Spike

By Eric Boehlert
Huffington Post
November 3, 2009

Fact: The breathless claim that Fox News' ratings recently spiked thanks to the White House's public critique is bogus hype -- hype that Fox News and the Beltway press have relentlessly pushed.

It's just not true.

No matter how many times reporters and pundits made the claim, a detailed analysis of Nielsen ratings numbers clearly indicates that in the two weeks after the White House in mid-October sparked a media controversy by claiming Rupert Murdoch's channel was not a legitimate news organization, Fox News' ratings did not soar or go "through the roof." In fact, not only did Fox News' overall ratings not soar, they experienced no significant increase at all. Instead, in the two weeks following the initial verbal jousts with the White House, Fox News' total day ratings virtually flatlined.

Another example of the Beltway press not letting the facts get in the way of a good story? It sure looks that way. In this case, we saw nearly universal agreement among media elites that the White House decision to publicly call out Fox News was monumentally dumb, thin-skinned, short-sighted, and uncivil. (Paging the etiquette police!)

Everyone said so. Therefore pundits were certain that Fox News' ratings were way up and that Obama and his aides had made a huge tactical blunder. The ratings angle simply provided statistical ammunition for what the Beltway press corps already knew to be the truth: Fact-checking Fox News, in the immortal words of The Washington Post's CW-loving Sally Quinn, was "absolutely crazy."

Except it turns out none of that was true. There was no viewer stampede toward Fox News.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Should Modern Warfare 2 Allow Us to Play at Terrorism?

Leaked footage of a controversial airport level in Modern Warfare 2 has caused a wave of controversy online...

Modern Warfare 2: could you shoot this man? You may be about to find out...

Guardian | October 29, 2009

The video is a few minutes long, but it might just be the most important game footage to be seen this year. It's a bootleg of a single mission from Modern Warfare 2, the much-anticipated first-person shooter, certain to be the winter's biggest selling game. It shows the player joining Russian terrorists on a bloody rampage through an airport building; civilians are gunned down as armed men run through the departures lounge, and it's evident that the player is firing too. In one alarming moment someone is shown dragging an injured person across the concourse – the player shoots them both dead.

Released onto the internet earlier this week, the blurry footage has already provoked a media backlash, a Mirror headline proclaiming, "leaked level makes light of terrorist atrocities." Many see in it harrowing evocations of last year's Mumbai terror attacks in which over 170 people were killed. For a while, it wasn't clear whether the sequence was genuine, but yesterday, Activision released a statement confirming its authenticity:

"The leaked footage was taken from a copy of game that was obtained illegally and is not representative of the overall gameplay experience in Modern Warfare 2. Infinity Ward's Modern Warfare 2 features a deep and gripping storyline in which players face off against a terrorist threat dedicated to bringing the world to the brink of collapse. The game includes a plot involving a mission carried out by a Russian villain who wants to trigger a global war. In order to defeat him, the player infiltrates his inner circle. The scene is designed to evoke the atrocities of terrorism.

"At the beginning of the game, players encounter a mandatory 'checkpoint' in which they are warned that an upcoming segment may contain disturbing elements, and they can choose not to engage in the gameplay that involves this scene."

So what should we make of all this?

Clearly, once again, we will be confronted with difficult questions about the role and duty of videogames as an entertainment form. To some commentators, videogames by their very nature, 'make light' of anything they portray. This is partially about semantics; the interpretation of the word 'game' as something fundamentally frivolous. Partly, too, it is about the legacy of videogames as a pastime for children, for teenagers – not for adults.

And then interactivity itself brings in complex moral questions. If a movie were to depict a terrorist outrage, the viewer takes no active part. But in a videogame, you're engaged and complicit. The participation is the entertainment, and that's always going to be problematic. Activision's argument about seeking to portray the depths of the terrorist cell's immorality in order to stir the player's emotions is sound to a point – it's an established narrative device. But as Tom Hoggins asks in his Telegraph feature, is it really necessary for the player to throw grenades? And wouldn't similar revulsion be elicited if the player were placed into the shoes of one of the victims? This would, after all, reflect the wonderful opening sequence to the original Modern Warfare, in which the player takes on the perspective of a prisoner who is bundled into a car and later executed.

This is also not the first time that the Call of Duty series has forced the player into a morally troublesome sequence. There is at least one moment in Call of Duty: World at War (admittedly created by a different development studio, but still part of the CoD lineage), in which the player has no choice but to shoot a group of unarmed enemy soldiers in order to complete a mission objective. Is there an agenda here to push the boundaries of acceptability in shoot-'em-ups? It's a brave move if there is.

On top of it all, context itself is a problematic notion. In this case it appears both vital and valid. What we're robbed of when viewing this illicit footage is what happens before and afterwards, the exact nature of the scene, and the authenticity of the player's involvement. It's certainly far too early for tabloids to be bandying accusations about – but then, when did that ever stop them?

The problem is, context can easily become an excuse to portray wanton violence. In the PlayStation title Driver, for example, the gamer is ostensibly controlling an undercover policeman posing as a criminal, but this backstory is immaterial to the game action, which involves stealing cars, smashing other vehicles out of the way – and having lots of fun in the process. That's a very different game, and a very different circumstance, but it's an example of how the framework can be bent to suit the core game dynamic.

I'm also not sure about Activision's plaintive claim that the scene can be skipped. It's something of a cop-out, a side-step, rather than a pertinent justification. The point is, it's there – the developers put it there. It is an intended element of the whole experience.

Responsibility is the underlying theme in all this. I think this is the deciding factor. Infinity Ward is an excellent developer, it uses narrative in a mature and sophisticated way. Witness the nuclear explosion sequence and the apparent death of Captain Price in Modern Warfare; these are moments of sheer emotional resonance, which would have been fumbled by most studios – indeed they wouldn't even have been attempted by most studios. Both moments work perfectly within the game's depiction of a desperate global battle. I'm certain that will be the case here. This development team has no need for cheap controversy, it doesn't have to appeal to the basest instincts of nihilistic teen gamers looking for a few cheap sick thrills.

That is why this blurry, inconclusive footage is so important. The scene portrayed may well represent a statement of intent: this is what games are capable of now – unsettling us with powerful imagery, backing us into difficult situations, toying with our moral certainties. It is an 18 certificate game. We must be trusted to test ourselves against this.