Zero Dark Thirty: Did torture lead us to Osama bin Laden?

December 21, 2012

zero-dark-thirty-2012-img02See Zero Dark Thirty. It’s a terrific yarn about the search for Osama bin Laden and about the remarkable raid that killed him. Jessica Chastain is perfect as the real-life CIA agent assigned to the case as a rookie. She starts, sensibly enough, with little confidence, but steadily grows into a single-minded pain-in-the-ass who won’t let anybody, up to the director, get in the way of her search. When the CIA director is finally told that the Agency is “60 per cent confident” of bin Laden’s hiding place, Chastain shouts from the back row, “It’s 100 per cent certain.”

The movie starts with a CIA agent torturing a detainee, with Chastain looking on nervously. There is a strong implication that torture produced information that had an important role in finding UBL, as bin Laden is known in the film.

Now there is a firestorm swirling around the movie, with senators knowledgeable in intelligence arguing that torture played no part in finding UBL, and the neocons and the right arguing that of course it did.

So did it?

The film’s director Kathryn Bigelow and screenwriter Mark Boal issued this statement:

“This was a 10-year intelligence operation brought to the screen in a two-and-a-half-hour film. We depicted a variety of controversial practices and intelligence methods that were used in the name of finding bin Laden. The film shows that no single method was necessarily responsible Read the rest of this entry »

Romney’s little joke, heh heh: “No one’s ever asked to see my birth certificate”

August 24, 2012

How do you encourage the right-wing idiocy that Obama was born in Kenya and thus an illegitimate President, while not getting the tar of hate on yourself? Why, by making a little “joke” about it, like Mitt Romney did today while campaigning in Michigan.

“I love being home in this place where Ann and I were raised, where both of us were born. Ann was born in Henry Ford Hospital. I was born in Harper Hospital,” Romney said. “No one’s ever asked to see my birth certificate. They know that this is the place that we were born and raised.”

The text says I’m one of you. The subtext says my opponent is an “other,’ not like us at all. Romney, who is used to getting away with irresponsible language in his prepared texts, often shows his true self when ad libbing. His prepared texts say that he knows that Obama was born in the United States. His true self says, encourage the crazies to hate Obama and to vote for me.

<a href=”http://www.hypersmash.com”>www.hypersmash.com</a&gt;

Did Mitt Romney really say he was too important to go to Vietnam?

August 21, 2012

 


There’s a fake report all over the internet that Mitt Romney said he was “too important to go to Vietnam.”

It’s breathtakingly arrogant, if true, and it’s not true. It originated on a website called “News That’s Almost Reliable,” according to the apparently infallible source of rumor-debunking, Snopes.com.

Romney, the über-hawk who wants to go to war in so many places, got four deferments—all legal—as a young man during the Vietnam war. But whatever he may have thought, there’s no record of his ever saying that he was too important to go to Vietnam.

Shame on whoever started to spread the story. Everybody else, when you hear of a story that’s too good (or too bad) to be true, first use your head, then check it out—not on left-leaning or right-leaning blogs but with reputable news sources, and if there’s any doubt, with Snopes.com.

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Sources: Photo from PoliticalRapids blogspot, idea from Richard Broida via Facebook

 

Fareed Zakaria made “an unintentional error,” and will be back, says TIME

August 17, 2012

 

TIME conducted a “thorough review” of Fareed Zakaria’s work and has exonerated him of wrongdoing. TIME’s statement:

“We have completed a thorough review of each of Fareed Zakaria’s columns for TIME, and we are entirely satisfied that the language in question in his recent column was an unintentional error and an isolated incident for which he has apologized. We look forward to having Fareed’s thoughtful and important voice back in the magazine with his next column in the issue that comes out on September 7.”

Right after Zakaria’s “error” became public and he was suspended by TIME  and CNN, a writer, Clyde Prestowitz of the Economic Strategy Institute, called the Washington Post to level a careless and scurrilous charge Read the rest of this entry »

The face of Great Britain’s Olympics: an observant Muslim named Mohamed Farah wins the 5,000 meters to the screams of 80,000

August 14, 2012

 

Mohamed Farah didn’t  win as many medals as Michael Phelps or Usain Bolt, but he was surely the great hero of the Olympics, at least to his British countrymen. He did what only four had done before him: win both the 10,000 meters and the 5,000, two races that along with the marathon, take the greatest toll on the human body.

It was thrilling to watch Farah move from the rear of the pack to the front, a third of the way through, then hold the lead as one challenger after another made a run at him.

But the most thrilling thing of all was to hear the crowd of 80,000, mostly Britons, screaming without letup, for the final ten minutes of the 13+ minute race. In a country whose reputation has been sullied by some vicious anti-Muslim sentiments and actions, here was the entire stadium yelling themselves hoarse for an observant Muslim who immigrated from Somalia when he was eight.

The roars didn’t let up when, just after crossing the finish line Read the rest of this entry »

Special offer on ethics seminars, and on The Ethics Challenge

August 14, 2012

1) I’ll visit your workplace or school and do a pro bono seminar on either

·       The Ethics Challenge: Essential Skills for Leading and Living, or

·       The ABCs of Ethical Leadership

If the seminar is out of the LA commuting area I’ll ask you to cover my reasonable expenses.

2) Alternatively (or in addition), you can buy my latest book(co-authored with Mick Ukleja) in hard cover for only $10, with free shipping.

Here are the details on the offers:

Seminars: email me at bobstone17@gmail.com to make arrangements, for

·         The Ethics Challenge: Essential Skills for Leading and Living

This is unlike any mandatory ethics training: no talk about FCPA, SEC, or DOJ. It covers what it means to behave ethically, and how that differs from merely behaving legally or in compliance with the rules. I start with the basics: keep your word and follow the Golden Rule. I finish with three essential skills for living and leading. These skills are easy to describe, not so easy to live, but living them will sharpen one’s ethical sensitivity and make it easier to keep strong and to follow one’s good intentions.

or

·                         The ABCs of Ethical Leadership

The ABCs, are authenticity, buoyancy and conviction. Simple stuff. Read the rest of this entry »

What’s next for plagiarizer Fareed Zakaria?

August 12, 2012

 

Fareed Zakaria is one of the great thinkers on American foreign policy and on America itself. He’s a trusted senior editor and columnist for Time, and host of an influential weekly show on CNN.

Or was, until yesterday, when he was suspended by both Time and CNN for plagıarısm. Zakaria tweeted an apology:

“Media reporters have pointed out that paragraphs in my Time column on gun control, which was also a topic of conversation on this blog, bear close similarities to paragraphs in Jill Lepore’s essay in the April 23rd issue of The New Yorker. They are right. I made a terrible mistake. It is a serious lapse and one that is entirely my fault. I apologize unreservedly to her, to my editors at Time and CNN, and to my readers and viewers everywhere.”

What is one to make of this sad affair? Zakaria didn’t gain his prominence through plagiarism Read the rest of this entry »

Sportsmanship at the Olympic women’s soccer final: smiles and hugs all around

August 11, 2012

 

Hope Solo, Team USA’s goalkeeper, saved shot after shot on goal to preserve the miniscule USA lead in the Olympic women’s soccer gold medal match, won by the Americans, 2-1. As Abby Wambach, Team USA’s superstar, declared after the final whistle,Hope saved the day literally five times.”

In sports parlance we’d say that Solo broke the hearts of the Japanese team. But remarkably hearts weren’t broken. As far as the losing Japanese women were concerned, losing isn’t  like death, as the late great football coach, George Allen, famously said. And the Japanese are the defending World’s Champions, not losers. Both sides were joyful at having had the chance to play in the gold medal game.

The photo of three of the Japanese players smiling with their silver medals and embracing Hope Solo, with her gold, is the picture of sportsmanship, too rare in today’s big-money sports but refreshingly present in Olympic women’s soccer.

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Photo Copyright (c) 2012 Hope Solo

 

Penn State: do the sanctions punish the innocent?

July 24, 2012

 

The ESPN telecast showed student reaction (photo) on a split screen as NCAA President Mark Emmert ticked off one harsh penalty after another against Penn State’s football team. Clearly these horrified Penn State students were being punished for the sins of the formerly sainted coach, the university president, and other senior members of the administration. Their future autumn Saturdays, their social lives, and their pride in their university were being stripped from them.

Accountability for wrongdoing often brings down the innocent along with the guilty. Think about the workers at Enron, Arthur Anderson, or MCI-Worldcom, who lost their jobs when their bosses’ malfeasance destroyed their companies. Or think about innocent children of illegal immigrants who are wrenched away from their world when their parents are deported.

Is it all right to punish the innocent? First, there is no way of punishing the guilty without harming people close to, or dependent on them. Even a mass murderer–when he is sent away his mother suffers along with him. When Al Qaeda militants are killed, their family members often die with them.

Still we mustn’t be blasé about collateral damage to innocents. It was painful to watch the students as their innocent college years were stripped of top-quality football. But in a sense they’re not innocent. They share a nation-wide belief that football is more Read the rest of this entry »

What Obama said about who built your business; or, there goes Romney, lying again

July 20, 2012

 

Romney is at it again, doctoring what Obama said, and saying that the doctored version shows that Obama doesn’t understand or believe in America. Sadly a lot of people have bought Romney’s falsification.

Here’s what Obama said in Roanoke, Virginia on July 13:

“If you’ve been successful, you didn’t get there on your own. You didn’t get there on your own. I’m always struck by people who think, well, it must be because I was just so smart. There are a lot of smart people out there. It must be because I worked harder than everybody else. Let me tell you something: There are a whole bunch of hardworking people out there. If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you’ve got a business, you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen.The Internet didn’t get invented on its own.  Government research created the Internet so that all the companies could make money off the Internet.”

The Romney commercial doctored the quote, dropping all but the underlined part, to change Obama’s meaning Read the rest of this entry »