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Response to Ianus, Like Caesar's Wife

Reader comment on item: The Deceits of Bridges TV
in response to reader comment: Like Caesar's wife ...

Submitted by Merry Whitney (United States), Mar 3, 2009 at 05:24

Hi, Jan!

Small world department: The middle initial of my name, J, is for "Janet."

About Rabbi Hirschfield, again, I can't even speculate, based on one quote and absent any clue about circumstances or context. For example, I can easily imagine that same grotesque analogy as a dark-humor punch line of the ethnic-joke variety: "An Islamic man beheading his wife is like a drunken Irishman singing bawdy tunes" (e.g., not uncommon behavior in their respective milieu).

I understand that Rabbi Hirschfield was undoubtedly not cracking a joke. My point is, I have no idea whether it was one instance of poor phrasing, or conveyed some propagandistic or sinister intention, or was a heartfelt sentiment. I simply don't know, and therefore the benefit of a doubt prevails..

You said, "I'm not sure about America but ... here in Poland 'hardly a single person in private conversation will defend politicians' credibility'." Ah, yes. And while the historical experience of Poland has been vastly different than the historical experience of the United States, we do have our full share of corrupt, deceitful and opportunistic political hacks.

And, while I appreciate your kind words about my "unstained idealism," well, heh. No, I'm not a wide-eyed innocent, and I'm afraid I have to refute any entry of "unstained idealism" on my resume. I have no illusions about the "unidealistic forces" wreaking havoc here in the U.S. and across the globe.

But given the option to assign credibility to George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, or to Craig Unger — no contest. I believe Unger is a full-blown radical ideologue of the anti-war, anti-Christianity, fellow-traveler variety who was afflicted with "Bush Derangement Syndrome" before the term was coined to depict the stereotypical Bush haters among the other venom-spitters with bylines in Salon, HuffingtonPost, TruthOut, et. al.

And, given the option to assign credibility to Unger or to Michael Isikoff (Newsweek Magazine writer/ed), again, no contest. Isikoff refuted Unger's Saudi - Bush financial entanglement allegations and identified $1.18 billion of the $1.4 billion as a single-source 1990's contract between the Saudi Arabian government and a US defense contractor (for training Saudi military and guard personnel).

The Northern Alliance that was supported by the Reagan Administration against a Soviet invasion was (were?) not the "illiterate dirty Afghans" of the "murderous, efficient, best-armed monsters of jihad" commanded by Mullah Omar and Usama bin Ladin. In fact, when the Lion of Peshwar (sorry, phonetic spelling), the leader of the Northern Alliance, was murdered on or about September 9, 2001, that should have been a clue for US and other intelligence services that bin Ladin was up to something big, and deadly.

But in any event, Reagan left office January 1989, well before bin Ladin set up housekeeping in the Tora Bora neighborhood. He skipped over to Afghanistan during the Clinton Administration, after intermediary Monsoor Ijaz tried to persuade Clinton to take bin Ladin (for prosecution) in a hand-over from some other government. Clinton declined, citing "insufficient evidence" to prosecute.

I'm very aware the world is not "governed by legal fictions and sweet wishes," but within the US there is a fundamental premise that this little corner of the world is to be governed "by law, and not by men." It doesn't always work that way, God knows, but an essential element of that fundamental premise is and must be "a presumption of innocence until proved guilty."

I cringe, with the contemporary news cycle of 24-7, for which ambitious newscasters leap on every sensational crime story, pick out a handy face to point suspicion at, then report the "suspect's" neighbor's gossip, or leaked tidbits from prosecutors, police, and a sundry list of bystanders auditioning for their 15 minutes of --- well, not fame, but some attention maybe. Lurking in the shadows of every crime story news coverage, is a potential miscarriage of justice, not because of any substantial evidence against the accused, but because the newscasters were just so certain, and so relentless.

But that simply pales in comparison to what the major networks and news organs, radicals and ideologues of the opposition or on the periphery, do in the way of character assassination, baseless allegations, and just plain vitriol, to our political leaders, particularly Republican leaders. That's not to say that some of our political leaders are not villians --- some of them surely are, including some in the GOP. But the villianous ones are almost NEVER the ones clobbered and defamed.

Do some of them, even many of them, exploit their offices to feather their own nests? Probably, and those who do should be prosecuted, impeached, or whatever is appropriate to the case-by-case specifics. By the same token, many of them serve honorably and often at substantial personal cost. Absent compelling evidence of criminal conduct, it is just plain morally repugnant to throw accusations of such conduct at honorable men, or to stand mute when such allegations are made.



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