Filtered news 5/28

Fox Noose for dummies There’s ample evidence that Fox News viewers tend to be surprisingly uninformed about current events. We’re starting to get a better sense as to .

What’s more important: Iraq or Anna Nicole Smith? Depends on which network you’re watching.

According to [the Project for Excellence in Journalism's] first quarter News Coverage Index, “MSNBC and CNN were much more consumed with the war in Iraq than was Fox.”

In daytime, FNC devoted 6 percent of its time to Iraq, and 17 percent of its time to Anna Nicole. For CNN, the mix was 20 percent Iraq, 5 percent Anna; for MSNBC, the mix was 18 percent Iraq, 10 percent Anna.

“Fox also stood out for its lack of coverage on the firings of the U.S. attorneys, compared with the other channels. The story, which gained real momentum in mid March, consumed a mere 2% of Fox’s total airtime. CNN devoted twice that percent (4%) and MSNBC four times (8%).”

Keep in mind, in February, Fox News personality John Gibson accused journalists of “” over their war coverage. Mocking CNN’s Anderson Cooper, Gibson said, “Oh, ‘There’s a war on! There’s a war on!’ Maybe, just maybe, people are a little weary, Mr. Cooper, of your war coverage, and they’d like a little something else.” Why does the network even bother to put “news” in its name?

Rematch, June 7! Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) GSA chief Lurita "How Can We Help Our Candidates" Doan.

President Bush, yesterday: "Now, many critics compare the battle in Iraq to the situation we faced in Vietnam. There are many differences between those two conflicts, but one stands out above all: The enemy in Vietnam had neither the intent nor the capability to strike our homeland. The enemy in Iraq does.”

There are so many problems and distortions with this statement that it is difficult to know where to start. But here's one place. Can we review the main arguments for why we were in Vietnam? Or at least try to distinguish them from the ones for getting out?

President Bush appears to be embracing the argument that the Vietnam War was a fight against Vietnamese nationalists who wanted to kick us out of Vietnam but had no interest in us one way or another beyond that. Certainly they weren't going to launch attacks against the US mainland. But that was the Doves' argument. The premise of the war was that it was a battleground in the larger Cold War struggle, one against the Soviets (who certainly had the ability and arguably had the intent to attack us), the Chinese (though that's much more complicated) and international communism generally.

In any case, the arguments for staying in Vietnam and staying in Iraq are actually quite similar -- and the arguments for leaving actually have a degree of parallelism too.

Of course, if we're worried about armed jihadism, which we certainly should be, it's really difficult to think of a better way to exacerbate the problem than to permanently occupy a country at the literal and figurative heart of the Muslim and Arab worlds.

Sound strangely familiar? Here's a passage from a tape of a conversation between LBJ and McGeorge Bundy about Vietnam back on May 27th, 1964 ...

Johnson: And we just got to think about it. I'm looking at this Sergeant of mine this morning and he's got 6 little old kids over there, and he's getting out my things, and bringing me in my night reading, and all that kind of stuff, and I just thought about ordering all those kids in there. And what in the hell am I ordering them out there for? What in the hell is Vietnam worth to me? What is Laos worth to me? What is it worth to this country? We've got a treaty but hell, everybody else has got a treaty out there, and they're not doing a thing about it.

Bundy: Yeah, yeah.

Johnson: Of course, if you start running from the Communists, they may just chase you right into your own kitchen.

Bundy: Yeah, that's the trouble. And that is what the rest of that half of the world is going to think if this thing comes apart on us. That's the dilemma, that's exactly the dilemma.

See the whole transcript . And more. I'm not as sure of the provenance of this quote as the one above. But according to a 2003 article from Knight-Ridder, LBJ also : "If we quit Vietnam," President Lyndon Johnson warned, "tomorrow we'll be fighting in Hawaii, and next week we'll have to fight in San Francisco."

S'cuse me. Your flip flop is showing Let's look back to Jan. 11, when Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice sat at the witness table in Hearing Room 106 of the Dirksen Senate Office Building explaining why "those who talk about engagement with Syria and Iran" are all wet. "That's not diplomacy -- that's extortion," .

The administration has on its policy towards Syria, with Rice having engaged in direct, bilateral talks with Syria' foreign minister a few weeks ago. But direct discussions with Iran were always considered far more controversial. As far as the Bush gang is concerned, Iran needs to be isolated, not engaged. To talk to Iran is to "reward bad behavior." We've gone a quarter-century without talking to Iran, and Bush wasn't about to strike up a conversation, especially given the Ahmadinejad regime.

At least, that the policy.

U.S. diplomats said Monday's scheduled talks with Iran will be limited to discussions about Iraq's security, and not about the unresolved issues of detained Americans in Iran or the country's nuclear program.

The meeting in Baghdad will be the first public and formal meeting between U.S. and Iranian representatives since the United States cut off diplomatic relations 27 years ago.

"The issue at hand in the meeting between [U.S. Ambassador to Iraq] Ryan Crocker and the Iranian representative ... is going to be focused on Iraq and stabilizing Iraq," U.S. State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said last week.

I don't disagree with the diplomatic decision, but it's worth noting that after years of saying talks with Iran would be reckless and irresponsible, the Bush gang is grudgingly accepting the reality that Dems have been pushing for quite a while.

Would it be rude to point out how often this has happened of late? Dems said Bush should talk directly to Syria; Bush said Dems were weak to even suggest it; and Bush eventually came around. Dems said Bush should talk to North Korea and use Clinton's Agreed Framework as a model for negotiations; Bush said this was out of the question; and Bush eventually . Dems said Bush should increase the size of the U.S. military; Bush said this was unnecessary; and Bush eventually .

And Dems said Bush should engage Iran in direct talks, particularly on Iraq. It took a while, but the president came around on this, too.

For years, all we've heard from the right is that Bush is a bold visionary when it comes to foreign policy, and Dems are weak and clueless. And yet, here we are, watching the White House embrace the Dems' approach on most of the nation's major foreign policy challenges.

Now, if Bush could just bring himself to accept the Democratic line on Iraq, too, we'd really see some progress.

Unka Dicky forgets his oath Dick Cheney, , at the United States Military Academy Commencement at West Point:

"As Army officers on duty in the war on terror, you will now face enemies who oppose and despise everything you know to be right, every notion of upright conduct and character, and every belief you consider worth fighting for and living for. Capture one of these killers, and he'll be quick to demand the protections of the Geneva Convention and the Constitution of the United States. Yet when they wage attacks or take captives, their delicate sensibilities seem to fall away."

At the risk of sounding picky, is it too much to ask the Vice President to refer to the protections of the Geneva Convention and the Constitution of the United States as good things? Perhaps protections that he's proud of?

Senate to hold Gonzales no-confidence vote .

"I love hearing the sound of my own
voice because I love hearing somebody
who's right all the time."
-- Rush the vulgar Pigboy, in love with himself
because no woman can tolerate his pompous ass

Political ego gets in the way Dahlia Lithwick, in the process of reaming Democratic members of the House judiciary committee for doing a lousy job of questioning Monica Goodling,

[Goodling] tells Brad Sherman, D-Calif., that she looked at Web sites detailing the political contributions made by applicants for assistant U.S. attorney positions, and that she felt she could take account of political considerations in evaluating immigration judges. (Kyle Sampson told her that was OK.) She tells the committee that she didn't give one job candidate a position, adding, "I didn't know she was a Democrat. But I had heard she was a liberal." The committee, however, seems to miss all this. Indeed, they are so delighted when she points fingers at Sampson and McNulty, they don't remember to ask what precisely Sampson and McNulty did.

Goodling looked up the political contribution history of applicants for career civil service positions? That's interesting, isn't it? I wonder if anyone else did that. Seems like this is something that deserved some followup.

Which it didn't get, of course. I know that politicians are in love with their own voices, but it never ceases to amaze me that they insist on questioning witnesses like Goodling themselves. For starters, most of them are no good at it. For finishers, Perry Mason himself would have a hard time making headway if he were limited to five-minute bursts. Instead, why not block off a couple of hours and hand off the questioning to a tough, well-briefed staffer who knows how to cross examine a hostile witness? Then sit back and watch the show.

I guess that's why I'll never be a politician. Watching a good show appeals to me more than participating in a mediocre one.

Why is Osama still at large again? I watched this and noticed the same thing Greg Sargent did: Every time Bush talks up a "new" strategy taken by his administration on the war—he predicts the violence will escalate. Really? When hasn't the violence been brutal? When there's an area known as "," I think that's an indication he can't control the situation, wouldn't you agree? Bush also said we'll leave if the Mmm

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Q Mr. President, moments ago you said that al Qaeda attacked us before we were in Iraq. Since then Iraq has become much less stable; al Qaeda has used it as a recruiting tool, apparently with some success. So what would you say to those who would argue that what we've done in Iraq has simply enhanced al Qaeda and made the situation worse?

THE PRESIDENT: Oh, so, in other words, the option would have been just let Saddam Hussein stay there? Your question is, should we not have left Saddam Hussein in power? And the answer is, absolutely not.

Full transcript -17667">(Read the rest of this story…)

Right wing terrorism The Falwell Bomber was only the latest….:

(It was only later, when I stared studying Watergate, when I wondered about the moral compass of a movement that would elevate as a spokesman a man who was literally thrown in jail for his eagerness to commit violence in service to subversion to the Constitution.) I felt, at a certain point, that something very ugly would soon happen.

Something ugly did soon happen: Timothy McVeigh bombed the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City. What is the line between vigilence and paranoia? I really don't know. I only know this, to return to my original point: it's far past the time for the media to start tracking these arrests as a trend—before the next arrest comes post-explosion, not pre.

: I predict that we are going to see a remarkable resurgence of rightwing violence if the Democrats take full control of the government.

How quickly Eric Rudolph .

via email: In the , there was a lengthy front page article by Michael Kamber in which he follows a US troop patrol in Iraq — they encounter land mines and one is killed, several wounded. There are extensive pictures… | | The ground exploded under an ashen sky at dawn. Dust, dirt, blood and military equipment filled the air, clearing after several seconds to reveal a frenzied scene of horror. Where Sgt. Justin D. Wisniewski, 22, had just been standing there was now a crater five feet wide and three feet deep. His body lay nearby. The wounded were scattered around him…

September? For all of the talk from war supporters about lowering expectations for September -- John McCain , as has -- it appears the train has already left the station. Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), who no one would describe as anything but a very conservative Bush loyalist, appears to have .

[Sessions] indicated Sunday that Republicans will be ready by September to look at bipartisan efforts to draw down the troops that were part of the surge to help secure Baghdad.

"We have to be realistic," Sessions said on CBS's Face the Nation. "We have to know that we can't achieve everything we'd like to achieve. We have a limited number of men and women we can send to Iraq, and we can't overburden them."

The senator added that, when General David Petraeus is reporting back on the progress of the surge in September, "I think most of the people in Congress believe, unless something extraordinary occurs, that we should be on a move to draw those surge numbers down." [...]

"I don't think we need to be an occupying power," said Sessions, who hopes that bipartisan solutions can be found on Iraq. "This is a fine line we've walked, and this surge has got to be temporary.... We cannot sustain this level, in my opinion, in Iraq and Afghanistan much longer."

When Chuck Hagel makes comments like these, it's expected. When Jeff Sessions makes them, it's unusual.

In addition to Sessions, Sen. Gordon Smith (R-Ore.) he "won't be the only Republican, or one of two Republicans, demanding a change in our disposition of troops in Iraq" by September. Sen. Trent Lott (R-Miss.) said he'll need to see "significant changes" by September. House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) wants a change if the policy isn't working "by the time we get to September." Sen. Norm Coleman (R-Minn.) said, "There is a sense that by September, you've got to see real action on the part of Iraqis. I think everybody knows that, I really do."

We'll see. Anyone who has ever bet on congressional Republicans bucking the White House on war policy has lost money. Either way, whether war supporters like it or not, September is circled on DC's calendar.

Today's must-read story comes by way of the Boston Globe's Peter Canellos, who on the highly misleading, if not downright false, rhetoric coming from the Republican presidential candidates on Iraq, al Qaeda, and the terrorist threat.

In defending the Iraq war, leading Republican presidential contenders are increasingly echoing words and phrases used by President Bush in the run-up to the war that reinforce the misleading impression that Iraq was responsible for the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

In the May 15 Republican debate in South Carolina, Senator John McCain of Arizona suggested that Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden would "follow us home" from Iraq -- a comment some viewers may have taken to mean that bin Laden was in Iraq, which he is not.

Former New York mayor Rudolph Giuliani asserted, in response to a question about Iraq, that "these people want to follow us here and they have followed us here. Fort Dix happened a week ago." However, none of the six people arrested for allegedly plotting to attack soldiers at Fort Dix in New Jersey were from Iraq.

Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney identified numerous groups that he said have "come together" to try to bring down the United States, though specialists say few of the groups Romney cited have worked together and only some have threatened the United States.

"They want to bring down the West, particularly us," Romney declared. "And they've come together as Shia and Sunni and Hezbollah and Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood and Al Qaeda, with that intent."

It's a very . Canellos treads ground that may be familiar to those who follow the issue closely, but he details what the leading GOP candidates are saying and contrasts it with the truth. Not surprisingly, Rudy McRomney has been playing fast and loose with the facts, hoping that audiences won't recognize their carelessness. Somewhat surprisingly, Canellos notes that these three have been willing to go even further than the Bush White House, which isn't exactly known for its veracity on the issue.

Judith Yaphe, a former CIA Iraq analyst, told the Globe, "There's a tendency to exaggerate in a debate. You push the envelope as far as you can."

The GOP's top tier, at this point, is pushing that envelope to the breaking point.

It is legal? It's obviously insane. Once in a while, the ambiguous legal, political, and practical implications of Blackwater's private security forces in Iraq create problems that are, to put it mildly, .

Employees of Blackwater USA, a private security firm under contract to the State Department, opened fire on the streets of Baghdad twice in two days last week, and one of the incidents provoked a standoff between the security contractors and Iraqi forces, U.S. and Iraqi officials said.

A Blackwater guard shot and killed an Iraqi driver Thursday near the Interior Ministry, according to three U.S. officials and one Iraqi official who were briefed on the incident but spoke on condition of anonymity because of a pending investigation. On Wednesday, a Blackwater-protected convoy was ambushed in downtown Baghdad, triggering a furious battle in which the security contractors, U.S. and Iraqi troops and AH-64 Apache attack helicopters were firing in a congested area.

Blackwater confirmed that its employees were involved in two shootings but could neither confirm nor deny that there had been any casualties, according to a company official who declined to be identified because of the firm's policy of not addressing incidents publicly.

As Steve Fainaru and Saad al-Izzi concede in their report, details about the incidents "remained sketchy." Apparently, an Iraqi driver got too close to a Blackwater convoy. Was there a mistake? Who's responsible? Who knows: "The Blackwater employees refused to divulge their names or details of the incident to Iraqi authorities.... Anne Tyrrell, a Blackwater spokeswoman, said the company did not discuss specific incidents."

As a result, as with most incidents involving private security firms operating in Iraq, we don't know exactly what happened and why. We do know, however, that Blackwater employees have vague legal standing in Iraq, little oversight, and the firepower necessary to do some damage.

In this case, we also know how ugly it got.

The officials described a tense standoff that ensued between the Blackwater guards and Interior Ministry forces -- both sides armed with assault rifles -- until a passing U.S. military convoy intervened.

As if the dynamic of the conflict wasn't complex enough, U.S. troops are now interceding in a gunfight between Iraqi Interior Ministry forces and employees of U.S. private security firm. Great.


May 28, 2007 - 8:31am