Filtered news 9/5

Keith Olbermann’s Special Comment tonight is without a
doubt, one of his hardest hitting and most emotional to date. Keith absolutely
lays waste to President Bush’s lies and rhetoric about the surge. He contrasts
his callous disregard for the truth and the troops between his and released this weekend. This video is a must-see, hold
on to your hats.

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And there it is, sir. We’ve caught you.

Your goal is not to bring some troops home — maybe — if we let you
have your way now;

Your goal is not to set the stage for eventual withdrawal;

You are, to use your own disrespectful, tone-deaf word, playing at
getting the next Republican nominee to agree to jump into this bottomless pit
with you, and take us with him, as we stay in Iraq for another year, and
another, and another, and anon.

-21009" class="more-link">(Read
the rest of this story…)

I think we’ve reached a tipping
Ladies and Gentlemen:


“The National Coalition of American Nuns is impelled by conscience to
call you to act promptly to impeach President George W. Bush and Vice President
Dick Cheney for … high crimes and misdemeanors,” the group wrote in a letter
written on behalf of its board members.

The letter says that impeachment is warranted for their “deceiving the
public under the false pretense that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction”
and “destroying” the reputation of the United States and the good will of other

“The time for impeachment is now — before the example of George W. Bush’s
regime is set in stone,” they wrote. “Future generations will thank you for
preserving the freedom of our nation and its relation to the entire human

White House Website Scrubbed of FOIA
Last month, the White House argued in federal court
that its own Office of Administration was not subject to FOIA, even though the
White House website said otherwise. The White House website has now been . The bold
stupidity is nothing short of astounding.

"This administration has undone so much. Not unlike
the Germans in the 1930s.

liberties, the environment, replacing all the judges...It’s been a grassroots

Which is what the Nazis did.
Cheney not letting people have access is very Nazi."

-- Viggo Mortensen,

Stupid Dem Alert The candidate doesn't really believe Iowa's caucus is first
for "reasons related to the Lord."

Body Count Bamboozlement
Much of this numbers game over Iraq truly approaches the
level of parody. Civilian deaths are down. But that's because . Why not? Because car-bombings are
presumptively the work of 'al Qaeda' and that's different from sectarian
violence. Whittle this all down and an amazing amount of the 'surge' does
appear to be an exercise in selective bean-counting and clever redefinitions.

The seasonality of violence in
There are several ways to show this graphically, but all
of them present difficulties because the various data series aren't available in
a consistent form for the entire course of the war.

That said, here's a chart that shows the seasonality pretty well. It comes
via reader Thomas J., who has graphed U.S. troop deaths per thousand soldiers, a
data series that's (a) available for every month since the beginning of the
occupation, (b) highly consistent, and (c) a fairly decent proxy for the overall
level of violence. The "per thousand soldiers" correction helps to
control for the fact that troop fatalities will naturally be higher whenever
there are more soldiers deployed in Iraq. This doesn't necessarily mean the
level of violence is higher, just that the population at risk is larger.

The seasonality is pretty easy to see: violence peaks in spring, then
declines during summer, peaks again in fall, and drops during winter. The peaks
are probably overstated slightly thanks to unusually deadly April and November
months in 2004, but even without that the seasonality is fairly pronounced.
Roughly speaking, July troop casualties are typically about 40% lower than their
April peak, whereas this year they were only about 30% lower. In other words,
violence was worse than usual. On the other hand, August looked a
little better than usual this year compared to 2007's spring peak. As
always, what this means is that you can't draw any dramatic conclusions based on
a couple of data points. However, taken as a whole the evidence pretty strongly
suggests that the surge hasn't had any effect at all on overall violence levels.
It's just moving in its usual seasonal pattern.

The obvious followup would be a similar chart showing the seasonality of
civilian casualties. Unfortunately, there's simply no reliable data series for
civilian casualties over the course of the war, and the data for this year in
particular gives every indication of being massaged to within an inch of its
life (intra-Shiite violence doesn't count, car bomb fatalities don't count,
al-Qaeda attacks against Sunni tribes don't count, the figures change
mysteriously from one report to the next, the supposedly lower numbers for
August are classified, etc. etc.) We do have figures released by various Iraqi
ministries, but we don't have a consistent series of ministry numbers for the
past four years, and in any case So
that doesn't suggest any surge-related decrease in violence either.

Bottom line: you should be skeptical of any claims about reductions in
violence unless they take seasonality into account. So far, though, I haven't
seen any credible claims of reduced violence that even mention
seasonality, let alone adjust for it. That should tell you something.

"Craig was busted for lewd behavior in the men's
room? Hell, I'm lucky if I can get the hand dryer to
-- Letterman,

A license to kill “Newly
released documents regarding crimes committed by United States soldiers against
civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan detail a pattern of troops failing to
understand and follow the rules that govern interrogations and deadly
.” The documents, which were obtained by the ACLU, “show
repeated examples of .”

A cool parting shot Just
before leaving for its August recess, the House of Representatives approved a
little-noticed amendment to its energy bill “that would allow members of
Congress to lease only environmentally friendly cars.” The
House energy bill would require all federal agencies to for their fleets.

According to a new book on the Supreme Court by
Jeffrey Toobin, Justice David Souter because he was so distraught over the
decision that effectively ended the Florida recount and installed Bush as

Toobin writes that while the other justices tried to put the case behind
them, “David Souter alone was shattered,” at times weeping when he thought of
the case. “For many months, it was not at all clear whether he would remain as a
justice,” Toobin continues. “That the Court met in a city he loathed made the
decision even harder. At the urging of a handful of close friends, he decided to
stay on, but his attitude toward the Court was never the same.”

This morning, a high school student challenged
Sen. John McCain about his age, causing McCain to jokingly refer to the student
as “.” The troubles for McCain didn’t end there. Another student
pressed him with regards to his stance on gay marriage. Here’s :

Student: “Do you support civil unions or gay marriage?”

McCain: “I do not. I think that they impinge on the status and the sanctity
of marriage between a man and a woman.”

Student: “So you believe in taking away someone’s rights because you believe
it’s wrong?”

McCain: “I wouldn’t put that interpretation on my position, but I understand
yours.” […]

Student: “I came here looking to see a leader. I

Gore and the media
Evgenia Peretz writes in this month's Vanity Fair about media coverage
of Al Gore during the 2000 presidential campaign. In the following passage she
talks about the

As with all campaigns, the coverage of the 2000 election would be driven by a
small number of beat reporters. In this case, two women at the most influential
newspapers in the country: Seelye from The New York Times and Ceci
Connolly from The Washington Post.

A prominent Washington journalist describes them as "edgy, competitive,
wanting to make their mark," and adds that they "reinforced each other's

....The disparity between [Seelye's] reporting and [Frank] Bruni's coverage
of Bush for the Times was particularly galling to the Gore camp. "It's
one thing if the coverage is equal — equally tough or equally soft," says Gore
press secretary Chris Lehane. "In 2000, we would get stories where if Gore
walked in and said the room was gray we'd be beaten up because in fact the room
was an off-white. They would get stories about how George Bush's wing tips
looked as he strode across the stage." Melinda Henneberger, then a political
writer at the Times, says that such attitudes went all the way up to
the top of the newspaper. "Some of it was a self-loathing liberal thing," she
says, "disdaining the candidate who would have fit right into the newsroom, and
giving all sorts of extra time on tests to the conservative from Texas. Al Gore
was a laughline at the paper, while where Bush was concerned we seemed to suffer
from the soft bigotry of low expectations."

It's a pretty good piece. It covers fairly familiar ground for most blog
readers, I think, but does a nice job of summarizing Campaign 2000 for magazine
readers who haven't heard all this stuff before. It's worth revisiting.

The LA Times reports that in 2001,
Michael Chertoff, then head of the Justice Department’s criminal division, met
with the conservative group Judicial Watch and “personally assured” them that he
would (D-NY) “in connection with a
lavish fundraising event in Los Angeles.” Chertoff is now to take over the Justice Department, which has been .

Too Many Lies to Count
You may have noticed a that few days ago it was revealed that President Bush, in
a surreal turn, denied knowing how exactly the pre-war Iraqi military came to be
disbanded. Paul Bremer gave the New York Times some to help remind him.

A previously undisclosed exchange of letters shows that President
Bush was told in advance by his top Iraq envoy in May 2003 of a plan to
“dissolve Saddam’s military and intelligence structures,” a plan that the envoy,
L. Paul Bremer, said referred to dismantling the Iraqi Army.

Mr. Bremer provided the letters to The New York Times on Monday after reading
that Mr. Bush was quoted in a new book as saying that American policy had been
“to keep the army intact” but that it “didn’t happen.”

The dismantling of the Iraqi Army in the aftermath of the American invasion
is now widely regarded as a mistake that stoked rebellion among hundreds of
thousands of former Iraqi soldiers and made it more difficult to reduce
sectarian bloodshed and attacks by insurgents. In releasing the letters, Mr.
Bremer said he wanted to refute the suggestion in Mr. Bush’s comment that Mr.
Bremer had acted to disband the army without the knowledge and concurrence of
the White House.

I don't remember the precise specifics. But in pretty much all the books on
the Iraq fiasco it's clear that this was a decision that came with Bremer
from Washington. And my recollection at least is that this very much
came out of the Chalabi/Feith/Wolfowitz 'clean slate' approach that dominated
the early days of the occupation. So the idea that Bremer somehow came up with
this on the fly or that the Americans were forced to confirm some sort of fait
accompli flies in the face of all the evidence and, it would seem now, ample
documentary evidence in Bremer's possession.

Kiss it all goodbye : Whatever about what America is, it isn’t that anymore. It’s gone. The
Republic you wanted — and at one time might have had the power to take back — is
finished. You no longer have the power to keep it; it’s not there.

The Rest of the
Damn Story
The most popular right-wing pundit on the air
is more than halfway through a contract that would make pro footballer players
jealous, a $100 million dollar over ten years deal that trumps even perky
Katie's take and makes Rush and the falafel king look like shoestring
operations. If you live in a city, you may encounter this mega-broadcaster only
on some tiny AM stations. But if you live in a rural area, you can bet he has a
prominent place on the dial -- and by now he's been there so long that he
is the sound of rural radio. He's the guy who invented the mingling of
conservative commentary, selectively clipped news, and personally delivered
advertisements that has become the model for the right. He's Paul Harvey.

NPR is running
celebrating Paul Harvey's eighty-ninth birthday and his seventy-four years in
broadcasting. For many people, Harvey has been at his microphone so long that
he's acquired a kind of defacto status somewhere between radio saint and
national grandpa. His fat salary shows that, no matter how little attention we
may pay to the man, his reach is still extensive and his ability to pitch ideas
-- as shown in the sales he racks up with his oh-so-sincere product placements
-- undiminished by time.

It's hard to be angry at a man older than my father, much less a man who my
grandfather used to listen to daily, but I have a special disdain for Harvey.
Despite the praises sung to his salesmanship, and the plaudits given his years
behind the desk, Paul Harvey is a mean-spirited old cuss who has done more
to push selfishness, division, and vilification into the political process than
any ten other commentators combined

I'll admit it, when I was young I listened to the man every day. After all,
he was on the only radio station in my home town, and the station was owned by
the same man who paid my salary as a photographer for the local weekly (see, we
were doing media consolidation long before Rupert). I even bought a couple of
Harvey's books, taken in by the clever historical teasers that often bumpered
his broadcasts. It took me years to realize that far from giving "the rest of
the story," what Harvey was delivering was "his half of the story," an edited,
often distorted view of both American history and current politics, shaped to
ignore any truth that didn't fit his own extremely conservative viewpoint. He
made no effort to sort fiction from fact, and never missed an opportunity to
blame the left for the nation's problems.

And often it wasn't all that subtle. I still remember well the day that John
Lennon was shot, not only for the sadness that swept over so many on that day,
but for the outrage of how Harvey reacted. Rather than finding sympathy for
Lennon's widow or child, Harvey sneered at the "whining" of Lennon's long-haired
fans. He then went on to speculate just how much crying there would be "when
someone kills Paul McCartney." That's America's grandfatherly broadcaster at
his purest -- a man full of disdain and hate for anyone that didn't toe his own
political line. There's nothing that Rush Limbaugh ever said during the Clinton
years that Harvey didn't say first -- and meaner -- about Jimmy Carter.

How far to the right is Paul Harvey? Far enough that his once (and quite
probably future) stand in is Fred Thompson a man who was described as
having the same "homespun appeal" as Harvey.

Unlike Harvey's hate for those not on the right, I don't wish the man any
ill. I hope he lives to be two hundred. I hope we all do. But celebrating
seventy-four years of Paul Harvey at the mike is only elevating three quarters
of a century of vitriol and distortions that have warped the rural view of
America, of history, and of politics.

Iran: Bush is nuts
Sarkozy that Bush is nuts enough to attack

You may have noticed the Iran boomlet over the last few days, the
pitter-patter of rumors and hints that either a major military action or an
Iraq-style PR/agitprop roll-out is set to start this week. Spencer Ackerman is

over at And his reporting suggests that the 'source' of all
this chatter is an order Dick Cheney has sent out to his proxies at the
right-wing thinktanks to start laying the ground work for war with Iran. In the
short run, the aim is to open up a new front in his struggle with Bob Gates and
the Joint Chiefs (who think two wars are enough for now). In the medium term,
the goal is getting the war started well ahead of the end of Bush's term.

For the moment, however, my attention is fixed on one of those 'hints', Reuel
Marc Gerecht's in the
current Newsweek, in which he argues that war with Iran is most likely
to come not because of Bush-Cheney warmongering or a breakdown in negotiations
but rather "an Iranian provocation."

It is worth stepping back for a moment to savor this claim in its full
flavor. Clearly, this must be the kind of 'provocation' comparatively weak
states again and again through history seem to make against extremely powerful
states -- just before the latter provides a thorough beating to the former. One
can of course think of various examples over the decades and centuries.

As the agitprop engines start churning again, it is worth stepping back and
considering an undeniable fact. Iran is not a rival power to the United States.
The idea that Iran is a threat to the United States in conventional military
terms is laughable. A terrorist threat? Sure. But that's a very different kind
of threat.

Another point: Iranian meddling in Iraq. Some points are so obvious that to
state them seems almost redundant. But what exactly are we doing? This isn't to
put our efforts in Iraq and Iran's on equal terms. The mullah's regime in Iran
is brutish, illiberal and thuggish (though the comparison was a bit more helpful
before Dick Cheney was our poster-boy of the rule-of-law, western civilization
and democratic values). Like most people I put intervention based on my ideals
on a different footing with that of those whose ideals I don't agree with. But
to say that Iran -- which has deep historical and religious ties to Iraq and is
... well, right there -- is meddling while we've been occupying and
running the country for four years is just silly. You may say that these are
just aggressive ways of phrasing the issue and these fact are all known. So
what's the difference? But the slow build up of lies and misdirections, over
time, affects our thinking and our ability to reason at all coherently.

Whatever else we decide about Iran, we would do ourselves a big favor by
wiping away the cobwebs of lies, distortions and various ways of up being down.
We're running Iraq. We want it to model itself after us and suit our interests.
The Iranians don't want that and they're trying to throw sand in our gears. And
we're going to threaten them to try to make them back down. And since they are a
revisionist power we don't want them to exist anyway so we may just attack them
regardless. These are all terms and explanations that at least have some bare
relation to the situation at hand. They might be too cynical about our national
aspirations and ideals if it weren't for the fact that the people controlling
the US government today don't believe in our national ideals. So it's the same
difference anyway.

As we prepare to be ginned up into a 'debate' about whether we should embark
on an insanely misguided war with Iran (since we don't have our hands full as it
is), it is well to remember one of the many -- but one of the most important --
lessons of the Iraq catastrophe.

When applied to Iran, that lesson, I believe, is as follows ...

There is no question of our policy to Iran. That is to say, no question of
the issue in the abstract or the issue if conducted in the hands of sane and/or
experienced foreign policy practitioners. There is only our policy over the next
eighteen months as conducted by George Bush and Dick Cheney. For that reason,
even hypotheticals or abstract discussions about threats of force to prevent the
progress of the Iranian nuclear program are profoundly misguided and

Given the track record, who would trust these incompetents to expand our
military involvement in the Middle East for almost any reason whatsoever? And
relatedly, who would trust that a 'threat of force' as a leverage to diplomacy
is not what it has usually been with the Bush White House: a feint toward
diplomacy to leverage the use of force?

It's like handing a drunk the keys to yet another car. Where he says he's
going is really beside the point.

The real Rudy At a recent
debate in Iowa, Rudy Giuliani was asked, “In 30 seconds, what is a defining
mistake of your life and why?” He made a joke about how he couldn’t possibly
list all his mistakes in 30 seconds. Ha! So we gave it a try.

clip is from last week on H&C. Geraldo Rivera, the token pro-immigration
voice on Murdoch’s payroll takes on the racist Tom Tancredo and reminds him that
his grandparents came over from Italy. Kinda embarrassing to me being Italian
and all—-listening to his garbage.
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Different cultures make this country great. Tancredo smeared every Latino
with his “” statement and in essence all cultures. It’s sad to
see a man who’s family came from another country attack “brown people ” in such
a heinous fashion. Geraldo points out how fast right wing blogs use these types
of stories to further their racism, but only when it suits them. I give Geraldo
some props for calling out Michelle further with this :

“Michelle Malkin is the most vile, hateful commentator I’ve ever met
in my life,” he says.
“She actually believes that neighbors should
start snitching out neighbors, and we should be deporting people.

Wow, that’s pretty harsh. And it gets better:

“It’s good she’s in D.C. and I’m in New York,” Rivera sneers. “I’d
spit on her if I saw her.”

Pay-Per-View? Malkin is O’Reilly’s new fill in host so what does that say
about him?

Mixed Messages We've
become so desensitized to Bush Administration bamboozlement that it's almost
easy to overlook the ironic juxtaposition of the White House pumping up claims
of improvement in Iraq while the President makes yet another there this weekend in which he is unable to leave the confines of a
U.S. base.

That's not to say that once American officials start publicly announcing
their trips in advance and venturing into Iraqi-controlled territory we can
conclude that Iraq has improved. These guys would not hesitate to stage such
trips just to drive home the point that Iraq is now safe and stable. But the
fact that the Administration cannot engage in those kinds of theatrical stunts
tells you all you need to know about how bad the situation in Iraq really

This is what I’d call a good
What about the of the
Bush/Gonzales cabal? No more secret prisons and torture, sure, but let’s add to
that: no more , no more , no more to companies that clearly have interested parties in the
administration. And Democratic contenders? We want specifics on how
you’ll go about rolling those powers back.

Ain't great to work for a

American workers stay longer in the office, at the factory or on the farm
than their counterparts in Europe and most other rich nations, and they produce
more per person over the year…. The average U.S. worker produces $63,885 of
wealth per year, more than their counterparts in all other countries, the
International Labor Organization said in its report.

On the other hand, :

CEOs in large American companies averaged $10.8 million in total
compensation in 2006, more than 364 times the pay of the average U.S. worker,
based on data from an Associated Press survey of 386 Fortune 500

media at play
August was a disastrous and the Romney campaign took a huge hit when it’s national
finance committee co-chairman, Alan B. Fabian was charged in a 23 count
indictment, including charges of money laundering, mail fraud, perjury and
obstruction of justice. It’s reported Fabian, a former Bush Pioneer, allegedly
ran a scheme that netted him millions of dollars which were used to purchase
beach front property and travel. The Romney campaign said they would return
Fabian’s $2,300 campaign donation, but not funds donated by others through him.
Fabian stepped down from Romney’s campaign shortly after his August 9th
indictment — but you may not have heard much about this scandal.

However, you may have heard of a scandal involving Senator
Hillary Clinton’s campaign and a less-than savory character named . According to
reports from the , Hsu skipped out on a 1991 plea agreement in San Mateo Co. CA, in
which he was to serve three years for grand theft. Hsu, who turned himself in to
authorities in CA on Friday and awaits a September 5th bail hearing, became a
top Democratic fundraiser and contributor to Hillary Clinton’s campaign as well
as other Democratic candidates, including Senator Barack Obama, much of which
was laundered through others. The Clinton campaign has agreed to return $23,000
in campaign donations from Hsu, and Obama has agreed to donate his $2,300
donation to charity.

While both scandals hold equal potential for damage to the
respective candidates involved, the media, for unknown reasons, gave Mitt Romney
a pass, while devoting ample time to Hsu and the Clinton campaign. According to
Media Matters, ,
all covered the Hsu scandal, but none of the aforementioned networks dedicated
any time to the Romney/Fabian scandal that can be found in the Nexis database.
More from :

Summary: In recent days, NBC, CNN, and Fox News have all aired reports or
discussed the case of Norman Hsu, who
The Wall Street Journal
suggested may have funneled illegal campaign contributions to Sen. Hillary
Clinton. However, when Mitt Romney’s national finance committee co-chairman Alan
Fabian was charged with mail fraud, money laundering, bankruptcy fraud, perjury
and obstruction of justice, the three networks did not report or discuss it
during programs available in the Nexis database.


September 5, 2007 - 11:46am