Home > Political Ranting > Bits & Pieces, 8/16/2007

Bits & Pieces, 8/16/2007

August 16th, 2007

In any large population, there will always be a criminal element; therefore, it is inevitable that crimes, including horrific ones, will always surface where the perpetrator is of whatever group or category that you wish to imagine. So it should come as no surprise that a murder case has come up where one of the suspects is an illegal immigrant. So Newt Gingrich, who is sometimes able to say things reasonable enough that you can momentarily forget that he’s a loon (and a Republican presidential candidate wannabe–interchangeable terms?), is now calling illegal immigrants worse than terrorists, and claims that there is mass slaughter of our children going on. No, I am not kidding:

There is a war here at home, and it is even more deadly than the war in Iraq and Afghanistan. Far more Americans are being killed by violent, evil people here in America than in our official military “combat zones” overseas. …Either the killing of three young Americans is a horrendous event that requires us to act or we will go on with politics as usual while young Americans in our inner cities are massacred by people who should not be here.There is a war here at home that is just as important as the war against terrorism overseas.

Gingrich’s solution: when we catch criminals, we should check their immigration status, and if they are here illegally, then we should deport them. Good idea! Because we know that when we deport someone, they never come back! Problem solved!

I think someone just upped the throttle on their not-yet-announced presidential campaign.

The RIAA demands that people they accuse of downloading music illegally (even though they rarely if ever have any proof that the defendant committed such a crime) pay up, and pronto, or else they will come after you like the devil himself. After all, if the law says you must pay, then you must pay, right?Well, apparently that does not go both ways. The RIAA was ordered, by a court of law, to pay one of their innocent victims’ legal fees.Guess what?

Josh Marshall, as usual, has the goods on a new form of political corruption and unconstitutionality committed by Republicans. The new scheme: change bills to add pork after the bill finished going through Congress.This case was actually pretty sordid, as it involved Alaskan Representative Don Young doing a favor for a Florida real estate developer who raised money for him. The favor Young did was to get public funds to pay for roads connecting the developer’s property to a major roadway under construction. Now, this is about as blatant as you can get where bribery is involved; a representative should be helping people in his state, not real estate developers clear across the country. The situation leaves no doubt whatsoever that there was a bribe and a payoff.That in itself should be a story, but we seem to accept this sort of bribery without even blinking. There’s something very wrong with that.

But in this case, Young went even further in his corruption. After the bill was passed by Congress, Young noticed that his earmark may not have been specific enough to profit the specific developer who bribed him. So he went back in and amended the bill in a process intended only to fix purely mechanical errors–instead changing the wording of the earmark completely.

Surprised? Neither am I. Republicans should simply drop the pretense and hold a Constitution-shredding party. Not that this incident was such a huge deal, but rather that it is representative of the sheer contempt Republicans hold for the Constitution, from Bush’s violation of nearly all of the Bill of Rights, to the unconstitutionality of strict constructionism which Republicans have so strongly embraced, to stuff like this. When Republicans aren’t busy using the Constitution as a punch line (remember the “Constitutional Option”?), they are busy trying to find ways to subvert it (like Bush did when he claimed that he could start a war without Congressional approval) to outright tearing it to pieces (see any one of the recent warrantless wiretapping stories over the past year or two).

Right-wingers have pointed to a July dip in Coalition fatalities in Iraq as a sign that the “Surge” is working. If only it were so. July has seen a dip in fatalities every year for the past three years, and this year was no different–except in that the July fatality count was much higher this year. It only dipped in relation to higher fatalities overall in the past year or so. Go ahead, grab the numbers from the table in the link above, then paste them into Excel or Numbers and graph them out. It’s pretty hard not to see the upwards trend, or the July dip.In a grim and unhappy reminder that things are still bad in Iraq, the death toll has–predictably–climbed again so far in August. Not to mention overall. The average number of fatalities per day in 2006 was 2.38; this year, so far, it is 3.25.But how about Iraq and the Iraqis? Are the insurgents having a harder time of it? Are Iraqis better off? Is the surge working?

In one sense, we simply can’t judge that easily–there are so many factors involved, and the insurgents aren’t letting us see the transcripts of their meetings with their shrinks so we can gauge their feelings on the matter. But considering stories like this one where 500 Iraqis were killed in a truck bombing, it is rather unlikely that things are cooling down. On the contrary, even air conditioning is not an option, as Baghdad residents only get two hours of electricity a day nowadays. Remember how Republicans used to use that yardstick to measure success? Have you noticed how you don’t hear them using it any more these days?

The political situation is hardly any better. While our brave men and women in uniform slog it out and fight and die, the Iraqi Parliament has taken a full month’s vacation from the summer heat. The Bush administration’s spin? At least it wasn’t a two-month vacation! Believe it or not, that was Cheney’s actual defense.

This story has a lot of rather depressing but relevant facts and numbers on the matter. End impression: not good.

By this time, you gotta figure that right-wingers are just praying for another 9/11 attack, so that everyone will get scared again and run to the GOP, pleading, “Help us! You’re the only ones who can help us! We’ll slavishly support anything you say or do, we’re so frightened! Please, please protect us!” A right-wing wet dream, to be certain.Am I being harsh? Unreasonable? Surely no right-winger would actually want such a thing to happen, right? Oh, sure, Bill O’Reilly wants San Francisco to be attacked by terrorists, but everybody knows that he was just kidding. But how about this guy?

What would sew us back together?Another 9/11 attack.The Golden Gate Bridge. Mount Rushmore. Chicago’s Wrigley Field. The Philadelphia subway system. The U.S. is a target-rich environment for al Qaeda.

Well, heck, there are always nutcases out there who will say anything, right? Certainly no other right-wingers would give this guy the time of day, much less air time or column inches, right? Except for the Drudge Report, but they’re nutcases. Oh, and radio host Mike Gallagher, who boasts of 3.75 million weekly listeners. But hey, he’s just another nutcase with a nationally syndicated radio show. He’s not even as big as Bill O’Reilly. Now, John Gibson of Fox News wouldn’t approve, right? He would certainly never have this guy as a guest on his show, or say anything like “I think its going to take a lot of dead people to wake America up.”

Nah. Right-wingers would never actually hope for a terrorist attack just so they could have another political joyride! Shame on me for even thinking that!

And finally, someone at Fox Noise was caught with their hand in the Wikipedia jar. They thoughtlessly made edits to Wikipedia from a computer at Fox News itself, making it possible to see where the edits were coming from. Those hatemongers over at DailyKos have the story, with details and a link to the Fox News Wikipedia edits.What did they edit? A lot of Fox News stuff, cleaning out some embarrassments relating to their own on-air personalities, such as Greta Van Susteren’s plastic surgery, Shepard Smith’s arrest, mug shot, and on-air gaffe, a Media Matters reference on Chris Wallace’s page, controversial quotes by Carl Cameron, and multiple details of Brit Hume’s article. Aside from changing articles about Fox to make themselves look better, the Fox Wikipedia scrubber also changed Keith Olbermann’s page to add biased comments, not to mention similarly changing references to Olbermann on pages about their own anchors.But hey, can you blame them? Those pages were probably written by Democrat Revisionistas! Fox is just setting the record straight!

Oh and hey, I also happen to know that real estate developer in Florida that Rep. Young was helping out; I hear that he’s got some hot properties that you might want to invest in. Send me an email if you’re interested.

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  1. cc
    August 22nd, 2007 at 12:26 | #1

    But how about Iraq and the Iraqis? Are the insurgents having a harder time of it? Are Iraqis better off? Is the surge working?

    Welcome to your new blog.

    Now read this:


    Major attacks decline in Iraq
    By Jim Michaels, USA TODAY

    The number of truck bombs and other large al-Qaeda-style attacks in Iraq have declined nearly 50% since the United States started increasing troop levels in Iraq about six months ago, according to the U.S. military command in Iraq.

    The high-profile attacks generally large bombs hitting markets, mosques or other “soft” targets that produce mass casualties have dropped to about 70 in July from a high during the past year of about 130 in March, according to the Multi-National Force Iraq.

  2. Luis
    August 22nd, 2007 at 13:03 | #2

    It’s called “cherry-picking,” or more generally, “lying by telling the truth, but not all the truth. 131 Coalition soldiers were killed in May, only 88 in July. Does that mean that we’re winning? Sounds like it, if that’s all the information I let you have. Wow! I’ve just proved that we’re winning the war! Using *exactly* the quality of evidence as presented in the story you have linked to.

    But a look at all the numbers shows that July is one of the least violent months of the year; for the past three years, July has *always* seen a drop in violence, often dramatic–and then the violence increases soon after. Last year, troop deaths in June-July-August were 63-46-66; this year June and July have been 108-88.

    If your source showed *all* the data, I would take it more seriously. Instead, it is an example of the administration releasing a story through indirect agents (in this case, military officials including a retired general friendly to Petraeus) who uses cherry-picked numbers to make his case. For all we know, the trend could be increasing–and the reporter, like so many these days, simply reports what he’s fed. Did he investigate the whole dataset, get all the numbers and facts and figures, so as to confirm or deny the numbers he was given as accurately portraying a trend? Apparently not–he most likely just accepted what was set before him and wrote it up like a good little puppy.

    Show me the level of said violence each month over the past one or two years. Add the number of people killed as opposed to simply the number of attacks–were the 130 in March killing just a dozen on average and the 70 in July killing 50 on average? Then add the *total* number of attacks of all types, and the total number of Iraqis killed–also month-by-month over the last year or two.

    I betcha that by similarly cherry-picking numbers from that dataset, I could make the exact opposite point as is being made in the release you linked to. So, surprise, I’m not impressed.

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