John McCain takes home the silver after getting called out by Senator Webb for dragging his feet on the bipartisan GI bill and claiming Webb hasn't reached out to him. And after five years of admitting the United States "invaded" Iraq, Bill O'Reilly takes home the gold for changing his mind by now saying we didn't. Oh, Bill.
Countdown with Keith Olbermann
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- Barack Obama
- Bill O'Reilly
- David Letterman
- Democratic Party
- Elections 2008
- Fox News
- Hardball/Chris Matthews
- Hillary Clinton
- John McCain
- McCain's Media
- Media Criticism
- Nexus Politics Terror
- Supporting our Troops
- The Senate
- White House
The continuing sagas that make up the life under the Bush administration...
First up is Marc Halcon, owner of American Shooting Range in San Diego, California, who has divested himself of his interest in a vocational training school being developed by front companies for Blackwater, because of Blackwater's growing notoreity.
Next is a sad statement on the value of healthcare and marriage today, with a Kaiser Family Foundation poll that found that 7% of respondents either was or knew someone who married solely for access to their spouse's health benefits. And the GOP wanted me to believe that same sex marriages somehow cheapened the sanctity of my marriage.
And finally, in an ironic twist in the Nexus of Politics and Terror, the original prosecutor of the Hamdan case, Col. Morris Davis, is testifying on behalf of Salim Hamdan and speaking out over the kangaroo courts that the Bush administration is demanding to be able to claim progress in their War on Terror™.
Davis didn’t just say the Hamdan argument wasn't right, since it permits the use of evidence obtained by coercion or torture, to say nothing of hearsay, he also quoted the former general counsel of the Defense Department who he says told him “We can’t have acquittals. We’ve been holding these guys for years. How can we explain acquittals? We have to have convictions.” Col. Davis put it simply: he was under pressure to hurry through cases and get those convictions, so President Bush could use them politically before the 2006 mid-terms (elections). And there it all is in a nutshell. The military co-opting the Constitution and the sacred freedoms for which the heroes of that military fought and died as part of some kind of crazed worship of or fear of a cheap political hack and his gang. And as distant as it all seems, just plug yourself into that equation. You somehow wind up in Gitmo, in Salim Hamdan’s place. And you say, “but I’m an American citizen!” and the guard and the torturers standing behind the guard says to you, “Oh yeah? Prove it. Without a lawyer. Without the right to trial. Prove it. And until then, you want some water? Poured up your nose?”
On Countdown Tuesday, Keith and Rachel dissected two of McCain's major potential liabilities: his own "radical" pastors and the many examples that threaten his image as the Honorable Campaign Finance Reform Champion.
"He's such a maverick he not only doesn't play by other people's rules, he doesn't even play by his own rules."
Despite his horrendous showing at the ABC debate, I'm grateful Stephanopoulos finally broke the media silence and confronted McCain on his Hagee problem last weekend. When will the rest of the mainstream press wake up and realize that religious leaders on the right have been saying controversial stuff for years?
When will they also realize that the Maverick they fell in love with has left the building? Saint McCain once championed strict campaign finance rules. Now he exploits (and even violates) his own signature legislation. The man who once stood as the moral arbiter on torture now remains silent as his own legislation gets used to torture people. He was for the Bush tax cuts before he was against them. Agent of intolerance to commencement speaker. "Bring em all home" to "100 years is fine with me."
Are there any defining attributes John McCain won't sacrifice to appease the lunatic fringe and become President? More importantly, is there any way to get the press to cover this?
As the granddaughter of an Air Force general, there are few stories that make me angrier than the treatment of the troops at the hands of the government who put them in harm's way. A RAND study came out recently that had just horrifying statistics: 300,000 U.S. veterans are suffering serious mental health issues, including clinical depression and PTSD. CBS News revealed the results of an investigation on Wednesday that showed suicide is epidemic, with 2,200 among active-duty service since the invasion. But what Dr. Ira Katz, the VA's head of mental health, didn't reveal to CBS is that there are an average of 1,000 suicide attempts per month, an unthinkably high number. VetVoice is asking for your support in asking for Katz's resignation.
Olbermann: More shocking than that misrepresentation or whatever you want to call it, there are other facts that go hand in glove with this. 300,000 Iraq and Afghanistan vets either with clinical depression of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. The suicide rate of among veterans is anywhere between three and seven times higher than the rest of the country and this number of suicide attempts at a 1000 per month. Why are the numbers so terrifyingly high?
Rieckhoff: I would say it boils down because of the fact our country is not ready to receive these people, Keith. We’ve sent 1.7 million people to war in Iraq and Afghanistan since 9/11. Hundreds of thousands of them are coming home with serious mental health problems. This Rand study that came out last week verifies it. We’re passed the point of canaries in the coalmine. Everybody knows there are serious mental health issues across the veterans’ population. And we’re not taking care of them. They’re backlogged at the VA, the average claim takes 183 days and it’s not a pro-active system.
If you would like to help, contact the Wounded Warrior Outreach Program.
Counting down the scandals...
First up is an update on the Liberty 7 "terror" trial. Remember these guys? They were a bunch of paintballers in Florida who the government said threatened to blow up the Sears Tower in Chicago. Well, surprise, surprise, after two trials, we have not one conviction but a second hung jury, with one of the jurors weighing in on a third trial:
"They are wasting time and money…unless they change the evidence or approach they might get another hung jury."
But never fear, waste is nothing in the pursuit of the "War on Terror," as U.S. Assistant Attorney Richard Gregorie says that the Feds will seek a third trial.
And then we have the story Steve brought you yesterday, that is Evidence #2,846 that the country wants us as dumbed down as possible and doesn't mind if kids get pregnant to do that. At the news (which is not new--just a confirmation of what we've known for decades) that the studies show abstinence-only sex education program the federal government has been pouring money into is not working. But don't tell that to Rep. John Duncan (R-TN), who found trusting a scientific study by academics with those high-falutin' degrees "elitist."
And finally, the sad story recounted by Dana Milbank at the Washington Post. When Lt. Col. Billy Hall lost his life in Iraq, his grieving family gave permission for the media to cover his funeral at Arlington Cemetary. But the Pentagon had other ideas and cordoned off the media so that they could get no usable audio and only a few, distant photos with yellow ropes blocking the face of his loved ones.
Whatever this war does and does not mean to the history of this country nothing could have more greatly impacted the family of Lt. Col. Billy Hall. And if his story, and the story of other American heroes are kept from the American public, it is not the doing of the American media that somehow dishonors the troops. The blame lies clearly and completely at the foot of the Bush administration. IT does not want our heroes honored. It wants itself honored. And all else — Lt. Col. Hall, his family and their wishes – they can all, Mr. Bush is saying, go to hell.
Got to love these winners. First up is former Attorney General John Ashcroft, who spoke today at Knox College and angrily played semantic games about torture with a student questioner:
ME: The judgment describes this water treatment, and I quote, "the victim was bound or otherwise secured in a prone position; and water was forced through his mouth and nostrils into his lungs and stomach." One man, Yukio Asano, was sentenced to fifteen years hard labor by the allies for waterboarding American troops to obtain information. Since Yukio Asano was trying to get information to help defend his country--exactly what you, Mr. Ashcroft, say is acceptible for Americans to do--do you believe that his sentence was unjust? (boisterous applause and shouts of "Good question!")
ASHCROFT: (angrily) Now, listen here. You're comparing apples and oranges, apples and oranges. We don't do anything like what you described.
ME: I'm sorry, I was under the impression that we still use the method of putting a cloth over someone's face and pouring water down their throat...
ASHCROFT: (interrupting, red-faced, shouting) Pouring! Pouring! Did you hear what she said? "Putting a cloth over someone's face and pouring water on them." That's not what you said before! Read that again, what you said before![..]ME: "The victim was bound or otherwise secured in a prone position; and water was forced through his mouth and nostrils into his lungs and stomach."
ASHCROFT: (shouting) You hear that? You hear it? "Forced!" If you can't tell the difference between forcing and pouring...does this college have an anatomy class? If you can't tell the difference between forcing and pouring...
Then there is Roger Byrd, pastor of the Church of God in Jonesville, SC, who put up a message on his church marquee reading "Obama Osama/Humm/Are they brothers." Confirming every worst stereotype possible, Byrd claimed the sign was neither political or racial: "His name is so close to Osama I have a feeling he might be Islamic therefore he doesn't recognize Christ," Pastor Byrd said. Yeah, that's neither political nor racial. It's just idiotic.
And finally, John McCain gets the gold for his choice of spiritual advisers and endorsers in Rev. John Hagee. As Steve wrote about, just days after McCain equivocated over whether seeking Hagee's endorsement was a good idea, Hagee decided to up the ante in conservative Republican intolerance. On Dennis Prager's radio show, Hagee retiterated that Hurricane Katrina was God's wrath upon New Orleans for planning a "homosexual rally" for the day after the hurricane hit. Funny that, a long time friend of mine lost his home in Biloxi, Mississippi, due to Katrina, as did many others on the Gulf Coast. I don't believe there was any other gay pride events scheduled, although I could be wrong, Maybe McCain should be asked if his spiritual advisor thinks God just hates that part of the south, or if God just callously considered them collateral damage.
MSNBC's Keith Olbermann made an appearance on Late Night with David Letterman, and the conversation turned to one of the best arguments for how screwed up our campaign process is and how public financing could allow us to put our money towards other priorities.
Letterman: It’s just god awful. If you think about it, if you compare those amounts of money—and I heard this statistic the other day—to maintain, to maintain status quo of world starvation—that means not improve it…
Letterman: …but just for people to hang on, we need $700 million. And these two, have generated more than that already and still people are going hungry.
Olbermann: It would be great, and it would be ideal if we paid for everything. The government would just sort of said, alright, we’re going to give each candidate, who you know met some sort of minimum amount of support gets this much money and gets this much free television time, which is what it’s really all about. I mean, that’s what happened in Pennsylvania, you know where he went from being down by 20 to losing by 10. That’s a pretty good result for him, by spending a lot of money on TV time. But if you just gave away the television time, well, all the networks would get very upset about that. So it’s…you know, really, we are choosing between these two predicaments.
Letterman: There ought to be a way, there ought to be a different way here, because I mean, the length of the campaign—you can understand this, but the sums of money required and at the end of the day, we’re just trying to satisfy somebody’s ego when you get right down to it.
Another day, three more SNAFUs for the Bush administration...
First up is the recent $860 million contract awarded to Boeing to construct a "virtual fence" along the US/Mexican border back in February, despite some early problems with delivery. As it turned out, it's money not so well spent. Just two months later, the government has decided to scrap the prototype (to the tune of $20 million) because, as they were warned earlier, the fence just didn't work. But hey, the GOP is the party of fiscal responsibility, or so they say.
Then there is yet another less than inspiring story from Iraq. Although the administration -- both here and in Iraq -- have been crowing about the growing success of the Iraqi troops, the reality is a little more understated. Case in point: Lt. Col. William Zemp describes a hiccup in a planned sweep of the town of Mahmudiya, south of Baghdad: the Iraqi troops didn't make it because they overslept. Oops!
And finally, it's The Big Dick. Mr. Vice President spoke in front of the Manhattan Institute on Monday and used the opportunity to blame the Democrats for letting FISA expire, putting the nation's safety in jeopardy. Only problem? It's not true. Hard as it is to believe, it appears that the man behind Bush was pushing false information for the sake of fear mongering and partisan gain. Shocking.
During Tuesday's Democratic presidential primary coverage on MSNBC co-host, Chris Matthews, declares the race between Obama and Clinton to be essentially over before the polls closed in Pennsylvania and blames "the media" for creating a horse race he says doesn't exist.
"...But I really do think it's a strange time because we're all watching to see who won, but as Nora pointed out, 4 out of 5 ,or so, of the Hillary voters today believe she's still in the running. That this is still up in the air and I think that was probably a mistake of the media. I think in the effort of the media, to try to keep this game going, we've created the delusion that somehow this race is still open. I don't think it is open. I think if you look at the numbers Barack has to really blow it in the weeks ahead to lose."
Matthews need only look into the archives of his own show and his work on MSNBC's primary coverage for some of the creepiest, most delusional rants and bizarre political hackery to be found anywhere on the tee vee.
Keith Olbermann has been tough on Senator Hillary Clinton during the Democratic presidential primary, but on the eve of the Pennsylvania primary, she appeared on Countdown to talk about the campaign, her policies and some of the back and forth with Senator Barack Obama. Olbermann gave Clinton ample time to make her points -- which she used to her advantage -- and asked her a few tough questions, but no follow ups, by his own admission later in the show.
Olbermann asks Clinton about her response to Barack Obama's comment that all three candidates are better than George Bush, and about her presidential threshold comment. Hillary chose to focus more on Senator McCain, saying his views on issues like Iraq and the economy would actually make him worse than Bush:
"...The problem is that he has the wrong ideas. He would continue the Bush policies on Iraq, which I think is wrong for the country. And, in fact, his statement about his being willing to leave troops in Iraq for up to 100 years is something I absolutely reject. That would be worse than President Bush."
UPDATE: (Nicole) Although Olbermann acknowledged that the limited time frame from which he was working hampered his ability to ask follow up questions, the fact that he allowed Clinton without pause to continue with her aggressive statements against Iran based on false allegations of a restarted nuclear weapons program (which he also mentioned after the interview was contradicted by the intelligence) is really unacceptable, especially after giving George Stephanopoulos and Charles Gibson a hard time for their debate moderation. According to The Politico (I know, I know):
Clinton spokesman Howard Wolfson said earlier that Clinton didn't intend to refer to nuclear weapons in her first discussion of Iran today, but later on Olbermann, she made what seemed like a very clear nuclear threat against the gulf state.
"Massive retaliation," as a reader pointed out, is a term of art in nuclear strategy.and a cornerstone of nuclear deterrence...