Friday, July 27, 2007

The Limits of 'Linguistic Parsing'

This will be a bit of catch up. I chose the title from Froomkin's roundup White House brief that starts with wondering about how bad was the secret wiretapping program if even the DoJ lawyers objected to it before the White House converted it into the quasi-legal 'Terrorist Surveillance Program'?

Dan Froomkin - The Limits of 'Linguistic Parsing' -

After seeing the type of questions real people asked the Democrats most GOP candidates appear to be too scared the face the same thing.

Whenever there is real reporting out of Iraq the screaming ninnies of the Right insist it must be fake. This happened with the AP reports from a policeman in Baghdad and now a soldier in Iraq reporting on his reckless and disrespectful fellow troops, borderline atrocities. The usual chickenhawks are involved in calling fake, but oops the soldier has come forward.

Since the debate, the Clinton camp has tried to pick a fight with Obama about his wanting to meet with leaders of countries we don't get along with. Hillary's camp happily adopts right wing framing even when it is wrong. This is actually a good debate, if you stay away from the total idiots.

We're all wearing the blue dress now. Latest actions by the freeway blogger whose protest signs have been seen by hundreds of thousands.

Latest poll - public blames the GOP for all major problems except crime.
– War: 62% blamed Republicans vs. 14% Democrats

– Global Warming: 56% blamed Republicans vs. 10% Democrats

– Prejudice: 52% blamed Republicans vs. 22% for Democrats

– Poverty: 49% held Republicans accountable; 29% Democrats

– Corruption: 47% blamed Republicans vs. 31% Democrats

The only problem the public blamed Dems more for was crime, by a margin of 42 to 23 percent.
This was from an extremely large Zogby poll, the “Report Card on American Prejudice”, which covered a wide range of attitudes and problems. With over 10,000 people surveyed the margin of error was 1%. Other findings were that American would accept a gay president but wouldn't want him or her to be in a same-sex marriage.

Michael Moore's challenge to candidates - give up your free government health care and take whatever the least fortunate American has. Right now that would be nothing. Bush administration to Michael Moore - you're subpoenaed.

Texas Blue notices Vet Care should see some changes.

You are destroying America. Yes, you. An accusation against the majority of Americans who have turned into cowardly hypocrites. Reminds me of the Whatever happened to empathy essay on that populist site.

The Christian allies of Israel also believe that soon there will be no Jews. Interesting video.

Another poll - Republican collapse among the young -pdf. Its acceptable and cool to hate the GOP now.

Fight back against the Fox News attacks on liberal bloggers. Thousands of contacts with its advertisers would do the trick and tools are being set up.

Imagine, there is a campaign to bring Clean Elections to Texas. Arizona, Connecticut and Maine did it.

Thompson's wife is more than a trophy, she appears to be running his campaign. Is he the Manchurian candidate?

Joe Trippi's back and Edwards has him. Trippi and Dean are remaking the Democratic party.

Are you in the Texas Data Exchange? Guv. Goodhair is amassing a database on all Texans with everything you can imagine in it.

Iraq terrorists home grown, not lead by foreign fighters. Greg Miller:
Undercutting new assertions by President Bush, a top U.S. intelligence official testified Wednesday that Al Qaeda's organization in Iraq is overwhelmingly composed of fighters from that country, and that the terrorist network's ability to operate in Pakistan poses the greater danger to the United States.

The testimony came just one day after Bush forcefully argued that Al Qaeda in Iraq is substantially controlled by foreign operatives, and that most of them would be trying to kill Americans if not for the ongoing war there.
Our local Ted Poe turns pro-convict. Of course, it is convicted felons who shot a guy in the back and then repeatedly lied about it. But they were border patrol guys so it is all right with Poe.

FREEBIRD Don't let yourself be pulled over by a cop if you have prescription drugs in Florida. You might get 25 years and your prescription not be allowed to be introduced at trial. The appeals court has overturned the drug trafficking conviction of a man with 58 Vicodin with a doctor's prescription and released him from prison.

FREEBIRDS Don't get the FBI after you.
A federal judge held the FBI "responsible for the framing of four innocent men" in a 1965 gangland murder in a landmark ruling yesterday and ordered the government to pay the men $101.7 million for the decades they spent in prison. The award is believed to be the largest of its kind nationally.

US District Judge Nancy Gertner said from the bench that the FBI had deliberately withheld evidence that Peter J. Limone, Joseph Salvati, Louis Greco, and Henry Tameleo were innocent, and that the bureau helped cover up the injustice for decades as the men grew old behind bars and Tameleo and Greco died.

"FBI officials up the line allowed their employees to break laws, violate rules, and ruin lives, interrupted only with the occasional burst of applause," said Gertner, berating the FBI for giving commendations and bonuses to the agents who helped send the men to prison for the killing in Chelsea of Edward "Teddy" Deegan, a small-time hoodlum.
"I'll be high as a kite by then..." NASA astronauts took 'Rocketman' a bit too much to heart.
The findings, which include the fact that "alcohol is freely used in crew quarters" and that shuttle astronauts in at least two instances were launched into space despite warnings that they posed a safety risk by being intoxicated, bring fresh embarrassment to the agency.
"Pull over that shuttle right now and float in a straight line."

ADDED, more linguistic parsing

There seems to be a new effort by the Bush/Cheney administration to redefine al Qaeda as meaning any armed grouped of Muslims that oppose the United States. I just listened to NPR and a long interesting report from Iraq was ruined by the repeated use of the phrase "al Qaeda" to refer to armed militants opposed to the U.S. instead of bothering to define the groups.

In 93 times in 29 minutes Bush used al Qaeda to justify what he is doing in Iraq. Bush maintained in his speech that the members of “al-Qaeda in Iraq” have pledged fealty (bay’at) to Usama Bin Laden. There is no evidence for this allegation. The group al-Qaeda in Iraq was a more localized group inspired by bin Laden and bin Laden gave permission to use the name - his branding effort.

Greenwald has also noticed this new propaganda terminology coming from both the Pentagon and the White House. Everyone we fight in Iraq has now been branded al-Qaeda. Even the real "Al-Qaeda in Iraq" is mostly foreign fighters, less than 1% of those captured. Juan Cole:
The small band of some 1200 foreign fighters in Iraq are not for the most part career terrorists as far as anyone can tell. They are too young, at an average of 27, for that description. They are a new generation. They were college students and financiers who became angry about Bush's military occupation of a Muslim Arab country. In the absence of that invasion, they would still be at ordinary ho-hum jobs.
Glenn Greenwald traces this theme of sustituting the term al Qaeda for those opposed to the US in Iraq quite well. He updates it here and spots where only the best media reporters have noted this shift in words for domestic political purposes. McClatchy papers:
The Bush administration's recent shift toward calling the enemy in Iraq "al Qaida" rather than an insurgency may reflect the difficulty in maintaining support for the war at home more than it does the nature of the enemy in Iraq.
I agree with Greenwald, for NPR and every other media to follow this rebranding is dangerous and sickening in the extreme.
More importantly, all of this depends upon an underhanded and deceitful conflation of (a) the Iraqi Sunnis who decided to call themselves "Al Qaeda in Iraq" as they battled against the U.S. occupation of their country, and (b) the "Al Qaeda" led by Osama bin Laden which flew planes into U.S. buildings on 9/11. In every way that matters, those two entities are universes apart. But for obvious reasons, the political consequences of equating them are enormous. To conflate them is, as I said on Saturday, misleading and propagandistic in the extreme. For one article after the next to bolster that conflation is so journalistically irresponsible that it is hard to put into words.
Digby has an excellent report on the silly ninnies of the right trying to crucify the serviceman I noted above for reporting on the gallows humor and petty cruelties that occur among men in a war zone. Not only are the right bloggers chickenhawks, they haven't even read All Quiet on the Western Front or other realistic war novels. Cluck, cluck, cluck. A gaggle of cluckers.

Andrew wonders about A new isolationism? A new liberal hegemony? in a post that combines several recent threads here.

Updating the Hagee video above Greenwald asks if anybody in DC can be taken seriously as mainstream, particularly Lieberman. He also notes that the attacks on The New Republic soldier story have died just like all the other right wing blog false stories.

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