« The ACLU Begins to Win Back Our Country | Main | Were They Bypassing Gonzales, Too? »

September 06, 2007


Good on ya, Marcy--
Every time I hear one of these comments on deaths being "down,", my brain yells, "compared to what?!"
And I wait in vain to hear the interviewer/reporter ask that question.

BTW, your name is being taken in vain over at FDL (actually, quite complimentary)

You really have to wonder about the mental processes of someone like O'Hanlon. He is obviously intelligent in some senses, yet he has sold his soul to Bush and the splurge. He just has to support them no matter what his own eyes tell him. It is more than just hacktitude a la Wm Kristol or even just careerism; it is bordering on pathological.

On second thought, maybe someone woke him up early from his nap. Certainly looks like that't the case, doesn't it?

It does surprise me that the Brookings Institute has this guy as a fellow. THe Hoover or AEI seem to be a better fit. Or Faux News for that matter.

"Marcy in the Weeds with a Timeline."

Clue FDL style!

AZ Matt

It strikes me that being a Brookings scholar makes him more of a parallel to Judy. You plant the plants in the purportedly liberal, reality-based institutions, otherwise they don't have the same credibility and therefore usefulness.

I'd really love to prove that O'Hanlon and Judy are on the dole.

Particularly since O'Hanlon's credibility is sinking with the rapidity of someone who must either be running away from blackmail or trying to hide a nasty habit. O'Hanlon is like Hitchens, eight years ago.

Of course, Brookings is not exactly the liberal institution it once was. STill riding on that reputation with liberals, but not the same place.

"Not that things in Iraq are going great, in O'Hanlon's view. Violence remains high, and political progress is nonexistent.

"The overall situation is quite mediocre," he says."

So O'Hanlon gives the surge a "C" rather than an "F".

Still not good enough to keep the scholarship. Time for a community college transfer; bring the troops home.


I doubt if he is clever enough to be a plant like Judy. But I must say being from Brookings gives him the Liberal-who-has-seen-the-light image, kind of in the Lieberman mold. Too much time in the Ivy Towers and little common sense.

During his recent tour through Iraq, he adds, every local briefing he received from the US military said that attacks in that particular sector were down.

"All the official briefers told me the same story! I mean, it's not like they're all representatives of a large hierarchical organization or something, these are all independent assessments!"

The mind boggles. What do you think the chances are that he asked for the basis of that judgment at any of his briefings? I'll accept any guesses between zero and none.

Just a poor choice of words.

He probably meant to say "rigid" meaning to imply that they weren't discriminating enough.

Another example might be to include normal traffic deaths or infant mortality.

At one time the military wasn't counting accidental deaths and such in their combat death numbers. They got a lot of flack. I am not sure what the final result was.
Same thing for issuing a Purple Heart. What it combat related?

Oddly, I have the same sort of complaint as O'Hanlon, but I think it proves precisely the opposite point!

We can sit here all day and debate "bullet in the back of the head" numbers, and "no car bomb deaths" and "seasonal variations" and so on until we're blue in the face.

I come from the part of the physics world where we run everything by the numbers. And we do so because in order to be able to tell what's going on, you have to.

Iraq isn't like that. You don't need any set of numbers to tell you what's going on. What's going on is that there's no functioning government, there's no security to be had without a platoon of Marines, and you can read articles about how this or that city is making deals with representatives of "the third largest local militia".

Any locality that has a "third-largest militia" is a region that is in deep, dark trouble.

The numbers being reported are so corrupted by what we would call in our business "systematic uncertainties" that they are actively worse than useless. They bring a completely false sense of precision to a situation that really doesn't need precision because the results are really quite clear.

Or, I might put it another way: if the progress is such that it can only be seen by minute and detailed examination of various statistics (even if they weren't deliberately cooked), then you really haven't made much progress.

E. B. White: "There's no limit to how complicated things can get on account of one thing leading to another."

Thanks Andrew for cutting to the chase!

Prof. Foland,

You win a cigar! The defacto partition of Iraq has started!

>I'd really love to prove that O'Hanlon and Judy are on the dole.<

Looks like Judy is officially on the dole, as of today (from TPM):


The Manhattan Institute counts as "the dole," doesn't it?


You mean about six weeks ago, don't you?

Actually, more than that. But I counted her as being on wingnut welfare once she started writing for them.

From the Raw Story:


"The confidential version of Congress' Congressional Research Report on Iraq declares that Iraq's government is "in collapse," according to the New York Daily News' James Meek, who first acquired the report.

The report was completed Aug. 15 for the House and Senate, as President Bush geared up for a fresh battle with Congress over his intent to 'stay the course.'

RAW STORY acquired a copy of the report from the Daily News. It can be read here in the original (PDF).

"My assessment is that because of the number and breadth of parties boycotting the cabinet, the Iraqi government is in essential collapse," Kenneth Katzman, the author of the report, said, according to Meek. "That argues against any real prospects for political reconciliation."

Without a political infrastructure in Iraq, any military progress would be short-lived, he added.

As a whole, the 62-page report is typical of those conducted by the Congressional Research Service, a nonpartisan arm of Congress tasked with investigating topics of interest to members. The report pontificates on myriad aspects of Iraq's political, economic and security challenges.

Katzman questions the troop surge in the report.

"I would even question the military progress," he also declared.


Expert Witness = Expert as witnessing facts through green goggles.

Never hard to find a scholarly whore.

OT EW - What are the chances that the un-named RNC e-mail audit/archiving company is New Media Communications of Richfield, OH?


"The firm has handled complex Internet communications projects for The White House, key congressional committees, Members of Congress and state governments."


"Connell runs a private IT company called NewMedia. GovTech is NewMedia's sister company, focusing on governmental work. (Technically, GovTech is a "woman owned" firm owned by Connell's wife.) GovTech does work "behind the firewall" -- that is, they set up systems for congressmen, congressional committees, state governments and so forth."


New Media Communications, Inc., led by "veteran political strategist Mike Connell," provides website development and Internet services to Republican candidates. "New Media played a strategic role in helping the GOP gain influence in key races in the 2000, 2002 and 2004 elections."


I wonder if the State Government of Ohio had out-sourced some its IT operations to New Media in late 2004, too?

O'Hanlon also has a quote in the Military Times article about the wayward nukes. He says we don't have to worry, because the planes never left the US. No terrorists here, chums, move along.

"During his recent tour through Iraq, he adds, every local briefing he received from the US military said that attacks in that particular sector were down."

If O'Hanlon is referring to the 8-day trip which was totally controlled by the US Military (included 2-hour, carefully-scripted jaunts away from the emerald-walled city) it's not surprising that "every local briefing" showed reduced attacks. Every "briefing" he received was completely controlled--where he went, and which officers 'briefed' him. Greenwald cut O'Hanlon a new one on this issue.

"In addition, for the GAO to decline to judge whether attacks are sectarian or not is to take an overly rigorous approach to the numbers, says the Brookings expert."

What a maggot. GAO was absolutely correct, imo. They're saying--"look, we're not clairvoyant or telepathic. So we're going to measure *violence*, and leave out the interpretive BS.

I hope bloggers continue to hammer on O'Hanlon. His crap deserves it.

OT Adding in a dash of Abramoff...Getting warmer?


As reported yesterday, in 2001 a GOP operative and close confidant of the Bush family was tapped to re-program the Capitol Hill IT network for the 21st century, after George W. Bush's controversial victory over Vice President Al Gore completed the Republican revolution of 1994.

The "Mayor of Capitol Hill" and fellow Ohioan Bob Ney opened the door for Michael "Mike" L. Connell after the GOP put House IT under the control of the Committee on House Administration. Ney, who chaired the committee from 2001 to 2006 is now serving 30 months in federal prison for conspiracy to defraud the United States and falsifying financial disclosure forms.


Well, that might explain some of the stuff going on with the WH and the dems in Congress. Their computer systems were hacked (sort of) at the network connection level.

I am very pleased to see Kos come out swinging.

OT - Sorry for the length, but the list has so many high-profile Republicans, I just had to put it up (I won't do it again!)

The probability that Rove knows these guys well has to be close to 100%, since they handled the Bush/Cheney Campaigns.

How about this listing of New Media's awards for clients:

Here's my favorite from 2004:

Ohio Secretary of State Election Night Project - Honorable Mention - State/Local Government Website


Ohio Republican Party 2006
Bush-Cheney ’04 Campaign 2005
Citizens for Tax Repeal (OH) 2004
Jeb Bush for Governor (FL) 2002
Jeb Bush for Governor (FL) 1998
Bob Taft for Governor (OH) 1998
Republican Party of Iowa

Justin Germany of our advertising agency affiliate, Connell Donatelli, also earned a 2005 Golden Dot for his “Ronald Reagan Tribute Video,” which was produced in 2004.

45 Pollie Awards

The Pollies, presented by the American Association of Political Consultants, are the most prestigious awards given in the political arena. Annually, Pollies are presented to the very best in political campaign advertising and consulting.

2007 - 5 Pollies

RickSantorum.com - Silver Pollie - U.S. Senate Candidate Website
DeVosForGovernor.com - Silver Pollie - Candidate for Governor Website
Michigan in Jeopardy Game - Bronze Pollie - Best Use of Game Technology
DeVos Mobile "Go" Center - Bronze Pollie - Best Use of Mobile Technology
The Indiana House Republican Campaign Committee website - Bronze Pollie - Candidate for State Legislature Website

2006 - 4 Pollies

GOP.com - Bronze Pollie - Best National Organization Website
GOP.com - Honorable Mention - Best Grassroots, Issue Advocacy and Public Affairs Website
Republican National Committee - Honorable Mention - Best Use of Podcasting
IFES TIDE Program - Honorable Mention - Best International Website

2005 - 7 Pollies

Bush-Cheney '04 - Gold Pollie - Presidential Candidate Website
Bush-Cheney '04 - Gold Pollie - Bilingual/Multi-lingual Website
Bush-Cheney '04 - Gold Pollie - Best Use of Email/Viral Marketing
Bush-Cheney '04 - Gold Pollie - Most Innovative Use of Technology
The Republican National Committee - Silver Pollie - National Organization Website
John Thune for Senate - Silver Pollie - Best Use of Website for Fundraising
National Rifle Association Political Victory Fund - Bronze Pollie - National Organization Website

2004 - 11 Pollies

National Rifle Association Institute for Legislative Action - First Place - National Organization Website, and Third Place - National Public Affairs Website
The Republican National Committee - Second Place - National Organization Website
National Rifle Association Institute for Legislative Action's clintongunban.com - First Place - National Grassroots Website, Second Place - National Issue Advocacy Internet Campaign, and Honorable Mention - Flash animation
Congressman Lamar Smith - Second Place - Congressional Website, House
The Council for Excellence for the White House - Honorable Mention - Federal Government Website
Ohio Secretary of State Election Night Project - Honorable Mention - State/Local Government Website
Senator Jim Talent (MO) - Honorable Mention - Congressional Website, Senate
Citizens for Tax Repeal (OH) - Honorable Mention - State and Local Email Campaign

2003 - 6 Pollies

Jeb Bush for Governor - First Place - Gubernatorial Website
Elizabeth Dole for U.S. Senate - Second Place - Best Use of Email/Viral Marketing
Mike Bloomberg for Mayor - Second Place - Local/Municipal Website
NRA Political Victory Fund - Second Place - Independent Expenditure Campaign Website
Ohioans for Ken Blackwell - Honorable Mention - Statewide Down Ballot
Lamar Alexander for U.S. Senate - Honorable Mention - Best Overall Internet Campaign

2002 - 2 Pollies

NRA Institute for Legislative Action - First Place - National Grassroots Website
Freedom Brigade - Third Place - National Grassroots Website

2001 - 7 Pollies

George W. Bush for President - First Place - Presidential Website
Rick Santorum for U.S. Senate - Best Statewide Website, and Best Use of a Website for Volunteer/Field Operations
Tvoj Glas 2000 (Slovenian Election) - Best Use of New Technology
Heather Wilson for Congress - Honorable Mention - Congressional Website
SmallBusinessVotes.org - Honorable Mention - Organization Website
NotHillary.com - Honorable Mention - Independent Expenditure Campaign Website

2000 - 2 Pollies

Hands Off the Internet - Second Place - National Grassroots Website
Floridians for School Choice - Second Place - State Public Affairs Website

1999 - 1 Pollie

1998 Taft for Governor Campaign - Second Place - Candidate Website

Being "overly rigorous" with numbers is similar to saying you can't see the forest from the trees. It doesn't usually mean sloppy.

Someone has their talking points confused. That's what happens when people get --sloppy.


Interesting suggestion...

Our new election motto needs to be - "Change happens in the primaries"

And dem incumbants need to know that they won't be running in the general if they don't stop this war.


to me, "rigor" means being highly exacting in methodology, rather than being at the wrong resolution level (can't see forest for trees...). I've never seen anybody complain that a scientific article was "overly rigorous", for example. "Well Ralph, I liked your study, but the thing was just too damned rigorous! I just can't trust it!"

This is just quibbling though. O'Hanlon's comments sure look sloppy, as you say. like he wanted to take a chop at the GAO study, and this was the best angle he could come up wtih. He is suspect.

Shorter Professor Foland - If all the citizens of Iraq are dead or have fled; the declining number of deaths does not mean success.


I've been searching the federal procurement database system (using their beta ezsearch tool at http://beta.fpdsng.com ) for the WH email contract. I can find no evidence that GovTech ever had a contract with the EOP. That's not dispostive (they could have been a subcontractor), but I doubt they are responsible.

Here's what I've been able to determine. When the WH used Lotus Notes, Northrup-Grumman Tech. Services was the primary contractor. It looks like their contract ran out in 2003. At about the same time, the WH switched to Microsoft Exchange. They have a support contract with Microsoft, but Microsoft is clearly not the primary contractor (the $$ aren't big enough). I'm still trying to determine who the contractor is by comparing contract ids with the old Northrup Grumman contract. There is no guarantee that I'll be able to identify the contractor with any certainty, but I'm still trying.

If anybody has real experience with federal contracting (especially on the government side), I have some questions about some patterns I see in the contract ids.

radiofreewill - I may have this all confused, but I thought that William Ockham (I think anyway) had some of this linked up early in the year. I don't, personally, know diddly about computer stuff; but I remember some good sleuthing and linking being done here. Wish I could be more specific; because this is important stuff. Maybe WO will see this thread and chime in.....

Hey! Lookee here; he beat me to it....

andrew folland,

with a vital assist from,

mighty mouse,

has the problem in perspective -just count accurately and ignore the teevee buzzing in your ear while you are counting.

michael o'hanlon's recent public comments are part of a strategy of deception being encouraged by the white house,

virtually identical to the one they waged in 2002/2003 prior to their invasion and occupation of iraq.

sophistry was the order of the day then,

and it is now.

full disclosure:

o'hanlon works for the brookings institute in its recently established saban center for middle eastern policy.

the center's director of research is kenneth pollack, who has provided cnn with pearls of mid-east wisdom. and has the cache of cia about him.

both have supported the bush invasion and occupation of iraq.

looking from another perspective

at the bush admin's efforts to lie about "progress" in iraq,

in public discourse, one of the most effective of right-wing tactics is to claim something, or to accuse someone of something,

and then watch as the poor fools who are implicated follow the accusers down a primrose path of "yes, it is" and "no, It's not" -

debating this or that small and unprovable (to a right-wing true-believer) point.

the defensive solution to these rhetorical traps is not to defend oneself or one's comments or responses,

but to attack the argument from outside the argument:

the invasion of iraq should never have taken place - whatever the body counts are at the moment.

the occupation of iraq has resulted in the collapse of the civilian rule necessary in modern states - whatever the violence levels are at the moment.

there is no reasonable expectation that the u.s. can benefit from expending anymore of its people or its money on "reforming" iraqi society - whether sectarian violence is less or more at the moment.

these are the foundations of a sensible public debate on iraq.

bmaz--actually the "all dead or fled" side of things could be another entire rant about the phenomenon of half-lives and exponential decays...

orionATL--the real problem is that it's impossible to count accurately, buzzing TV or no. Case in point: remember all the wingnut arguments about the Hopkins casualty numbers last year? (It would be amusing to do a post attacking the Pentagon numbers solely with wingnut quotes from last year about problems they claimed were in those Hopkins numbers.) Actually, statistically and systematically that paper was pretty much unassailable, but even so had a margin of error of 25%. And even if accurate counting were possible, you wouldn't learn anything you didn't already know.

The minute "dips" and "improvements" in even the cooked Pentagon numbers all instantly get wiped away once you start realizing you have to tack on "+-25%" to all the numbers.

O Hanlon was also perhaps the prime slander artist of the Lancet study and its authors.
The last thing he wants is rigor.

Professor Foland - Agreed. It was more of a corollary thought, but seemed appropriately in the same vein...

andrew f

i do indeed remember the hopkins study and the furor the white house incited to discredit it.

the study was very carefully done, from the sampling frame down to using iraqi docs and public health workers to collect the house-to-house info.

the executive summary:

650 K additional iraqi deaths,

apart from war deaths,

due to the chaos the bush invasion and occupation generated.

as an aside -

if i am recalling correctly, the assessors had to make certain "careful judgments", because the numbers in fallujah were so horrific. this was the american war effort that destroyed a city and used, among other munitions, white phosphorus on its civilians.

in any event, my point of entry in this discourse was your comment

"You don't need any set of numbers to tell you what is going on."

that precisely how i approach this issue.

in this instance numbers - up or down - are a game

and an obfuscation

which can be endlessly played on teevee on sunday talk shows.

the commenters get their money,

bush gets "support" for foolish and inhumane war moves,

and ordinary citizens don't get either the info or the analysis that might inform their decisions on american's iraq policy

I just started reading O'Hanlon's report on Iraq for the Brookings Institution, and this gem jumped out at me:

Iraq's economy is struggling along. But it is not doing nearly enough to create more jobs.

This is from the summary. The "economy is struggling along"? What in blazes does that mean? If it's struggling wouldn't that imply that it's not going to be good at creating jobs? Anyone who can't write more clearly than that probably would think that being careful about where the numbers come from is sloppy.

Per orionATL:

o'hanlon works for the brookings institute in its recently established saban center for middle eastern policy.

the center's director of research is kenneth pollack, who has provided cnn with pearls of mid-east wisdom. and has the cache of cia about him.

Per the Wikipedia:

A U.S. government indictment alleges that Pollack provided information to former American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) employees Steve Rosen and Keith Weissman during the AIPAC espionage scandal.[1]

Pollack is married to the well-known television journalist Andrea Koppel.

Per Glenn Greenwald:

[The above-the-political-fray Pollack is employed by the "Saban Center for Middle East Studies" at Brookings -- so named because it is funded with many millions of dollars by billionaire Haim Saban, an Israeli-American neoconservative who was a 2004 supporter of George Bush, was a close associate of Ariel Sharon, and spent the 1990s persuading Bill Clinton (with millions of dollars in donations to the Democratic Party) to be more supportive of Israel.

And, Pollack was one of the major pimps for the invasion of Iraq; see for example his book: The Threatening Storm: The Case for Invading Iraq September 18, 2002.

O'Hanlon and Pollack are not wholesome people.

WO - Thanks for looking into this! Now that I've done a little more looking myself, I can see what bmaz is saying about a lot of previous discussion on this topic!

I'm not very familiar with federal purchasing, but almost certainly the hardware/software/services would have been purchased without a bid off the GSA Contract.

My guess is that GovTech is the sub - to either NewMedia Communications of Richfield, OH or SmarTech Corp. (also spelled SmarTechcorp) of Chattanooga, TN and the work would have been for 'E-mail system upgrade', 'internet services' or 'web/communication services.'

The official White House e-mail system was converted over from Lotus Notes to MS Exchange in 2003. It would be interesting to see if NewMedia and/or SmarTech had purchasing activity with EOP.

The Committee on House Administration is where the House of Reps IT Department was moved by Ney in 2001 - they likely would show purchase activity with NewMedia and/or SmarTech and/or GovTech.

Finally, and this is potentially very serious, it looks like the RNC e-mail system was bought and managed by the RNC - who controlled the access to the system, issued Blackberries and managed the administrative policies of the system's use (data retention policy, archiving policy, etc.)

What makes it potentially serious is the security exposure of intentionally circumventing the PRA with a rogue system on which 'sensitive' information gets trafficked. These people were sitting in with the decision makers at the highest levels of our government, just e-mailing away.

I've felt all along that the RNC e-mail system contains the dialogue of the fleecing of America - Katrina jokes, Purgegate, Loyalty Gossip, Press leak coordination, lots of election related info, strong-arming of floor votes, etc, etc.

Given that Rove is thought to have sent 120,000 e-mails on this system (for which Rove had the unusual System Administrator privilege of Server-deletes of e-mails), Sara Taylor 66,000 (casual use?) e-mails, and who knows how many other users at the top tier of political influence in many major departments - and it's not too hard to imagine the Power someone would have if they were able to 'snoop' the system, or even better, just sit down at an RNC console and play with it all they wanted. The potential national security exposure is too much to contemplate.

For instance, what if all Blackberry e-mails are replicated to the parent company, Research in Motion, in Canada, or there's a back-door built-in to their E-mail Server product?

Of course, I'm just speculating - but Rove, Mehlman and Company seem more criminal-minded than security-conscious to me.

One last thing - if NewMedia/SmarTech/GovTech is running the House of Reps IT System, then they could theoretically look at any client's (Rep's) e-mail - Dem or Gooper. Imagine that? It could be just like standing in the other team's huddle!

The minute "dips" and "improvements" in even the cooked Pentagon numbers all instantly get wiped away once you start realizing you have to tack on "+-25%" to all the numbers.

The Pentagon's claims about U.S. deaths are absurd for similar reasons. Month to month changes are often that dramatic. A couple of bad incidents, or a couple of bad incidents avoided, can make quite a bit of difference there. It's obvious to anyone who has seen a barchart of the monthly death tolls, I think. Yet you never seem to hear the press mentioning this.

What I find so interesting about O'Hanlon is his high profile shilling for a policy that has failed and a war that will be brought to a close (probably in fits and starts) by the next Administration. Yes, O'Hanlon has been cheerleading this war and the "surge" but from the relative obscurity of the Beltway foreign policy Establishment. But why did he choose to jump the shark so publicly in his NYT op-ed? Why does he continue to do so when each new foray further trashes his credibility? It's pretty clear that he doesn't understand the blogosphere and its capacity to investigate and remember. But even so, his judgment with regard to his own reputation seems as bad as it is on Iraq.

The comments to this entry are closed.

Where We Met

Blog powered by Typepad