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Death in Iraq and a death knell for the right-wing?

By Doug Thompson
July 1, 2006

Random thoughts on current news:

From The Associated Press this morning:

A parked car bomb exploded at a popular outdoor market Saturday in a Shiite slum in Baghdad, killing at least 66 people and wounding dozens, authorities said. It was the bloodiest attack to hit Iraq since the death of terror leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

The blast, which occurred around 10 a.m. when the Sadr City market was packed with shoppers, destroyed the stalls where food and clothes are peddled and sent up a plume of gray smoke. Flames shot out the windows of several scorched cars.

Ambulances rushed to the scene and carried the victims to hospitals, where men cradled crying babies as doctors bandaged them. Rasoul Zaboun, an official from the Imam Ali Hospital in Sadr City, said 66 people were killed and 87 wounded.

Police Col. Hassan Jaloob also said 22 shops and stalls were destroyed, along with 14 vehicles.

Angry residents swarmed around the wreckage, with several young men chanting as they rocked the burned out hulk of the car that apparently held the explosives.

No group claimed responsibility for the attack. But car bombings and suicide attacks against Shiite civilians have often been blamed on al-Qaida in Iraq, which al-Zarqawi led until he was killed in a U.S. airstrike June 7.

Also from Iraq comes this AP Dispatch:

The U.S. Army will investigate charges that five American soldiers were involved in the killings of four Iraqi relatives, including a woman who had been raped, military officials said Friday. It’s the sixth current inquiry into the alleged slayings of Iraqi civilians by American troops.

Some of the five soldiers also allegedly burned the body of the woman they are accused of assaulting in the March incident, a U.S. military official told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the case.

The U.S. command issued a statement saying only that Maj. Gen. James D. Thurman, commander of coalition troops in Baghdad, had ordered a criminal investigation into the alleged killing of a family of four in Mahmoudiyah, south of Baghdad.

At least 14 American troops have been convicted in other cases.

Killings in Iraq increase daily — not the decline predicted by the Bush administration after Zargawi’s death. How many more must die before we admit this war is an idiotic, costly and deadly, mistake?

The right wing blowhards seem to have fallen on hard times. Note this release from U.S. Politics Today:

An odd thing seems to have happened to mighty right-wing talking head media juggernaut. They are still talking, but fewer people seem to be listening — at least on the Internet.

Alexa.com which is owned and operated by Amazon.com, tracks online usage for all Web sites, large and small. At Alexa.com, you can check a site’s activity up to the minute, or follow its trail back for many years.

At U.S. Politics Today, we thought it might be interesting to see how the right-wing media machine was doing. Not well, it turns out.

During the past three months, for instance, Rush Limbaugh’s traffic ranking has declined 18 percent. He still huffs and puffs away daily on radio, but advertisers might want to double check the size of his audience. If the bottom has dropped out on him online, it likely has had a similar trend line with his radio show.

Even Fox News, that gold standard of right-wing media, is down 13 percent.

Ann Coulter is coining money by attacking widows and orphans — a new game for her since she’s run out of Democrats, living and dead, to defame and verbally pillage. You would think with all of the attention the promotion of her new book has given her would raise visitor numbers at her Web site. Nope. Traffic there is down 10 percent.

The audience chart reversal seems to be common across the entire right-wing side of the Internet viewing board. Billoreilly.com has dropped 40 percent in the past three months. Townhall.com — that once popular center for right-wing news and commentary — has fallen by 24 percent. The Washington Times Web site is down by 27 percent. And Matt Drudge, once the hottest right-wing name in Internet sites? Alexa.com says Drudge Report is down 21 percent.

Could it be that Internet users are getting tired of political sites in general? Maybe so. But MoveOn.org is up 13 percent in the same period.

President Bush’s fall from grace has been well documented by poll-after-poll. The unpopularity of Congress may not be at historic lows, but those 20-something level of support numbers can’t be comforting to those who manage things on Capitol Hill.

It seems logical that with enthusiasm draining from the right- wing movement that put the president and the current Congress in place, the media chorus that has lavished praise on them all these many years would be affected by the change in fortune.

And so it seems, looking at the Alexa.com numbers — if they are to be believed. Those graph lines may not directly parallel the decline in GOP poll numbers, but they are all heading in the same direction — down.

A couple of things to note: Alexa is not a true ranking of Internet traffic. The traffic measures come from those who use their toolbar. We use ComScore’s audience measuring system to provide accurate traffic reports to our ad brokers. Secondly, Internet traffic is generally down in the summer months because vacations increase and people are, as a general rule, online less.

However, other indicators also suggest the right-wingers message wears thin on a public weary of spin. Ratings for Rush Limbaugh’s radio show are headed south as are Bill O’Reilly’s TV shot audience numbers. We can hope the trend continues.