Fear of Clowns

"Faith may be defined briefly as an illogical belief in the occurrence of the improbable."
- H. L. Mencken

Monday, September 27, 2004

News items 9/27/2004 

The New York Times writes of pre-war intelligence estimates saying much the same thing as the July estimate warning of the possibility of civil war - for which Bush has been recently criticized for not taking seriously enough. The Times claims, "The contents of the two assessments had not been previously disclosed." - does nobody at the Times remember James Fallow's essay in the Atlantic, "Blind Into Baghdad"? (A must-read article from the Jan/Feb 2004 Atlantic).

The NY Times article presents the warnings as risks that were known instead of what they were: anticipation of situations that may have been prevented if taken seriously. Nonetheless, the content bears a read and a but of repeating here - from the Times,

One of the reports also warned of a possible insurgency against the new Iraqi government or American-led forces, saying that rogue elements from Saddam Hussein's government could work with existing terrorist groups or act independently to wage guerrilla warfare, the officials said. The assessments also said a war would increase sympathy across the Islamic world for some terrorist objectives, at least in the short run, the officials said.

I don't think this will impact the debate significantly unless the actual documents are leaked, as encouraged by Daniel Ellsberg, the source of the "Pentagon Papers". Hearing and seeing are different things. These documents allegedly predicted many preventable things - among them, the widespread looting and formation of the insurgency if the Iraqi army was disbanded and left with idle hands.

Jordan's King Abdullah has voiced skepticism that elections can be carried out in Iraq as scheduled. Being that Abdullah is one if the US's best allies in Bush's "war on terror" comes as a blow. Abdullah's general support is put in perspective by realizing that about three quarters of Jordanians oppose the US war on terrorism and significantly more opposed the US led invasion of Iraq.

Operating on a $100K budget, another new 527, Scientists and Engineers for Change will be giving lectures in swing states in an attempt to raise awareness of the Bush administration's hostility towards science. The group included 10 Nobel Prize winners and "The Father of the Internet", Vincent Cerf.

The 527's efforts may resonate more with the audience of Comedy Central's John Stewart than those who tune in to FOX comedian Bill O'Reilly - the network refuted O'Reiley's recent taunt that Stewart's audience consists of "stoned slackers" by pointing to a survey that found the Daily Show's audience to be better informed, more educated, and more sucessful wage earners than those who watched cable news alone.

Writing in the Washington Post, Dana Milibank offers us erie similarities between Allawi and Bush's recent fantasies about what it's like in Iraq. "Emerging finally from dark ages of violence/Iraq will never return to the dark ages of tyranny", "I have seen some of the images that are being shown here on television. They are disturbing./The American people have seen horrible scenes on our TV screens - " etc.

Others have drawn parallels between Bush's fanciful pronouncements about Iraq and Iraq's former Minister of Information, "Baghdad Bob". Following are a few of Baghdad Bob's statements, boxed in red in honor of our Minister of Misinformation,

"The American press is all about lies! All they tell is lies, lies and more lies!"

"They are becoming hysterical. This is the result of frustration."

"They think that by killing civilians and trying to distort the feelings of the people they will win."

"Our estimates are that none of them will come out alive unless they surrender to us quickly."

From the It Depends on How You Look at It Department, The Washington Post reports on their new poll showing a 3 point Kerry gain to within 6 points of Bush under the headline "Poll Shows Bush With Solid Lead", while USA Today presents their new results - showing Bush 8 points ahead - as "Bush's lead gets smaller in poll

Both new plot points have been added to my graph of trends in 10 polls, always accessible through the polls link on this page's side bar.

If the trend of the last three weeks continues at the same rate, most polls will be back in Kerry territory in two weeks. That's not a prediction, but an observation - events and perceptions obviously may reverse or accelerate the trend. The significant things are, a) the wild fluctuation between and disparity among pollsters' numbers is abating and the polls are beginning to agree with each other within the margins of error - as they did before the DNC convention, and b) the trend is clearly towards Kerry.

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