The Facts Machine

"And I come back to you now, at the turn of the tide"

Tuesday, December 16, 2003


I happen to think the number is higher than that, but that percentage is limited to Bush's approval rating after Saddam's capture.
The immediate impact of the capture of Saddam Hussein by U.S. troops includes improvements in public perception of how the war is going for the U.S. in Iraq, whether it has been worth it, and assessments of President Bush's handling of Iraq.

Yet, the public is divided over whether the capture of Saddam Hussein means the U.S. has won the war in Iraq, and despite Saddam Hussein's arrest, few believe the war is over or that this country is now safer from terrorism.

In the last few days, there has been a double-digit rise in President Bush's rating on handling Iraq, some improvement in his overall approval rating, and a large shift in the public's mood. But so far, the President has made only small gains in his race for re-election, and personal evaluations of him and his domestic programs have changed little.

In CBS News/New York Times polling conducted December 10-13, the four days before the former Iraqi leader's arrest, Bush's job approval rating was 52 percent. In the two days after U.S. forces captured Saddam Hussein, the President's overall approval rating rose modestly to 58 percent, with 33 percent disapproving. Bush's approval rating is his highest since last July.
From 52% to 58%. So with the capture of Saddam Hussein -- by our troops, not Bush, who have been looking for him for months anyway -- caused six percent of Americans to change their minds and decide that yeah, Bush has actually been doing a good job? To be honest, I'm pleasantly surprised that it's only six percent.

From a political standpoint, this is a wholly meaningless gain. If Saddam's capture leads to the breaking of the insurgency's back and a decrease in violence in Iraq, then I'll have greater cause for optimism as to this development, and not coincidentally, Bush would start seeing his numbers go more significantly up and stay there. But so far this doesn't seem to be the case.

We might want to get this matter cleared up.
U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson said Monday the Bush administration last year told him and other senators that Iraq not only had weapons of mass destruction, but they had the means to deliver them to East Coast cities.

Nelson, D-Tallahassee, said about 75 senators got that news during a classified briefing before last October's congressional vote authorizing the use of force to remove Saddam Hussein from power. Nelson voted in favor of using military force.

Nelson said he couldn't reveal who in the administration gave the briefing.

The White House directed questions about the matter to the Department of Defense. Defense officials had no comment on Nelson's claim.
Pure fantasy, plain and simple. Apparently these dire warnings came from the Dept of Defense, and Rummy's "stovepipe".

You have to admit, if you have a natural trust and respect for the office of the presidency, as a US Senator would, then you're probably going to give the White House the benefit of the doubt on intel issues. Surely Edwards, Kerry and Lieberman were in on this briefing, so their yes votes must have had something to do with this. Of course, there's a difference between respecting the institution of the presidency and trusting Bush.
I will be at a 12:01 showing of Return of the King at the gigantic Coronet theater in San Francisco tonight, should be fun stuff.

Staying up past 3 for a movie premiere is on the threshold of sane, but some people are doing what I can only imagine: seeing all three in a row at a theater in Canada. Now that's time well spent.

Monday, December 15, 2003


I love America, and Saddam is a bad man, and I'm glad he was caught.

That being said,

Today's SF Chronicle gave us an Associated Press-supplied Timeline of Saddam Hussein's life, up to and including his capture a couple of days ago. And of course, it's a telling study into what the media will and wont say about Saddam and America.
-- March 28, 1988: Uses chemical weapons against Kurdish town of Halabja, killing estimated 5,000 civilians.
That's right, he "gassed his own people!" Yet no mention of where those weapons originally came from.

Flash forward to this past April:
-- April 9: Jubilant crowds greet U.S. troops in Baghdad, go on looting rampages, topple 40-foot statue of Hussein.
In baseball, if you're batting .333, you're doing pretty well. Not if you're a writer for the Associated Press. The crowds that greeted the troops in Baghdad were neither wholly jubilant nor were they large crowds of the Belgrade/Moscow variety. And it was lovely of ol' AP to attribute the toppling of the big Saddam statue to the Iraqi people.

There's something very tankish just past the left edge of this photo's range... and does the surrounding crowd strike you as "jubilant"?

But good work on the looting, bravo. One out of three ain't bad, AP!

More late tonight...

Sunday, December 14, 2003


Okay, let's take a break from Saddamapalooza.

Via one of the fun Christian friends I've collected over the years, I found a link to a preview for Mel Gibson's upcoming biblical epic, "The Passion", now more bluntly titled "The Passion of the Christ".

No real details spring from it, except for the obvious, being that
1) Jesus was white, and
2) Monica Belucci is HOT
The movie itself looks artfully done, so at least stylistically it probably will not be wretched in the Battlefield Earth sense. However, since nobody free of an agenda has actually seen the movie, we'll reserve complete judgement for the film's Ash Wednesday arrival. Frankly, as one of those godless humanists who are supposed to be persecuting Christianity in America, I must say I'm really looking forward to checking this out.

Even if it's Braveheart with the word "Jesus" dubbed over "Wallace", I'd still be intrigued.

Some quick thoughts on this:

--First of all, this is good news. Saddam is a shit and I'm glad that the chances of him returning to power in Iraq have just gone from slim to none. But...

(NOTE: I love America. Keep that in mind when reading any of the upcoming observations.)

--After all that, why was his capture so easy? According to Bremer in the press conference last night, it was done "without a single shot fired". That seems very strange to me. If Saddam is behind any of the actions of the insurgency, would he allow himself to be captured so easily? Unless this was a deliberate tactic on Saddam's part, I get the feeling that he had nothing to do with the insurgency.

--That's quite a beard he's got going, by the way.

--What about those Iraqi WMD we heard so much about earlier this year? Surely our new captive might give us some answers. Of course, he might also tell us about some receipts with "Warmest regards, George H. W. Bush" written on them. Thus, something tells me that our government will be very unlikely to let him end up in some sort of public trial.

--Early indications are that he will eventually be turned over to Iraqi custody and put on trial for 30 years of crimes against humanity. And he should be put on trial for those things. But given the brutal dictatoriships supported by both Bush (Uzbekistan, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia) and his dad (Chile, Iraq!), we aren't in much of a position to claim any form of moral high ground out of this. Let the Iraqis handle it.

--The media sure is quoting Chalabi a lot. Sure, he was the INC leader and such. But will he use his stance on this situation ("put him on trial!") as a springboard to gain an eventual leadership role in the country? Will the southern Shi'ites lay down for him?


--Because he wasn't behind the insurgency, it will likely be a continuing problem for the US occupational forces. The good thing, though, is that because the possibility of Saddam's return to power has been removed, perhaps more Iraqis will be willing to assist the US in tracking down the guerrillas. It's unclear what will happen in the near future.

More to come, I'm sure