Monday, August 07, 2006

Half of Americans Remain Independent of Reality

I mentioned this the other day, but it rates its own posting here. Here's the story by Charles J. Hanley, AP special correspondent:
Did Saddam Hussein's government have weapons of mass destruction in 2003?

Half of America apparently still thinks so, a new poll finds, and experts see a raft of reasons why: a drumbeat of voices from talk radio to die-hard bloggers to the Oval Office, a surprise headline here or there, a rallying around a partisan flag, and a growing need for people, in their own minds, to justify the war in Iraq.

People tend to become "independent of reality" in these circumstances, says opinion analyst Steven Kull. Half of U.S. still believes Iraq had WMD

Love that phrase: independent of reality. I believe we've even seen some of that independence here in Montgomery County, once or twice.

In 2004, nearly half of Americans supported George Bush in his bid for election. I assume those people believed the President, at that time, when he said that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, even though none still had ever been found after a year and a half of US occupation there. They must have believed that Iraq actually had been a threat of some kind to us. I don't think you'd vote for the guy if you thought he was wrong about everything ... would you?

Actually, nothing surprises me any more.

In the time since that election, the public's opinion of the President plummeted and never came back up, for a lot of reasons. I mean, lots and lots.

But this survey is showing that half of Americans still believe that Iraq did have weapons of mass destruction.
The reality in this case is that after a 16-month, $900-million-plus investigation, the U.S. weapons hunters known as the Iraq Survey Group declared that Iraq had dismantled its chemical, biological and nuclear arms programs in 1991 under U.N. oversight. That finding in 2004 reaffirmed the work of U.N. inspectors who in 2002-03 found no trace of banned arsenals in Iraq.

Despite this, a Harris Poll released July 21 found that a full 50 percent of U.S . respondents — up from 36 percent last year — said they believe Iraq did have the forbidden arms when U.S. troops invaded in March 2003, an attack whose stated purpose was elimination of supposed WMD. Other polls also have found an enduring American faith in the WMD story.

"I'm flabbergasted," said Michael Massing, a media critic whose writings dissected the largely unquestioning U.S. news reporting on the Bush administration's shaky WMD claims in 2002-03.

I can't really imagine using the word "flabbergasted," myself, but ... I know how the dude feels.

People are exposed to a constant stream -- many parallel, simultaneous streams -- of information, and they have to pick and choose what they will accept and what they will reject. One criterion would be to evaluate the likelihood that a new proposition is true, that it corresponds to objective reality.

Another criterion that a person could use would be to evaluate how well the new statement fits with their existing beliefs. How uncomfortable would I be, if this new proposition were true? What consequences would that have? Would I have to revise my other beliefs and attitudes?

In actuality, all people use both of these strategies ... to some degree. Obviously, some people use the one more than the other. Like, ninety-nine to one.
"This finding just has to cause despair among those of us who hope for an informed public able to draw reasonable conclusions based on evidence," Massing said.

True, that.

Ah, but maybe there's a bit of an explanation. Maybe the gullible were caught in an unguarded moment.
Timing may explain some of the poll result. Two weeks before the survey, two Republican lawmakers, Pennsylvania's Sen. Rick Santorum and Michigan's Rep. Peter Hoekstra, released an intelligence report in Washington saying 500 chemical munitions had been collected in Iraq since the 2003 invasion.

"I think the Harris Poll was measuring people's surprise at hearing this after being told for so long there were no WMD in the country," said Hoekstra spokesman Jamal Ware.

Yeah, the survey calls, and you're thinking, uh, didn't I see a guy on Fox last night saying we found those things?
But the Pentagon and outside experts stressed that these abandoned shells, many found in ones and twos, were 15 years old or more, their chemical contents were degraded, and they were unusable as artillery ordnance. Since the 1990s, such "orphan" munitions, from among 160,000 made by Iraq and destroyed, have turned up on old battlefields and elsewhere in Iraq, ex-inspectors say. In other words, this was no surprise.

"These are not stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction," said Scott Ritter, the ex-Marine who was a U.N. inspector in the 1990s. "They weren't deliberately withheld from inspectors by the Iraqis."

Somebody said to me yesterday, for this stuff to kill anybody you'd just about have to inject them with it.
Conservative commentator Deroy Murdock, who trumpeted Hoekstra's announcement in his syndicated column, complained in an interview that the press "didn't give the story the play it deserved." But in some quarters it was headlined.

"Our top story tonight, the nation abuzz today ..." was how Fox News led its report on the old, stray shells. Talk-radio hosts and their callers seized on it. Feedback to blogs grew intense. "Americans are waking up from a distorted reality," read one posting.

Ah, the liberal media, covering up the facts again. (Seems like I heard something about this recently...)

Speaking of the media. What's up with these guys? They seem to want to tell us what really happened. Hey, they're not supposed to do that! They're supposed to shut up and cower in fear of being called "liberal." Did Ann Coulter approve this news story? What about presenting both sides of the controversy -- this is unbalanced, they aren't publishing lies alongside the truth.
"I think the Santorum-Hoekstra thing is the latest 'factoid,' but the basic dynamic is the insistent repetition by the Bush administration of the original argument," said John Prados, author of the 2004 book "Hoodwinked: The Documents That Reveal How Bush Sold Us a War."

Administration statements still describe Saddam's Iraq as a threat. Despite the official findings, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has allowed only that "perhaps" WMD weren't in Iraq. And Bush himself, since 2003, has repeatedly insisted on one plainly false point: that Saddam rebuffed the U.N. inspectors in 2002, that "he wouldn't let them in," as he said in 2003, and "he chose to deny inspectors," as he said this March.

The facts are that Iraq — after a four-year hiatus in cooperating with inspections — acceded to the U.N. Security Council's demand and allowed scores of experts to conduct more than 700 inspections of potential weapons sites from Nov. 27, 2002, to March 16, 2003. The inspectors said they could wrap up their work within months. Instead, the U.S. invasion aborted that work.

D'ya hear that, Madge? Guy says there's no weapons of mass destruction. American attack interrupted the search. Did ya ever hear such a crack-brain story?

(Give me that computer, Madge: Dere Teech tha Fax, you stpid peepul bleave evaryting yu rede, dont' yo. Thease lebirle jurnlestes our righting prapogonda. Your idyats two beeleave it. Whey d'ont yu justt shot up, yur so stooped. Sined, Anon)
As recently as May 27, Bush told West Point graduates, "When the United Nations Security Council gave him one final chance to disclose and disarm, or face serious consequences, he refused to take that final opportunity."

"Which isn't true," observed Kathleen Hall Jamieson, a scholar of presidential rhetoric at the University of Pennsylvania. But "it doesn't surprise me when presidents reconstruct reality to make their policies defensible." This president may even have convinced himself it's true, she said.

There's really no good way to tell if somebody is lying, or if they actually believe what they're telling you. But after all these years, you do get the idea that the guy believes what he's telling us.
Charles Duelfer, the lead U.S. inspector who announced the negative WMD findings two years ago, has watched uncertainly as TV sound bites, bloggers and politicians try to chip away at "the best factual account," his group's densely detailed, 1,000-page final report.

"It is easy to see what is accepted as truth rapidly morph from one representation to another," he said in an e-mail. "It would be a shame if one effect of the power of the Internet was to undermine any commonly agreed set of facts."

The creative "morphing" goes on.

As Israeli troops and Hezbollah guerrillas battled in Lebanon on July 21, a Fox News segment suggested, with no evidence, yet another destination for the supposed doomsday arms.

"ARE SADDAM HUSSEIN'S WMDS NOW IN HEZBOLLAH'S HANDS?" asked the headline, lingering for long minutes on TV screens in a million American homes.

Now there's a scary thought -- people getting their news from Fox.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Somebody in Ohio has finally seen and more importantly accepted reality.

August 07, 2006 12:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you think thats funny some people still think people are born gay.

August 07, 2006 6:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think this would fit this discussion
lets fing out if JimK thinks so.

Group admits giving out 'gay' sex book
High schoolers received 'hard-core porn' homosexual 'how-to'

© 2005
Posted: May 20, 2005
1:00 a.m. Eastern

After strong denials, a homosexual activist group admitted it made available to middle school and high school students an AIDS handbook described by critics as a "hard-core pornographic homosexual 'how-to.'" ....
"prominently distributed at the first table, right after registration, where everyone would be sure to go."
Entitled "The Little Black Book - Queer in the 21st Century," the booklet contains... "deadly misinformation on health."
Included in the publication are graphic descriptions of homosexual conduct, including "fisting," along with a photo-spread discussion of condoms and instructions on how to put them on.
Also included is a list of homosexual bars and clubs in the Boston area "for the discerning queerboy."
The booklet mentions abstaining from risky activity, and then states, "But how much fun is that?"

August 07, 2006 8:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

not that there is anything wrong with that.

August 07, 2006 8:05 PM  
Blogger JimK said...

Check THIS out, Anon. I think we've already dealt with this black-book situation.


August 07, 2006 8:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So old news anon and not relevant to sex ed in MC.


August 08, 2006 12:08 AM  
Anonymous David S. Fishback said...

Re the Anon comment, see this article from the Boston Globe

August 08, 2006 10:32 AM  
Blogger andrear said...

WorldDailyNet- I usually put them right up there with the National Enquirer and the Star.

August 08, 2006 10:58 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

but it just fit the "half of americans remain independent of reality."
jimK so you finaly admited that the homosexuals were doing stuff like this in middle schools?

David S. Fishback said...
hey david how about thinking for your self for a change. what kind of law do you pratice?

andrear said...
nothing like always.

August 08, 2006 5:22 PM  
Blogger Theresa said...

"Now there's a scary thought -- people getting their news from Fox."

Yep - your right Jim.
Dan Rather is SO much more reliable.

Well researched, absolutely no questions about the validity of his sources or forged documents.

August 08, 2006 7:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

CNN Eason Jordan asserted that he knew of 12 journalists who had not only been killed by US troops in Iraq, but they had in fact been targeted.
what ever hapened to this story?

August 08, 2006 8:13 PM  
Blogger JimK said...

That question is answered HERE.


August 08, 2006 8:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey jimK what does the word rhetorical. mean?

August 08, 2006 8:51 PM  
Blogger JimK said...


1 a : of, relating to, or concerned with rhetoric b : employed for rhetorical effect; especially : asked merely for effect with no answer expected <a rhetorical question>

2 a : given to rhetoric : GRANDILOQUENT b : VERBAL


August 08, 2006 9:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Example: what ever happened to this story?

August 09, 2006 11:43 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"when he said that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction,"

How did Sadaam use chemical weapons against Kurds and Iranians without having them?

That was a neat trick!

August 10, 2006 12:10 AM  
Blogger JimK said...

This was being said in 2002, not 1990.


August 10, 2006 8:15 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

WMD's found!!!
Bush was right
cemical wepons huge stockpiles of them. over a ton of yellow cake. found. its been in the paper on TV its all over the internet. everyone knows. you can denie it all you want we know the truth we are not beliving you. But keep ranting.

August 10, 2006 5:36 PM  

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