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Thursday, August 17, 2006

Lies, Damned Lies, and (Selective Use of) Statistics

Technorati tags: , , lies to turn into a hero beloved by the nation - and does the opposite

Donald Lambro spins over at

Prevention of the plan to destroy 10 jetliners bound for America has sharply boosted President Bush's approval scores for his handling of the war on terrorism and homeland security.

This week's improved poll numbers was a political justification of Bush's laser-like focus on the terrorist threat that his Democratic critics dismissed as fear mongering and campaign hysteria meant to frighten Americans into voting Republican.

Whoohoo! Everyone thinks Perfect Leader is perfect again. Don't you love that line, "Bush's laser-like focus on the terrorist threat?" I'd say it's less 'laser-like' and more 'tunnel-vision-like'.

The problem with Lambro's 'analysis' is that he's only revealing part of the results. Most importantly, the poll shows that Bush's approval numbers are at 38%. This is a three percent increase since May and, considering the poll's margin of error, is really no statistical change. If this is a 'political justification of Bush's laser-like focus on the terrorist threat', this poll sure doesn't show it.

Lambro writes, "[The poll] also exposed the correlation between terrorist threats and the president's approval ratings." No it doesn't. It hasn't helped Bush out at all or, even if the polling was flawless, not one hell of a lot. Far from showing a correlation, it shows a disconnect between the two issues - Bush got an 11% bump in handling terrorism, but a 3% bump in public opinion. If the two were connected in any way at all, Bush would've gotten a much higher bounce.

Pollster John Zogby writes about his own polling, "President Bush’s numbers mainly reflect the country’s thinking on the war in Iraq, and most people have made up their minds that the war overall has not been worth the loss of American lives. Terrorism is an important issue to Americans, but when it comes to judging Bush’s presidency, their decision is based largely on Iraq." In the Zogby poll, Bush dropped two points, backing up the idea that a change within the margin of error is no change at all.

Lambro's article degenerates into blatant lies:

Not only was the terrorist threat potent again and closer to home, but Americans were reminded of the steps Bush and the Republican Congress took to uncover and thwart that threat: the reauthorization of the Patriot Act (that Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid tried to kill), the surveillance of terrorist phone calls to sleeper cells in this country and the fed's monitoring of bank accounts used to finance terrorist plots here and abroad. Democrats and their left-wing, anti-war allies in the blogosphere (who have been condemning the administration's global surveillance techniques) seemed strangely silent on the issue this past week. I can see why.

None of this is true. The british broke up the plot, not the Bush Administration. UK law enforcement didn't use any of these 'tools' that Lambro claims were taken to 'uncover and thwart that threat' - the PATRIOT Act was irrelevant, warrentless wiretaps weren't used, and financial tracking didn't happen. And when he writes, "Democrats and their left-wing, anti-war allies in the blogosphere (who have been condemning the administration's global surveillance techniques) seemed strangely silent on the issue this past week," you have to wonder what he's been smoking. The fact that none of the things Lambro claims the Bush administration used to bust this plot were actually used to bust this plot has been brought up by plenty of blogs. Maybe he means that the left has been silent about Bush's success in identifying and stopping the plan.

Which would be understandable, because that little bit of history exists only in Lambro's head.



alec said...

Well, it is from and I think the Bush adminstration has bottomed out to the point where everything looks up (at least to an apologist)

Dave said...

So... this is most certainly true, and shows again that HUMINT is far and away the best defense.

You know that, I know that... How do we get information like this to someplace where it MATTERS and people are forced to confront the truth?