Cherry Picking

That’s what it’s called when you take one fact or a few facts in isolation and attempt to prove something. Fred Thompson was doing it below with global warming; and the entire the Right Wing Echosphere is doing it with the death toll in Iraq, which was at an eight month low in July. Rush Limbaugh was going on about this non-stop yesterday.

Of course, no word on if Iraqi sectarian violence declined as well.

The problem that many people — left and right — seem unable to grasp is that one data point does not create a trend. Trends are trends, i.e., more than one data point. The violence in Iraq has been trending up for years. A one-month pause does not mean anything, especially since past Julys have also been relatively calm.

I hope they are right and things are getting better. But this could just be a blip. Let’s not go around screaming success because Iraq is “only” as bloody as it was in November, when it was so bad President Bush decided to call for the surge in the first place. Oh wait, that was the bloodshed at the ballot box.

If the trend continues in August, then we have progress. But if the violence ratchets back up, as it has every August, I hope the RWE will acknowledge it.

Fat chance.

There are some encouraging signs in Iraq. Let’s hope they continue. But let’s also remember that it didn’t have to be this way. And that the surge was only supported after the GOP lost an election.


Two thoughts on yesterday’s bridge collapse.

  • It’s amazing, when you think about it, how often we entrust our lives to people we don’t even know. Think about your car and your house – built by people you don’t know. The roads, the bridges, the tunnels, the airplanes, the buildings — all of which could collapse if built poorly. When I drive to work, it’s in a car I didn’t build on roads I didn’t supervise over bridges built by strangers using gas I didn’t refine into a 17-story office building. It is amazing how much we trust strangers. And amazing how rarely that trust is betrayed. The surprising thing is how rare these collapses and how rarely it is a result of shoddy work. We’ll find out what happened, but I’ll be very surprised if it’s bad workmanship.
  • Second — as I’ve harped on before — I am very nervous about the state of our nation’s infrastructure. Most of it was built decades ago (this bridge was 40 years old) and a lot of it is teetering. This bridge appears to have been well-maintained by how many hundreds out there aren’t? And our governments are too busy shovelling money at farmers and a broken education system and expansion of socialized medicine to notice. What is it going to take for this nation to wake up and smell the incompetence? You would have thought Katrina would have alerted people to the delicate state of our engineering, but they were too busy saying that Bush hates black people. Do we need a dam to burst, a building to collapse, a main to blow? Do thousands need to die before we get a fucking clue?
  • I lived in Minnesota for four years and took 35W back and forth to school. I know the Minnesotans. They’ll mourn, buckle down, rebuild the damn bridge and move forward. They won’t get into the morass of, say, Ground Zero and never rebuild anything.