Professor Smartass

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

World opinion of US falls again

Most of the people polled think the Iraq War is making the world a more dangerous place not less, and the opinion of us in the Arab world keeps going from low to lower--which isn't exactly a sign that terrorism is less likely because of Bush's wars. But then, another terrorist attack would be a good excuse to attack Iran, as Dick Cheney told the Pentagon last summer.

The previous Pew Poll on this was bad enough. This shows the trend is continuing.

Apparently, without Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, and Ann Coulter, the Arab world hasn't realized we are doing them a favor by killing Iraqis and restructuring their economy to favor our oil companies, corporations, and banks. (Oh wait, I forgot. The right never mentions that stuff) Or maybe they don't believe our new love for democracy in the region since we are still allies with dictators in the region like the Saudis, often the number one human rights abuser in the world, and the president of Uzbekistan, who boils his critics alive.

But those countries made deals our oil companies like, so they don't see the need to call in airstrikes to stop the beheadings and boilings.

The one piece of good news is people have a high regard for Americans in general. The albatross around our neck is Bush & his policies. A good example is Turkey. While 12% have a favorable impression of the US (pretty bad for a secular Muslim ALLY), but their favorable impression of Bush is 3%. The margin of error was 2-4%, so it is possible that he actually got a negative 1%, comparable to Bush's approval ratings with African Americans after Hurricane Katrina.

Bush does still have a slightly higher approval rating than ebola, AIDS, and cannibalism. Maybe he can build on that success.

KEY EXCERPTS:
International Herald Tribune
Image of U.S. falls again
By Brian Knowlton International Herald Tribune
WEDNESDAY, JUNE 14, 2006

WASHINGTON As the war in Iraq continues for a fourth year, the global image of America has slipped further, even among publics in countries closely allied with the United States, a new global opinion poll has found.

Favorable views of the United States dropped sharply over the past year in Spain, where only 23 percent now say they have a positive opinion, down from 41 percent in 2005, according to the survey, which was carried out in 15 nations this spring by the Pew Research Center. In Britain, Washington's closest ally in the Iraq war, positive views of America have remained in the mid-50s in the past two years, still down sharply from 75 percent in 2002.

Other countries where positive views dropped significantly include India (56 percent, down from 71 percent since 2005); Russia (43 percent, down from 52 percent); and Indonesia (30 percent, down from 38 percent).

In Turkey, a NATO ally of the United States, only 12 percent said they held a favorable opinion, down from 23 percent last year.

***

The ebbing of positive views of the United States coincides with a spike in feeling that the war in Iraq has made the world a more dangerous place. This perception was shared by majorities in 10 of the countries surveyed, including Britain, where 60 percent said the world had become more dangerous since Saddam Hussein's removal from power in 2003.

Over the past year, support for the U.S.-led fight against terrorism also declined again, Pew found.

***

Many respondents distinguished between their largely negative feelings about President George W. Bush and their feelings about ordinary Americans. Majorities in 7 countries polled had favorable views of Americans, led by Japan, at 82 percent, and Britain, at 69.

But only in India and Nigeria did majorities express confidence in Bush. In Spain, just 1 in 14 respondents registered confidence in him, as did only 1 in 33 in Turkey, an important NATO ally.

FULL TEXT:

http://www.iht.com/articles/2006/06/13/news/pew1.php


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Saturday, June 10, 2006

3 things about killing Zarqawi

At all the other major turning points in the war in Iraq, when Bush declared combat operations over, the hand-over of sovereignty, the capture of Saddam, and the various elections, I at least wondered for a moment if it might not be a turn for the better.

With this hooha over the death of Zarqawi, I didn't even wonder. It won't make a difference.

Here's a couple of reasons why:

1. The military admits they inflated Zarqawi's role in the insurgency for propaganda purposes in both Iraq and the US.


From the Washington Post:

For the past two years, U.S. military leaders have been using Iraqi media and other outlets in Baghdad to publicize Zarqawi's role in the insurgency. The documents explicitly list the "U.S. Home Audience" as one of the targets of a broader propaganda campaign.

Some senior intelligence officers believe Zarqawi's role may have been overemphasized by the propaganda campaign, which has included leaflets, radio and television broadcasts, Internet postings and at least one leak to an American journalist. Although Zarqawi and other foreign insurgents in Iraq have conducted deadly bombing attacks, they remain "a very small part of the actual numbers," Col. Derek Harvey, who served as a military intelligence officer in Iraq and then was one of the top officers handling Iraq intelligence issues on the staff of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told an Army meeting at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., last summer.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/20...



2. Israeli and Saudi studies of foreign fighters show most aren't al Qaeda or pirmarily religiously motivated.


From the Boston Globe:

Other fighters, who are coming to Iraq from across the Middle East and North Africa, are older, in their late 20s or 30s, and have families, according to the two investigations. ''The vast majority of them had nothing to do with Al Qaeda before Sept. 11th and have nothing to do with Al Qaeda today," said Reuven Paz, author of the Israeli study. ''I am not sure the American public is really aware of the enormous influence of the war in Iraq, not just on Islamists but the entire Arab world."

http://www.boston.com/news/world/middleeast/articles/20...



3. Top GOP strategist Grover Norquist said back in January this was part of their plan to win the November 2006.



...And then for the coup de grace, says Norquist, his baby face breaking into a wide grin: "We'll bring in al-Zarqawi and Osama Bin Ladin."

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/al-bardach/ken-mehlman-th...

That Osama trick would only work if they did it a few days before the election--maybe even the day OF the election, so people stay home to watch the news instead of go out to vote.

***

UPDATE: The day after I wrote the entry above, Zogby released a poll saying catching Osama wouldn't help Bush at all:

Asked how much credit would be due President Bush if bin Laden were caught,

52% said they would give him no credit because he turned his attention instead to Iraq after the war in Afghanistan.

28% would give him all the credit, while

17% said he would deserve some of the credit.

The President’s job approval rating in fighting against terrorism would be at 42% if bin Laden were found, the poll shows, which is about where he is right now – with bin Laden still on the loose.
I would not have guessed this. I would expect Bush and Republicans generally to get some kind of bump in the polls if Osama was caught or killed, and the only question would be how big a bump and how long lasting. My guess would be lower and shorter than most people think, but I base that on the capture or killing of other boogey men like Saddam, his sons, and earlier domestic horrors like Tim McVeigh or the Unabomber.

Once the boogeyman is neutered, he instantly shrinks from larger than life threat to curiosity at best. If we had captured Hitler alive and kept him in a cage so people could throw peanuts at him, it's doubtful the Nazis would still have the place in the public imagination as the ultimate villains in history.




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Tuesday, June 06, 2006

GOP: Masters of the Obvious

Americans should speak English.

Marriage is between a man and a woman.

Flag burning is bad.

Did you ever know someone who had an annoying habit of pointing out the obvious? Like saying, "That looks heavy!" instead of helping you carry it or telling you to do something you were about to do anyway? By grade school, this is usually met with "DUH!" "DOI!" or "No shit, Sherlock." In college, a slightly more diplomatic friend used to say "Thanks, MOTO (master of the obvious)."

Not that I agree with GOP on these things, but when was the last time you felt the need for a law to let you know which language would be most useful to speak? Did you ever get up and wonder if today was a Portuguese day or maybe Hindi?

Were you ever uncertain about which gender to marry or date and wish there was a federal law or even constitutional amendment to clear it up for you?

Were you ever uncertain whether burning the American flag is a sign of respect or disrespect?

Most of us feel pretty competent to figure this stuff out for ourselves. Apparently, a lot of Republicans don't.

In fairness, they will be quick to tell you that they PERSONALLY wouldn't marry someone of the same sex just because it was legal, but someone else might be weaker than them, and their children's sexual orientation is apparently as abitrary as their taste in music or clothes, subject not only to fads but the fad of a distinct minority.

That makes sense though since these are the same people that think their children will forsake their religious beliefs if they don't hear about God during the six hours of the public school day. The parents themselves might become stone atheists if "In God we trust" wasn't on our money so they could pull it out and read it when they start to doubt his existence.

Their thought processes are a closed loop: I have a prejudice, I want society to make it a law, so I can point to the law to show that my prejudice is valid.

They never ask a question that requires evidence or that they haven't already decided what the answer is. If most of us were concerned about whether Terri Schiavo's husband was ending her life while she still had a chance for recovery, we would then want to hear about the tests of her brain activity, see CAT scans, and things like that before we were certain he was doing something wrong. If most of us were vaguely uncomfortable with gays and wonder if gay marriage influenced kids to be gay, we would want to see research by psychologists, sociologists, neurologists and other scientists before we decided it was a legitimate concern,, and we might actually change our minds. Not the MOTOs. They have a prejudice, Pastor Buford and President Bush confirm it, and that's the end of the discussion.

We all have our moments when we are the Sherlock of "No shit, Sherlock," but when someone does nothing but point out the obvious or make rules about things most people were going to do anyway, you begin to wonder if they aren't a little retarded, and rather than argue or agree with them, you try to steer clear of them and put important things on shelves they can't reach.

I don't think republican politicians are retarded. They are just profoundly cynical like an ice cream man who whispers in kids' ears that he'll sell them boogey man protection if they give him their lunch money or let him touch their little brother in the back of the truck.

We aren't doing the GOPs constituents any favors by treating their hot button issues as legitimate concerns any more than we would be helping the retarded kid by asking him if his boogey man insurance is all paid up to date.


master of the obvious

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