Simone Provides Listeners With Latest "Facts" From Alternate Universe Of Conservative Talk Radio
Liberals get upset when faced with "facts" about Iraq, conservative talk radio host Mark Simone offered his WABC listeners this evening.
The premise, of course, is ridiculous. Simone wouldn't say which liberals, of course, although one can presume he is referring to big-name politicians like Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-MA), Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) or Democratic National Chairman Howard Dean. Or perhaps he's referring vaguely to New York and Hollywood "intellectuals."
For Simone, it probably doesn't matter. It's better to portray "liberal" as a dirty word, an amorphous anti-American group.
And which facts?
Simone offered the following:
-- 14 of 18 Iraqi provinces are peaceful. Just four have a problem with insurgents.
-- Iraqi unemployment is down 50% in the past year.
-- Iraqi wages are up 30% in the past year.
-- Iraq's new stock exchange is "apparently" doing well.
Ask yourself, are these "facts" that make "liberals" upset? Or are they half-truths, designed to paint the most positive, Bush Administration-friendly face on the Iraq War?
Let's consider the "other half" of each of these "facts."
-- It's true, just four of 18 provinces have a problem with insurgents. But according to a Defense Department report presented in July to Congress, one of the four provinces is Baghdad, the most populous Iraqi province. And 35% of insurgent attacks occur in that province.
It'd be like saying "the U.S. only has a crime problem in four states out of 50," without noting that the four states are California, New York, Texas and Florida.
What's more important -- the number of provinces with insurgents, or the number of insurgent attacks?
According to a November report from CNN, quoting Pentagon officials, "in October there were about 100 attacks a day." By comparison, a January Boston Globe report suggested a figure of 50 to 70 attacks per day.
-- How about that Iraqi unemployment and wages? Any discussion of unemployment and wages has to start with the fact that the Coalition Provisional Authority disbanded the Iraqi Army, increasing the unemployed by 1 million and causing average wages to plummet.
In 2004, a Baghdad University study suggested unemployment had reached 70%, while the CPA placed the number at between 25% and 30%.
Now, according to a report earlier this month from the Associated Press, "Iraq's unemployment rate is estimated to be between 27 percent and 40 percent."
So, for Simone to be correct, he would have to be ignoring the 2004 statistics from the CPA, and instead going with numbers that got great play on Al Jazeera, but others called a "very rough estimate."
-- Is the Iraqi stock exchange "doing well"? Even Simone qualifies this with an "apparently" -- something that would suggest opinion, rather than fact. The stock exchange has been open a whopping two weeks.
Simone provided red meat for his listeners. Amorphous groups of "liberals" were upset over "facts" about Iraq.
These bite-size slogans work wonders. Keeping things vague and simplistic, Simone provides legions with water-cooler talking points for days to come. So what if Simone's talking points are half-truths. Don't confuse conservative talk radio listeners with the "facts."