Wednesday, July 05, 2006

The Next Media Barrage

UPDATE AT THE END

I believe I have detected the pattern for the next media attack on the current administration. The angle is "despite turning over control to Iraqis and putting hundreds of checkpoints and patrols on the street, the violence continues unabated".

Well, that is just plain hogwash. Sure, the numbers are still high, but they are in fact much lower than they have been. June's civilian death rate was 2/3 of what May's numbers were and all of the reductions came after the imposition of "Together, forward". If you remove the one market bombing, the death rate for July is well below that of June. Since there were so many killed in that one bombing, it is left out of my own figures until about the 10th of the month for two reasons. First, with only 5 days in a month, 66 deaths in one day skews the numbers so any underlying pattern isn't visible. Secondly, the individuals that placed that bomb have been killed or captured in a raid, so we aren't likely to see any more of their work.


I use the numbers of civilian deaths reported in the news as my guide. It isn't 100% accurate, it is often overstated, sometimes the same casualties are reported twice but overall, since the same mistakes are made fairly evenly over the months, it still provides a general idea of civilian deaths. Morgue counts aren't used because those tend to include insurgents, civilians, police and others.

May civilian deaths: 970 ( more than 30 per day)
June civilian deaths: 738 ( less than 25 per day)
July rate without Baghdad market bombing: ( less than 13 per day)

Extrapolated for the month and the 66 deaths in the Baghdad added back in, we are looking at something close to 460 deaths for July at the current rate. It is early in the month and 4 days is too few from which to extrapolate the entire month, but the trend is clear and the trend is down regardless of what the news is going to attempt to feed us using their own casualty figures. Note that casualty figures for Iraqi military and police are also trending down albeit more slowly and that is to be expected as they take the lead in more areas and are more exposed to dangers.

According to AFP today some 20 insurgent groups are prepared to begin negotiations and have been in various forms of contact with the government. That bodes well for future reductions in casualty counts as well.

The strategy of the press now is to portray the Iraqi government as a failure, present an image of hopelessness of our cause there, it can't be won, things keep getting worse, blah, blah, blah. Problem with that is, so far there doesn't seem to be any real evidence of it.

Today's blog entry was going to be another one about how our media doesn't care if they get people killed in order to futher their agenda but I have been saying that for months already in previous postings and others are birddogging that issue. What is most most important is what appears to be an overall media strategy of constant hammering of the Bush administration.

They are apparently using a two-pronged strategy at this point. One angle is to portray all efforts in Iraq as either outright failure, or to attempt to mitigate any appearance of success. This is due to polling results that show the main reason for low approval ratings is the progress in Iraq. Therefore, it is important to them that they show little or no progress whenever possible. The second angle is to portray President Bush as constantly overstepping his authority as President. They rely on the public having a short memory to do this. Shortly after 9/11 the media presented many articles giving suggestions on what must be done to better protect Americans against terrorism. Independent panels such as the 9/11 Commission also proposed similar ideas. When these are put into practice, the media then attempts to portray them as an administration acting beyond its authority and out of control.

What it seems to boil down to is that the news media assumes the American public is stupid, can't think for itself, can't remember what was said yesterday, and only knows what they are told in today's paper. It is also obvious that they have decided to engage directly in the political process by actively supporting one political party against another. While that isn't unusual or even a bad thing when a single paper does it, it is a bad thing when companies which own dozens of media outlets do it. Sometimes an outlet is the only paper in town. It really is no wonder we have seen such a grown of online media. It is about the only way for people to get enough information to make an intelligent decision. Our hometown newspaper editors think we are stupid and are spoon-feeding us propaganda.

UPDATE:

I read with interest a Reuters story out today that says 1,595 bodies were processed by Baghdad morgues last month. The story attempts to correlate that number directly to violence. I say not so fast. Baghdad is a large city with nearly 6 million residents. Now consider what would happen in the US in a city that large with temperatures over 110 degrees and no electricity for air conditioning. Might we experiance an upsurge in deaths here? Here is what the story says in the first two paragraphs:

Jul 5, 2006 — BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Baghdad's central morgue received 1,595 bodies last month — the highest number since the February bombing of a Shiite shrine sparked a wave of sectarian killings, a morgue official said on Wednesday.

The figures show the level of violence in Iraq has increased even after the killing on June 7 of al Qaeda in Iraq leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi in a U.S. air strike.

The second paragraph explicitly attempts to tie the 1595 bodies to increased violence when in fact, violence in the second half of the month was well below the first half of the month. The article goes on to state that 1375 bodies were processed in May and 1155 in April. Nationwide, reported civilian deaths from violence was up 180 from April to May but was significant was a shift in attacks to concentrate on Baghdad. So while Baghdad deaths probably did go up from April to May, that would have had nothing to do with Zarqawi's death as he wasn't killed until June.

This article is a lie. It is actually a classical piece of psyops. They give you a figure and attempt to have you believe it is a completely different figure. They give you the aggregate number of bodies processed at morgues but don't tell you how many were civilians, how many were police or Iraqi army, how many were insurgents, how many died from violence, how many died of illness or heat related complications, etc. They imply that the number of bodies brought to morgues in June were all related to violence. Did they take into account that in a city of 6 million people in heat over 100 degrees there might be more than a couple of hundred heat related deaths particularly among the old and sick? Apparently not. Here is what happened in Chicago in 1995 during the heatwave there:

Hundreds of victims never made it to a hospital. The most overcrowded place in the city was the Cook County Medical Examiners Office, where police transported hundreds of bodies for autopsies. The morgue typically receives about 17 bodies a day and has a total of 222 bays. By Saturday—just three days into the heat wave—its capacity was exceeded by hundreds, and the county had to bring in a fleet of refrigerated trucks to store the bodies. Police officers had to wait as long as three hours for a worker to receive the body. It was gruesome and incredible for this to be happening in the middle of a modern American city.

...

In 1995 there were no uniform standards for determining a "heat related death," so officials had to develop them. Edmund Donoghue, Cook County's chief medical examiner, used state-of-the-art criteria to report 465 heat-related deaths for the heat wave week and 521 heat deaths for the month of July.



So with Baghdad today at 109 and calling for temperatures over 110 by the end of this week, might one expect a rise in the number of people brought to morgues? I would.

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