May 27, 2004

So cutting edge it kind of hurts.

So now I feel all advanced, what with my ah, perspicacious remarks the other day about comparing NYT coverage of Abu Ghraib to the Wall Street Journal's coverage of it. Stephen Den Beste over at the flagship USS Clueless has a short article on the same matter of media bias today (though he's assessing Reuters/AP coverage of President Bush's speech Tuesday).

Good for me, eh?

I had kind of planned to say a few things about the Sarin shell in Iraq, which contained the fairly staggering quantity of four liters of the stuff; but it turns out that Bravo Romeo Delta, one of the good folks over at Anticipatory Retaliation, and who is a much better writer on munitions than I am, has already said it better. A single four-liter Sarin artillery shell could kill 10,000 people if the agents fully mixed and dispersed, making it unquestionably a WMD. That two agents in separate chambers of the same shell would have to mix in order to produce Sarin, and they were mostly drained without mixing them, is what resulted in our soldiers being exposed only to traces of Sarin, rather than a whole lot of it. As I understand it, simply detonating the shell (rather than launching it ballistically and dropping it from great height) wouldn't likely mix and disperse the gas effectively anyway, so the roadside bomb had no real chance of creating a cloud of aeresolized Sarin.

That only a trace of Sarin came out of the shell and the rest was Sarin precursors doesn't change a bit that this was a chemical weapon which was designed, built, owned, and--evidently, since Hans Blix didn't find it--hidden by Saddam in the runup to the war. Don't forget about the MiG-25 Foxbat which Saddam had had buried in the desert, and which took us five months after the fall of Saddam to find. Little containers of highly nasty stuff will not be easy to find, even if it hasn't been moved to Syria.

So instead of talking about Sarin, I instead ask: when was the last time John Kerry said anything bad about how many jobs we've lost under This President? I braved the trolls long enough to wade through the Official John Kerry For President Blog, and find the category on policy remarks. There I found that in fact Kerry last referenced jobs in a way that his blog thought important enough to report on 5/7/2004--quite a change of pace from only a couple of months ago when jobs were literally an everyday complaint of his. The 5/7/2004 remarks are almost ironic, coinciding as they did with the release of an excellent labor report which showed an increase of 288,000 jobs (after big gains the two previous months as well). I did notice that he has now again, in this blog entry entitled "Jobs Up, but the Middle Class Squeeze Continues," repeated the quite fallacious claim that we are "still in the worst job recovery since the Great Depression, with 2.2 million private-sector jobs lost in the Bush presidency."

This 2.2 million jobs claim hasn't been true for months and was always more than just a little bit spurious. Let's just spend a minute to bring our facts up to date.

In December 2000 (just days before Bush took office), Total Nonagricultural Employment according to the payrolls survey was 131,878,000. (The original release of the data in the December 2000 report showed employment higher than that, but it was subsequently revised down.) As of the release of the report on 5/7/2004 which triggered Kerry's above-quoted tantrum, Total Nonagricultural Employment was 130,902,000. This is a reduction of 976,000; not 2.2 million. There's lots that could be said about interpreting what the 976,000 figure really means, but at least using the correct numbers when commenting on employment data would lend some credibility, not to say honesty, to Kerry's statement.

Though I haven't personally heard Kerry say anything foolish about jobs lately, I have had a number of opportunities to hear him whinge about gas prices. This business of the price of gas is also a fascinating subject, one which I will have (lo!) more to say about tomorrow or Friday.

Posted by JKS at May 27, 2004 05:42 AM
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