Sunday, January 11, 2004


By the rules of statistical inference, the judgment of particular cases must be modified to reflect underlying probabilities. Where circumstances are abnormal, estimates must be altered. In 1980, for example, it might have been reasonable to assume that Senator Wellstone was the victim of an accidental airplane crash. In 2002, it is much more likely that he was murdered to ensure that the Republicans would regain control of the Senate—since the right controls the CIA, the FAA, and the Justice Department, the findings of official commissions aren’t relevant one way or the other to guessing what really happened. Similarly, we are justified in thinking it was the government that spread sexual innuendoes about Scott Ritter in the run up to the Second Iraq War at a time when he was correctly asserting that Hussein had no weapons of mass destruction. We know, after all, that the right celebrates the heroism of those who break laws in the name of higher purposes or mere personal loyalty—the Bush administration is full of people who demonstrated their love of intrigue during earlier tours of duty under Nixon and Reagan. Why should anybody expect better of such people at a time when the Courts and the Press are in the bag?

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