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Sam Smith: What If Things Are Getting Better?

What If Things Are Getting Better?

By Editor Sam Smith

There's a little secret to stock market investing that deserves wider application: when the major news magazines feature a market trend on their cover, go the other way. According to a study of magazine covers since 1920s, the predicted trend remains true for approximately 30 days and then tanks . . . . with a probability of about 80%.

We haven't seen any statistics on this, but we suspect something similar applies to general politics. For the past year, for example, we have been treated to the Washington media turning Bush's marginal 2004 victory (legal or otherwise) into a massive mandate manifested in the spread of democracy to every corner of the world save the White House and in the kickoff of a triumphant assault on Social Security.

A less servile and psychologically embedded Washington press corps, however, would have already let you in on a secret. The Bush Social Security jihad is one of the greatest domestic failures of modern presidential times. Bush blew it.

There are other signs that things may not be running as kindly towards the president as many believe. For example, USA Today reports that "fewer Americans approve of the way Congress is handling its job than at any time since shortly after Republicans impeached President Clinton, a Gallup Poll finds. Only 37% of Americans gave Congress a high approval rating, down from 45% last month." Similarly, in Bush's first term he had disapproval ratings as low as the teens; this year 40-50% disapprove.

I have believed from the start that George Bush was basically a con man and a bully. The ideological strength of his arguments was virtually non-existent. Over time, increasing numbers would stop being fooled and stop being scared. But unlike the neighborhood con artist or playground bully, Bush didn't have an infinite pool of new marks, so his long range prognosis as a politician was poor.

Believing the gullible or groupie press, however, the Democrats have been accepted the invincibility myth. Overestimating the opposition is one sure way to do poorly in a game. Maybe it's time for liberals to stop running home to Mama with their tales of tyrannical red states, an unstoppable White House, and armed Christian hordes and just go back to the playground and stand their ground.

Whose Side Is God On?

The media is milking the religious angle on the Atlanta murders for all it can. But before it goes much further in crediting the Father Almighty for Brian Nichols' capture, it ought to get a second source. Such as Brian Nichols. In explaining why he had chosen Angela Smith as his hostage, Smith says, "He said he thought I was an angel sent from God, and that I was his sister and he was my brother in Christ. And that he was lost, and that God led him to me to tell him that he had hurt a lot of people."

So God lets brothers in Christ who get a bit lost go around raping and murdering people? And what about the judge and the court officers whom the brother in Christ killed? One or more of them probably had some attachment to God as well.

The media faces a similar problem with the killings in the Wisconsin church. After all, all the parties in that fatal dispute believed that God was speaking to them. The media has handled this problem by downplaying the story even though it was more deadly than Atlanta.

There's nothing wrong with quoting Angela Smith or treating her as a true heroine. But unsourced attribution of earthly acts to heavenly desires is about as unobjective as you can get. It puts the press just a step or two away from creationism and certainly less reliable than, say, Dan Rather.



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