The Right Coast

October 06, 2004
Hush, little Bushies, don't say a word
By Tom Smith

As my legions of fans know, I spend a lot of time worrying about the future. This is partly because I am fascinated by the whole idea of uncertainty and (the related idea of) risk, and all the various things we clever primates do to cope with it.

So, for instance, debka reports today that Iran has started producing hexaflouride gas, which is the stuff you put into the centrifuge to enrich uranium, which is stuff you use to make what they call in Iran "the great big Jew killer." (Were that a gross exageration!) Both my internet prowling and my sources (or source) in the spec ops/intel community tell me that when the isotopes that reveal that uranium is being enriched are detected, those Israeli F15's and 16's, they be takin' off. Without further ado. I read that the best Israeli pilots are already practicing on mock ups of Iranian plants in the Negev. You go, Jews. There's something about a Strike Eagle with a Star of David on its tail that gives me a warm, fuzzy feeling. And, local interest!, I think at least part of the GBMFB's that they drop on buried WMD plants are made right here in San Diego!

It raises the questions of what those darn bathrobe-clad religion nutcases in Iran are thinking. They may be thinking that Israel and the US will think Iran must have super hardened underground plants in operation, because we think Iran would not be so stupid as to pursue its nuclear arming program as openly as it seems to be doing. And so we won't bomb them, for fear we will just anger them and not really destroy their program. This could be correct, or it could be a bluff. The trouble is, the prospect of a nuclearly armed Iran is scary enough that bombing the bejesus out of them is still the dominant strategy. I guess they don't teach game theory in mooolah school. Maybe the mooolahs will go right to the edge and not start enriching. If they don't get bombed, that is probably what will have happened.

Anyway, that is all just a digression to my main point, which is, just because an election is close, and this one is going to be, does not mean there is a lot of uncertainty about the outcome. If you look at the tradesports lines, what the market "thinks" is that there is a 60-40 probability that Bush will get roughly 275 electoral votes. In terms of electoral votes, that's close, but close doesn't count in elections, only horseshoes and horseraces. A 40 percent chance of getting Sir John of the Lovely Nails and Silky Pony is still nasty, but what can you do? My point is, you can be certain your guy will win by a tight margin, and that is better than an expected margin for your guy of 10 points, where the latter is very uncertain (has a very high standard deviation). Something like this is probably going on, as the futures market holds steady at 60-40 for Bush, even as the polls show the race tightening. So don't panic. If the time comes to panic, trust me. I am not Hugh Hewitt. I think bad things, they happen every day. I will let you know.