Thursday, November 29, 2007

Figures don't lie

The level of violence in Iraq is "leveling off," it is said. And the obesity rate in the US is too.

Could these be caused by similar phenomena: The maximum quotient of suffering has been reached?

I told you so

Here's a capsule, related by Juan Cole, Middle East expert, of the important part of last night's Republican presidential debate. (I couldn't watch the whole thing. It was beyond my tolerance. Way beyond.) It's an exchange between Congressman Ron Paul and Senator John McCain about the war in Iraq, which reveals--as Professor Cole points out--that McCain is a dangerous, demented militaristic nutcase. (My phrase, not quite his.)

During this presidential campaign--even before it began, when it became clear that McCain was going to run and was thought of as a "maverick" and a frontrunner--I've been on my soapbox, yelling about him: that I knew his history, having been in his Arizona constituency for decades, and that for all his charm and affability, he's at heart a mad warmonger. Now do you believe me?

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

A day in the life

This report about US troops killing four bank employees in Baghdad who were on their way to work is revealing. Apparently our troops fired upon the van they were traveling in because it was driving on a street that our military had designated to be used only by sedans.

Yup, violence is down in Baghdad. Just like it was in the Warsaw ghetto.

Monday, November 26, 2007

I don't get it..or do I?

This MSM-drumbeated rap on Obama, that he lacks the "experience" to be President. Oh, really? I'm not an embedded Obama supporter (he's a bit cautious for me, especially on his views about the Iraq occupation and his insurance-based healthcare program), but I wonder whether the lack-of-experience mantra is a disguised racial/youth putdown, not a legitimate objection to nomination. I mean, what about Jimmy Carter, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton--all sometimes southern governors? They all won the presidency for their parties. What was their experience, particularly in foreign affairs? Absolutely none. Certainly less than that of Obama, who has at least served in national office for a time.

And then there are the presidents who touted their "experience" in national and international affairs: Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon, George H.W. Bush. They won their nominations and the presidency too, and guess what? Ruination.

I say, don't listen to the MSM spin. Don't listen to the pundits. Listen to the candidates.

So... Whaddaya think?

Will it happen, as I've so long predicted, that Cheney will soon resign due to "health problems" and Bush (with Congressional approval) will appoint his replacement, to give the Republicans an incumbent veep to run against the Democrats' nominee?

Do you want to lay odds?

Surprise, surprise

Iraq's "leaders" are inclined to enter a long-term relationship with the U.S., which would include favorable incentives for U.S. investment in their country. Imagine that.

Worst empire ever?

The Archbishop of Canterbury ought to know.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

A day in the life

of our new, dramatic democracy in the Middle East.

I ask again: Where are the bread riots?

This quote is from an article about the increasing numbers of outrageously expensive cars that are lately being manufactured and sold throughout the world's markets.

"And more and more people can afford them, as more get rich and the rich get richer. Worldwide, the number of "ultra-high net-worth individuals" grew 11.3% from 2005 to 2006, according to the 2007 World Wealth Report, published in June, 2007, by Cap Gemini and Merrill Lynch.
"The report identifies as "ultra-high net-worth" those individuals with more than $30 million in "financial assets"—that is, public and private stock, bonds, and cash, but not counting "collectibles, consumables, consumer durables, and real estate used for primary residences." "Global wealth is rapidly consolidating among this ultra-wealthy segment," the study said. As fast as the ranks of the ultra-wealthy grow, so grows the number of ways they can spend their money."

Body count

As I've mentioned before, I carry in my car and display regularly around town large sign that, among other things, sets out the number of G.I.'s who've been killed and wounded, the amount of money spent, and the number of civilians deaths caused by our invasion and occupation of Iraq. I change the numbers from time to time (the G.I. deaths daily), based on new information. As of today, my figures are G.I. deaths--3876; G.I. wounded--28,530; dollars spent--546 million dollars; Iraqis killed--650,000. I base the number of G.I. dead and wounded on this site's data, which, it says, is a compilation of reported figures from the Defense Department. The numbers of dollars and Iraqi deaths are my estimations based on varying sources that appear in the media. In both cases, I've adopted conservative figures, not wanting to overstate the case or allow Bush administration supporters to claim I'm inflating the horror of their war.

Problem: I may be understating the numbers, and I wonder if I shouldn't be more aggressive in my various tabulations. For example, I learned today that the G.I. wounded figures don't include approximately 20,000 soldiers who've suffered "brain injury" that hasn't been reported until after the soldier is home from theater. That figure, reported by USA Today, lumps together the injuries from Iraq and Afghanistan, but I could estimate, reasonably, that 4/5 of them originated in Iraq based on the respective numbers of attacks on our troops in each country.

Another example: I've recently read an article that states that the dollars spent on the Iraq adventure now exceeds one trillion, but I've not updated the number on my sign because I have no specific data source for it; and the same is true of the number of Iraqis killed. There are higher estimates, but no hard numbers.

Question: Should I continue displaying only my "conservative numbers"? They're horrific enough, I grant, but am I being too charitable to the monsters who've wrought this mad war? Or should I risk overstating the case, increasing my figures to reflect the recent upward revisions stated in various news items? For example, should I add, say, 16,000 to the wounded total, to estimate the brain-injured cases from Iraq? Should I post "one trillion dollars" as found in a recently-estimated cost of the Iraq war? Should I increase the "Iraqis killed" figure to one million, as some authoritative estimates have stated?

Your thoughts?