Friday, January 06, 2006
Poking Holes To Let In Some Light

Sometimes my mother starts feeling her oats and challenges my politics via one of those Republican viral emails. What follows is her original email (in italics) and my responses.

Things that make you think a little:

I doubt it, but I'm willing to give it a try.

There were 39 combat related killings in Iraq in January.

According to whom? By what count? And in which January?

If we're talking about American troops, the number is blatantly false. According to the DOD's own count, in January of 2004, 47 American soldiers died; in January of 2005, 108 died; in January of 2006 (of which, obviously, only a week has passed) we're already up to twelve.

If we're talking about American troops plus coalition and Iraqi forces, the number is undoubtedly much higher. If we're talking about American troops, coalition and Iraqi forces, plus insurgents, it's much, much higher. And if we're talking about American troops, coalition and Iraqi forces, insurgents and innocent civilians -- then we have no idea how high the numbers are. But I'd be willing to bet that they're a fucking hell of a lot higher than 39.

In the fair city of Detroit there were 35 murders in the
month of January. That's just one American city,
about as deadly as the entire war-torn country of Iraq

Sorry, untrue.

Putting aside that, again, we don't know which January we're talking about here, and pointing out that the actual number of murders in Detroit during any given month is a number that's essentially impossible to prove unless you have access to police records (which is probably why the number "35" is presented without sourcing of any kind), we can confidently say this much: Detroit has an average annual murder rate of roughly 40 per 100,000 citizens. This is certainly very high, one of the highest in the nation. Now, given that Detroit has a population of approximately 950,000 people, that means that the average number of murders annually would run about 380, or just over 30 per month.

Since the war began, 2193 American troops have died over the course of 33.75 months. That's roughly 65 deaths per month. Which means, of course, that if we are indeed talking about troop deaths, Iraq is nearly twice as deadly as Detroit.

Of course, that's hardly a reasonable comparison, since Detroit is made up of a total population, while the American troop death figures encompass merely a slim portion of the total population of Iraq. So what we really need to do is compare total deaths to total deaths. Since the DOD takes no formal count of civilian deaths, that's an almost impossible figure to calculate. Luckily, though, your own preferred authority -- George W. Bush himself -- recently gave us his estimate of combat-related civilian deaths: 30,000. That number is generally assumed to be a low-ball, but for the purposes of argument, we'll accept it for now.

So, 30,000 civilians plus 2193 troops = 32,193 total deaths, divided by 33.75 months = holy crap...

That's almost 954 deaths per month, and that's a modest estimate. It's also, you've no doubt noticed, rather higher than the typical monthly murder rate in Detroit. By a factor of 30. So the violence in Iraq is like Detroit, squared.

When some claim that President Bush shouldn't
have started this war, state the following:

a. FDR led us into World War II.

True enough.

b. Germany never attacked us; Japan did.
>From 1941-1945, 450,000 lives were lost .
an average of 112,500 per! year.

Of course, Japan and Germany (and Italy, don't forget Mussolini) were explicit allies in WWII. Furthermore, by the time the US entered the War -- two years after it began -- the Germans had already toppled several other nations and were busily pounding the living shit out of England. (Remember, before "shock and awe" there was "blitzkrieg".) Which, I think you'll agree, is a far cry from Hussein, who in 2001 was an ally to nobody and hadn't attacked anyone at all in nearly a decade. And that's not even taking into account that whole "holocaust" thing.

And 24 million people died in World War II, not 450,000. Just FYI.

c. Truman finished that war and started one in Korea.
North Korea never attacked us.

And you know what? Had I been alive at the time (I wouldn't be born for another 22 years) I might have opposed that war, too.

>From 1950-1953, 55,000 lives were lost ...
an average of 18,334 per year.

Actually, the total casualty figures are 2.5 million. It's important to be accurate, you know.

d John F. Kennedy started the Vietnam conflict in 1962.
Vietnam never attacked us.

e. Johnson turned Vietnam into a quagmire.
>From 1965-1975, 58,000 lives were lost .
an average of 5,800 per year.

Again, this is all true. And again, had I been alive at the time, I'd have opposed that war.

It's worth pointing out, of course, that the Vietnam war didn't end under Johnson. The Republican Nixon kept it rolling along for another four years ('68-'73), during which time the weekly death rate among troops skyrocketed. He also instigated that messy little incident in Cambodia.

f. Clinton went to war in Bosnia without UN or French consent.
Bosnia never attacked us.

Uhmm... the UN was involved in Bosnia from the very beginning of the war; NATO joined in later as well. In fact, Clinton was involved in Bosnia because of the UN/NATO ties -- the Dayton accords that ended the conflict were a NATO function.

PS: Chirac was there, too.

He was offered Osama bin Laden's head on a platter three
times by Sudan and did nothing. Osama has attacked us on
multiple occasions.

And where's Bin Laden now?

(I also seem to remember something about a memo titled, "Bin Laden determined to strike inside the US"...)

g. In the years since terrorists attacked us , President Bush
has liberated two countries,

Which two?

crushed the Taliban,

You know the Taliban is still active in Afghanistan, right?


And all thirty of Bin Laden's #2 men.

put nuclear inspectors in Libya, Iran, and North
Korea without firing a shot,

With a good deal of UN assistance in each case.

and captured a terrorist who
slaughtered 300,000 of his own people.

And only killed 30,000 - 100,000 more people in the process.

The Democrats are complaining
about how long the war is taking.
But ..
It took less time to take Iraq than it took Janet Reno
to t ake the Branch Davidian compound.
That was a 51-day operation.

I hate to be pedantic, but the Iraq war has so far taken exactly 985 days (probably more like 988 by the time you read this.) And we haven't "taken" Iraq yet. We were told we would by now -- the words "cakewalk" and "flowers and candy" spring to mind. But if we had, ironically enough, we wouldn't be having this conversation now.

We've been looking for evidence for chemical weapons
in Iraq for less time than it took Hillary Clinton to find
the Rose Law Firm billing records.

Yes, but 1) we knew those records actually existed; and 2) I don't think anybody died in the process.

It took less time for the 3rd Infantry Division and the
Marines to destroy the Medina Republican Guard
than it took Ted Kennedy to call the police after his
Oldsmobile sank at Chappaquiddick

Also considerably less time than it's taken for George W. to produce his complete National Guard record.

It took less time to take Iraq than it took
to count the votes in Florida!!!!

Even less time than black people had to stand in line to vote in Ohio! Even less time than other black people had to wait on their roofs to be resuced after Katrina! This is fun!

Our Commander-In-Chief is doing a GREAT JOB!

A heckuva job!

The Military Morale is high!

Tell that to these guys.

The biased media hopes we are too ignorantto realize the facts

Funnily enough, I think exactly the same thing every time you turn on FOX News.

But Wait there's more!

My bladder is positively bursting in anticipation.

Mon, 26 Jan 2004 11:13

You do realize that John Glenn is a Democrat, right?

Some people still don't understand why military personnel
do what they do for a living. This exchange between
Senators John Glenn and Senator Howard Metzenbaum
is worth reading. Not only is it a pretty impressive
impromptu speech, but it's also a good example of one
man's explanation of why men and women in the armed
services do what they do for a living.

This IS a typical, though sad, example of what
some who have never served think of the military.

A few other people who have never served in the military:

Dick Cheney
Paul Wolfowitz
Donald Rumsfeld
Condoleezza Rice
Rush Limbaugh
Bill O'Reilly
Sean Hannity
Ann Coulter

And one person who deserted during wartime:

George W. Bush

Anyway, back to the blah-blah-blah...

Senator Metzenbaum (speaking to Senator Glenn):
"How can you run for Senate
when you've never held a real job?"

Senator Glenn (D-Ohio):
"I served 23 years in the United States Marine Corps.
I served through two wars. I flew 149 missions.
My plane was hit by anti-aircraft fire on 12 different
occasions. I was in the space program. It wasn't my
checkbook, Howard; it was my life on the line. It was
not a nine-to-five job, where I took time off to take the
daily cash receipts to the bank."

"I ask you to go with me ... as I went the other day...
to a veteran's hospital and look those men
with their mangled bodies .. in the eye, and tell THEM
they didn't hold a job!

You go with me to the Space Program at NASA
and go, as I have gone, to the widows and Orphans
of Ed White, Gus Grissom and Roger Chaffee...
and you look those kids in the eye and tell them
that their DADS didn't hold a job.

You go with me on Memorial Day and you stand in
Arlington National Cemetery, where I have more friends
buried than I'd like to remember, and you watch< waving>

I admit, I don't really understand where you're going with this. I mean, apart from Outer Wingnuttia, city of Fantasyland.

You stand there, and you think about this nation,
and you tell ME that those people didn't have a job?

What about you?"

What about me? I never said anything of the sort.

For those who don't remember .
During W.W.II, Howard Metzenbaum was an attorney
repres! enting the Communist Party in the USA.

Now he's a Senator!

Y'know, the Constitution says that everybody gets a lawyer. Even Communists.

Why do you hate the Constitution?

(Update: This passage continued to bother me after I posted this response. A little research revealed that John Glenn and Howard Metzenbaum were both Democrats, and were both from the same home districts in Ohio. Why, I wondered, would a Democrat attack another Democrat on the floor of the Senate? And if they're from the same district, how did they both come to be in the Senate simultaneously? Especially considering the exchange above is noted as having taken place on January 26, 2004 -- five years after Glenn left the Senate and nine years after Metzenbaum did? Something didn't smell right.

Turns out, the story isn't entirely true.

Glenn and Metzenbaum ran against each other several times in Ohio. The speech transcribed above, while reasonably accurate, was actually made at the Cleveland City Club during the 1974 Democratic primary race for Ohio senator. And while Glenn said all of the above (or at least something very close to it), it turns out that Metzenbaum never accused Glenn of never having "held a job." He actually said that Glenn had never "made a payroll," which is a very differently-intended kind of statement.

Additionally, there's no evidence at all that Metzenbaum ever represented the Communist Party at any time during his career. I point that out not to relieve him of some perceived "guilt" in doing something both appropriate and legitimate, but simply to demonstrate that the core assumptions of this passaround email are incredibly flawed.)

If you can read this, thank a teacher.
If you are reading it in English thank a Veteran.

And if you're reading it in a nice office with decent working hours, paid holidays, health coverage, non-descrimination laws, and safe conditions... thank a liberal!

Well, that was fun. Better luck next time, mom.
5:13 PM ::
Amy :: permalink