Thursday, June 15, 2006

Undocumented Inebriated Vehicle Operators

"For every bin Laden or Al Zarquawi we knock off, there are a thousand ready to stand in his place."

"We still haven't focused on the main goal - killing or capturing bin Laden or other top leaders of Al Queda."

Take your pick of Democratic talking points depending on the news of the day: if we manage to bag a big leader like Zarquawi, well he's just one head of the hydra. And prior to that success, when we've spent five good years capturing and killing scores of terrorists, we're told all that matters is whether or not we got bin Laden. Of course we haven't gotten bin Laden yet, but when we do expect to hear how by blowing him to bits has spawned 1000 more bin Ladens.

Interestingly enough, if you try to google "number of Al Queda killed or captured," you'll have a hard time finding any data. I couldn't. Google "number of US forces killed in Iraq" and you get a lot of hits - in fact the BBC reported just 2 hours ago that the US just suffered its 2500th casualty. On the face of it, of course no casualties are good, so the fact that they keep occurring is bad, and from this we can infer that things are not going well, or at least not as good as we'd like. But wouldn't it help to know a running total of the guys we've sent to the grave? Don't you think that type of information would be necessary to make an informed opinion about how the war is going?


Patrick Kennedy has copped to a plea of driving while under the influence of perscription drugs. Is that what they are calling it these days? How about as an alternative, we just say he was an undocumented drunk driver; it avoids the stigma of saying that he was driving drunk illegally, but nevertheless doesn't suggest that the DA was stupid enough to believe Kennedy's obviously perjured statement to the police. And it would be in line with the sensitivity with which we treat illegal - er, I mean undocumented, Mexican workers. And why stop there - how about undocumented non-consensual fornicators for rapists, or does that have too much of a religious right judgmental tone to it? Pimps could be undocumented sex brokers. The possibilities are endless.


In political scandal news the party of corruption - the Republicans, if you are not paying attention - are getting off free on the Karl Rove treason. Hate to beat a dead horse, but it seems to me that the leak couldn't have been illegal - if it were, it seems there is ample testimony pointing to those who leaked it, enough to charge them with a crime. Much ado about nothing.

Meanwhile, the party of integrity and ethics - the Democrats, if you are not paying attention - got one of their members caught with a couple hundred grand in bribes stuffed in his freezer at home. The House, including the craven Republicans, have circled the wagons around this guy decrying that the separation of powers entitles congressmen to be able to store that much money in their freezer without drawing FBI scrutiny. Of course, the real defense of this guy stems from two facts - he's from Louisiana and he is black. By everyone's reckoning, with only a couple hundred grand in his freezer, he is the least on-the-take politician in Louisiana history, and therefore his being targeted is an example of egregious racial profiling.


Anonymous Jim O said...

I still don't understand why we are wasting a whole lot of money investigating the Plame leak, when Bush/Cheney could have defused the whole thing by saying that it was done under orders, and therefore isn't classified, and therefore isn't a crime.

Or am I misunderstanding the situation? Cause it seems that Bush made a big to-do about catching the leakers, but then is letting Karl and Scooter twist instead of just copping to it.

2:01 PM  
Anonymous Jim O said...

As for Kennedy, that's an awfully long charge to plea. Why can't we just consolidate all of the perception-altering substances under the heading "Kennedies".

"Dude, I was totally Kennedied last night". Could mean anything from scotch to pills to sex, but the general meaning is clear.

2:03 PM  
Blogger Professor Vic said...

Funny how Congress will act in a bipartisan way to protect the privacy of their colleague despite a judicial warrant and a pretty good indication that the guy is guilty.

Of course, when it comes to protecting the privacy of innocent Americans who don't happen to be in Congress from warrantless searches with no reasonable cause, Congress won't even lift a finger.

As for Plame, it certainly doesn't appear to be any more of a waste of money than the numerous independent counsels that went after Clinton. Furthermore, although Rove is apparently not guilty of a crime, the whole issue raises significant ethical concerns.

First, Bush promised to fire any leaker. Rove is now confirmed to be a leaker and is still there. Of course, Hatch has often pointed out what a flip-flopper Bush is.

Second, is it ethical to use the press in this manner to attempt to smear a critic?

Third, either Rove lied to Press Secreary McClellan or McClellan lied to the press. Are either of these ethical concerns?

Finally, just because Fitzpatrick doesn't think he can get a conviction doesn't mean that he's not guilty. It only means that the prosecutor thought that Rove's claim that "I can't recall" is enough reasonable doubt to not convict him of prejury. I mean, OJ isn't guilty, either, but strangely the real killer has never shown up...

2:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Maybe someone can explain to me why the Republicans are so bent out of shape over the FBI Congressional search? The FBI finds hard evidence this guy is on the take, and they get a warrant to search his office. This happenes every day. Why the Republicans would waste political capital on this "sepeartion of powers" crap is beyond me. Then again, I am drunk on Chartreuse.

4:15 AM  
Blogger Incredible Dirigible said...

Funny how many of the Iraq War critics will remark on the number of US soldiers killed, or the 'thousands of Iraqi civilians killed' (how that obtain that number is unknown to me), but never remark on the number of Terrorists killed by US forces, and never acknowledge the success that our military has had.

5:30 AM  
Blogger Professor Vic said...

While I understand the frustration of Incredible Dirigible, the actual answer to his question is quite easy. The number of terrorists/insurgents killed is not often reported because of the difficulty of obtaining accurate and objective numbers.

The problem of using body counts dates back at least to Vietnam where American military units often falsified numbers of dead. Since the military is known to have lied to the press/public back then, people are reluctant to believe modern military reports about body counts

In addition, even if the military reports an accurate number of dead, it is difficult to determine in warfare like that in Iraq whether a particular body should be counted as a dead terrorist (which counts for you) or as a dead civilian (which counts against you).

Finally, even if an accurate method of counting dead terrorists were found, without a way to account for terrorist recruitment, a simple body count won't tell you if you are winning the war. Despite killing many terrorists over the past years, I think that the administration's estimates of the number of insurgents in Iraq have actually risen over time. Therefore, in some ways, the recruiters must be doing a better job than our soldiers.

In answer to Dirigible's other question, estimates of civilian casualties are derived in several ways. First, numbers are culled from media reports and aggregated over time. Second, body counts at local morgues are tallied. Finally, and most controversially, statistical modelling is used to compare estimated death rates before and after the war with the difference being attributed to the ongoing violence and economic difficulties.

11:43 AM  

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