Wednesday, March 19, 2008

"No Regrets"

Below is a detailed list of Iraq "by the numbers" released by Senator Harry Reid's office. Many of these numbers are nothing short of horrifying. I would encourage everyone to read them (note, they are referenced for verification) and think about how much longer we can possibly keep this charade going.

Even when this war makes headlines every day, it can all have a tendency to blur together. So please, take a look at the toll this war has taken on our country and the world, and keep these numbers in mind in considering your candidate this year.

And if these figures don't get your blood boiling enough, perhaps you could click this link and read more about the situation from a far more ignorant and malevolent perspective: "Five years on, Bush says no regrets on Iraq war."

Absolutely disgusting.


The numbers:

The Cost to Our Forces in Iraq

  • 3,990: American troops who have died in Iraq since the start of the war. [, 3/17/08]
  • 29,395: Number of U.S. service members that have been wounded in hostile action since the start of U.S. military operations in Iraq. [AP, 3/11/08]
  • 60,000: Number of troops that have been subjected to controversial stop-loss measures--meaning those who have completed service commitments but are forbidden to leave the military until their units return from war. [US News and World Report, 2/25/08]
  • 5: Number of times the 3rd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment has been sent to Iraq. They are the first Marine Corps unit to be sent to Iraq for a fifth time. [San Francisco Chronicle, 2/27/08]
  • 2,100: Number of troops who tried to commit suicide or injure themselves increased from 350 in 2002 to 2,100 last year. [US News and World Report, 2/25/08]
  • 11.9: Percent of noncommissioned Army officers who reported mental health problems during their first Iraq tour [Los Angeles Times, 3/7/08]
  • 27.2: Percent of noncommissioned Army officers who reported mental health problems during their third or fourth Iraq tour [Los Angeles Times, 3/7/08]

The Cost to Our Military Readiness

  • 88: Percent of current and former U.S. military officers surveyed in a recent independent study who believe that the demands of the war in Iraq have "stretched the U.S. military dangerously thin" [Foreign Policy/Center for New American Security, 2/19/08]
  • 94: Percent of Army recruits who had high school diplomas in Fiscal Year 2003 [Larry Korb, The Guardian, 10/12/07]
  • 79: Percent of Army recruits who had high school diplomas in Fiscal Year 2007 [Larry Korb, The Guardian, 10/12/07]
  • 4,644: Number of new Army recruits who were granted moral waivers in Fiscal Year 2003. [Houston Chronicle, 10/14/07]
  • 12,057: Number of new Army recruits who were granted moral waivers in Fiscal Year 2007. [Houston Chronicle, 10/14/07]
  • 67: Percent of captains the Army managed to retain this year, short of its goal of 80 percent, and in spite of cash bonus incentives of up to $35,000 [Armed Services Committee Hearing, 2/26/08]

The Cost to Our National Security

  • 1,188: Number of global terrorist incidents from January - September 11th, 2001. [American Security Project, "Are We Winning?," September 2007]
  • 5,188: Number of global terrorist incidents in from January- September 11th, 2006. [American Security Project, "Are We Winning?," September 2007]
  • 30: Percent increase in violence in Afghanistan from 2006 to 2007. [Reuters, 10/15/07]
  • 21: Number of suicide bombings in Afghanistan in 2001. [Center for American Progress, "The Forgotten Front," 11/07]
  • 139: Number of suicide bombings in Afghanistan in 2006, with an additional increase of 69 percent as of November 2007. [Center for American Progress, "The Forgotten Front," 11/07]
  • 30: Percent of Afghanistan controlled by the Afghan Government according to DNI Mike McConnell. [Associated Press, 2/27/08]
  • 2,380: Days since September 11th, 2001 that Osama Bin Laden has been at-large.

The Cost of Funding the War in Iraq

  • $50-60 Billion: Bush Administration's pre-war estimates of the cost of the war. [New York Times, 12/31/02]
  • $12 Billion: Direct cost per month of the Iraq War. [Washington Post, Bilmes and Stiglitz Op-Ed, 3/9/08]
  • $526 Billion: Amount of money already appropriated by Congress for the War in Iraq. [CRS, 2/22/08]
  • $3 Trillion: Total estimated cost of the Iraq War. [Washington Post, Bilmes and Stiglitz Op-Ed, 3/9/08]
  • $5 Trillion - $7 Trillion: Total cost of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan accounting for continued military operations, growing debt and interest payments and continuing health care and counseling costs for veterans. [McClatchy, 2/27/08]
  • 160: Percent that the cost of the Iraq War has increased from 2004 to 2008. [CRS Report, 2/22/08]

The Cost to Iraqis and Journalists

  • 8,000: Number of Iraqi military and police killed since June 2003. [Brookings Institute, Iraq Index, March 13, 2008]
  • 82,000-89,000: Estimate of Iraqi civilians casualties from violence since the beginning of the Iraq War. [Iraq Body Count]
  • 4.5 Million: Number of Iraqi refugees both inside and outside the country. [Washington Post, 3/17/08]
  • 61: Percent of Iraqis that believe the U.S. military presence makes the security situation in Iraq worse. [Agence France-Presse, 3/17/08]
  • 127: Number of journalists killed in Iraq since March 2003. [Committee to Protect Journalists]

Economic Costs of War in Iraq

  • $33.51: Cost of a barrel of oil in March 2003. [Energy Information Administration]
  • $105.68: Cost of a barrel of oil on March 17, 2008. [NYMEX]

U.S. Troops and Contractors in Iraq

  • 132,000: Number of U.S. troops in Iraq in January 2007, before President Bush's escalation. [Brookings Institution, Iraq Index, 3/13/08]
  • 155,000: Number of U.S. troops currently in Iraq. [Brookings Institution, Iraq Index, 3/13/08]
  • 140,000: Number of U.S. troops projected to be in Iraq in July 2008. [Associated Press, 2/26/08]
  • 35,000: Number of private security contractors operating in Iraq. [Human Rights First, Private Security Contractors at War]
  • 180,000: Number of private contractors operating in Iraq. [Human Rights First, Private Security Contractors at War]

Progress Towards Political Reconciliation Made By Iraqis

  • 3: Number out of 18 Bush Administration Benchmarks Met by Iraqi Government As of January 24, 2008. [Center for American Progress, 1/24/08]
  • 18: Number of provinces President Bush said would be secured by Iraqis as of November 2007. [President Bush Speech, 1/10/07]
  • 8: Number of provinces actually secured by Iraqis as of January 2008. [NPR, 1/7/08]

Bush-Republican Intransigence on Staying the Course in Iraq

  • 8: Number of times a majority of the Senate has voted to change course in Iraq.
  • 7: Number of times Bush Republicans in Congress have blocked changing course in Iraq.
  • 1: Number of vetoes issued by the White House over changing course in Iraq.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

This Music Geek Has Gone To Heaven

Although life continues to throw its unending barrage of shit sandwiches my way, a deep, dark recess of my heart is still kindled by a remote flicker of joy.

Why, you ask? Well, I'll tell you.

If nothing else, this digital barf bag of a blog has probably conveyed one thing: I am an unapologetic Elliott Smith fan. Do a search in the field above if you need evidence of that fact.

Well, recently, one of my favorite online music dealers, Aural Exploits (do click the link and pay them a visit), offered a reissue of Elliott's classic (and previously out of print) albums XO and Figure 8. Aural Exploits is offering both albums on limited edition (500 only!) colored vinyl.

As you might imagine, I pounced on that deal like a feral beast. And now, I'm happy to report, the sexy items in the image below are hurrying on their way to my house. And so, for a brief moment in a weary world, life is good.


Thursday, March 13, 2008

My Advice: Do Not Displease Keith Olbermann

So by now, I'm guessing everyone has heard about Geraldine Ferraro mouthing off about Obama. She maintains her innocence vehemently and is now suggesting that she herself is in fact the target of attack. Riiiiiight. *You're* the victim of an attack that *you* started. Makes a fella yearn for the simpler times, when Ann Coulter's crazy ass was the ideal of lunacy.

Let me ask you this - if ol' Gerry was so innocent, would the Wu-Tang Clan have written lyrics about her? I think not. As a matter of fact, I can't think of one instance when the Wu-Tang used improper judgement. The lyrics in question:

"I gamed Ella,
The bitch caught a Fitz like Gerald-ine Ferraro
Who’s full of sorrow, cuz the hoe didn’t win
But the sun will still come out tomorrow…"
- The Gza

Well, one good rant deserves another. And as many of you know, ain't nobody in the business that can rant like my boy Keith "The Doberman" Olbermann. Honestly, sometimes the guy seems just a pinstripe suit and a silk tie away from turning into Macho Man Randy Savage. And I mean that in the best way possible.

Watch him serve Hillary for not responding to Ferraro better and sooner. And old Geraldine gets some choice words herself :

Monday, March 10, 2008

The Wire, R.I.P.

Last night was the series finale of The Wire. Man, I am really going to miss that show.

The finale brought a mix of resolution and disillusionment. Some characters got what was coming to them, and some got away with everything all over again. Although some of these results were disappointing or sad, in the end, it all felt honest and true to life. Which is what the show was always about.

Take a look at some great coverage of the finale:
  • The New York Times
  • The Baltimore Sun (perhaps a bit prickly about how they were portrayed this season)
  • The Onion AV Club (and a separate interview with creator David Simon HERE)
  • Time Magazine (a colletive op-ed from the Wire writing team, calling for some good old fashioned American dissent in response to the drug war's impact on the US prison system)

Also, for more backstory on this excellent program, please see my previous post about it. I can't recommend a TV show more - buy, rent or steal these DVDs if you have to! It's a show that simply shouldn't be missed.

As detective Kima Greggs said in a recent episode, as she tucked her adopted son (and the entire city of Baltimore) in for bed:

Goodnight moon,
Goodnight stars,
Goodnight po-pos,
Goodnight fiends,
Goodnight hoppers,
Goodnight hustlers,
Goodnight scammers,
Goodnight to everybody,
Goodnight to one and all.