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Bush By Numbers
Graydon Carter counts the double standards. For example:

1983 The year in which Donald Rumsfeld, Ronald Reagan's special envoy to the Middle East, gave Saddam Hussein a pair of golden spurs as a gift.

2.5 Number of hours after Rumsfeld learnt that Osama bin Laden was a suspect in the 11 September attacks that he brought up reasons to "hit" Iraq.

237 Minimum number of misleading statements on Iraq made by top Bush administration officials between 2002 and January 2004, according to the California Representative Henry Waxman.

10m Estimated number of people worldwide who took to the streets on 21 February 2003, in opposition to the invasion of Iraq, the largest simultaneous protest in world history.

$2bn Estimated monthly cost of US military presence in Iraq projected by the White House in April 2003.

$4bn Actual monthly cost of the US military presence in Iraq according to Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld in 2004.

$15m Amount of a contract awarded to an American firm to build a cement factory in Iraq.

$80,000 Amount an Iraqi firm spent (using Saddam's confiscated funds) to build the same factory, after delays prevented the American firm from starting it.

2000 Year that Cheney said his policy as CEO of Halliburton oil services company was "we wouldn't do anything in Iraq".

$4.7bn Total value of contracts awarded to Halliburton in Iraq and Afghanistan.

$680m Estimated value of Iraq reconstruction contracts awarded to Bechtel.

$2.8bnValue of Bechtel Corp contracts in Iraq.

$120bn Amount the war and its aftermath are projected to cost for the 2004 fiscal year.

35 Number of countries to which the United States suspended military assistance after they failed to sign agreements giving Americans immunity from prosecution before the International Criminal Court.

92 Percentage of Iraq's urban areas with access to potable water in late 2002.

60 Percentage of Iraq's urban areas with access to potable water in late 2003.

55 Percentage of the Iraqi workforce who were unemployed before the war.

80 Percentage of the Iraqi workforce who are unemployed a Year after the war.

0 Number of American combat deaths in Germany after the Nazi surrender in May 1945.

37 Death toll of US soldiers in Iraq in May 2003, the month combat operations "officially" ended.

0 Number of coffins of dead soldiers returning home that the Bush administration has permitted to be photographed.

0 Number of memorial services for the returned dead that Bush has attended since the beginning of the war.

And the list goes on, and on, and on.

Posted by aalkon at September 4, 2004 8:24 AM


We're not frosh passing bongs in the dorm anymore: It's time to say goodbye to the Harper's Index approach to rhetoric. OF COURSE individual numbers can be damning when stripped of context. NOTHING makes sense, or persuades, except in context.

Posted by: Crid at September 4, 2004 12:25 PM

"We're not frosh passing bongs in the dorm anymore."

Do I detect a trace of nostalgia?

Posted by: Go Ask Lena at September 4, 2004 12:41 PM

Oh, I would say there's info-a-plenty here; for example, "number of memorial services for returned dead that Bush has attended since the beginning of the war" -- zippo! Unfortunately, not acknowledging them doesn't make the bodies go away.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at September 4, 2004 2:15 PM

Hmmm.. maybe Crid is correct. Let's see one of the major Bush accomplishments to compare and contrast.

On the other hand, you can take any one of these as a dot of information. Each of these dots relates to another dot of information, such as the difference in the surplus vs. deficit, access to basic needs such as employment (pick either Iraq or America), number of dead vs. WMD's found, and they begin to develop a context. Sort of similar to a Seurat painting.

When I take a few steps back, I see the unmistakable picture of a failed presidency.

Somebody pass me the oreos...

Posted by: Bongmaster eric at September 4, 2004 2:17 PM

> Do I detect a trace of nostalgia?

Oh, how we yearn for the time when we thought (well, hoped) that 40 pages of Cliff Notes at dawn on test day would equal months of reflection upon thousands of leaves of challenging text.

No, Eric, that's precisely what I'm saying. These 'dots' don't illustrate any particular points. Each could be contested. And would be, if the author cared enough to flesh them out. But they're tiny and quick and sweet and snarky and they appeal to youthful, emotional, distractible minds. These nuggets are so small that no one need bother to refute them. Unless you're asking me to....

Don't tell anyone I read this, but in his review of Carter's book in the NYT last week, Jacob Weisberg(!) noted that Carter delivers "an underwritten compendium of data. Carter is constantly breaking prose stride in favor of bullet points." He blames the problem on having too many research assistants. (Eleven of them, if you must know.)

Letter to the Editors of National Lampoon, 1983:

> Dear Sirs:
> We've just compiled a list of the ten shittiest books
> of all time, and our own work came out on top.
> Signed, Irving Wallace
> and David Wallechinsky

I work on a high-end computer graphics tool at one of my gigs that has a specialized paint routine. You can treat video clips to look like sketches, or blue Picasso, or a psychotic Van Gogh at the press of a key. Or a Seurat. We don't use it much, because it's mechanical, knowutimean? It's CLICHE....

After you open those Oreos, let's listen to Side 1 of Dark Side of the Moon again. From a turntable.

Posted by: Crid at September 4, 2004 5:02 PM

Crid --

You're right about the pathetic reliance on bullet points in contemporary "essays." I use them quite a bit in grant proposals, because I do NOT want the people with the money to feel overextended in any way at all.

Can we play a little game? Let's assume that the following two data points are completely true:

* In 2002, 92% of Iraq's urban areas had access to potable water.

* In late 2003, 60% of Iraq's urban areas had access to potable water.

In this game, each of us has to answer the following two questions about the 32% decrease in potable water:

1) What caused it?

2) How does it effect the Iraqi people?

I'm all ears, baby boy!


Posted by: Lena at September 4, 2004 7:16 PM

Cit's, kitten. What are your sources? Chapter and verse. Remember: CONTEXT.

It's amazing how fond the left is of Saddam in retrospect, and how certain they are that he and his sadistic sons were caring for the Iraqi people in the best possible way. I guess your kinda proud of the USA and the boys from Langley for putting him charge.

After thirty years of enslavement, it's gonna take awhile to get things up to a Bakersfield standard of living. Freshly tortured populations don't always snap to attention when opportunity knocks. See also, South Central.

When I think of water in Iraq, I think of how our poodle Saddam drained the marshes in the south, the largest wetlands in the middle east, to punish shiites. This created 200,000 refugees. And in concert with the ignition of the oil fields at the end of the '91 war, it made Saddam my all-time champ Enemy of The Planet and Her Carbon-based Life Forms. But that's a judgment call on my part.

Posted by: Crid at September 4, 2004 10:23 PM

drop "iraq marshlands" into Google and watch what happens.

Posted by: Crid at September 4, 2004 10:25 PM

Oh, so why haven't we invaded Sudan yet?

Posted by: Amy Alkon at September 4, 2004 10:54 PM

First, don't tempt me.

Second, did we install a dictator there?

Third, are there globally important resources underfoot?

Fourth, would a takedown of their despotic government have rewarding demonstrative effects in the rest of the world? e.g., would we get a few more Qaddafis surrendering their nuke programs?

We'll never clean every shithole on the globe. And things will go terribly wrong for many years despite steps in the right direction. (Again, consider the liberation of American slaves.) But these steps are really, really important, and I wish people wouldn't pretend they're a product of endless cynicism and abject calculation.

Putting the teenaged puppy-torturer Saddam on the CIA payroll in the year of my birth, now THAT was cynical. Snatching his old-man, raggedy, bearded ass out of a hole in the ground and laughing at his bribe for freedom (after popping him in the cheek with a rifle butt), that's progress.

Specifically, it's offensive when people smirk that Bush didn't plan the invasion well enough... Even though it's obvious that he didn't! In this very blog entry, he's mocked for wanting to invade too soon, three years after Clinton signed the Iraq Liberation Act. He's condemned for being too aggressive AND too timid.

Posted by: Crid at September 5, 2004 12:21 AM


Saying that the left is fond of Saddam is (adjective deleted out of respect) horseshit. I dont know one liberal who would wish that piece of human garbage (Saddam, Uday, or Quasay) on to any society. My gripe is that we were told, by those entrusted with the secret intelligence we have no access to, that there was undeniable proof that we were in danger. Many of us didnt believe it then, and we especially dont believe it now.

Meantime, nearly 1,000 Americans are dead. Seven thousand Americans are wounded, and a purple band aid will not help them. Approximately 13,000 Iraqis are dead, and some of us Americans feel shame that through our tax dollars and lack of dissent we are in some part guilty.

My gut tells me in your heart you are a really good guy driven by justice. I think this because you often mention that we put this demon into place, and we are in the process of exorcising him out. I think though that you are deluded by a sense of patriotism that blinds you to the damage we do there every day.

Our challenge as a country is to get your intention to help these people into a working government and my intention to get us out of Iraq into a workable package.

I will say, it is difficult to feel empathy for these people. I was reading yesterday about a young woman in Iran who was hanged in the public square, by a crane, for the crime of adultery. Even though the insanity of Sharia law prescribed 100 lashes, the judge decided death because she showed disrespect for the court by removing her headdress. Insanity!

I am glad I am not over there fighting for them.

Alas, however, now we as a country are in the thick of it, with no moral compass. Our people are in another fight with your hands tied behind your back war. Any moral high ground we had is lost under this administration. Had the president a valid reason to invade Iraq, he had the opportunity of a few lifetimes to present it to the American people and the international community for judgment. By taking us to war, either on false intelligence or lies, he has damned any further steps we may take in the global war on terrorism, AND his actions have sentenced our fighting forces to a war of occupation rather than liberation. It really is that simple.

Iraqis, like any other society, or any other animal for that matter, see a foreign presence as dangerous, even tyrannical. There will be no democracy in Iraq until we leave, for we are a distraction.

Iraqi men (and yes, women) see Americans as the enemy, just as Americans would see Iraqis as the enemy if they were occupying Martin Luther King Boulevard and LAX.

Can we really think they are so stupid as to believe we have only temporary intentions there, when we are building at least 14 permanent military bases there? We are there for a long time, they know it, and most of them are not happy about it. Simple.

Lastly, you state it's offensive when people smirk that Bush didn't plan the invasion well enough... Even though it's obvious that he didn't!

Who is offended? You?

As for myself, I am offended that George Bush ignored the advice of his military chiefs of staff. I am offended that George Bush ignored the warnings of General Colin Powell, who had some experience in the first war. I am offended that we had people on the ground in Iraq, emphatically telling us there were no weapons of mass destruction to be found. But the offense I feel is only the most minute fraction of the offense felt by those families all over America and Iraq who have had a beloved son or daughter, wife or husband, mother or father killed or wounded. Even us left wingers see this as a tragedy too great to smirk at.

PS- The second side to Dark Side Of the Moon was my favorite, especially the cryptical last line "There is no dark side to the moon really- as a matter of fact it is all dark". It sounded just like my grandfather.

Posted by: eric the wandering moonbat at September 5, 2004 2:09 AM

PS- Anyone who prefers a turntable to CD is, well, geez, I don't know. Pass the pipe....

gurgle gurgle gurgle.....

Posted by: eric at September 5, 2004 2:14 AM

> I dont know one liberal who would wish that piece of
> human garbage (Saddam, Uday, or Quasay) on to any society.

They'll say not, but as events played out, liberals had no other plan for Iraq. When asked what they'd have done, or what they'd do NOW, they look at their feet and mumble something about international cooperation and the UN... As if those people were here to clean up our messes, and as if oil-for-food had never happened. It's not noble for the left to talk about sovereignty in Iraq; it's CYNICAL.

> we were told, by those entrusted with the secret
> intelligence we have no access to, that there was
> undeniable proof that we were in danger.

How much time do you want to spend on this? If WMDs don't interest you, skip the next few 'graphs.

This is from the NY Times editorial page on February 27, 2003:

- "President Bush sketched an expansive vision last night of what he
- expects to accomplish by a war in Iraq. Instead of focusing on
- eliminating weapons of mass destruction, or reducing the threat
- of terror to the United States, Mr. Bush talked about establishing
- a 'free and peaceful Iraq' that would serve as a 'dramatic and
- inspiring example' to the entire Arab and Muslim world, provide
- a stabilizing influence in the Middle East and even help end the
- Arab-Israeli conflict. The idea of turning Iraq into a model
- democracy in the Arab world is one some members of the administration
- have been discussing for a long time."

Get the picture? This war WASN'T sold on the basis of WMDs. The fact that people now think it was is the most amazing piece of popular revisionism and groupthink I've ever seen.

Here's a quote from Kennedy of Massachusetts speaking on September 27, 2002:

- "We have known for many years that Saddam Hussein is seeking and
- developing weapons of mass destruction."

And yet on January 23 2003, Ted Kennedy introduced Senate Resolution 32 into the 108th Congress, noting that Bush had specifically NOT demonstrated a threat from WMDs in Iraq. It was a short-lived bill that would have required Bush to prove Iraq was an imminent threat before invading. (We notice that Uncle Ted has been notably quiet in the WMD brouhaha.) Are tracking this?

And for the record, a number of Iraqi WMD scraps have turned up, in Syria as well as Iraq. And it's certain that Saddam was trying to buy a nuke from North Korea.

EVERYONE, from Waxman to Albright to Chirac to Bush, EVERYONE thought he had WMDs lined up in warehouses... Probably because someone in the west was holding receipts from the sale. WMDs were a reason NOT to attack Iraq, because we didn't want our soldiers to deal with it.

We can talk specifics about WMDs all day, I gotta computer full of 'em. (Specifics,that is!)

> ...nearly 1,000 Americans are dead. Seven thousand
> Americans are wounded...

I deeply grieve. Especially for the wounded, because between the kevlar armor and the magic of American medicine generally, this war is producing a terrible number of people who are gravely and permanently disabled. Just twenty years ago, parents would have be presented with a corpse under a flag. Now they're given a man in a bed who'll need sixty years of intensive, expensive care.

But reflect on the magnitude of the horror in Iraq, and *OUR* authorship of it. Let's do it Graydon Carter style. Saddam gave Iraq:

- Mundane political intrigues and killing
- Torture
- Mass graves
- A million-plus-casualty war with Iran (for NUTHIN')
- A crippled economy
- The gassing of the Kurds
- Psychotic, raping, murderous sons
- Incompetent civilian engineering
- A war to annihilate Kuwait
- The burning of the oil fields
- The draining of the marshes
- The '91 massacre of 100,000 shiites by helicopter
- Religious intolerance
- Safe harbor and sponsorship of terrorists

It's painful, an aching thing to have to say... But we got off easy. Do you remember how glorious it felt to in April '03 when our troops made it to Baghdad without a massacre? Many of the dead resisters were ringers from out of the country anyway. If there were a change in power in the United States, the Bloods and the Crips would try to take power, just as Moqtada al-Sadr has. But neither does he represent the spirit of the people.

Colin Powell is a deeply flawed figure. He could have fought harder to prevent the gunship massacres in Basra, Najaf and Karbala in 1991. But I do think you're right, that he understands the importance of using overwhelming force in war. If we had gone in with more troops, torture at Abu Ghraib would probably have ended with Saddam's regime.

PS- The concluding cut on Side One is The Great Gig In The Sky, featuring an improvisation from a woman named Clare Torry. This was the vocal performance of the rock 'n' roll era. She was paid 30 pounds (which is like seven dollars of real money), and essentially never heard from again. Thirty years later I still cry when I hear it.

Posted by: crid at September 5, 2004 10:54 AM

Crid, you and I will never see eye to eye on this, and I grow weary of the same old talking points. I think you are nuts to think that a western style democracy will flourish in Iraq, and the peoples of Iran, Syria, Saudi Arabia, etc will look over their fence and think "wow, we need some of that democracy too. Let's have some Jews over for dinner."

The democrats disgust me over their lack of reasonable debate regarding Iraq. They are the lesser of two evils, though.

I don't believe you can bomb your way into a society's heart. An eye for an eye is their way of life, and vendettas can carry on for generations.

Abu Ghraibs will happen in every war, because war is dehumanizing. Human nature will continue to revert to its most base behavior in such times. Even Americans.

Good point about the wounded, though it is incredible to see the guys whose legs have been blown off walking around with those prosthetic limbs. No wheelchairs for them!

I respect your opinions, especially music. I still listen to The Final Cut often, but gave up on The Wall, as it is just too damn depressing. Echoes will always be my favorite. How can you go wrong with a singing Russian Wolfhound?

Posted by: eric at September 5, 2004 12:46 PM

> and I will never see eye to eye on this...

Submit, damn you!

> I don't believe you can bomb your way into a society's heart.

No, but you can kill the people who interfere with the expression human hearts, whether they do so for religious fanaticism or abject corruption. (As Alkon will explain, they're exactly the same thing.)

> ...nuts to think that a western style democracy will flourish ...

I can't understand this kind of thinking. The LA times had a weak editorial section today, and in it's most pointed feature, a fellow named Arkin said the same thing. It's inexplicable.

Because we've heard it before: "The little brown people don't want, deserve, or even ask for freedom."

I say fuck that. We can leave the tardo cultures to behead their "promiscuous" women before roaring crowds of loathsome men in soccer stadia, as we did in Afghanistan, but eventually it'll bite us in the ass... As we deserve, if we don't insist on at least moderate standards of conduct for those in the global political community.

Why do people want to pretend that fundamentalist Islam is an alternate path to human decency? Is it like the cold war? Do liberals have fantasies of 'switching teams' if this whole democracy thing doesn't work out for them?

No. Western, capitalist, sexually and religiously tolerant democracy is the only game in town. It is incumbent upon us to make it work for everybody.

Sorry, wine with lunch makes me preachy. Not that you could tell the difference.

'Floyd was intolerable after Wish You Were Here, and even that was pretty lame.

Posted by: crid at September 5, 2004 4:12 PM

I like Bowie's version of "See Emily Play" (on Pin-Ups)

Posted by: Lena at September 5, 2004 5:25 PM

Would everybody on earth just stop using the word snarky?

Posted by: Curtis at September 5, 2004 9:12 PM

I don't think anyone in the west pretends that fundamentalist Islam is an alternate course to human decency.

What we disagree upon, I think, is whether fundamentalist Islam can be changed by external forces with guns, or whether that change can only happen from within, and the external forces with guns actually help prevent that from happening by uniting the believers against a common foe.

Posted by: LYT at September 6, 2004 12:56 AM

Also I hate Pink Floyd. Sorry. Being a non-pot-smoker living with two will put you off that for good.

Posted by: LYT at September 6, 2004 12:57 AM

Thanks for writing LYT, this is not meant to sound snar... snotty. But external change with guns was righteously applied to Germany, Japan and our own deep south with rewarding results for everyone (thereafter). There's gotta be something else at work. Besides, no one's... well, most people aren't complaining about our attempted realignment of Afghanistan, only Iraq and the rest. With a dark view of human nature, one might suspect a composite of racism and religious intolerance. Especially when our quieter, blatently criminal manipulation of these nations is remembered so fondly.

Posted by: Crid at September 6, 2004 10:07 AM

I submit to no one, except Lena when she has that leather chaimbermaid outfit on... just no more with the feather duster.

No ones complaining about Afghanistan because the Taliban were in bed with Al Queda. Plus, they have some good real estate we'll need for that Caspian Sea pipeline. Next stop Iran!

I think the Deep South was more turned around by liberal voices like Martin Luther King, the Kennedy's, the NAACP, and the Supreme Court. Also, many of America's greatest generation had fought with their African American brothers in WW2, after Truman (damn liberal) desegregated the military. Then the workplaces of American were slowly being desegregated. Eventually the reality of justice had begun to set in.

The guns that were used during the Civil Rights clashes were mostly used by the side least wanting those democratic ideals.

Germany and Japan were defeated in every sense of the word. Two entire generations of their males were no longer around to fight. Germany and Japan had both declared war on America, and had attacked American forces It was war, they started it, they lost, end of story.

There was a definite end to the war back then.

And when America rolled in, we rolled in with a true coalition of the worlds countries, with leaders who had earned their reputations through miltary service and liberating occupied lands. Respected leaders like Roosevelt, Churchill, Eisenhower, Truman, (all damned liberals!) who were sensitive enough to not impose their will on a liberated people. Wasn't in Charles DeGaul who first drove through the newly liberated Paris, while German snipers were still in place trying to assassinate him? (I would love to see our Frat boy in charge try that today in Falujah!) The Allied commanders knew the psychological impact of having a freedom fighting Frenchman liberate France.

Finally, Germany saw the British and Americans as being protectors from the Soviets, who were not particularly forgiving.

In Iraq, we accused their country of having something, they showed us they didn't have them, bombed the hell out of their cities anyway, killed or maimed tens of thousands, left most of the survivors wandering around well armed, didn't find any evidence of what we knew they had, and now want to tell them how they should have a goverment just like ours.

At what juncture of the understanding of human nature do you and I depart on this Crid?

PS- Why doesn't Bowie write great ones like Cygnet Committee any more? Where have all the songwriters gone???

Posted by: eric who should be enjoying the outdoors right now at September 6, 2004 2:22 PM


After reading this, I make it sound like black and white Americans fought together, which was not the case, for the most part. The desegregation came after the fighting ended. Truman did this with an executive order in Jan 1948.

Posted by: eric at September 6, 2004 2:31 PM

I meant the civil war.

Posted by: Crid at September 6, 2004 2:37 PM

Oh. Never mind.

Posted by: eric Latella at September 6, 2004 6:17 PM

> At what juncture of the understanding of human
> nature do you and I depart on this Crid?

The part where anti-war types pretend we WEREN'T balls-deep with murderous mischief in Iraq decades before GWB took office... To me, this presumption of white-suited cleanliness isn't just willfully naive. Such folks are morally unserious.

Posted by: Crid at September 6, 2004 8:17 PM

I think I figured this out..

We agree! Knee deep in installing murderous dictators, and all that jazz.

We were noble in Chile, Nicaragua, Vietnam, Cambodia, Panama, El Salvador, Honduras, Laos, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Columbia, Cuba, etc etc etc.

I'm just cynical about this whole "enabling the brown person" schtick, and you are an optimist. I just see Lockheed, Raytheon, Boeing, Gruman, General Dynamics,

Posted by: eric at September 6, 2004 8:31 PM

How funny- as soon as I hit "post" we had a power flicker. Now I'm not saying....

to continue:

United Tech, Science Applications, TRW and Healthnet as being our new Coca-Colas and McDonalds. They are export driven companies that control our countries decision making processes.

There is no money in peace.

The same profit/fear/power motives that drove us to put Saddam into power then are even more powerful today. Or at least AS powerful.

Why would a president who has shown no empathy for his own people, won't even hold a political rally without making the attendees sign a contract of allegiance, be interested in bringing democracy to a people whom he has never even visited? Do you really, really think he is more interested in the welfare of these foreigners than of his politcal base? God bless your optimism if you do.

Posted by: eric at September 6, 2004 8:46 PM

> The same profit/fear/power motives that drove us to put
> Saddam into power then are even more powerful today.
> Or at least AS powerful.

Agreed: There's been no transition in human nature, but so what? Corporate misconduct is a problem, but it's not the perfect boogieman. In the developed world, lawful markets eventually correct for malfeasance. It's a shame they don't do so instantly and retroactively, but corrections do occur: Enron doesn't make much trouble anymore. Cults of personality can persist indefinitely. When I was a kid, the too-powerful boogiemen were AT&T, IBM, Xerox, and Castro. Only one remains as a top player. (Remember: Fidel, like Saddam, managed to 'earn' billions along the way, and stuff them into secure western banks.)

> ...companies that control our countries decision
> making processes.
> There is no money in peace.

Turtleneck nihilism.

You don't like insider trading? Then what did you admire, and hope to sustain, of the Hussein family business?

A couple headlines:

> Jan. 29, 2004, 10:01PM
> Revenues from Iraq augment quarter
> Halliburton reports $820 million '03 loss
> Copyright 2004 Houston Chronicle


> Halliburton warns of additional losses
> By Sheila McNulty in Houston
> June 29 2004 14:57
> Halliburton, the world's second-biggest energy services
> company, warned investors on Tuesday of two unexpected
> charges, totaling $815m, to come in the second quarter
> of 2004.

Corporate power is by definition CHECKED. Autocracy is by definition not.

My appraisal of Bush's empathy is not the most important judgment to be made of him, no matter how gratifying it is for me to make it. My optimism has other sources.

Listen, the whole point of the invasion was to establish democratic markets in the middle east. Isn't that what you WANT? Isn't that better than doing business with crime families?

Posted by: Crid at September 7, 2004 12:50 AM