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March 23, 2008


Just think how long it would have been if I'd included the Iraqis. Which I might have, if only anyone had any idea how many of them have died.

Is a post for the dead Iraqis feasible? It would have to be an estimate, of course, since we've assiduously not counted Iraqi deaths since we started this war.

But a neutral observer could persuasively argue that the moral wrong inherent in Iraqi civilian deaths is much greater than the deaths of soldiers of the invading country ...

I guess I should comment faster ... wrote it before I saw your first comment.

yave: yes, although I'm not always into comparative horribleness of deaths.

I don't have a good sense of the numbers at all, not even within the nearest hundred thousand or so. So a post like this one would be hard -- part of the point being that each word stands for a single individual.

I wish I knew how to do it. It should be done.


Some of our best.

Sorry, I was looking up a Chrysler Aspen....

G'Kar would appreciate the homage, I hope.

Myself, I just can't get past the horror and the anger. I guess that's the point.

From the WaPo link, also:

[...] The British military has reported 175 deaths; Italy, 33; Ukraine, 18; Poland, 21; Bulgaria, 13; Spain, 11; Denmark, seven; El Salvador, five; Slovakia, four; Latvia, three; Estonia, Netherlands, Thailand, Romania, two each; and Australia, Hungary, Kazakhstan, South Korea, one death each.

This is horrible, as much for the 1st life lost as it is for the 4000th, as much for the ones we never knew as for the ones who were known to us.

Also, let us keep in mind the wounded as well.

I would be in favor of a law requiring that once a declaration of war has been passed, then in a rotating fashion at least one of: the President, the VP, a member of cabinet, or a member of Congress be required to attend every military funeral without exception, and that they not be permitted to speak for the duration of said event, merely be compelled to be present as silent witnesses. The penalty for failure to attend at their assigned time would be impeachment and removal from office.

I know it would never work, either constitutionally or politically, but that is the kind of leadership the men and women who have sacrificed for our nation deserve.

Some of our best.

And some of our worst, the law of averages being what it is.

None of them should have died in this war of choice.

And this is why, fellow bolgoshperians, voting matters. Anyone out there who is thinking about voting for McCain if their Dem sweetie doesn't win the primary, just remember: for a whole lot of good people, this is literally a matter of life and death.

Not some abstract neocon 'Booga Booga, the terrerists are comin', so give us your rights.' Real people, getting wounded or dying every day.
4000 dead. 30,000 wounded. 144 suicides.

Also at least 1,123 contractors. The largest group of those are Iraqi civilian translators employed by U.S. companies, I think.

'It is not the critic who counts, not the one who points out how the strong man stumbled or how the doer of deeds might have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred with sweat and dust and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, and spends himself in a worthy cause; who, if he wins, knows the triumph of high achievement; and who, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.'

Something tells me the Josefina has neither stumbled, nor sweat, nor bled, nor erred in a public fashion. She has neither achieved, nor dared. Josefina is cold and timid, probably enjoying a pizza on Sunday night.

We have lost some of the best among us.

If a GI got horribly injured in Iraq, but they got him Medevac'ed to Germany before he died, he has not been counted in the 4000.

IIRC, the number of maimed casualties is running about ten times the number of deaths, so there must be about 40,000 GIs missing arms or legs or eyes or parts of their brain thanks to Emperor George II's excellent adventure in Iraq.

Something tells me the Josefina has neither stumbled, nor sweat, nor bled, nor erred in a public fashion. She has neither achieved, nor dared.

This is a poor tribute to the 4000. They died so that she could speak her mind. She is OBLIGATED to speak her mind, to contribute to the discussion of policy.

To denigrate her contribution, her obligation to comment is a slap in the face of the 4000 who died.

You should be ashamed of yourself, Bill, to denigrate someone who IS concerned about the 4000, and who expresses her rights that they died for.

...if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.

That's so true. I mean, obviously the only lives that are worth living are those that involve fighting in the military. If you're not in combat, then you must have a cold and timid soul. Apparently, people who fight in wars, no matter what they do, are automatically morally superior to every single person who has not fought in a war. Maybe one day I can hope to equal the moral excellence of those brave souls who dared so much at Bagram or Abu Gharib, despite having such a cold and timid soul.

What a load of crap.

i'd rather be a cold and timid worthless soul who's alive, frankly. see also falstaff.

I defer to the men who died for Bush's stated ideals.

And here we are. Makes me sick.

Something tells me the Josefina has neither stumbled, nor sweat, nor bled, nor erred in a public fashion.

Something tells me that Bill lacks reading comprehension.

In Memory of G'Kar, who died in Iraq, a quote from Babylon 5's "Come the Inquisitor:

"G'Kar turns to Vir. He slices his hand, letting the blood drip on the floor. "Dead... dead, dead, dead, dead, dead, dead, dead, dead, dead... How do you apologize to them?"

"I can't," Vir admits.

"Then I cannot forgive," G'Kar tells him, and walks away."


Not to disagree with you, but I've never really understood the whole "people in the military died to protect your freedoms" argument. Could you (or anyone else) explain?

I reason as follows. Soldiers who died in Vietnam died for politicians' stupidity and ego. Soldiers who died in Iraq died for pretty much the same reason. They died for their country, but there is no clear consequent effect benefiting the security of constitutional rights in that country. Neither war did much to protect my constitutional rights as far as I can see. And I'm having trouble concocting a plausible scenario where the military does so. I mean, if a bunch of soldiers died after being attacked by the KKK while ensuring minorities could vote, I could totally understand. But that's not Iraq. And that wasn't Vietnam.

To put it another way: Charlie Carp or Katherine or that whistleblower who wrote about the NSA surveillance program have all done impressive stuff to protect my constitutional rights. How many soldiers patrolling neighborhoods in Baghdad are needed to generate an equivalent rights protection effect?

I defer to the men who died for Bush's stated ideals.

Which is even more insulting in a way. Many, many people do not consider them equivalent to American ideals. And that is what American soldiers should die for.

You do no one honor by attacking the living to supposedly defend the dead.

Not to disagree with you, but I've never really understood the whole "people in the military died to protect your freedoms" argument. Could you (or anyone else) explain?

The highest, the best use (and some say the only use) of a solider's blood is to defend this country and its principles. A honorable solider who decides to join the military to defend this country does so in order to defend the nation and its ideals.

It's a separate argument whether there are other ways to defend those principles, or whether someone else used those soldiers' lives in the best and highest way--it's not good to conflate the two arguments. It's even worse, though, almost repugnant, to use that sacrifice to beat down someone else's use of those principles and rights.

4000 dots

Last Updated: Sunday, 23 March 2008, 20:19 GMT

Dozens die in attacks across Iraq
US and Iraqi soldiers at site of a car bomb in Baghdad 23.03.08
A suicide bomber in Baghdad left five dead as they queued for fuel
A string of suicide attacks, shootings and rocket strikes have claimed dozens of lives on a day of violence in Iraq.

guaung with I hope gentle respect, you’re contradicting yourself. You should apply the principle equally.
As russell will say,

g.(that referred to your disagreements above)

The horrible thing is that some of those 4000 died thinking they were serving people like me -- dirty fucking hippies who so hate America that our idea of "supporting the troops" is to NOT send them off to get shot at.

Some of those 4000 really thought they were fighting to protect America from terrorists -- when at the very, very outside they were protecting, maybe, New York City and a couple of other East Coast cities full of effete liberal snobs like me.

Some of those 4000 left behind grieving parents who to this day believe that their sons will have died in vain unless even more people's sons die too -- a sentiment that might have made sense to the Aztec priesthood or the worshippers of Moloch, but which makes no sense to a godless secular humanist like me.

The truly horrible thing is that I am not ready to put MY life on the line to fight the bigger enemy -- the religious nutjob president who caused 4000 deaths in order, he claims, to prevent a religious nutjob terrorist from causing another 3000 deaths.

So I feel constrained to honor the sacrifice of 4000 people who DID put their lives on the line -- even though they did not in any sense do so on MY account. It's a doubly rotten feeling.

-- TP

The highest, the best use (and some say the only use) of a solider's blood is to defend this country and its principles.

But that's not what we're using soldiers' blood for, now is it? In fact, its not what we've used soldiers' blood for over the last half century. Do you think the deaths of soldiers in Vietnam or Iraq have increased American security overall? What are these mysterious principles that have been served by those deaths?

Perhaps I'm not thinking abstractly enough.

A honorable solider who decides to join the military to defend this country does so in order to defend the nation and its ideals.

It would seem that soldiers join the military for many different reasons. Nevertheless, I don't understand how one could join the military today expecting to defend the nation or its principles over the next few years. I mean, joining the military is very likely to lead to service in Iraq. This service does nothing to defend the country and may actually put the country at risk; and while the occupation of Iraq clearly involves the defense of some American principles, I'm not sure they're the ones we should be proud of (i.e., might makes right, lawless invasions are awesome, we're America and we're exceptional and that means we can do whatever we want).

And I still don't see the connection to constitutional rights. Obviously, being dead is a significant impediment to exercising those rights, but last I checked, foreign military forces are not very likely to kill me. I'll note that our many trillion dollar investment in the Air Force didn't do a very good job defending us on 9/11. Which is OK of course since we don't expect the military to defend US territory per se, but if we don't, then how can they be protecting my freedoms?

“don't cite my name as an example of someone's life who was wasted by our mission in Iraq.”

And this is why, fellow bolgospherians, voting matters.

Would that it were so easy.

A Democratic-controlled Senate (including a majority of Senate Democrats) voted for this war.

And of course one of those votes was from one of the two leading Democratic presidential candidates, who also voted more recently to rattle our sabers in the direction of Iran.

None of which is to in any way suggest that things wouldn't be worse under a McCain presidency than under a Clinton or Obama presidency. They would. But I am very skeptical of the idea that a Clinton (or Obama) presidency is any kind of insurance against future unnecessary wars of choice.

Andrew: 4000 dead. 30,000 wounded. 144 suicides.

That's actually about 70,000 wounded.

The Pentagon doesn't publish figures for wounded from 'non-hostile causes', but the Veterans Administration tracks them.

The VA used to publish them on its website, but then Linda Bilmes (co-author with Joseph Stigltz of The Trillion-Dollar War) did a study two years ago estimating the cost of caring for the wounded from the Iraq war/occupation. The Pentagon challenged her numbers; she pointed out where she got them, and the VA promptly stopped posting them. They're still being tracked, but the numbers are scattered around in deep internal sites where only determined researchers who already know where to look can find them.

The Pentagon tried to pull the same shameful trick with troops killed early in the occupation, citing only deaths due to hostile action in their press releases, but the media stopped going along as the deaths mounted. They've managed to get away with it for wounded, though; I only know this because I saw a C-SPAN appearance by Stiglitz and Bilmes this week.

I've thought recently about encouraging the excellent icasualties site, which has been a heroic project that's earned its status as a reference, to record both sets of numbers for wounded from here on out. I imagine Bilmes would be happy to pass the numbers along as she compiles them.

As to Iraqi deaths: There is no reason for anyone who wants to face the reality of what we've wrought to throw up his or her hands.

References to "tens of thousands", which I saw in several newspaper editorials this week, are simply unacceptable. Even the Iraq Body Count, which by its very stringent nature is a severe undercount (and gets to be more and more so as press coverage diminishes), is nearing a hundred thousand.

A quarter of a million is the most conservative figure one could reasonably defend, given the several comprehensive UN and Lancet studies. The degree to which the "news" media and public intellectuals have shied away from defending these surveys and taking seriously their implications is one of the sorrier symptoms of the domestic rot that enables the violence to go on and on in our name.

@Ben Alpers: It's probable that a Democratic administration is not a sufficient condition; but it's definitely a necessary condition.

Vote McCain for more of the same.

@Bill: The 4000 are not all men.

Another tragic milestone. But I think most people in our American society have little connection with the military and only see this as a talking point to support a political agenda at best, and at worst they are completely ignorant of it.


McCain would most certainly be more of the same.

How much more of the same Obama or Clinton would be is yet to be determined.

If Obama (who will be the Democratic nominee) is elected, we will find out retroactively how much one's vote for president mattered in the area of war and peace.

Just Foreign Policy's Iraqi Death Estimator link">http://snipurl.com/22glj">link

So Bush's choice to go to war with Iraq has now killed far more Americans than the Sep 11 attacks did (around 2,800), just as Blair's decision to go to war there has killed more people than were killed in the London tube bombings. Isn't principled moral leadership great?

You're preaching to the choir, Ben. As I've said here in the recent past, my expectations are very low. It's going to take massive grassroots pressure to get them (the admin, Congress, the military-contractor complex) to leave Iraq for real.

A development that makes me a bit more optimistic is the out-of-Iraq plan put togather by a big group of Democratic congressional candidates. It gives activists something concrete and meaningful to push for, and allows the pushing to begin during the election -- and continue without a break afterwards.

Responsible Plan to End the War in Iraq

And that is what American soldiers should die for.

I think almost everyone would be happier for them to stay alive for it

To quote Kipling :
M'Turk: ‘Don’t you want to die for your giddy country?’
Stalky:‘Not if I can jolly well avoid it. So you mustn’t rot the corps.’

Then there would be that famous Patton quote but I don't like that as much because it implies to a degree that killing the other is the preferred way to stay alive.

Well, we know the number of Iraqi dead is over a million - two independent studies showed that. But one thousand comments of one thousand words each would overload any blog. Even one thousand comments of one thousand dots each would do that.

Also, 175 UK soldiers have died.

Also, 133 deaths the Iraq Coalition Casualties website lists as "other".

And 148 journalists have been killed so far, from Frederic Nerac, killed 20th March 2003, to Qassim Abdul-Hussein, killed 13th March 2008.

According to the Reporters sans frontiers website, each year of the war so far has been worse for journalists.

Multiply this up by a thousand: a million wordless dots.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Early in 1969, on my way out of the subway in NYC, I saw spray painted on the wall of Banker's Trust, the words: "50,000 US soldiers have died in Vietnam."

I had become so inured to the bad news that I had actually lost track of the pace of the killing. So had others. The 50,000 figure seemed to reawaken everyone. It was still another six years though, before the last US troops left.

Let's hope that Obama will figure a way out of this in less than six years.

Bill: "Something tells me the Josefina has neither stumbled, nor sweat, nor bled, nor erred in a public fashion. She has neither achieved, nor dared. Josefina is cold and timid, probably enjoying a pizza on Sunday night."

Whatever that something is, unless you actually know Josefina, it is completely unfounded. Neither you nor I know anything about Josefina at all. We do not know, for starters, whether she is in the military. More to the point, your quote is obviously not about the military.

Fighting in an army is not the only way to strive valiantly, spend oneself in a worthy cause, etc. A teacher who works hard to make sure that the children in her classroom learn as much as they can, and know that they can achieve anything, strives valiantly. A doctor who spends her life fighting against premature death or disability strives valiantly. God knows that some of the people who hang out here strive valiantly, though they do not serve in uniform.

Insulting people when you know them is morally risky. You always need to ask yourself whether you are acting with charity, or letting anger or a lack of generosity blind you to actual virtue. But insulting people whose actual life is wholly unknown to you, by saying that they have never striven valiantly, or fought for great things, is not risky: it's certain to reflect only your own shortcomings.

Do not do it again.

Plus, pizza on a Sunday night is delicious.

But that's not what we're using soldiers' blood for, now is it?

As I said, different argument.


"And this is why, fellow bolgoshperians, voting matters. Anyone out there who is thinking about voting for McCain if their Dem sweetie doesn't win the primary, just remember: for a whole lot of good people, this is literally a matter of life and death."

I read. I reflected. I was one of those folks making that threat. I've changed my tune - you're absolutely right.

I'd say that there is a strong, and growing, possibility that McCain will lead this country into a three front war by adding Iran to the milieu.

I would up Andrew's ante: If you are a democrat that stays home, votes McCain, or votes Nader to protest, and if McCain enlarges the scope of the war to include Iran (or other neighboring countries), then it is your duty to enlist in an armed service.

As I said, different argument.

I don't understand what point you're trying to make here. The Iraq War isn't some sort of horrible aberration; its just a fact that almost all military interventions the US has performed in the last half century have nothing to do with defending the nation. Not even close as far as I can see. Given that, I'm not seeing any factual basis for the very strong claims that people in the military are dying to protect our constitutional freedoms.

It's a number.

Mike -- if a Democrat gets elected and enlarges the scope of the war to Iran, are you going to enlist?

You can say anything you like about what my duty is. That doesn't make it my duty.

Janie -

It's a fair question. I think that the probability of a three-front war under McCain is very high, and that if you act in a way that aids and abets his white house aspirations, you are culpable. If either democratic candidate had made the same statements as McCain has, and was elected, and I voted for them, I would absolutely enlist.

My point is that people who sit on their hands, or worse undermine a less bellicose politician, are culpable for the outcomes their decisions. "It's not my war" is total crap if you don't participate in elections.

You're right - I can't make any proclamations about your duty, Janie. But if you assist in putting a pro-war candidate in office, at least recognize that those who are serving do so on your behalf - you made the choice for them.

Early in 1969, on my way out of the subway in NYC, I saw spray painted on the wall of Banker's Trust, the words: "50,000 US soldiers have died in Vietnam."

It does not detract from the larger truths of this story to point out that total US deaths at the end of 1968 were 36,152, and that the 50,000th death did not occur until sometime in 1970. Total deaths overall--58,193.


Mike -- Argumentativeness to make a point aside, your reply to my reply leads me to make what for me is the bigger point: I strongly believe that in a democracy (such as this one is), we are all responsible for all the actions of our government, not just some of them, no matter who we voted for. Or even if we didn't vote.

I can jokingly say "Don't blame me, I didn't vote for him" (as I did while traveling in Ireland many years ago; I won't say which president I was being called on the carpet for as the lightning rod American at that time).

But I don't really believe that. So I do believe myself in some sense responsible for the current wars, even though I never voted for Bush....etc.

Part of why I objected to your original post about "duty" is that I think responsibility, duty, voting, accountability, let's say for concreteness tax payments -- are not single-factor things. I am gay. If I were a single-factor voter around gay marriage (let's just say), I could almost never vote at all. Even for something as major as this war, I don't think that's the right way, or at least it's not the right way for me, to conceptualize what our individual and collective responsibility looks like.

If you're going to do single-factor analysis of duties, why not base it on climate change? That's certainly, in my mind, at least as major as the war. And not unconnected with it, either.

Maybe I'm not explaining it very well...but I'm supposed to be working.

Thanks for the serious answer, anyhow.


re VA reporting and earlier attempts by the Pentagon to minimize the body count:

I guess the 4000 did not die to preserve "freedom of information". In fact, if a graph could be drawn of the increasing number of dead in this war compared to the declining number of freedoms we started with in 2000, the lines intersected some time ago and diverged to our national detriment.

Seems, well, inefficient, efficiency being the highest good among the craven.

Anticipating quibbles, quibbling being the preserve of the living, yes, I know "freedom of information" is not in the Constitution.
Too late now.

Bill is the wrong individual to argue with, although he has the courage to offer himself up here for sacrifice. I'm not being snarky.

For a list of folks you might want to argue with, pop over to http://www.awolbush.com/whoserved.html, and argue away, if you can find them.

Generally, what you find is that our elected representatives divide into two groupings, with a third, smaller group bringing up the rear who:

A. The majority --- those who have not served, and in fact took measures to avoid service, but who love war, not to put too fine a point on it.

B. Those who have served, many of whom have survived combat, and let us say, have a more nuanced view of war and its costs in blood and treasure. Both Republicans and Democrats, all of whom are maligned at one time or another by Group A.

C. The outliers, those who share the experiences of groups A and B but place an imaginative spin on things -- Randall Cunningham being the most notable, having served with honor, and yet still loving war, not to mention prison sex, the hopeless romantic.

Special mention of a few:

Arnold Schwartzenegger, who managed to go AWOL from the Austrian Armed Forces so that he could body-build, emigrate, and become the ultimate girly-boy, by which I mean someone whose ass Jessica Lynch could kick, or alternatively, Lynddie England could make confess to talking funny.

Wayne LaPierre, draft #97, who had a nervous disorder back in the day. He got over it, despite having a small dick, and became an American bully, which is what happens when we send our "best" to be slaughtered and let the worst stay behind with nothing to do but shop.

Rush Limbaugh, who avoided having his ass shot off by contriving a painful cyst on it, and later teaching his ass to talk, drawing eyebrows and a nose on it, and displaying it to all far and wide. Which is where the phrase "he's got a face for radio" originated.

George W., the Rudy Valentino of incurable romantics. War removes its panties and throws them at his feet. Nuff said. (Scroll down the page cited above and view the man putting the moves on one of his conquests).

Ted Nugent: The closest I've seen him get to war was holding up a brace of squirrels on the hunting channel. Without an amplifier and distortion pedal, far fewer women in this great country of ours would be walking around with herpes. I invite him to step on my lawn in the middle of the night, so we can play capture the shithead.

Sean Hannity, all of that combat and gore splattering all over the place and not a hair out of place. Invite me on your show and we'll reenact "Apocalypse Now", with you as Colonel Kurtz.

Pat Robertson, who served, as liquor officer, which even Joseph Heller couldn't make up.

Saxby Chambliss, who served his cause (not paying for the war with his taxes) on his bad knee by ridiculing a quadraplegic veteran in a wheelchair. Would that Cleland have invited Chambliss to sit on his lap and take a little ride and would that Chambliss have asked "What's that ticking noise?" Would that Cleland have answered "Why Saxby, old cracker chap, that's the sound of justice."

Tom Delay, who summed up Bill's allusions to the best among us, not that Delay was on Bill's mind. Delay: "so many minority youths had volunteered, that there was literally no room for patriotic folks like himself".

See, Delay nails it here. The worst among us, like Delay, choose, not the best (with notable exceptions), but the young and the naive, for sacrifice, asking them first if they've read, for example, Robert Graves' "Goodbye To All That" or any number of war memoirs.

Two types of people have read Graves' work:
those who go to war anyway, having a pretty good idea what's in store, and those who read his work and don't go, having a pretty good idea what's in store.

Then we have Tom Delay and a cast of millions, who are not any kind of person.

They don't need to give their lives in war, because they were dead to begin with.

When i spoke up at my party caucus i said that I supported Obama primarily because given a choice between a Deom who voted for the war and onw who vocally opposed it, I preferred the one who opposed.

I said a few more things mostly about electabiliyt and sat down. I was nice, musch nicer than I am when I write on blogs where I know I can be snappish.

then to my amazement a series of women for HRC stood up and, some of them quite literally nearly crying, made the case that the war was old news, that it didn't matter that we shouldn't be so arrogant and mean and hold grudges--I'm not making this up. i was arrogant and mean and holding a grudge because, given a choice, I wanted the anti-war Demo not the one who voted yes.

One of my neighbors is pro-Hillary. He's a very sweet man ans he always says something positive about Obama when we meet. So I always say something concillatory. A few days ago my conscillatory respeonse was that most of my opposition came from that vote, not any feeling that she was bad ( I was lying out of courtesy because i do think she is a bad person)

And my neighbor said, "That was a long time ago."

This really really amazes me.

Why does a lapse of judgement on such a critical issue--a war that is going on now!not a long time ago!--so easliy dismissed?

I think that there is a subgroup of HRC supporters who wil forgive her any thing just becuae she is female.

Mike: If either democratic candidate had made the same statements as McCain has, and was elected, and I voted for them, I would absolutely enlist.

Statements that can be taken the same way anyway:

Calling Iran a danger to the U.S. and one of Israel's greatest threats, U.S. senator and presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton said "no option can be taken off the table" when dealing with that nation.

"U.S. policy must be clear and unequivocal: We cannot, we should not, we must not permit Iran to build or acquire nuclear weapons," the Democrat told a crowd of Israel supporters. "In dealing with this threat ... no option can be taken off the table."

"I understand that President Musharraf has his own challenges," Obama said, "but let me make this clear. There are terrorists holed up in those mountains who murdered 3,000 Americans. They are plotting to strike again. It was a terrible mistake to fail to act when we had a chance to take out an al Qaeda leadership meeting in 2005. If we have actionable intelligence about high-value terrorist targets and President Musharraf won't act, we will."

I recommend the AF. Better chow and accommodations I hear…

"You were just babies then! she said.
"What?" I said.
"You were just babies in the war - like the ones upstairs!"
I nodded that this was true. We had been foolish virgins in the war, right at the end of childhood.
"But you're not going to write it that way, are you." This wasn't a question. It was an accusation.
"I - I don't know," I said.
"Well I know," she said. "You'll pretend you were men instead of babies, and you'll be portrayed in the movies by Frank Sinatra and John Wayne or some of those other glamorous, war-loving, dirty old men. And war will look just wonderful, so we'll have a lot more of them. And they'll be fought by babies like the babies upstairs."
So then I understood. It was war that made her so angry. She didn't want her babies killed in wars. And she thought wars were partly encouraged by books and movies. ...
So I held up my right hand and I made her a promise.
"Mary," I said, "I don't think this book is ever going to be finished. I must have written five thousand pages by now, and thrown them all away. If I ever do finish it, though, I give you my word of honor: there won't be a part for Frank Sinatra or John Wayne.
"I tell you what," I said, "I'll call it The Children's Crusade."
She was my friend after that. (Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse-Five)

I know that some portion of the 4,000 [Andrew, for example] were undoubtedly not children. But every quarter when I look out at the twenty-some faces in my classroom I'm reminded that they are the same age as a lot of the "men" Bill is romanticizing. Many of my students have friends and siblings downrange and a small number of them are biding their time in the ROTC and wondering if Iraq will still be in their future once they graduate. And every time I think about it - every time I talk to one of them in office hours and hear the reasoning that goes into the decisions they make - I think how relevant Vonnegut still is.

There's my bit of romanticism.

A couple folks here appear to think I was implying that a Democratic candidate means further 'foreign entanglements' aren't going to happen. Not at all.

I'm talking about the dirty game of lesser evilism. It leaves you feeling like you've been run over by a snail. But that sliver of difference can mean the world for some people.

I am not particularly fond of either Dem nominee. I'm far enough to the left to need a Chomsky/Nader ticket to be happy with anyone. But I'm going to suck it up and vote for a Dem this November, because on economic issues, social justice, and especially war, the Dems are going to help more people. Save more lives. Maybe not a lot, but they'll be a sight better than McCain.

"I mean, joining the military is very likely to lead to service in Iraq. "

That's just simply not true. Many in the service have never served in Iraq, nor do they expect to.

As my husband used to say, when people asked if he would have to go during the first Gulf War, "Yeah, we're going to go over and teach Saddam Hussein a lesson."

He was, of course, an active duty instructor.

"There's my bit of romanticism."

I don't believe in the least in romanticizing war, but while I've never served in more than the Boy Scouts, and while I, like someone else, oppose dumb wars, and war as other than the absolute last resort, I'm not a pacifist, and I don't believe we yet have the luxury of not maintaining a military in which people young and old are willing to serve and give their lives, in hopes that those who lead them will make wise and prudent decisions, and not waste those lives, and make a mockery of their sacrifice.

When those leaders fail us, or when, in fact, we the people fail ourselves, the fault and responsibility lies with those responsible for those decisions, not with those who made the leap of faith, in joining the military, that their country would not betray their faith.

It's also worth saying that---

No matter how foully and willfully ignorant the motives of their Commander-in-Chief---

a lot of soldiers went there to help the people of Iraq, and in good faith.

It's . . . I mean, standing here now, and even at the time it started, listening with my stomach twisting to the soulless flat words of that man in the White House, it's hard to compass that. It's hard to *say* that, to think that people were going there to help. But the fact that it's hard to think doesn't make it false, and it doesn't make it anything less than noble to sign up for that cause. It wasn't just people who wanted to protect America, or fight terror, or whatever. A lot of people went there to help.

That's why it's the crime of the politicians and the pundits, and, well, us, the citizenry. It's not the soldiers' crime, not as a whole.

Just think how long it would have been if I'd included the Iraqis. Which I might have, if only anyone had any idea how many of them have died.

See: http://iraqbodycountexhibit.org

Thanks for that, emile.

Imagine the pique chez Iraq Body Count that the Portland State students have chosen their name for the exhibit, but have gone with the middle of the Lancet confidence interval for their number.


Just think if someone did a post like this on the number of abortions perfored in one year here in the United States.

Where is your concern for those deaths?

Just think if everyone who ever professed to be a pro-lifer had been as adamantly and actively opposed to US soldiers killing Iraqis as they are to women terminating unwanted pregnancies.

Just think if George W. Bush were as concerned to prevent prisoners being executed as he is to prevent women accessing family planning.

Just think if Congress were as concerned to prevent 18 000 people in the US dying each year because they don't have health insurance, as they are to...

...I think I just ran out of comparators.

Alternatively, Feddie: just think.

"The statistics on African American abortions are shocking. Even though African Americans are only about 13 percent of the U.S. population, one of every three abortions in the United States is performed on a black woman. Three of every five African American women will abort a child. Some 1,452 African American babies are killed each day in abortions. Let’s compare these statistics to the number of African Americans who have been killed by crimes of racial violence. Statistics show that between 1882 and 1968, 3,446 blacks were lynched in the United States. That number is bypassed by the number of African American abortions every three days. Let’s project the favorable consequences had the aborted babies been allowed to live. Had the 13 million babies aborted since Roe v. Wade in 1973 been allowed to live, today’s African American population of 37 million could reasonably be projected to exceed 50 million today. In other words, today’s potential African American population has been reduced 25 percent by abortions. And the 13 million African American abortions are estimated to have enriched the U.S. abortion industry by some $4 billion since Roe v. Wade."

So I'm trying to understand what, exactly, makes anyone think that I should have taken this occasion to talk about aborted fetuses.

You'd have to start by supposing that it's wrong, or hypocritical, or something, of me to mourn anyone without mourning everyone. Can't leave anyone out: not the people killed in Darfur, the kids who still step on landmines in Mozambique, the victims of HIV/AIDS worldwide, the people who died in the tsumani and the Pakistani earthquake, not to mention the Great London Fire and the Black Death, the gazillions slaughtered by Genghis Khan and his Golden Horde, everyone who died in the Hundred Years' War, the conquest of Cathay, and the mysterious vanishing of the Anasazi, early humans killed by marauding mastodons, and on and on and on.

But I think I have to go further. First-trimester fetuses, after all, are neither conscious nor sentient. They do not have, and have never had, feelings, or friendships, or plans for their lives, or emotional attachments. So before I get to them, I think I would have to list all the sentient beings who had ever perished: those numberless dogs and gorillas and chipmunks and elephants and octopi who have met an untimely death.

Somehow, unless I include them all, and the fetuses, I am being hypocritical.

I think I'll stick to my old rules, according to which I can mourn the dead in Iraq without my silence on any other dead being interpreted one way or the other.

Hilzoy: maybe somebody already suggested this, but it would have had a little more punch, if it had included their names.

Like, Jimmy Summers, Memorial Day, 2007...

(a friend of my sons, who should have lived long after I died)

any body else have a name to add to the list?


I too mourn those who have died in Iraq, both our soliders, the Iraqi soliders, and other casualties of the war. I also mourn the millions of abortions that have taken place since Roe became law, those who have died in the Darfur genocide, and any and all loss of innocent life. I also oppose the death penalty, euthanasia, cloning, torture, and any action that fails to acknowledge the inherent dignity of every human being.

The point I was making in response to this post was a broader one: It is hard for me to take liberals seriously on this issue when they are so silent on the issue of abortion. And you can attempt to dehumanize an unborn child's life by calling him/her a "fetus" that is "neither conscious nor sentient," but that doesn't change the fact that you are still dealing with a human being. Until and unless liberals begin to acknowledge the humanity and dignity of the unborn, the most innocent amongst us, your cries for the sanctity of life in other contexts will ring hollow.

Actually, by that criteria, sperm and ova, which haven't even combined yet to form a flawed, sinful human being, are the most innocentest of all!

Years ago, I used to listen to Rush Limbaugh's program in the car, and I remember him opining on something-or-other to do with wildcats out in California, and whether they should be trapped or in zoos or somesuch, and his solution was, in regards to a particular wildcat cub, "Let's ask it what it wants."

So I propose the same standard for first-trimester fetuses in regards to abortion: Let's ask them what they want. The results should be illuminating.

"early humans killed by marauding mastodons,"

Specieist. Many think humans were responsible for the death of the Pleistocene megafauna and you fixate on the deaths of a handful of the perpetrators. Shame.

In case it's not clear, I'm not entirely serious here.

Steve Dillard: DNFTT

Just for once, I agree with Jeff.

Then we have Tom Delay and a cast of millions, who are not any kind of person.

They don't need to give their lives in war, because they were dead to begin with.

It's not the norm here to post just to say "what he said".

But, what he said.

Thanks -

Got it. Back to the echo chamber.

Sorry for interrupting.

Steve Dillard: it is possible that liberals, maybe even myself, disagree with you about the status of fetuses. It is also possible that we therefore think that while abortion is always to be regretted, in the sense that (I would think) almost anyone who has one would rather not have become pregnant in the first place, or not be in a position in which she could not raise a child, or something, we do not mourn the death of a first trimester fetus as we mourn the death of someone who has begun to construct a life, relationships, hopes, and aspirations for him- or herself.

For my part, I find it hard to take conservatives seriously on this point if they do not also abhor the loss of adult human life from its many causes, the waste of what they regard as full human lives in fertility clinics, and what they ought to regard as the ghoulish practice of killing the merely brain-dead for the sake of transplant organs.

For my part, I can regard brain death as death pure and simple, just as I regard a fetus with no brain function to speak of as not yet brain-alive; and thus I can accept with equanimity the idea of keeping someone's blood flowing and her lungs breathing until her organs can be harvested, at least so long as she has consented to this. But I do not see how someone who regards a fetus with no brain function as a human life that must be protected at all costs can regard this as anything other than keeping people alive long enough to kill them by removing their organs.

I would also note that I have not been silent on the issue of abortion. I just haven't said what you want me to say. There is a difference.

Above, when I wrote: " I find it hard to take conservatives seriously on this point if they do not also abhor....", I meant to add: I do not assume that you or any other person who is anti-abortion do not also abhor these things.

Also, "conservative" was wrong; I was reacting to SD's use of liberal, but I should have said: person, liberal or conservative, who thinks I should have added little "deads" for all the fetuses.

Got it. Back to the echo chamber.

Sorry for interrupting.

You have got to be kidding me. Here we are mourning the tragic death of thousands of kids, and you want to turn it into an anti-abortion soapbox.

When I see the anti-abortion fanatics turn all that passion and energy into helping out the children who are actually born into this world, I may have give the position an ounce of credibility.

I am confident you will find that the best way to reduce abortion is this country is not to troll the blogosphere for a soapbox, but to create a political, social, and economic environment that makes more women want and able to bring a child into this world.
But hey, if that sounds like too much work maybe being hateful on the internet will work, right?

You damn well should be sorry for interrupting.

Got it. Back to the echo chamber.

Sorry for interrupting.

Translation: I'm too damn lazy actually to engage with people who disagree with me.


What a RUDE person.

Oh, yes. You're a troll, but stay here and "engage" those of us who disagree with you.

And I am the rude one, right?

No thanks.

And I am the rude one, right?

Hey, maybe you didn't like gwangung's reply, and Jeff did call you a troll.

On the other hand, you got a thoughtful, even generous, response from hilzoy. She even circled back to make sure credit was given where it was due.

All in response to a post which was, frankly, provocative and completely off topic for the thread.

All in all, I don't see that you have much to complain about.

Thanks -


I understand and appreciate that one might mourn to a much greater degree over the death of an eight year old child than say an eight-week-old child. My problem is not with those who draw such distinctions, but rather with those who think it is acceptable to terminate the life of the eight-week-old child because he has yet to experience all of things you so eloquently noted in your comment.

And fwiw, I strongly oppose IVF, and any organ transplantation that fails to afford absolute respect for the inherent dignity of the person in question.

I still think hilzoy's first response to Steve is most on point. I simply have no idea what this post has to do with abortion any more than any other post hilzoy might have written mourning the death of any other tragic loss of life.

(and Steve, you know I respect you and your views).

There are clearly a few folks here who are a sight more polite than me. Hilzoy (generous and understanding as always)and Daniel Goldberg stand out in the recent comments.

I am afraid I'm not quite so well mannered as the good people on this blog, however. Imagine, Steve, that instead of being an obituary for four thousand dead Americans, it was for just one.

Your response to the horror and outrage for this poor soul who sacrificed everything is to show up and say, 'who gives a shit about this guy when there are all of these abortions going on!?!'
Does that honestly make an ounce of sense to you?

"I have three things I'd like to say today. First, while you were sleeping last night 30,000 kids died of starvation or diseases related to malnutrition. Second, most of you don't give a shit. What's worse is that many of you are more upset with the fact that I said shit, than the fact that 30,000 kids died last night."

-Pastor Anthony Campolo

Andrew: that was exactly why I decided not to engage Steve or Wodamark, and why I regret responding to Feddie.

Jane Smiley, whom Slate did not ask to explain why she was right about Iraq.

i read you loud and clear.

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