Archive for December, 2008

Iraq War Deaths for July through December, 2008

Wednesday, December 31st, 2008

Here are the updated graphs covering the last six months. US military deaths in Iraq have continued to be fairly low. The highest number of US troop deaths during this interval was in September, with 25 deaths; the lowest number was in July, with 13 deaths.

As always, I’m comparing the US military casualties in Iraq to those from the Vietnam war at a similar point in each war’s political lifetime. The data come from the advanced search tool at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund site, and from Lunaville’s page on Iraq coalition casualties. The figures are for the number of US dead per month, without regard to whether the deaths were combat-related.

The first graph shows the comparison for the extent of the Iraq war to-date. (Click on any image for a larger version.)

Next, the chart that gives the US death toll for the entire Vietnam war:

As ever, you are free to draw your own conclusions. And for that matter, you’re free to draw your own graphs, if you have a way of presenting the information that you believe would be better. In that case, feel free to post a comment with a URL to your own version. Thanks.

Worst Ballot Challenge Ever

Friday, December 19th, 2008

It seems that Norm Coleman in MN is falling behind because his ballot challenges are bunk.  The Coleman campaign tried to get a certain Franken ballot thrown out because the voter wrote on the ballot. What did they write you ask?  No, no, not Lizard People (though that is a good guess and shows you’ve been paying attention).  This person wrote “Thank you for counting my vote!” 

Say hello to the 59th D US Senator, Mr Al Franken!

Giordano on Obama’s Transition on Marijuana Law Reform

Wednesday, December 17th, 2008

From The Field’s Al Giordano: Re-Do It, Mr. President-elect: “Open for Questions” Gets an F. So, here’s the top question from Obama’s experiment with participatory democracy, in which citizens could write in with their questions, and vote them up or down — along with the Obama’s transition team’s response:

Q: “Will you consider legalizing marijuana so that the government can regulate it, tax it, put age limits on it, and create millions of new jobs and create a billion dollar industry right here in the U.S.?” S. Man, Denton

A: President-elect Obama is not in favor of the legalization of marijuana.

Giordano continues:

The five other drug policy questions among the top 20 were totally ignored, yet they were closer to the line of scrimmage on Obama’s own stated campaign positions. Here’s a summary of those questions:

– Will the federal government stop raiding and prosecuting medical marijuana users and their doctors?

– If not legalization, what about decriminalization?

(After all, on November 4, voters in Michigan and Massachusetts voted for exactly that; the context of the issue – and “conventional wisdom” about public opinion on it – has shifted somewhat since Election Day.)

– What about prioritizing treatment over incarceration for drug offenders?

– How do we fix the prison system?

– And what about the Food and Drug Administration’s cozy relationship – the freedom from liability and the protective legislation previously given – with the pharmaceutical industry?

Those were the more interesting top drug policy questions that deserved a sincere and transparent response. Instead, they were ignored in favor of picking the question to which he could give a typical politician’s “blow off” response.

It’s still too early to peg Obama as all talk and no action (though people with screwed-up epistemology have been making that case for at least a year now). And I’m pretty sure Giordano is not saying Obama should have come out hard for legalization. What Giordano is saying, though, is that in the first round of responses on the “open for questions” site, Obama had a chance to demonstrate the candor and responsiveness that he campaigned on. And so far, he has pretty thoroughly muffed it.

Hm. “Muffed it” is a baseball expression, isn’t it? I think we need to go with basketball metaphors for Obama. So say this instead: In the initial round of responses to the “open for questions” site, Obama shot an airball.

Posted Without Comment

Saturday, December 13th, 2008

Primary school teacher who told children: ‘Santa does not exist’ is fired

Stewart vs. Huckabee on Gay Marriage

Thursday, December 11th, 2008

What Jon said:

Koppelman on the Obama Birth Certificate Conspiracy

Friday, December 5th, 2008

A nice item in Salon from Alex Koppelman: Why the stories about Obama’s birth certificate will never die.

Not surprisingly, almost all of the people who’ve been most prominent in pushing this story have a history of conspiracist thought. There’s Jerome Corsi, who’s best known as the co-author of the book that launched the Swift Boat vets; he’s a chief proponent of the claim that the government is secretly planning to form a “North American Union” with Canada and Mexico. Philip Berg, who filed the lawsuit that had until now drawn the most public attention, is a 9/11 Truther. Andy Martin, who’s credited with starting the myth that Obama is a Muslim and has been intimately involved in the birth certificate mess as well, was denied admission to the Illinois bar because of a psychiatric evaluation that showed he had “moderately severe character defect manifested by well-documented ideation with a paranoid flavor and a grandiose character.”

Good to know that won’t dry up for lack of material during the boring ol’ Obama administration.