Putting Iraq’s losses “in context”

Powerline makes the case that Americans sense of failure in Iraq has been grossly exaggerated by media accounts of the service men and women whose lives have been lost. They have a point. Powerline compares military deaths during peacetime with those in Iraq during the war. It turns out that peacetime deaths are almost one third those of wartime Iraq.

During Vietnam I often contrasted the number of Vietnam combat deaths to the number of people who died stateside in traffic accidents. I can’t recall the numbers but I’d guess that in a year with a maximum of about 10,000 combat deaths there was a traffic death toll on the order of 70,000. In those years only Ralph Nader was out protesting highway safety.

As of 2004 there were 42,000 traffic related deaths in the U.S.


I just read about Unity 08 in Newsweek. The upshot:

“The Unity08 plan is for an online third-party convention in mid-2008, following the early primaries. Any registered voter could be a delegate; their identities would be confirmed by cross-referencing with voter registration rolls…”

Wow! Using the Internet in much the same fashion as Howard Dean did a third party could barge its way into the 08 Presidential election. As Newsweek’s Jonathan Alter says 40% of all Americans self identify as Independents these days. That leaves 30% each for the polarized, self righteous, Democrats and Republicans.  Could such a plurality bring America together again? Check it out: Unity 08.

Another Shoe drops in the legislature

Rep. Irv Anderson of International Falls is hanging it up at age 82. His name wasn’t on yesterday’s list of Minnesota’s retiring legislators. There’s still a little over a month to go before the filings open for the November elections so even more incumbents could decided to call it a day. If this is an anti-Republican or anti-incumbent election year then even more fresh new faces could go to St. Paul.

No Gun Ri

Today, the day after Memorial Day, the DNT had two stories that converged for me.

The first was a long Washington Post story about how returning vets find Americans generally clueless about the conditions in Iraq. The story itself says this is just an echo of past wars. I heard about it during and after Vietnam. The movie “Best Days of our lives” hinted at this truth after World War II and my Grandfather surely felt it recuperating in the hospital after World War I.

Entertainment about cops and murderers can fill up an entire night of throw away television programing which can be forgotten after the nightly news. Ten months of killing of being killed in a war zone is much different.

Robert E. Lee the peerless Confederate General said: “Its a good thing that war is so terrible or we should grow too fond of it.” Maybe that’s true for the Generals and politicians. I’m not so sure if that’s true of the soldiers or civilians in a war zone.

The other story was about No Gun Ri an incident that took place in 1950 the year I was born. When I looked for it on the Internet I found it first on two South Korean newspapers above another story about how the Koreans are making a movie of the incident/incidents. Apparently there was an official American policy to shoot any Korean approaching American lines because the Americans couldn’t tell the difference between refugees and infiltrators. Even though we saved the South Koreans from the fate of North Korea they are taking a harsh view of our military  necessity fifty-seven years ago. I wonder how the Iraqies will feel about us fifty years from now?

When the story first surfaced in 1999 the U.S. military denied it then described it as a case of soldiers panicking. Its always easier to blame the grunts (look at Lyndie England) but the policy came from the top; from the General Lee’s of the Korean War.

Meanwhile, the folks back home are too busy stuffing their face with empty calories to bother worrying about the people defending them abroad or so the returning soldiers seem to think.

Filling up the empty nest

After four years on his own our son is moving back for the summer. The nexus of his lease ending and making plans for next fall put him on a collision course with bumming with friends, moving home, or living on the streets. I’m glad to say his old room beckoned and he moved his stuff back during our gardening mania. It’s the temporary end to our empty nesting.

I asked him to leave his bed alone until he moves back on the first of June. For the past week it’s been the place where I’ve been sorting documents relating to the Boyd Scandal. I’ve got to move it somewhere else but since my daughter’s bed is full of the stuff related to the Duluth Schools Endowment I’ve got nowhere to put the Scandal stuff. God forbid that I would put it in files. However tidy that would be it would threaten to put it out of my mind.

Except for the bed my son’s room is packed with four years of stuff. I won’t be able to help my son move it out of his room until I clean up the attic today. I can’t get into the attic until I move the mattress and bed spring that he brought back away from the door to the attic. And the attic is so cluttered from a winter of haphazard storing that it has to be cleaned up first. Then there’s cleaning the garage and the basement workroom…. There’s just no end of chores standing in my way of getting this Boyd book written.

At least the garden is finished and after last nights thunderstorms we should have four or five days of glorious weather. I just hope I’m not tempted to go agate hunting.

New tidbit to the Boyd story

After four days of uninterrupted gardening its good to get back to something else. Even if I stayed up way past my bedtime, golly its a quarter past midnight, I’ve added an interesting new tidbit to the Boyd story I’ve been working on.

Tidbits is what they are. I’m not ready for an entire chapter yet but I’ve got intriguing bits to start with. It will be interesting to see how I pull them all together in the end. This time a Republican features in the story.

Memorial Day

A little before 6AM I got up and raised the flag over our front yard. It was foggy and the harbor fog horn was blowing. Most Memorial Days past we’ve been out of town so our flag has had to wait for Flag Day or July Fourth to be unfurled. Its supposed to be sunny through the morning and then we’ll get a good chance at thunderstorms.

The paper has Memorial Day stories about the Purple Heart medal and the Langhorst family who lost a son in Iraq. I learned one thing new from the paper. My Grandfather got his purple heart in 1932, years after he was wounded in WWI. The US gave thousands of the medals to World War One’s wounded retroactively when it decided to reintroduce the medal that George Washington designed for the first American War.

The Trib also has pictures of the 96 Minnesotans who have died in Iraq. The proper etiquette for flags on Memorial Day is to begin the day by raising them only to half staff. This is meant as a tribute to the people who have sacrificed, for the nation.

There were other troubling stories in the paper. One covered the Marine unit that apparently killed two dozen Iraqies indescrimately after a marine had been killed in an attack. Another was about how Iraqies have been so numbed by their travails that they seem indifferent to the massacre. Finally there was the story about the tribal chief who stuck his neck out to help Americans fight terrorists and was just gunned down for his troubles. Its a good thing our President has finally shown some humility. I hope he didn’t get a scolding for it from the Vice President.

All I’ll have to dodge today is dust and pine needles. Four days of gardening has slowly transformed the yard for the summer. We have eight tomato plants two eggplants, peppers and rhubarb and what seems like thousands of flowers. I hope its a sunny summer.

The new George Bush

If I hadn’t already lost all patience with the President for his first five years of swaggering I could almost like him now.

A strangely humble President Bush joined Prime Minister Tony Blair in a White House press conference yesterday. (Tony’s political career has been wrecked because the Brits didn’t like Bush’s swagger either) Bush almost sounded like the man who campaigned for President in 2000 by saying that the United States should act on the world stage with humility. Instead America has been humiliated. The humble pie Bush confessed that saying such things as “Bring it on” really hadn’t been helpful.

I’m not sure this new more honest tack will help him keep support for the war. The 70% of Americans who think the war was a mistake will not change their minds. The 30% that is sticking with Bush may actually miss his swagger.

About that Grams letter

I’m not sure who Gregg Schweiger is. I’m surprised I’ve never met him because he’s been writing hard core Republican letters-to-the-editor for years. At any rate he’s the first person to weigh in on the looming Grams/Oberstar race. Here’s a pretty typical paragraph.

“Oberstar apparently believes the 8th Congressional District is his until ‘death do us part.’ But he is only in his 70s. He could live to be 100. He rides those bike trails, and they’re keeping him in good shape.”

Schweiger better not use that picture of Jim with the bicycle or he too will no doubt be asked to stop.

Focus on Focus on the Family

If you would like to join dishonest Christians writing fake letters to the editor you can do it at James Dobson’s Focus on the Family. Give them the information that they ask for and then they can use computer power to generate fake letters to the editor.

If you’d like to see how the letters are written but you don’t want to join Focus on the Family you can click this link which will let you in behind the scenes to the fake letter generator.