Figures don’t lie, liars figure

I’ve had some time to go over some of the statistics and the slight of hand that the Right has been playing with the military fatality numbers as typified by this post from right-wing blogger Murdoc (for new readers, I don’t link to right-wing web sites) The date doesn’t coincide with the landmark of 3,000 troop deaths in Iraq, but this post was echoed across the conservative blogs on that tragic day – March 22, 2006, Military Deaths (all causes) 1980-2004

George W. Bush . . . . . 5187 (2001-2004)
Bill Clinton . . . . . . . . . 4302 (1993-1996)
George H.W. Bush . . . . 6223 (1989-1992)
Ronald Reagan . . . . . . 9163 (1981-1984)

Even during the (per MSM) utopic peacetime of Bill Clinton’s term, we lost 4302 service personnel. H.W. Bush and Reagan actually lost significantly more personnel while never fighting an extensive war, much less a simulaltaneous war on two theaters (Iraq and Afghanistan).

I will link to this pdf document from which Murdoc extracted his numbers, Death Rates.

Always go to the link as they say. It turns out that conservatives web sites that are flogging the military death statistics have done more then cherry pick, they have completely ignored the relevant data. The total number of military deaths from 1980 to 2004 doesn’t particularly tell us much. What would be relevant and not mentioned on the charts that Murdoc, Instapundit and Red State among other conservative sites is the military fatalities from Hostile Actioncategory, from 1980 to 1984 there were 19, from 1985 to 1991 there were 199, from 1992 to 2000 there was 1, from 2001 until 2004 ( the last year on the chart that Murdoc links to) there were 1102 military fatalities due to hostile action, more then the previous 20 years combined. Military deaths due to terrorist attacks, according to this chart had a one year peak of 263  under Reagan in 1983. The next highest year for terrorist caused military fatalities was 55 in 2001 under Bush. Amid all this pettiness and statistics manipulation the Right couldn’t help but ultimately place all responsibility for their failings at the feet of President Bill Clinton. Bill hardly laid a glove on the military, he inherited the military that was cut to the bone by none other then Dick Cheney – Cheney’s past defense cuts questioned

WASHINGTON — Vice President Dick Cheney, who has been charging that John F. Kerry would be a dangerous commander-in-chief because he opposed many key weapons that the military now relies on, himself presided over the biggest cutbacks in defense programs in modern history when he was secretary of defense under the first President Bush.

As Pentagon chief from 1989 to 1993, Cheney canceled or cut back many of the same weapons programs — bombers, fighter planes, tanks — that he says Kerry tried to deprive the armed forces of.

Many of the Cheney-era cuts were made at the end of the Cold War, when the administration of President George H.W. Bush was seeking to reduce the size of the military and secure a ”peace dividend.” But some of these downsizing efforts would have affected the military of today.

Cheney proposed, for instance, disbanding part of the Army’s Fourth Infantry Division, Congressional Quarterly reported in 1989. Troops from that division captured former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein last December.

The latest Bush-Cheney campaign ad depicts weapons such as the B-2 stealth bomber flying over a battlefield and then disappearing into thin air, attempting to convince voters that if Kerry prevailed back then, US military forces would be underequipped.

Yet Cheney canceled the B-2 bomber program after 20 planes, even though the Air Force saidit needed 132. He also canceled the Navy’s A-12 bomber and scaled back the Seawolf submarine.

During his Pentagon stint, the size of the Army was reduced by more than 26 percent, the Air Force by 22 percent, the Navy by 14 percent, and the Marines by 10 percent, according to the Pentagon’s official biography of Cheney.

But support for particular weapons ”is not a very useful way to judge strength or weakness,” said a former congressional defense staffer who asked not to be named. Using such a yardstick, he added, President Jimmy Carter was the ”strongest” because his budgets resulted in the weapons that won the 1991 Gulf War.

The Right would like to conflate the size of the military in 2001 with its ability to handle nation building in Iraq. The military that Bill Clinton left was capable of the initial military victories in Afghanistan and Iraq. Bush diverted military resources from Afghanistan to Iraq, leaving Afghanistan a squandered victory. The force used to basically destroy anything and everything in Iraq was adequate, but it was not adequate for acting as a police force for 25 million Iraqis. Bush was warned about that strong possibility and ignored it in his itch to do what he wanted to do rather then what was best for the national security of the U.S. or what was best for the people of Iraq and Afghanistan. Bush lost Iraq, not the Associated Press or Democrats, Bush was warned about troop levels and occupying a country as opposed to winning a military victory, Bush Should Honor ‘Mission Accomplished Day’ by Resigning

Aside from the things Bush obviously knew before invading Iraq – that Iraq possessed no weapons of mass destruction and had nothing whatsoever to do with September 11 – he also had a direct warning from Army Chief of Staff, General Eric Shinseki. Shinseki warned Bush and Congress on February 25, 2003 that the U.S. was not preparing adequate forces, with appropriate troop levels, to ensure peace and stability after the initial invasion.

When asked by Senator Carl Levin (D-MI) to estimate the size of an allied occupation force after victory, Shinseki said “Something on the order of several hundred thousand soldiers are probably a figure that would be required.”

“We’re talking about a post-hostilities control over a piece of geography that’s fairly significant, with the kinds of ethnic tensions that could lead to other problems,” said Shinseki.

Update on Kenneth Tomlinson, Kenneth Tomlinson’s ethical problems don’t prevent reappointment

Tomlinson, a close friend of Karl Rove, has a decidedly spotty record in government service, having been previously forced to resign from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting over charges that he tried to politicize that agency.

In early August, the New York Times reported that Tomlinson had barely survived an effort by fellow Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) members to remove him from his post.

According to the Times, “a report… by the inspector general at the State Department… [found] that Tomlinson had used his office to run a horse-racing operation and that he had improperly put a friend on the payroll.” The Associated Press pointed out that the investigation found that while with the BBG, Tomlinson “signed invoices worth about $245,000 for a friend [retired VOA employee Les Daniels] without the knowledge of other board members or staff.”

“Tomlinson also used the board’s office resources to support his private horse racing operation and over-billed the organization for his time, in some instances billing both the Broadcasting Board of Governors and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting for the same time worked.”

After a review by the U.S. attorney’s office in Washington concluded that a criminal investigation was not warranted, it did acknowledge that “a civil investigation related to the charges he hired a friend as a contractor was pending,” AP reported.

George W. Bush just doing his part to keep the Culture of Conservative Corruption alive.

“Figures don’t lie, liars figure.”- Mark Twain (attributed to)

“Data is a lot like humans: It is born. Matures. Gets married to other data,
divorced. Gets old. One thing that it doesn’t do is die. It has to be killed.” – Arthur Miller