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Tilting at Windmills

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March 28, 2006
By: Kevin Drum

THE MARKET SPEAKS....The State Department is raising its payscale for serving in Iraq:

Starting this month, U.S. government civilians serving in Iraq and in Afghanistan outside of Kabul are receiving an extra 35 percent above their base salaries for hardship and another 35 percent for danger. Previously, they were paid 25 percent extra for each category, the limits the government had set decades ago for any foreign post.

...."The idea was to recognize service at our most difficult and dangerous posts, and foremost among those posts are Iraq and Afghanistan," said a senior State Department official.

But I thought things were going fine in Iraq and it was only the traitorous fifth columnists in the media who were making it look dangerous?

Kevin Drum 1:41 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (131)

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Comments

Things are great! Great great great! Bombings and beheadings are just part of Glorious Freedom!

Posted by: Freedom Phukher on March 28, 2006 at 1:44 PM | PERMALINK

Unlike Faux NewsNoise The Market NEVER EVER lies !!!

"Practical men, who believe themselves to be quite exempt from any intellectual influence, are usually the slaves of some defunct economist." - John Maynard Keynes

Posted by: daCascadian on March 28, 2006 at 1:53 PM | PERMALINK

What an idiotic comment that Kevin makes in an attempt, -- I guess? -- at humor.

Seriously, Kevin, do you think what you wrote is an accurate characterization of Bush and other war supporters? If you do, then you should try reading and listening a bit more. If you don't, spare us the lame 'jokes' and write something about policy. I pay good money to read this ... oh wait, I'm not paying a dime. nevermind - go ahead and spew more garbage, it's your right!

Posted by: sunbeltjerry on March 28, 2006 at 1:57 PM | PERMALINK

Glad to see that SOMEBODY is getting raises. Maybe the displaced automobile workers could apply for govt jobs in Iraq.

Posted by: bosco on March 28, 2006 at 1:57 PM | PERMALINK


the invisible hand of the market works again!!


Posted by: thisspaceavialable on March 28, 2006 at 1:57 PM | PERMALINK

"But I thought things were going fine in Iraq and it was only the traitorous fifth columnists in the media who were making it look dangerous?"

that is just too stupid to merit a legit comment.

Posted by: Brian on March 28, 2006 at 2:00 PM | PERMALINK


sunbeltjerry: Seriously, Kevin, do you think what you wrote is an accurate characterization of Bush and other war supporters?

oh now...

you are interested in "an accurate characterization"

....always ready to play the victim card

Posted by: thsispaceavialable on March 28, 2006 at 2:01 PM | PERMALINK

I'm sure the stop-lossed soldiers are glad for their civilian colleagues.

Posted by: derek on March 28, 2006 at 2:04 PM | PERMALINK
Seriously, Kevin, do you think what you wrote is an accurate characterization of Bush and other war supporters?

It is an accurate characterization; warbloggers in general and right-wing commenters here, and the administration's spokesdrones have often expressed explicitly the view that things are going well in Iraq, and that the impression that they are not is a distortion created by the media. The first two have gone farther and explicitly said that the media makes those distortions because they, influenced by liberalism, seek to aid the enemy, though the last group tends to not make explicit claims about motivation, only saying that it tends to serve the interests of the enemy.

Posted by: cmdicely on March 28, 2006 at 2:08 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin, do you think what you wrote is an accurate characterization of Bush and other war supporters?

If you don't think it is, then maybe you should go back and read Jay's comments in these threads from just this week. Then just for instance, go back just prior to the elections in December and the January before and read anything from Mike K, meatss, rdw, Cheney, Red State Mike, tbrosz, conspiracy nut, Freedom Fighter, Al, peanut, and a host of other assorted war supporters.

They've been insisting that things in Iraq are much better than we're told, that children are playing in the streets, schools are being painted, entire swaths of the country don't see any terror attacks, the economy is booming, freedom is erupting from the very soil, and that the Iraqis are gratekful and much better off. What did Brit Hume say? More dangerous on the highways of the U.S. than to be in Iraq?

It's all about the cars, cellphones, and purple fingers baby.

Posted by: Windhorse on March 28, 2006 at 2:09 PM | PERMALINK

Man the White House must be seething these days. Remember Rumsfeld, Cheney et al always viewed SD as a nest of wimpy compromisers and did everything they could to bypass and minimize the department and its positions on going into Iraq, the rationale for going in and especially SD's detailed views on the likely aftermath of an invasion and what would be needed to make things work. Naturally Rumsfeld dumped the report, ordered its author fired after he was hired by the first head of the Provision Government in Iraq Jay Garner (Garner said he hired him because he - Garner - didn't know enough about Iraq and this guy did.) Word was that the order for firing came from Rumsfeld or Cheney.

So now you have the White House continually claiming that the media isn't faithfully recording how wonderful life in Iraq is these days while the State Department issues a detailed summary a few days ago saying that things in the country are going from bad to worse, and now deciding they need to pay their people there more money because of how risky it has become.

Some heads should roll don't you think. Maybe Condi isn't home in DC often enough these days to get her daily ration of Kool Aid and keep the kids in the building from going off the reservation.

Posted by: dweb on March 28, 2006 at 2:09 PM | PERMALINK

Toss another few billions on the bonfire.

That'll help for sure.

Posted by: CFShep on March 28, 2006 at 2:13 PM | PERMALINK

Sheesh, another whiney post from Drum.

If the military didn't raise pay, Drum would complain that Bush doesn't care about the troops. When the military does raise pay, Drum says that is evidence things are going badly.

Drum, can you get any more ridiculous?

Posted by: Bark At The Moon on March 28, 2006 at 2:14 PM | PERMALINK

Hostile: Senator Kerry, what can I do to stop having my tax dollars used to pay State Department employees extra wages for hardship and danger in a murderous conflict of their own making?

Senator Kerry: I feel your pain, but we have to empathize with the warmongers who are serving our wonderful nation and not try and impose our personal morals on those who would maim, torture and kill on behalf of oil companies.

Posted by: Hostile on March 28, 2006 at 2:16 PM | PERMALINK

Bark at the Moon -- A stiff dose of reading comprehension would be good just about now.

Posted by: tequila on March 28, 2006 at 2:19 PM | PERMALINK

'Dirty bomb' test exposes security gaps

Yes, five years later Bush has made us safer.

[Insert big guffaw]

I guess maybe $200 billion could have gone a long way in plugging those security gaps!

Posted by: Advocate for God on March 28, 2006 at 2:21 PM | PERMALINK

Or another stiff dose of me!

Posted by: jack daniels on March 28, 2006 at 2:22 PM | PERMALINK

Pay raises for political appointees and their hires, but none for our soldiers, eh?

And this after Bush tried to cut our soldiers' hazard pay.

For shame.

Posted by: Advocate for God on March 28, 2006 at 2:23 PM | PERMALINK

sunbeltmary: Seriously, Kevin, do you think what you wrote is an accurate characterization of Bush and other war supporters? If you do, then you should try reading and listening a bit more. If you don't, spare us the lame 'jokes' and write something about policy. I pay good money to read this ... oh wait, I'm not paying a dime. nevermind - go ahead and spew more garbage, it's your right!

It is an accurate characterization.

But maybe you should try reading and listening a bit more to opponents of the invasion.

Oh, wait, conservatives never listen to anybody or look at the facts because faith tells them all they need to know.

Nevermind.

It's your right to be and look ignorant.

Posted by: Advocate for God on March 28, 2006 at 2:25 PM | PERMALINK

This means some gov't bean counter has to sort the numerous and (hopefully) measurable tasks of these jobs into either "Hardship" or "Danger" categories. Wouldn't they? Or are the jobs automatically assigned both categories?

Iraq and Afghanistan are the 'foremost' difficult and dangerous posts. Apparently not the 'only'....? Does everyone out there get the base 25% extra?

(couldn't find it on Monster)

Posted by: wishIwuz2 on March 28, 2006 at 2:47 PM | PERMALINK

KD: But I thought things were going fine in Iraq and it was only the traitorous fifth columnists in the media who were making it look dangerous?

Obviously, there are traitorous fifth columnists in the State Department. Heck, we've suspected that for years.

Of course, such base off-message treachery in an institution headed by the President's Favorite has thrown the wingnutosphere into a tizzy; note how many of them have turned up here, helplessly spewing invective, like buzzards caught by a whirlwind.

Posted by: S Ra on March 28, 2006 at 2:50 PM | PERMALINK

Drum, can you get any more ridiculous?
Posted by: Bark At The Moon


Well, he could be you, for instance.

Posted by: Ace Franze on March 28, 2006 at 2:55 PM | PERMALINK


by: cmdicely
"and that the impression that they are not is a distortion created by the media."
We've only asked that the good be reported along WITH the bad. The MSM has not been doing that. They have only been tallying the dead from the latest IED or suicide bomber.
What good? The rebuilding of infrastructure and schools, that children of BOTH sexes are going to school, that children come into the street and cheer when our forces drive through and that our forces and thr Iraqi forces have formed such a bond that they cry for each others losses.

"only saying that it tends to serve the interests of the enemy."
The dis-heartening of americans by only telling of the death in Iraq DOES serve the interests of the enemy because the dis-heartening of americans raises the enemys' morale.

Posted by: Lurker42 on March 28, 2006 at 3:04 PM | PERMALINK

Not much of a pay increase actually. I worked in Iraq for the DOD during the summer of 2004. Back then it was 25 percent extra for danger pay (active soldiers receive hazard duty pay, not civilians) and 25 percent for change of post.

One caveat: the extra 50 percent only applied to 40 hours a week, even though we were working 84 hours a week, 120 days straight.

So, going from a 50 percent hike to 70 percent, I would "earn" about an extra $5,800 over four months, which is certainly not worth the risk of IEDs and sniper attacks while riding in a three-SUV security convoy from the Green Zone to Camp Victory along route Irish, several times a week.

Posted by: obnoman on March 28, 2006 at 3:05 PM | PERMALINK

My children deserve to be paid more.
Onward Christian soldiers.
Onward.


(disclaimer: Jesus the Capitalist is invested in Halliburton. )

Posted by: Jesus the Capitalist on March 28, 2006 at 3:11 PM | PERMALINK

A political election year maneuver. Also, given the total lack of concern for the soldiers this administration has, what greater indicator of major troop reductions could we possibly get?

Posted by: Michael7843853 G-O in 08! on March 28, 2006 at 3:16 PM | PERMALINK

If the military didn't raise pay, Drum would complain that Bush doesn't care about the troops. When the military does raise pay, Drum says that is evidence things are going badly.

This isn't for "the troops" moron. This is for government civilians like all those Heritage Foundation CPA crooks.

Posted by: ckelly on March 28, 2006 at 3:17 PM | PERMALINK

This pay increase, coupled with benefits for same-sex partners and help for my foreign-born partner to immigrate and find work, the State Department is looking better and better all the time.

Posted by: DC1974 on March 28, 2006 at 3:19 PM | PERMALINK

They have only been tallying the dead from the latest IED or suicide bomber. What good? The rebuilding of infrastructure and schools, that children of BOTH sexes are going to school, that children come into the street and cheer when our forces drive through and that our forces and thr Iraqi forces have formed such a bond that they cry for each others losses.

And you know these things have been happening how? Oh, yeah, from, uh, the media.

But, on the other hand, how would you have felt if the media had reported on all the good things that were happening under Saddam? Because, after all, most citizens were not being put through the wood chipper but were simply living their lives.

Posted by: Alek Hidell on March 28, 2006 at 3:22 PM | PERMALINK

Advocate for God:

For shame, you took all of my best bits, rewrote them, and produced a pile of steaming crap!

Once again, and s l o w l y (it's okay to move your lips when you read if you have to): to characterize all war supporters as Kevin has is inaccurate and foolish on his part. This isn't reasoned political commentary; it's a cheap shot and it's intellectually dishonest.

Kevin is better than this and I am embarrassed for him.

You can claim all you want that all war supporters have only said that everything is rosey (as Kevin clearly implies) but you won't convince a single, sentient human being of your truthfulness. (Sentient does not include advocate for god or Alec Baldwin.) You can sing that "they told us it would be rosey" song until your cows come home but that won't make it true. Every one of us here reading this absolutely knows that Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Hinderaker, Krauthammer, etc have all said this would be hard and long and nasty and difficult and would have ups and downs and would be dangerous. You can't deny that. At times they've made other statements, but you can't just pull one statement out of the thousands they've made about the war and then claim that they told us it would be easy! And you can't take the words of some crazy anonymous blogger and impugn all bloggers for his/her words.

I write "you can't" alot but I know that you will. Perhaps I should urge you to consider the honesty of your comment. To say that "Bush told us this would be rosey" absolutely denies the reality of the situation. To those who argue this way: you're not waging a fair or honest fight. And you're also insulting the intelligence of the other readers - even those who in spirit agree with you - who have some recollection of recent history.

If we assume that Kevin is implying that Bush told us all would be rosey - it is clearly a lie. He never did, but he has absolutely stated the opposite on many occasions.

Posted by: sunbeltjerry on March 28, 2006 at 3:25 PM | PERMALINK

"Oh, yeah, from, uh, the media."
True but not the MSM.

"but were simply living their lives."
Add "in fear" to the end of that sentence and you would be correct.

Posted by: Lurker42 on March 28, 2006 at 3:25 PM | PERMALINK

Just one recent example of the Bush administration's aggressive use of revisionist history and blaming the media for the perception of problems:

According to Vice President Cheney the Americans upon invading were met as liberators AND that the insurgency has been and still is on its last throes. Cheney explains the "perception" that his claims don't "reflect reality" is a myth "created" by the media coverage.

FACE the Nation March 2006:

SCHIEFFER: Mr. Vice President, all along the government has been very optimistic. You remain optimistic. But I remember when you were saying wed be greeted as liberators, you played down the insurgency ten months ago. You said it was in its last throes. Do you believe that these optimistic statements may be one of the reasons that people seem to be more skeptical in this country about whether we ought to be in Iraq?

CHENEY: No, I think it has less to do with the statements weve made, which I think were basically accurate and reflect reality, than it does the fact that there is a constant sort of perception if you will thats created because what is newsworthy is the carbomb in Baghdad, its not all the work that went on that day in 15 other provinces in terms of making progress in rebuilding Iraq.

Posted by: Catch22 on March 28, 2006 at 3:35 PM | PERMALINK

Whoever said that things were "fine" in Iraq?

Anyway, with the US economy continuing to grow, with new jobs for skilled workers being created at near historic rates, you have to pay people more than you had to a couple years ago to get them to leave the US. An exaggeration, I admit, but not as nonsensical as Kevin's comment.

Posted by: republicrat on March 28, 2006 at 3:44 PM | PERMALINK

"This is for government civilians like all those Heritage Foundation CPA crooks."

Well, they may be affected too, but it came at the urging of the Foreign Service- which is to say, the civilians working at embassies and consulates, including the uber-friggin-large embassy we are inexplicably locating in Baghdad.

Posted by: MJ Memphis on March 28, 2006 at 3:45 PM | PERMALINK

Every one of us here reading this absolutely knows that Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Hinderaker, Krauthammer, etc have all said this would be hard and long and nasty and difficult and would have ups and downs and would be dangerous. You can't deny that. At times they've made other statements, but you can't just pull one statement out of the thousands they've made about the war and then claim that they told us it would be easy! And you can't take the words of some crazy anonymous blogger and impugn all bloggers for his/her words.

I write "you can't" alot but I know that you will. Perhaps I should urge you to consider the honesty of your comment. To say that "Bush told us this would be rosey" absolutely denies the reality of the situation. To those who argue this way: you're not waging a fair or honest fight. And you're also insulting the intelligence of the other readers - even those who in spirit agree with you - who have some recollection of recent history.

If we assume that Kevin is implying that Bush told us all would be rosey - it is clearly a lie. He never did, but he has absolutely stated the opposite on many occasions.
Posted by: sunbeltjerry on March 28, 2006 at 3:25 PM | PERMALINK

w00t???????????

It's not like Rumsfeld was talking about being greeted with flowers and talking about troop levels of around 30.000 US soldiers in Iraq in September 2003? Oooooh, right, he was, but of course, that was just ... talk. He didn't really mean it, of course, and now taking his word for it is simply, well, unjust, unfair and partisan?

Right.

It's not like Bush talked abuot "no ethnic turmoil" in Iraq? Right, he did, but he didn't actually mean it, and we all knew that. That was simply something he pulled out of his ass, and at the time it should have been taken for no more than that. We all knew that.

Right.

It's not ilke Bush spoke on board a US carrier in May 2003 under the "Mission Accomplished" banner, no? Well, oh yeah, he did, but he was just celebratin' the return to the US of said carrier along with the crew. That banner had nuttin', nuttin', to with Bush, and he had nuttin' to do with that banner, right. And he had nuttin' to do with the camera positions, which put said banner square in the picture transmitted back to the US? No, of course he didn't - come on, his forward SS detail was bogged down in security checks onboard that carrier which was an obvious moment for Al Qaede to strike against Bush, so they had no time, I mean absolutely no time, to discover a 100' by 30' banner which suddenly popped op on the main structure of the carrier.

Right.

And You talk about honesty?

Regards, Ole. Danish Patriot, Platoon Leader in the Danish Home Guard. But with my mind and ability to actually think still intact.

Posted by: Ole on March 28, 2006 at 3:52 PM | PERMALINK

So liberals complain the pay is too low, and liberals complain when the pay is too high.

I guess you don't expect to be taken seriously.

Posted by: Freedom Fighter on March 28, 2006 at 3:54 PM | PERMALINK

But are hard working troops earned that pay raise, huh, "what" Oh not for the troops! Well call me Bark at the moon-con.

Posted by: Right minded on March 28, 2006 at 3:59 PM | PERMALINK

Carful Freedom that straw man you built is going to fall on your dumb ass.

Posted by: Right minded on March 28, 2006 at 4:01 PM | PERMALINK

So Wingnuts complain when the pay is to high and Wingnuts complain when W's ratings are too low.

Posted by: Right minded on March 28, 2006 at 4:04 PM | PERMALINK

Actually, it's possible that a pay increase is made necessary by PERCEIVED dangers as much as by real ones.

The market--any market--reflects what people generally believe to be true. It doesn't necessarily reflect reality. Hazard pay might actually need to be increased even if the conditions are not any worse.

That being said: I'd personally demand more than that 35% if I was to be offered work in Iraq.

Posted by: Tom Ames on March 28, 2006 at 4:05 PM | PERMALINK

Nobody's complainging, FF, but I'm sure that if pay had not been increased, you'd be here just as quick to defend that as well.

Posted by: Boronx on March 28, 2006 at 4:07 PM | PERMALINK

"Nobody's complainging, FF, but I'm sure that if pay had not been increased, you'd be here just as quick to defend that as well."

I am not here to defend anything. I am only trying to understand liberal hypocrisy.

Posted by: Freedom Fighter on March 28, 2006 at 4:12 PM | PERMALINK

I am not here to defend anything. I am only trying to understand liberal hypocrisy.

Posted by: Freedom Fighter on March 28, 2006 at 4:12 PM | PERMALINK
Since you are the resident expert on the subject go for it.

Posted by: Neo on March 28, 2006 at 4:15 PM | PERMALINK

Clap louder! If we all clap together, the war in Iraq will be won in a fortnight! So you all must clap for Dear Leader very loudly, or else we LOSE the war and then it's not Dear Leaders fault at all, no, it's all those negative nellies in the media who hate Bush, hate Amurica, hate christian values, and hate anything positive that comes from Amurica.

Posted by: WM Troll Brigade and Chorus on March 28, 2006 at 4:18 PM | PERMALINK

Ah, the sucking sound of dying trolls.

Don't worry. It was all Andy Card's fault.

Posted by: HeavyJ on March 28, 2006 at 4:18 PM | PERMALINK
"Oh, yeah, from, uh, the media." True but not the MSM.

What is the "MSM" to you? Because I know about most of the things right wingnuts claim the media isn't reporting from notorious non-mainstream sources like the Sacramento Bee, San Francisco Chronicle, and the Guardian.

I think someone has been listening to too many right-wing commentators claiming that the MSM® isn't reporting on certain things, and assuming that that is the truth.

Posted by: cmdicely on March 28, 2006 at 4:19 PM | PERMALINK

"Yes, five years later Bush has made us safer."

The typical liberal whine. Bush is either not doing enough, or he is taking away all our liberties. It's either too hot or too cold, too hard or too soft. And you wonder why liberals aren't taken seriously. Instead of offering solutions, liberals are against anything Bush is for.

Posted by: Freedom Fighter on March 28, 2006 at 4:20 PM | PERMALINK
The typical liberal whine. Bush is either not doing enough, or he is taking away all our liberties.

The two are not inconsistent. Bush is not doing enough that actually makes us safer, but doing too much that restricts liberties.

There is no contradiction, so long as you realize that "taking away liberties" and "increasing security" aren't diametrically opposed concepts. They are more like orthogonal -- or even parallel -- than anti-parallel.

Posted by: cmdicely on March 28, 2006 at 4:24 PM | PERMALINK

cmdice, don't use too many big words for freedomfairy, his homeschooled brain can't handle those very well.

So tough, fighting freedom in the comfort of his own cubicle at work, how brave and noble of him!

Posted by: WM Troll Brigade and Chorus on March 28, 2006 at 4:26 PM | PERMALINK

FF has a job?

Posted by: Neo on March 28, 2006 at 4:34 PM | PERMALINK

Wait wait wait!

Guys, look.

Look.

The troll brigade have a new meme!

"Bush never said it would be easy in Iraq."

Several of them, including one never seen before, have infested this very thread disclaiming that the Administration never claimed Iraq would be easy.

A new big lie, fresh from the Republican Spin Machine!

It's not every day you see those! Well, okay, it is, but it's not every day you see one that's such a blatant contradiction of fact.

I wonder if this is some sort of turning point for their spin. I wonder if it will stick. I wonder if it will work, as Faux News repeats it at nauseum.

I've got those "presence of history" shivers!

Posted by: S Ra on March 28, 2006 at 4:40 PM | PERMALINK

obnoman,

So, going from a 50 percent hike to 70 percent, I would "earn" about an extra $5,800 over four months,

Thanks for the info. If I do the math right you are saying you were paid a base rate of $92,000 a year but got a 50% bonus on top of that for total pay of $136,000 a year?

No wonder you put "earn" in quotes. This was for driving a truck in a combat zone? Poor baby.

Posted by: Tripp on March 28, 2006 at 4:44 PM | PERMALINK

"cmdice, don't use too many big words for freedomfairy, his homeschooled brain can't handle those very well.

So tough, fighting freedom in the comfort of his own cubicle at work, how brave and noble of him!"

I am actually in my mom's basement... you know, being home schooled and all.

Posted by: Freedom Fighter on March 28, 2006 at 4:45 PM | PERMALINK

Everyone in Nagedoches knew Tom Ames would come to some bad end.

Posted by: brewmn on March 28, 2006 at 4:46 PM | PERMALINK

But what about it only costing 16 billion dollars and Iraq would pay for everything and we would be greeted with flowers and chocolates and and oil would be flowing every where and and democracy would spread like wildfire and and the first season of teletubbies would be released on dvd and and

Posted by: Neo on March 28, 2006 at 4:47 PM | PERMALINK
A new big lie, fresh from the Republican Spin Machine!

Its not a new story, and its probably not precisely a lie. Bush himself may have never said it would be easy, and did in fact state the opposite (though he didn't make a big deal of it.)

However, Richard Perle, Paul Wolfowitz, Donald Rumsfeld and others did say it would be easy, a cakewalk, would pay for itself, would probably take between 6 weeks and 6 months, etc., on behalf of the Administration. And its those statements that those flogging the war highlighted at the time.

And when General Shinseki put numbers on how hard it was likely to be, and what it was likely to really require, he was shown the door, and immediately corrected by Rumsfeld.

The clear message of the administration running up to the war, delivered in Congressional testimony and other venues, was that the war would be easy -- that was the message of the Bush Administration.

Bush himself may not have said it, and certainly did said some vague and general things that contradicted it. But it was the clear overall message in both the general and specific predictions and estimates by those put forward by the Administration to sell the war to the people.

Posted by: cmdicely on March 28, 2006 at 4:52 PM | PERMALINK

"But what about it only costing 16 billion dollars and Iraq would pay for everything and we would be greeted with flowers and chocolates and and oil would be flowing every where and and democracy would spread like wildfire and and the first season of teletubbies would be released on dvd and and"

I am not sure who made this prediction, but it seems a lot closer than the 50,000 US casualties, hundreds of thousands of Iraqi deaths, and millions of refugees prediction.

Posted by: Freedom Fighter on March 28, 2006 at 4:55 PM | PERMALINK

If you want to read some truth about whats going on w/ our soldiers, read the Soldiers for the Truth blog at http://www.sftt.org/main.cfm

..."Combat pay is a misnomer. Today there's no such thing as combat pay if you're talking about extra pay that goes to those who actually trade rounds with the bad guys. Military personnel who serve in cushy posts hundreds of miles from Afghanistan and Iraq earn the same amount as those who kick in doors in Fallujah or drive fuel trucks through RPG Alley and IED Boulevard between Mosul and Baghdad."

So I made a few phone calls. And sure enough, the guys living the good life in places like Kuwait and Qatar for example that bronzed, handsome lifeguard saving lives at the base pool get the same $7.50 a day as our heroes facing the bear on the mean streets of Iraq and in the treacherous mountains of Afghanistan.

A soldier's father reports that his son and his buddies just back from Afghanistan became very bitter when they went on R&R in Qatar and talked to Joes and Jills inside a fortress-like base so safe that soldiers are not authorized to carry individual weapons. And these lucky stiffs living in a relative paradise were also drawing combat pay!

Another loophole creates an even more gross inequity: senior officers read generals and colonels regularly fly into Afghanistan and Iraq on monthly 48-hour useless VIP visits in order to both collect their combat pay for the entire month and rack up tax breaks that can run almost seven grand a month. Not bad double-headers for Perfumed Princes who can barely tell a foxhole from a bidet.

"The problem of our paying an equitable combat pay is the Pentagon's bottom line," says DefenseWatch Editor Ed Offley (SFTT.ORG). "Two years ago the ink hadn't dried on the last Imminent Danger Pay increase when the Pentagon bean-counters were hustling to cut it."

There's more to supporting the troops than slapping a bumper sticker on the back of your wheels or occasionally flying Old Glory and feeling good about vowing to bring freedom to the world. Trust me, making sure our valiant grunts get at least the equivalent of what the Greatest Generation received during the Big War would be far more meaningful...."

Posted by: brkily on March 28, 2006 at 5:00 PM | PERMALINK
I am not sure who made this prediction,

Paul Wolfowitz.

but it seems a lot closer than the 50,000 US casualties,

The ratio 50,000:(Total US Casualties) is smaller than the ratio (Actual Cost):$16Bn already, and the former ratio is getting smaller and the latter bigger as time goes on.


hundreds of thousands of Iraqi deaths,

Hundreds of thousands of Iraqi deaths resulting from the invasion and its aftermath is reasonably in line with the best estimate of some months ago, IIRC.

and millions of refugees prediction.

I've seen no estimates of internal and external refugees, and this does sound high. But, again, probably not as far off as the $16Bn cost estimate was low.

Posted by: cmdicely on March 28, 2006 at 5:06 PM | PERMALINK

Freedom F*cker: I am only trying to understand liberal hypocrisy.

First, remove the hypocrisy from your own eye.

Posted by: Advocate for God on March 28, 2006 at 5:07 PM | PERMALINK

I am not sure who made this prediction, but it seems a lot closer than the 50,000 US casualties, hundreds of thousands of Iraqi deaths, and millions of refugees prediction.
Posted by: Freedom Fighter on March 28, 2006 at 4:55 PM | PERMALINK

I am not sure who made this prediction, but mine was always "It's going to be a clusterfuck."

I think I was right.

Posted by: Osama_Been_Forgotten on March 28, 2006 at 5:09 PM | PERMALINK

Since you Americans are increasing the pay of your mercenaries, we have decided to increase the pay of martyrs from 72 virgins to 97. Up just under 35%. (We don't have to borrow virgins from China).

Posted by: Osama_Been_Forgotten on March 28, 2006 at 5:12 PM | PERMALINK

Hundreds of thousands of Iraqi deaths resulting from the invasion and its aftermath is reasonably in line with the best estimate of some months ago, IIRC.

If you're talking about the Lancet Study, that was based on 2004 numbers.

Posted by: Osama_Been_Forgotten on March 28, 2006 at 5:16 PM | PERMALINK

Since they are charging the soldiers for internet ($5 per hour, phone calls, haircuts...) I doubt if the soldiers are really getting more take home pay. See
DailyKos diary for a letter from an angry dad:

http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2006/3/28/73936/0858

this is how they cut spending....

Posted by: Diane on March 28, 2006 at 5:18 PM | PERMALINK

Hey! I resent the comparison to Iraq!

Posted by: Clusterfuck on March 28, 2006 at 5:20 PM | PERMALINK
If you're talking about the Lancet Study, that was based on 2004 numbers.

I was, and I was being conservative with its age since I didn't want to check exactly how old the data was, and thus wanted to avoid overstating, even by implication, how much greater the current numbers likely were.

Posted by: cmdicely on March 28, 2006 at 5:22 PM | PERMALINK

What happened to all those courageous young graduates of Heritage Foundation University willing to sacrifice their cushy research positions in DC and serve the Cause of not just transforming Iraq but even more important transforming State?

Posted by: The Blue Nomad on March 28, 2006 at 5:28 PM | PERMALINK

That's "Nacogdoches".

And I nearly did get a ticket for speeding in Fort Smith, Arkansas.

Posted by: Tom Ames on March 28, 2006 at 5:30 PM | PERMALINK

"If we assume that Kevin is implying that Bush told us all would be rosey - it is clearly a lie. He never did, but he has absolutely stated the opposite on many occasions."

I guess that's why he strutted on the aircraft carrier with a "Mission Accomplished" banner behind him.

Posted by: Urinated State of America on March 28, 2006 at 5:31 PM | PERMALINK

"freedomfairy"

OMG

ROTFLMAO

Posted by: Jesus the Capitalist on March 28, 2006 at 5:32 PM | PERMALINK

by: cmdicely
"and that the impression that they are not is a distortion created by the media."
We've only asked that the good be reported along WITH the bad. The MSM has not been doing that. They have only been tallying the dead from the latest IED or suicide bomber.
What good? The rebuilding of infrastructure and schools, that children of BOTH sexes are going to school, that children come into the street and cheer when our forces drive through and that our forces and thr Iraqi forces have formed such a bond that they cry for each others losses.

"only saying that it tends to serve the interests of the enemy."
The dis-heartening of americans by only telling of the death in Iraq DOES serve the interests of the enemy because the dis-heartening of americans raises the enemys' morale.

Posted by: Lurker42 on March 28, 2006 at 3:04 PM

Lurker's whole post was a pile of crap, but I have been seeing this little segment - "that children of BOTH sexes are going to school" - from a lot of right-wing bloggers lately and it really takes the cake.

Prior to the first Gulf War, women and girls in Iraq had more rights and better treatment than in most middle east nations. This deteriorated rapidly after the war due both to economic pressures on families caused by the sanctions and to Saddam's attempts to appease religious groups to increase his hold on power. However, things have not gotten better since he was toppled.

Although the new Iraqi constitution guarantees some rights for women, it also gives a prominent place to Islamic law and tribal customs, particularly in family law areas that have a potentially large impact on women. In addition, increased violence against women in post-invasion Iraq has had the effect of reducing their ability to work or go to school outside the home in many areas of the country. This includes both the bombings and other terrorist attacks that affect both men and women, but also includes 'honor killings', rape and attacks on women engaging in 'immoral' behaviour such as dancing or leaving the home without the traditional headscarves.

See - http://www.motherjones.com/mojoblog/archives/2006/03/iraqi_women_wit.html

and - http://www.hrw.org/backgrounder/wrd/iraq-women.htm

Posted by: tanj on March 28, 2006 at 5:32 PM | PERMALINK

Im wondering if any body out there can come up with a nation that has moved towards democracy faster and with less loss of life than Iraq 2003-2006?
Posted by: mark on March 28, 2006 at 5:27 PM | PERMALINK

Afghanistan?
Where they've moved even closer to "Democracy" than they have in Iraq. Because with a "Democracy" you get to call it a Democracy, because people have purple fingers; but no security, no infrastructure, no jobs, and no real freedom.

You see, if you can redefine the word "Democracy" to mean "Daily suicide bombings killing dozens of civillians, corrupt white collar criminals like Chalabi running the oil ministry, sectarian violence, death squads, a new Mayor of Baghdad at gunpoint, and a government that thinks sharia is a good idea" - then you've got what I like to call "movable goal posts" - and pretty much ever word you say after that amounts to a cockroach turd.

Posted by: Osama_Been_Forgotten on March 28, 2006 at 5:35 PM | PERMALINK

What "left" predicted these casualties? Source please, simply handwaving numbers and alleged predictions doesn't cut it. And speaking of handwaving, you've done a masterful job with "budding democracy". How is this defined by you? One might argue we also have a "budding civil war" no? And since American troops haven't left yet and Bush himself said this would be decided by future Presidents - I'm not sure how you can dismiss the prediction that US troops will be there for generations - if this was even a "left" prediction.

Im wondering if any body out there can come up with a nation that has moved towards democracy faster and with less loss of life than Iraq 2003-2006?

Romania

Posted by: ckelly on March 28, 2006 at 5:42 PM | PERMALINK
Im one of those people that think that the liberation of Iraq is going very well. I base this opinion on the fact that I cant think of one nation in the history of mankind that has gone from abject totalitarianism to budding democracy in such a short amount of time and with such little loss of life.

Your own inability to think really isn't an argument that Iraq is going well.


Im wondering if any body out there can come up with a nation that has moved towards democracy faster and with less loss of life than Iraq 2003-2006?

So, you want an example of a country that, over a period of three years or less, acheived rudimentary formal democratic institutions without unconstested control of the country, having killed only about only somewhere on the order of 1% of the country directly related to the transition? France 1789-1792 seems to qualify, though I don't have any estimates of the death toll at hand.

Admittedly, the First Republic didn't work out that well in the long run. But then, Iraq doesn't seem poised to, either.

Posted by: cmdicely on March 28, 2006 at 5:42 PM | PERMALINK

I find it interesting that the left which predicted 20,000 dead Americans in the first weeks of the war and that American troops would be in Iraq for generations, can now be saying things are going as bad as they can possibly go.

I never predicted we'd be there for generations. I predicted, and still do, that we'll be chased out of there with our tail between our legs within five years, ten at the outside, and that the last American to leave Iraq will do so hanging onto a helicopter's skids.

Posted by: Stefan on March 28, 2006 at 5:42 PM | PERMALINK

Not the US, not France, Germany, Mexico, not England and the commonwealth nations, not Norway, not Russia, Japan, India, etc. Give me a name.

If the occupiers of a colonized nation leave the country as they did in India overnight (Lort Mountbatten left within size months) it has to be counted as a swift transformation from a totalitarian regime to a democracy.

Your assertion regarding Iraq is therefore false.

Posted by: lib on March 28, 2006 at 5:44 PM | PERMALINK

Im wondering if any body out there can come up with a nation that has moved towards democracy faster and with less loss of life than Iraq 2003-2006?

I reject both premises of the question, the first of which would be that Iraq has in any meaningful way "moved towards democracy" -- a few elections do not a democracy make in the absence of a duly elected representative government, the rule of law, a unified polity, etc. Right now Iraq can more accurately be called a quasi-theocracy/warlord state riven by sectarian and ethnic civil war, not a democracy.

The second is that Iraq has had a minimal loss of life -- casualties are well into the hundreds of thousands, with deaths ranging anywhere from the tens to the hundreds of thousands.

Posted by: Stefan on March 28, 2006 at 5:47 PM | PERMALINK

"only saying that it tends to serve the interests of the enemy."
The dis-heartening of Americans by only telling of the death in Iraq DOES serve the interests of the enemy because the dis-heartening of Americans raises the enemy's' morale.

Comrade Lurker 42 the proletariat appreciates your concern for the conditions of our heart but we can think for ourselves

Posted by: Neo on March 28, 2006 at 6:24 PM | PERMALINK

That latest whatever it was at the Shia mosque/whatever it was: if the Shia governing coalition really means they don't want us handling security, it is hard to justify hanging around anymore. So I have to wonder: did someone in the misadministration think this was a way to give us cover for withdrawal?

Posted by: Neil' on March 28, 2006 at 6:31 PM | PERMALINK


I predicted that we'd probably lose less than 100 KIA in the invasion phase, certainly less than 200. I also thought we'd find no nuclear program and not much of anything else, no connection with 9-11, and that we'd face a low-level guerrilla war that would eventually drive us out - particularly likely since there was never any national-security reason for invading in the first place.
I suppose I could forgive someone who wasn't paying much attention - who was, say busy raising triplet toddlers - but any pundit or legislator who bought into this is a proven fool - and in my experience, fools are forever.

Posted by: gcochran on March 28, 2006 at 6:34 PM | PERMALINK

"I think someone has been listening to too many right-wing commentators claiming that the MSM isn't reporting on certain things, and assuming that that is the truth."
Posted by: cmdicely

No actually I have three MSM sources to choose from each evening. These would be the main news sources that working folks would tune into while eating dinner. Not everyone chooses to dig deaper to find the rest of the story like those of us here.

P.S. Never assume...like you just did.

Posted by: Lurker 42 on March 28, 2006 at 6:43 PM | PERMALINK

To add to the growing tally of countries which moved towards democracy more quickly and with less loss of life, I'll add Slovenia and the Czech Republic. Hell, pretty much all of Eastern Europe falls in that category.

And I too am amazed that someone would cite children of BOTH sexes going to school in Iraq. Umm, actually much less now than under Saddam. Women have been huge losers as Iraq has become a theocracy.

Posted by: don Hosek on March 28, 2006 at 6:50 PM | PERMALINK

"Comrade Lurker 42 the proletariat appreciates your concern for the conditions of our heart but we can think for ourselves"
Posted by: Neo

AHHHHHHH!!! Socialist russians!!! I thought they were gone!!!! Ratatatatatatat!! Did I get 'em?
Like I said above, not everyone has the chance or desire to dig deeper than what they get on TV so the MSM (TV included) should be giving us the whole story not just the death tally.

Posted by: Lurker 42 on March 28, 2006 at 6:50 PM | PERMALINK

Im wondering if any body out there can come up with a nation that has moved towards democracy faster and with less loss of life than Iraq 2003-2006?...Give me a name.

Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Ukraine, Russia, East Germany, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Bulgaria, Romania, Argentina after the colonels, Chile after Pinochet, Brazil after the colonels, the Philippines after Marcos, etc....and hey, who could forget Poland?

Posted by: Stefan on March 28, 2006 at 6:59 PM | PERMALINK

The dis-heartening of Americans by only telling of the death in Iraq DOES serve the interests of the enemy because the dis-heartening of Americans raises the enemy's' morale.

So, by the same logic the Adminstration's constant invocation of the deaths on September 11th also serves the interests of the enemy because the disheartening of Americans serves the enemy's morale?

Posted by: Stefan on March 28, 2006 at 7:02 PM | PERMALINK
No actually I have three MSM sources to choose from each evening. These would be the main news sources that working folks would tune into while eating dinner. Not everyone chooses to dig deaper to find the rest of the story like those of us here.

I've seen plenty of studies that show that, all other things being equal, increased viewing of TV news (and this well before the advent of cable news networks as a significant factor) makes people less informed about current events. TV is a bad medium for transmitting news, and a good one for transmitting emotionally stimulating images.

For the most part, expecting to get a useful understanding of current events from TV news is only slightly less insane than expecting to get an understanding of calculus by playing Grand Theft Auto: Vice City.

Where it provides the occasional, relatively unfiltered coverage of currently occurring events, it has some modest utility. Beyond that, and providing bullet point updates on stories that you understand largely from some other source, its completely useless as a news source, and that's not even considering spin and bias, just the fundamental features of the medium.

Posted by: cmdicely on March 28, 2006 at 7:11 PM | PERMALINK

Stefan
Ummmm...I'm gonna say "NO" to that one. I don't believe that you need an explanation because I think you are just pushing buttons because no body could be THAT stupid and still operate a computer.

Posted by: Lurker 42 on March 28, 2006 at 7:12 PM | PERMALINK

Howard Kurtz, who has been spewing the "it's the medias fault we are losing" B.S. for the last week tried to ambush Lara Logan, the CBS Iraq reporter (who is actually in Iraq by the way). He wishes he hadn't by the end, she rips hip and new one. Crooks and Liars has the video here:
Lara Logan.
I wanted to stand up and cheer for Lara at the end, she spoke with furious eloquence.


Posted by: patrick on March 28, 2006 at 7:14 PM | PERMALINK

cmdicely,
Good point and you'll get no argument from me about that. Unfortunately that is STILL where most folks get their news so I think they should do a better job at it.
Sure you and I will dig into news papers, search topics on the net etc. but thats not everybody. TV reaches the most people so they need to act like it by reporting the good AND the bad.

Posted by: Lurker 42 on March 28, 2006 at 7:21 PM | PERMALINK

Hundreds of thousands of Iraqi deaths resulting from the invasion and its aftermath is reasonably in line with the best estimate of some months ago, IIRC.

That's absurd. Check out the report of the Brookings Institution.

Shortly before Saddam Hussein left office he released about 10,000 criminals from prison: not political prisoners but thieves, kidnappers and muggers. Those prisoners have caused more death and destruction than the "insurgents" have caused.

Posted by: republicrat on March 28, 2006 at 7:21 PM | PERMALINK

Like I said above, not everyone has the chance or desire to dig deeper than what they get on TV so the MSM (TV included) should be giving us the whole story not just the death tally.

I agree, and why couldn't we have gotten the whole story on Saddam's Iraq? After all, it wasn't all rape rooms and torture chambers, was it? What about all the kids flying kites, and couples getting married, and people starting businesses, and children going to school, and ice cream and kittens? But all you heard was torturing this, genocide that....

Posted by: Stefan on March 28, 2006 at 7:22 PM | PERMALINK

"Women have been huge losers as Iraq has become a theocracy."
Posted by: don Hosek

Yeah that part sux. I had hopes for them when their "interim constitution" held provisions for women in gov't. Thats when sadr got pissed I think.

Posted by: Lurker 42 on March 28, 2006 at 7:27 PM | PERMALINK

I don't believe that you need an explanation because I think you are just pushing buttons because no body could be THAT stupid and still operate a computer.

And yet I'd love to hear the explanation about why reporting on terrorist attacks against Iraqis in Iraq is demoralizing to Americans, but reporting on terrorist attacks against Americans in America isn't. Common sense would seem to indicate it would be the other way around.

Posted by: Stefan on March 28, 2006 at 7:27 PM | PERMALINK

OK,I'm out.
I'll let ya beat me up some more tomorrow. Later all.

Stefan, remind me tomorrow. I will then.

Posted by: Lurker 42 on March 28, 2006 at 7:29 PM | PERMALINK

Yeah that part sux. I had hopes for them when their "interim constitution" held provisions for women in gov't. Thats when sadr got pissed I think.

To paraphrase Condi Rice, no one could possibly have predicted that militant, medieval-thinking Shiite fundamentalist clerics would try to curtail women's rights (*cough* Iran! *cough*)....

Posted by: Stefan on March 28, 2006 at 7:34 PM | PERMALINK

Later, Lurker. You know, I have to give you credit for being one of the more open-minded, polite, fair-minded conservatives here. I disagree with pretty much all of what you say, but you do actually attempt to grapple with the issues. Praise from me must be faint indeed to you, but it's meant quite sincerely.

Posted by: Stefan on March 28, 2006 at 7:37 PM | PERMALINK

Big Media is a for-profit enterprise. Since most of its consumers are as sophisticated as litmus paper, it's no surprise that these companies generate mindless schlock that doesn't make anybody think.

In regard to Iraq, the easiest way for Big Media to get a viewer or a reader is to talk about car bombings and then show pictures of them ---because expecting these clowns to make random acts of brutality relevant to the spread of democratization and liberalization in Iraq is a fool's errand.

Posted by: Toby Petzold on March 28, 2006 at 7:42 PM | PERMALINK

Pay bonuses for FSO's and incentives toward promotion for service in dangerous zones was part of ( long,long,loooooooong)overdue personnel reform package at the Department of State. FSO's had been clustering at and receiving undue career credit for service in grossly overstaffed European missions that better reflected the priorities of the Cold War.

Unless you think that Russian tanks rolling through the Fulda Gap is an imminent crisis, our diplomats are better used elsewhere. Iraq is not going to be the last dangerous or arduous posting and if an unarmed embassy employee stands a fair chance of being shot, kidnapped or blown up, a little extra in their paycheck really shouldn't be something to squeal about.

Posted by: mark safranski on March 28, 2006 at 7:45 PM | PERMALINK

Has the traitorous liberal media even bothered to check and see if US government officials in Tokyo and London are getting this same extra 35%? I thought not.

Posted by: skybluewater on March 28, 2006 at 8:06 PM | PERMALINK

mark safranski on March 28, 2006 at 7:45 PM:

a little extra in their paycheck really shouldn't be something to squeal about.

Nobody's really complaining about the increase in hazard pay for State department employees (except possibly in comparison to compensation for troops)...The thought is this: If things are going so well in Iraq and Afghanistan, why is the additional compensation necessary?

P.S.: patrick, your 7:14pm link to the Lara Logan clip was worthwhile...Thanks for posting it.

Posted by: grape_crush on March 28, 2006 at 8:14 PM | PERMALINK

is a fool's errand.

Sounds like a job for you then, Tony Petzold.

Posted by: brooksfoe on March 28, 2006 at 8:29 PM | PERMALINK

What about all the kids flying kites, and couples getting married, and people starting businesses, and children going to school, and ice cream and kittens?

On the whole, there was less of that when he was in power than since then.

Without anybody there reporting it at the time, but according to reports since Saddam left office, things got consistently worse for the women in the "non-Baghdad" areas of Iraq during the time between 1991 and 2003. In addition to the thuggery of the government, the local society came to adhere more to the near-Shariah state that is widely reported now. Exactly how much of what we see now that we dislike devolved directly from the invasion and overthrow of Saddam is hard to know. Some, maybe. Not all.

We have similar problems assessing the electricity supply. there is a large and prosperous black market in electricity, and people willing to pay market rates can get reliable electricity. Even official figures show that there is more electricity than before for about 80% of the population (almost every place outside Baghdad), and official figures understate the total.

According to the Brookings Institution report, the GDP per person is 25% higher than before, and the number of vehicle miles driven per day is 5 times as high. there are more cell phones and tv antennas than in Egypt, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Syria combined, all of them installed since Saddam fell. More people have and use electrical appliances like refrigerators, air conditioners, televisions -- despite the erratic electricity supply.

I have frequently commented that Kevin Drum's (and others') portraits of Iraq are extremely exaggerated ("quagmire", "fiasco", "disaster", "FUBAR"). I have also frequently pointed out that such characterizations have been popular in previous wars (Revolutionary War, Civil War, etc.) Neither I nor anybody else has ever said that Iraq was "fine". Kevin made that up.

Posted by: republicrat on March 28, 2006 at 8:38 PM | PERMALINK

"mark" is another right-winger who blathers about freedom and democracy yet doesn't know a damned thing about our own.

The American Revolutionary War had about 4000 killed and 6000 wounded out of a population of 3.5 million.

By George Bush's own estimate of a few weeks ago, Iraq, with 26 million, has seen roughly 30,000 civilians killed, never mind combatants/conscripts whom we were actually targeting. In modern wars the ratio of wounded to killed has been more than 2:1. Do the math, idjit.

You can add the United States to your list of countries that have achieved democracy with far less bloodshed- not, of course, that Iraq has achieved democracy.

If the right wing actually knew American history they'd stop being the right wing.

Posted by: HR on March 28, 2006 at 8:38 PM | PERMALINK

What about all the kids flying kites, and couples getting married, and people starting businesses, and children going to school, and ice cream and kittens?

On the whole, there was less of that when he was in power than since then.

Ah, so there was a lot less of that before there was a violent civil war, daily terrorist car bombs, a foreign invasion and occupation, and the daily threat of kidnapping, rape and murder by gangs of armed criminals? Let's see if that passes the laugh tesahahhahahahaha! Hahahahahahahahahahah!

Nope, it doesn't.

Posted by: Stefan on March 28, 2006 at 8:51 PM | PERMALINK

mark: Im wondering if any body out there can come up with a nation that has moved towards democracy faster and with less loss of life than Iraq 2003-2006?

South Korea's and Taiwan's transition was arguably as fast or faster. And South Korea and Taiwan suffered virtually no loss of life or destruction of property. Not to mention that Iraq is nowhere near as functional a Democracy as either South Korea or Taiwan in their early stage. Try again.

Posted by: has407 on March 28, 2006 at 9:07 PM | PERMALINK

$7.50 a day as our heroes facing the bear on the mean streets

Combat pay is $7.50 a day? That's got to be bullshit, right?

Posted by: Boronx on March 28, 2006 at 9:14 PM | PERMALINK

Boronx -- Bullshit, yes. False, no.

The $225/mo, or about $7.50/day, was increased from the previous $150/mo (2001 or 2002?). The administration tried to roll that in 2003 but I think it failed; not sure what happened after that.

Posted by: has407 on March 28, 2006 at 9:31 PM | PERMALINK

sorry, that should read "The administration tried to roll that increase back in 2003..."

Posted by: has407 on March 28, 2006 at 9:36 PM | PERMALINK

Ah, so there was a lot less of that before there was a violent civil war, daily terrorist car bombs, a foreign invasion and occupation, and the daily threat of kidnapping, rape and murder by gangs of armed criminals? Let's see if that passes the laugh tesahahhahahahaha! Hahahahahahahahahahah!

You wrote "a lot less", whereas I wrote "less". There was never a time that Iraqis were free from the daily threat of kidnapping, rape and murder --it's just that the criminal gangs were the Baathist government. Besides kite flying, they now spend more time talking politics in coffee shops now, more time shopping in stores, and more time driving.

Your insertion of the word "lot", and your fanciful romanticism about the late Saddam era, are mistakes.

Posted by: republicrat on March 28, 2006 at 9:45 PM | PERMALINK

Your insertion of the word "lot", and your fanciful romanticism about the late Saddam era, are mistakes.

Well, I agree the extra "lot" was a fairly egregious calumny...

But you're saying it's "fanciful romanticism" to imagine that in Saddam's latter years there was substantially less daily violence and sectarian murder?

Are you, like, crazy?

Posted by: hob goblin on March 28, 2006 at 10:01 PM | PERMALINK

But you're saying it's "fanciful romanticism" to imagine that in Saddam's latter years there was substantially less daily violence and sectarian murder?

Again, there are some extra modifiers: "substantially" and "sectarian". I said that, on the whole, there is less daily murder and kidnapping than in Saddam's last years.

Recall, Kurds were still being routinely murdered when in what is now called "Kurdistan". It doesn't happen any more, so the reporters don't go there. Kidnapping and rape were daily occurances throughout Iraq, carried out by gangs that shared their monetary takings with the Baathist government. According to UNICEF, Iraqis were also dying in large numbers due to starvation and lack of medical supplies caused by the embargo. I personally doubt the UNICEF numbers, but no doubt the hospitals are better supplied now and, for what it's worth, the restaurants are doing a better business.

Posted by: republicrat on March 28, 2006 at 10:44 PM | PERMALINK

Your insertion of the word "lot", and your fanciful romanticism about the late Saddam era, are mistakes.

Er, no they aren't.

I live and grew up in the largest community of Iraqi ex-patriates outside of Iraq in the world. During high school I worked for an Iraqi store owner and worked with his relatives. I had a large and varied Iraqi clientele when I worked in the corporate world. Over a period of twenty-four years I ate lunch and dinner with Iraqis, played racquetball with them, met them at their businesses, and saw them on holidays.

All this afforded me a lot of opportunities to talk with them about their country, and they would tell you what I'm telling you:

Respectfully, you don't have a clue what you're talking about.

You've simply bought into talking points that justify your position on the war. These people absolutely loved their country, dictator or not. Under Saddam in the 70's and 80's Baghdad was known as the Paris of the Middle East, filled with nightclubs and cafes and shops. The thing to do was dress up and party. Oil was cheap, people were wealthy, health care was good, education was stressed, cultural refinement was pursued, and women had many of the same rights they have in the West.

Yes, the wealth and infrastructure deteriorated because of the sanctions, but if you're trying to compare even that period to the current time -- you're just nuts. In the "late Saddam era" there was simply nothing like the daily carnage, violence, crime, and societal chaos that there is today, and it's insulting to the Iraqis who are now living the horror to pretend that this is true.

Maysoon Al-Damluji, a female member of parliament interviewed on NPR a few weeks back made exactly this case. She said:

Before the fall, there was security in the streets, people could walk freely without the fear of kidnappers, or car bombs, or any kind of insurgency, attacks, and all that. Things are not the case anymore. There is a lot of fear. Woman fear for her children going to school and back, and all that.

She described the mood of post-invasion Iraqis as "fatalistic."

If you believe her description of the recent historical record is in error, you may want to travel to Iraq and set her straight. After your unlighted plane corkscrews to a landing at Baghdad airport, you will need to rent an armored limousine and make a mad dash in serpentine pattern up Route Irish (now more commonly called "Death Road). Don't drive too close to the security checkpoints though or they will fire on you without warning.

When you see the smoke of the most recent carbomb or suicide bomber rising in the distance, that will be Baghdad. Hopefully you'll have received the most recent update as to what streets in the capital are "Code Red" so you don't run in to the middle of an ongoing firefight. Turn left at the first secret torture room then right at the second rape and torture room (there are a number of them so it can get confusing). The traffic lights rarely work due to lack of electricity, but that will be the least of your worries. As you near the center of the city begin avoiding the small weapons fire you'll be taking as locals realize you're an American. As you approach the Green Zone go just fast enough that the spray of bullets doesn't hit you but slow enough so that the soldiers at the checkpoint don't open fire on you.

Once inside, you'll receive your security briefing and instructions on what to do in case of a major attack. After that, grab a burger and a margarita, relax, and get used to your Green Zone surroundings, because you'll not want to be leaving them again until it's time to make the trip back to the airport, which won't come soon enough for you.

Unfortunately for them, the majority of Iraqis don't have a Green Zone to keep them safe.

Posted by: Windhorse on March 28, 2006 at 11:06 PM | PERMALINK

Paying mercenaries more money is not going to slow the death spiral of the American republic.

We need to reinstate the draft and demand that all wars be declared by Congress as the Constitution requires. Passing an amendment that all wars be on a pay-as-you-go basis would be a good idea as well. The current system allows cowards like Bush to borrow from our grandchildren to fund the slaughter of innocents - a crime on both ends.

Posted by: Stephen Kriz on March 28, 2006 at 11:14 PM | PERMALINK

South Korea's and Taiwan's transition was arguably as fast or faster. And South Korea and Taiwan suffered virtually no loss of life or destruction of property.

Posted by: has407 on March 28, 2006 at 9:07 PM | PERMALINK

Are you counting the Korean war or the various Communist-Kuomintang wars in China? Or the Defense of Taiwan act which keeps Taiwan from being invaded by China?

You try again.

Posted by: McA on March 28, 2006 at 11:50 PM | PERMALINK

In re: morons who underplayed American casualties in Iraq- official figures are 2323 dead, 17269 wounded. This does not count other coalition troops, with at least 204 dead and who knows how many wounded. In addition, the Pentagon says more than 25,000 troops have been medically evacauted from Iraq and Afghanistan which includes non-battle injuries and illnesses, as well as more than 1,000 with mental problems.

In short we are probably over 20,000 American casualties at this point, which the weasel fuckers above dismiss as minor.

How can you anti-American chickenhawks sleep at night?

Posted by: solar on March 29, 2006 at 12:01 AM | PERMALINK

These people absolutely loved their country, dictator or not. Under Saddam in the 70's and 80's Baghdad was known as the Paris of the Middle East, filled with nightclubs and cafes and shops. The thing to do was dress up and party. Oil was cheap, people were wealthy, health care was good, education was stressed, cultural refinement was pursued, and women had many of the same rights they have in the West.

Posted by: Windhorse on March 28, 2006 at 11:06 PM | PERMALINK

Too bad they had the Iraq-Iran war where over a million people were killed and the invasion of Kuwait then. I'm sure Kuwait loved being occupied for a year.

No offence, but sympathy for Iraq against the 'big power' of America ignores the fact that Iraq if not checked by a 'big power' plays nasty with other countries.


Posted by: McA on March 29, 2006 at 12:03 AM | PERMALINK

I've noted that Moron Mark never resurfaced after making his fatuous post about how there have never been fewer casualties, blah, blah, blah. Good for all of you who stuck the facts right up old Mark's ass. Although I only saw the one post, I'd say he's bucking for the troll hall of fame.

Mark, do you perchance work in the White House? If not, you should apply. They must have an opening for a bright fellow such as yourselfat least through January 20, 2009. After that, maybe Rush Limbaugh will take you on.

Posted by: Nixon Did It on March 29, 2006 at 12:49 AM | PERMALINK

But I thought things were going fine in Iraq and it was only the traitorous fifth columnists in the media who were making it look dangerous?

Bush supporters are absolutely obsessed with what happened on September 11, 2001--yet they complain that the media focuses too much on the terrorism that is inflicted daily on our soldiers in Iraq. What's wrong with this picture?

Posted by: Moonlight on March 29, 2006 at 7:55 AM | PERMALINK

Freedom is on the march, but it is hard, hard work - As an example of the difficulty, Rumsfeld is working 24/7 to bring the same freedom to DoD as that of Kurdistan. If Barzani can imprison the journalist Qadir for 18 months, why can't Rumdumb imprison Maureen Dowds?

We fought and died to bring "freedom" to the Kurds - Why can't we have the same?

Posted by: thethirdPaul on March 29, 2006 at 8:16 AM | PERMALINK

The March 23 "Federal Page" in The Washington Post gives a better explanation of why State boosted hardship and danger pay for those serving in places like Baghdad, It carried interesting excerpts from an article about Foreign Service members serving in Iraq that appeared in the March issue of the Foreign Service Journal. You can read the entire Foreign Service Journal article and related sidebars at www.afsa.org/fsj/mar06/iraqservice.pdf

The reasons the change comes now are apprentnly twofold: first, life is hard out there for State people, and second, Congress only changed the rules that allowed the pay boost late last year.

Posted by: Mike on March 29, 2006 at 9:55 AM | PERMALINK

Mike,

Since you seem to know details about this do the State department employees earning $154,000/year in Iraq driving trucks (per obnoman above) pay taxes on that money? Federal, state, SS or Medicaid?

Or is that money considered some kind of tax-free windfall?

Also, how does that $154,000 compare to what a soldier driving a truck in Iraq earns?

Posted by: Tripp on March 29, 2006 at 10:57 AM | PERMALINK
I had hopes for them when their "interim constitution" held provisions for women in gov't. Thats when sadr got pissed I think.

Sadr got pissed a lot earlier than that, when the CPA decided to work with the other major Iran-backed Shi'ite opposition groups, but deliberately excluded his.

Posted by: cmdicely on March 29, 2006 at 11:30 AM | PERMALINK

Also, how does that $154,000 compare to what a soldier driving a truck in Iraq earns?

For examples' sake, an E-1 in the Army with less than two years in earns about $14,822 a year base pay, which amount can be increased if he receives combat pay, while for an E-7 it would be about $22,000. So generally the private citizen gets paid about 7 to 10 times more than what the soldier does.

Which is why it makes so much economic sense to outsource military operations to private contractors....after all, why pay a soldier $15,000 what you can get a civilian to do for only $150,000?

Posted by: Stefan on March 29, 2006 at 12:01 PM | PERMALINK

McA -- I was referring to the transition to democracy in the late 80's early 90's after decades of authoritarian rule in both countries--decades after the Korean war and the Communist-Kuomintang conflict. Or are you asserting that Iraq's transition to democracy started in 1932 (or whenever), and Saddam was just a small detour?

Posted by: has407 on March 29, 2006 at 12:18 PM | PERMALINK

Stefan:
"Praise from me must be faint indeed to you"

Quite to the contrary, Praise from those who agree with you is easy and realy quite common.
Praise from those who do NOT agree with you is a rare and high honor indeed. It is sincerely apreciated.

Posted by: Lurker42 on March 29, 2006 at 1:09 PM | PERMALINK

DOH!! It is sincerely appreciated.

Temporary cranial-rectumitis. *grin*

Posted by: Lurker42 on March 29, 2006 at 1:15 PM | PERMALINK

Stefan:
"So, by the same logic the Adminstration's constant invocation of the deaths on September 11th also serves the interests of the enemy because the disheartening of Americans serves the enemy's morale?"
AND
"And yet I'd love to hear the explanation about why reporting on terrorist attacks against Iraqis in Iraq is demoralizing to Americans, but reporting on terrorist attacks against Americans in America isn't. Common sense would seem to indicate it would be the other way around."

First off I didn't read your original Q correctly. I thought you were playing a mind game but after re-reading it I see you had a good question.
"The administration's constant invocation of the deaths on September 11th" should no longer dishearten americans but is being used as a sort of a battle cry, if you will. It's supposed to bring us together and remind us why we are at war. Rally us around the troops, so to speak. Granted when the enemy hears it, it could remind them of their success against us so *shrug* I suppose it could work both ways.
"why reporting on terrorist attacks against Iraqis in Iraq is demoralizing to Americans" Well I would hope it's because americans want to help these people, not see them blown up but then that's only a part of my point. I used the death tally as an example when the MSM is doing many things that could be translated into low morale, not only for we at home but for our troops in Iraq. Don't forget that the enemy watchs and reads our media reports. They could very reasonably gain comfort from watching and hearing the constant squabling and petty bickering going on in our congress and is very much covered by the MSM. The president LIED, coming out of congress, The war is unjust, coming out of congress. It was the New York Times that told our enemy that we were listening to their phone conversations. Need I go on?? Surely you can now see how these things, true or not, could be benificial to our enemy and harmful to our troops.

Posted by: Lurker42 on March 29, 2006 at 2:09 PM | PERMALINK

Surely you can now see how these things, true or not, could be benificial to our enemy and harmful to our troops.

Well, not really. That's just the cost of living in a free and open society -- we're loud, we're noisy, and when we disagree people generally know about it. I see that as a strength, not as a weakness.

It may have some short-term harmful effects, but the proposed long-term solution, to censor ourselves, is even more harmful in the long run. If I may borrow a locution from the President, if we start watching what we say, then the terrorists have won. If I believe something to be true, if I believe the Administration is doing something I believe is harmful to America, should I not speak out just because some anonymous Iraqi rebel in Samarra might nod his head along with me? Isn't my first obligation to do what I think is right for my country?

Posted by: Stefan on March 29, 2006 at 3:09 PM | PERMALINK

Isn't my first obligation to do what I think is right for my country?

Is this a question even asked anymore inside the White House? I mean, assuming it ever was.

Posted by: craigie on March 29, 2006 at 3:37 PM | PERMALINK

Lots of ads on Craiglist San Diego if you want to relocate to drive a truck in Iraq.

Posted by: Easy Test on March 29, 2006 at 5:15 PM | PERMALINK

I cant speak to what contractors working for the Department of State pull down in Iraq but the average State Department carreer guy equivalent to a very senior enlisted would make about 39 to 55 thousand dollars a year, overseas, plus the 35 percent hardship and the 35 percent danger allowance.

The average equivalent of a senior Colonel would earn something like 90 to 120 thousand, plus the 2 allowances.

The top of the Foreign Service pay scale runs to something like 150,000; that would be for a heavy-hitting top-of-the-line U.S. diplomat, say an ambassador with perhaps thirty years of experience.

More than a few contractors with Halliburton earn more than that in Baghdad.

The base pay is taxable, just as if that bureaucrat was sitting in Washington, and caught everyday in Beltway traffic. I frankly dont know if the allowances are listed on their W-2s as taxable income, but I suspect that they would get the same deal as DoD civilians on that.

I do know that you can subtract from that 70 percent over their base pay the 16 percent or so locality pay they get when their caught in that Beltway traffic, so as for many other civil servant-types in Baghdad.

They get their base pay, add on the incentives for living a miserable life and maybe getting shot, and the subtract the 16 percent locality pay so that works out to more like 54 or 55 percent, not really 70.

Posted by: Mike on March 29, 2006 at 5:26 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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