The Recovering Cynic
Breaking The Addiction One Truth At A Time
Saturday, August 07, 2004
Friday, August 06, 2004
I was absolutely appalled when I heard about John F. Kerry's grab, glow, throw, and go performance at Wendy's last week. For those of you who didn't get the news, here's the gist of the story from NewsMax:
When John Kerry, John Edwards and their wives descended on a Newburgh, N.Y., Wendy's restaurant on Friday for a "light" lunch with the common people, it was all just a photo op.It goes on:
Team Kerry-Edwards had already ordered their real lunches - consisting of five-star gourmet food from a tony local restaurant - with instructions to have the haute cuisine ready for pickup after the top Democrats ditched Wendy's.
After tossing out their cheeseburgers and chili, Kerry and Edwards feasted on shrimp vindallo, grilled diver sea scallops, prosciutto, wrapped stuffed chicken and steak salad.Now, contrast Kerry's snobbery with President Bush's Thanksgiving feast last November. He slid out of Washington without a single photo-op, put his life at risk by entering an extremely hostile war zone, personally served our troops their dinner, and was back in the U.S. before the New York Times could tip off Al Qaeda.
The meals came to about $200, MidHudson News said.
Remember this picture?
Or how about this one?
And yet another:
Interesting comparison, No?
Keeping The Tradition Alive
Curtis seems to have abandoned his weekly quiz, so in the meantime I'll be taking over for him. This one, the mage quiz, also comes from Muted Faith. I used to play Role Playing Games back in the day, so this holds some nostalgic appeal for me:
find your element
Accurate? You be the judge.
Thursday, August 05, 2004
Debunking The Body Count Myth
Here's one that I've been waiting to address for a long time:
Back when Fahrenheit Fact still had a comments section, one of our more colorful visitors claimed that the Coalition was just as bad as Saddam because we've murdered over 10,000 Iraqi civilians. His source? Iraq Body Count, a website dedicated to (in its own words) "[establishing] an independent and comprehensive public database of media-reported civilian deaths in
Now of all the distorting websites maintained by anti-war activists, I've always found those like Iraq Body Count to be the most distasteful and ill-conceived. By using pretty graphics, bold-type fonts, and professional-looking charts, IBC (like Time before it) hopes to divert attention from its specious reasoning and conjure a case from Ethos and Pathos. Don't believe me? Lets deconstruct:
The first false premise advanced by IBC relates to the nature of our military intervention in
Examples of this twisted reasoning are peppered throughout IBC's database. Take incidents # k022 and k023 for example, where 188 civilians en route to Shiite shrines were killed by "suicide bombers carrying explosives." Now, I'm a bit confused - is IBC saying that our soldiers strapped C4 onto their Kevlar vests and detonated themselves in the midst of these sojourners, or are they blaming us for failing to precognitively evacuate every pilgrim prior to the bombing? Neither - by virtue of our presence in
Let's hypothetically suppose that Iraqi sovereignty never succeeds and violence in
Interestingly, we can generalize IBC's implicit reasoning to conclude that the United Nations is directly responsible for the bombing-related deaths of 11 recent attendees at an Israeli Bar Mitzvah. After all, by supporting the Jewish relocation to Israel back in the 40's, the UN helped created a climate of "instability." The suicide bomber who blew the Israelis to pieces wasn't directly responsible for his actions - the world community was, for antagonizing him to act the way he did.
Furthermore, I'm disinclined to trust IBC's definition of a "civilian". In this new era of faceless terrorism, our enemies do not wear clearly marked uniforms or carry bright, colorful banners into battle. They are often plainclothes citizens who snipe from rooftops, knife soldiers in alleyways, or detonate bombs while operating moving vehicles. When a so-called "civilian" is found dead from what IBC innocuously terms "gunfire," how do they determine that he wasn't a threat to our troops? Perhaps
But perhaps I'm being a bit too harsh. After all, some entries like x231 clearly show that Coalition forces killed 9 civilians by utilizing "'500lb laser-guided bombs' and Cobra attack helicopters". Surely the majority of Iraqi casualties were unambiguously identified in the following way. Right?
Even though there are several instances of "airstrike" and "bombings" on the website, the vast majority of the deaths on Iraq Body Count are almost impossible to trace (let alone identify as the Coalition's direct responsibility). I culled the following chart of the largest death toll entries on IBC in order to show how it "strains the gnat and swallows the camel." Observe:
20 Mar 2003 - 24 Apr 2003
LAT 18 May
20 Mar 2003 - 20 Apr 2003
Hospitals in Najaf,
AP 10 June
20 Mar 2003 - 06 Apr 2003
CSM 22 May
20 Mar 2003 - 09 Apr 2003
GUA 09 Apr
Violent deaths recorded at
60 per cent from gunshot wounds
KR 21 May
Violent deaths recorded at
Over 55% by gunfire
IT 10 Oct
Violent deaths recorded at
Deaths from gunfire, explosions, etc. - 'excludes trauma deaths from accidents'
AP 23 May
|Minimum Ambiguously Reported Casualties: 5412
Maximum Ambiguously Reported Casualties: 6037>
Conclusion: Of the casualties reported by iraqbodycount.net, almost one half (both minimum and maximum) of the reports are grouped en-masse and cannot be reliably traced back to coalition forces.
...and that's without including the suicide bombings and instances of infighting that pepper the entries on IBC's chart! I don't know about you, but I think citing 11,429 civilian deaths using the above methods is sloppy at best and deceitful at worst. With all the twisted logic and sketchy numbers employed by IBC, I almost feel sorry for its creators. They spent countless hours shoring up numbers from Reuters, AP, and other worldwide networks and combining them into neatly symmetrical charts, only to have their conclusions seriously shaken by a cursory examination of their hard-sought "facts."
Now don't get me wrong here - I'm not denying that Coalition bombs can go astray or that careless fire costs innocent lives. Every civilian killed in this conflict is a grievous loss that can never be replaced. I'm merely trying to point out how the presumptions and numbers employed by Iraq Body Count are serving to propogate lies and reenforce false assumptions about the character of our troops and the reality of this conflict.
If you have any comments to make on this post, feel free to post below. I'd love to hear some other perspectives on this issue as well.
Sharing The Wealth...
As much as I want to get my deconstructionist post up about Iraq Body Count, I might be stuck here at my radio station for awhile watching my history class videos on our T1 connection. Fortunately this is my final week of homework, so my critical paper on the James Ossuary notwithstanding I'll be able to push towards the big 5-0 on Fahrenheit Fact.
Incidentally, if you're ever in the mood for an excellent history series on America, go to PBS' website for The Biography of America. These are the films that I've been watching all semester for my U.S. History Since 1877 course and they're extremely well done. A few even include cameos from Stephen Ambrose, the author of Band of Brothers and arguably the most prolific historical writer to emerge in the last two generations.
So, if you're ignorant of the basic history of the American nation (or want to pass your citizenship test with flying colors), check it out. Registration is free, and highly recommended.
Well, I'm off to watch the video about Reconstruction. I'll hopefully get my other post up when I'm done.
Sunday, August 01, 2004
I Don't Know How I Missed This...
...but I'm making up for it right now. Dr. Kelton Rhoads, a psychological pundit, studious fact-checker, and intelligent member of the human race, has had his own take on Fahrenheit 9/11 up for a little while. In it, he deconstructs the propogandistic tools Moore uses and does a bit of independant research to battle back the Round Mound of Nothing Profound (as Knight of the Mind is wont to refer to him). Methinks Curtis and I have a new source to play with - expect some new Facts very soon.
Saturday, July 31, 2004
Out Of Left Field...
If I'd known about Curtis' ill-timed (but much appreciated) endorsement, I wouldn't have focused on schoolwork this weekend. I sometimes wish opportunity would beat down the door instead of waiting for me to log onto my website (yeah yeah, Carpe diem and all that).
In lieu of any new analysis or witty commentary at this 11th (more like 12th) hour, I'll just link to a Cox and Forkum cartoon that I've always loved:
In our short-sighted-9-5-order-online-"feed-me-now"-consumer-culture, its growing increasingly difficult to remind the majority of Americans that simply replacing the man behind the curtain isn't going to quash the hatred of those who revel in our grief. We need to constantly remind our soldiers and citizens about the lessons of the past, because although our leaders may bear the brunt of the world's intellectual and political assault, its going to take the sacrifice and dedication of our men and women in uniform to stem the tide of terrorist aggression on the front lines and make the world safe for representative democracy.
So for the sake of our soldiers, please spread the word about Fahrenheit Fact. General Montgomery once said: "The morale of the soldier is the greatest single factor in war." The resolution of our troops should never be shaken flippantly and without need, and we should never passively grant that power to a man who calls radical Islamic insurgents "minutemen." Regardless of what you think about Bush, Moore's lies and misrepresentations are helping to destroy our brothers and sisters on the front lines, and it is up to you to ensure that they understand the truth about the cause for which they fight.
On a lighter note, I'm going to be heading back to college in just a few weeks, and I'm positively stoked to see my friends and sometime-colleagues once more. I'm slated to become news director for my college station ("what news?" is one of the many comments I will grudgingly accept), which means that I'd better start blogging more vociferously. Radio journalism, even moreso than print sometimes, is a hungry beast, and as a future zookeeper I need to get in the habit of filling its dish.
Also, I had failed to mention that one of my future roommates, Rick Toboz, has a nifty (and sometimes quite insightful) live journal. Visit him if you're in the mood for mental voyeurism, or if you're one of those consistent post-moderns who tries to understand the viewpoint of EVERY cultural group ("tolerance for all" shouldn't exclude the majority).
Incidentally, only two more weeks until I can put this up on my door:
We'll see how the anti-war activists on campus respond (compliments to Protest Warrior).
Well, my bed awaits, and I'm one sleepy little pundit-in-training. Goodnight, and I'll be putting up more posts as work and summer school allow.
Thursday, July 29, 2004
My Interview With Lt. Chastain
Welcome to all of you who are visiting from Fahrenheit Fact! Here is the full transcipt of my conversation with Lt. Glenn Chastain. Remember, requests for audio should be submitted to firstname.lastname@example.org. Due to the size of the interview .mp3 and my abysmally-slow 56k, segments will be provided only to those with valid (reasearch-oriented) requests. Once again, thanks for visiting, and remember to return to The Recovering Cynic and a-sdf for election coverage and commentary as we edge closer to the national November showdown.
Transcript of Telephone Interview
Time of Call: Approx. Mountain Time on July 26
Party 1: Grant Libby (a.k.a. “The Recovering Cynic”)
Party 2: Lieutenant Glenn Chastain of the Oregon State Police (commission number: 750).
[Note: This conversation has been edited for clarity. Pauses, interpolated vocal sounds, and colloquialisms have been removed. To obtain an .mp3 copy of all or part of this conversation, please email Fahrenheitfact@yahoo.com with your request.]
Grant: Grant Libby.
Lieutenant Chastain: Grant, this is Lieutenant Glenn Chastain from the state police of
returning your call. Oregon
Grant: Hey, how are you doing today Glenn?
Chastain: I’m doing ok. How are you?
Grant: Doing quite well. Thanks for returning [my call], by the way.
Chastain: Not a problem.
Grant: I had a couple of questions for you, regarding [trooper] deployment in
Grant: Currently, how many [troopers] do you have guarding the west coast against terrorist attack or any other kind of incursion?
Chastain: Well, in
…I can’t speak for the entire west coast, because I have no idea what Oregon and Washington has… California
Grant: Uh huh…
Chastain: But Oregon, we have got currently…24 patrol troopers whose primary responsibility is highway and transportation safety, and we have 20 fish and wildlife troopers whose primary responsibility is fish and wildlife and natural resource preservation…
Grant: Hmm. Now, have you had the opportunity to see Michael Moore’s new movie?
Chastain: I have not.
Grant: Ok. Well, in it he makes the assertion that there are only two troops who are guarding a probably 40 or 50 mile stretch of coastline in
… [I was at work at the time, and didn't have access to the movie transcript] Oregon
Chastain: Um, there are times when there’s none. (laughs)
Grant: There are times when there’s none? Ahh…
Chastain: We don’t have 24 hour coverage, we’ve [had] budget cuts for the last 30 years, and we used to have 665 patrol troopers, today we’ve got 329.
Chastain: Like I said, the entire Oregon coast is 300 + miles [and] only has 24 people, and we split that between couple of shifts, throw in some training, some other mandatory things, time off for vacation or sick leave, [and that leaves] 24 people for that much highway. There could have only been two people on the coast at that time.
Grant: Hmm. Now that’s interesting. Now, is it the responsibility of the federal government or the state of
to make sure that the funds are allocated correctly? Oregon
Chastain: Our budget is funded through the state…
Grant: The state…
Chastain: We do get some federal grant funds, but federal grant funds usually have some strings attached to them. Usually we can use that for equipment and training and not for funding of people. So our money comes directly from the state government, it is recommended by the governor, and then it is passed out of the legislature by the
legislature. We’re funded predominately through general funds, so we’re in direct competition with schools and with nursing homes and other human services and all the other services that the state provides through general fund dollars… Oregon
Grant: Why do you think the PD’s [have] been taking quite a hit?
Chastain: The “PD’s”?
Grant: The PD. Police department.
Chastain: I have no idea about [other] police departments. Our agency used to be funded through the Oregon highway fund, which is gasoline taxes predominately, and about 25 years ago we were removed out of that and we were placed in the general fund, so we became [direct competitors] for the same dollars for education and other human services, so, our funding has just, over the last 25 years, been stripped and stripped and stripped, and predominately our funding funds positions. We don’t have a lot of pass-through dollars and those things that other agencies can cut. We have to cut people.
Grant: Hmm. Interesting. Now, how much control would you say that the Homeland Security Department has over the police department? I mean, do they have the ability to make any significant decisions about what you guys do or do they recommend things?
Chastain: They make recommendations. And we do have some people who are in place who work in our office of homeland security in
, which are in direct contact with the federal government’s homeland security office. Oregon
Grant: Is security in the west coast a significant issue to address in the future?
Chastain: Here again, I can’t speak for the entire west coast, I can talk about
’s coast… Oregon
Grant: Oh, yes.
’s coast. Excuse me. Oregon
Chastain: Well, we have some ports here in
, and obviously if there’s going to be some kind of a problem that would be one area, there’s multiple areas that could be problems, so I wouldn’t call it any more problematic than anything else. Oregon
Grant: Um hum. Now what is the role of the
state coast guard in protecting the coast? Oregon
Chastain: You’d have to check with the coast guard, they’re a federal agency and I do not know what their primary responsibility is.
Grant: Ok, excellent. Well, thank you very much for talking with me today.
Chastain: You’re very welcome, Grant. Anytime.
Grant: I just wanted to let you know first of all that this conversation was recorded…
Chastain: I knew that. I got that information from the cadet that took the number from you.
Grant: Ok. I will be putting this up online, or excerpts of this up online, if that’s alright with you.
Chastain: That’s perfectly fine.
Grant: Alright. And I also wanted to let you know that I greatly appreciate this, and that if you’d like to visit our website, I’ll probably be putting this up within the next few days. Basically, I’m, along with another friend of mine, the webmaster of a site called Fahrenheit Fact. We’re trying to deconstruct Michael Moore’s new movie and show people where there are factual misrepresentations and give them ammunition to fight the people on the left who are going to uphold it without thinking…
Chastain: And, like I said before, when Michael Moore, I don’t know if it was his quote, (I can’t believe he had some of our troopers in the movie also), I think what they were talking about was how many troopers were on the coast [at that time] or how many [are based out of] our
patrol office. [There are] only two patrol troopers out of that Florence patrol office. So, I’m not sure what context it was actually in, [whether Florence ] was talking about […] the entire Moore coast, or specifically about the Oregon office [… but] in fact, there were only two troopers assigned out of that office. [edited for clarity] Florence
Grant: Hmm. You know, I have to check on [how many miles of coast Moore alleged] – basically he was using that one sole example of inadequate policing along the coast to say that homeland security is a sham because we’re not serious about guarding the coast of Oregon […] I thought it was a rather gross misrepresentation.
Chastain: Well yeah, because there are so many entities that provide security and in different roles. Like I said, our patrol division’s primary responsibility would be for transportation safety, and safety along highway 101, which runs all the way up the
coast. So, their primary responsibility is transportation safety on that highway, and we also have our fish and wildlife troopers, which are also state troopers, and they’re the ones who primarily do natural resource protection, but they are on the beaches, they are checking people who are angling, fishing, clamming, crabbing, so they’re out there on boats […], they usually have four-wheel drive vehicles, so there are a lot of people who are out there doing other things, but there are also police officers… Oregon
Chastain: So, a little bit of misrepresentation, but that was the story he was trying to portray. Well, you can spin numbers out however you want. You know that. (laughs)
Grant: (also laughing) Yes, that’s what politics is all about.
[At this point, the conversation moved off topic. I asked Lt. Chastain to try and look up some Coast Guard numbers for me, but after about a minute of searching I decided to draw the conversation to a close and finalize my thanks]
Tuesday, July 27, 2004
Perhaps We Will Have That Party...
I logged on to Fahrenheit Fact today, and discovered (to my great approbation) that we've surpassed 200,000 hits on our counter! If you're reading this Curtis, you know a party is inevitable. You just need to name the time and the place.
P.S. I recently did a little bit of investagative journalism, and I came up with material sufficient to support another Fact. I'll have it posted within the next day. Keep checking our site!