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Absolute Bull. A "study" supposedly "shows" that 665,000 "excess" deaths occurred in Iraq since the US invasion. Thats almost 15,500 every month above the expected death rate. Bull. Throw the flag on this one, folks. That the media is even reporting this crap shows a venomous partisan slant. The Washington Post should be ashamed they even printed this hackery. This would be almost 400 (article says 500 – even higher than my back of the envelope calcs) people PER DAY. Over the normal death rate?

It is more than 20 times the estimate of 30,000 civilian deaths that President Bush gave in a speech in December. It is more than 10 times the estimate of roughly 50,000 civilian deaths made by the British-based Iraq Body Count research group.

The surveyors said they found a steady increase in mortality since the invasion, with a steeper rise in the last year that appears to reflect a worsening of violence as reported by the U.S. military, the news media and civilian groups. In the year ending in June, the team calculated Iraq's mortality rate to be roughly four times what it was the year before the war.

Of the total 655,000 estimated "excess deaths," 601,000 resulted from violence and the rest from disease and other causes, according to the study. This is about 500 unexpected violent deaths per day throughout the country.

The survey was done by Iraqi physicians and overseen by epidemiologists at Johns Hopkins University's Bloomberg School of Public Health. The findings are being published online today by the British medical journal the Lancet.

This is utter and complete crap. Period. No thinking person can possibly believe these numbers. When have you EVER heard of that many people dying in one day in Iraq, much less every single day since the war began. For heaven's sake, think, people.

UPDATE: Others: Right Wing Nut House, OTB, Decision '08, Astute Bloggers, Gateway Pundit,

UPDATE: Political Pit Bull has some numbers that are even more pertinent to any discussion of this subject.

UPDATE: Confederate Yankee:

To buy these conclusions, you have to swallow the impossibility that Reuters, the Associated Press, UPI, the BBC, the New York Times, the Guardian, Robert Fisk, al Manar, al Jazeera, and every other news conglomeration in Iraq are a willful part of the largest cover-up in human history, hiding three times of the number of those killed in Hiroshima and Nagasaki combined (214,000 according to wikipedia) over the course of three-plus years.

It’s patently absurd.

UPDATE: Game, set, match. The Iraqi government rejects the "study" as exagerated.

“This figure, which in reality has no basis, is exaggerated,” said Iraqi government spokesman Ali Debbagh.

“It is a figure which flies in the face of the most obvious truths,” he said, calling on research institutions to adopt precise and transparent criteria especially when the research concerns victim tolls.

Not that this will convince the TruthyTrolls™.

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79 Responses to Bull

  1. Straight8 says:

    You might be surprised how many people will buy into this gross misreporting of casualties.
    I can name (but I won’t) two relatives who believe most of what they read or see in the MSM.

  2. Pingback: Sister Toldjah » Report on 655,000 alleged Iraqi civilian casualties since the beginning of the Iraq war: the latest October surprise

  3. Get used to it, pal. There is gonna be an almighty rain of bad Iraq press being dished out in the next few weeks, moreso because of what’s going on with NorKo. The Dems and their allies are going to hammer away on the “FAILURE! FAILURE! THROW THE REPUBS OUT!” meme, without doing anything resembling stating what they will do once they take control.

    And from the way they’ve been merely reacting, instead of attacking, the RNC doesn’t look like they have any idea how to fight back. Blaming Clinton for Kim Jung Whackjob ain’t gonna cut it; they’ve got to paint a clear picture of what a Speaker of the House Pelosi, Ways and Means Chair Charlie Rangel, and Senate led by Reid would mean.

    They just don’t seem capable of doing it.

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  5. Ed says:

    Since they used accepted sampling methods, the same sampling methods used by the CDC and the WHO, how are they wrong? Just claiming that they’re wrong (The earth is flat!) because you don’t want your belief system challenged is not rational. Where’s the methodological error?

  6. jrw says:

    “utter and complete crap”…”hackery”…”venomous partisan slant”…? All great name callling, but not an argument. Studies are often inaccurate and this one has lots of potential for error, but perhaps you should deal with the issues and not assume anything you don’t want to hear is a lie. By the way, Straight*, the study doesn’t refer to casualties, it uses the word mortality, as in disease, epidemic, etc. Very different, but probably beneath your notice.

  7. Xanthippas says:

    Who knew bloggers were such statistical experts? Oh…wait…you’re not.

    Actually, this “crap” is a solidly researched, peer-reviewed study. You’re notions of the war in Iraq come from watching/reading the news. Here’s a qusetion for you: if an Iraqi dies and there’s no reporter present to write about it, does that mean he didn’t die? Or, is it possible there are countless deaths we’re unaware of?

    The numbers are as solid as they can possibly be guys, given the state of things in Iraq. It’s wholly saddening to me to know that fellow Americans think that we can somehow erase the shame of having started this war by arguing down the numbers killed by it. Would this war still be worth it to you if the number was half that many? One-third? One-fourth? Are things better now than they were under Saddam, when we can confirm by the number dead in the morgue that 3,000 people die violently a month? Do you think Saddam killed 3,000 of his own people a month? Do you think the Iraqis appreciate of the freedom we have bestowed upon them, when they can’t let their children go to school because someone will bomb them, or kidnap them, or force them to wear something?

    There is a consistently disturbing trend among anyone who supported this stupid war to attempt to void reality by arguing it out of existence. It doesn’t work that way. If reality is not in conformity with your opinion of the war and it’s consequences, it’s your opinion that needs revision.

  8. MrGone says:

    Saw this on Sully yesterday and I think it applies here:

    “I know that most men, including those at ease with problems of the greatest complexity, can seldom accept the simplest and most obvious truth if it be such as would oblige them to admit the falsity of conclusions which they have proudly taught to others, and which they have woven, thread by thread, into the fabrics of their life”.

    Leo Tolstoy

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  10. Xanthippas? Where, precisely, do you come up with the claim that this is a “solidly researched, peer-reviewed” piece of work? You use that allegation as your launching point, but there is nothing in the cited article to back that up your assertion.

    And do you even know what an “epidemiologist” actually is (no peeking in a dictionary, skippy), and why the “science” they used to come to these conclusions is fundementally flawed, considering the environment and circumstance they–once removed–claim to have observed?

    To even BEGIN to give this thing credence, you have to start from the premise “war is a disease.” Because that is what epidemiology deals with. Sorry, but war ain’t the flu or an outbreak of breast cancer affecting a certain community. There are far more variables involved in what is happening in Iraq–human variables, probably the hardest to qualify, nevermind quantify.

    Considering the small survey base that was extrapolated to come up with these findings, the first question that must be asked is: how many of those households queried were in areas controlled by the Kurds? Or was the tiny slice of Iraq used concentrated in, say, Baghad and Fallujah? Because before Saddam’s fall, it was the Kurds getting killed at sometimes wholesale rates, while the residents of the two cities I mentioned were comparatively free of the burden of Saddam’s tyranny.

    This “report” is politics, not science. So again, you tell me exactly who the hell you’re saying performed a scrupulous peer review of these finding to authenticate their legitimacy before they made it into the public square?

  11. happy talk says:

    “When have you EVER heard of that many people dying in one day in Iraq, much less every single day since the war began.”

    That’s right, we haven’t heard this before.
    Maybe the MSM’s been too busy reporting the “good news” instead.

    That said, the number seems too high.

  12. Kevin Allison says:

    Something from Someone Who Is There:

    Calling Bob in Baghdad
    Posted by Jane Arraf, NBC News Correspondent (09:41 am ET, 10/10/06)

    I am very, very lucky. I am alive in a war zone. Most of the time I have running water and when I turn on the lights, a series of generators ensures that they come on. I don’t have to worry about saying goodbye to my family here in the morning and not knowing whether I’ll see them in the evening. I know I’m lucky because almost everyone I know in Baghdad has to worry constantly about those things.

    Some readers and viewers think we journalists are exaggerating about the situation in Iraq. I can almost understand that because who would want to believe that things are this bad? Particularly when so many people here started out with such good intentions.

    I’m more puzzled by comments that the violence isn’t any worse than any American city. Really? In which American city do 60 bullet-riddled bodies turn up on a given day? In which city do the headless bodies of ordinary citizens turn up every single day? In which city would it not be news if neighborhood school children were blown up? In which neighborhood would you look the other way if gunmen came into restaurants and shot dead the customers?

    Almost unimaginable
    Day-to-day life here for Iraqis is so far removed from the comfortable existence we live in the United States that it is almost literally unimaginable.

    It’s almost impossible to describe what it feels like being stalled in traffic, your heart pounding, wondering if the vehicle in front of you is one of the three or four car bombs that will go off that day. Or seeing your husband show up at the door covered in blood after he was kidnapped and beaten.

    I don’t know a single family here that hasn’t had a relative, neighbor or friend die violently. In places where there’s been all-out fighting going on, I’ve interviewed parents who buried their dead child in the yard because it was too dangerous to go to the morgue.

    Imagine the worst day you’ve ever had in your life, add a regular dose of terror and you’ll begin to get an idea of what it’s like every day for a lot of people here.

    Positive story we’d love to tell
    So I’m particularly intrigued by a comment by an American – I’m assuming he’s American – who is actually in Baghdad and believes we’re exaggerating.

    “I am in Baghdad teaching the Iraqis and I have to let you know some realities the press doesn’t tell you,” wrote Bob in a comment to the Baghdad blog. He tells us those things are the schools or hospitals the U.S. military has built and that things are a lot better than the press says they are. I would really like to find Bob. I would be grateful if Bob would get in touch with us.

    [Here is the original comment from “Bob” plus a link to the original posting: “I am in Baghdad teaching the Iraqis and I have to let you know some realities the press doesnt tell you. First there are some good things going on here. No one is talking about the schools that the US military has built or the hospitals and other good things going on here. Secondly I have had more than one student tell me that reporters who live in the IZ or green zone offer good money for blood and guts stories but not for positive news that is going on. The reporters here make this place much worse than it is in reality.” And here is the link: “Naming a baby Ali or Omar? It matters” ]

    Because if Bob is actually an American school teacher in an Iraqi classroom it’s a great story we have to do. It’s so wonderfully normal. I would bet though that Bob is teaching Iraqis in his capacity as a soldier or contractor and still has to walk into those buildings wearing body armor and a helmet or accompanied by a security detail.

    Bob also tells us that he’s had more than one student tell him that “reporters who live in the IZ (International Zone) or Green Zone offer good money for blood and guts stories but not for positive news that is going on.”

    Reporters don’t pay for stories. We know now that contractors tasked by the Department of Defense to put “good news stories” in Iraqi papers pay for stories but reporters don’t. Have I mentioned that very few reporters live in the Green Zone? Bob – let’s talk.


  13. syn says:

    Didn’t the Lancet group lose credibility with the last ‘100,000 dead’ report?

    NBC? Who can take seriously a news organization with Brian Williams as the anchor.

    One thing is for sure, NBC has no idea what Isreal goes through on a daily basis.

  14. Mr. Allison:
    If you believe her claim, “Reporters don’t pay for stories,” you, sir, are an idiot.

    I have worked with, and participated in, “paying off sources” who wouldn’t talk unless the wheel got greased. It could be something as simple as buying the source a meal, or getting a friendly cop to fix a ticket, but believing reporters and their sources are always pure of heart, as the crap you just dumped here implies, is just flatout asinine, especially considering how ingrained the idea of “blood money” is in the Middle East.

    Next time, how about you say something, instead of citing some off-topic, inane, “moving the goalposts” game of redirection?

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  16. K T Cat says:

    If you’re a global population nut like Al Gore, is any death really an excess death?

  17. George Orwell says:

    I agree with TC. I don’t believe this report, so it must not be factual. After all, my gut tells me it’s not true! I mean, a bunch of scientists? Who ever believes a bunch of scientists? Why, if we start believing them, we’ll have to believe that my computer works based on 1s and 0s and not by magic!

    And, of course, because the article does not expressly state that it was peer reviewed, it must not have been (even though all findings in Lancet are peer reviewed – it’s Lancet policy). And don’t get me going on sample size. Why, they only used 27 different areas! That’s not enough! They should have counted every single body found throughout the country before they made any kind of statistical extrapolation.

    You know, if you want to refute a finding, it would do to have some evidence to the contrary, not just a wish that it is so.

  18. Gaius says:

    Do you honestly believe that if this many people were actually dying we would not be hearing about it in the media? These people were discredited once before with a much lower body count. Now they come back with an even higher one. Even the people at Iraq Body Count are throwing the flag on this one.

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  20. And Georgie boy, if you want to actually dabate the issue, you ought to keep the smartassed crap in your pocket. Lancet’s been a dubious source for any politically-tinged “findings” recently; even the WaPo article cited held their number at arm’s distance.

    You managed to totally avoid anything I questioned in the comment I put up here in response to a previous commenter. Per your comment about “they should have counted every single body…” that would actually be a good way to confirm deaths, now wouldn’t it? Walk into all the morgues and ask them how many stiffs they have processed since the start of the war and an equal timeframe before. That would provide a hard, documentable number, instead of this “sampling” by freelancers talking to random people crap

    And for the “what the Hey?” of it: I could bury your anonymous troll butt with nose-bleed level, vitriolic snark if I ever decided to open up and you stood open and available.

    But you’re just another smarmy troll, post something intellectually retarded while hiding from the fallout by not providing an e-mail or website (both of which are free, skippy) where you actually reside, sitting back feeling fat and happy about yourself.

    Dude? I’ve been blowing away jerks like you since 1992 when I was modding BBS forums. I probably own modems older than you… they sure damn have higher IQs.

  21. MathMatics Major says:


    Invaded Iraq on 3/20/03
    it’s now 10/11/06

    that’s 3 years, 7months give or take a few day…

    3*365+7*30 = 1305 days.

    665,000estimated deats/1305days = 510 deaths/day

    That’s 260 LESS than you freaks without calculators are brandishing. Man alive, I thought we had standardized tests these days to ensure all good Americans could do math…

    Now, I challenge ya’ll rithmatic doer’s to dig up some stats on US deaths per day/month and some pre-war Iraq deaths per day/month.

    The 665,000 figure isn’t all that outlandish when you do that…

  22. MrGone says:


    You are hearing about it. You just don’t like what you’re hearing.

  23. Gaius says:

    What I’m hearing, Mr. Gone, is a bunch of people trying to defend an unbelievably transparent political hit job.

  24. Steve says:

    How do you know? Have you hung out in Iraq? I’m not sure I believe it either, but at least I have the intellectual honesty to reserve judgement w/o knowing the methods of this estimate – or the others that it conflicts with.

    You just say “bull” w/o knowing how EITHER was collected. That’s not reasoning. It’s a reaction.

  25. MrGone says:


    Perhaps. But what I’m hearing is a bunch of people trying to deny what may very well be the truth.

    I have’nt seen any evidence that the Lancet is politically motivated. That claim was made last time but not substantiated. I think sometimes people have a hard time distinguishing between the spin and the facts. Many times, the spin wins and that is what is remembered. Then again, please show me a reputable rebuttal of either this or the original report that hasn’t itself been disproven and I’ll take a look.

  26. Gaius says:

    < ?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?> < !DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/xhtml1/DTD/xhtml1-transitional.dtd"> Untitled document Because I am trained in math and critical thinking. This is nuts. If the pre-war death rate was 5/1000 annually (wiki) that should mean around 430,000 deaths naturally during the time span. This study purports that there are 665,000 deaths in excess of that number. Don't you think someone would have noticed? To accept these numbers you have to accept a monstrous conspiracy to cover up that many deaths by every, single media outlet and government in the world. This is absurd. This discussion is absurd. That people cannot even comprehend why the numbers are absurd is absurd.

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  28. MrGone says:


    I also am trained in math and critical analysis and do not seem to have the reservations about this that you do. For instance, we know that Bagdad is hitting 50-100 bodies a day. Now this is one city and only couting bodies they find. You have a hard time believing that if you can have that in one city then getting another 400/day in the rest of the country is unlikely? Keep in mind, they asked 87% of those questioned if they had death certificates and of those, 90% had them. Also keep in mind that it is traditional for the dead to be buried that day, before sundown, in a wooden casket. Also keep in mind that many of these deaths are sectarian and going public or to the authorities may be dangerous. Again, these numbers are stunning but not surprising.

  29. Gaius says:

    Literally one in 24 dead and nobody has noticed this until now? The media just covers it all up, right? Get a freaking grip.

  30. MrGone says:


    Couple this with the recent military data showing 100 attacks/day just against US troops.

    BTW, the media doesn’t have access to most of Iraq so how would they know anyway.

    The answer to your question is someone did notice, remember the earlier report of 100k. So it’s not that no one noticed, it’s more that no one cares or cares to see.

  31. Gaius says:

    Again, that syudy was badly flawed and highly controversial. Take your argument and say 50-100 die daily in Baghdad. That sity houses about 30% of the country’s population. Split the difference and say 75/day. We still have to then account for 425/day in the remaining 70% of the population. (actually it would have to be 625/day to account for the increase since their last “study”). And nobody noticed? Where the hell do you think they are putting that many additionaldead?

    Thanks for proving that five out of four people don’t understand fractions.

  32. MrGone says:

    It’s not fractions, that’s the number of bodies they “find”. There could be 2-3 times that that are never found or never reported. BTW, Bagdad pop~5m, out of ~27m = ~18%, so make that 6 out of 4.

    You state that the last study was badly flawed and highly controversial. Controversial yes, but this one actually confirms the last data. Please point me to an authoritative debunking of the first one, not some blogger, an actual critical analysis.

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  34. Gaius says:

    No point, you keep shifting away from hard data to “could be”. Can’t argue aaginst moving goalposts.

  35. MrGone says:

    Good copout. So much for discussion. If there is any hard data, the military has it and isn’t sharing. So at this point, these reports are the best we have. If the administration really wants to prove it wrong, it can show the real data. Hmmm, that doesn’t seem to be happening. Wonder why.

  36. steve says:

    Gaius – you keep saying that no one “notices”. What does that mean? Do you notice allt the people that you see when you’re out and about all day? Unless you’re a zombie, you do. So, how many people do you see each day? You might say “I don’t know – I would need to count to know that”. Bingo!

    Basically, the idea that the number is just too high or someone would notice cuts 0 ice. This study is made or broken based on what they did (and what the conflicting studies did) to count deaths, period. No supposition or BS – from either side – means a damn thing. Do you know how the studies differ? Then it’s all BS. Both numbers are plausable – trying to disprove the study by pointing to implausability is irrelavent.

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  38. Rich Gibson says:

    I am saddened by the name calling that passes for argument amongst war supporters.

    TC@LeatherPenguin is typical of the anti-science stance that conservatives have made into the default response to information with which they take issue.

    Lancet is biased? Peer reviewed science is bogus? Simply on your assertion? No, I am sorry, but since the enlightenment the triumph of ‘Western’ culture has been reasoning, and science.

    Sadly the triumph of the post Reagan era of conservatives has been to attack reason. It is strange, really, that ‘you folks’ would attack that which has made our country great.

  39. Kaos Klerik says:

    Back in the 80’s Mitch Snyder, the homeless advocate, stated that 1 homeless person dies in America every 45 seconds. The media reported that without blinking. If that were true that would mean that over 700,000 homeless died every year. Estimates of the number of homeless ranged from 800,000 – 2 million. There is no way that number could be maintained if 1/3 to 7/8 of them died every year.

    1 every 45 seconds = 80 per hour
    80 x 24 x 365 = 700,800

  40. POS009 says:

    OMFreakin’G, TC@LeatherPenguin. you ask: “Where, precisely, do you come up with the claim that this is a “solidly researched, peer-reviewed” piece of work? You use that allegation as your launching point, but there is nothing in the cited article to back that up your assertion.”

    If you don’t think the Lancet is a peer-reviewed research journal, and that JOHN FREAKIN’ HOPKINS is a bogus research institute, then you probably think the war was started on solid, fact-based intelligence, as well. Oh, yea, before I forget, I got an 80mpg H2 Hummer that I can sell you, too!!

  41. steve says:

    “Back in the 80’s Mitch Snyder, the homeless advocate, stated that 1 homeless person dies in America every 45 seconds. The media reported that without blinking. If that were true that would mean that over 700,000 homeless died every year. Estimates of the number of homeless ranged from 800,000 – 2 million. There is no way that number could be maintained if 1/3 to 7/8 of them died every year.

    1 every 45 seconds = 80 per hour
    80 x 24 x 365 = 700,800 ”

    So it’s equally valid to use a simple “smell test” level of analysis re: the numbers being killed in a war torn country where we have no idea what’s going on in MOSTof that country? You’re right – same as the US; someone would just NOTICE that this count is wrong….

    You can’t suppose empiricism away – their methods are weak or not.

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  43. Well, this is cute. Now I have two idiots calling me “anti-science,” and three deciding I’m a raving neo-con, because I questioned the methodology, and timing of the release, involved in this “study” found under the Lancet’s imprint. And properly assigning the Internet descriptive “troll” is considered name-calling?

    As if the editors at the Lancet are completely removed from politics…. That the idea that modern members of academe are all completely following in rigorous scientific inquiry, and never allow personal, partisan political influences to come to bear, when they instigate, create, and then disseminate, their treatises….

    What color is the sky in youse guys’ worlds? Are the moonbeams made of candy?

    C’MON KIDS! At least bring your “A” game if you wanna play.

  44. JT says:

    Quick quiz!

    What is a chi square?

    Anyone who knows the answer (without googling it) can question these findings.

    Everyone else can just STFU.

  45. Gaius says:

    It’s a test for statistical significance. I’m an engineer, okay?

  46. Rich Gibson says:

    It is interesting that TC@LeatherPenguin needs to call people ‘idiots’ rather than argue the issues. You are engaged in fallacious arguements of the highest order, and quite frankly, your arguments are fundamentally anti-science.

    With all seriousness I ask: why do you, and others who reason as you do, hate what has made our country great? Or to put it in your terms: Why do you hate America?

    You did not ‘question’ the methodology of the study, your first response was “There is gonna be an almighty rain of bad Iraq press being dished out in the next few weeks, moreso because of what’s going on with NorKo. The Dems and their allies are going to hammer away on the “FAILURE! FAILURE! THROW THE REPUBS OUT!” meme, without doing anything resembling stating what they will do once they take control.”

    Then you you charged that the study was not peer reviewed, based on what? On your assertion. And then you argue:

    “and do you even know what an “epidemiologist” actually is (no peeking in a dictionary, skippy), and why the “science” they used to come to these conclusions is fundementally flawed, considering the environment and circumstance they–once removed–claim to have observed?”

    Your posts are specifically designed not to challenge a specific piece of research, or to offer a reasoned alternative, but to attack the idea of reason itself. Your attacks on the system of Peer Review are telling: it is only by delegitimizing the process of reason that you are able to have any chance in a debate.

    And I ask, quite seriously, why do you hate America?

  47. Gaius says:

    The Iraqi government says the study is wrong.

  48. jim says:

    Does the Iraqi government say why it’s wrong?

    Because it may just be too embarassing for them to admit; like it is for our government too.

    But hey, maybe it’s “only” 100,000 dead civilians. Personally I think 100,000 dead civilians is too many to be at peace with, let alone 600,000.

  49. Yeah, game, set and match! The Iraqi government, which would be seen as weak and unable to protect its citizenry, says that the report is exaggerated!

    They have no reason to say it’s exaggerated unless it is! And Iraq is run by scientists, you know! Statisticians, every single one of them!
    (end mode=sarcasm)

    And Gaius, that the number is horrifying doesn’t mean it’s not true.

    The earlier number, 100,000 is completely credible, because it included Iraqi soldiers killed in the invasion. The term “wholesale slaughter surely applied during those weeks of war where massive bombardments occurred and the US military hit any Iraqi defenders they saw with maximum force.

    People have been noticing, for *years*. You just haven’t been listening, or thinking, you’ve been looking away from the horror.

    Well, guess what? War is a stone cold, double down, hard ass bitch. Now you have an idea of what that really means.

    The methodology used is sound. So, you see, you have two choices. You can accept that these numbers are pretty darn accurate, or you can hope that some terrible (and likely deliberate) distortion found its way into the data.

    Those are the choices.

    Well, I suppose there’s a third… hear that there’s a real chance that America has helped bring about that many deaths, and not care.

    God damn, I’m so sick of the right wing right now.

    If it’s big and ugly, it must be wrong, because there’s simply *no chance* that people could be acting honorably and telling the truth, unless it makes you happy.

    If you don’t like it, it must be wrong.

    How the hell can you people live with yourselves?

  50. Gaius says:

    I see we have the new talking point out to defuse the Iraqi government’s statement. Out of curiosity, how do you live with that level of hatred inside yourself?

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