Numbers Game

Over 1,609 dead. Over 11,500 wounded. More than 300 billion dollars spent.

There seems to be no point in "keeping tabs". The numbers keep changing the hour... by the minute. For those that still haven't been able to fully grasp what the Iraq "adventure" is costing the nation, there are a some websites worth visiting to assist in the calculation.

They come in handy when playing the "Numbers Game".

They are sites that, if cross- referenced, show a far different picture than the one shown on television news. A picture that bears no resemblance to the Administration's favorite description when pressed on the status of the conflict- the "We're making progress" response.

Some sites provide names, specialty, and whether unhappy ends were met on some sandy dune in Iraq or in some mountainous territory in Afghanistan. They also offer maps of the U.S. showing where the deceased lived prior to being sent off to fight by those that did everything they could to avoid fighting when, in their youth, the country called upon them to pick up arms.

These internet resources allow a person to navigate through the results of battle from the comfort of their own homes and, while sipping a latte or guzzling a beer, see the names of our dead, their ages, where they came from, and how they died. It's a task easily accomplished while, at the same time, patting oneself on the back for having the patriotism to slap an "I support the Troops" bumper sticker on the SUV parked in the driveway next to the other SUV. Most sites contain links to other sources that can be easily accessed and reviewed if skipping a few favorite T.V. programs isn't too much of a sacrifice.

Some function just like the "find a high school classmate" sites where, with a few keystrokes, one can spell out a name (perhaps a few more details if available- but not necessary) and upon hitting "enter", data banks will search to see if the "name" was killed. As mentioned, it's like looking up a high school buddy only very, very different.

Others provide the cost (in lives) to Iraqi civilians as a result of our military intervention. This service is provided because our officials deemed it unnecessary to count dead Iraqi civilians resulting from the conflict. Nobody seems to have a problem with sacrificing our young and our treasure for Iraqi civilians yet pretending that those very same civilians don't really exist when it comes to counting the dead among them as a result of our actions. The methodology used by this site is provided in detail so as to show that the numbers of dead Iraqis is not conjecture but rather, based on empirical evidence. The incidents are described and the dates of the deaths are provided as well.

The National Priorities Project has a ticker showing how many dollars are being spent (per second) on the war. The site also provides numerous calculations as to how else the money could have been spent. The site provides a "trade-off" calculator. The calculator allows the visitor to choose from a variety of important domestic programs (health, education, police, etc.) and shows how much the money spent on the Iraq "adventure" would affect each program the visitor chooses were the funds applied towards it rather than to Iraq.

Two of the "fun facts" that the calculator, when combined with the fatality numbers provided by other sites, shows is just how much more of a cost, in both dollars and dead soldiers, the "Godless and Unpatriotic Blue" states of California, New York, and New Jersey, individually, have borne when compared to most of the "Heartland" or "Red" states individually.

For instance, it has, so far, cost California 22 Billion dollars for the Iraq ride that a majority of Californians did not want to go on. New York and New Jersey have contributed 14 Billion and 8 Billion dollars, respectively. While not exactly in the "Heartland", Wyoming, a true "Red state" and home of Dick Cheney (which has left it with the motto of "Show me the Deferment State") has contributed a not-so-whopping 312 Million dollars. To be fair, it has also contributed 2 Senators to the Senate effectively cancelling out California's or New York's or New Jersey's votes therein.

Also, when it comes to fatalities, Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Kansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, South Dakota, North Dakota, and Utah, combined, have not lost as many citizens as "La-La Liberal Hollywood Elite California". Even if one throws in Wyoming's 6 fatalities, all 12 of those firmly "traditional family values with a patriotism chaser Red states" still haven't had as many sons and daughters die as California. As a side-note, Wyoming actually has two mottos. The second, aside from the one mentioned above is, "Live Free or have some left- wing liberal elite Blue-stater die for your right to live free" (also a Cheney legacy to his home state).

* Texas is the closest to California in terms of sacrifice (much more so in terms of blood than treasure). As of this writing, California has lost 181 of its citizens while Texas has lost 151. California has contributed approximately 22 billion dollars while Texas has contributed approximately 13 billion.

None of this should be taken as a slight on the sacrifice that each dead young man or woman, and their respective families made. It is in fact the opposite. It is a slap in the face of anyone who dares denigrate the sacrifices of any individual soldier by painting them with a broad brush of "blue" or "liberal" or deigns to imply that segments of the country are unpatriotic. The finger-pointing and questioning of allegiances done by some about so-called liberal states is simply not supported by the facts. The numbers speak for themselves. The coffins prove the point.

If anyone still walks away after reading this and thinks that it's simply a diatribe against Red states or conservatives- they are sorely mistaken. Were that to be the case, then it would also be pointed out that abortions and divorce are much more prevalent in Red states than in Massachusettes (the mother of Blue states). It would be pointed out that welfare, in the form of a combination of social services and agricultural subsidies for Red states dwarfs traditional social service demands in Blue states. Finally, it would be pointed out that Blue states get back from the federal government far less than what they send in while Red states have a habit of taking from the federal government more than they send in (effectively leaving the Blue states as subsidy (welfare) providers for Red states).

The point attempted to be reached here has nothing to do with those divisions except to say that our internal dissension better stop. If we (red and blue, brown, black, white, red, and yellow, gay or straight, male or female) fail to comprehend that we are all standing in quicksand that we were led to by inept leadership then none of our self-designations, clans, or cliques will matter. We will, as we are already starting to see, lose our sense of being "Americans".

There are those that don't know what being an "American" really means but are old enough to read this. For them perhaps the age of being able to comprehend the term "American" has already passed. The rest cannot let that failure of understanding our cultural and historical roots to be passed on to another generation. Our search for what exactly our dead and wounded sacrificed for in the hell that is Iraq will not be found in purple fingers but rather in our own freedoms that are quickly being curtailed by a cauldron of prejudice, intolerance, ignorance, and avarice.

For further clarification on the point of division within the country fostered by the media, exploited by politicians, and acquiesced to by the weak- minded, one can simply look up the number of reported fatalities in Iraq on any given day and determine where the deceased came from (Red state of Blue state). If the reader feels that "they" are "winning" because their (red or blue) states have more in the fatality column than the "other" states, they are not only incapable of understanding what it means to be an American, they fail to grasp what it means to be human.

A word of caution for those that insist on celebrating if their side is "winning" in the fatality count. The numbers change often. Not surprisingly, they are relatively consistently split pretty evenly between the states that voted for Bush and the states that voted for Kerry. A few well-placed IED's ripping through poorly armored transport vehicles or mortar fire on a mess hall could kill a number of soldiers from the "other" (red or blue) states and the lead one thought their side had could prove short-lived.

Anyone who has a problem with engaging in the "Numbers Game" because they are mired in the bumper sticker ideology of the Administration, still believes that our presence in Iraq is necessary to fight terrorism, and holds to the fiction that our forces provide stability to that region might consider the following quotes and descriptions surrounding the recent wave of bombing attacks in Iraq as provided by ABC News:

"It's all because you're here," a policeman shouted in Arabic at a group of US soldiers after the latest in a bloody wave of attacks that have rocked Baghdad this month.

"Get out of our country and there will be no more explosions," he told the uncomprehending Americans staring at the smouldering wreck of a car bomb.

Not enough to shake the bumper-sticker belief?

Perhaps the utterances of a man who survived one of the bombings will shed a different light than the one portrayed by the Administration of the average Iraqi's perception of our presence:

"Since Americans invaded our country they have brought nothing but evil."

Maybe a combination of the "Numbers Game" and the voice of this Iraqi civilian, standing next to a smoldering wreck far from a safe "town hall" adorned with flags and filled by handpicked supporters, serves to highlight the problem of engaging in an ill-defined "war against evil". It's probably a safe bet that both "Red" and "Blue" American soldiers can see, hear, and smell it.

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