Iraq: More Lies and Damn Statistics

JLG is getting kinda goofy with the numbers game:

Just so you know what we’re dealing with here, I thought I might share a reader’s comment with me about Baghdad’s per capita murder rate being less than Detroit, Michigan.  “mdking” writes:

JLG, you are manipulating facts to suit your ideology! Just muster the humility for one brief moment to think that you might be wrong. You say, “That’s a murder rate that is comparable to some major American cities.”

That’s a murder rate comparable to NO American city. 5 dead a day times one year equals 1825.

New York had less than 500 murders in 2007. The LAPD reported 379 people had been killed in Los Angeles as of December 15, 2007.

You are either making your numbers up or quoting Fox News (which has said what you say). In either scenario, your powers of reason have no place in responsible debate.

“mdking” is obviously having trouble with the “PER CAPITA” part

The “5 bodies a day” stat is from Iraq.  That is not a per capita number.  As mdking notes, and JLG refuses to acknowledge:

Just because you say (or misspell) PER CAPITA a half dozen times after the fact, doesn’t clear you of being full of shit out of the gate.

mdking is right on here.  5 deaths per day is horrible, and incomparable to any US city.  But let’s say we were arguing per capita:

Per capita refers to the number of murders per person living in a city.  Baghdad has a population of about 7,000,000 people.  Detroit has 900,000.  So of course, Detroit has lower absolute crime rates.  That’s like saying there is less crime in Boise, Idaho than in New York City.  Thank you Captain Obvious!

Actually, Badhdad has about 6 million.  New York City has over 8 million.  To my knowledge, and as mdking points out, New York does not suffer 5 murders a day.  New York also does not suffer from roadside bombs and suicide bombers exploding weekly.

The point still stands in the face of every hawkish Republican denial.  Acknowledging reality is a necessary first step in truly supporting our troops, and living up to our responsibility as a nation.


13 Responses

  1. I didn’t make any comaparison to New York City. I used Detroit, Michigan as my city of comparison. I like how you conveniently leave that out, since the PER CAPITA murder rate is higher there than in Baghdad. Facts are a stubborn thing, aren’t they? Regarding suicide bombings in New York… do you remember September 11?

  2. Are those numbers from the U.S. Military by any chance?

    Associated Press

    Baghdad, Iraq, September 2006

    BAGHDAD, Iraq The U.S. military did not count people killed by bombs, mortars, rockets or other mass attacks — including suicide bombings — when it reported a dramatic drop in the number of murders around Baghdad last month, the U.S. command said Monday.

    The decision to include only victims of drive-by shootings and those killed by torture and execution, usually at the hands of death squads, allowed U.S. officials to argue that a security crackdown that began in the capital on Aug. 7 had more than halved the city’s murder rate.

    But the types of slayings, including suicide bombings, that the U.S. excluded from the category of “murder” were not made explicit at the time. That led to considerable confusion after Iraqi Health Ministry figures showed that 1,536 people had died violently around Baghdad in August, nearly the same number as in July.

    The figures raise serious questions about the success of the security operation launched by the U.S.-led coalition. When they released the murder rate figures, U.S. officials and their Iraqi counterparts were eager to show progress in restoring security in Baghdad, at a time when the country looks to be on the verge of civil war.


    We seen this kind of bogus reporting from the Pentagon before, as we have also seen past surges before. Same old, same old….

  3. JLG–

    I can’t believe how dishonest you are. Baghdad has 7 million people, IF you count the entire metropolitan area, including suburbs, and IF you don’t take into account the 2 million+ people who have fled Baghdad during the past 5 years.

    If you count Detroit’s entire metropolitan area, the population is between 4 and 5.5 million.

    And as ralfast points out, there were at least 1,500 people dying violently PER MONTH in Baghdad back in August 2006. The level of violence spiked in the summer of 2007, then returned to previous levels after the Mahdi Army declared a truce in August 2007. So Baghdad is more than an order of magnitude more dangerous than Detroit.

  4. JLG,
    When referencing New York, I was responding to the main thrust of mdking’s argument, which was that even with the lowered statistics, Baghdad is vastly more violent than New York City.

    Additionally, as Ralfast notes, the source of the 5 bodies a day stat is suspect. It really is the same old same old. Surge, fudge the numbers, claim success, and scream at anyone who says “hey… wait a minute”.

    gordo’s point on population is a sharp one.

    But your final point really pisses me off. Remember 9/11? Of course I do. Everyone does. Citing that single incident as though it even comes close to knowing that any day, on the way to work, to pray, to school, you or your family could be blown up by a suicide bomber, is beneath contempt. The 9/11 attacks are obviously tragic, but they did not represent the what it was like to live in New York City year round. The suicide attacks and other violence in Baghdad are a year round, daily phenomena.

  5. Sticking with the New York example then, I thought you might like to see their actual murder rates from 1988-1993:

    1988 – 1,896
    1989 – 1,905
    1990 – 2,245
    1991 – 2,154
    1992 – 1,995
    1993 – 1,946

    Wow… MORE than five per day every year.


    I don’t know why you don’t find 9/11 relevant. More people died in that one suicide attack than twenty suicide attacks in Baghdad. I don’t care that you’re pissed off… the truth hurts sometimes. It is absolutely relevant.

    Regarding your comment: “Surge, fudge the numbers, claim success, and scream at anyone who says ‘hey… wait a minute’.”

    What numbers did I fudge? Five per day? You need to take that up with the New York Times. They reported it, not me. Are you going to argue that they’re fudging the numbers?

    And what “screaming” have I done? I respond to your every argument with facts. I realize that statistics and truth get you guys angry and that’s why you only respond with the name calling and swearing, but I’ve been trying to have a reasonable debate.

    Why can’t you admit that our troops have done good work in Iraq? Even Murtha did that much! But you guys can’t be reasoned with… You’re ideologues, plain and simple.

  6. I’m dishonest “Gordo?” Read the statistics. It’s not talking about Detroit and surrounding areas. Look at the page. “Population: 900,932… Murder: 352.” It’s refering to the murder rate WITHIN THAT POPULTATION. Not dishonest, factual.

    And ok, Dan… we’ll stick with the New York City comparison then and look at historical murder rates:

    1988 – 1,896
    1989 – 1,905
    1990 – 2,245
    1991 – 2,154
    1992 – 1,995
    1993 – 1,946

    More than five per day in each of those six years.


    Regarding your comment: “Surge, fudge the numbers, claim success, and scream at anyone who says ‘hey… wait a minute’.”

    What numbers have I fudged? Five per day? That was the New York Times, so you’ll have to take it up with them. Are you arguing that they’re fudging the numbers for Conservatives?

    And what screaming have I done? I’ve responded to your every argument with documented facts. You and yours only respond with name calling. I know you don’t like statistics. They’re tough to argue with when they don’t support your ideology.

    Regarding 9/11, I don’t know how you can argue that one giant suicide attack is not as bad as many smaller ones. The point is completely relevant, whether is pisses you off or not.

    I’m not going to claim I’ve won any debate here. I won’t claim that you guys haven’t made some valid points. You have. But your refusal to respond to any of my points other than to call names and say stuff like “JLG: big fat lying liars like you (who are hung like cocktail franks, according to your mother),” and then you accuse me of hysteria and dirty tactics leads me to believe that this is merely a waste of time.

    The point of my original post is that people like Nancy Pelosi should give our troops credit for the tremendous work they’ve done on the ground in Iraq. Even Murtha acknowledged that… Perhaps you all could follow suit.

    As for me, I’m going to spend my time with people who will do more than just call me a “big fat lying liar.” Thanks for the challenge though guys. Later.

  7. JLG,
    Those are two excellent points. The murder rate in NYC during the cited period is horrific, and those numbers appear quite solid.

    Your response on 9/11 falls short. A single attack is different from a sustained state of fear and violence. And conservatives really need to stop falling back on “Remember 9/11” as a crutch.

    Here are six questions for you to consider:

    What was the murder rate in Iraq prior to the invasion, and did it go up or down afterwards?
    Given a history of surging forward and falling backward, will the current murder rate hold steady?
    The Military has been excluding victims of roadside bombs and suicide bombers in their statistics, how reliable is that 5 bodies a day number? (It seems to refer strictly to victims of systematic and targeted executions found in the streets).
    During the time period you cited, did New York City host a terrorist organization that had infiltrated the police, and carried off successful deadly attacks on a daily basis?
    During the time period cited, were bodies of those executed in a civil war dumped in the streets of New York City to intimidate those of rival religious factions?
    Given the ongoing stability issues in Iraq, would you say that general murder statistics might go under (or un)reported?

    Even if the total murder rate of New York during the late 80’s matched the number of executed and publicly dumped victims in Bagdhad, it did not approach either the scope or the impact of the violence in Iraq.

  8. Excellent points as well, Dan, and thank you for addressing the ones that I made. Even your comment about 9/11 is very reasonable, though I honestly am not trying to use the event as a crutch. I think it would be very interesting to look into the questions you’ve asked here as well. Please stop by the blog anytime and feel free to comment. This has been a very engaging dialogue.

  9. JLG,
    Thanks, and sure thing. I definitely will stop by, and I also really enjoyed the debate. Feel free to stop by here yourself or start up another discussion anytime.

  10. I appreciate the invite Dan. I see that you and GMH, one of the other bloggers on my site, are already going at it. Have fun and I’m sure we’ll talk again soon.

  11. After reading all this I get confused about a lot of things, New York and Iraq are apples and oranges for sure, however i believe that how many U.S. servicemembers whom we lose overseas is not a just reason to ‘PULL-OUT”. I am often puzzled by the sign “support our troops, bring them home” I will ask this…what do military personel get paid to do? so…for example support firefighters, put out your own damn fire….” is that what they get paid to do??? So whats the problem? Oh thats right, the motive of war…Its easy to say Bush is doing this for oil when you want it to…if you stare at a cloud in the sky long enough you can turn it into whatever the hell you want…and i have deployed and am still serving…first hand opinion….

  12. Thank you for all that you do Charlie, but respectfully, what is the mission in Iraq? Is it to give Iraq something that the U.S. is not providing to it’s own citizens? Shouldn’t we take care of our own house first? What do you have to look forward to when you get back (if you are not wounded or killed). And how much less will you have if you are wounded? I support the troops to come home and do the job they were trained to do here not fight a civil war overseas that seriously costs the U.S. in blood and money. Why don’t we just replace Israel’s aid with troops?

  13. Charlie,
    This was a confusing thread. Military personnel are paid to defend this country. The problem is not only that our presence in Iraq does not accomplish that, its that our military is spread thin, and may not be able to respond to a serious threat from another nation with sufficient power.

    Citizens have a responsibility to the military, just as we have a responsibility to the fire department. If you start dangerous fires on purpose, and firefighters die, your ass is going to jail. Our President started a war on purpose, with no just cause, and soldiers have died.

    Michael D,
    It isn’t “take care of our own house first” so much as the point of the military is to defend our nation. If we abuse that purpose and engage in wars of choice, we harm the military’s ability to defend us. Hence the responsibility to be guided by wisdom, caution, and real need when deploying troops.

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