Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Another Floyd Fisking

My favorite fact challenged pseudo-academic Seattle Times columnist is back with his editorial Sharing the Sacrifice, and ready for a Fisking. See previous posts here, here and here.

On the same day last week that retired Maj. Gen. John Batiste joined several other retired generals in calling for the resignation of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld — with Batiste adding that he was struck by the "lack of sacrifice and commitment on the part of the American people," excepting military families — a second story quoted a new poll showing 48 percent of Americans would support a military assault on Iran if it doesn't give up its nuclear plans (40 percent are opposed).

This is kind of a drive-by editorial, in that generals calling for Rumsfeld's resignation has really nothing to do with the point of the column. Since McKay doesn't get into this issue, I won't either but retired admiral and University of Washington lecturer Bill Center (the father of one of my MBA classmates incidently) has a great editorial on this issue in the Seattle-PI today.

What I didn't see were stories that President George W. Bush and Rumsfeld — wanting to keep the military option on the table — have called for a military draft in order to support overstretched forces in Iraq and convince Iran of our serious intentions. And, I didn't see a report that, to spur morale at home, the Bush twins have volunteered to serve, if not in the military at least in a nongovernmental aid mission in Afghanistan or Iraq.

This is a complete strawman argument, in that nobody is even remotely suggesting a land war in Iran. In the unlikely event that any attack against Iran's nuclear facilities would take place it would be through the use of airpower, and the Air Force hardly needs a draft, in fact it is cutting personnel.

The Bush twins comment is of course silly. Nothing would be served by their joining, other than causing security issues, which would cost more than their contribution. I don't recall anyone demanding Chelsea join to serve in Kosovo. Given the fact that an overwhelming majority of the military is conservative, including children of members of Congress, and even John Ashcroft's son, the left is hardly in the position to complain on this point.

Iraq is costing about $5.9 billion a month, more than $400 billion total, not counting the huge cost of replacing equipment and training Iraqi forces.

This is just bad math. At $5.9 billion a month "more than $400 billion total" would mean the war has been going on for more than 5 1/2 years. Even the anti-war cost of war website only estimates it has cost $270 billion. Of course I have already shown how bad Mr. McKay is with numbers.

Additionally, much of this does in fact count the cost of replacing equipment and training Iraqi forces, the latter of which is carried out mostly by US troops.

We are, in short, paying for this war on a credit card, largely held by foreign bankers and coming due after Bush is out of office. His successor, Republican or Democrat, will face the worst financial mess since Herbert Hoover went back to fly-fishing.

Hmm, the unemployment rate in 1933, when Herbert Hoover "went back to fly-fishing" was 25%, now it is at 4.7%. Yeah, good comparison.

But wait, you say, he is talking about the crushing burden of debt on the US economy. OK, well in 2001 when Clinton left to go sexually harass women in the private sector, interest on the national debt amounted to 3.6% of GDP. Last year, after 4 years of dangerous Republican debt accumulation, that amount skyrocketed to... 2.8%. It is definitely reaching crisis proportions!

Only about 25% of the national debt is "held by foreign bankers" by the way, although I guess in McKay math this counts as "largely"

Our federal government in fiscal 2005 spent $760 billion more than it took in, and put the rest on the credit card.

Actually, counting social security, which last I checked was part of the federal government, the government spent $319 billion more than it took in. Even if you don't count the Social Security trust fund, the number is only $554 billion. A large number no doubt, but over $200 billion less than the bogus numbers he comes up with. But hey, we can't expect Mr. McKay to give us accurate numbers in an editorial accusing the administration of bogus accounting, can we?

Some 622,000 soldiers and Marines have deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq, including multiple deployments. Reservists and National Guard troops among them make up more of a cross-section of economic and social classes. But all in all, the upper and middle classes don't show up in these figures nearly as much as they show up on college campuses across America.

OK, but there are more than 1.3 million soldiers and Marines. So what Mr. McKay is saying is that on average, over the last 4 1/2 years, 11% of them have been deployed at any one time. Given how the left has been screaming that our efforts are quagmires, this is hardly reaching a crisis level.

And yes, college campuses probably have more upper class types than the military, perhaps Mr. McKay will speak out strongly against those who would restrict access to military recruiters in Seattle in his next column? Hah, I crack myself up...