Why do I do this to myself? I had the distinct displeasure this morning of watching my fair president’s press conference (link is for masochists only) from the Rose Garden. My favorite exchange:
QUESTION: Back on Iraq, a group of American and Iraqi health officials today released a report saying that 655,000 Iraqis have died since the Iraq war.That figure is 20 times the figure that you cited in December at 30,000. Do you care to amend or update your figure? And do you consider this a credible report?
BUSH: No, I don’t consider it a credible report. Neither does General Casey and neither do Iraqi officials. I do — I do know that a lot of innocent people have died, and that troubles me. And it grieves me. And I applaud the Iraqis for their courage in the face of violence. I am, you know, amazed that this is a society which so wants to be free that they’re willing to — you know, that there’s a level of violence that they tolerate. And it’s now time for the Iraqi government to work hard to bring security in neighborhoods so people can feel — can feel, you know, at peace.
No question it’s violent. But this report is one — they put it out before. It was pretty well — the methodology is pretty well discredited.
Methodology? Please, sir, what is the method to your madness?
Most US government and army officials (and by extension Iraqi officials) have criticized the report. Juan Cole has a good post on it. Not versed in statistics, I, like my president, have no idea, but the whole debate does remind me of a certain russian tale …
“Why are you being so stingy?,” Sobakievich demanded.
“It’s cheap at the price. A rogue would cheat you, sell you some worthless rubbish instead of souls, but mine are as juicy as ripe nuts, all picked — they are all either craftsmen or sturdy peasants.”