Dec. 2nd, 2003

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who are you going to believe: me, or a bunch of dead guys?
Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld acknowledged Monday that the security environment in Iraq presented "a contradiction" in which attacks from "a limited number" of adversaries continued to kill or wound American and allied forces even as schools and hospitals open and the economy stabilized.

Yeah, things are terrific over there. Some malcontents are trying really hard to kill as many of us as they can get at, but we've done what we think ought to satisfy them, so the whole guerilla war thing is totally anomalous.

We may have to tuck a few more kidnapping victims away in Cuba for a couple of years before they come to and realize how happy they are, but deep down where they don't know it they're dancing in the streets in spirit.
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Russ Baker has been getting a lot of nasty letters about a piece he wrote for Slate which was factual, hence critical, about Bush economics.
So what does all this teach us, you might ask? I emphatically have no idea. Still, I’ll hazard a few conclusions. 1) Despite the constant lip service paid by politicians to the ineffable wisdom of the ordinary person, there is some truth in Plato’s famous doubts in that regard. 2) Folks have always been foggy thinkers, imprecise articulators and miserable at spelling, grammar and usage. Now, though, they’re especially deadly, armed as they are with IITFS - Internet Itchy Trigger-Finger Syndrome. 3) With so many amateur insta-pundits out there happily shooting up the political barroom, we professional pundits ought to learn some humility and self-restraint.

I seem to be going the other way (at least on the first point - number three has much to be said for it). I think if we were the rabble that the loudest among us would have us believe they represent, the folks who are profiting from our current difficulties wouldn't be working so hard to keep folks from finding out what they're doing.

Maybe the problem is that we've all gotten sucked into the view that this is all a game - people are willing to get behind some really noisome shit to prove they're sophisticated enough to see through it to what's Really Going On. Hell, everyone lies, cheats, steals, demonizes opposition and strips constitutional protections away from the unconnected, right? Let's not be hysterical about it.

I don't, honestly, see how anyone could look at the methods and results of what's going on in politics today and not see that it has to stop. I don't see how you could look at the people doing it and give them the benefit of the doubt after the last three years. I don't see how anyone could possibly make excuses for them. I don't see how in good conscience it's possible to hedge any of this so you won't burn your bridges with the avuncular satraps of the right, who are great guys to drink with, I'm sure, when they're not beating up pollworkers or gutting your children's future or casually accusing their opponents of treason with a chuckle, just to piss them off.

I don't too much give a fuck if that's strident. These people are threatening my child's country.

Find the left distasteful aesthetically? Well, know what? A lot of 'moderates' have been pretty much OK with asking the country to suck it up for the last three or four years, for no particular reason that I can see except that passion without Dockers and Pabst is just that tiniest bit declassé.

I think it's time for the 'moderates' to suck it up, stop pretending there are two sides to what's happening to our country right now that are worth our respectful and balanced consideration - no-one in Washington pretends there are - quit hedging your bets and do the right thing.

It really doesn't hurt that much.
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Nobody's entirely sure.
THE US military has said it believes 54 insurgents were killed in intense exchanges in the northern Iraqi town of Samarra on Sunday but commanders admitted they had no bodies.

The only corpses at the city's hospital were those of ordinary civilians, including two elderly Iranian pilgrims and a child.

US Brigadier General Mark Kimmit told a Baghdad press conference 54 militants were killed, 22 wounded and one arrested.

Challenged about what had happened to the bodies, Gen Kimmitt said: "I would suspect that the enemy would have carried them away and brought them back to where their initial base was."

Asked about reports from senior police and hospital officials in the town of eight civilians killed and dozens more wounded, the US general insisted: "We have no such reports whether from medical authorities or police.


The mystery, which borders on solving a mathematics equation, further deepened with Col Gonsalves' report.

According to him, a total of 60 militants, divided into two groups, attacked two convoys escorting new Iraqi currency to banks in the city.

Another four assailants in a BMW attacked a separate engineering convoy.

If the US troops killed 46 and captured 11 of them, only three of the survivors would have been left to pick up the corpses.

On Kimmit's figures the calculus becomes even hazier - with 54 killed, 22 wounded and one captured, 13 militants remain unaccounted for, although both commanders did say the cash convoys also came under attack on their way in and out of the city.

As to how the troops came up with their casualty figures, Rudesheim said it was by counting their weapons.

"We don't indiscriminately engage people, only those who engage us with AK 47s and RPGs. That's how we determine the number of people we are engaging and, after talking with each soldier, we can tell just how many people are returning fire at us."

Residents in Samarra said they had not seen any of the militants' bodies, 46 or 54.

The head of the local hospital, Abed Tawfiq, reported eight dead civilians but no insurgents.

Ambulance driver Abdelmoneim Mohammed said he had not ferried any combatants wounded or killed and wearing the black Fedayeen outfit which US soldiers said their assailants wore.

"If I had seen bodies, I would have picked them up. It's not like the Americans would have done it...


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