Friday, October 21, 2005

Friday Absolut Corruption Post

Had come up with a cat blog post that I had to delete, because Kitten War has bandwidth concerns...anyway, one of these days I'll start working on finding a photo hosting service that's reasonable (i.e., free)...

Meanwhile, I hope Reddhedd from FireDogLake doesn't mind me passing this pic along--with proper attribution to both FDL and 2PoliticalJunkies:

Reality Check

Unsurprisingly, all the hot air emanating from Team Bush in the aftermath of Katrina was just that: hot air...empty calories...not even a Potemkin Village. Oyster writes:

The Small Business Administration is denying over 90% of the loan applications to Louisiana businesses destroyed or disrupted by Katrina. Same for home loans to Katrina victims.

After Hurricane Charlie struck Florida last year, the SBA approved 42% of all loan applications.

My business was in the "core" disaster area, and was totally destroyed by the floods after the hurricane. Absolutely nothing could be salvaged. Thousands of others are in the same situation, and desperately need a helping hand. For example, several weeks ago First Bank held a free seminar for folks applying for SBA loans. It was scheduled for 9am at Smiley's restaurant in Harahan. I arrived at 8:45am and the place was already crowded out the door. They added another seminar at the First Bank on Manhattan on the West Bank for 1pm. I pulled into the packed parking lot at 12:45 and there's two guys from the bank standing outside handing leaflets with info on a third seminar which they hastily scheduled for 2:30pm at the Holiday Inn. The second seminar was already full. So I went to the Holiday Inn and there was a conference room with 200 chairs. And that nearly filled to capacity by the time the seminar started!...

It's very, very disheartening to think that of the HUNDREDS of business owners who went on a wild goose chase for SBA application hints and info, only about 10% of us will be deemed "worthy" of assistance (unlike our favored neighbors in Florida and, presumably, Tejas).

I guess Billmon wasn't being sarcastic after all when he wrote that the solution for those affected by the storm move to Florida and hope hurricanes hit during the election cycle.

Yesterday, YRHT noted that Congress considered Louisiana's request for reconstruction aid...and proffered a giant middle finger in reply:

Rep. John J. Duncan Jr., chairman of that panel, earlier had said flatly that Congress cannot afford Louisiana's request. "This is just not going to happen," he said.

Duncan also noted the excellent condition of local almshouses, where residents receive warm porridge daily.

OK, I made that up. But if there was any measure of justice, Duncan would find himself in a chilly house this winter, unable to afford the heating bill.

Alas, as I posted in comments over at Oyster's site, it seems as if Team Bush is hoping that if they stonewall long enough, they won't have to do a damn thing. Which is beyond shame at a time when money is being sucked into the Iraqi vacuum cleaner at a rate that exceeds a high end Dyson...with failure as the ONLY option (minus, of course, the money being raked in at an equally high rate by Bush/Cheney cronies).

I think the public is catching on, although the media is still doing its best to keep a lid on the manifest failure of this administration. Meanwhile, folks are hurting just about anywhere the neo-con cabal has hung their collective hats.

Jail is almost too good for them.
American Style Democracy

Maybe they were offering the locals a lesson in traditional lynching techniques when US soldiers and psy-ops personnel held their sickening bonfire in Afghanistan the other day. Yet another milestone on the path to democracy.

I wonder when Rummy or one of the uniforms will allude to some chapter in American Revolutionary history for a corollary...

Juan Cole also notes in passing yet another fine democratic tradition--the jury quickly returning a verdict of "Not Guilty!"

A former regional governor who oversaw the destruction of two massive 1,500-year-old Buddha statues during the Taliban's reign was elected to the Afghan parliament last month, officials said Tuesday as results from two provinces were finalized.

Mawlawi Mohammed Islam Mohammadi, who was the Taliban's governor of Bamiyan province when the fifth-century Buddha statues were blown up with dynamite and artillery in March 2001, was chosen to represent the neighboring province of Samangan.

Sure was mighty hot in the deliberation room...and they didn't even have a Coke machine.
The New Dick

Attaturk suggests a new slogan for Team Bush:

"A pig-headed resolve to press forward"


I hope God has a sense of humor--but she evidently has a sense of irony:

New York Times reporter Judith Miller told the federal grand jury in the CIA leak case that she might have met with I. Lewis (Scooter) Libby on June 23, 2003 only after prosecutors showed her Secret Service logs that indicated she and Libby had indeed met that day in the Executive Office Building adjacent to the White House, according to attorneys familiar with her testimony.

June 23rd...that brings back memories:

June 23, 1972
This is the transcript of the recording of a meeting between President Nixon and H.R. Haldeman in the Oval Office on June 23, 1972 from 10.04am to 11.39am...

Haldeman: okay -that's fine. Now, on the investigation, you know, the Democratic break-in thing, we're back to the-in the, the problem area because the FBI is not under control, because Gray doesn't exactly know how to control them, and they have, their investigation is now leading into some productive areas, because they've been able to trace the money, not through the money itself, but through the bank, you know, sources - the banker himself. And, and it goes in some directions we don't want it to go. Ah, also there have been some things, like an informant came in off the street to the FBI in Miami, who was a photographer or has a friend who is a photographer who developed some films through this guy, Barker, and the films had pictures of Democratic National Committee letter head documents and things. So I guess, so it's things like that that are gonna, that are filtering in. Mitchell came up with yesterday, and John Dean analyzed very carefully last night and concludes, concurs now with Mitchell's recommendation that the only way to solve this, and we're set up beautifully to do it, ah, in that and that...the only network that paid any attention to it last night was NBC...they did a massive story on the Cuban...

Nixon: That's right.

Haldeman: thing.

Nixon: Right.

Haldeman: That the way to handle this now is for us to have Walters call Pat Gray and just say, "Stay the hell out of this...this is ah, business here we don't want you to go any further on it." That's not an unusual development,...

Nixon: Um huh.

Haldeman: ...and, uh, that would take care of it.

Nixon: What about Pat Gray, ah, you mean he doesn't want to?

Haldeman: Pat does want to. He doesn't know how to, and he doesn't have, he doesn't have any basis for doing it. Given this, he will then have the basis. He'll call Mark Felt in, and the two of them ...and Mark Felt wants to cooperate because...

Nixon: Yeah.

Haldeman: he's ambitious...

Nixon: Yeah.

Haldeman: Ah, he'll call him in and say, "We've got the signal from across the river to, to put the hold on this." And that will fit rather well because the FBI agents who are working the case, at this point, feel that's what it is. This is CIA.

History really does repeat itself...

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Equal Time

Simbaud went to see Joe Wilson speak at San Francisco State University:

...We were pleased that Mr. Wilson arrived early in order to mingle with the audience and answer questions before his presentation; we were distressed that he consistently mispronounced the word "nuclear" as "nucular." His speech was nonetheless riveting.

He opened by announcing that it was a good week to be out of Washington -- but then, every week is a good week to be out of Washington. Although he declined to speculate as to whether special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald would return indictments in the Plame case, he did say this: a couple of years ago, his obituary described him (and the past tense is correct: newspapers prepare obituaries of public figures well in advance of their deaths) as "Joseph Wilson, the last American diplomat to meet with Saddam Hussein." After the summer of 2003, he became "Joseph Wilson, husband of the first undercover agent to be exposed by her own government."...

We managed to take a few notes, which follow immediately below, although we must warn you that all quotes are approximate:
The bulk of his speech was predictably devoted to the flimsiness of the administration's case for war against Iraq. Mr. Wilson repeatedly emphasized that chemical and biological weapons are not, strictly speaking, "weapons of mass destruction"; only nuclear weapons deserve that label, which is why the White House Iraq Group, eager for war, contrived to invent a nuclear threat where none existed. Despite the notorious "16 words" in Mr. Bush's 2003 State of the Union address, Iraq had not attempted to resurrect its long-dormant nuclear weapons program by purchasing uranium yellowcake from Niger, as Mr. Wilson made clear in his CIA report. Two other independent studies commissioned by the administration returned the same finding. The White House, the Pentagon, the intelligence community, and the Senate had all been informed months before the invasion that any such claims were baseless "crap" and "bullshit," but chose to go to war nonetheless...

In the current administration there are, according to Wilson, three schools of thought regarding foreign policy. The Whack-a-Mole school, epitomized by Rumsfeld and Cheney, likes to hit anything and hit everything, and goes looking for new threats when it has nothing left to hit. The Jodhpurs-and-Pith-Helmet school (Perle, Bolton, Wolfowitz on his saner days) argues that America, as the lone remaining superpower, should embrace its imperial destiny and take any actions necessary to maintain global hegemony for generations to come. The God's-Gift-of-Freedom school (Bush, possibly Rice, Wolfowitz on his less sane days) believes, stupidly, that it is part of America's great mission to spread democracy by military force.

Wilson is disappointed that the Iraq constitution passed (if indeed it did) because it represents nothing more than a temporary truce between the Shi'a and the Kurds, excluding Sunni concerns altogether. The constitution as it stands will institutionalize chaos and lead, inevitably, to civil war, but the Bush administration may nonetheless use it as an occasion to declare victory and move on to the next engagement...

Wilson openly mocks the view that a new, Democratized Middle East can arise from chaos we are currently spreading. Columnists like Thomas Friedman make the mistake of assuming that educated, liberal Arabs -- the Westernized types Friedman hangs out with, whom Wilson characterizes as "Doctors, Lawyers, Accountants, and Golfers" -- will naturally rise in influence as the region reconfigures itself. Big mistake, says Wilson: the DLAG class benefits primarily from incremental change, from slow evolution toward modernity. Revolution, on the other hand, favors revolutionaries. Professionals and intellectuals are being driven out of Iraq because they have been targeted for murder by the militias.

Mr. Wilson believes that the outing of Valerie Plame by the White House staff was not just an "incredible act of sleaziness" but a monumental tactical blunder as well, because it shifted the terms of engagement: what had once been a political battle became a legal one instead. The Bush administration is at its best when smearing a political enemy. Its vast marketing and propaganda skills are of limited use when the enemy is not a person but the law itself.

Wilson is especially distressed that, questions of illegality aside, not one Republican has stood up to say that the outing of his wife was wrong. Why, he wonders, would the GOP want to be known as the party of treason?

He further insists that he and his wife are not political activists, but "symbols of the pushback" -- the process by which an out-of-kilter democracy eventually rights itself.

Wilson has no plans to sue Robert Novak, who is "beneath contempt" but, at the end of the day, "only a pawn" of the Bush administration. Asked what he thinks of Novak personally, Wilson refused to reply, deferring to the opinion of his "good friend Jon Stewart": "I've promised my wife to stop using the term 'douche bag.'"...

He has no desire to run for public office ("too many wives, too many drugs" in his past, and a pair of six-year-old twins in his present), but would be happy to serve his country again, if called upon by some future administration. He would find the sort of job that requires Senate confirmation especially attractive, because he would very much like to give Pat Roberts, Orrin Hatch, and Kit Bond the opportunity to call him a liar again. To his face.
Dinner Defense

Poor Mike Brown: no wonder he wasn't up to, um, DOING HIS GODDAMNED JOB:

...on Aug. 31, [Regional FEMA Director Marty] Bahamonde frantically e-mailed Brown to tell him that thousands are evacuees were gathering in the streets with no food or water and that "estimates are many will die within hours."

"Sir, I know that you know the situation is past critical," Bahamonde wrote.

Less than three hours later, however, Brown's press secretary wrote colleagues to complain that the FEMA director needed more time to eat dinner at a Baton Rouge restaurant that evening. "He needs much more that (sic) 20 or 30 minutes," wrote Brown aide Sharon Worthy.

"We now have traffic to encounter to go to and from a location of his choise (sic), followed by wait service from the restaurant staff, eating, etc. Thank you."

By the way: the Louisiana E.O.P. has kitchen/eating area on site. Food was brought in daily (things like baked chicken, red or white beans and rice, etc.) and made available at NO cost to anyone in the building. Although, to respond to a one of Oyster's comments, there were no magaritas--only sodas, water, and Community Coffee. I'm sure to someone like Director Brown(nose), it must have looked horribly primitive.

To someone living off MRE's, on the other hand, it would've seemed like dinner in paradise.

Hope you like the foie gras...asshole.
New Paint: No Protection From Mortars

Is it just me, or is everyone else noticing the ever decreasing shelf life of Iraqi elections...seems like the latest round turned to dust--literally--within hours:

A mortar hit a school in south Baghdad today, killing at least one child, and a suicide bomber detonated himself behind a United States military convoy, killing four civilians and wounding another 14.

The mortar attack occurred at an elementary school in the Mansur district this morning, killing the child and two security guards, and wounding at least four other children, according to a person in the Interior Ministry.

In northeast Baghdad, a suicide bomber driving a sedan blew himself up while following a convoy of American troops. There was no immediate indication of American casualties in addition to the civilian deaths. There was damage to at least one Humvee, said an Interior Ministry source.

The attacks today followed a series of attacks on late Tuesday and Wednesday that killed at least 26 Iraqis, 5 American soldiers and a British soldier.

Also, Rory Carroll, a reporter working for The Guardian, was believed to have been abducted in Baghdad, the newspaper said.

Early reports indicated that Mr. Carroll, a 33-year-old Irishman, might have been kidnapped in eastern Baghdad while he was interviewing Iraqis about the trial of Saddam Hussein.

The lethal attacks and the kidnapping may have been timed to the start of the trial. Two mortars landed in the fortified Green Zone before the trial began, and a string of explosions could be heard in central Baghdad after nightfall.

Speaking of kidnapping:

Gunmen stormed into an office of an attorney for former President Saddam Hussein's defense team and kidnapped him Thursday, Iraqi police said.

Sadoon al-Janabi was working in his office in the al-Shaab neighborhood of northern Baghdad when he was abducted, police said.

He had been representing Awad Hamad al-Bandar, the former chief judge of Saddam Hussein's Revolutionary Court, who is accused of having sentenced to death 143 residents of Dujail following a failed assassination attempt on Hussein.

So, Mr. Cheney--care to clarify "last throes" for us again?
Bug Mug

The Smoking Gun has the real one; AmericaBlog has their own version...

I like Aravosis's better.

One down, twenty-two to go...
Things Fall Apart

Geez, it's getting difficult to just keep up...let's see: the most charitable way to describe the Miers nomination is to say it's lurching along like a drunken Shrub behind the wheel...while over in Afghanistan, our troops apparently had a contest to see who was the dumbest--and psy-ops won.

Back in DC, Michael Chertoff fessed up and admitted it was FEMA who dropped the ball re: Hurricane Katrina (and in a related story, I heard this morning on the radio that the feds insist they'll get it right for Wilma. I dunno, maybe the third time's the charm...or three strikes you're out. Or maybe Jeb knows something about Dubya's coke-addled misspent youth that Shrub doesn't want the public to be aware of). Tom DeLay slithered out of his hole for a flight to Austin, where he'll be fingerprinted, photographed, and otherwise treated like a common criminal (well, minus the fact that he's probably gonna be on a Gulfstream charter). Gee, Tom, couldn't happen to a more deserving fellow.

There's still a lot of breath-holding re: the Plame Matter--when something finally comes of this, the resulting exhaling of hot air might make for a significant global warming event on its own. Firedoglake linked to an LA Times article that describes something I saw either at Counterpunch or on a blog at least a year or two ago: Cheney's office is a focus of Fitzgerald's investigation because Dick has a history of enmity vis-a-vis the Company...enmity that's continued during his reign as "Veep."

Um--remember the expression "stovepiping?"

Finally, to round out the morning, here's an offering from the Senatorial menu: Grilled Condi. Served with Rice. Lots of empty calories.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Picture Imperfect

Murph challenges us to spot the anomoly in this picture.
Chronicle of a City Destroyed

Schroeder has a poignant and oddly beautiful photo essay featuring modern artifacts from the Great Storm and Flood.

Hopefully, in the not-too-distant-future, NOLA bloggers will be able to chronicle the city's rebirth.

Mixter's Mix links to a story I also happened across on Google News--be careful about printing out your revolutionary screeds on company printers, particularly Tektronix models produced by Xerox:

It sounds like a conspiracy theory, but it isn't. The pages coming out of your color printer may contain hidden information that could be used to track you down if you ever cross the U.S. government.

Last year, an article in PC World magazine pointed out that printouts from many color laser printers contained yellow dots scattered across the page, viewable only with a special kind of flashlight. The article quoted a senior researcher at Xerox Corp. as saying the dots contain information useful to law-enforcement authorities, a secret digital "license tag" for tracking down criminals.

HP color printers also have this "feature." Both companies say it's an anti-counterfeiting measure.

For the record, I've installed and/or supported any number of Tektronix Phasers--they're awfully nice...but I'll make sure my screeds get printed elsewhere.
Just a Bit of Dirty Laundry

Billmon subtly reminds us of just who Saddam used to call Sugar Daddy.

I'll be a little less subtle.

Oh, and I found this shot too--didn't know Shrub and Ronnie went so far back.
Role Playing

James Wolcott muses about the ramifications of the Fitzgerald investigation:

I don't know what indictments, if any, are coming down the pike. But I promise you this: If there are high-reaching indictments from Fitzgerald's grand jury that threaten to rip out several vital organs of the Bush regime, the same milksop Machiavellis who extol "hardball" as the Beltway's favorite sport will suddenly start worming their fingers together in major fits of nervous handwringing and warning us these trials risk "tearing the country apart" and becoming a "terrible distraction" to more "urgent problems facing the nation."

I remember this happening during the early stages of Watergate, when many of the poohbahs of journalism and punditry tried to bottle up the surge force of the investigations, feeling that the country had been through so much pain and woe in the late Sixties (the assassinations of Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King, the riots at the Chicago convention, etc) that another national trauma would be too much to bear. This was before the full dimensions of the rot and gangsterism were known, and even the Voices of Caution (such as Hugh Sidey) were forced to concede that Nixon had to go. I fully expect a replay if there are major indictments, with David Broder assuming the role of Sidey, Richard Cohen performing his yeoman best to much
[sic] everything up, etc., and the all the former hardballers going soft, saying that whatever was done to strike back at Joe Wilson is dwarfed by the more important challenges facing us in Iraq, the War on Terror, the Katrina rebuilding, and so on.

If it looks as if Cheney has to resign and Bush himself enters the Nixon danger zone, we'll hear the same frets and cries from the pundit shows about the country being torn apart and Americans losing faith in their government. But it isn't the country that will be torn apart by Plamegate any more than the country was torn apart during Watergate (which provided daily thrilling news entertainment value that bound citizens together); it's the Washington establishment that will be torn apart. And it should be torn apart. It's failed the country, and it's played by its own rules for too long, and "criminalizing politics" is exactly what should be done when political criminals deceive a nation into a war with Judith Miller serving as the Angie Dickinson to their Rat Pack and Richard Cohen auditioning for the part of Joey Bishop.

The Editors alert us to this gem from BlackDogRed:

If anyone ever needs reminding that behind the mask of every bully is a simpering wussy, just think of Bill Kristol, posterboy of nepotistic, shiftless conservatism, whimpering like a child in anticipation of a spanking.

A wuss, by any other just as lame...
Playing Catch(up)

Fits and starts over here...spent the first night at the new place. I like it, but the orange and white tabby/Maine coon mix who shares space with me had a different attitude, roughly akin to being unfairly sentenced to the 9th circle. If his yowling is in any way indicative of what awaits those who transgress (not Billmon himself, but the subjects of his recent posts), then hell is pretty damn loud.

This NY Daily News piece seems to be in the bull's eye for those following the Plame matter. If it's accurate, it's further proof that Team Bush, starting at the top of the slag heap (or shit pile) hold the public--and the democratic process--in utter contempt. That's not much of a revelation for plenty of us; however, should the Fitzgerald investigation bear fruit, there might be a pretty decent percentage of the 59 million Shrubusto voters opting to keep their secret ballot secret for quite a while. After all, no one like being taken for a sucker.

Because, let's face it: at this point we could slowly rip Saddam Hussein apart, bit by bit, on live television, and it would have about as much impact on Operation Enduring Clusterfuck as a single raindrop falling in the Atlantic Ocean...oh, and speaking of, having no media at home made me unaware of Hurricane Wilma becoming the evil third sister of Katrina and Rita over the course of, what? a day or so? Geez.

Combined with the rain and floods up north, wildfires out west, the approaching blizzard, um, "heating" season, etc., etc., and so on, it's pretty clear that we've got quite enough on the national plate...but Team Stumblebum, back in 2002, INSISTED upon engaging in a fool's errand over in Mesopotamia...and now we've got a mess there AND a mess here (although, to be fair, Dub and Dick's friends and business associates HAVE cleaned up like nobody's business...but that just underscores my point re: their contempt for democracy all the more).

So, let's definitely hope Fitzgerald both has the goods and delivers. And let's also hope that the mess George the younger brought can be cleaned. Finally, I'll forgive the truly penitent for casting their votes for the clown prince--although, as I've said/written before, why WOULDN'T Shrub screw it all up? That's his fucking life story--failure.

Now you can add arrogance and contempt, too.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Postless Tuesday

Apologies--too much stuff to do. Haven't moved to a new place in more than six's a chore, although half of it is waiting...and waiting...

Fortunately I still have water at my old place, which is technically mine until the end of the month. Have sat around since 8 am for the water company to show up at the new for the cable? Laff.

Back tomorrow.

Monday, October 17, 2005

American-Style Democracy

I guess the ghost of Joe Kennedy isn't running amok in the Fertile Crescent--looks like the fraud there is checking in on the wholesale side:

What’s truly eyebrow-raising is that the number of constitutional “yes” votes — 326,774 — is more than the total increase in votes over January’s turnout. That suggests that not only did all of the Sunnis in Ninevah province, who largely boycotted the January elections turn out, but that they all voted for the constitution. That’s a very strange idea to me, as I’ve not met a single Sunni who voted for it here in Baghdad.

Al-Hayat reports that 643,000 votes were cast in Ninevah Province (capital: Mosul). At the time it filed, 419,000 had been preliminarily counted, and the vote was running 75 percent in favor. Ninevah Province was the most likely place that Sunni Arabs opposing the constitution might be able to get a 2/3s "no" vote.

Several of my knowledgeable readers are convinced that the Ninevah voting results as reported so far look like fraud. One suspected that the Iraqi government so feared a defeat there that they over-did the ballot stuffing and ended up with an implausible result.

That, or maybe it's just a matter of "vote early and vote often." After all, it's not every day that "only nine attacks" occur...must've seemed positively peaceful in comparison to the norm.
The Heavy Stuff

I spent yesterday afternoon moving several boatloads of stuff to my new place...however, my boat is pretty small--a mere pirogue aka a Corolla. For large items, I need a bigger boat.

A friend came to the rescue with a truck. So, I'll be taking some time off this afternoon.

Meanwhile, another friend alerted me to TruthOut's reprint of Frank Rich's NYT column. Here's a small sample:

"Bush's Brain" is the title of James Moore and Wayne Slater's definitive account of Mr. Rove's political career. But Mr. Rove is less his boss's brain than another alliterative organ (or organs), that which provides testosterone. As we learn in "Bush's Brain," bad things (usually character assassination) often happen to Bush foes, whether Ann Richards or John McCain. On such occasions, Mr. Bush stays compassionately above the fray while the ruthless Mr. Rove operates below the radar, always separated by "a layer of operatives" from any ill behavior that might implicate him. "There is no crime, just a victim," Mr. Moore and Mr. Slater write of this repeated pattern.

THIS modus operandi was foolproof, shielding the president as well as Mr. Rove from culpability, as long as it was about winning an election. The attack on Mr. Wilson, by contrast, has left them and the Cheney-Libby tag team vulnerable because it's about something far bigger: protecting the lies that took the country into what the Reagan administration National Security Agency director, Lt. Gen. William Odom, recently called "the greatest strategic disaster in United States history."

Whether or not Mr. Fitzgerald uncovers an indictable crime, there is once again a victim, but that victim is not Mr. or Mrs. Wilson; it's the nation. It is surely a joke of history that even as the White House sells this weekend's constitutional referendum as yet another "victory" for democracy in Iraq, we still don't know the whole story of how our own democracy was hijacked on the way to war.

But, if you've got the time, read the whole thing.
White Courtesy Telephone

I don't think conference calls are off limits for Senate Committees:

On Oct. 3, the day the Miers nomination was announced, Mr. Dobson and other religious conservatives held a conference call to discuss the nomination. One of the people on the call took extensive notes, which I have obtained. According to the notes, two of Ms. Miers's close friends -- both sitting judges -- said during the call that she would vote to overturn Roe.

The Heretik offers a visual interpretation:
Tip My Hat to the New Constitution

Our tax dollars at work.

If it's dead, it's VC an insurgent.

Another election, followed by violence, followed by more violence. So, what the spin's gonna be? Iraq's Whiskey Rebellion?

American air strikes killed about 70 suspected insurgents in a series of operations near the volatile western Iraqi city of Ramadi on Sunday, the day after a referendum on a new constitution, the military said today.

The strikes targeted Sunni-led insurgents, who tried to intimidate voters in the run-up to Saturday's balloting by killing scores of Iraqis with suicide attacks and roadside bombs in recent weeks. But within hours of today's announcement by the United States military, news agencies reported that dozens of the dead were civilians...

The military said in its statement today that 20 men were killed east of Ramadi, when a fighter jet fired a precision-guided bomb on a group of people suspected of placing a roadside bomb at the site of a bomb attack that killed five American and two Iraqi soldiers on referendum day.

An estimated 50 others died in raids by helicopters and fighter jets dispatched to observe a suspected safe house in the Abu Faraj region north of Ramadi, where a group of men was loading vehicles with weapons, the statement said.

American troops then killed as many as three insurgents with assault weapons, when they attacked soldiers at Ramadi's government center. One marine captain in the city said the military was bringing some Iraqi rebels back to an American base in body bags.

"All the attacks were timed and executed in a manner to reduce the possibility of collateral damage," the military statement read, saying that there were no reports of civilian casualties.

But according to witness accounts reported by The Associated Press, at least 39 of those killed by the raids were civilians.

Ramadi is the capital of the Anbar province, the violence-plagued desert area west of Baghdad, and is widely considered to be one of the most dangerous cities for coalition soldiers in Iraq today. Since mid-September, 17 American troops have been killed in Ramadi, a stronghold of the Sunni Arab minority which has led the opposition to the constitution. The eastern part of the city has been an especially troubled area; here the American military agreed to hand responsibility for security arrangements around polling stations to local tribal leaders last Saturday, in contrast to the vast majority of polling stations that were protected by American and Iraqi soldiers.

Contrary to some predictions, voting on Saturday was not disrupted by mass violence. There were only nine attacks in Baghdad - much fewer than the average daily score - killing one Iraqi civilian while casting his vote. A handful of Iraqi soldiers were killed elsewhere in the country.

But American and Iraqi officials have warned that the insurgency is likely to continue, even if the constitution passes.

You've gotta love the way expectations in the paper of record reflect those of the administration...lowered to the level of a reinforced-concrete bunker capable of surviving a direct hit from a nukulur bomb. "Only nine attacks on election day! Doubleplusgood!" As for the "handful of Iraqi soldiers," well, if nothing else, Team Bush teaches by example: in their (pathetic little pinhead) minds, that's what soldiers do--die. If they're US soldiers, time to crank out an official "letter of regret;" if they're least they were mentioned.

Boy, that oughta win over millions of Iraqi hearts and minds.
Half-Penny for Half-Wit

The Editors alert us to a new mintage.
Tragedy, then Farce, then What?

Judith Miller presented an award on behalf of the California First Amendment Coalition to Mark Felt.

Somewhere, a flying pig is looking for a place to land...