The Daily 750









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Still Sorting Truth From Fiction

Monday, November 21, 2005

Congressman John Murtha said: "Our troops have become the primary target of the insurgency." Like Bush, he either received bad information or he's lying for political purpose. I'll say he got bad information and offer him some fresh details.

US fatalities:
July -- 54
August -- 85
September -- 49
October -- 96
November -- 67
Total: 351

Iraqi fatalities

July -- 304 police/military    518 civilian
August -- 282 pol/mil    1524 civilian
September -- 233 pol/mil    640 civilian
October -- 215 pol/mil    465 civilian
November -- 99 pol/mil    470 civilian
Total: 1133 pol/mil    3617 civilian

I've scanned the data from Friday back to October 26, and can find only one Iraqi civilian who was not killed by insurgent mortar, roadside bomb, suicide bomb, or gunfire.

In 50 attacks from October 26 to November 9, three were targeted on US forces.

It seems clear that the primary target of the insurgency is Iraqis and, through them, the hearts and minds of Americans who will urge their own leaders to withdraw American troops from Iraq given that there were no WMD in Iraq from which to rid the world and that nation building isn't going so well.

I urge you to read John Burns' Sunday NY Times piece about why it took so long for the US military to find the Interior Ministry's torture center in Baghdad. Burns writes this:
As the conquering power, America brought with it many assumptions, and among the most costly of these has been the belief, deeply ingrained in the American experience, that reason, principle and persistence can prevail.
And this:
To a great extent, the American story in Iraq has been one of a profound clash of cultures - of invaders who came with a belief that they could transplant the virtues of democratic bargaining and a civil society that secures the vital interests of all, only to be confounded by what Iraqis themselves often describe as the culture of Ali Baba, the mythical villain of Baghdad. In that culture, maneuver and guile, secrets and untruths, terror and treachery are, too often, the coin of the realm for deciding who gets wealth and power.
And there is also this, from James Lileks' Screed today, which takes on Kurt Vonnegut, currently on a tour for his latest book, A Man Without A Country, and all but calling suicide bombers "awesome, man.":
But there is nothing to be gained from pointing out that Vonnegut is an addled old fool whose brain has rusted in the antiestablishment default position for so long he cannot distinguish between suicide bombers and people who stage a sit-in at a Woolworth’s counter. There is nothing to be gained from attacking the messenger when his other message is so delicious. Of course, all it would take is a few book editors in a few magazines to say “to hell with the old coot; I have a cousin serving in Iraq, and I’ll be goddamned if I give this hairy old fool a pass because he wrote a book my brother loved in college. What’s the matter with us? Do we excuse everything because it kicks Bush in the nuts? If Madonna puts on a suicide belt in her next video and sashays into St. Peters to protest, oh, I don’t know, popery, do we give her a f*$*#ing golf clap for pushing the envelope again?”
And so we return to Murtha. You may think he's an American icon, even a hero, and also want US troops withdrawn as soon as possible. But don't foster his erroneous notion that it's because they're the primary targets of the insurgents.

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One other legislative soundbite caught my attention this weekend, this one by Senator Joe Biden, on "Fox News Sunday," talking about Supreme Court nominee Sam Alito:
The fact that he questioned abortion and the idea of quotas is one thing. The fact that he questioned the idea of the legitimacy of the reapportionment decisions of the Warren Court is even something well beyond that.
What Alito wrote (.pdf file) is (emphasis added):
In college, I developed a deep interest in constitutional law, motivated in large part by disagreement with Warren Court decisions, particularly in the areas of criminal procedure, the Establishment Clause, and reapportionment.
In the same 1985 employment application, Alito also wrote:
I am particularly proud of my contributions in recent cases in which the government has argued in the Supreme Court that racial and ethnic quotas should not be allowed and that the Constitution does not protect a right to an abortion.
The concept of "one man, one vote" was pretty much settled even by activists 20 years ago, and hasn't been and isn't on the Supremes' radar, much less their agenda. Even Alito notes it as an early college interest, which makes sense because major reapportionment had only recently taken place when he was in college. Quotas and particularly abortion, on the other hand, remain of interest to him because they are active issues in which he could play a decisive role.

Until this employment application was released, Biden had said that Alito's opinions were unlikely to trigger a filibuster and that the Senate would, after a char-broiled grilling, vote up or down on his nomination. That moderate talk has changed now that a brown-nosing reference to a hoary issue has been unearthed. Why? Because reapportionment, that process by which a state's conglomeration of electoral districts is made to look like a Jackson Pollock painting, keeps Democrats in office.

Biden could have made the argument that keeping Democrats in power helps to assure that America doesn't go to hell in a rushbasket. I'm sure he'll make that argument today or tomorrow, after a few of his advisors tell him how self-serving he sounds.