Sunday, July 17, 2005

Sunday reading

* "The last few weeks in Iraq have shown at some indicators of statistical improvement against the insurgency, but in the last the news has been almost irredeemably bad," notes UPI's Martin Sieff, who penned this piece before the rash of suicide bombings on Friday (~25 killed; 111 wounded) and Saturday (one incident; 98 killed; 75 wounded).

* Along these lines, the Washington Post has an extended article on the growing popularity of suicide bombs among terrorists.

* The NY Times' Edward Wong reports from Fallujah: "Transformed into a police state after last winter's siege, this should be the safest city in all of Iraq...But the insurgency is rising from the rubble nevertheless, eight months after the American military killed as many as 1,500 Iraqis in a costly invasion that fanned anti-American passions across Iraq and the Arab world."

* Remember those heady days when our ears were massaged with reassurances lies that the Iraq war would pay for itself by the oil riches that lay in wait for the glorious liberators? We sure have come a long way since then, as this report from the CS Monitor makes clear.

* Ruining the weekend for everyone at AEI, Ibrahim al-Jaafari, the Iraqi prime minister, is off in Iran shoring up relations and signing a security agreement. In related news, two new books that take aim at Iran seem to be gaining popularity in right wing circles.

* Faye Fiore of the LA Times reports on the overlooked ramifications of the Iraq war back home, as an increasing number of soldiers who survive the fighting return only to find "empty houses, squandered bank accounts, divorce papers and restraining orders."

* Seymour Hersh apparently has an article coming out in the next New Yorker that will claim the Americans "covertly influenced" the January elections in Iraq. Here's the NY Times article that tries to throw some cold water on his charges ahead of time. Earlier, Scott Ritter alluded to the elections being manipulated and stated that Hersh was working on an article about it.

* In the NY Times, Frank Rich does his public service by slapping the Democrats and liberals frothing about Karl Rove upside the head. "This case," Rich reminds them, "is about Iraq, not Niger. The real victims are the American people, not the Wilsons. [ed. umm. what about Iraqis?!] The real not Mr. Rove but the gang that sent American sons and daughters to war on trumped-up grounds and in so doing diverted finite resources, human and otherwise, from fighting the terrorists who attacked us on 9/11. That's why the stakes are so high: this scandal is about the unmasking of an ill-conceived war, not the unmasking of a C.I.A. operative who posed for Vanity Fair."

* The Washington Post takes a step back and, after several twists and turns over the past week, summarizes the Plame situation (Plamegate?) thus far. The one major piece of information missing from Jim VandeHei and Mike Allen's report is that Plame's identity probably was gleaned from a State Department memo that was drawn up in June 2003, about a month before Joseph Wilson's NYT op-ed piece triggered the pushback from the White House. The memo raises a whole slew of possibilities, which I won't even attempt to outline.

* Meanwhile, the Washington Post reports that Judy Miller may be in deeper trouble than previously believed and, presumably, Scooter Libby with her.

* Via Jim Lobe we find out that neocons are gettin' antsy with all of the political groundswells in recent weeks. We also learn that the neocons' favorite waterboy, Stephen Hayes, is still pounding away on the Iraq-Al Qaeda links. God bless him.

* There's been a recent uptick in violence in Israel/Palestine, with Palestinian groups again opening up attacks after a period of cessation. Ha'aretz has three short pieces of analysis on what this may mean.

* Charley Reese offers his own public service announcement, writing, "The state of Israel – which, the last time I checked, was both a foreign and a sovereign nation – wants the American taxpayers to cough up $2.2 billion in addition to our regular $3 billion-or-so annual subsidy to pay for the withdrawal from Gaza. Unless the American people raise hell about this, it's a done deal."

* The Sunday Herald's James Cusick provides the latest updates on the investigation into the London bombings.

* Barbara Slaughter of the WSWS puts Mugabe's "Operation Murambatsvina" in to context.

* Venezuela: on the road to "21st Century Socialism"?

* David Walker, the GAO's comptroller general, recently laid into the Pentagon's "atrocious financial management" in public remarks and, according to the Boston Globe, warned of "a future of interminable debt due to the high cost of paying for the retirement and healthcare of the nation's aging population." Bush's Medicare prescription boondoggle will prove particularly burdensome in the future, Walker says.

* This is a really good (albeit long) article from the NY Times Magazine on the George Lakoff-inspired "framing" rage of the Democratic party and its supporters.