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Daily Journal: Thursday, June 21, 2007

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yesterday's open thread:


At Least 14 US Troops Killed in Iraq in Two Days

The significance here is that most of those deaths were not a result of that vaunted offensive against al-Qaeda to the north of Baghdad: "With a major U.S. effort to oust insurgents underway in Diyala province north of the Iraqi capital, a series of five attacks elsewhere claimed the lives of American soldiers on patrol in Baghdad, in the restive Al Anbar province, and southwest of the capital," the Post reports. That suggests two things. Either the "offensive" isn't nearly the big-scale, intelligence-driven, objectove-driven operation that it's been billed to be. Or much of the operation is focused on carpet-bombing type attacks rather than targeted combat. Or both. Either way, the civilian casualty rate must be, as usual, enough to make American losses look like little in comparison. They're calling this latest operation "Arrowhead Ripper." Something else is being ripped, it belongs to US troops, and it'd be too impolite to say more about it, though god knows no sleep's being lost over civility in Iraq. Meanwhile, here's Bush explaining it all yesterday in the East Room of the White House: "Destroying human life in the hopes of saving human life is not ethical."

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Bloomberg Blooms and Third-Party Follies

It's been a fascinating couple of days, watching New York's Michael Bloomberg abandon the Republican Party's Titanic deck chairs for the even less chartered waters of independent party affiliation. He's been a much better mayor than Herr Rudd Giuliani ever was, and among all the Republican Party candidates so far running for the presidency, he'd have been the most interesting, the least disagreeable-and would be still if he were to jump in, whatever his affiliation, whatever his current claims. The Times' editorial though chose wit over cynicism: "We probably should know better, but for now we're going to take a politician at face value and believe Michael Bloomberg when he says he is not running for president. Jis line yesterday about running only if he was the last person on earth was Shermanesque by today's standards." The Times is right, too, when it judges the Republican race so far as "the longest and already most airless presidential campaign in memory." But if Bloomberg were to join in, the prospects of an independent run, for all the bankruptcy of the two-party system, remain as dim as ever. That independents every time they run underscore the bankruptcy. Have a look [a Wall Street Journal graphic]:

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Why Florida Is a Failed State

From the Sentinel : "Nearly 20,000 people in Orange County [that is, the Orlando area] are legally carrying concealed guns, records show. The number of licenses for concealed weapons in the county has jumped 20 percent in the past year and has risen 57 percent in the past five years. And more are on the way. The state Division of Licensing has sent out nearly a quarter-million applications for permits statewide this year, a 33 percent increase from five years ago. "Having a concealed-weapon permit for most people is peace of mind, said Larry Anderson, who manages the Shoot Straight gun shop and firing range in Apopka. "If someone is prepared for the worst-case scenario, they're better off."

And what's the seventh-most violent city in the country? You guessed it. Orlando. Florida, remember, passed a law a year ago giving gun-carriers the right to shoot first when they feel endangered. No definition of what feeling endangered was included in the law. It's up to interpretation. Imagination. Desire. Florida's gun-toting mentality reminds me of a recent article in the Times about the Ogaden region of Ethiopia, one of the sorriest-assed epicenters of violence on the planet, where "[t]he primary elements in this world are skin and bone and sun and rock. And guns. Loads of them. Camel herders carry rifles to protect their animals. Young women carry pistols to protect their bodies. And then there is the Ogaden National Liberation Front, the machine-gun-toting rebels fighting for control of this desiccated wasteland."

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When Orlando Becomes Rwanda

Also in the Sentinel : "Criminal charges filed Wednesday in Wisconsin described a house of horrors where a 15-year-old Sanford girl helped brutalize and kill her mother and took turns with three adults in scalding, beating and starving the girl's 11-year-old brother. Prosecutors charged Felicia Mae Garlin and the adults -- all former housemates in Sanford -- with being a party to first-degree murder, child abuse, imprisoning both her brother and mother and hiding a corpse. The mother, Tammie A. Garlin, 36, of Sanford was killed on or about June 4, then buried in the yard of a house in Portage, Wis. A medical examiner concluded she had been strangled and suffered a ruptured lung and broken bones to her face. Someone had tried to stitch up cuts to her face with a sewing needle and thread, a police officer stated in his account of the case."

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