Catching up, Part III

It has also occurred to me that I should state my opinions on the current political climate. After all, that is what I used to do with this site, and what I intend to do so again.

The 2008 election is beyond commentary until the primaries begin. The 2006 elections will result in a Democratic pickup of seats in both houses, but it’s not a sure thing about either house switching control. There’s just not a lot of open /and/ vunerable seats. As unpopular as Bush is, and as bad as sixth-year elections tend to be for the party in power, I’d say GOP is probably going to escape with a razor-slim majority in both. I’m not as cheerfully optimistic as I used to be. Then again, I’m not a Democrat anymore, either.

Iraq is actually a little worse than I’d predicted. I remember making a huge fuss when the fatalities went over 1,000. Now we’re at nearly 2500. The rate is rock-steady above 2 a day. Nothing good there. I think I said a year ago that there would be no major troop reduction for at least two years. I don’t think we’re in any danger of that changing until a new President arrives. There’s just too much blood and institutional investment to stop, just as there was in Vietnam. President Howard Dean would have trouble even starting a pullout at this point.

The death of Al-Zarqawi is only of historical interest. The US did not kill a top leader as much as create a martyr. He is as effective dead as he was alive – maybe more so. Given, there are no shortage of martyrs on either side at this point, but a martyr that everyone knows the name of is better than a local one.

If there was something telling about this particular assassination, it is the downplaying of the other people that died in the bombing. It’s hard to say from all the different media accounts, but apparently at least one child and perhaps two were killed of the 7 people in the house when it was bombed. Most of the time, the articles and news reports don’t even mention it.

This is a particularly good example of the monkeysphere; we care about Zarqawi because the press and the government has told us his name and told us to hate him – he has personal qualities – but the other people that die remain unnamed and faceless. Insurgents die all the time in Iraq, in droves, apparently, but one man in an elaborate cell structure, where leaders are by definition de-emphasized, is magnified for drama.

I wonder if the other people in the house were hardened Al-Qaida, or he was just using a family’s house for cover. Perhaps only the father or head of household was sympathetic and part of his safehouse network, and the rest of the family oblivious, frightened, or see-no-evil.

We’ll never know, I guess. The news cycle has driven its point home – the US killed a major terrorist. Progress has been made, allegedly. Too bad, of course, that there are an unlimited amount of “major” terrorists, and they have a great training ground.

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