Ah, LI wants a break from Iraq -- but Iraq apparently doesn't want to give LI a break.

The latest marvel coming out of the Coalition authority is the backtracking on the military. After dissolving it, someone figured out that angry unemployed men with guns might be a bit of a danger out there on the range. To address this, the Coalition first thought that shooting a few protesters in Baghdad would do the trick. Well, for some reason that didn't seem to calm that legendary Iraqi passion -- they make such a fuss about their casualties, you know -- so then an adhoc measure was crafted to indefinitely pay half of the disbanded army. Which means, you'll be happy to know, that only 150,000 pissed off, armed men are ranging their own territory. Patrick Tyler in the NYT reported yesterday that Bremer's latest brainstorm is to create a very shrunken Iraqi army -- no air force, and a military strength of about 40,000. In a phrase that we wish we'd hear more of from the Bush administration, the Bremer people said Iraq was grossly over-militarized.

That's nice. Except that the Bush people have guaranteed the preservation of the Kurds forces, which number 70,000.

And this is the group who we are expected to believe can bring an economic renaissance to the country. Hmm. I'd send them back for a little remedial math, first. You know how those pesky math problems can add up fast -- to civil war, in fact.

Second Iraq item of the day:

The Judith Miller affair, at the NYT, seems much more significant than Jasyn Blair's scenesetting. Miller is the woman whose imaginative, nearly fictional reports from the field in Iraq seem to come straight from the mouth of Chalabi.

The Post has a damning story about her work. Embedded with special unit, the unit, according to the article, became "her" operation. Kurz, who wrote the article, is usually a hale fellow kind of writer, slagging the left and quoting his buds among the rightwing bloggers. But occasionally he gets off his butt. He obviously smells blood here. We loved this graf in particular:

"Miller formed a friendship with MET Alpha's leader, Chief Warrant Officer Gonzales, and several officers said they were surprised when she participated in a Baghdad ceremony in which Gonzales was promoted. She pinned the rank to his uniform, an eyewitness said, and Gonzales thanked Miller for her contributions. Gonzales did not respond to a request for comment."

It appears that embedded journalists don't need to be seduced into spin the news from Iraq -- reporters like Miller are self-spinners.

And... hey, this post will be a grab bag, sorry -- and moving away, for a second, from Iraq -- please read Nicholas Hoffman's column about Martha Stewart. Hoffman's weapons of indigest indignation are often trained clumsily on the wrong things, and he's prone to the "decline and fall in everything I see" school of writing. But his piece on the ridiculous crushing of Martha Stewart is completely correct -- targetting her for her celebrity and her gender, the fed's case is really about the fed's being able to make a case against anybody. The case is a cover for not going after the Republican funders list of criminal CEOs, and it stinks to high heaven. The Feds defend themselves by claiming that the Martha S. prosecution will have a deterrent affect. Hoffman throws as much acid as he can manufacture against that one:

Even if it were something, how many thousands out of the hundreds of millions in the United States would be in a position in which they could ever contemplate doing what Martha is supposed to have done? When was the last time you resisted committing some kind of arcane stock fraud? No, there is no deterrence here, but there is discipline, there is the instilling of fear of the government, of intimidation by the authorities.

If they can do that to Martha, think what they can do to you. They can squash you like a little white louse between thumb and index finger. In a matter of hours, your job, your life savings and your house are gone.

But why would they do that to Martha? She�s a tried-and-true free-market party-liner who never got lippy and never sassed back. Why her? Why you, for that matter? You never got out of line, either, but who better to administer public discipline on than somebody who never did anything? So random, such innocent bad luck�so much the more frightening. Just tell me what it is and I�ll stop doing it. Just tell me. Squashed like a louse.

They call it the "deterrent effect." There must be another word for it."