Dear Dairy:

Laura was very upset last night by reports that religious extremist are leaving an average of 15 women dead on the streets of Basra a month for not being sufficiently observant Muslims, where under Saddam Hussein Iraqi women had rights under the Constitution that were among the broadest in the Muslim and Arab world. Is this what we’re there to do, she asked me? I explained that until I came along, conditions on the ground were determined by an insensitive, unthinking tyrant who kept the peace by routinely torturing folks. Aren’t they much better off with me?

So I woke up on the couch to a racket coming from the Vice President’s office; he was feeding reams of documents into the shredder again. I told him that this ‘dead women on the streets of Basra’-thing was really troubling to me personally for a variety of reasons. He cheered me right up: he told me that since these are Shiite groups killing Shiite women, the deaths don’t count in our official statistics, which only cover murders between the sects. Man, was that a weight off my mind! As soon as Laura unlocks our bedroom door I’m going to explain the upside, and how she’s looking at things all wrong!

She’ll also be relieved to know that this ‘bodies on the street’-thing is going to be dealt with promptly and surely. Uncle Dick is awarding a contract to a private company under the Halliburton tent that will be paid to collect and dispose of the corpses from here on out.