May 23, 2008 archive

The Iraq Billions Easter Egg Hunt

I just received the latest MoJo {Mother Jones} newsletter. Always interesting commentary can certainly be found at MoJo.

The subject title, above, was used as their leadin to the commentary linked below.

The following was their question in the newsletter:

Four at Four

  1. Iraq Spending Ignored Rules, Pentagon Says
    By James Glanz, The New York Times

    Where did the pallets of cash bound for Iraq really go?

    A Pentagon audit of $8.2 billion in American taxpayer money spent by the United States Army on contractors in Iraq has found that almost none of the payments followed federal rules and that in some cases, contracts worth millions of dollars were paid for despite little or no record of what, if anything, was received.

    The audit also found a sometimes stunning lack of accountability in the way the United States military spent some $1.8 billion in seized or frozen Iraqi assets, which in the early phases of the conflict were often doled out in stacks or pallets of cash. The audit was released Thursday in tandem with a Congressional hearing on the payments.

    In one case, according to documents displayed by Pentagon auditors at the hearing before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, a cash payment of $320.8 million in Iraqi money was authorized on the basis of a single signature and the words “Iraqi Salary Payment” on an invoice. In another, $11.1 million of taxpayer money was paid to IAP, an American contractor, on the basis of a voucher with no indication of what was delivered…

    The mysterious payments, whose amounts had not been publicly disclosed, included $68.2 million to the United Kingdom, $45.3 million to Poland and $21.3 million to South Korea. Despite repeated requests, Pentagon auditors said they were unable to determine why the payments were made.

    We was robbed!

  2. The Washington Post adds there has been a Surge in U.S. airstrikes in Iraq. In Iraq, two black funeral banners hang outside of a ruined home. The banners read: “They were killed because of the cowardly American bombings”.

    “Since late March, the military has fired more than 200 Hellfire missiles in the capital, compared with just six missiles fired in the previous three months. The military says the tactic has saved the lives of ground troops and prevented attacks, but the strikes have also killed and wounded civilians, provoking criticism from Iraqis.” Criticism?!?! The Iraqis want us to stop killing them? That isn’t criticism. That’s a plea for us to get out. Many Iraqis think the U.S. is making indiscriminate attacks on their family, friends, and homes.

    Those civilians include people like Zahara Fadhil, a 10-year-old girl with a tiny frame and long brown hair. Relatives said she was wounded by a missile on April 20 at approximately 8 p.m. in Baghdad’s Shiite enclave of Sadr City. The U.S. military said it fired a Hellfire missile in Zahara’s neighborhood at that time, targeting men who were seen loading rockets into a sedan.

    Her face drained of color and her legs scarred by shrapnel, Zahara spoke haltingly when asked what she thought of U.S. troops.

    “They kill people,” she said. Lying in bed, she gasped for air before continuing. “They should leave Iraq now.

    Compare and contrast:

    [Capt. Ben] Katzenberger, of Kansas City, Mo., fired his first missiles last month. Arriving in Iraq last winter on his first deployment was nerve-wracking, he said.

    “You’ve been building up for this for three years and now you’re going to get to do what you were trained to do,” he said. “You get this bit of excited rush feeling, like right before you get out of the locker room before a game. We got in the helicopter and started flying up and you start looking down and you’re like — wow. I’m in Iraq now. This isn’t back in Texas where we were just training. People down there are going to try to shoot me. This is for real. Game on.” …

    Katzenberger said pilots adhere to strict rules of engagement. They occasionally get reports of what happened on the ground after they fire the missiles. After that, “we never hear about it again,” he said. “It leaves you a little sense of wondering. You kind of get that detached feeling.

    He’s not alone. Thanks to a near total governmetn and media blackout of the news, people back in America have a detached feeling from the battles going on in Iraq too. We have little idea what we’re asking our troops to do on a daily basis in Iraq (and Afghanistan).

  3. Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Times reports House aims at Pentagon ‘propaganda’ on Iraq war.

    The House of Representatives moved Thursday to crack down on a Pentagon program that Democrats say planted false and overly optimistic news stories about the Iraq war, using military analysts who appeared regularly on television.

    Acting on a 2009 defense policy bill, lawmakers forbade the Defense Department from engaging in “a concerted effort to propagandize” the American people over the war.

    The amendment by Rep. Paul W. Hodes (D-N.H.), which passed by voice vote, also would force an investigation by the General Accounting Office of efforts to plant positive news stories about the war. The overall bill passed 384-23.

Four at Four continues with the Bush administration uniting Russia and China in opposition to the U.S. Plus bonus stories salmon and the increasing acidity levels along the Pacific coast.

Through the Darkest of Nights: Testament XVII

Every few days over the next several months I will be posting installments of a novel about life, death, war and politics in America since 9/11.  Through the Darkest of Nights is a story of hope, reflection, determination, and redemption.  It is a testament to the progressive values we all believe in, have always defended, and always will defend no matter how long this darkness lasts.  But most of all, it is a search for identity and meaning in an empty world.

Naked and alone we came into exile.  In her dark womb, we did not know our mother’s face; from the prison of her flesh have we come into the unspeakable and incommunicable prison of this earth. Which of us has known his brother?  Which of us has looked into his father’s heart?  Which of us has not remained prison-pent?  Which of us is not forever a stranger and alone?      ~Thomas Wolfe

All installments are available for reading here on Docudharma’s Series page, and also here on Docudharma’s Fiction Page, where refuge from politicians, blogging overload, and one BushCo outrage after another can always be found.

9/11 and 8/29–What’s Different?

This diary is intended as something of a rant. Because this saddens me and makes my blood boil every time I think about it.

But before I vent, here’s a caveat: as I said in yesterday’s diary, 9/11 tore me apart. So this is by no means intended as a put-down of the trauma 9/11 survivors went through or a complaint about the well-deserved sympathy and support they’ve gotten.

Rather, what pisses me off is is the fact that survivors of 8/29–whether of Katrina, the federal flood, or of Rita–have not been receiving the equal aid, synpathy, or other treatment to that received by 9/11 survivors, that they deserve. What blueintheface brings up–the fact that Daily Kos hasn’t been paying enough attention to New Orleans and Katrina, is the tip of a very big iceberg involving the MSM and many politicians that has been keeping storm and flood survivors from getting the attention they have a right to receive.

I Surrender!

I am moving tomorrow, back to los Estados Unidos. In my usual overly optimistic fashion, I thought I could do everything I need to do to get ready and to travel and still do some blogging.

I wuz wrong!

Not only do I still have a ton of stuff to do (where did all this stuff come from t the last minute??? THAT has never happened before!!!) but my concentration is totally shot!

So…I surrender!

I’m sure I will be checking in, but for the most part…I’ll see you guys in a couple of days.

Btw…if you have been thinking of making a little doation to teh blog…this would be a great time! Thanks everyone and have a good trip!

Oh wait….


An improv on New Orleans

A rambling riff on the oddness of New Orleans as part of this cycle’s NOLA/Gulf Blogathon, organized by Louisiana 1976 over at dkos…

(Right Wing) Fauxrage: An Infantile Disorder

The Urban Dictionary has accepted my definition for Fauxrage.

Cross-posted at Kos

Fauxrage: n. fo-rage., fô r?j?

Frenzy created by media or blogs to inflate a usually minor, perceived offense into a major scandal or continuing political event.

Congress, in a fit of fauxrage, passed a resolution condemning a newspaper ad about a General. The fauxrage was stoked primarily by Faux News.

We now observe fauxrage almost daily.  The endless loops of the good Rev. Wright provided the uber fauxrage of the campaign so far, but just recently, we had Republican and media fauxrage at:

Obama [compassionately] saying he wouldn’t punish his daughters by forcing them to have a baby.

Ed Schultz [accurately] calling McCain a “warmonger.”

A 16-year-old who [justifiably] asked McCain a question and was called a “heckler.”

Obama [sociologically] saying that bitter people cling to guns or religion.

Join me below for a Brief History of Fauxrage

McCain. Endorse me, please Endorse me! Uh, just kidding. Another take on the issue.

John McCain worked hard for it.  He pursued it, as he felt he needed to pick up the Evangelical vote in the 2008 Presidential Election.  He went out of his way to find some fundamental religious leaders to give him their “blessing.”

McCain was SO elated to have these endorsements when they happened!  Finally, he was being embraced by the group that he had alienated back during his 2000 campaign for President when he said:

…Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell and a few Washington leaders of the pro-life movement call me an unacceptable presidential candidate. They distort my pro- life positions and smear the reputations of my supporters.

Why? Because I don’t pander to them, because I don’t ascribe to their failed philosophy that money is our message. I believe in the cause of conservative reform. I believe that because we are right we will prevail in the battle of ideas, unspoiled by the taint of a corrupt campaign finance scheme that works against the very conservative reform of government that is the object of our labors…

 My emphasis

Flip-flop much, John McCain?  

It would seem you were right before you were wrong.  Now that you’ve been called out for being wrong, you are simply pandering, once again.

Pony Party, Phone it in Friday

This week and probably one more…but i really am running on empty here…it’s a live performance with not-so-great audio…i used it because it has jackson browne AND bruce springsteen…a bonus…

I’m a McBloggerer!

Dear Surely Nubile, Young, Excited McCain Information Spreaderers:

I’ve recently read your Clarion call and would very much like to become one of the citizen bloggers who will fan out across the speedy-tubes, spreading the fresh, new, ideas of Senator John McCain.

With this in mind, I hereby submit the following potential comment, which I’d like to post:

I know most of you here are little more than communists and heathens, but I’m sure if you took a moment to look at Senator McCain’s domestic policies on taxes, social security, and heath care, you’d see that he was the superior candidate.

Dear Blogger:

Thank you for your submission, but after doing some polling on Senator McCain’s policies we’ve come to the conclusion that Americans, on the whole, favor Democratic proposals over Republican ideas on domestic issues. With that in mind we suggest you try another tact when trying to advocate for our candidate.  

Not Better Off.


The national average is over $3.83.  This is $4.00.  And there’s a nearby station that is at $4.089.

Earlier this week my fuel oil tank needed a refill.  Retail price? $4.399/gallon.

A friend who buys bulk diesel fuel told me he last paid $5.069/gallon.

Are you better off now than you were 8 years ago?

Docudharma Times Friday May 23

One Always Loves The Rules

Until They Work Against You

Friday’s Headlines: Here’re the savings from Arctic drilling – 75 cents a barrel    Texas had no right to seize sect children, appellate court says   Afghan anti-US protest leaves three dead   Human cost of cut-price concrete in China revealed in the rubble   10,000 Iraqi troops bring calm to Sadr City   Why Qatar is emerging as Middle East peacemaker    Strikes over pension reforms grip France   Abramovich, Lugovoy and Putin – the background    Foreigners attacked in Cape Town   UN says arms illegally going to Somalia   Panama tribe exiles its king over power plant deal

Burma ‘to let in all aid workers’

Burma’s top leader has agreed to let all foreign aid workers into the country for relief work in cyclone-hit areas, UN head Ban Ki-moon has said.

Mr Ban announced the news after talks in Burma’s remote capital, Naypyidaw, with Gen Than Shwe.

Burma’s military leaders had previously refused to allow a full-scale relief effort by foreign aid workers, and claimed everything was under control.

About 78,000 people died and 56,000 are missing after the 2 May cyclone.

Mr Ban said he thought Gen Than’s decision was a breakthrough.

Load more