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US wasted billions in rebuilding Iraq

A $40 million prison sits in the desert north of Baghdad, empty. A $165 million children’s hospital goes unused in the south. A $100 million waste water treatment system in Fallujah has cost three times more than projected, yet sewage still runs through the streets.

As the U.S. draws down in Iraq, it is leaving behind hundreds of abandoned or incomplete projects. More than $5 billion in U.S. taxpayer funds has been wasted on these projects – more than 10 percent of the $53.7 billion the US has spent on reconstruction in Iraq, according to audits from a U.S. watchdog agency.

That amount is likely an underestimate, based on an analysis of more than 300 reports by auditors with the special inspector general for Iraq reconstruction. And it does not take into account security costs, which have run almost 17 percent for some projects.

The money spent on Iraq can be reported in a couple of ways. Both reminiscent of the movie War Inc. or an episode of the original Twilight Zone. There are success stories which include the building of new schools and hospitals. Much of the construction done by contractors, but military personnel sometimes pitched in or provided security so that projects could be completed. The irony is those schools and other projects were only necessary because neoconservatives and their minions in the media ginned up the case for war. A war supposedly required for the national security of the USA. Bush 43 invoked visions of mushroom clouds. Dick Cheney swore Iraq has reconstituted its nuclear program – one that had been dead since the late eighties and any dreams of such a future program by Saddam was wiped out by Clinton’s Operation Desert Fox. Thus Bush destroyed a country to rebuild it so premises that would make for an entertaining, yet unbelievable political thriller. Where were the marches by the tea nuts, the Palinites, the Beck-stanians and the let’s get  back to the roots of the constitution Sunshine Patriots. In the Right’s daily whining and rants about the descent of the US into tyranny – one never hears requests for accountability – either as such accountability pertains to the rationale for invading Iraq or the money that had disappeared down the memory hole. Whether they be your common variety wing-nut or the new improved tea wing-nut – they have the whole imminently pressing issue of Obama’s true religion, the  Marxist conspiracy to take over America and ending wasteful programs like Social Security in their sights, but the real betrayal of the United States by conservatives who sent neophytes  to do some of that there trivial nation building – Ties to GOP Trumped Know-How Among Staff Sent to Rebuild Iraq is completely and conveniently off the true conservatives radar,

To pass muster with O’Beirne, a political appointee who screens prospective political appointees for Defense Department posts, applicants didn’t need to be experts in the Middle East or in post-conflict reconstruction. What seemed most important was loyalty to the Bush administration.

O’Beirne’s staff posed blunt questions to some candidates about domestic politics: Did you vote for George W. Bush in 2000? Do you support the way the president is fighting the war on terror? Two people who sought jobs with the U.S. occupation authority said they were even asked their views on Roe v. Wade .

Many of those chosen by O’Beirne’s office to work for the Coalition Provisional Authority, which ran Iraq’s government from April 2003 to June 2004, lacked vital skills and experience. A 24-year-old who had never worked in finance — but had applied for a White House job — was sent to reopen Baghdad’s stock exchange. The daughter of a prominent neoconservative commentator and a recent graduate from an evangelical university for home-schooled children were tapped to manage Iraq’s $13 billion budget, even though they didn’t have a background in accounting.

Conservatives are fed up, they’ve had enough, they are going to return America to the righteous – all because of health care reform that will save over 18,000 lives a year. Conservatives hope the rest of us do not care or have very short memories about the billions of dollars and tens of thousands of lives lost because of their stellar knowledge of national security and public policy.

Glenn Beck, Sarah Palin, Sharon Angle, maybe next Alaska Senator Joe Miller and other tea smoking Constitutional enthusiasts, based on the most astoundingly toxic reading of history,  are sure doing away with Medicare and unemployment insurance are the key to returning the USA to the perfection that we somehow squandered.  No mention of the corruption perpetuated by the conservative movement and its wealthy benefactors.

“Calvin: Do you believe in the devil? You know, a supreme evil being dedicated to the temptation, corruption, and destruction of man?

Hobbes: I’m not sure that man needs the help”

The Billionaires Bankrolling the Tea Party

All three tycoons are the latest incarnation of what the historian Kim Phillips-Fein labeled “Invisible Hands” in her prescient 2009 book of that title: those corporate players who have financed the far right ever since the du Pont brothers spawned the American Liberty League in 1934 to bring down F.D.R. You can draw a straight line from the Liberty League’s crusade against the New Deal “socialism” of Social Security, the Securities and Exchange Commission and child labor laws to the John Birch Society-Barry Goldwater assault on J.F.K. and Medicare to the Koch-Murdoch-backed juggernaut against our “socialist” president.

Only the fat cats change — not their methods and not their pet bugaboos (taxes, corporate regulation, organized labor, and government “handouts” to the poor, unemployed, ill and elderly). Even the sources of their fortunes remain fairly constant. Koch Industries began with oil in the 1930s and now also spews an array of industrial products, from Dixie cups to Lycra, not unlike DuPont’s portfolio of paint and plastics. Sometimes the biological DNA persists as well. The Koch brothers’ father, Fred, was among the select group chosen to serve on the Birch Society’s top governing body. In a recorded 1963 speech that survives in a University of Michigan archive, he can be heard warning of “a takeover” of America in which Communists would “infiltrate the highest offices of government in the U.S. until the president is a Communist, unknown to the rest of us.” That rant could be delivered as is at any Tea Party rally today.

I watched the tea nut health care reform town hall videos. I watched videos from Beck’s rally. There is one constant to always keep in mind when trying to get at what conservatives stand for. They do not stand for the truth. They’re interested in being reassured whatever they believe is true. Those beliefs do not require the justification of facts in any way, shape or form. America’s conservatives are not the first political movement to think they were actors rather than puppets. There is obviously a personality type which enjoys manipulating and being manipulated. Murdoch, the Koch brothers, Glenn Beck, Freedom Works, Americans for Prosperity and the run of the mill winger are all made for each other. We’ll never have a self-perpetuating energy machine, but we do have a self-perpetuating cycle of right-wing proto-fascist propagandists and followers.

Just so we’re clear: Dr. King vs Glen Beck, an info-graphic.

This is the Right’s new messiah – Glenn Beck becomes damaged goods, The radio phenom takes over the morning zoo, makes fun of miscarriages and flames out. Part 2 of 3

The animosity between Beck and Kelly continued to deepen. When Beck and Hattrick produced a local version of Orson Welles’ “War of the Worlds” for Halloween — a recurring motif in Beck’s life and career — Kelly told a local reporter that the bit was a stupid rip-off of a syndicated gag. The slight outraged Beck, who got his revenge with what may rank as one of the cruelest bits in the history of morning radio. “A couple days after Kelly’s wife, Terry, had a miscarriage, Beck called her live on the air and says, ‘We hear you had a miscarriage,’ ” remembers Brad Miller, a former Y95 DJ and Clear Channel programmer. “When Terry said, ‘Yes,’ Beck proceeded to joke about how Bruce [Kelly] apparently can’t do anything right — about he can’t even have a baby.”

“It was low class,” says Miller, now president of Open Stream Broadcasting. “There are certain places you just don’t go.”