Thursday, March 05, 2009

Iraq No Longer For Sale?

Winning an Oscar makes you a good parent

In Hollywood's Golden Age, it seems some of its stars were not what they seemed to be. Adored by the public, revered by their peers, only their children knew the truth of their hidden cruelty. But no one wanted to hear the truth these children had to share. No one wanted the illusion shattered.

I feel like a such a child.

It was right before the midterm elections of 2006 when I saw Iraq For Sale: The War Profiteers, a shocking revelation of greed gone wild. Shameless, soulless and unrepentant, the money grab being conducted there was (is) the most vile act of systemic inhumanity since slavery. But what should have been a firestorm of outrage passed without a whimper. No one wanted the illusion of who we are to be shattered.

Yet illusion is the enemy of survival.

It's what you do in the dark the defines you:

Cost Plus Contracts: A "cost plus contract" states that all your expenses will be paid plus a guaranteed percentage profit added on top. The more you spend, the more you make. And spend they did! Food needlessly catered daily to the five star hotels where employees resided. Your eighteen-wheeler has a flat? Torch the whole rig and get a new one! And everyone has a nice ride in the place where there's nowhere to go. Ever lease an SUV for a quarter million? If you're an American taxpayer you have.

Iraqi truck warranty pays you to do this!

As Matt Taibbi summed up in Rolling Stone:

Operation Iraqi Freedom, it turns out, was never a war against Saddam ­Hussein's Iraq. It was an invasion of the federal budget, and no occupying force in history has ever been this efficient. [The anti-Christ 43rd President]'s war in the Mesopotamian desert was an experiment of sorts, a crude first take at his vision of a fully privatized American government. In Iraq the lines between essential government services and for-profit enterprises have been blurred to the point of absurdity — to the point where wounded soldiers have to pay retail prices for fresh underwear, where modern-day chattel are imported from the Third World at slave wages to peel the potatoes we once assigned to grunts in KP, where private companies are guaranteed huge profits no matter how badly they fuck things up.

Blatant disregard for human life: Yes, God help the Third Worlder in the hands on an Iraqi contractor. The savagely poor from the surrounding countries flooded in only to be treated as those whose lives and welfare have no meaning whatsoever. They were the ones sent through the danger zones to be maimed - or killed - and then thrown away as an eager replacement stepped in to take his place.

Poisoned troops: Nor were our own troops spared. Forced to ingest spoiled food and rancid water, they returned as ticking time bombs with the bacteria they absorbed. Others weren't so lucky: they were electrocuted in the shower. The list goes on and none of these were honest mistakes or non-preventable. It's just that when something gets in the way of a quick buck - like our soldier's health - all pretense of ethics or concern go right out the window. It's OK, no one wants to know what we're really doing here anyway!

Ever since then I've been waiting for this (little heralded) headline:

Obama orders overhaul of 'broken' US contracting

His rhetoric - as usual - is correct: "It starts with reforming our broken system of government contracting," Obama said. "There is a fundamental public trust that we must uphold. The American people's money must be spent to advance their priorities, not to line the pockets of contractors or to maintain projects that don't work."

Republicants were pissed (notice no denial of fraud): House GOP leader John Boehner of Ohio said if Obama really wanted to cut waste he would veto the pending $410 billion catchall spending bill and its more than 8,000 earmarks. The White House has indicated Obama will not. "We need to start seeing some semblance of fiscal discipline," Boehner said [with a straight face].

But as always, it's the underlying rot that enables it happen: "If you want the money managed better, let's get some people on the ground to plan, write better contracts, negotiate better agreements, and then manage the relationship after the contracts have been awarded," [George Washington University law professor] Schooner said. "Everybody who knows anything knows that we've broken the acquisition work force."

No Motel 6 on a cost plus contract!

The clarity of vision, the single-minded purposeness and the ruthless execution of wholesale destruction of the inner core of our government over the past eight years will take an equal determination to fix. This abortion of government oversight and competence was committed with the religious zeal of fanatics. What's most disturbing, though, is they will get away with it (well, good luck in the afterlife, dear hearts).

And do you REALLY think the Republicants want fiscal responsibility? No, their wet dream is the legalization of greed. Wasting tens (hundreds) of billions of dollars in the name of greed bothers them not. People dying for greed makes them giggle! (Let's get them kids back in the coal mines! Free markets, dammit!) To them, the more suffering inflicted by greed only proves its righteousness. For it is only for a true god for whom you can justly suffer.

So where was 60 Minutes? Where were the congressional hearings? Where was the outrage of the American people? America didn't want to know. Willful ignorance got us into the war and so we doubled down and bet willful ignorance could keep our self-image of always fighting for purity, freedom and justice intact (hey, how'd that willful ignorance bit work on the economic front??). Alas, it will be biting historians who will be writing the book called "America Dearest". I can just imagine how much they will loathe us into infamy.

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