This would have been the big story today

Were it not for the horrific events in the London Underground, this would have been the big story today. The profligate waste of US taxpayers’ and Iraq’s money is inexcusable.

The auditors have so far referred more than a hundred contracts, involving billions of dollars paid to American personnel and corporations, for investigation and possible criminal prosecution. They have also discovered that $8.8bn that passed through the new Iraqi government ministries in Baghdad while Bremer was in charge is unaccounted for, with little prospect of finding out where it has gone. A further $3.4bn appropriated by Congress for Iraqi development has since been siphoned off to finance “security”.

Although Bremer was expected to manage Iraqi funds in a transparent manner, it was only in October 2003, six months after the fall of Saddam, that an International Advisory and Monitoring Board (IAMB) was established to provide independent, international financial oversight of CPA spending. (This board includes representatives from the United Nations, the World Bank, the IMF and the Arab Fund for Economic and Social Development.)

The IAMB first spent months trying to find auditors acceptable to the US. The Bahrain office of KPMG was finally appointed in April 2004. It was stonewalled.

You might say that it’s in poor taste or shows a lack of discretion for me to bring this up with all that has gone on in London today. I would answer that I feel that there exists a direct link between this shameful display of foolhardiness, graft, and corruption and the London bombings. If we really wish to fight terrorism, it needs to be fought on real terms with an eye towards eliminating the circumstances which produce terrorists. Destroying a nation’s infrastructure and then looting its treasure while making vague promises about “bringing democracy” is no way to fight terror.

George Galloway has already stepped up

George Galloway, who we have discussed here before, has spoken about the London bombings.

There is no way to know for sure what the upshot of this terrible event shall be, but I think it’s important that we bear these words in mind in the face of the cacophony of right-wing alarmism which is sure to come.

From the Guardian:

Respect MP George Galloway says: “We argued, as did the security services in this country, that the attacks on Afghanistan and Iraq would increase the threat of terrorist attack in Britain. Tragically Londoners have now paid the price of the Government ignoring such warnings.”

Waiting as patiently as I can

For news of W.I.Z. and other friends from London.

Fortunately, W.I.Z. is rarely in London proper except on business.

More news as I get it.

::UPDATE:: W.I.Z. and his lovely woman are fine. Both safe and sound in Brighton. They are frantically trying to touch base with friends and family, but we know that they are good.

I have a secret, pt. 2

they’re streaming Live 8 performances from AOL’s site.

Here’s my guilty confession… I used to REALLY love Pink Floyd. The good news: David Gilmour’s voice sounds almost exactly like it did in 1979 (except for a brief rough spot here and there), and he is such a great guitar player. The bad news… Oh MY GOD, he looks just like my dad.

Here’s David Gilmour:

1120gilmourcbe.jpg

Here’s dad:

dad.jpg

Rock out, man, it’s your DAD!

Total buzzkill.

You gonna stand there barking all day, little dog?

Or are you gonna do something?

This is so puerile it makes the Truth Tour look distinguished. And that’s saying something.

Political battles spark up everywhere, even in the freezer. Star-Spangled ice cream, a mail-order frozen concoction that promotes conservative values, is now available in mid-Atlantic retail stores and ready to go to war with Ben & Jerry’s. Star-Spangled founder Richard Lessner , a Washington consultant by day, told The Post his company takes aim at liberal-minded Ben & Jerry’s because “we disagree with their politics.” However, he admits the conflict is a bit one-sided: “We challenge them to taste tests. They pretty much ignore us.” Ben & Jerry’s spokeswoman Chrystie Heimert told The Post simply: “They are no perceivable threat to our business.” Ouch.

Come out swinging

Conyers is refusing to lie down and die, much, I am sure, to the chagrin of the White House.

Today he’s polishing a nice silver platter. What’s he want on it?

Karl Rove’s Head:

Dear Mr. President:

We write in order to urge that you require your Deputy White House Chief of Staff, Karl Rove, to either come forward immediately to explain his role in the Valerie Plame matter or to resign from your Administration.

[…]

Regardless of whether these actions violate the law – including specific laws against the disclosure of classified information as well as broader laws against obstruction of justice, the negligent distribution of defense information, and obligating reporting of press leaks to proper authorities – they seem to reveal a course of conduct designed to threaten and intimidate those who provide information critical of your Administration, such as Ambassador Wilson.

This was read directly over Señora Shakes’ Shoulder.

Speaking of George Orwell

I just dug up a supremely entertaining Orwell quote that is SUCH a perfect response to the shitbag that is chairman of the College Republicans, on the occasion of his condemning us all as pot-smoking french hippies in the pay of Stalin’s estate.

From this essay from 1943 by The Man Himself:

Anyone acquainted with the type will know that no assurance, no demonstration, no proof of the most solid kind would ever convince the writer of this that Tribune is not a Communist paper and not in the pay of the Soviet Government. One very curious characteristic of Fascists — I am speaking of amateur Fascists: I assume that the Gestapo are cleverer — is their failure to recognize that the parties of the Left are distinct from one another and by no means aiming at the same thing. It is always assumed that they are all one gang, whatever the outward appearances may be.

It is inconceivable to this kind of dipshit that fine, decent Americans that eat meat and work at jobs could find him so repulsive. It’s never creased his smooth little brow to think that people who pay taxes, vote and own homes find him to be the ultimate chickenhawk, penny-ante, pissant armchair Audie Murphy.

Why don’t these people ever walk across the street in front of my truck?

I can’t tell you how sick I am of these people

The “Truth Tour,” is it?

A contingent of conservatives talk radio hosts is headed to Iraq this month on a mission to report “the truth” about the war: American troops are winning, despite headlines to the contrary.

The “Truth Tour” has been pulled together by the conservative Web cast radio group Rightalk.com and Move America Forward, a non-profit conservative group backed by a Republican-linked public relations firm in California.

Fascinating.

During the Blitz, George Orwell wrote a fascinating essay on the evolution of warfare away from battles in fields outside of towns to the random bombing of civilians in cities. I don’t recall the specific essay, but I do recall this line exactly:

“Perhaps when the next great war comes we may see that sight unprecedented in all history, a jingo with a bullet hole in him.”

Heh. Indeed, as they say.

Is it wrong to wish these people into harm’s way? Probably, yes. It’s, at best, immoral.

However, when one considers the toll this war has taken on the children and other civilians of Iraq… and when one considers these people’s role in stumping for this insane bit of international thuggery… it’s not unreasonable to gain some small bit of grim satisfaction at the thought of one of these Bush-league bloviators holding his guts in with his hat.

My Blind Spot

I was trying to read this entry at Billmon’s yesterday, and I stumbled across this passage:

They do it by playing up every atrocity committed by the insurgents while ignoring every display of massive overkill (like the flattening of Fallujah) committed by the U.S. military, by glorifying torture and degradation (I Heart Gitmo), by demonizing Islam as a “gutter” religion and the Arabs as a subhuman species, and in general by being the loudest, most obnoxious assholes on the face of the earth.

I made the mistake of trying to imagine how I would react if I met some jackanapes in an “I ♥ Gitmo” shirt. I mean, it’s likely, living as I do in an affluent college town full of fat and happy frat kids who were headed down to the enlistment office tomorrow, really… after… lunch. Yeah.

I just can’t see myself reacting with any kind of composure, which is unfortunate, because that stupid shirt is supposed to elicit exactly the sort of unreasonable reaction I imagine myself having.

Someone give me a reason not to call someone out for wearing one of those goddamn t-shirts. Because, as best as I can tell, the message is “Torture? Big fucking deal. Do something about it, Lefty.”

This weekend, we’re getting the house ready to paint

A helpful hint for my home-owning readers-

a. Working on more than one home-improvement project at a time.
b. Living in the house one is working on.
c. Doing it yourself.

Pick any TWO.

Fortunately, we’re just doing the pre-painting stuff- pressure washing, scraping, priming, sanding, caulking, etc- this weekend. We’ll paint it… some time…

Back when we bought the house, Gordon and the Fixer said something about never having a quiet weekend again… I think that they were speaking the truth…