Film at Eleven..
These two stories beg to be read back-to-back…
First, this from the NYT detailing how this Administration has fucked up the Iraqi Rebuilding Program to the tune of $25 billion dollars (a figure which, in and of itself, is 25 times higher than Paul Wolfowitz told us would be the price tag for the entire war.)
January 24, 2006
Iraq Rebuilding Badly Hobbled, U.S. Report Finds
By JAMES GLANZ
The first official history of the $25 billion American reconstruction effort in Iraq depicts a program hobbled from the outset by gross understaffing, a lack of technical expertise, bureaucratic infighting, secrecy and constantly increasing security costs, according to a preliminary draft.
The document, which begins with the secret prewar planning for reconstruction and touches on nearly every phase of the program through 2005, was assembled by the office of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction and debated last month in a closed forum by roughly two dozen experts from outside the office.
In the document, the paralyzing effect of staffing shortfalls and contracting battles between the State Department and the Pentagon, creating delays of months at a stretch, are described for the first time from inside the program.
The document also recounts concerns about writing contracts for an entity with the "ambiguous legal status" of the Coalition Provisional Authority, the question of whether it was an American entity or a multinational one like NATO.
Seemingly odd decisions on dividing the responsibility for various sectors of the reconstruction crop up repeatedly in the document. At one point, a planning team made the decision to put all reconstruction activities in Iraq under the Army Corps of Engineers, except anything to do with water, which would go to the Navy. At the time, a retired admiral, David Nash, was in charge of the rebuilding.
"It almost looks like a spoils system between various agencies," said Steve Ellis, a vice president and an authority on the Army corps at Taxpayers for Common Sense, an organization in Washington, who read a copy of the document. "You had various fiefdoms established in the contracting process."
One authority on reconstruction who attended the session last month, John J. Hamre, said the report was an unblinking and unbiased look at the program.
"It's gutsy and it's honest," said Mr. Hamre, president of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a public policy group based in Washington. He was not the source of the leaked document. Even in the early stages of writing the draft, Mr. Hamre said, one central message on the reconstruction program was already fairly clear, that "it didn't go particularly well."
It "almost" looks like a spoils system?
Jeez. No, this is nothing less that the after-action report of the sacking of the Iraqi Rebuilding fund. This is a snapshot of what happens when looting is Job One.
Then this from the WaPo about how the GOP excluded the Democrats and the public and disappeared behind closed-doors to take another whack at Medicare.
When they emerged from their secret conclave, the CBO tells us, the GOP had agreed on a change to the law to screw you the taxpayer out of $22 billion dollars in Medicare Savings and pass the profit along to their lobbyist friends.
Closed-Door Deal Makes $22 Billion Difference
GOP Negotiators Criticized for Change In Measure on HMOs
By Jonathan Weisman
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, January 24, 2006; A01
House and Senate GOP negotiators, meeting behind closed doors last month to complete a major budget-cutting bill, agreed on a change to Senate-passed Medicare legislation that would save the health insurance industry $22 billion over the next decade, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.
The Senate version would have targeted private HMOs participating in Medicare by changing the formula that governs their reimbursement, lowering payments $26 billion over the next decade. But after lobbying by the health insurance industry, the final version made a critical change that had the effect of eliminating all but $4 billion of the projected savings, according to CBO and other health policy experts.
The change in the Medicare provision underscores a practice that growing numbers of lawmakers from both parties want addressed. More than ever, Republican congressional lawmakers and leaders are making vital decisions, involving far-reaching policies and billions of dollars, without the public -- or even congressional Democrats -- present.
"It happens in the dead of night when lobbyists get a [Republican lawmaker] in the corner and say, 'We've got to have this,' " said Rep. Fortney "Pete" Stark (Calif.), the Democrats' point man on Medicare issues. "It's a pattern that just goes on and on, and at some point the public's going to rise up."
But other lobbyists and aides said too much important work is being done in these closed-door conclaves. That is especially true with the budget-cutting bill containing the change in the Medicare reimbursement formula that is nearing final passage.
"I have worked many [budget] bills, and this was the most closed that I've ever seen," said one prominent Republican health care lobbyist, who spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of jeopardizing his access to Congress.
Another health care lobbyist, not involved with the issue, said the result was a major victory for health insurers: "That's a $22 billion difference; $22 billion is a lot of money."
If no one can say which lawmakers made the change, there is no doubt who instigated it. Last month, as House and Senate negotiators sat down to finalize the budget-cutting bill, the insurance industry moved to thwart the Senate's "risk adjustment" provision.
"It is our understanding that CBO is scoring significant savings from this new adjustment," officials from America's Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) wrote in urgent talking points sent to Capitol Hill. "The savings . . . are best viewed as a new and unanticipated payment reduction."
What more needs to be said?
Scratch out “Iraqi Rebuilding” and insert “The ginned-up predicate for this War”, and it reads the same.
Scratch out “Medicare Cost Containment” and insert “Letting Petroleum Industry lobbyists rewrite scientific papers on Global Warming”, ditto.
Scratch out “Iraqi Rebuilding” and insert “The fatally fucked up execution of this War”, ditto.
Scratch out “Medicare Cost Containment” and insert “Social Security”.
Insert “Katrina and Michael Brown”.
Insert “Vehicle Armor”.
Insert “Body Armor”.
Insert “Treatment of wounded veterans”.
Insert “Clear Skies”.
And that's just an off-the-cuff partial list of the Greatest Hits.
Over and over and over again, the Bush Administration has shown that Republicans push the theoretical upper-limit of just how utterly one gang of hacks and hucksters can fuck up everything they touch.
Every single God Damned thing they lay their stinking paws on they fuck sideways. Fuck pan-dimensionally. Fuck them at the quantum level, so hard their superstrings unravel.
Having said that, in the interest of full disclosure, one must admit that they are preternaturally gifted at five things:
1. Letting their friends strip-mine the US Treasury.
2. Scaring the crap outta soccer moms that Liberals wanna let Osama bin Laden kill their children..
3. Convincing inbred gasoline-sippers that Liberals wanna come down and fag-up their web-toed whelplings.
5. Making Baby Jesus cry.
If they called themselves the “Terri Schiavo Martyr Brigade”, hid out in Carlsebad Caverns and plotted the destruction of America, this Administration could not do more long-term damage to everything that makes our nation magnificent than they do every single fucking day just by being who they are.