Reading at the Crossroads

Reading at the Crossroads is an archive for columns and letters which appeared in the Terre Haute Tribune Star. I also blog here when my patience is exhausted by what I feel is irritating, irrational and/or ironic in life. --gary daily

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Location: Terre Haute, Indiana, United States

The material I post on this blog represents my views and mine alone. The material you post on this blog represents your views and yours alone.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

THE WAR -- The Money [Part 28]

Oil Giants Back

Maybe this is what McBush has in mind when he lets loose with those I don't care if we stay in Iraq “100 years,” and then, "No, I mean 50 years” pronouncements. Sweetheart deals with Big Oil written on the bodies of fallen American heroes in Iraq, who cares? After all, it may mean saving a dime to a quarter at the pump. Of course, Big Oil wants what Altman in this piece calls “a certain degree of confidence” to back up the no-bid windfall profits those hard working billionaire CEOs at Exxon, Mobil, Shell and BP foresee in Iraq's future. Are they going to pay the Blackwater mercenaries to protect their pipes and pumps, chauffeur around the geologists and engineers, and protect the skies over the desert derricks? I don’t think so. You and I are going to pay for the "permanent bases," or as the militarist wordsmiths would say, "venerable temporary facilities," Bush is pushing for in Iraq. And what we pay won’t be showing up at the pump as we fill our gas guzzlers.


International Herald Tribune
June 19, 2008

High Energy Thursday: A peculiar deal for some of Iraq’s oil
Posted by Daniel Altman in High energy

Imagine. At the precise moment when demand for oil was the highest in history, a recently democratized country with enormous reserves had the chance to sell extraction contracts to the highest bidder. This was a country that desperately needed the revenue to help rebuild its schools, power grid and water supply after a long internal conflict. So why did it hand out the contracts with no auction at all?

As Andrew Kramer writes [see “Deals With Iraq Are Set to Bring Oil Giants Back,” NYT, 6/19/2008] , Iraq has handed out no-bid contracts to the same companies that used to profit from its oil before Saddam Hussein came to power. . . .

Undoubtedly, there is some political intrigue here; the contracts were actually signed before Iraq’s blockbuster oil law was approved by the government. And the deals do require a certain degree of confidence on behalf of the oil companies that their investment will be protected, even for a couple of years. Just this week, Shell had to close down an offshore oil rig producing 200,000 barrels a day because of attacks by a Nigerian militia. . . .


Sunday, June 15, 2008

THE WAR -- The Money [Part 27]

Why is there such a disconnect between the reality of the enormous costs (human and dollars) of this war and the slivers of what imagined “victory” can achieve in Iraq? In a brilliant analysis of Lincoln’s moral development ( Lincoln’s Virtues: An Ethical Biography ), William Lee Miller offers this observation while examining two wartime presidents, Polk and Lincoln.

“The human inclination to self-deception and self-exculpation, . . . is magnified in collective life – in the behavior, in particular, of nations. Every nation . . . has a magnified ego and a minimized conscience. The national egotism, is a compound of the egotism and the idealism of the individuals who compose it.”

Doesn’t the self-deception and self-exculpation of the tail-enders in the Bush administration and among his dwindling supporters clearly demonstrate Millers’ point? In this we have the explanation for their frozen in place response to the heat of the facts.

While the evidence of lies, mistakes, and never to be recouped costs have piled up at the feet of Bush, McCain, and Republican congressmen on autopilot, they have refused to budge off of their self-righteous perches of power. Their magnified egos stubbornly refuse to face realities that do not fit their self-aggrandizing calculations; their minimized consciences sustain a personal and dreamy ideological romance which ignores human tears and cold cash evidence.

And November is still five months away.

Iraq war could cost taxpayers $2.7 trillion
In addition to the cost of war, taxpayers pay for rising veteran health care costs, and returning soldiers faced with foreclosure and unemployment.

By David Goldman, staff writer
Last Updated: June 12, 2008: 12:20 PM EDT

NEW YORK ( -- As the Iraq war continues with no clear end in sight, the cost to taxpayers may balloon to $2.7 trillion by the time the conflict comes to an end, according to Congressional testimony.

In a hearing held by the Joint Economic Committee Thursday, members of Congress heard testimony about the current costs of the war and the future economic fallout from returning soldiers. . . .

William Beach, director of the Center for Data Analysis, told members of Congress that the Iraq war has already cost taxpayers $646 billion. That's only accounting for five years, and, with the conflict expected to drag on for another five years, the figure is expected to more than quadruple. Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., told members of Congress that the war costs taxpayers about $430 million per day, and called out the Bush Administration. . . .

The Bush Administration, which was invited to give testimony, declined to participate.

The Pentagon has previously said that the war costs approximately $9.5 billion a month, but some economists say the figure is closer to $25 billion a month when long-term health care for veterans and interest are factored in.

Health care: In testimony before the committee, Dr. Christine Eibner, an Associate Economist with research firm RAND, said advances in armor technology have kept alive many soldiers who would have been killed in prior wars. But that has added to post-war health care costs for veterans, especially for "unseen" wounds like post traumatic stress disorder, major depression and traumatic brain injury.

Unemployment: Furthermore, many veterans who recently completed their service are coming back to a difficult job and housing market.

Foreclosure: Many soldiers who come home from active duty are also finding difficulty keeping their homes.
First Published: June 12, 2008: 12:07 PM EDT/ For complete CNN article:



Thursday, June 05, 2008

THE WAR -- The Money [Part 26]

This is about The Money we didn't have to spend on a useless, deadly and debilitating war in Iraq. Some think it is unnecessary to find out what happened to thrust us into this five years and counting mess. Are we all Chicago Cub fans? What's happened in the past can't be recalled, replayed, re-voted on, so Go You Cubs. That's why baseball is a game and war is serious. That's why stammering cries of "We're winning." and hollow declarations about "Victory" are meaningless. We were lied to, we believed the lies, we're paying the price. There's no, "Wait till next year."

After long delays by the Republicans in the Senate, comes the dropping of the second shoe "of investigations by the Senate Intelligence Committee into the use, abuse and faulty assessments of intelligence leading up to the invasion of Iraq in March 2003." You may remember (most do not) the first part which demonstrated the failures of the CIA. Part 2 is about Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, and that whole gang and their 2002-03 pre-war "exaggerations," or what most of us would call lies. Playing up and accentuating a climate of fear, massaging and misrepresenting the intelligence they collected, counting on Americans' deep well of too often blind patriotism, and threatening the timid in Congress with defeat at the polls, these liars led us into a war without a justifiable purpose.

We've been paying big time ever since.

The New York Times
June 5, 2008
Senate Panel Accuses Bush of Iraq Exaggerations

WASHINGTON — A long-delayed Senate report endorsed by Democrats and some Republicans has concluded that President Bush and his aides built the public case for war against Iraq by exaggerating available intelligence and by ignoring disagreements among spy agencies about Iraq’s weapons programs and Saddam Hussein’s links to Al Qaeda.

The report was released Thursday after years of partisan squabbling, and it marks the close of five years of investigations by the Senate Intelligence Committee into the use, abuse and faulty assessments of intelligence leading up to the invasion of Iraq in March 2003. . . .

The 170-page report accuses Mr. Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney and other top officials of repeatedly overstating the Iraqi threat in the emotional aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks. Its findings were endorsed by all eight committee Democrats and two Republicans, Senators Olympia Snowe of Maine and Chuck Hagel of Nebraska. . . .

For full story and link to the Senate Intelligence Report go to:

Senate Investigation