Monday, February 27, 2006

Blood pours in Iraq, money trickles into Halliburton

Good evening, let's get things kicked off with Democracy Now!

Over 200 Dead in Iraq Since Wednesday's Mosque Bombing
In Iraq, at least 29 people died on Sunday even though security forces had imposed a rare daytime curfew barring all vehicular traffic in Baghdad and its suburbs. In the deadliest attack, a Shiite neighborhood came under mortar fire in Southwest Baghdad. 16 people died and another 53 were injured. Over 200 people have been killed since Wednesday's bombing at a holy Shiite shrine in Samarra. On Saturday gunmen broke into the home of a Shiite family northeast of Baghdad and killed 13 people. Three people also died on Saturday during the funeral of the Atwar Bahjat -- the well-known Al-Arabiya journalist who was killed last week.

What did we bring to Iraq? Elaine and me were wondering that when we went over what items to pick. They lied us into war and they didn't give a damn about the people in this country or the people in Iraq is what I say. Why are we still there? That's what I think Americans should be asking. There was no WMD, Saddam Hussein's standing trial. Why are we still there?

This was about people making money. Look at C.I.'s morning entry and see how Halliburton is not only still getting rich but they're bending the government bends or breaks every rule for Dick Cheney's former company. As C.I. said: "Does a profit from the war mean never having to say you're sorry? It plays like that these days." I didn't get that at first. I mean, I got that they were making a profit from tragedy. But it's a movie quote. Nina explained it to me. It's from an old movie called Love Story (and maybe the book that the movie's based on). Love Story's about Oliver and Jenny and Jenny gets a fatal disease and Oliver tells her he's sorry and she tells him, "Love means never having to say you're sorry." Oliver was played by Ryan O'Neal and Nina pointed out that he's in What's Up Doc? with Barbra Streisand and at the end of that movie (that's a good movie, real funny, I've seen it a couple of times), Barbra Streisand bats her eyes and says in this real blank voice like she's sending it up, "Love means never having to say you're sorry" and Ryan O'Neal says something like, "That's the stupidist thing I've ever heard."

So if you missed it, I did, don't feel bad. "Before our time," like me and Wally like to tease C.I. :D
But making a war profit means never having to say you're sorry. That's what the administration and the corporations doing business in Iraq seem to think. The American people should say back, "That's the stupidist thing I've ever heard!"

By the way, Wally is planning to do a Daily Jot today. But he' had a paper due in one class today and a test in another and he just had to focus on that. I told him, "Take the day off." He goes, "Evil McKinnon! You're just worried I'm catching up on you!" :D I'm glad The Daily Jot is so popular now. It was always a cool site and Wally's had readers and all but since Wally went to D.C. with C.I. and Kat and got his new attitude, it's really just exploded. Congrats to my buddy Wally but seriously dude, don't push yourself. Relax.

Army to Allow Halliburton Not to Repay Disputed Costs
The New York Times is reporting the Army has decided to reimburse a Halliburton subsidiary for nearly all of its disputed costs on a $2.4 billion no-bid contract to deliver fuel and repair oil equipment in Iraq. Auditors had recommended the Army withhold $263 million from Kellogg Brown and Root, but the Army decided to withhold just $10 million. California Congressman Henry Waxman said "Halliburton gouged the taxpayer, government auditors caught the company red-handed, yet the Pentagon ignored the auditors and paid Halliburton hundreds of millions of dollars and a huge bonus."

What? You thought your good buddy Mike would leave you hanging like that? No way. I know some of you rush through this thing. Here's something else. Of the costs the Pentagon's questioning, the Halliburton costs, they're holding back from paying 3.8%. Want to know the standard percent for holding back payment on costs the Pentagon questions? 75.2% for all companies in 2004, 56.4% in 2005. So with a measly 3.8% withheld for Halliburton, there must be some companies that are getting nearly nothing. Guess they didn't kick up the big campaign donations to the Bully Boy?

We've got a third item because C.I. asked me and Elaine to include it. C.I. even mailed it to us with a link for the earlier report.

Science Fiction Writer Octavia Butler, 58, Dies
And science fiction writer Octavia Butler has died at the age of 58. She died on Friday night after a fall outside her home in Washington state. Her best-known work included "Parable of the Talents" and "Kindred." Butler was considered to be one of the first African-American women to break into the world of science fiction. Jane Jewell, of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, said "She is a world-class science fiction writer in her own right. She was one of the first and one of the best to discuss gender and race in science fiction." Butler joined us four months ago on Democracy Now:
OCTAVIA BUTLER: "I'm going to read a verse or two. And keep in mind these were written early in the 1990s. But I think they apply forever, actually. This first one, I have a character in the books who is, well, someone who is taking the country fascist and who manages to get elected President and, who oddly enough, comes from Texas. And here is one of the things that my character is inspired to write about, this sort of situation. She says:
"Choose your leaders with wisdom and forethought. To be led by a coward is to be controlled by all that the coward fears. To be led by a fool is to be led by the opportunists who control the fool. To be led by a thief is to offer up your most precious treasures to be stolen. To be led by a liar is to ask to be lied to. To be led by a tyrant is to sell yourself and those you love into slavery."

That was supposed to close out C.I.'s "Democracy Now: Michael Ratner, Clive Stafford Smith, Maher Arar; Maureen Farrell, Danny Schechter" today. I don't know if it got lost in dictation or what but C.I. called me and asked if I could note it and called Elaine and asked the same thing. Then I'm on the phone this evening with Elaine and in the e-mails and I see C.I.'s even hunted down the link to the interview four months ago. How come?

Ty had asked C.I. to note that. Ty's a huge fan of horror books and science fiction books. C.I. feels awful that it didn't go in (and plans to note it before tomorrow's Democracy Now!) and asked if we would note it at our sites. I remember her when she was interviewed. She seemed really deep. Not just smart, she seemed smart too, but really deep like she thinks about really serious stuff. Ty loves her books. I know I feel sad when someone whose work I like dies so I'm betting Ty feels pretty sad right now.

Okay, there are hearings tomorrow morning. NSA Senate hearings. Pacifica will carry them (9 to 4 eastern) so listen to your Pacifica station of choice online or on the airwaves and you can also listen at the main Pacifica website.

My oldest sister's pretty pissed off, by the way. She came over this evening. Suddenly I'm Mr. Political because I do a blog. :D She got her copy of The New Yorker in the mail today. Guess what? The postman just crammed it into her box. The cover's all torn up. She got a catalogue and another magazine (I forget what it was) and they were folded together and find. But she opens her box and it's like the postman tried to shove it against the back of the box until it crumpled in half. The cover is Bully Boy and Dick Cheney and Cheney's holding a rifle with a puff of smoke coming out of it. She thinks the postman was pissed about the illustration and decided to destroy her issue. C.I. passed on an issue to Ma awhile back and my sister was going, "If I'd known mother was interested . . ." :D I laughed at that because she's always doing that. She'll get rid of some make up or a shirt or whatever and my youngest sister will be all, "Why didn't you give it to me?" and she'll be all, "If I'd known you were interested . . ."

I told her I was putting that in tonight. She goes "fine." She said I could put in her name too. It's Kelly. She's pretty cool. But she's sooo old! :D I'm joking.

Sorry this is going up late but I'm tired from The Third Estate Sunday Review. We put in sooo many hours on that. I don't regret it because I think it's a pretty impressive edition. But I've been dragging all day.

Elaine said she felt the same way. Which, hint hint, means go check out Like Maria Said Paz for Elaine's thoughts.