It’s a grand day for the Preznit. Can’t find a way to talk himself out of the hole he’s dug, can’t find a way out.
In Afghanistan, things aren’t looking so rosy. In fact, they are falling down around the Administration.
By September 2004, congressional figures show that the effort’s centerpiece — a $73 million U.S. Agency for International Development program — had produced only 100 finished projects, most of them refurbishments of existing buildings. As of the beginning of this month, only about 40 more had been finished and turned over to the Afghan government.
Internal documents and more than 100 interviews in Washington and Kabul revealed a chain of mistakes and misjudgments: The U.S. effort was poorly conceived in a rush to show results before the Afghan presidential election in late 2004. The drive to construct earthquake-resistant, American-quality buildings in rustic villages led to culture clashes, delays and what a USAID official called "extraordinary costs." Afghans complained that the initial design for roofs made them too heavy to build in rural areas without a crane, and the corrected design made them too light to bear Afghan snows. Local workmen unfamiliar with U.S. construction methods sometimes produced shoddy work.
At the outset, USAID and its primary contractor, New Jersey-based Louis Berger Group Inc., failed to provide adequate oversight, documents state. Federal audits show that USAID officials in Kabul were unable to "identify the location of many Kabul-directed projects in the field." Officials at contracting companies and nonprofit groups complain that they were directed to build at sites that turned out to be sheer mountain slopes, a dry riverbed and even a graveyard.
Great. Now we’re building over graveyards in Afghanistan. There is some ironic poetry there, I just can’t find the wit to overcome my disgust at the inanity of it all.
And Iraq? Well, the Preznit’s own party ensured that went right back on the front buner last Friday, by making enormous asses of themsleves in a political stunt that took on a life of its own (and then some).
After simmering on Congress’s back burner for months, the Iraq war debate has eclipsed every other issue in the capital, slowing progress on some matters while stopping it on others. The GOP-led House and Senate are struggling to pass major tax legislation, an extension of the USA Patriot Act and a broad budget-cutting bill. Bush’s top 2005 domestic agenda item — revamping Social Security — has sunk from sight, and more recently his bipartisan panel on tax reform barely made a ripple when it issued recommendations.
Ooops. Maybe you should have thought of that before you sent Toto’s nemesis out to call a 37-year Marine Corp veteran a "coward" on the floor of the House. Spirit of bipartisanship my ass.
Speaking of Iraq, Bob Graham, former Dem Senator from Florida, has a scorcher of an editorial up in the WaPo today.
In February 2002, after a briefing on the status of the war in Afghanistan, the commanding officer, Gen. Tommy Franks, told me the war was being compromised as specialized personnel and equipment were being shifted from Afghanistan to prepare for the war in Iraq — a war more than a year away. Even at this early date, the White House was signaling that the threat posed by Saddam Hussein was of such urgency that it had priority over the crushing of al Qaeda.
Ouch. Lots of details. Lots of pointing out that the Preznit and his media machine are a bunch of manipulative liars. Ahem.
Did I mention that Jack Abramoff’s partner cut a deal and will be testifying against his pals? And that Pat Fitzgerald’s investigation into all of Bushie’s best pals is ongoing? And that Tom Delay is under indictment? And…well, now I’m just piling on.