Rob Simpson wondered if Americans understood just how much money we were spending in Iraq and so he went on a quest to explain it, in real terms. When spending reached $1 trillion, he wrote a book and created a website: What We Could Have Done With the Money. In the book, Simpson describes how we could have done the farcial (paved the entire interstate system in 14k gold) to the practical (given every student in the US a free college education). At the website, you can go on a $1 trillion shopping spree. I tried to spend $1 trillion and ended up at $110,146,165,100. Here’s what I bought for that amount of money:
Every NFL franchise
The Yankees and The Mets
3 Air Force Ones and 3 Airports for them
1 Race Track, 1 Theme Park, and 1 Casino
I bought the world a Coke
Money to prevent the next Katrina and levees to do the job
Dracula’s castle and a winery in Napa valley
I fed 100 children from birth to the age of 18, fed 100 people around the world, and housed 100 families
I built kitchens for 100 disabled veterans
I helped 100 women start small businesses
I adopted 100 polar bears
I built 100 miles of monorails to build mass transit infrastructure
and, finally, I built and equipped 100 hospitals in 3rd world countries
And I couldn’t come close to $1 trillion dollars. The new estimates are that the Iraq war will cost us $3 trillion dollars. Wrap your head around that.
In the Huffington Post yesterday, Murray Waas reported that William Timmons, the lobbyist whom John McCain has appointed as head of his Presidential transition team, “aided an influence effort on behalf of Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein to ease international sanctions against his regime.” I think that trumps Ayers.
Here’s some more detail from Waas’ article:
Virtually everything Timmons did while working on the lobbying campaign was within days conveyed by Vincent to either one or both of Saddam Hussein’s top aides, Tariq Aziz and Nizar Hamdoon. Vincent also testified that he almost always relayed input from the Iraqi aides back to Timmons.
Talking points that Timmons produced for the lobbyists to help ease the sanctions, for example, were reviewed ahead of time by Aziz, Vincent testified in court. Proposals that Timmons himself circulated to U.S. officials as part of the effort were written with the assistance of the Iraqi officials, and were also sent ahead of time with Timmons’ approval to Aziz, other records show.
Moreover, there was a major financial incentive at play for Timmons. The multi-million dollar oil deal that he was pursuing with the two other lobbyists would only be possible if their efforts to ease sanctions against Iraq were successful.
There is so, so, so much detail in Waas’ piece. The above is simply a tease to convince you to go read it.
In their editorial this morning, the New York Times addresses a question I’ve been dying to ask: What would a victory in Iraq look like? From the Times:
We still do not know what Mr. McCain means with talk about some kind of magical “victory” in Iraq.
Exactly. McCain and Palin keep saying that Obama is giving up on a victory in Iraq, that he isn’t willing to see us through to victory, that he’s willing wave the white flag of surrender (meaning that he’s denying us victory). Well, what is victory? I can’t figure it out. The ethnic factions in Iraq have been fighting for thousands of years. It is complete hubris to think that we can step in, wave our magic machine guns, and bring an end to that. Overthrowing Saddam was a victory. But beyond that, I cannot determine what a victory would look like. Can you? Do you have ideas? Please, share them.
I have MSNBC on in the background and John McCain is giving speech in MO. He just caught my ear with this:
We will stop sending $700b a year to countries that don’t like us very much.
What about Iraq, John? They don’t like us very much. As recently as March, 61% of Iraqis said that our presence in their country was making things worse. So let’s stop sending them money, and troops, and weapons. Let’s spend that money here and bring our troops home before any more of them die.
Here’s another quote from the same speech:
It’s time to show the world again how Americans lead.
What about Guantanamo Bay, John? Is that how Americans lead? Keeping child soldiers detained for years on end, without the protections of international agreements, to which we’re a signatory, protecting the rights of child soldiers? Torture, John? Is that how we lead?
I can’t keep up. Now he’s talking about how he would lead without needing to take credit. What the hell was last week, then? What the hell was “suspending” his campaign to rush back to DC to help solve the crisis about if it wasn’t to take credit? Come on, John, do you really take us for a nation of idiots? Do you think we have collective amnesia? <sigh>