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09/14/2003 Archived Entry: ""

A bumper crop of cartoon commentary on the occupation of Iraq and its various fall-outs. Pat Oliphant offers economic/domestic commentary in Panhandler"; David Horsey speaks to the irony of Bush appealing to the French in "Pardon Monsieur?"; Chan Lowe plays off an actual Bush action figure in his pointed cartoon "Broken Bush Action Figure"; Steve Sack's "Bush and the UN" dramatizes America's shift in approach, whether the administration admits it or not; Mike Luckovich comments on the ineffectiveness of Bush's economic rescue schemes in "Unemployment Line"; and, finally, my personal favorite -- Ted Rall's "Bold Leadership".

A Washington Post article offers insight into where the $87 billion emergency rescue fund by referring to just one item: the tracks upon which the Bradley Fighting vehicle runs. "A Bradley gets new treads just once a year, after about 800 miles. But for the U.S. Army, these are anything but normal times, and the 600-odd Bradleys in Iraq are trudging 1,200 miles a month, running security escorts the military never imagined would be needed so long after “major combat operations” had ended. The result is that Bradleys in Iraq need new tracks every 60 days, at $22,576 per vehicle." And that's just one maintenance expense on one piece of equipment. That's one reason why Scott Lilly, the Democratic staff director of the House Appropriations Committee and a military procurement expert, states, “This $87 billion is really just a down payment.” Another reason that costs are so high? -- "In March, Halliburton [of which Dick Cheney is a former CEO] was granted, without competition, a contract by the Army Corps of Engineers to repair and restore Iraq's oil fields. As of Sept. 8, the total cost of that contract to taxpayers was just under $948 million." Now army spokesmen are saying that Halliburton's costs have climbed to about $2 billion and are rising." No wonder the average taxpayer is beginning to express disapproval of the Bush administration's drunken spending spree in Iraq, which has lined the pockets of so many of its corporate friends at the expense of working people. Some of those hardest hit are the families of reservists who were never meant to substitute for regular army but only to serve as emergency personnel. Now..."A Pentagon announcement last week that more than 20,000 reservists would have their service doubled to a year has caused uproar as thousands of wives, husbands and children struggle to manage without them - many of them enduring financial hardship....[T]he families of "weekend warriors" are becoming a focal point of disaffection over the administration's handling of Iraq since Saddam Hussein's defeat. The families are banding together to campaign for better treatment, while some senior military figures have been outspoken in their criticism." The families are just the tip of the economic iceberg created by the prolonged dislocation of reservists, who receive only military pay of about $20,000. Other "casualties" are the employers who must legally keep jobs open, shifting the workload onto the shoulders of those who remain and enduring decreased productivity; the small businesses that have gone under because they cannot survive the absence of owners who are serving in Iraq; the careers/education/marriage and family plans that have been abruptly interrupted and may be difficult to impossible to resume in a now-ravaged economy... With the US and the UN no closer to agreement on sharing responsibility in Iraq and with US/UN sabres being rattled against Iran, there appears to be no let-up in the financial drain of the war or in the economic devastation of the average person's paycheck...that is, the paycheck of those still lucky enough to have regular employment.

Take care of yourself and your families,
Best to all,

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