Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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September 28, 2006
By: Kevin Drum

STANDING 'EM UP....Having failed to successfully complete its contracts in Iraq for building a prison ($99 million) and a network of health clinics ($243 million), today we learn that Parsons Corp. has crashed and burned on yet another project. The $75 million police academy they built in Baghdad is so substandard that parts of it will need to be demolished:

The most serious problem was substandard plumbing that caused waste from toilets on the second and third floors to cascade throughout the building. A light fixture in one room stopped working because it was filled with urine and fecal matter. The waste threatened the integrity of load-bearing slabs, federal investigators concluded.

....[Phillip] Galeoto noted that one entire building and five floors in others had to be shuttered for repairs, limiting the capacity of the college by up to 800 recruits. His memo, too, pointed out that the urine and feces flowed throughout the building and, sometimes, onto occupants of the barracks.

Another triumph for the Bush administration, this time on a project that the president has repeatedly told us is the cornerstone of our strategy in Iraq: training police so that we can stand down as they stand up. Unfortunately, it turns out that even the buildings can't stand up, let alone the police.

Kevin Drum 1:40 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (100)

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Comments

I am not surprised. Hell it's par for the course for these jokers.

Posted by: Global Citizen on September 28, 2006 at 1:53 AM | PERMALINK

No war profiteer left behind, I guess.

Posted by: Global Citizen on September 28, 2006 at 2:20 AM | PERMALINK

Bushco will figuratively AND literally shit on Iraq.......What a surprise.

Posted by: Sauce on September 28, 2006 at 2:21 AM | PERMALINK

Even if the police academy was state of the art and fully equipped and functioning, the notion that we can train the Iraqis to be as good as our troops in a short time frame is simply nuts.

How long realistically would it take to train 100K or more Iraqis to be an effective police force the way we know it here?
3 years? 5, 10?

Bless the Iraqis, they've been through some crap and then some, but the moment Paul Bremer decided to disband their military was the moment we lost.

Posted by: Press Corpse on September 28, 2006 at 2:33 AM | PERMALINK

Shit and piss shorting out light fixtures is bad enough. Shit and piss undermining the strutural integrity of walls is off the flippin' charts. Just how corrupt and incompetent is it possible to be?

I can't even *laugh* at this.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on September 28, 2006 at 2:40 AM | PERMALINK

I am so tired and weary of hearing about the terrorists, the al-kaida , the ones who wish to do us harm.

I think the current administration has done more to harm america than any that came before combined. Problem is that most are too dumb or lack the skills to understand anything, anything at all in regard to their constitutional rights. They are a group of contents, fat, lazy, ignorant and mis-informed.

Fate had a hand at this juncture in American History where the public gave up all their rights and handed over the republic in apathy. Blinded by greed and ignorance, divided and confused, the mass of fatties, and flouride numbed sheeple submitted.

Sleeper cells are deep asleep, and never seem to awake, yet "they" have told us about their sneaky tricky ways and can awake at any time. Give up your rights and we can stop the sleepy deep asleep sleeper cells, and stop them before they awake from their scary 5 year slumber..BOO

Are you scared and afraid? I hope so! They want you to be. Becasue the only thing they have to confuse your logic and reason is to pander to your fear.

The two strongest means or control is to pander to either greed or fear, and FEAR is stronger...

Posted by: boo@aol.com on September 28, 2006 at 2:44 AM | PERMALINK

This country's ongoing black comedy masquerading as a "conservative but compassionate" presidential administration would be hilarious if the events it has thus far engendered were genuinely funny. But they're not.

Thousands of Americans and tens of thousands (if not hndreds of thousands) of others have now lost their lives because of actions or inactions directly attributable to this administration's inherent dishonesty, irresponsible ineptitude and criminal malfeasance.

Both George W. Bush and the amoral, ever-scheming Dick Cheney are nothing less than war criminals who deserve to stand trial in The Hague for their crimes against humanity. And the Republican Party must be held to collective account for its part in willfully inflicting this insane clown posse upon our country.

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii on September 28, 2006 at 3:30 AM | PERMALINK

Why does everyone say 'fecal matter', and how is this different from feces?

Posted by: Sam Spade on September 28, 2006 at 3:40 AM | PERMALINK

>His memo, too, pointed out that the urine and feces flowed throughout the building and, sometimes, onto occupants of the barracks.

A perfect symbol of the Bush administration.

Others build pyramids that last for 5000 years, Bush raises buildings that shit on people and have to be torn down in months.

Oh, future history professors are gonna love this time period in American history.

Posted by: James on September 28, 2006 at 3:46 AM | PERMALINK


What pissed me off about this more than anything is my lack of surprise. Hell, everything this administration touches goes to shit - and in this case that is a literal assessment.

It is time for a Truman Commission. The junior senator from Missouri came to prominence by whacking the snouts of war profiteers out of the public trough. If the taxpayers and the troops were being short-changed, Truman was quick to cut off the flow of cash and threaten the corporate titans with harsh prison sentences.

If this president had the best interests of the American people at heart, he would appoint Senators Tom Harkin of Iowa and Chuck Hagel of Nebraska to form a bipartisan commission to investigate the corporate malfeasance of companies like Parsons and Halliburton and O'Gara International. But this president doesn't give a good god-damn about the troops or the tax payers, so a Harkin-Hagel commission will have to wait a couple of years - unless the Democrats get control in November and the Senate starts it's own investigation.

If we make that an issue, if we promise that war profiteering will be investigated and dealt with harshly, that should be enough to sway a few "undecided" voters our way.

So why am I saying this instead of the Democrats running for office?

Posted by: Global Citizen on September 28, 2006 at 3:54 AM | PERMALINK

Because you rock, GC.

There's a word for people like this: War profiteers. They're the same people who sold Uncle Sam rotten meat to feed to our soldiers in the Civil War. They're traitors, betraying the US for a quick buck.

Prison's too good for them, but they absolutely must be charged, tried and convicted, up to and including the CEO. Give 'em a cozy bunk right next to Bernie Ebbers.

Posted by: Gregory on September 28, 2006 at 4:26 AM | PERMALINK

When Bush was told about the problems with the police academy in Iraq, he asked if that was the one with Steve Guttenberg and that black fella who does all those funny sound effects . . .

Posted by: Moe on September 28, 2006 at 4:37 AM | PERMALINK

There was a logic behind the founding fathers setting up a system of 3 roots to our government, with the cross-checks between them. The theme underlying this was "don't trust anyone", we don't want any king or dictator or lack of reason.

What do we have now?

Definitely a lack of reason. And a plot to hatch more.

That is why nobody should judge themselves. Not professors, police, local governments, or Washington politicians.

The fact that the Republican majority Senate and House of Representatives have surrendered their responsibility to the nation is sad, reflected in the death of so many US citizens and many more Iraqis and others. To surrender their responsibility absolutely is to be guilty by association.

As to the Democratic Party, the same is true. Silence is no defence.

Posted by: notthere on September 28, 2006 at 4:41 AM | PERMALINK

Gregory; that is an excerpt from an entry on my own six-reader blog. I was writing it about the same time Kevin was. Here is the link, if anyone is interested. No War Profiteer Left Behind

Posted by: Global Citizen on September 28, 2006 at 4:42 AM | PERMALINK

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Posted by: mmf铃声 on September 28, 2006 at 4:42 AM | PERMALINK

Is that the same Parsons Corp. that screwed up New Jersey's vehicle emission testing under Christie Whitman? That was another $200M GOP mess.

Posted by: Ron Zealot on September 28, 2006 at 5:11 AM | PERMALINK

why isn't war profiteering a crime? to me it's right up there with treason.
And right wingers will scream over giving a needy person 100 dollars in food stamps. and turn a blind eye to this kind of shit.
where are the trolls?

Posted by: merlallen on September 28, 2006 at 5:12 AM | PERMALINK

As James and Globe point out, the metaphor of a load of poop blanketing a struggling people is way too obvious for this administration. Even in their most egregious failures they lack artistry.

Posted by: shortstop on September 28, 2006 at 5:13 AM | PERMALINK

A light fixture in one room stopped working because it was filled with urine and fecal matter.

Well as Rummy miht say, "shit happens."

Re. the difference between "feces" and "fecal matter" I think it's that "fecal matter" would be used when it's a constituent of something larger as in "urine and fecal matter," and "feces" is the whole shebang. So that would be "fecal matter" in your McDonald's hamburger.

Could be though I don't know shit.

Posted by: snicker-snack on September 28, 2006 at 5:32 AM | PERMALINK

"Mom said they got feces all over everywhere."

"What are feces?"

"Baby mice."

"Awwwwwww."

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on September 28, 2006 at 5:46 AM | PERMALINK

Kind of like the Bush Administration itself - filled with urine and fecal matter...

The corruption and incompetence of this Administration is beyond belief!

Posted by: The Conservative Deflator on September 28, 2006 at 5:47 AM | PERMALINK

It's not just them!

It's also those that let them get away with it!

First, the preznit and his administration. Take no responsibility but always say you are.

Second, Congress: the House of Representatives and the Senate. They have their committees, etc.
Nothing! And tell your pluriate nothing!

Third: the loyal opposition. Silence again. If not silence, they have been strangely ineffective in getting into the news. Why?

Fourth: the courts can only get involved when invoked. Have we done the best we can to invoke the law? And the administration has done its best to skirt the law.

I am disappointed by all the politicians involved, from preznut down, but I am most disappointed by the opposition. They have been sadly ineffective and morally silent.

And, pray tell me, where is the GSA? Where?

Posted by: notthere on September 28, 2006 at 6:20 AM | PERMALINK

A light fixture in one room stopped working because it was filled with urine and fecal matter.

Let's see: we've built something in Iraq so clogged with shit, the light can't get out. There's got to be a metaphor in here somewhere.

Posted by: dj moonbat on September 28, 2006 at 6:23 AM | PERMALINK

merlallen --

War profiteering, corruption, tax dollar waste would only be a crime under a Democratic President.

You know it!

Posted by: notthere on September 28, 2006 at 6:31 AM | PERMALINK

There's only one thing to be said:

"Shit happens."

::grin::

Posted by: Trashhauler on September 28, 2006 at 6:42 AM | PERMALINK

Trashhauler:

I love gross humor probably more than the next four guys -- but this really isn't all that funny, Trashy.

You're a procurement guy, right? I mean ... doesn't this just make you heartsick?

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on September 28, 2006 at 6:48 AM | PERMALINK

I have always thought that Repukeliscum were full of shit. Now, I see that I was right.

Posted by: dataguy on September 28, 2006 at 7:09 AM | PERMALINK

You guys are missing the forest for the bear poop. The important thing is we have a prison, a police academy, and a network of health clinics built!

Posted by: Ack Ack Ack Ack on September 28, 2006 at 7:27 AM | PERMALINK

Bush is the Bizarro Midas - everything he touches turns to shit.

Posted by: 2.7182818 on September 28, 2006 at 7:29 AM | PERMALINK

Bob, no, I'm a program and policy geek, though perforce I have to deal with the acquisition and contracting types all the time.

Regarding being heartsick over contracting foulups (no pun intended), I've spent enough time in government to get a thick skin about such things. I can only try to makes sure similar things don't happen in my projects.

In a way, this is a cautionary tale, the moral of which is that people shouldn't rely overmuch on government's magical methods. The more important something is, the more leery one should be about putting it all in the hands of Uncle Sugar.

There have been far worse failures of oversight and most didn't even have the excuse of being in a war zone or in the Middle East, where every local assumes that ripping off foreigners is a legitimate way of doing business.

Posted by: Trashhauler on September 28, 2006 at 7:38 AM | PERMALINK

So I guess Hitler should have just given up after a few defeats like Stalingrad, right? Stupid liberals!

Posted by: Wingnut on September 28, 2006 at 7:41 AM | PERMALINK

This idea that WE have to train the Iraqis how to build a police force and a military is just ludicrous. "Those dumb brown-skinned ay-rabs just don't know nuthin', and we Amuricans have to show 'em how."

I guess next we'll teach them about irrigation canals, writing and agriculture, since they've never had those things over the last 5000 years, right?

Posted by: Speed on September 28, 2006 at 7:43 AM | PERMALINK

In a way, this is a cautionary tale, the moral of which is that people shouldn't rely overmuch on government's magical methods. The more important something is, the more leery one should be about putting it all in the hands of Uncle Sugar.

Right. The moral of this tale is not, as we thought, "Don't illegally invade a country, fail to plan for an insurgency and give all the contracts to incompetent crooks who happen to be friends of yours." No, it's "Big government doesn't work."

You guys are freaking unbelievable.

Posted by: shortstop on September 28, 2006 at 7:49 AM | PERMALINK

Nation-building is not our job.

Posted by: SombreroFallout on September 28, 2006 at 8:05 AM | PERMALINK

shortstop wrote:

Right. The moral of this tale is not, as we thought, "Don't illegally invade a country, fail to plan for an insurgency and give all the contracts to incompetent crooks who happen to be friends of yours." No, it's "Big government doesn't work."
__________________

shortstop, much as we should admire the impulse to draw lessons from the news, it's going a bit too far to draw immensely broad conclusions from a temporary setback such as this.

My conclusion isn't that "Big government doesn't work." After all, I work for big government. The point I would make is more in the line of observation about two specific human tendencies. The first tendency is to assume that things work the same everywhere - that if you subcontract with a local firm, that firm will take care to do a good job, or at least, will do an adequate job, just like back in the good old USA. The second is that government's ability to do the job increases exponentially when those responsible are directly impacted by the outcome. Government contract officers and contract technical representatives (COTRs) are usually unaffected personally by their projects, so their interest can be widely variable, driven by the limits of their professionalism and dedication. Thus, a military contract for the construction of defenses at Balad gets tremendous oversight. A barracks for Iraqi police cadets gets less.

Parenthetically, think about that the next time someone suggests a Canadian style health care program. Remember that those who run such systems seldom have to live with the same limitations they deliberately impose on mere citizens.

Posted by: Trashhauler on September 28, 2006 at 8:26 AM | PERMALINK

speed wrote:

This idea that WE have to train the Iraqis how to build a police force and a military is just ludicrous. "Those dumb brown-skinned ay-rabs just don't know nuthin', and we Amuricans have to show 'em how."
________________

speed, the idea isn't that the Arabs aren't capable of training their own military and police. The idea is to train them to Western standards of professionalism - which among other things means not using your position for personal gain. Admittedly, that cuts across the cultural grain, but it isn't being done in ignorance of the obstacles.

Posted by: Trashhauler on September 28, 2006 at 8:39 AM | PERMALINK

Freaking unbelievable indeed.

shortstop, much as we should admire the impulse to draw lessons from the news, it's going a bit too far to draw immensely broad conclusions from a temporary setback such as this.

Where the hell have you been the last six years? This is not an incident leading to a conclusion, this is an incident adding to the overwhelming mountain of evidence that everything the Bush administration does is venal and incompetent. Remember the response to a certain hurricane? How about, oh, everything about the Iraq occupation? The disappearing billions?

Do you drink anything but Kool-Aid?

Posted by: S Ra on September 28, 2006 at 8:45 AM | PERMALINK

This story's a real "scoop" for the Washington Post.

Posted by: Red State Mike on September 28, 2006 at 9:05 AM | PERMALINK

S Ra, wrote:

"Where the hell have you been the last six years? This is not an incident leading to a conclusion, this is an incident adding to the overwhelming mountain of evidence that everything the Bush administration does is venal and incompetent. Remember the response to a certain hurricane? How about, oh, everything about the Iraq occupation? The disappearing billions?"
______________

S Ra, you mistake me for a political partisan, which I am not. But, just for the sake of argument, how many contracts has the federal government awarded in the past six years? How many have resulted in such poor performance?

Venality speaks to motive. Assigning evil intent to everything done by any group is more in the line of a profession of faith than it is careful observation.

Posted by: Trashhauler on September 28, 2006 at 9:07 AM | PERMALINK

More exciting news from Kevin "The Sky is Falling" Drum.

Posted by: Havlicek stole the ball on September 28, 2006 at 9:22 AM | PERMALINK

Our country used to be respected the world over for "good 'ol American know-how." Lately it seems we only show how little we know and how unsophisticated we are.

America is being served by incompetents who encourage us to live in fear. It's just sad.

Posted by: pj in jesusland on September 28, 2006 at 9:22 AM | PERMALINK

"Substandard plumbing"? I'm not a plumber, but this sounds like no plumbing at all. They just sold the pipes on the black market instead of installing them, right?

Posted by: SqueakyRat on September 28, 2006 at 9:24 AM | PERMALINK

Sounds like the bad guys infiltrated the police force and smuggled small billiard balls into the upper floor restrooms. If I remember right we trained the Contras to do this to frustrate the communists.

Posted by: American Buzzard on September 28, 2006 at 9:30 AM | PERMALINK

In a way, this is a cautionary tale, the moral of which is that people shouldn't rely overmuch on government's magical methods.

Oh, please! The egregious incompetence, waste and corruption was due to the "magical methods" of a private company, in case you hadn't noticed.

Posted by: Gregory on September 28, 2006 at 9:45 AM | PERMALINK

Conservative credo; less government = contracting out services. No bid of course.

Contractors = free enterprise ( taxpayer dollars, where ?)

free enterprise = "you're on your own"

"you're on your own" = "I got mine, the hell with you. Hurray for me and f*ck you!"


Posted by: for the common good on September 28, 2006 at 9:47 AM | PERMALINK

S Ra, you mistake me for a political partisan, which I am not.

Trashhauler, I wouldn't consider you a troll, but I am not the only one to note that your comment "In a way, this is a cautionary tale, the moral of which is that people shouldn't rely overmuch on government's magical methods" makes it hard to credit your claim not to be a politcal partisan. You certainly seemed prepared to "draw immensely broad conclusions" from this setback -- the "temporary" nature of which, at least as far as the US occupation is concerned, is an assertion not yet in evidence.

Posted by: Gregory on September 28, 2006 at 9:48 AM | PERMALINK

The lesson here would appear to be that shit happens, but fecal matters.

Posted by: Rand Careaga on September 28, 2006 at 9:55 AM | PERMALINK

So many shills for the Repigs say that the scary part about Democrats taking back power is all the investigating they will do. Ummm, that's exactly what we need them for...

Posted by: Neil' on September 28, 2006 at 10:19 AM | PERMALINK

Right on, mmf铃声!

Posted by: Noam Sane on September 28, 2006 at 10:31 AM | PERMALINK

Hubris. We were full of it about five years ago. Soon after 9/11 our "can do" attitude turned into a 'can do anything" attitude. I remember reading about how Iraq was going to be like a 'bride' to the US as we entered into this lifelong commitment.

Yeesh. I wondered, at the time, how our war-bride Iraq felt about the matter. Unspoken, of course, was the assumption that if our wifey got out of line we'd give her a few smacks in the head (done with love from Jesus, of course) to get her back in line.

Wouldn't you just know it the people who got us into this bad marriage are the same ones who 'don't believe in divorce.'

Double yeesh. So here we are, the 'children' of an alcoholic father and a resentful wife. We are acting out a 'disfunctional US family' on the world stage for everyone to see.

I'm sick of disfunction. I want competent people back in charge!

Posted by: Tripp on September 28, 2006 at 10:40 AM | PERMALINK

Do not understand the concern for rebuilding Iraq in a timely, well constructed manner - Why the rush? Only 83 Iraqis and three more of our finest troops killed yesterday. Plenty of time.

And the beat goes on.

Posted by: thethirdPaul on September 28, 2006 at 10:44 AM | PERMALINK

You're right, RSM - it's not really a "scoop."

Any jackass could find a story similar to this one. Blindfold him, ask him to throw a dart at a big map of Iraq, and bingo, you can find yet another fuck-up.

I'm glad you don't care. I do. I pay taxes and want to ensure that my money isn't just lining the pockets of some corrupt crony who's paid off his congressman and/or political party of choice.

Posted by: NSA Mole on September 28, 2006 at 10:46 AM | PERMALINK

His memo, too, pointed out that the urine and feces flowed throughout the building and, sometimes, onto occupants of the barracks.

Metaphors! Metaphors! C'mon and getcha nice hot metaphors, hot off the press! Metaphors, only two fer a buck! Metaphors, metaphors!

Posted by: Stefan on September 28, 2006 at 10:47 AM | PERMALINK

I'm glad you don't care. I do. I pay taxes and want to ensure that my money isn't just lining the pockets of some corrupt crony who's paid off his congressman and/or political party of choice.
Posted by: NSA Mole

Of course you missed my entire point.

Posted by: Red State Mike on September 28, 2006 at 10:48 AM | PERMALINK

Not really surprised that Lt Thaddeus Harris was appointed to head the Academy - However, after Commander Eric Lassard failed the Roe v. Wade test, the Pentagon had no other choice.

Posted by: stupid git on September 28, 2006 at 10:53 AM | PERMALINK

Global Citizen wrote: "If this president had the best interests of the American people at heart ..."

George W. Bush is a career white collar criminal, annd Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld are career war profiteers. They are criminals masquerading as "conservative" politicians to gain power and run a government of, by and for war profiteers. The only difference between these gangsters and the Mafia is that the Mafia specializes in gambling, drugs and prostitution and this mob specializes in militarism.

The only "interests" that they have "at heart" are the interests of their war profiteering cronies and financial backers in the ultra-rich corporate-feudalist elites of the military-industrial-petroleum complex.

This report is not some aberration or anomaly. The entire purpose of the unprovoked war of aggression against Iraq is war profiteering.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on September 28, 2006 at 11:00 AM | PERMALINK

In a way, this is a cautionary tale, the moral of which is that people shouldn't rely overmuch on government's magical methods. The more important something is, the more leery one should be about putting it all in the hands of Uncle Sugar.

But this wasn't put "all in the hands of Uncle Sugar". Wasn't this an example of privatization? Isn't this what rightards crow about, allowing private companies to bid (haha) for the work?

Another example of failed conservative policy. The problem isn't giving the government responsibility, the problem was giving this administration the opportunity. No bids contracts with no congressional oversight and no follow-up. It's a war profiteer's dream.

Posted by: MeLoseBrain? on September 28, 2006 at 11:00 AM | PERMALINK

SecularAnimist,

I thought there were rumors that the Mafia had their hands into trash hauling as well.

Posted by: thethirdPaul on September 28, 2006 at 11:04 AM | PERMALINK

This is just one more piece in a very large puzzle -- the story of how the Bush regime, working hand in glove with its corporate and political cronies, has been able to steal literally billions of American taxpayer dollars and Iraqi oil wealth right from under our noses.

Does anyone remember (but why do I ask, because of course no one does) the $8.8 billion (yes, with a "B") in taxpayer money that the Coalition Provisional Authority "lost" in Iraq? Almost $9 billion dollars just disappeared, went up in smoke -- or into the Republicans' pockets.

Or what about this, from a May 10, 2006 AP report:

The U.S. military has spent just 40 percent of the $7 billion appropriated in 2005 for the training of Iraqi and Afghanistan security forces, a top Pentagon priority that is lynchpin for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq.

So somehow training Iraqi security forces is absolutely vital to "winning" in Iraq, yet not so vital that we actually spend the money allocated for it. And if just 40% has been spent, what's happened to the other 60%? Where is it sitting?

Posted by: Stefan on September 28, 2006 at 11:06 AM | PERMALINK

Why do you liberals, who worship daily at the feet of Keyenes as your God, go bananas when we apply some Keynesian solutions to the economic problems of Iraq? No money is ever wasted: it ultimately winds up in the economy and increases demand for goods and services, leading ultimately to overall economic growth.

Don't bitch about something that's taken out from your own scriptures.

Posted by: gregor on September 28, 2006 at 11:06 AM | PERMALINK

Trashhauler wrote: "In a way, this is a cautionary tale, the moral of which is that people shouldn't rely overmuch on government's magical methods. The more important something is, the more leery one should be about putting it all in the hands of Uncle Sugar."

That's a complete non sequitur. This project was not "all in the hands of Uncle Sugar." It was all in the hands of private industry, specifically in the hands of Parsons Corporation, which evidently lied to and cheated -- i.e. stole from -- the government.

If there is any "moral" in this story it is not a "cautionary tale" about "relying overmuch on government", it is a "cautionary tale" about relying overmuch on corrupt war profiteering corporations.

The CEO and other principals of Parsons Corporation should be charged with defrauding the government, prosecuted, convicted and imprisoned.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on September 28, 2006 at 11:14 AM | PERMALINK

The idea is to train them to Western standards of professionalism - which among other things means not using your position for personal gain.

This administration preaching to anyone about not using their position for personal gain???

If there is a clearer example of "Do as I say, not as I do", I'd like to see it!

Posted by: MeLoseBrain? on September 28, 2006 at 11:16 AM | PERMALINK

The waste threatened the integrity of load-bearing slabs!


The Republican contribution to life summed up in one perfect image! Thank you, George Bush, Donald Rumsfeld. We know you now. Now you can go.

Posted by: cld on September 28, 2006 at 11:19 AM | PERMALINK

That's right Gregor, because Keynes was all about stealing money and spending it to promote economic growth. Get your head out of your ass.

Posted by: MeLoseBrain? on September 28, 2006 at 11:20 AM | PERMALINK

As soon as we get a handle on this infrastructure thing, then we can introduce other important notions like vote suppression, Political Action Committees, money laundering through 527s and Scottish golf outings.

The Iraqis have so much to learn yet about democracy.

Posted by: pj in jesusland on September 28, 2006 at 11:25 AM | PERMALINK

It's like the Soviet Union hired a mobster to subco ntract to Alberto Stroessner, because they don't want anybody to know about it, who got some guy he knows whose pal does drywall to get someone to fix up a building in Iraq, except the guy runs off with all your money so you've got to do it yourself and, what the hell, you just hire someone.

No, I take it back. That would have produced a better result.

Posted by: cld on September 28, 2006 at 11:25 AM | PERMALINK

And let's not forget this little gem below. When Republicans get in power, it's corruption, corruption everywhere. They will steal the American taxpayer blind.

Iraq Audit Can't Find Billions,
Gaps found in spending for reconstruction

by Bryan Bender
[source; Boston Globe 10-16-04]

(BOSTON GLOBE/WASHINGTON) -- About half of the roughly $5 billion in Iraq reconstruction funds disbursed by the US government in the first half of this year cannot be accounted for, according to an audit commissioned by the United Nations, which could not find records for numerous rebuilding projects and other payments.

One chunk of the money -- $1.4 billion -- was deposited into a local bank by Kurdish leaders in northern Iraq but could be tracked no further: The auditors reported that they were shown a deposit slip but could find no additional records to explain how the money was used or to prove that it remains in the bank. Auditors also said they could not track more than $1 billion in funds doled out by US authorities for hundreds of large and small reconstruction projects. The audit, released yesterday, found serious gaps in how the Development Fund for Iraq -- a pool of money drawn from Iraqi oil revenues and international aid, including some from the United States -- was handled by American occupation officials responsible for funding reconstruction projects and the operations of Iraqi ministries and provincial governments. The development fund is separate from the $18.4 billion in US reconstruction funds set aside last year to rebuild the country.

All the funds -- more than $5 billion -- were spent between Jan. 1 and June 28, 2004, during the period when the US-led Coalition Provisional Authority ran the country. The audit reported numerous instances of improper disbursement practices by the coalition authority. Among the findings: Hundreds of projects worth more than $100 million covered by the Commander's Emergency Response Program, designed to allow US military officers to quickly fund small reconstruction projects around the country, had either no contracts on file, no evidence that bids were obtained through competition, no purchase invoices, or no payment vouchers. Weapons were paid for under a buyback program with funds specifically prohibited for such use.

The coalition authority gave money to the Iraqi Ministry of Finance, which then maintained two different sets of records. The report said a ''reconciliation between these two sets of accounting records was not prepared and the difference was significant." Checks were made payable to the coalition authority's senior adviser to the Ministry of Health, rather than to suppliers, raising questions about whether the money was spent for its intended purposes. A number of projects were awarded without bids ''without justification" by treasury officials in one Iraqi province. The coalition authority could not find an underlying contract or evidence of services rendered for a $2.6 million disbursement earmarked for the Ministry of Oil. The audit said the matter is under investigation by the State Department, which became the primary American presence in Iraq after the coalition authority dissolved. The auditors said they were told by US officials that all discrepancies were ''under investigation."


Posted by: Stefan on September 28, 2006 at 11:27 AM | PERMALINK

As per the Parsons web site:

"Our ability to plan, design, construct and operate diverse facilities and infrastructure systems has satisfied both government and industial clients' needs for over 60 years.......We measure our success one project at a time by exceeding expectations and satisfying our customers."

Now, if one were to type @parsons.com and insert erin.kuhlman before it, one could communicate with their VP of Corporate Relations. Just a chat perhaps to ask about the progress of the Police Academy. I'm sure Erin will respond to mine in due time.

Posted by: thethirdPaul on September 28, 2006 at 11:34 AM | PERMALINK

Maybe their plan is this. If we screw up the police acadamy they'll train no police. With no police they won't have a need for the prison we couldn't build, and with no one getting incarcerated for violent crimes people will be murdered before they have a chance to get sick so we won't need all those clinics.

Posted by: Davebo on September 28, 2006 at 11:36 AM | PERMALINK

Cascading urine and fecal matter. If that doesn't describe the Bush Administration, nothing does.

Posted by: Scorpio on September 28, 2006 at 11:38 AM | PERMALINK

At tpm,

http://www.talkingpointsmemo.com/archives/010016.php

According to Woodward, insurgent attacks against coalition troops occur, on average, every 15 minutes, a shocking fact the administration has kept secret. Its getting to the point now where there are eight, 900 attacks a week. Thats more than a hundred a day. That is four an hour attacking our forces, says Woodward.

The situation is getting much worse, says Woodward, despite what the White House and the Pentagon are saying in public. The truth is that the assessment by intelligence experts is that next year, 2007, is going to get worse and, in public, you have the president and you have the Pentagon [saying], Oh, no, things are going to get better, he tells Wallace. Now theres public, and then theres private. But what did they do with the private? They stamp it secret. No one is supposed to know, says Woodward.


Was Vietnam that violent?

Posted by: cld on September 28, 2006 at 11:41 AM | PERMALINK

I can only hope to have a chance to smear President Bush with feces and urine. Unfortunately, Guckert says he enjoys it.

Posted by: Hostile on September 28, 2006 at 11:48 AM | PERMALINK

Why do you liberals, who worship daily at the feet of Keyenes as...

Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz...

Posted by: Thumb on September 28, 2006 at 11:52 AM | PERMALINK

we can train the Iraqis to be as good as our troops in a short time frame

It should not take much training to teach rape, murder and incineration, which our troops excel at. Perhaps the US military could improve its cover up training, though.

Posted by: Hostile on September 28, 2006 at 11:58 AM | PERMALINK

And if just 40% has been spent, what's happened to the other 60%? Where is it sitting?

You'll need a long string of digits, in a precise order, to find out.

Posted by: Swiss Banker on September 28, 2006 at 12:04 PM | PERMALINK

I was wondering if any of the trolls were going to post the usual: 'But what about all the buildings without sewage fouling the light fixtures! Biased liberal media!'

But I guess there hearts aren't in this one. I guess defining success as not commingling sewage and electrical systems is a bit of a stretch, even for a troll.

Posted by: Nat on September 28, 2006 at 12:16 PM | PERMALINK

"Damned liberal media"

Reminds me of a recent KC Royals game - The Royals shut out the opposing team in 7 of the 9 innings played. However, all "the damned liberal media" could talk about were the 10 runs allowed in the first and five in the fifth.

Posted by: thethirdPaul on September 28, 2006 at 12:24 PM | PERMALINK

Was Vietnam that violent?

Actually, Slate.com did a study of the comparative rate of combat. However, this was two years ago, when the pace was slower, so things have only gotten much worse since then.

Iraq 2004 Looks Like Vietnam 1966: Adjusting body counts for medical and military changes. -- By Phillip Carter and Owen West

Posted Monday, Dec. 27, 2004, at 6:34 PM ET

...But a comparative analysis of U.S. casualty statistics from Iraq tells a different story. After factoring in medical, doctrinal, and technological improvements, infantry duty in Iraq circa 2004 comes out just as intense as infantry duty in Vietnam circa 1966and in some cases more lethal. Even discrete engagements, such as the battle of Hue City in 1968 and the battles for Fallujah in 2004, tell a similar tale: Today's grunts are patrolling a battlefield every bit as deadly as the crucible their fathers faced in Southeast Asia.

Economists like to quote statistics in "constant dollars," where they factor in historical inflation rates to produce statistics that allow for side-by-side comparison. Warfare is more complex than macroeconomics, but it is possible to produce a similar "apples to apples" comparison for casualties across conflicts....

The scale can be further balanced....Further, casualties in Iraq fall more heavily on those performing infantry missions. Riflemenas well as tankers and artillerymen who operate in provisional infantry units in Iraqbear a much higher proportion of the risk than they did in Vietnam....

That today's fighting in Iraq, by these calculations, may actually be more lethal than the street fighting in Vietnam should not be taken lightly....Military leaders should be mindful of this fact: To send infantrymen on their third rotations to Iraq this spring is akin to assigning a trooper three tours in Vietnam: harsh in 1966 and a total absurdity by 1968.

Critics of the war may use this analysis as one more piece of ammunition to attack the effort; some supporters may continue to refer to casualties as "light," noting that typically tens of thousands of Americans must die in war before domestic support crumbles. Both miss the point. The casualty statistics make clear that our nation is involved in a war whose intensity on the ground matches that of previous American wars. Indeed, the proportional burden on the infantryman is at its highest level since World War I.

Posted by: Stefan on September 28, 2006 at 12:25 PM | PERMALINK

i heard "turd blossom" tried to flush the story...

but it floated to the top..

anyway...


Posted by: mr. irony on September 28, 2006 at 12:40 PM | PERMALINK

WHAT TO WE EXPECT?

The story of Iraqi contract mis-spending has been one issue right after a another of corruption. From Halliburton, to today's article and YET the press NEVER ask about what happened to the old UN's "oil for food" program thus far, that one that Bush insisted on taking over while trashing the UN. NOT ONE WORD, NOT ONE INVESTIGATION, Nothing.


AND Josh Marshall has this up on site:

According to the Council on Foreign Relations, "NIE drafting guidelines included in the July 9 Senate report describe three rough timeframes: a "fast track" of two to three weeks, a "normal track" of four to eight weeks, and a "long track" of two months or more."

and what did Snow say when trying to deny the politics behind this NIE's delay? "These reviews take about a year to do ..."

Am I wrong to say he lied to you guys? I don't think I am.

Can we get this question asked again?

If Josh can find out that Tony Snow LIED, why can't the professional press find that out? You have to hand it to Josh Marshall - he's made an amazing news blog out of his site. And since journalist don't want to get off their duff and really do anyway - that who cares about the future of newspapers. I like hard hitting questions that go after both Democratic and Republican presidents but Bush is THE most press cuddled president in history and certainly that isn't anyones mere imagination.

Michael Duffy wrote in TIME magazine that the 9/11 difference between Bush and Clinton was nothing more than a childish squabble. But how could questions about an event as horrorable as 9/11 really be childish. I want the 9/11 discuss between Bill Clinton and Bush/Cheney released to public we have a right to this information and families of 9/11 victims have right to this information too.

And it seems to me that tht press would want that information too but you surely couldn't tell by Michael Duffy's response - shame on TIME magazine, a magazine that wants to pretend that 9/11 is one of those incidents best buried. Is TIME lossing Money? I could certainly see why.

Posted by: Cheryl on September 28, 2006 at 12:50 PM | PERMALINK

"Regimes planted by bayonets do not take root"

Ronald Reagan

Posted by: rrea on September 28, 2006 at 12:53 PM | PERMALINK

"History teaches that war begins when governments believe the price of aggression is cheap."

Ronald Reagan
Posted by: rrea on September 28, 2006 at 12:54 PM | PERMALINK

Wonderful...more money literally flushed down the toilet. The War in Iraq has cost a mere $300 billion thus far and look what great strides we are making. Failed contracts. "Insurgency." Etc.

Let us finally turn our sights toward a greater cause, the achievment of the UN Millenium Development goals. Maybe we, as a nation, can invest our next $300 billion in eradicating extreme global poverty, hunger and malnourishment.

The Borgen Project offers staggering side by side comparisons of how the US is spending and how the US ought to be spending. www.borgenproject.org

Posted by: Amy1022 on September 28, 2006 at 1:00 PM | PERMALINK

Stefan,

I think the last line is key, Indeed, the proportional burden on the infantryman is at its highest level since World War I.

And that was two years ago when the number of attacks per week, in August 2004, was 329. It is now almost 3x higher. And WWI was brief, and Bush still has years to go.

I'm still trying to locate some statistic for 'number of daily attacks in Vietnam'.

Posted by: cld on September 28, 2006 at 1:03 PM | PERMALINK

Amy1022, thank you for promoting the UN Millenium Development goals.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on September 28, 2006 at 1:12 PM | PERMALINK

What the Parsons story tells us is that the GOP is so incompetent they can't even flush money down the toilet any more.

Wait a minute . . . maybe it's the missing $4 billion in Iraq reconstruction money that's blocking up the pipes!

Posted by: pj in jesusland on September 28, 2006 at 1:22 PM | PERMALINK

Trashhauler: "Government contract officers and contract technical representatives (COTRs) are usually unaffected personally by their projects, so their interest can be widely variable, driven by the limits of their professionalism and dedication."

So, only government contracting officers and COTRs are responsible for ensuring private companies deliver what they contract to deliver? Doesn't that raise real issues with the claim that turning over existing government functions and activities to private companies will result in better services and products and lower prices?

Trashhauler [continuing]: "Parenthetically, think about that the next time someone suggests a Canadian style health care program. Remember that those who run such systems seldom have to live with the same limitations they deliberately impose on mere citizens."

How many senior executives of private US healthcare plans do you suppose obtain their medical care through the kinds of plans they to their customers?

Think about any government program that has been moved, or proposed to move, to the private sector and ask how many execs of the companies taking over those programs are subject to the rules they impose on the users of those programs.

The above are not specifically meant for Trashhauler but are intended for anyone who unequivocally buys the logic in the quoted comments.

Posted by: Paul E. Tickle on September 28, 2006 at 1:37 PM | PERMALINK

Paul-3 wrote: I thought there were rumors that the Mafia had their hands into trash hauling as well.


or - There's gold in that thar garbage.

Secular Animist - I know the shortcomings of this administration quite well, ie Bush does not have the best interests of this country at heart.

But I still cleave to the values that I grew up with and want them back, damnit. I dunno, maybe I'm getting old and cranky. Menopause should be headed down the pike any day now - pitty the Major if I get any more bitchy.

Posted by: Global Citizen on September 28, 2006 at 2:33 PM | PERMALINK

When reading such stories, I find myself questioning assessments that suggest that we have trained nearly 300,000 Iraqi troops. Here's the problem. If we began our occupation of Iraq with less than 200,000 American soldiers and no Iraqi security forces and we now have nearly 300,000 Iraqi troops along with over 140,000 U.S. soldiers, why can't we seem to bring order to the country and why does the death toll continue to alarm? Perhaps this story about the police academy, coupled with other failures, provides the answer to my question.

The Bush administration, under the guidance of Donald Rumsfeld, continues to ignore the realities being voiced by numerous former military officers and countless other war critics. It takes minimal analysis to posit that the lack of sufficient forces in the region also translates into a lack of supervision and oversight which then leads to these colossal failures.

Look, the reality is obvious...we have an administration that has miscalculated and mismanaged the Iraq war from the outset. There were no WMD's, we were not greeted as liberators, we didn't have a plan for securing the country once Hussein was toppled, we didn't have enough troops to achieve our objectives, we are in the midst of a civil war, and we are fomenting more extremism. Sadly, the only constant remains the unequivocal denial exhibited by our President and his assemblage of neocon associates.

Read more here:

www.thoughttheater.com

Posted by: Daniel DiRito on September 28, 2006 at 2:42 PM | PERMALINK

They're knee deep in big feces and the big fool says to push on.

Posted by: shortstop on September 28, 2006 at 2:58 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin--

Don't know if you'll read through all these damn comments you get--I didn't, at any rate. But was not Cheney's host(ess) on his ill-fated quail hunting expedition perhaps a lobbyist for Parsons? I'll confess I don't remember clearly, but it was certainly among Bechtel, Halliburton, Parsons, and possibly Fluor. In any event, do the research, publish, and take all the glory for yourself.

best regards.

Posted by: Scott Frew on September 28, 2006 at 5:06 PM | PERMALINK

Trashhauler:

> shortstop, much as we should admire the impulse to draw lessons
> from the news, it's going a bit too far to draw immensely broad
> conclusions from a temporary setback such as this.

Trashy, the only thing this makes me think of is that scene in
Dr. Strangelove when General Buck Turgidson (George C. Scott) is
in the War Room with President Merkin Muffley (Peter Sellers)
and the president, aghast, confronts him about the fail-safe
policy which let the literally insane Air Force base commander
General Jack D. Ripper (Sterling Hayden) act on his own volition
to launch a preemptive nuclear attack on the Soviet Union.

Buck Turgidson sez:

"Well, with all due respect, Mr. President, I hardly think it's
fair to condemn a whole program on the basis of one slip-up."

Heh. At least you're getting my sense of humor to come back a little.

Trashy my good friend, lemme 'splain this to ya. Others have
already made the point about how this malfeasance devolves to
an American contractor -- Parsons -- so it's hard to honestly
attribute it to the sins of "big government." Nor does "substandard
workmanship" begin to convey the extent of how FUBAR this is. This
is not your garden-variety $400 toilet seat procurement scandal.

This redounds directly to the core of our central effort in Iraq.

There's a general consensus that the Iraqi Army, for all its myriad
flaws, is moving along at a better clip than the police. And that
the police are thorougly corrupt and so infiltrated by sectarian
groups that many Iraqis don't trust them at all. That, in fact,
militias under color of police uniforms have been carrying out many
Saddam-level torture atrocities involving, ohh, acid and power tools.

Furthermore, it's universally acknowledged, whether by General Pace
or outside military experts, that it's a huge cramp in the style of
US troops, who have been trained in combat, to act as de-facto police
officers to keep civil order. And that the only way we'll be able
to leave Iraq is by restoring a semblance of civil order. So getting
an Iraqi police force up to speed that's relatively non-corrupt and
that the people trust may be even a bigger priority than the army,
which will take years not only to train but to support themselves.

It is also universally acknowledged that the biggest underlying
issue hindering this is a weak notion of Iraqi nationhood. So we
need the ISF to feel a stronger loyalty, not necessarily to the
government (because democracies can despise any given government) but
to the idea of Iraq itself, than to their tribal/sectarian loyalties.

So far, not even Donald Rumsfeld would disagree with any of this.

So what do we do, Trashy? We consider the building of a modern
*police academy* -- the place where Iraqi citizens have this notion
of pride in the nation of Iraq drilled into their heads, where
abstract Western ideas of human rights and the rule of laws over
the rule of tribal elders and religious figures must be inculcated
-- to be a project unworthy of serious consideration by DoD
procurement jockeys like yourself. Oh, this sort of thing is to
be expected, blah blah blah, what do you expect when the procurement
people are isolated from the people who do the work, etc. etc. etc.

So the contract isn't merely botched -- it's anally (heh) raped to
the point that these new recruits we're supposed to be instilling
loyalty and Iraqi pride into have turds literally dropping onto their
heads while sleeping in their barracks -- the place where they live
together in order to cultivate that all-important esprit de corps.

Symbolically, this is a disaster of epic proportions, Trashy.

And it is a tragedy of epic proportions that you -- a DoD
procurement guy -- seem so cynical and above-it-all about it.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on September 28, 2006 at 5:12 PM | PERMALINK

So the contract isn't merely botched -- it's anally (heh) raped to
the point that these new recruits we're supposed to be instilling
loyalty and Iraqi pride into have turds literally dropping onto their
heads while sleeping in their barracks -- the place where they live
together in order to cultivate that all-important esprit de corps.

What could possibly cause you to write something so awful? Is this how you express yourself in public?

Please don't think I'm prudish, but must you use the term "anally raped" to describe something? What an awful thing to say. And you put in a "heh" as if it's funny. Disgusting is what it is.

I agree with your points but your delivery is beyond the pale.

Posted by: diedre h on September 28, 2006 at 5:24 PM | PERMALINK

diedre h:

Well, if you feel so strongly about this, Diedre, I'd respectfully suggest that you write to our host Kevin about it. He's the one who sets (or doesn't set) the rules here. If you noticed, the entire thread was filled with references to the symbolic import of urine and feces as a metaphor for the Bush Administration's approach to Iraq.

If you find the metaphor of anal rape less then apt, I'm sorry, but it is hardly objectively-speaking beyond the pale. Metaphors of this sort are quite common, especially to glean insight into the psychological states of Republicans who seem to feel quite strongly about notions of dominance and submission in the political realm.

If you feel that anal rape is atrocious, then my point was precisely made. To build an Iraqi police academy with no plumbing to speak of which dumps ordure onto the faces of sleeping recruits is likewise atrocious.

The "(heh)" was to sardonicaly acknowledge the confluence of that particular metaphor with the the previous scatalogical ones.

Again, no sexual offense meant. Shock and horror, however, were entirely intentional.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on September 28, 2006 at 5:43 PM | PERMALINK

A riot going through these posts. Anyone who dares disagree with your pearls of wisdom is a troll.
No wonder we keep losing the elections.

Now on to actual debates with the adults.

Posted by: disgusted on September 28, 2006 at 6:04 PM | PERMALINK

rmck1 wrote: So the contract isn't merely botched -- it's anally (heh) raped ...

diedre h: Please don't think I'm prudish, but must you use the term "anally raped" to describe something?

I suspect that if rmck1 had used descriptions of the actual acts performed by US military personnel and contractors on Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib prison as a metaphor for the behavior of the contractor in this case, you would have found it even more disturbing, and understandably so. The US occupation of Iraq is an entirely hideous thing.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on September 28, 2006 at 6:29 PM | PERMALINK

MeLoseBrain? wrote:

(About the Iraqi police academy building corruption)

But this wasn't put "all in the hands of Uncle Sugar". Wasn't this an example of privatization? Isn't this what rightards crow about, allowing private companies to bid (haha) for the work?

Another example of failed conservative policy. The problem isn't giving the government responsibility, the problem was giving this administration the opportunity. No bids contracts with no congressional oversight and no follow-up. It's a war profiteer's dream.
_________________

Well, MeLoseBrain?, it's not really privatization, in that there is no government construction company to be privatized. It is normal to contract for such work and has been throughout our history. The GSA does it all the time.

As far as I know, this contract was not a "no bid" contract. In any event, the actual construction work was almost certainly subcontracted to Iraqi firms. The wonder isn't that the oversight was deficient (it clearly was), but that whoever plumbed the place actually thought they could get away with not connecting the pipes.

As far as Congressional oversight goes, it has never extended to watching things get built, so I don't know what more they could have done. Contract oversight is a function of federal acquisition rules (FARs) which are approved by Congress.

Finally, what makes anyone think the company has profited from their shoddy effort? They will almost certainly have to correct the deficiencies as well as pay penalties. In addition, the adverse post-contract reports that are required will go into the acquisition database, to be used for source selection anywhere in the world.

Posted by: Trashhauler on September 28, 2006 at 7:47 PM | PERMALINK

SecularAnimist wrote:

If there is any "moral" in this story it is not a "cautionary tale" about "relying overmuch on government", it is a "cautionary tale" about relying overmuch on corrupt war profiteering corporations.

The CEO and other principals of Parsons Corporation should be charged with defrauding the government, prosecuted, convicted and imprisoned.
_____________

What is the definition of a war profiteering corporation? I only ask because most companies who contract for services or goods expect to make a profit - just as they did in WWII.

The actual story didn't include any details that actually indicate any attempt to defraud on the part of Parsons. If there are such indications, I sincerely hope somebody gets prosecuted. But it is as likely that Parsons was the victim of shoddy subcontractors who actually failed to perform the work. That won't stop Parsons for being penalized in several ways, but it's a bit premature to assume criminal intent.

Posted by: Trashhauler on September 28, 2006 at 8:01 PM | PERMALINK
... Parsons was the victim of shoddy subcontractors... but it's a bit premature to assume criminal intent.: Trashhauler on September 28, 2006 at 8:01 PM
The US could have used Iraqi construction companies who would have been a lot cheaper and had the on-the-ground knowledge; but, as always when given the option, Bush chose the more expensive, politically connected American company. The history of reconstruction in Iraq is every bit as corrupt and shameful as the story of the reconstruction work being done in New Orleans. The prime contractor bears responsibility for oversight and for the work in general. Posted by: Mike on September 28, 2006 at 10:43 PM | PERMALINK


trashauler: The actual story didn't include any details that actually indicate any attempt to defraud on the part of Parsons.


so the 1-percent doctrine has its limits...hmmmm

Posted by: mr. irony on September 30, 2006 at 8:06 AM | PERMALINK




 

 

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