Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
December 22, 2006

WB: Rates of Return


Does Condi understand how many deaths, mutilations and wrecked lives lie behind her "investments" and "birth pangs"? Undoubtedly. Does she care?

Rates of Return

Posted by b on December 22, 2006 at 18:19 UTC | Permalink


The trick like usual is Sunk Costs.

To suggest to look at the investment already made to evaluate the future is crap in economic senses. What future investment does Rice anticipte?

Throwing good money after bad is a profoundly irrational action, and in the case of this war, a profoundly immoral one: we are justifying continued death by appeal to past deaths, deaths that we cannot by any future action render meaningful. If this were a purely economic question, then the business decision to continue to invest in a loser might lie in some prospects for a turnaround -- we might be able to get the money back, if things change.

But we can't get back dead soldiers and marines. We just can't. So why do we do this? Why do we persist in such irrational behavior? Well, like most things psychological, we don't know for sure. But there are a couple of good candidate explanations:

Posted by: b | Dec 22 2006 18:29 utc | 1

This seems ever so true. Condi seems detached from reality and appears to just move from one cocktail party to the next, and one tarmac greeting to the next, as she travels the world. Such elitism, or so it seems.

As "The Donald" Trump exclaimed a few months ago in an interview when asked about Condi Rice's ability as the SecState: (to paraphrase) She flys all over the world, and has all these meetings BUT what has ever come of those meetings?"

Posted by: SoandSo | Dec 22 2006 18:33 utc | 2

She likes shoes; lots of people like shoes.

Nice shoes are nice.

Posted by: American | Dec 22 2006 18:38 utc | 3

Thinking of costs, so far we've spent $350 billion on the war in Iraq

The cost of containing Saddam was $1 billion a year in comparison.

Of course before the war, the GOP line was that the cost of containing Saddam wasn't sustainable.

That's about all you need to know about the neo-con liars and frat boy President who brought us this war.

Posted by: David W. | Dec 22 2006 18:44 utc | 4

Rice's predecessor Madeleine Albright pronounced the death of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children from the sanctions regime "worth it".

Despicable excuses for human beings, these are.

Posted by: ran | Dec 22 2006 18:48 utc | 5

My thinking: the "sunk costs"are concrete costs that allow many people to survive. It is true that lives and money have been spent but they have been spent within an economic framework a framework of present realities that will be threatened or destroyed if certain actions are taken. NATO was supposed to be a defensive pact against the Soviet Union but once the Soviet Union disappeared newer threats were found, like Afghanistan that allow the bureaucracy of NATO to continue existing. The same is to be said of the military establishment and from that establishment flow all the jobs of the armament industry and from them the expenditure in housing and colleges and at the very end of funeral parlors. The sunken costs are present day realities, they are the architectonics of our society. The state metabolizes debt and grinds flesh and it continues to do so until the pain is so great, Petrograd 1917, that the whole edifice comes down to be replaced by another that follows precisely the same routine of exploitation that bring about the sinecures and benefices of those that eventually will be called the plutocrats. "leave out any hope you that enter"

Posted by: jlcg | Dec 22 2006 19:11 utc | 6

Sorry, Condi's a cold, heartless bitch. Occams razor on that one I'm afraid. (Although my friend swears she's a reptile.) Either is equally plausible I guess.

Posted by: Col. Klink | Dec 22 2006 21:00 utc | 7

On occasions when well informed angst and despair threatens to overwhelm; when news of fresh human horrors and ham-handed hubris give me cause to regret association with my human species; when stupidity seems certain to reign atop reality for forever and a day, I have a tonic, a simple means to remind myself of just who these people are.

It is a book, by Leon Goldensohn, a psychiatrist who was present at the Nuremberg Trials in 1946-48. The book is The Nuremberg Interviews -- a simple diary of conversations with all of the major Nazi officials and officers on trial for their crimes against humanity. He felt that a simple, human introduction to each of them might offer lessons to future generations.

In the pages of his diary I meet monsters like Condi Rice. Cold and calculating people, utterly insensitive, even oblivious, to the dripping blood and countless dead bodies left in their wake. Great and powerful people, unashamed and uncaring of the ashes of lives they've left behind.

In these pages I meet monsters as themselves, in their pajamas, locked away at last in a small room, torn away from the trappings and exercise of limitless power -- and they are the most banal, small, closed and grasping minds you can conceive of. They are clods; there is nothing remarkable about them.

These are the Titans? These are the temporal gods who disordered or dispatched the lives of fifty million people in less than a decade? They are nothing -- common, gray creatures concerned only with their comfort and their fate. Not scintillating, not even entertaining or amusing. Dull.

Even in the face of a dog's death by hanging, these people can no more look at their monumental guilt than they can accept it or answer for it. There is no pity awakened in them by public recitation or proof of their monstrous crimes. They carry no sense of connection or consequence. It is as if none of it ever happened, or ever touched them. And it is in that heedless, empty wasteland within, where mercy should be, that you meet the human monster.

Where the monster lives, nothing reaches. None of it, ever, touches them.

None of this day's murder and mayhem touches Condi. None of it is happening in her real world, where she lives. It is cold, distant and empty where she lives.

Yes, she is a temporal god in good shoes right now, dispatching more and more lives every day, part of the feeding frenzy, but not really present. She runs riot, in good shoes, worldwide.

When she is in a cell in the Hague, perhaps a year from now, and she is interviewed for posterity for whatever lessons it may offer to survivors of her management style, she will say the same self-centered, stupid, empty things I read in Leon's book. She will talk about her shoes.

Reading Leon's interviews uplifts me, odd as it sounds. It banishes fear. Despair cannot stick in the presence of these captured comets, these grounded gods, for one simply cannot shrink before such creatures as these.

Though they killed millions in their prime, and ruined ten times that number of lives, they are at the last nothing more than chicken farmers, clerks, salesmen, and thugs, hardly worth the rope it takes to hang them at the last.

This is what the neocons are made of. This is the wasteland they beckon us into.

Well, to hell with that . . .

What can possibly be the highest expression of a human being except humanity? What can possibly express a living soul better than mercy?

And what can possibly be the depths and dregs of human hell except the antiseptic absence of humanity?

Though the shades and shadows of hell on earth stalk behind her wherever she goes, Condi is as unaware of them as these little monsters of Nuremberg were, three score of years back.

She is not worthy of respect, fear, or deference in the least, no more than a chicken farmer or common crook. The only attention she deserves is that which moves her closer to her cell in the Hague, and her own date with the hangman.

I look forward to reading her last interview.

Posted by: Antifa | Dec 22 2006 21:18 utc | 8

Does she care?

Well, acting detached and catatonic after you have been forced to act as the C-section body double during the birth of an Aliens-like hydra-headed anti-Nation State is one thing.

But, apparently, Ms. Rice doesn't have much empathy for individuals who have been demonstrably wronged by her policies and 'processes' processes:

WASHINGTON — Canada's unequivocal assurance that Maher Arar poses no threat isn't enough to persuade the Bush administration to erase his name from a terrorist watch list, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Thursday, but she did agree to review the case.

“You do have to understand that the United States has to follow its own processes and has to come to its own conclusion,” she said yesterday after Foreign Affairs Minister Peter MacKay tried, and failed, to get her to clear Mr. Arar's name.

Although perhaps we should cut Madame De La Valdez some slack. After all, those 'processes' sure have led to some spot-on conclusions so far.


Posted by: RossK | Dec 22 2006 21:52 utc | 9

Antifa - If Condi's cell is at the Hague, she will not face the hangman - Europe is too civilized for capital punishment. If, however, she and the rest of the Bush Gang/Cheney Administration get the fair trial they deserve here in the U.S. of A., with all the trimmings - defense lawyers, right to confront the witnesses against them, etc. etc. etc. - and then, if and only if they are found guilty (as if there were any doubt) - my dream is a ceremonial firing squad in the White House Rose Garden, with Marines in dress uniforms, the Army Band playing a funeral march, and so on. Do it at dawn and televise it worldwide.

Posted by: mistah charley | Dec 22 2006 23:09 utc | 10

@Antifa #8:


Their (the PTB) actions are dragging us into an infinitely small corner of this infinitely big universe. To them, the Little Corner seems infinite...their New Frontier. But it is similar to the trap that network news junkies fall into, that there are infinite variations on murder and mayhem, but that murder and mayhem are such an infinitely small part of what it is to be Human. Those countless (COUNTLESS!!!) other Little Corners in our universe have awaited our explorations, and the actions of these simpletons have permanently locked so many doors. But, as you say, don't despair! All those other uncountable doors to Little Corners are still accessible.

In a sense, Condi is right. Our lives are fairly inconsequential in comparison to the infinite. It's just such a tragedy that circumstance holds many of those Little Corners 'forever' (comparatively) from our (we-in-this-time) grasp.

Posted by: Dr. Wellington Yueh | Dec 22 2006 23:14 utc | 11


thank you


Posted by: remembereringgiap | Dec 22 2006 23:17 utc | 12

Maybe Condi is just a cold, heartless bitch -- as morally numb and sociopathic as her office husband. But these kinds of comments could also simply reflect the incredibly sheltered life Madame Supertanker appears to have led, especially since she entered the pampered, intersecting worlds of the academic, national security and corporate elites.
"Condyloma" Rice is the classical overachiever. She is totally lost, having gone way past her level of compentency. As a teacher I have seen students get a panicky, shifty-eyed look when asked a question that they could not answer. I have seen her get the same look several times. She is way over her head.

Posted by: Roland Stroud | Dec 23 2006 2:40 utc | 13

Does she care?


(oh, and I love your piece, Antifa, except for the chicken farmers remark - some chicken farmers, probably most of them, are fine people.)

Posted by: Susan | Dec 23 2006 3:56 utc | 14

A young couple are heading home after a long hike in the wilderness and come to a fast flowing stream. Understanding that any attempt to cross the water would be dangerous they hesistate. As they look up they see a man, well built and fairly large, on the other bank. The man shouts, "do you guys want to cross the water?". Yes, but it looks dangerous, replied the young man. "Don't worry", says the big man as he jumps in the water and swims over. "Jump on my back and I'll carry you accross". The couple hangs on to his shoulders as the man swims to the other end. On reaching the other end the large man throws the young man to the ground, fucks him in the butt and then lets them go. The young man is in pain, upset, and embarrased but doesn't say anything as they head home. The young lady is embarrased but can't figure out what to say. After a while they come to another fast flowing stream. Once again there is another large man on the otherside with an offer. They cross the river on his shoulders and when they get to the otherside, once again the young man is raped by the large man and then let go. Now the young guys is really in pain, upset and, cursing as they walk. In a while they come to another stream and yet again there is a large man on the otherside with an offer to help. Once again they cross the river on the large man's shoulders, and once again the young man is raped by the large man and then let go. Finally the young lady says, "honey, I am really sorry that this happened to you. I understand your pain, and know how you feel. In the beginning it used to be really painfull for me too but then I got used to it and now I even enjoy it. Don't be too hard on yourself. There are still a couple more streams to cross before we get home and who knows, by the time we get home you may start enjoying it too!"


Posted by: Max Andersen | Dec 23 2006 7:00 utc | 15

Antifa - eloquent as always.

Posted by: Jérôme | Dec 23 2006 14:49 utc | 16

The powers of marketing that have allowed such an unsympathetic and creepy-crawly group to hold power in the US for so long are truly awesome. Condi, W, Rove, Cheney - these are people who bristle with the clues that human evolution has equipped us to detect and to be repelled by.

Posted by: citizen k | Dec 23 2006 15:51 utc | 17

If Condi cared, she wouldn’t have the job she has.

Her apparent incapacity to grasp anything at all and to scoot along mouthing inanities is quite disconcerting, and would be seen as pathological in other positions, such as head of the World Girl Guides or executive director of Stop ‘n Shop, or anything that required some organizational and social skills, not to mention knowledge about badges or beets. This woman is the Paris Hilton of politics. Vapid, yet loyal, that is the point I suppose. She is a sort of robotic place holder, the crony supreme, in an environment that is regulated by personalia and corruption; adulation, a show of false punchy independence, Ferragamo shoes, will get her through.

The question is: how did she get to be what she is? Why don’t Americans boo here anytime she says something? The Nazi comparison, its little daily posturings (Antifa) is good, but how far does it go? We conclude that Americans are ‘good Germans’ and that happy-christmas-ribbon submission to cruelty and horror is historically inevitable?

I hope not.

Posted by: Noirette | Dec 23 2006 16:15 utc | 18

some more career interested people:

Generals: More troops needed in Iraq

Top U.S. military commanders in Iraq have decided to recommend a "surge" of fresh American combat forces, eliminating one of the last remaining hurdles to proposals being considered by President Bush for a troop increase, a defense official familiar with the plan said Friday.

The approval of a troop increase plan by top Iraq commanders, including Gen. George W. Casey Jr. and Lt. Gen. Raymond T. Odierno, comes days before Bush unveils a new course for the troubled U.S. involvement in Iraq.
Commanders have been skeptical of the value of increasing troops, and the decision represents a reversal for Casey, the highest-ranking officer in Iraq. Casey and Gen. John P. Abizaid, the top commander in the Middle East who will step down in March, have long resisted adding troops in Iraq, arguing that it could delay the development of Iraqi security forces and increase anger at the United States in the Arab world.

The defense official said commanders had not determined the exact number of extra troops they would request.
Some members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff remain skeptical of a surge, unconvinced that it will yield more positive results than other recent military operations to secure Baghdad or Iraq.
Those skeptical about the efficacy of an increase argue that any new troops must be given clear instructions. However, defense officials say the U.S. commanders in Iraq have not settled on what that mission should be, although they are expected to decide before calling up new units.
Some officials remain concerned that the command in Iraq has not drafted a new battle plan or begun to develop new operations. These officials worry that even with extra troops, the American forces will continue using existing tactics, which have failed to stem sectarian violence.
"If it is a surge to take on Sadr, that is one size. If it is to do something else, that is another size surge," said the military official.
Gen. James T. Conway, the new commandant of the Marine Corps and a member of the Joint Chiefs, emphasized the drawbacks of adding troops in public comments last week.

"We would fully support, I think, as the Joint Chiefs, the idea of putting more troops into Iraq if there is a solid military reason for doing that, if there is something to be gained," he said. "We do not believe that just adding numbers for the sake of adding numbers — just thickening the mix — is necessarily the way to go."

No idea on strategy, no idea what number of troops, no unity - but the decider decided to escalate and thereby escalation will happen ...

Posted by: b | Dec 23 2006 16:28 utc | 19

Except for the tragedy, it is laughable. "More troops." "What are they going to do?"

Actual quote from Bernhard's link above Los Angeles Times: "...defense officials say the U.S. commanders in Iraq have not settled on what that mission should be, although they are expected to decide before calling up new units.
These officials worry that even with extra troops, the American forces will continue using existing tactics, which have failed to stem sectarian violence.
"If it is a surge to take on Sadr, that is one size. If it is to do something else, that is another size surge," said the military official. [defense official familiar with the plan]
"We do not believe that just adding numbers for the sake of adding numbers — just thickening the mix — is necessarily the way to go." [commandant of the Marine Corps]

No kidding. Of course we know he is out of the loop. Bandar, Cheney, Bush even are in the loop. Who else?

Posted by: jonku | Dec 24 2006 7:35 utc | 20>Helena Cobban finds that the throw Sadr off the bus scheme has been foiled by the spoiler al-Sistani. Who says the UIA should not be fractured by cutting Muqtada out, and now even SCIRI seems to endorse the idea calling for the Sadr people to rejoin the government. From another source, Sadr has apparently seen his own significant"surge" in popularity generated by the whole escapade.

So much for that brilliant idea.

Kinda screws up the immediate assumed need for more troops, just when the great decider found enough generals to back up the "plan" -- he must be freaking furious. Furious enough to do something REALLY and even more stupid?


Posted by: anna missed | Dec 24 2006 8:40 utc | 21

Here's another>brilliant idea that has run amok:

CAMP SPEICHER, IRAQ — When Gunnery Sgt. Scott Stalker, one of 5,000 U.S. military advisors in Iraq, arrived at this sprawling base last spring, he was training 80 Iraqi soldiers to fire and maintain their rifles.

Now his class is down to 25.

"It almost feels like 'What are we here for?' " the Marine told Brig. Gen. Dana Pittard, the Army officer sent to Iraq in June to overhaul the Pentagon's military advisor program. "Now the philosophy is 'Train who's there.' "

Pittard has been visiting teams at bases across Iraq recently, checking their progress. Other advisors told him similar stories. Progress is slow. Corruption and fuel shortages are endemic. And 75% of Iraqi soldiers don't show up for duty.
Sitting with the team in a plywood office, Winn said the Iraqi border patrol officers claim they're afraid to work, then on payday claim they're braving militias. "It became an Abbott and Costello routine — who's on first?" Winn said.

Pittard has said publicly that he thinks the advisors will prepare Iraqis to take over security from U.S. forces in March, and that expanding the teams will allow them to fix logistical and security problems. But Winn, the team leader, said he didn't expect Iraqis to be prepared to take control next spring, or even the one after.

"We're still at the point where if we're not there, trash accumulates, nobody's shaving or wearing uniforms, and we're back where we started," Winn said.

"What would happen if you left now?" Pittard asked.

"They would go right back to where they were within a month," Winn said.
"We're struggling with what's the way ahead," Greene said.

Before leaving the border patrol team, Pittard asked what advice they would offer advisors scheduled to replace them next spring. The group fell silent, trading glances. Jose Zavala, a Marine out of Camp Lejeune, N.C., finally spoke up.

"Patience," he said.

Patience, for a second coming, I surmise. Or riding The Endless Wave of delusion.

Posted by: anna missed | Dec 24 2006 9:36 utc | 22

Pittard asked what advice they would offer advisors scheduled to replace them next spring. The group fell silent, trading glances. Jose Zavala, a Marine out of Camp Lejeune, N.C., finally spoke up.

"Patience," he said.

I imagine Jose wanted to "advise" the General that the war is an unfunny joke and that they all ought to go home.

The General's question was pro-forma. He didn't want advice from Winn, whatever his rank, of from Gunnery Sargeant Scott Stalker, and all the troops certainly knew that.

The troops know full well that the Iraqis they are "training" are there to collect paychecks until the occupiers leave.

The Iraqis are training the Americans to pay them, on their own terms. And when the Americans leave they will do their best to become Iraqis again, to survive their gamble for pay.

"Patience" is what the Marines need all right.

They need the patience to wait for their fellow Americans back home to make it impossible for the present criminal regime to keep them in Iraq, to bring them home.

Posted by: John Francis Lee | Dec 24 2006 10:35 utc | 23

the Iraqi's by now are too well aware that its a game of "divide & rule". Hence, there was never a chance that the other Shia could be turned against Sadr.

who comes up with these ideas anyways ? Only further adds to the appearance of delusion.

Posted by: jony_b_cool | Dec 24 2006 15:07 utc | 24

anna missed #21

when i first heard about the second sistani visit i breathed a sigh of relief. there was alot riding on it after the previous oneframed in the nyt w/the rediculous heading of "Top Shiite Cleric Is Said to Favor a Coalition for Iraq" yet when you read the piece it relys on such flimsy statements such as

Perhaps resigned to the frailties of Shiite politics, Ayatollah Sistani has not made any recent public statements urging Shiite unity,

the whole piece is stuffed w/unsupported claims sistani is supportive of this 'moderate' us/maliki coalition based on statements by 'intermediaries'.

the latimes report includes

Shiite politicians often meet with Sistani and spin his words to fit their political agendas. Most of those at the meeting with Sistani on Saturday were members of the Dawa Party, which is close to the Sadr bloc. After meeting Sistani, they went to see Sadr at his home nearby.

this to me suggests to the reader this report may be 1/2 truths. there must be a lot of pressure to play up the moderates and downgrade the unity guys from the msm.

Posted by: annie | Dec 24 2006 18:50 utc | 25

Does Condi understand how many deaths, mutilations and wrecked lives lie behind her "investments" and "birth pangs"? Undoubtedly. Does she care?

No. Not really, no.

Posted by: Austin Cooper | Dec 27 2006 1:42 utc | 26

The comments to this entry are closed.