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Jun 28, 2006

Plenty Of Energy For The Picture -- If Not Much Juice Besides


In his June 14th Rose Garden remarks following his trip to Baghdad, George Bush stated that America was establishing new "benchmarks" for progress in Iraq.  Besides improving security, boosting oil production, training judges, providing economic advice and helping check corruption, one of the most important objectives was to increase electricity output.

If there is one area where progress has been dismal, it's energy. As Media Matters reports, the Administration has tried to spin the fact the situation has improved.  To the extent power production meets or exceeds pre-war levels, however, the shortfall has increased dramatically given the rapid rise in demand.

Studying the Administration's latest propaganda offensive on Iraq, the so-called momentum Bush has generated seems largely confined to wishful thinking, policy spin and strategic photo ops.

Take this dog-and-pony show at the new Baghdad South Power Plant on June 2nd, for example.  The pictures, featuring (from right to left above) Iraqi Electricity Minister Karim Waheen, U.S. Ambassador Khalilzad and  Prime Minister Maliki, look quite energetic, keeping with the "we've turned the corner" theme now coming from the Repubs.

In his remarks to the press, however, Mr. Waheen was less than encouraging.  Reviewing the situation in Baghdad, power remains limited to eight hours per day -- with two hours on followed by four hours off.  Even more devastating, Waheen said that Iraq would require a foreign investment of $20 billion to resuscitate its power industry -- this coming at a point at which the U.S. is scaling back reconstruction funds.

Given the p.r. value, its no wonder the photo above (consistent with most taken that day) is centered around the U.S. Ambassador.  (Just to heighten the self-consciousness, notice how Waheen stares toward the camera, as if too mindful of its role.)


Also, notice this pic of Waheen making a presentation to the Prime Minister.  Given  Khalilzad's boredom and the "stage crew"-like stationing of the workers (as contrasted with the rapt engagement of what looks like a reporter), you wonder if these guys feel like actors in a commercial for the occupation.

(image 1 & 2: Ali Haider/Reuters.  Baghdad June 2, 2006.  Via YahooNews.)


Khalilzad is so unappealing, I think the Almighty in His wisdom placed him on this earth to give us meritorious points for just looking at him.
He's always had a waxy demeanor, but the second picture he looks like a Madame Tussaud experiment. His features are grotesque because they are so big: the ears, the nose. How dioes it feel to have so much money with all that death around? History will remember him as another vulture.

Are these flowers in the back ground?


I know I shouldn't do this - but talking about stage sets, fellow Baggers, check the Israeli assault on Gaza photos - the BBC has a collection. The White House should save them as templates!

There's something very opening-of-Reservoir-Dogs about that first photo...

"Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right, here I am, stuck in the middle with you..."

Is that Elliot Gould in the shades?

Oh, sorry.

It's Tony Bennett.

Top photo: Men in suits + men in hardhats + rows and rows of intact bricks and smokestacks + clean streets + blue skies = real progress in Iraq.

According to the linked article, this is a *new* power plant. This is what new looks like? Is it even "on"? Can't tell if those are clouds or wisps of smoke, but the plant looks closed for the day. But anyway, when insurgents are blowing up transmission towers at a rate of two a day (see link to article below), it doesn't really matter if it's new or old, on or off. Of course Baghdad Burning provides a real-person take on the electricity situation there.

Bottom photo: Men in suits + men in hardhats + a computer + electric lights = real progress in Iraq.

Beware of nice round numbers that float in the air like a $20 billion balloon. Here's an informative if very long article about the power reconstruction throughout Iraq from the IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers). I haven't yet done the math from the figures given in the piece, but I'm pretty sure $20 billion will easily float away.

What do these photos show?
The few people who are well fed and protected in Iraq, while the rest of the Iraqi population is doomed to follow the Fallujah genocide, next is Ramadi...

Our electricity goes off occasionally because the house is old, and also because there's construction on the house next door, and they sometimes hit a cable. Within minutes, it gets VERY hot, and I always wonder how the people in Iraq can deal with it so much of the time. Also, when there's no electricity, there's no water, because it comes by way of a pump. I think that's the same in Baghdad (and in Gaza, where Israel just bombed the only power plant).

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