Deuce of Clubs Book Club: Books of the Weak

To Deuce of Clubs index page

I'm a Lebowski, You're a Lebowski

Guy Debord: Revolutionary

No Place to Hide

Command of Office

The Christ-Myth Theory And Its Problems

The Christian Delusion

Lincoln's Wrath

How to Do Nothing with Nobody All Alone by Yourself

The Sexy Book of Sexy Sex


Zombie Spaceship Wasteland

Catching the Big Fish

Dig Infinity

The True Adventures of the Rolling Stones

Crazy for God

Basin and Range

Anarchy Evolution

The File

John Ringo

The Supremes

End the Fed

Burning Book

The Hohokam Millenium

God's Middle Finger


In Heaven Everything Is Fine

The Shunning

Wisdom Sits in Places

The Marvelous Country

Hamilton's Curse

The Secret Life of Houdini

The Trouble with Being Born

Schulz and Peanuts

First Into Nagasaki

Joe Miller's Jests

Human Smoke

Dirty Tricks Cops Use

A Futile and Stupid Gesture

All For A Few Perfect Waves


Death in the Desert

American Signs

Secret Proceedings and Debates of the Constitutional Convention

Secrets Of A Stingy Scoundrel

The Self-Made Tapestry

A Constitutional History of Secession

The Neurotic's Notebook

Interrogation Machine

Monster Midway

The Harlot by the Side of the Road

Forced Into Glory

Imperial Life in the Emerald City

J. G. Ballard: Quotes

The Compleat Practical Joker

Laugh with Hugh Troy


A Liar's Autobiography


Chasing Rainbows

Letters from Tucson, 1925-1927

The Five Fosters

The Giant Cactus Forest and Its World

How to Cheat Your Friends at Poker

World Famous Cults & Fanatics

That's Not All, Folks!

God's Problem

Will Christ Return By 1988?

Fragments of an Anarchist Anthropology

The Whiskey Rebellion

FDR's Folly

Wilson's War

Bully Boy

[If] I Did It

The Dark Side

Secret Origins of the Bible


The End of Faith

Why I Became An Atheist

"Life's Calendar for 1922"

Churchill, Hitler, and the Unnecessary War

The Negro Cowboys


Monty Python Speaks

Baseball Between the Numbers

The Psychopath's Bible


J. G. Ballard: Conversations

Days of War, Nights of Love

Gospel Fictions and Who Wrote the Gospels?

The Real Deadwood


The Revolution: A Manifesto


The Secret Man

Stormin' Mormon

From Psyche to Soma

I'll Gather My Geese

The Osama bin Laden I Know

Alias "Paine"

A Man Without Words

The Wild Trees

The World Without Us

Arizona's Changing Rivers

The Phoenix Indian School

Realm of the Long Eyes

John Dillinger: The Life and Death of America's First Celebrity Criminal

Buckey O'Neill: The Story of a Rough Rider

Thanks For Tuning In

Adventures in the Apache Country

Waylon: An Autobiography

My Life: Sunrise to Sunset

Mimes and Miners: A Historical Study of the Theater in Tombstone

The First 100 Years: A History of Arizona Blacks

Enter Without Knocking

City in the Sun: The Japanese Concentration Camp at Poston, Arizona

House by the Buckeye Road

Vanished Arizona

The Big Con

The Astronomy Cafe and Back to the Astronomy Cafe

A Handbook on Hanging

The Sinner's Guide to the Evangelical Right

A Mind Restored

Mr. Show: What Happened?!

Reclaiming the American Revolution

Stumbling On Happiness

Treasure Maps of the Superstitions

Sunny Slope

Did Genesis Man Conquer Space?

Look Homeward, America

Radicals for Capitalism

Kayaker's Little Book of Wisdom

God Is Not Great

The Echoing Green

The Secret Life of the Lonely Doll

K Foundation Burn a Million Quid

The Facts of Life and Other Dirty Jokes and The Tao of Willie

Just Six Numbers and Our Cosmic Habitat

Wild Goose Chronicles

Behind Bars: Surviving Prison

Silent Night: The Story of the World War I Christmas Truce

The Gang They Couldn't Catch


A History of the End of the World

Al Sieber: Chief of Scouts

Apaches & Longhorns

Deep Survival




Bo: Pitching & Wooing

You Are Worthless

You And Your Hand

Access All Areas

Field Guide to the Apocalypse

The War on Terrorism

Those Idiots From Earth

September 11: An Oral History

Mortal Questions

The Heresy of Self-Love

The White Flag Principle

Medieval Panorama

An Honest President

Those Words

À rebours

Peterson's Incident Report Book

Boo! Culture, Experience, and the Startle Reflex

Victory Denied

Nothing, Arizona

A Porcine History of Philosophy and Religion

O Holy Cow!: The Selected Verse of Phil Rizzuto


¿Hablas conmigo

Thirty-three Candles

Black Monk Time

Men of Distinction

Alexander the Corrector

Space Viking

Mark These Men

Hallucinogenic Plants

Prohibition: An Adventure in Freedom

JESUS! He's Our President


How to Watch Football on Television

Merrill Markoe's Guide to Love

Lincoln: The Man and The Car

Whatever Men Know About Women

Biographies of Italian War Heroes

ABC of Espionage

Art Colony Perverts


Starting Right with Bees

Planet Earth is a Cult

Baseball Letters


Dopey Doings

Democracy: The God That Failed

Handgrenade Talk

Hi, How Are You?

het zingen van het ijs

The Museum of Jurassic Technology Jubilee Catalogue

The Rector and the Rogue

Colorful Cacti of the American Deserts

Odd Jobs: The World of Deviant Work

The Hungry Man's Outdoor Grill Cookbook

How to Get Invited to the White House

How to Work for a Jerk

Never Work for a Jerk!

The Mentality of Apes

Your Vigor for Life Appalls Me

Dr. Strange: Sorceror Supreme

Nautical Notions for Nibbling

A Short Introduction to the History of Human Stupidity

The Fake Revolt

Coup D'Etat

History of the Town of Felicity

Hood of Death

Dolls' House Bathrooms: Lots of Little Loos

Border Security / Anti-Infiltration Operations

Living on Light

God is for Real, Man

Did the Apostle Paul Visit Britain?

Twin Peaks


Power Phrases

The Truth About Wagner

The Life of the Bee


Science Looks at Smoking

The Chiricahuas

The New Dark Ages Conspiracy

The Big Question

Everybody's Book of Epitaphs

The Death of the Fuhrer


Gorbachev! Has the Real Antichrist Come?

The World's Worst Poet

Alyssa Milano: She's the Boss

Home is the Desert

Nine Lives: From Stripper to Schoolteacher

How to Start Your Own Country

How to Found Your Own Religion

Sex Objects in the Sky

Indian Oratory

Bastard Without Portfolio

The Bedside Book of Bastards

Hopeless -- Yet There Is Hope

Bible in Pocket, Gun in Hand

Margie Asks WHY

Death of a Hippie

Wake Up or Blow Up

Feeling and Form


A Mile in His Moccasins

Mojave Desert Ramblings

Passing of the Outhouse

This Way to Happiness

The Happy Life

Young Only Once

The Monkey Gland Affair

Bert Bacharach's Book for Men

The Two Babylons

For Good and Evil: The Impact of Taxes...

Why Christians Crack Up!

Why Do Christians Break Down?

Hava Nagila!

Beethoven or Bust

How to Abandon Ship

Livin' in Joe's World

The Last Democrat

Salvation Mountain

The Varmint and Crow Hunter's Bible

Love in the Western World

Jack the Ripper: Light-Hearted Friend

Little Men of the NFL

No One May Ever Have The Same Knowledge Again

The Secret Museum of Mankind

James Bond's World of Values

We Did Not Plummet Into Space

The Boy Who Didn't Believe IN CHRISTMAS

The Great Escape From Your Dead-End Job

All About Tipping

My Loser Godfrey

A Haircut in Horse Town

Mucusless Diet Healing System

Jefferson Returns

Lincoln Returns

Churchill Returns

Corporation Freak

Null Bock auf DDR

So You're Going on a Mission?

Nudes in My Camera

Why I Hate the Nazis

Flesh, Metal & Glass

The James Beard Cookbook

Mortal Refrains


Amy Grant: A Biography

The X Cars

We Were Five

Mr. Wilson's Cabinet of Wonder

Hello ... Wrong Number

I'll Kill You Next!

Murder in Vegas

Did MAN Just Happen?

Terror at the Atlanta Olympics

Criswell Predicts

Your Next Ten Years

They Pay Me to Catch Footballs

The Phantom Menace

Just For Fellows

The Lopsided Gal

Astrology and Horse Racing

The Cokesbury Stunt Book

The Origin of Things

Remarks on the History of Things

U.S. Government Sewing Book

Funeral Tributes II

Blinky, the Friendly Hen

The Serbs Choose War

My Mystery Castle


Funeral Customs the World Over

The Right to be Let Alone

Mormonism and the Negro

The Church and the Negro

Preacher with a Billy Club

Fighting Parson of the Old West

Invisibility: Mastering the Art of Vanishing

How to Disappear Completely

The Gentle Art of Making Enemies

How to Catch a Man, How to Keep a Man, How to Get Rid of a Man

Langenscheidts Konversationsbuch

Marlene Dietrich's ABC

The Bible in the Hands of Its Creators

Imperial Life in the Emerald City

Rajiv Chandrasekaran (2006)


His agitation grew as he spoke. Then he fell silent, staring at the pool and puffing away. After a moment, he turned to me, his face grave, and said, I'm a neoconservative who's been mugged by reality." (6)

None of the succulent tomatoes or the crisp cucumbers grown in Iraq made it into the salad bar. U.S. government regulations dictated that everything, even the water in which hot dogs were boiled, be shipped in from approved suppliers in other nations. Milk and bread were trucked in from Kuwait, as were tinned peas and carrots. The breakfast cereal was flown in from the United States—made-in-the-USA Fruit Loops and Frosted Flakes at the breakfast table helped boost morale. (9)

The kitchen, which had once prepared gourmet meals for Saddam, had been converted into an institutional food-processing center, with a giant deep fryer and bathtub-size mixing bowls. Halliburton had hired dozens of Pakistanis and Indians to cook and serve and clean, but no Iraqis. Nobody ever explained why, but everyone knew. They could poison the food.
The Pakistanis and the Indians wore white button-down shirts with black vests, black bow ties, and white paper hats. The Kuwaiti subcontractor who kept their passports and exacted a meaty profit margin off each worker also dinned into them American lingo. When I asked one of the Indians for French fries, he snapped: "We have no French fries here, sir. Only freedom fries." (10-11)

Whatever could be outsourced was. The job of setting up town and city councils was performed by a North Carolina firm for $236 million. The job of guarding the viceroy was assigned to private guards, each of whom made more than $1,000 a day. For running the palace—cooking the food, changing the light bulbs, doing the laundry, watering the plants—Halliburton had been handed hundreds of millions of dollars. (14)

Open spaces became trailer parks with grandiose names. CPA staffers unable to snag a room at the al-Rasheed lived in Poolside Estates. Cole and his fellow Halliburton employees were in Camp Hope. The Brits dubbed their accommodations Ocean Cliffs. At first, the Americans felt sorry for the Brits, whose trailers were in a covered parking garage, which seemed dark and miserable. But when the insurgents began firing mortars into the Green Zone, everyone wished they were in Ocean Cliffs. The envy increased when Americans discovered that the Brits didn't have the same leaky trailers with plastic furniture supplied by Halliburton; theirs had been outfitted by lkea. (15-16)

My favorite was the JJ Store for Arab Photos, the Iraqi version of those Wild West photo booths at Disneyland: you could get a picture of yourself in Arab robes and a headdress. (19)

One morning, as a throng of Shiite pilgrims jostled their way inside the Imam Kadhim shrine in northern Baghdad, a suicide bomber detonated his explosives belt. A second bomber waited around the corner and set off his belt when survivors ran away from the first blast. Then a third bomber blew himself up. And a fourth. (22)

Those Iraqis on the inside knew they had great jobs—they earned as much as ten times more than the average Iraqi civil servant—and they weren't about to risk their paycheck by complaining about the occupation or informing the Americans that their plans were foolhardy. Instead, they heaped praise on their masters, telling them everything they wanted to hear and minimizing any bad news.
A few thousand other Iraqis lived inside the Green Zone, in bungalows along tree-lined streets between the palace and the al-Rasheed. They were a mix of Sunnis and Shiites who had bad jobs in the palace before the war but were too low in the ranks of the Baath Party to flee or wind up in American custody. They traveled outside the walls all the time, to work, to shop, to see relatives. Some of them even spoke English, and had Americans in the palace offered to listen to them, they would have heard an unvarnished description of life in the real Baghdad. But except for the odd, adventurous CPA staffer, most Americans didn't bother seeking out their Iraqi neighbors. (27)

Someone mentioned the State Company for Batteries, whose factory and adjoining offices on a quiet side street in northern Baghdad had not been ransacked. When Americans inquired why the factory had been spared, ministry officials laughed and said that the batteries were so poorly made, even the looters didn't want them. (52)

Clothes handed over to the military's laundry service, run by Kellogg, Brown & Root, a Halliburton subsidiary, were returned after two weeks, if at all. Instead of finding a laundry in Baghdad or hiring Iraqis to wash items by hand, KBR sent the garments to Kuwait. (56)

The atmosphere was thick with sexual tension. At the bar, there were usually ten men to every woman. With tours of duty that sometimes stretched to six months without a home leave, some with wedding rings began to refer to themselves as "operationally single." (63)

The men joked about it too. They claimed to know someone who knew someone who was on a British Royal Air Force flight to Kuwait where the pilot announced, "Ladies and gentlemen, we're exiting Iraqi airspace. Ladies, you are no longer beautiful." (64)

"I'm not here for the Iraqis," one staffer said. "I'm here for George Bush."
When Gordon Robison, a staffer in the Strategic Communications office, opened a care package from his mother to find a book by Paul Krugman, a liberal New York Times columnist, people around him stared. "It was like I had just unwrapped a radioactive brick," he recalled. (92)

O'Beirne's staff asked questions in job interviews that could have gotten an employer in the private sector hauled into court. (The Pentagon was exempted from most employment regulations because they hired people—using an obscure provision in federal law—as temporary political appointees.) (103)

A Coalition Provisional Authority press briefing.
DATE: February 25, 2004.
SETTING: Conference Room Three, Baghdad Convention Center.
BRIEFERS: CPA spokesman Daniel Senor and Brigadier General Mark Kimmitt.
QUESTION (in Arabic from an Iraqi journalist): General Kimmitt, the sound of American helicopters, which fly so low to the ground, is terrifying young children, especially at night. Why do you insist on flying so low and scaring the Iraqi people?
GENERAL KIMMITT: What we would tell the children of Iraq is that the noise they hear is the sound of freedom. Those helicopters are in the air to provide safety, provide security. Certainly our helicopter pilots do not fly at an altitude intentionally to distract the children of Iraq. They're there for their safety. They're there for their protection. And just as my wife, who is a schoolteacher, tells the children they're sitting in the classroom that, when they hear the artillery rounds go off at Fort Bragg, she says, "Children, that's the sound of freedom." They seem to be quite pleased with that explanation. We would recommend that you tell the same thing to the children of Iraq, that that helicopter noise you hear above you ensures that they don't have to worry for the future. (144)

The pair named their firm Custer Battles LLC, which drew snickers in Iraq. Custer told people he was a distant relation of George Custer, the general who was famously trounced at the Battle of the Little Bighorn. When Americans noted that Custer the general was defeated by the locals, Custer the contractor didn't have a good comeback. (156)

Agresto knew next to nothing about Iraq's educational system. Even after he was selected, the former professor didn't read a single book about Iraq. "I wanted to come here with as open a mind as I could have," he said. ''I'd much rather learn firsthand than have it filtered to me by an author."
His training from the Defense Department was no more extensive. "They taught me how to put on a gas mask, how to set the helmet snug, how to button up your flak jacket," he said. "That's it."
None of that fazed him. The televised images of Iraqis cheering as the statue of Saddam was toppled in Firdaus Square seemed like the Middle Eastern version of the Berlin Wall coming down. "Once you see that, you can't help but say, Okay. This is going to work," Agresta said. (189)

The result was a Governing Council that had strict quotas: thirteen Shiite Arabs, five Sunni Arabs, five Sunni Kurds, one Christian, and one Turkmen. To some Iraqis, who placed national identity over religious or ethnic affiliation, it looked like the Americans were adopting a version of the troubled political system in Lebanon that divided government posts among several religious groups. "We never saw each other as Sunnis or Shiites first. We were Iraqis first," said Saad Jawad, a professor of political science at Baghdad University. "But the Americans changed all that. They made a point of categorizing people as Sunni or Shiite or Kurd." (222)

The corkboard in the bar at Ocean Cliffs, the British housing compound, was the Green Zone's version of the Hyde Park Speakers' Corner. There was a photograph of President Bush dressed as Marlon Brando in The Wild One, in a leather jacket and touring cap, sitting atop a motorcycle. "Be afraid," the caption read, "because paranoia is patriotic."
Another parodied a poster for the movie Jackass. It depicted the Bush administration's foreign policy team in a shopping cart, flying off a cliff.
Other postings involved less graphic design acumen. A handwritten sign admonished YEE-HAW IS NOT A FOREIGN POLICY. (235)

Before the war, the hospital had been a private clinic for Saddam's relatives and Baath Party leaders. Once the Americans arrived, it remained a private facility, limited to soldiers, CPA personnel, and private contractors. The only Iraqis admitted were those accidentally shot by American troops. (237)

"Ali, your government keeps complaining that it doesn't have enough money," I said. "Why don't they tax the cigarettes like they do in America?"
"In our country," Ali said, "it would not be wise to tax a tranquilizer" (242)

The other humans did notice the cats—and kittens—scampering in the garden and the trailer parks. Staffers named them and played with them during breaks. They even stole cartons of milk and cheese from the dining hall for their newfound companions.
When Halliburton managers discovered the pets in their midst, they asked the marines guarding the palace to shoot the cats on sight lest they spread illnesses.
Dehgan deemed it bad science. "The danger of disease was probably infinitesimally small," he said. "This wasn't done with any thought to the psychological value that these cats provided."
When the execution orders were announced, CPA staffers saved their favorites, hiding them in trailers, in bathrooms, in the pool house. David Gompert, Bremer's security adviser, kept a cat he named Mickey in his palace office. Mickey was watched over by Gompert's security detail, but he still managed to chew through several sensitive documents.
The Halliburton cat killers finally got wise to the asylum strategy and deployed Filipino contract workers on a hunt-and-kill mission. They opened every trailer while the occupants were at work and rounded up every cat they found.
One night in June, a woman stood wailing outside her trailer. She was due to ship out in two days and had taken her cat to a veterinarian for the necessary shots for entrance to America. When she returned to her room, she found a note from the death squad informing her that her cat had been seized because it was against the rules to house animals in the trailers.
"They killed my pet," she sobbed. "I hate them." (292-3)

The mission that balmy Sunday morning was, quite literally, crap. Swope's platoon would be escorting three septic tank trucks through Sadr City as they vacuumed pools of sewage bubbling from corroded underground pipes. The truck drivers were hired and paid by Baghdad's city council, but if U.S. soldiers did not accompany them, they would demand bribes from residents before turning on the suction pumps. (294)

Agresto, the CPA's senior adviser for higher education, didn't have a budget. In September 2003, before the Supplemental, America's paltry reconstruction funds were controlled by the U.S. Agency for International Development. So he walked cross the palace to the USAID office to ask for help. He'd heard that they had $25 million set aside for Iraqi universities.
A USAID program officer told Agresta that the money was already earmarked for grants to American universities that wanted to establish partnerships with Iraqi institutions. Agresto was dumbstruck. American universities? What about habilitating looted buildings? Restocking libraries? Re-equiping science laboratories? Perhaps the American universities will help with that, the program officer said. It's up to each school to decide how it wants to use the money.
Well, Agresta replied, can I at least see the proposals from the American universities? Sorry, the program officer said. I'm not authorized to show them to you.
When Agresta threatened to file a Freedom of Information Act request with USAID, bureaucrats in Washington relented. He read the documents in near disbelief.
The University of Hawaii's College of Tropical Agriculture had been selected to partner with the University of Mosul's College of Agriculture to provide advice on "academic programs and extension training." Not only was Mosul's near-alpine climate far from tropical, but the college had been burned to the ground by looters. What it needed was a new building. (317-18)

Another woman, who worked in Paul Wolfowitz's office at the Pentagon, proclaimed to me that she and her colleagues had become impervious to criticism of the administration's handling of the war. In her office, she said, the phrase "drinking the Kool-Aid" was regarded as a badge of loyalty. (332)

Bremer and his wife entered. Everyone wanted to shake his hand, to say hello. He waded through the crowd in his old combat boots. There was a relaxed ease in his bearing that I had rarely seen in Iraq. A few times, he threw his head back and laughed. He had recently finished writing My Year in Iraq, a book about his experience as viceroy. Now his only obligations were a series of speaking engagements, and his only worry was the progress of kitchen renovations at his country house in Vermont, which included the installation of a custom-made, $28,000 La Cornue stove. (332-3)

Defense Department auditors had begun to question the CPA's spending spree with Iraqi oil funds in the waning days of the occupation, noting that as much as $8.8 billion could not be properly accounted for, including $2-4 billion in one-hundred-dollar bills that was flown to Baghdad from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York six days before the handover of sovereignty. (334)

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