12/15/2005 05:48 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

The Metrics: Did I Say $1.7 billion? Sorry, I Meant Trillion.

The Independent has a tidy list of the war in numbers, from found WMD's (0) to the current number of daily attacks by insurgents (90). And then there's that $204.4 billion in war costs (a lower estimate than some others, and one that's expected to double before the war is "over," and then double again if you add the interest, since the whole thing is on credit card, payable to our good friends in the PRC).

All of which reminds me again of those rosy days back in 2003 when the mission was accomplished. Remember how much easier those times were? That grumbler Shinseki was gone, with his wildly off the mark, old-paradigm ideas about having enough troops on the ground to secure the peace.  Who needs that, when there"s no guerilla war, it's just one or two guys running around at night. OK, maybe five or six. OK, maybe there is a guerilla war, Wolfowitz said -- but of course we can win it!

And that's why this whole thing was gonna cost the US taxpayers nothing. $1.7 billion was the estimate from US AID director Andrew Natsios. That's what he told Ted Koppel on Nightline, at which even Koppel's toupee flinched and Koppel himself responded with the flat incredulity of the last serious newsman on television: "You're not suggesting that the
rebuilding of Iraq is gonna be done for $1.7 billion?" asked ABC's Ted. Natsios went further on a limb: "Well, in terms of the American taxpayers contribution, I do, this is it for the US. (The transcript of that interview, incidentally, was quietly removed later from the US AID website, a propagandistic cleanse noted by the ever-heroic Dana Milbank). Well, Natsios stepped down earlier this month, and so his job of misinforming the public will have to be carried on by his successor.

Luckily, there are still a few facts left to compile in the post-truth realm of Republican reality. A recent GAO reckoning places the reconstruction funds alotted for the State Dept and US AID alone at $31 billion. Woops! And that report puts the mark on the total war costs at $357 billion already if you throw in Afghanistan. This from the CEO President, the fiscal conservatives. Isn't a breach of fiduciary responsibility illegal in the private sector? Maybe that should be extended to government. I mean, if you "accidentally" undercount your taxes by a factor of twenty you don't get a free pass. Oh, right, if you're rich you can -- especially if you sit on the board of a company, then "buy" its shares at a discount with a loan arranged by that company and later change the terms of that loan so you don't have to pay it back, thereby retroactively creating $108,225 in taxable income on which taxes were never paid. Confused? So was the SEC apparently, when they called off their investigation of Bush's many suspect financial transactions during Bush I's tenure. With that kind of oversight, it's no wonder Bush's latest jaunt will likely cost us $1.4 trillion in the end.