All posts by mjh

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a form of looting

The Sweet Spot By PAUL KRUGMAN

”What we have here is a form of looting.” So says George Akerlof, a Nobel laureate in economics, of the Bush administration’s budget policies — and he’s right. With startling speed, we’ve blown right through the usual concerns about budget deficits — about their effects on interest rates and economic growth — and into a range where the very solvency of the federal government is at stake. Almost every expert not on the administration’s payroll now sees budget deficits equal to about a quarter of government spending for the next decade, and getting worse after that.

Yet the administration insists that there’s no problem, that economic growth will solve everything painlessly.

At War with the Great Satan – General: We’re in a ‘Spiritual Battle’

A three-star general active in the search for Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein has told religious audiences that the war on terrorism is a battle between a ”Christian army” and Satan, and that Muslims worship an ”idol” and not a ”real God.”

[The comments by Army Lt. Gen. William “Jerry” Boykin]

The General Who Roared

General Boykin was not exercising the free speech rights of a private citizen. Speaking as he did in uniform the day after he was appointed deputy under secretary was indefensible. Not only did a high-ranking government official make remarks that espoused a single religious view and denigrated others, but he damaged the national security policy of the United States. President Bush and all other top officials have said often, and rightly, that the United States is not engaged in a religious war.

Cheney Lashes Out at Critics of Policy on Iraq

On Listening

Mr. Cheney was speaking to 200 invited guests at the conservative Heritage Foundation — and even they were not allowed to ask any questions. Great. Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein issue messages from their caves through Al Jazeera, and Mr. Cheney issues messages from his bunker through Fox. America is pushing democracy in Iraq, but our own leaders won’t hold a real town hall meeting or a regular press conference. …

If you’re going to give a major speech on Iraq to an audience limited to your own supporters and not allow any questions, that’s not news — that’s an advertisement, and you should buy an ad on the Op-Ed page. …

Every other word out of this administration’s mouth now is “terror” or “terrorism.” We have stopped exporting hope, the most important commodity America has. We now export only fear, so we end up importing everyone else’s fears right back.

Senior Federal Prosecutors and F.B.I. Officials Fault Ashcroft Over Leak Inquiry

Senior Federal Prosecutors and F.B.I. Officials Fault Ashcroft Over Leak Inquiry

Several senior criminal prosecutors at the Justice Department and top F.B.I. officials have privately criticized Attorney General John Ashcroft for failing to recuse himself or appoint a special prosecutor to investigate the leak of a C.I.A. operative’s identity.

The criticism reflects the first sign of dissension in the department and the F.B.I. as the inquiry nears a critical phase. The attorney general must decide whether to convene a grand jury, which could compel White House officials to testify.

The criminal justice officials, who spoke on the condition that they not be identified, represent a cross section of experienced criminal prosecutors and include political supporters of Mr. Ashcroft at the department’s headquarters here and at United States attorneys’ offices around the country.

2 in House Question Halliburton’s Iraq Fuel Prices

2 in House Question Halliburton’s Iraq Fuel Prices

Two senior Democratic congressmen are questioning whether Halliburton is overcharging the United States government in the procurement of gasoline and other fuel for Iraq, which is now importing oil products to stave off shortages.

”Halliburton seems to be inflating gasoline prices at a great cost to American taxpayers. The overcharging by Halliburton is so extreme that one expert has privately called it ‘highway robbery,’ ” the letter said.

Halliburton has charged the government $1.62 to $1.70 a gallon for gasoline that could be bought wholesale in the Persian Gulf region for about 71 cents and transported to Iraq for no more than 25 cents. The fuel was sold in Iraq for 4 cents to 15 cents a gallon….

Iraq, which has the third-largest oil reserves in the world, is producing at roughly half its prewar level of about 2.5 million barrels a day.

Remember, Halliburton is IMPORTING oil into Iraq.

“Highway robbery” or “war profiteering”? Halliburton (Dick Cheney’s company) is making a fortune in restoring Iraq’s oil production; in the meantime, they’re making another fortune selling IMPORTED oil at a loss to Iraqis. Sweet deal. mjh

24% Unsure

President Bush’s approval rating up in latest poll

The CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll found that the president’s approval rating stands at 56 percent. In mid-September, Bush’s approval rating was at 50 percent in a similar poll.

A Gallup official says finding a particular reason for the boost is difficult, suggesting it could be due to signs of an improved economy, or to the coverage of the California recall crowding out some of the criticism of the president.

Meanwhile, the poll suggested that the 2004 election race is still close. Thirty-eight percent of those surveyed said they’d vote for Bush, 38 percent said they’d vote against him, and 24 percent said they were unsure.