At this point, it’s hardly news that the Bush administration is awash in corporate malfeasance, but Paul Krugman’s latest column describes yet another sickening example: There’s now evidence that Thomas White, a former Enron executive and the current secretary of the army, was fully aware of the accounting scams that allowed his division at Enron to show a profit. (In the past, he’s claimed that he wasn’t aware of the fraud.) Nonetheless, White hasn’t been asked to resign.
September 16th, 2002 § Comments off § permalink
More reasons not to invade Iraq, as if there weren’t enough already:
- After establishing a significant presence in Pakistan, Al Qaeda has begun to return to Afghanistan as well. Even with support from the American military, the current Afghan government “has been unable to gain effective control of the Afghan countryside.”
- President Bush has told world leaders that it isn’t the United States’ job to replace Saddam Hussein, apparently preferring to believe that any other leader would be better than Hussein. Um, would anyone care to bet on that?
The Nation has a list of nine critical questions that the United States should answer before invading Iraq. Here’s number eight: “Even if we are successful in toppling Saddam, who will govern Iraq afterward? Will we leave the country in chaos (as we have done in Afghanistan)? Or will we try to impose a government in the face of the inevitable Iraqi hostility if US forces destroy what remains of Iraq’s infrastructure and kill many of its civilians?” Sounds like Bush has decided on the first option.
September 9th, 2002 § Comments off § permalink
The Nation is running an interesting article by William Greider arguing that America’s trade deficit will eventually spell an end to its imperialist ambitions. The appropriate response, according to Greider, is not to reduce the country’s trade deficit but to accept America’s decline as a world power and “concentrate on building a different, more promising society at home.” Sounds okay to me.
September 8th, 2002 § Comments off § permalink
Well, that didn’t take long: The Bush administration has already started lying about Iraq’s weapons programs.
Politicians and citizens are clamoring for evidence that Iraq poses a threat to the United States. No doubt the Bush administration will eventually provide some.
Unfortunately, members of this administration have a history of lying about Iraq. Treat their evidence with skepticism.
August 14th, 2002 § Comments off § permalink
The New York Times ran a wonderfully cynical article about this week’s so-called economic forum in Waco, Texas. Here are some of the best parts.
President Bush said today that he was optimistic about the long-term health of the beleaguered American economy as he heard from a selection of 240 carefully chosen guests who praised his policies at an economic forum created to showcase his concerns.
…Even as Mr. Bush expressed confidence in the economy and defended his policies, the Federal Reserve issued a more pessimistic assessment. It said the decline in the stock market’s [sic] and disclosures of corporate wrongdoing had prolonged a sharp slowdown that might require it to cut interest rates further.
…Mr. Bush heard no dissent and no debate at an event where the theme was that the economy was going through difficulty, but that things were headed in the right direction. The forum has been heavily criticized by the Democrats and a number of Republicans as a staged pep rally for the second Bush White House, which is ever mindful of the fate of Mr. Bush’s father.
…Most of the eight participants who spoke at a closing session of the forum echoed support for the president’s agenda, including tax cuts and the proposed energy bill and, in some cases, reflected his phrasing from recent speeches. …Karl Rove, the president’s chief political adviser, said after the forum that he was “not aware” that the White House had supplied the participants talking points, but “that’s not to say there weren’t any.”
Nobody should be surprised that this forum was heavily stage-managed and slanted towards Bush. What’s interesting is the insistence of administration officials that the forum was not rigged; as Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neill put it, “As much as you want to say this was cooked up, this had high energy.” If the administration wants to fool the country, it needs to lie more convincingly.
August 3rd, 2002 § Comments off § permalink
Reclaiming the Commons is a brilliant explanation of why we should be concerned about the privatization of resources that belong to the public:
As private interests have quietly seized the American commons, we have lost sight of our heritage as a democratic commonwealth. A society in which every human transaction is increasingly mediated by the market, in which everything is privately owned and controlled, may come to resemble a network of medieval fiefdoms, in which every minor property-holder demands tribute for the right to cross his land or ford his streams. This balkanization is bound to impede the flow of commerce and ideas—and the sustainability of innovation and democratic culture.
July 30th, 2002 § Comments off § permalink
Salon has one possible explanation of why the United States is planning to invade Iraq. I very much want this explanation to be wrong.
July 29th, 2002 § Comments off § permalink
By now, most people have heard that the United States government is making plans to invade Iraq. Why? Why would any government leak its battle plans to the press months before an invasion was planned? Are officials trying to figure out how the public would react to an invasion? Are they distracting the public from some other geopolitical game that the Bush administration wants to play? It’s a peculiar, and therefore suspect, way to behave.
All this advance notice has at least given the world an opportunity to see how ill-conceived the plans are. The New York Times explains one excellent reason to cancel the invasion entirely: War with Iraq could devastate the American economy and cause worldwide recession.
Already, the federal budget deficit is expanding, meaning that the bill for a war would lead either to more red ink or to cutbacks in domestic programs.
If consumer and investor confidence remains fragile, military action could have substantial psychological effects on the financial markets, retail spending, business investment, travel and other key elements of the economy, officials and experts said.
If oil supplies are disrupted, as they were during the 1991 gulf war, and prices rise sharply, the economic effects would be felt in the United States and around the world.
July 16th, 2002 § Comments off § permalink