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"As well as could be expected"

After a weekend away from the Times, I was sickened by the tenor of the news in general and by this first-page story in particular:

One of Halliburton's most persistent critics, Representative Henry A. Waxman, a California Democrat who is the ranking minority member of the House Committee on Government Reform, said in a written statement about the Army's decision, "Halliburton gouged the taxpayer, government auditors caught the company red-handed, yet the Pentagon ignored the auditors and paid Halliburton hundreds of millions of dollars and a huge bonus."

What made this so appalling was something that I'd read over the weekend, in an amazingly instructive debate about health-care systems that New Yorker writers Adam Gopnik and Malcolm Gladwell conducted at the Washington Monthly. A fan of the generous French system, Mr Gopnik observes that

Although I should add that we pay in France almost to the penny the same amount of tax that we paid in New York City, because by the time you add in the state tax and the city tax and the taxes we pay to build weapons we will never see and will never be used, it comes out to be very much a wash.

(Read the whole discussion here). How did the Land of the Free get taken over by guys who are so into death? The title of Bob Herbert's Op-Ed piece in today's Times is entitled "Ike Saw It Coming." Remember Ike's warning about "the military-industrial complex?"

Lord, how long.


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