has kept at least one campaign promise. He said he'd run
the country like a business, and that he has surely done. The Bush administration
looks more like Enron or WorldCom everyday: all smoke and mirrors economic
projections, make-believe accounting, bigshots cashing in while everybody else's
savings vanish, and zero accountability. Do you reckon this is what they teach down
at the University of Mississippi's WorldCom-funded Trent Lott Leadership Institute?
Leadership, incidentally, must be THE cant phrase of the new century.)
Anyway, it's the
story of George W. Bush's life. Last week, with the stock market
closing its worst two quarters in 30 years, and the dollar sinking on currency markets,
nervous traders were starting to wonder if what billionaire investor George Soros called
the "Bush factor - part dogma, part sheer incompetence”could throw the world economy
into crisis. "I attribute it [the dollar's slide] to lack of confidence in the management of
affairs by the United States," Soros said "its unilateralism, the pursuit of national self-interests
and not living up to the responsibility of being the dominant financial power in the world,
not taking care of the system."
But hey, nobody's
getting nekkid in the Oval Office, right? At least not that we
know about. So desperate were GOP savants to distract attention from Bush's
fecklessness that they added a touch of spice to the weekly Chicken Little terrorism alerts.
Who taught corporate criminals to lie, cheat and steal? Rush Limbaugh led the pack, but
Republican pundits were all over TV chat shows suggesting that the innocent lads and
lasses of Wall Street were corrupted by Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky. Rev. Jerry
Fallwell, last seen blaming 9/11 on God's wrath toward homosexuals, gave his imprimatur
to this novel rendering of Genesis on MSNBC's Hardball.
Back before Bill
and Monica discovered sex and invented sin, see, nobody ever heard
of insider trading or cooking the books. Well, OK, nobody except George W. Bush. In 1990
during Poppy Bush's presidency, Junior was investigated by the SEC for insider trading.
Seems Bush dumped $848,560 worth of Harken Energy Corp. stock at $4 per share shortly
before the company reported substantial losses that dropped its value to $1 per share
basically what they're accusing Martha Stewart of doing. Except unlike the homemaking maven,
Junior didn't merely have a friend on the inside. He was a member of Harken's board of directors,
and served on its audit committee.
Bush failed to
report the transaction to SEC regulators until months after federal regulations
required. He'd come by the stock in the first place when Harken acquired an indebted oil company
he'd run into the ground largely, some thought, to add the Bush name to its corporate pedigree.
Needless to say, the SEC probe went nowhere.
Next Junior used
the proceeds of the suspect Harken sale to buy a minority interest in the
Texas Rangers, helped persuade voters to tax themselves for a showy new ballpark, greatly
enhancing the team's value, then cashed out for roughly $12 million, a classic example of
corporate socialism, Texas-style. All this has been reported by the Dallas Morning News,
Joe Conason in Harper's, and the Center for Public Integrity, but the śmainstream
Washington media appears reluctant to subject the Royal Family' s finances to vulgar scrutiny.
limited curiosity is Vice President Cheney's involvement in a reported
$100 million worth of "accounting irregularities" during his tenure as CEO at Halliburton,
another Texas energy company. Halliburton's accountant was the Arthur Andersen firm of
Enron fame. Bush-appointed SEC chairman Harvey Pitts, a former Andersen attorney,
won preferment by persuading the Republican congress to stifle Clinton administration reforms
that would have made boardroom con games harder to run. He vows to "pull no punches"
in the Halliburton probe.
Assuming you've still got one, don't bet your 401K on it.
Sure, Senate candidate
Mark Pryor's vow to protect schoolchildren''s to recite the
Pledge of Allegiance was a tad disingenuous. Certainly he Arkansas Attorney General
knows the difference between forcing tender young atheists to recite the phrase "under God,"
and forbidding pious children from doing so.
Even so, I'm glad
he beat Sen. Tim Hutchinson to the punch. I believe what Thomas
Jefferson believed: governments founded on religious dogma are the greatest source of
organized evil in the world, their main function to provide divine sanction to slaughtering infidels.
(That includes totalitarian regimes which deify Big Brother.) But two words in a patriotic oath
hardly constitutes an "establishment of religion."
be idiots to hand so easily demagogued an issue to Republicans just so
some self-dramatizing village atheist can "protect" his eight year-old daughter from a theoretical
threat she's too young to understand. He should try teaching her tolerance, a sense of proportion,
and the meaning of "with liberty and justice for all."