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July 8, 2002 1:49 PM   Subscribe

The 'Gate-less Community "But something changed when George W. Bush became president. The current administration has not lacked questionable behavior: Karl Rove met with Intel executives in the White House even as he held a significant amount of Intel stock; Deputy Interior Secretary J. Stephen Griles, a former coal-industry lobbyist, intervened in an energy-exploration dispute on behalf of former clients; Dick Cheney met repeatedly with energy company officials who appear to have had a strong hand in formulating the administration's energy policy; and, of course, there is White. Yet each retains his job. Eighteen months into Bush's term, his only appointee to resign under a cloud is Michael Parker, the former civilian chief of the Army Corps of Engineers, and not over allegations of corruption, but for what this administration views as the one true deadly sin: disloyalty. (Parker publicly criticized the president's budget.) By contrast, two years into the Clinton administration, 10 political appointees had resigned; under the elder Bush, eight; under Reagan, 13. What has changed isn't so much the conduct of officials, but the standards by which they're judged. The "new tone" that George W. Bush brought to Washington isn't one of integrity, but of permissiveness."
posted by owillis (23 comments total)

 
Hmm, Oliver - methinks you've been railroaded by them contentious threads below. Still, here goes, just to switch on that comment light. ;)

Good old Washington Monthly - that's one well argued article. I think Joshua Green may be on to something when he suggests that making money and serving in the government are not seen as incompatible in the present administration's/Republican culture.

This of course goes completely against the direction the "compatibilities" issue is following in Europe. Europe is no shining example but it's nice when citizens know that the people doing the deciding aren't also profiting from it.

I must say I prefer the old, slightly aristocratic American tradition where rich people take time off from making money for themselves and their friends to "serve" their country. And make a show of it, even.
posted by MiguelCardoso at 2:16 PM on July 8, 2002


The main lesson in this, to me at least, is never be disillusioned by an incoming administration that promises to do things differently. It just doesn't happen.
posted by cell divide at 2:21 PM on July 8, 2002


Absolutely right. Further, I think this permissiveness demonstrates an extraordinary contempt towards the American people. This administration simply does not think of themselves as public servants and views the public as a nuissance (which may have been true of the previous administration too, but seems much more pronounced with this one.) And I am amazed that the American people don't mind being treated like a nation of suckers. You get the rulers you deserve, I guess.

(Maybe I'm just bitter, but then I'm a Californian so it's hard not to be a little resentful towards Mr. White.)
posted by homunculus at 2:30 PM on July 8, 2002


Reminds me of the back-end of the Major years, when 'sleaze' descended on the Tories, and particularly of the record of Tony Blair, who has made a habit of hanging on to discredited ministers: Stephen Byers, Geoffrey Robinson, and especially Peter Mandelson (twice!). So yes, 'contempt' is the word, and it runs through both Number Ten and the White House like 'Blackpool' through a stick of rock.
posted by riviera at 2:40 PM on July 8, 2002


Despite media pressure, White has not yet had to explain the particulars of his service at Enron.

Uh, what pressure?I betcha most people never even heard of Thomas White.So some politicians ask questions, so what?

The media refuses to lean on Bush and his buddies.No pressure, no hassle, no problem.They were all over the Clinton-scandal-of-the-day.They even managed to pay some attention to Reagan's Iran-Contra.

The Bush administration also enjoys broader leeway because it is free of the "vast right-wing conspiracy"--the subsidized scandal-mongering, talk radio, and attack journalism that has no equivalent on the left to fetishize White's travails as conservatives did those of Vince Foster and Webster Hubbell.

True.The Bush administration enjoys broader everything.

White and his colleagues have also benefited from media preoccupation with other stories. "Scandals become big stories when there's no news competition," says Mackenzie. "The biggest occur at the slowest news times." And though White's troubles, and especially Enron's, have received considerable attention even in the midst of war, the steady flow of important news from elsewhere in the world obviates the sort of blanket scandal coverage that forces an administration to act.

So, the war continues to pay off for George.They have Iraq in the loop for use, also.They did their homework.
posted by BarneyFifesBullet at 2:43 PM on July 8, 2002


So yes, 'contempt' is the word, and it runs through both Number Ten and the White House like 'Blackpool' through a stick of rock.

I know those words, but that sign doesn't make sense.

Lisa Simpson
posted by y2karl at 3:11 PM on July 8, 2002


I know those words, but that sign doesn't make sense.

Like this.
posted by riviera at 3:18 PM on July 8, 2002


every once in a while, as i continue to fall down this bottomless bit of disgust, i open my eyes and look around to find a marker of some sort....
this is another one.

it reads "you really really fucking waaaay deep. to reverse your direction simply....."

i can't read the second line as it goes by too fast.
posted by th3ph17 at 3:21 PM on July 8, 2002


More on White, Enron and the California energy crisis here: White Should Go--Now
posted by homunculus at 3:40 PM on July 8, 2002


Ha. I'd much rather have our Chief Executive cozying up to business leaders than environmentalists and "celebrities."
posted by davidmsc at 4:48 PM on July 8, 2002


I'd much rather have our Chief Executive cozying up to business leaders than environmentalists and "celebrities."

Seriously? I wouldn't. I tend to trust people who are interested in more than just their personal gain.
posted by mrhappy at 4:54 PM on July 8, 2002


I'd much rather have our Chief Executive cozying up to business leaders than environmentalists

you said it, brother! if there's one thing enviromentalists are known for, it's abusing their money, power, and influence for financial gain, which is the last thing our government needs right now.
posted by mcsweetie at 5:24 PM on July 8, 2002


I'd much rather have our Chief Executive cozying up to business leaders than environmentalists and "celebrities"

If I had my druthers, I'd prefer him cozying up to interns and getting screwed while not screwing us all over (cue Enron, Worldcom, Harken, Halliburton, etc.).
posted by owillis at 7:13 PM on July 8, 2002


Enron, Worldcom, Harken, Halliburton...

There's a cheer in there someplace.
posted by BarneyFifesBullet at 7:29 PM on July 8, 2002


I'd much rather have our Chief Executive cozying up to business leaders than environmentalists and "celebrities"
[cough...] sorry. couldn't restrain myself.
posted by quonsar at 8:20 PM on July 8, 2002


Can anyone say "Tammany Hall" or "Teapot Dome"?

Quite seriously, I considered Bush to be mostly harmless until his very early appointment of convicted (and pardoned) perjurer Elliot Abrams, to the role of "Human Rights Czar" (never mind the fact that it took the brilliant leadership of the Romanov clan to make the Bolsheviks look good). I am starting to wonder if the Bush administration is perhaps the greatest black comedy in politics. At least in the Wizard of Oz, you can make the scarecrow into a technocrat, the lion into a military leader, and the tin man into a compassionate saint. However that doesn't quite compare to appointing a person who was responsible for keeping nearly a decade of "disappearances" of dissidents, village massacres, and killing squads to a human rights advisory position. (And this is beyond the misappropriation of government property to a terrorist state in order to fund central American terrorists.)

Perhaps the best aspect of American politics is that many other governments cannot manage the transfer of power from one criminal organization to another criminal organization without quite a bit of bloodshed. So we have a president who intends to restore integrity to the White House by reappointing people who were convicted of lying to the people, and regarding congressional checks and balances in as an unnecessary inconvenience to be worked around through black operations.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 10:37 PM on July 8, 2002


"While the President went fishing in Maine over July 4th, it was a working weekend for White House staffers. It seems that a scruffy flock of old Texas chickens came home to roost in the executive branch and staffers spent the weekend trying to round them up."

via The Daily Enron


~chuckle~
posted by fold_and_mutilate at 10:54 PM on July 8, 2002


Also from the Daily Enron:

So, for those of you who said "Harken who?" yesterday, here's a little Harken cheat-sheet for your next game of Not-So-Trival Pursuits:


· In 1986, Harken Energy, run by a group of well-heeled Reagan/Bush supporters, absorbed George W. Bush's failing Spectrum 7 oil company. Bush gets $600,000 in Harken stock.
· Bush was paid $80,000 a year as a "consultant," until 1989 when he got a raise to $120,000.
· Bush was also allowed to borrow from Harken's dwindling treasury - loans that, according to SEC filings, were later "forgiven."
· Bush was also granted liberal executive stock option rights allowing him to purchase additional Harken stock at 40 percent below market value.
· In 1990, when Harken ran into financial trouble, Bush held a seat on the company's restructuring committee. The committee hired consultants from Smith Barney to look over Harken's books and prepare a report for the board.
· Harken's outside accounting firm was - who else - Arthur Andersen.
· Smith Barney uncovered several "irregularities" in Harken's accounting. In one case Harken had anticipated Enron by a decade. Faced with the unsettling prospect of reporting a $10 million loss for 1989,the company masked the loss by manufacturing a profit - selling one of its subsidiaries to a group of Harken insiders who paid with money borrowed from the company itself. (Sorry, Messrs Skilling and Fastow, but it seems George did it first.)
· The Securities and Exchange Commission later ruled the transaction phony and forced Harken to restate its 1989 earnings. Harken was now also reportedly $150 million in debt.
· After Smith Barney submitted its critical report to Harken's board but before the general public learned of Harken's dire condition, Bush unloaded the bulk of his Harken stock in June 1990. He sold 212,140 shares -- pocketing $848,560.(Martha Stewart, rejoice, George did it too - and got away with it.)
· The money, friends of Bush said later, was used to pay off his Texas home which under Texas law became automatically protected from creditor claims. (Just like Enron's Ken Lay, Jeffrey Skilling and Andy Fastow.)
· Even though the sale was an unambiguous insider stock deal, neither Bush nor Harken reported the trade to the SEC as required by law. (Shortly thereafter Harken stock fell 25%. Had Bush hung onto his stock just 60 days longer he would have received over $200,000 less for it.)
· The SEC investigated G. W. Bush for insider trading during his father's term as President and decided to take no action. Career SEC officials, clearly miffed by their inability to charge the son of a sitting President, made their feelings clear in a 1993 letter to Bush's attorney. In the letter, the SEC emphasized that the decision not to charge Bush "must in no way be construed as indicating that (Bush) has been exonerated."

posted by y2karl at 1:34 AM on July 9, 2002


There's a cheer in there someplace. Enron, Worldcom, Harken, Halliburton...

Schlemeil! Schlemozzle!
Terror War, Incorporated!

/cheer
posted by Corky at 2:22 AM on July 9, 2002


From the Daily Enron expose above ..

" It is likely that when Bush sold his Harken stock on June 22, 1990 that he was aware of his father's intention to attack Iraq in less than two months. "

Saddam invaded Kuwait on 1st August 1990. Now there's a story.
posted by grahamwell at 3:26 AM on July 9, 2002


My only fear is what they're going to pull out of their ass to go down fighting with in the most extraordinarily corrupt presidency and century long crime spree of all time.
posted by crasspastor at 3:35 AM on July 9, 2002


Now there's a story.

Too right: though it's a bit far-fetched that April Glaspie's famous 'we have no position on your dispute with Kuwait' was more than simply naive beyond belief, you have to wonder why Bush II was so quick to change the rules on presidential records, thus putting his father's administration beyond historical scrutiny.
posted by riviera at 4:20 AM on July 9, 2002


tammany hall :) nast!
posted by kliuless at 7:24 AM on July 9, 2002


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