By On the occasion of our 20th anniversary
By Gustavo Arellano
By R. Scott Moxley
By Alfonso Delgado
By Courtney Hamilton
By Joel Beers
By Peter Maguire
By Charles Lam
Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill's dotty performance Sunday on Meet the Press signals just how vicious Bush can be when he puts his buddies out to dry. O'Neill's insistence that the fundamentals of the economy are great is buttressed by the administration's deliberately twisted facts, such as:
•Bush projects that the stock market will rise this year, when it already has tanked. When Bush came to power, the Dow Jones industrial average stood at 10,600. Last Monday, it fell below 8,000. According to the Standard & Poor's Index of 500 stocks, Bush's first year and a half has been the worst ever recorded.
•Bush claims that tax cuts aren't responsible for the vanishing surplus, when in fact they contributed 38 percent.
•O'Neill says the fundamentals are good, but for younger workers, unemployment rose last month to 12.2 percent from 11.6 percent. For blacks, it stands at 10.7 percent. With the overall jobless rate hovering around 6 percent, job growth is flat and payrolls in the private sector are declining. "Wages grew more slowly in the second quarter than in over six years," reports the Economic Policy Institute, "and the ranks of the long-term unemployed are historically high and, by some measures, growing."
Then, consider the following:PENSIONS: Republicans in Congress successfully beat down efforts to give employees a say on committees investing their money. There is absolutely no protection within the laws administered by—of all places—the do-nothing Labor Department, which already has admitted it knew about the Enron debacle months before it became public and took no action to protect 401(k) holders. CORPORATE CORRUPTION: the new accounting board will still be under the thumb of the weaselly Securities and Exchange Commission, which never has had the staff, money or inclination to actually regulate Wall Street. The symbol of the status quo is SEC chairman Harvey Pitt, who with one other commissioner (from the accounting business) dominates the agency. Pitt feels put-upon and wants a higher salary. MEDICARE: Democrats and Republicans can't agree on a bill to help oldsters buy drugs. WHITE-COLLAR CRIME: the Justice Department has squelched criminal prosecutions of white-collar crimes. Enron and WorldCom crooks are still on the street. AFGHANISTAN: our supposed national security asset in Central Asia is the Caspian Sea oil and gas deposits, which we had once hoped to cash in on through a pipeline across Afghanistan and through Pakistan. But it's too late. China is in the final stages of securing a major pipeline deal with Shell; ExxonMobil; and Gazprom, the big Russian pipeline operator. Meanwhile, Iran is building a pipeline to Pakistan and India. SOCIAL SECURITY: even though thousands of 401(k) holders have lost their shirts, Bush still wants to convert the entire Social Security system to an IRA-fund type of operation, with individuals managing their own investments, which means Wall Street would be guaranteeing that everyone in the country will go broke at the same time. BANKRUPTCY REFORM: pending legislation would make it easier for credit card companies to seize houses, autos and other assets and to collect debts ahead of every other creditor, including women receiving alimony payments. HIDE YOUR PAPERS!
In the 1960s, Tigar was an influential activist on the UC Berkeley campus, even participating in one massive protest against the House Un-American Activities Committee. His experience after finishing law school is instructive in light of Bush's nutty drive to overrun the Posse Comitatus Act and set up a neighborhood snitch system. The story, as Tigar himself recounts in his new book, Fighting Injustice, goes like this:
While Tigar headed the Berkeley law review, two of his professors suggested his name to Supreme Court Justice Brennan as a possible clerk. Brennan promptly offered Tigar the job. Then the conservative press ripped into him, claiming, per usual, that he was soft on Communism. J. Edgar Hoover's FBI was soon gathering information on Tigar and passing it along to the Lyndon B. Johnson White House. From there, it went by LBJ's man at the Supreme Court, Justice Abe Fortas. Chief Justice Earl Warren pressured Brennan, who vacillated and called in Tigar to answer questions about his supposed Commie activities. Brennan eventually fired him before he even started work.