Oh, good. Just what we need: a brand spanking new loophole in our already corrupt system of financing political campaigns. This new loophole is even stinkier than most, because it’s been gouged out by the very officeholders who’re supposed to be protecting us from the power of big-money corruption: state attorneys general. Right — the top legal officers in each of our states! As reported by the Austin American-Statesman, a group of Republican attorneys general, including Charlie Condon of South Carolina and John Cornyn of Texas, have devised a sneaky way to take secret campaign contributions from tobacco companies, high-tech firms, gunmakers, and other giant corporations, promising not to file big lawsuits against them. Instead of serving as “the people’s lawyer,” these elected A.G.s are conspiring to be “the corporations’ lawyer,” serving the special interests at the expense of the public interest.
The sneaky part is that these A.G.s are laundering their corporate contributions through the national Republican Party — a maneuver that lets them hide the identity of the corporations and the amount contributed. Representing the Republican Attorneys General Association, Cornyn of Texas has sent a letter to companies soliciting $25,000 or more from each of them. The cash is run through the national GOP, then dispersed to support the election campaigns of these Republican A.G.s — all without revealing who gave what to whom.
Cornyn, who has been an obedient servant to corporate power in Texas, says simply, “I trust that we’re complying with all applicable laws.” So far, the A.G.s have amassed more than a quarter of a million bucks in their corrupt fund.
What shameful hypocrisy that this gaggle of politicians, who’re sworn to enforce the law, are using legal technicalities to create a secret conduit to funnel corporate cash to themselves. And these guys wonder why there’s so little respect for the law and for them!
“PUNISHING” JOHN DEUTCH
Until about three years ago, John Deutch was head honcho of the C.I.A. — the man in charge of our nation’s spy secrets. But the boss turns out to have been a pretty careless spook, having violated his own agency’s security rules … and the law.
It seems that Deutch transferred some 200 of America’s secret documents onto computers that he had in his home, including highly-sensitive memos to the president, as well as reports of covert intelligence operations. He kept his home computers linked to the Internet, meaning the classified information was readily available to hackers operating from anywhere in the world. You don’t have to be James Bond to figure out that the personal computers of an ex-C.I.A. chief are likely to draw some prying eyes.
But, was Deutch prosecuted for reckless endangerment of our secrets, as any other agent would have been? Hardly. First, top officials at the C.I.A. apparently tried to slow down any investigation into the Big Boss’ illegal security breaches. But the truth came out, so Plan B was initiated. Its essence was to “punish” Deutch by revoking his top-secret security clearances. George Tenet, the current C.I.A. chief who previously was Deutch’s top assistant, announced that he had taken the “tough decision to indefinitely suspend” his former boss’ clearances.
Sounds tough, until you realize that others have received far harsher punishment for doing essentially the same thing. Also, his security suspension turns out to have had a fat loophole in it — Deutch was quietly allowed to keep what officials call an “industrial clearance.” You see, the former chief spook now is a well-paid consultant to such corporate military contractors as Raytheon, so his government pals allowed him to continue peeking at national secrets, enabling him to cash in on his years at the C.I.A.
When you get in trouble at the C.I.A., it’s not what you’ve done that counts — but who you know.
PITY THE BOSSES
Here’s a sorrow-filled story from The New York Times about the personal side of downsizing. It’s about the emotional trauma suffered by those who get caught up in the blizzard of pink slips in today’s harsh, corporate climate. Only, the Times story is not about the people getting pink slips … but about the sad plight of bosses who hand them out.
Need a hankie?
Of course, the big bosses, the C.E.O.s who mandate the mass firings, never soil their soft hands with actually handing out termination notices. This is done by line bosses, and these days many of them are twenty-something junior executives just a few years out of college. Well paid, upwardly mobile, and awash in stock options, they’re products of the boom-boom good times, and it never occurred to them that there were any dark clouds in the corporate sky. Having to punt a bunch of geezers in their forties and fifties has like, you know, totally freaked out some of them.
But the happy news is that some of these young punters are getting the personal counseling and help they need so they can do the dirty work of corporate America. The Times reports that these bosses are being schooled in how to fire someone, taking corporate courses that include simulated firings, that engage them in role playing, and that teach them politically correct downsizing-speak. Among the tips for these beginning downsizers are, “Never fire on a Friday” (because the firee will stew all weekend and sue the company on Monday); “Keep the termination exercise to less than ten minutes” (after all, this is a firing, not a happy hour); and “Let the fired employee keep his e-mail address” for awhile (this will make you seem generous).
The Times happily informs us that, with this training, the twenty-somethings are quickly able to get over their trauma and get with the downsizing program. As one of them says: “At the end of the day it’s a business, and you have to make hard business decisions.” Atta boy — that’s the corporate attitude!
Jim Hightower’s radio talk show broadcasts nationwide daily from Austin. His new book is If the Gods Had Meant Us to Vote, They Would Have Given Us Candidates. Find him at www.jimhightower.com, or write [email protected]