By Alex Distefano
By Scott Snowden
By Anna Merlan
By Steve Almond
By Jena Ardell
By Jon Campbell
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Tessa Stuart
Gingrich Fall Opens Old GOP Wounds
The demise of Newt Gingrich and the likely accession of Bob Livingston as speaker of the House once again tears open the splits among Capitol Hill Republicans, pitting America First social conservatives of the Pat Buchanan ilk against free marketeers like Dick Armey. Gingrich tried to bridge these camps without great success, in the end usually siding with the free marketeers on NAFTA and GATT and getting clobbered by his own crew.
Livingston has allied himself with the free-trade faction, which bodes trouble for him, since America Firsters like Duncan Hunter and Bob Barr, who joined with Democrats like Dennis Kucinich and David Bonior to defeat Gingrich on trade issues, can be expected to continue their opposition along this major legislative divide.
Though portrayed as a bland managerial politician, Livingston has a hot temper, which was on display during the government shutdown and in fervent speeches on the floor in support of the contras.
Since Republicans tend to fight things out along ideological lines, the coming battles are likely to be wild, with neither side taking prisoners. By contrast, the fight for Pat Moynihan's New York Senate seat will seem like a picnic.
Wall Street Winners Either Way
Wall Street emerged pretty much unscathed from the elections. Despite the hair-raising collapse of the hedge funds and near catastrophe in world markets, they got away with it. Their ambassador to Washington may change from D'Amato to Schumer, but the politics that drive the economy aren't likely to change much. While D'Amato created a virtually impregnable fortress for the big banks in the Senate, Schumer fought just as hard for their interests in the House. Both campaigns were heavily bankrolled by the finance industry.
FBI Psy Spy
Talks With Shrink Tapped in Sting
Anyone who's ever ever talked to a shrink over the phone will think twice about it after learning how the FBI got around the supposedly sacrosanct doctor-patient relationship with a wiretap in a recent Virginia case.
Last month, a federal jury in Alexandria handed down guilty verdicts in the espionage case against union official Kurt Stand and his wife, Terry Squillacote, a Pentagon attorney, both of whom were allegedly named as agents in files of the former East German intelligence service.
Unable to nail them in the act, the FBI set up a sting based on a Behavorial Analysis Program to entice Squillacote into spilling the details of her personal life to an undercover agent posing as an intelligence operative for the new South African government, which Squillacote supposedly admired.
The sting involved creating a psychological profile based in part on wiretaps of Squillacote who was born with profound birth defects which caused her to be subjected to painful medical and surgical procedures to repair genetic malformations of her legs talking to family and friends and in phone sessions with her shrink, according to her lawyer, Lawrence S. Robbins.
The FBI profile, which was entered into court records, depicts Squillacote as someone who "ignores and neglects her children . . . walks with a limp due to her prosthetic right limb, flaunts her handicap by wearing clothing that highlights her limb, and . . . takes offense when someone makes a joke about handicapped people.
"Because this type of person is given to dramatic and impulsive gestures," the profile cheerfully continues, "in addition to her ongoing treatment for depression, it is possible that once she has been arrested she will make a suicide attempt. Generally, in cases like hers, the attempts are merely gestures designed to show her 'audience' that she is 'remorseful.' Sadly, they often underestimate the lethality of the attempt and actually kill themselves. Therefore, it would be prudent at the appropriate time to advise individuals close to her (i.e., her husband, brother, and attorney) of the potential danger. . . ."
Stand and Squillacote, who will be sentenced in January, could face from 25 years to life in prison.
Unsafe at Any Speed
Congress Ducks Nader Sex Survey
A sexual questionnaire sent by a Nader group to every member of Congress in the throes of the Ken Starr witch-hunt has registered a new low for survey response.
The group, calling itself No Privacy for Privacy Hypocrites, issued the ponderous questionnaire in late September. Included among the questions were: "Have you ever participated in an adulterous affair?" and "If yes, have you ever lied about it?"
Despite repeated follow-up phone calls, only Democratic representative Bill Pascrell of New Jersey replied. In response to the question "Do you believe that any branch of government should investigate allegations that elected officials may have participated in an adulterous affair, including allegations that they may have lied about it?" Pascrell checked: "No, these matters are private." Even Pascrell left the the Big A query blank.
Gates's Worldwide Business Web
As the Microsoft trial wends through its fourth week in the Monica Lewinsky Federal Courthouse in downtown Washington, a parade of witnesses details one droning business deal after another accounts of how Bill Gates built the empire that made him the wealthiest man alive. A fascinating story of modern-day business acumen, if you can stay awake.
Meanwhile, behind the scenes, internal Netscape documents that came to light during the Justice Department's probe of Microsoft provide details of the charges being made about Gates's worldwide reach into every nook and cranny of the computer business as he attempted to persuade his "competitors" to adopt Microsoft's Internet Explorer browser rather than Netscape's Navigator. Presumably written in response to a discovery request, they have not been introduced at the trial.
The documents were dumped at the Consumer Project on Technology in Washington "in an unmarked envelope this past spring," according to director Jamie Love. ("We didn't release the documents," said a Netscape spokeswoman.)
According to the documents, Microsoft employed aggressive though not necessarily illegal tactics in making deals with computer and software manufacturers in more than 50 alleged incidents between 1995 and 1997. Potential deals involved Sprint, Bell Atlantic, Pacific Bell, Xerox, IBM, Apple, and Packard Bell in this country, with other approaches in Finland, Japan, Chile, Canada, Taiwan, New Zea- land, Germany, and Norway.
Gates's management team, the documents assert, ran a rough sales campaign, in one instance allegedly offering Toys "R" Us "several hundred thousand dollars of free consulting if MS technology is chosen for web site." Another entry reports an offer "to compensate BellSouth for any Navigators they do not ship."
Most insulting of all was a claim that "MS internet engineer . . . reports that MS engineers are getting bonuses based on decline of NS stock; stated goal is to put NS out of business."
Microsoft did not return calls for comment.
Clinton Aide Linked to Prison Blood Scandal
With the public gorging on Monicagate, other Clinton conspiracy "scandals" continue to absorb the Internet. One of the most diverting tracks back to when Clinton was governor of Arkansas, and the state contracted with a now-defunct company, Health Management Associates, to provide medical care for prisoners.
As part of the deal, the company was permitted to collect blood at $7 a unit from convicts. Through an unsuspecting Canadian broker, this blood, some of which proved to be HIV-tainted, entered the Canadian blood supply. By that time, the U.S. had ceased using blood from prisons because of reports of widespread drug use and unsafe sex.
Leonard Dunn, a close friend and chair of Clinton's gubernatorial reelection finance committee and a Clinton appointee to the Arkansas Industrial Development Commission, was the president of Health Management.
According to an article in the Ottawa Citizen, which broke the story last month, internal Arkansas State Police documents describe investigations into charges that the firm provided inadequate treatment to prisoners, along with rumors that Clinton appointees to the prison board demanded a kickback in return for renewing HMA's $3 million health care contract in 1985.
King of the Hill
The award for Boondoggle King of the 105th Congress goes to Republican Ted Stevens of Alaska, the mighty chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee. Near the end of the last session, the 74-year-old budget whiz rammed through $50 million in aid for Alaska's fisheries, $95 million for fish factory ships, $20 million for a new commission to study the state's infrastructure, as well as subsidies to speed up logging in the Tongass National Forest. Stevens crammed all this through as he cobbled together the big budget bill with Clinton's representatives. And he capped it all with a scarcely believable $28 million appropriation to build a train terminal in Anchorage to carry cruise ship tourists from the docks to the airport for flights home. Gulped Robert S. Juettner, administrator of the Aleutians East Borough, when he heard about one of Stevens's road deals: "We didn't even ask for that." Research: Bob Frederick