Socks in the Long Grass

Hillary Moves In

Landing in the Hamptons in the stealth of night, Hillary marched through New York last week. She encountered little serious opposition, raised money, bought a $1.7 million Westchester home ($350,000 down, $1.35 millon loan guaranteed by longtime Clinton-Gore fundraiser/golfing pal Terry McAuliffe of Syracuse), and settled into the Finger Lakes region. Like a cat poised for the kill, she listened and waited on the undeclared Rudy as Rick Lazio snapped at the mayor's heels.

She didn't have to wait long for the mayor to make an ass of himself. First, Rudy's cops pumped 12 shells into a disturbed young Satmar man in Borough Park, Brooklyn— solid Giuliani country— then said the Hasid had been unavoidably gunned down because he'd been menacing a cop with a hammer. Tough guy Rudy then declared that a preliminary investigation had determined the cops acted appropriately. What with the mayor's photo-op jury duty on top of his official schedule, he was conspicuously absent as grieving Hasidim marched in the streets throughout the week, leading local assemlyman Dov Hikind— a bitter Giuliani foe— to remark, following the victim's funeral on Thursday, that the response from City Hall had been cold.

Then a federal judge announced, and a three-judge federal panel confirmed, that the "million" youth march would take place in Harlem over the weekend, with cautions issuing from both courts to city against creating a siege setting similar to last year— which prompted another tantrum from Giuliani.

Meanwhile, the much flacked jury foreman continued the perusal with his peers of a landlord-tenant dispute in which the plaintiff contended that his testicles had been scalded so badly in such an unbearably hot shower that he had henceforth been unable to perform "services" demanded by the marriage contract.

The ballsy mayor also stirred up a tempest in the New York business community last week, with the appointment of 34-year-old Cristyne Lategano, his former press secretary and extremely close associate, to head the Convention and Visitors Bureau. The appointment outraged tourism officials, since Lategano is, as Crain's New York Business put it in a scalding editorial, "without a day of professional experience in the tourism industry."

Note: By week's end Republicans were floating a rumor that Hillary would never run in New York, because she was secretly being groomed to be Al Gore's VP. Yeah. And maybe she'll marry him.


War on Waco
Burning Down the House

After six years of cover-up, why would anyone now think that the Justice Department and Congress will get to the bottom of the Waco mess in some bogus Iran-contra type "investigation"? Everyone knows what happens in these three-ring media circuses: the main actors get immunity to rat each other out on television.

Nobody would be paying the slightest attention to Waco were a presidential campaign not heating up, with Republicans hoping to get not only Reno but maybe Clinton or Hillary, not to mention their favorite bogeyman, the late Vince Foster.

The information pointing to the FBI as liars comes from George W. Bush's Texas Department of Public Safety, which was spurred into action by conservative documentary filmmaker Mike McNulty. It certainly didn't come from any of the deadbeat "oversight" committees of Congress or that towering legal eminence in the House, Judiciary Committee chairman Henry Hyde.

Anyway, by Friday the dead Davidians were forgotten as Washington reporters turned Waco into a battle royal between Reno and FBI director Louis Freeh over new allegations of mistrust between the two. "Louis Freeh and I have one of the best relations in law enforcement," Reno insisted at her Friday briefing. "You all are going to try to make us enemies but you're not going to succeed." Reno's position remains that the Davidians set the fires in their compound, not federal lawmen. Republicans, still trying to recover from the scandal in which former Speaker Gingrich was revealed to be having an affair with a choir girl, would love to force poor Renowho shakes visibly from Parkinson's disease— to resign, and then turn it into a campaign issue. "I should be accountable for what I do," Reno said piously on Friday."

The truth is likely to out in Texas federal district court, where, until last week, the government was resisting the judge's order to produce documents about the case in a lawsuit brought by families of the victims. If the Clinton administration or the U.S. Congress doesn't get to the major players first and grant them immunity, it is in this arena that we may actually find out what happened, including such things as the role of the secret Delta Force (which botched the Iran desert landing in Jimmy Carter's presidency) and whether the liaising of military with civilian law enforcement was a breach of the posse comitatus law.

If the government had been successful at Waco, God knows how many other attacks it might have made to advance the image of Bubba as a tough guy, instead of the pitiable wuss he looked like for much of the last couple of years.


Clinton Body Count
Latest 'Victim' Falls

There's no question an unusually high number of people around the president— according to some lists as many as 100— have died accidental, violent, and at least superficially suspicious deaths. The latest occurred the week before last when Lieutenant Colonel Mark Cwick, a Marine Corps helicopter pilot who was a member of the unit that ferried the president and other high-ranking officials around the Washington area, died when his car swerved off the road to avoid a collision with an auto that had just passed him. Cwick, 41, was pronounced dead on August 20 in Fredericksburg, Virginia.

Within Cwick's elite Marines unit, two other strange deaths are known to have occurred. In April, Major Marc Hohle, who had been a pilot for Clinton in the first year of his first term as president, died in a helicopter crash on Okinawa. In March, another member of the special unit, Corporal Eric S. Fox, a helicopter crewman, was found dead of a gunshot wound to his head. Fox's body was found near a West Virginia schoolyard after his auto crashed. His death was ruled a suicide, but no explanation was given.

No doubt the deaths of Cwick, Hohle, and Fox will join the growing list of names that Linda Tripp has referred to as the Clinton "body count." The list includes names like Vince Foster as well as the late Commerce Secretary Ron Brown, who died in a plane crash in April 1996, but who conspiracy mongers claim was shot. And then there's former Clinton bodyguard Jerry Luther Parks, onetime head of the Clinton-Gore 1992 security team, who was gunned down in 1993 while driving his car in Little Rock.


Hall of Shame
Filthy Rich CEOs

As the divide between rich and poor gapes wider, corporate executives continue to pull down more obscene salaries. According to a list compiled by the Institute for Policy Studies, the left think tank in Washington, the following are the top five CEO money grubbers among the corporate elite in the '90s:

Hamish Maxwell, Philip Morris: In 1991 got $15.6 million in total compensation for his takeover of General Foods, Kraft Foods, and Jacob Suchard with tobacco profits.

Dean Buntrock, Waste Management: Drew $12.2 million in 1990 while the giant garbage combine was shelling out $52.3 million in fines and legal costs. Waste Management had been the target of 223 criminal and civil cases. In 1996, a federal judge ordered the company to pay $100 million as a result of a fraud charge. In 1998, the firm's new leadership agreed to pay $220 million to settle a class-action lawsuit brought by shareholders alleging that earnings had been overstated while Buntrock was in charge.

Thomas Frist, Hospital Corporation of America: Was the highest-paid CEO in the U.S. during 1992, hauling in $127 million. By 1998, while struggling to arrive at a settlement between his company and the federal government over Medicare fraud, he was among the lowest-paid. (Frist's brother Bill is the senator from Tennessee.)

Lawrence Coss, Green Tree Financial: America's highest-paid CEO in 1995 and 1996. Made a killing financing mobile homes and "subprime" car loans that can run up to 30 percent. Gave back $26 million of his $102 million salary in 1996 after a stockholder suit alleged that company accountants had cooked the books to artificially inflate earnings by $200 million.

William Anders, General Dynamics: Made $9.35 million in salary, bonuses, and other perks in 1991 while announcing that the company would be eliminating about 30,000 jobs over the next few years. Some of the jobs were transferred to Mexico, where employees make between 65 cents and $1.50 an hour.


On Bended Knee

The assistant principal of an elementary school in Fort Worth, Texas, was placed on administrative leave last week after he was accused of ordering an African American boy to kneel while he apologized to a white teacher. The boy's mother said she didn't mind the school disciplining her son, but "I object to the part that he was made to get on his knees." Reverend Michael Bell, a local preacher, said, "That to us is reminiscent of slavery." The school denied any racial motivation, and said it is investigating the incident.

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