Nation

Lame Duck Soup
Capitalist Tools
Texas Snowman?
Billion-Dollar Blackmail
Sick 'Em
Eat Me

Lost Alamos Revisited
Lame Duck Soup

The Marx Brothers shenanigans at Los Alamos look like a metaphor for Clinton's lame-duck rule. Losing the hard drives containing the nation's nuclear crown jewels and then finding them—like a lost pair of glasses propped behind a copy machine—is, to put it mildly, hard to believe. The incident recalled the 1996 reappearance of Hillary Clinton's missing Rose Law Firm billing records, which had been subpoenaed two years previously and were thought to be lost. Inexplicably, they turned up on a table in the White House.

The latest episode climaxed over the weekend with agitated Energy Secretary Bill Richardson—his VP chances now hopelessly compromised as calls for his head rained down from Republicans—lecturing the public to let the FBI do its work.

Though it was an easy slam dunk, Shrub managed to miss the shot, wobbling in with a sound bite that "America's nuclear security should not be a matter of lost and found."

At least, the beleaguered Gore finally had enough sense to get rid of Tony Coehlo, the walking time bomb who chaired his campaign. An inflamed colon is the least of this poor guy's worries. Coehlo is under investigation for what may turn out to be the misuse of government funds for a private project. You can bet the Democratic political pros in Washington breathed a sigh of relief at his exit.

But in Coehlo's place Gore picked another loser in the form of William Daley, perhaps best remembered for collapsing at the press conference at which he was announced as commerce secretary. Gore's choice of Daley infuriated adherents of Donna Brazile, who thought she ought to have run the operation, and anti-free trade labor union leaders. On Daley's appointment last week, the AFL-CIO attacked him as being "squarely on the opposite side of working families."


Nader Worth Millions
Capitalist Tools

Ralph Nader, who is enjoying a renaissance in the press—not all of it positive—is suing this week to get into the presidential debates. With the major media controlling access to the debates, demanding that each participant demonstrate 15 percent backing in national polls, both Nader (at about 6 percent) and Pat Buchanan currently are excluded.

At week's end, Nader issued his financial statements, revealing that despite giving away 80 percent of his annual income, he's worth $3.8 million. Of course, a veritable industry of public-interest groups has been launched from Nader's speaking fees alone ($200,000 to $500,000 a year), and Nader has made shrewd investments in technology companies, such as Cisco. This occasioned comment because Nader projects have been key players in attacking the Microsoft monopoly, although supporting open-systems software that would make Web technology essentially free to everyone.

Meanwhile, as the consumer champion prepares to receive the Green Party coronation this week in Denver, some Greens already are quarreling over the choice of Native American Winona LaDuke as VP nominee. One wacky faction wants Georgia congresswoman Cynthia McKinney, a Democrat, to serve with Nader as "true partners for the highest executive offices" over two terms "with an exchange of office" after the first term.

In an interview, Nader said he was not aware of the idea. "We haven't heard about it," said a McKinney spokesman.


Bush Camp Snorts at Reports
Texas Snowman?

Oft-denied rumors that Texas governor George W. Bush was once a cokehead are certain to gain new currency following a report in London's Sunday Times that Dubya was suspended from flying while he was a young National Guard pilot for failing to take a medical exam that included a drug test.

The Times said it had documents showing that Shrub was grounded for failing to "accomplish" an annual medical exam that would have included the test. The Bush campaign said the candidate had properly performed his duties and had not used drugs.

Earlier this year, the Boston Globe reported that there are no records to show that Bush even attended Guard training sessions from May 1972 to April 1973, and that in May 1973 officers at Ellington Air Force Base in Houston claimed that Bush hadn't been there for a year.


The Cost of Corporate Incentives
Billion-Dollar Blackmail

While the fair-trade movement has been focusing on stopping the export of U.S. jobs to developing nations, big corporations have been playing another destructive game, pitting states within the U.S. against one another to reduce the cost of labor. According to an in-depth report in the Baltimore Sun, states are providing more than $3 billion each year in incentives to attract companies by doling out grants, tax cuts, and loans. So far, two-thirds of the states either have introduced incentive programs or expanded programs already on the books over the last two years. These deals often are outright scams. Firms cajole, then threaten to leave states when they never have any intention of moving.

As more has been learned about the terms of such incentives and their economic effects, the seeds of political revolt have taken root among unions, citizens' groups, and state and local officials, creating an alliance that binds unionists with Libertarians and liberals like former Illinois governor Jim Edgar and members of the Fed. At the center of this network is Greg LeRoy, director of Good Jobs First, a national clearinghouse on job subsidies. In a recent study, he found that 26 cities, 16 states, and four counties have moved to attach standards aimed at preserving wages.

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