Latest White House Snow Job?
Sunday’s announcement that First Lady and putative New York senatorial candidate Hillary Clinton would not be accompanying her husband on a trip to Central America because someone bumped her on a Utah ski slope, aggravating an old back injury, had all the earmarks of not-so-clever PR spin.
Nevertheless, some saw it as Hillary taking the first tentative steps toward distancing herself from Monica’s “sexual soulmate” in anticipation of a jump into the hornets’ nest of New York politics— where Hillary already is being pushed to join a group of activists who will commit
civil disobedience, demanding the arrest of the cops involved in the Amadou Diallo killing.
This followed reports on Saturday that Chinese spies had penetrated U.S. security during the ’80s and gotten away with designs for small
nuclear missile warheads. Even though the alleged espionage occurred long before Clinton took office, conservatives, who have tried unsuccessfully to nail Clinton/Gore with campaign irregularities involving Chinese money, leapt on the issue.
On Monday, with the president touring Central America and Hillary home alone, the scandal machine got pumped up again with George Stephanopoulos’s revelations in Newsweek that he had been on antidepressants to keep on an even keel during his time with the pair after Vince Foster’s suicide.
If that weren’t bad enough, the Clinton spinners had to keep their eyes trained on a worsening transatlantic spat between Linda Tripp and Monica in London, with Tripp accusing Lewinsky of being an outright liar. The fight threatens to air even more dirty laundry, since Tripp also claims there’s another woman waiting to accuse Clinton of sexual assault.
Finally, the supermarket tabloid Star, citing FBI documents, reported that “Clinton made passes at several female White House Secret Service agents.” The documents supposedly also report the allegations of the wife of a former top Clinton aide who says the president once pinned her to the wall, ignoring her protests, and ran his hands over her body.
If all goes as planned, George W. Bush will be backed by a female for veep— probably Elizabeth Dole. If not Dole, then another right-of-center woman, possibly Jennifer Dunn (who is a member of Bush’s exploratory team, introduced in a wooden political pageant in Austin on Sunday). Not, however, Olympia Snowe— the only real class act in sight— who is seen as too liberal. Nor Christie Whitman, who, it is felt, would kick Junior’s ass. The governor can’t take criticism.
As for the ne’er-do-wells— like walkathon maniac Lamar Alexander, ex-POW John McCain, or the self-promoting JFK ripoff, John Kasich— they have little chance for the top GOP spot, and no veep appeal. Pat Buchanan, on his third time out, already looks like a goner. Then, of course, there’s Dan Quayle, Bush Sr.’s old choice, still panting in the wings.
Key decision maker behind Junior is his mother, Barbara, on whose opinion, insiders say, G.W. depends. Not Dad, whom the party right-wingers always thought harbored Communist sympathies, and who was regarded as a wuss. It was Barbara Bush who advised Junior not to jump into the fray, but to wait till the party faithful came calling.
It was also Barbara Bush’s “literacy campaign” that inspired George W.’s own education campaign as governor of Texas. “I’ve learned a lot from the honoree,” he said of his mother at a recent event honoring her. “I learned to chew with my mouth closed. I learned to like my peas.”
Once the scandal machine gets into gear, this is exactly the sort of protection Junior is going to need. After graduating from Yale, Junior went through a decade-long, self-described
“nomadic” period of drinking and womanizing. He married in 1977 at age 31, and quit drinking nine years after that.
Writes Michael King in the Texas Observer: “On the stump, Dubya— a nickname in Texas— delights in sermonizing over the failures of his own sixties generation, which believed, Bush says, ‘if it feels good, do it. But the Governor is uncomfortable with specific questions concerning his own past, responding only, ‘When I was young and irresponsible, I was young and irresponsible.’ ” That won’t work in the “A” league.
King noted that when Bush told a reporter he was “embarrassed” for the country by the Clinton sex scandal, Lanny Davis, a former Clinton aide and Bush classmate at Yale, retorted, “I went to school with Governor George Bush, and he should watch the kind of sanctimonious statement that he just made about the President. People who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.”
Hey, It Might Help Cover Health Care
In an age when millions of people can’t get health insurance or even come close to paying for expensive medical care, a brave new frontier of free-market medicine is on the horizon. If British ethicists have their way, you may soon be able to sell your body parts before you die. The stated reason would be to cut down the waiting lists of people needing life-saving transplants. But of course the practice would open up a whole new field— bounty hunting for kidneys, livers, eyes, hearts, etc.
John Harris, formerly of the British Medical Association’s ethics committee, believes a market in human organs can be run correctly under strict conditions. He suggests that bodies become public property upon death, allowing surgeons to harvest organs without obtaining relatives’ consent.
Current U.S. laws prohibit trafficking in body parts. The American Medical Association says, “The voluntary donation of organs in appropriate circumstances is to be encouraged,” but adds, “However, it is not ethical to participate in a procedure to enable a living donor to receive payment, other than for the reimbursement of expenses necessarily incurred in connection with removal, for any of the donor’s non-renewable organs.”
But the times they are a’changin’. This summer, hospitals in Pennsylvania plan to take advantage of a new state program that permits donor families to sign over their organs in exchange for partial payment of funeral costs. Parts in heavy demand include kidneys, livers, lungs, pancreases, and hearts. The law specifies a top payment of $3000 per internment.
A single serving of some fruits and vegetables may contain enough pesticides to exceed government safety recommendations, according to a recent Consumers Union report.
Another recent report, by the Environmental Working Group, stated that apples, peaches, and other fresh fruit are contaminated by the pesticide methyl parathion, and asked that the EPA ban the use of it. Until the EPA acts, the report said, parents should shift from apples and peaches to other fresh fruit for preschoolers. The report found that more than 250,000 kids from ages one to five ingest a combination of 20 pesticides every day.
Even this understates the situation. The government has studied only 20 percent of pesticides. And with an election coming up, politicians are sucking up to the chemical industry, which provides lavish campaign financing.
Pesticides in food are becoming more common in part because, until recently, the EPA has turned a blind eye to the chemical companies’ practice of testing pesticides on humans abroad (most often in England), and using the results to gain a higher level of tolerance in foods here.
In the U.S., agricultural pesticides are a growing source of chemical pollution. Nationally, pesticide use has grown from about 540 million pounds in 1964 to 1100 million pounds in 1993, with agriculture accounting for three-quarters of all use. Pesticides have been
detected in ground water— used by half of the nation for drinking— in more than 43 states.
With hardly anyone noticing, the IRS earlier this year opened a huge new loophole in campaign-funding rules by allowing political campaigns to operate charitable affiliates, or 501(c)3s, as they are commonly called. According to some experts, this means politicians can set up and use nonprofit, tax-exempt organizations for “education” and “research,” like getting the dirt on Gore’s environmental record or George W.’s
early sex life. Money for these outfits can come from contributors looking for a tax write-off or from other foundations. For example, the Rockefeller Foundation might want to criticize a candidate who has opposed oil companies.
The change came in the form of an obscure IRS ruling on Newt Gingrich’s congressional campaign practices, which vindicated the ex-speaker on the political use of charitable groups. The House Ethics Committee had conducted a year-long inquiry into the propriety of Gingrich’s teaching a televised course on American culture for a nonprofit group. The IRS says the committee blocked it from obtaining crucial information about the details of Gingrich’s operation that it had gathered during the investigation. Had the IRS been privy to the information, the verdict— in what the agency called a “close case”— might have gone against Gingrich. However, the IRS did not make a vigorous effort to obtain the material.
Children are the big new donors in politics. Under-age contributors gave nearly $2.6 million to presidential candidates in the 1996 elections, a 45 percent increase over 1992, according to a study done for the Los Angeles Times.
The gimmick is called “family bundling.” Parents who have maxed out simply keep the spigots open in their kids’ names. The Times located one seven-year-old who gave $1000 to a candidate and a nine-year-old who dished out three $1000 contributions. A former Maryland state senator was fined for making contributions through his 18-month-old son.
Additional reporting: Ioana Veleanu