Clinton Runs Rings Around Gore
With Clinton usurping Gore’s role as candidate, the latter’s humiliation seems complete. Last week, the president, stealing a page from the “inventor of the Internet,” even claimed that he, not George W., had invented the term compassionate conservative.
Discussing Bush’s “rhetoric of compassionate conservatism” on the left coast leg of his nationwide “poverty tour,” Clinton told the L.A. Times that “half those speeches sounded like I gave them in ’92.” The president added that he finds Bush’s lingo “very flattering in a way” because it “replicates the rhetoric” of his own themes.
Since Reagan, of course, the conservative movement, whose basic thrust has been to end what’s left of New Deal social welfare, has been seeking new palliatives in hopes the electorate won’t see them as a complete bunch of bastards. They’ve been fine-tuning “compassionate conservatism” at places like the Heritage Foundation for years. While Clinton was still goofing around in Little Rock, the Republicans had compassionate conservatives playing big-time politics— chief among them Reagan himself, and Jack Kemp, who’s been doing the bit for years. Clinton’s New Democrats are pale copies, though it’s certainly true that the only thing Clinton offered the poor on his trips to the other side of the tracks was compassion— not money.
At the same time, Hillary trooped around New York State on her hysterical “listening tour.” Starting on Wednesday, at the Moynihan farm, she was repeatedly trotted out before fawning audiences from Rome to Syracuse to Albany, even coming onstage between acts at a presentation of Gypsy in the state capital, after doing a shameless 180 on Israel in an attempt to ingratiate herself with New York’s key bloc of Jewish voters.
Meanwhile, Dubya drifted about in a dreamlike swirl, dropping out of the blue into the minority journalists’ conference in Seattle, bobbing and weaving and dodging every weak jab coming his way, including the requisite inquiry into his questionable military record. In 1968, in the midst of the Vietnam War, the 21-year-old Bush sought to get into the Texas Air National Guard. He had no flying experience, but no
matter. Dad was a congressman, and
citing his work as a ranch hand, oil field “roustabout,” and sporting-goods salesman, he got in— and he became a poster boy. A 1970 Guard release featured the high-flying Dubya as “one member of our younger generation who doesn’t get his kicks from pot or hashish or speed. Oh he gets high all right, but not from narcotics,” it said. “Fighters are it,” Bush was quoted as saying. “I’ve always wanted to be a fighter pilot, and I wouldn’t want to fly anything else.”
The minutiae of Dubya’s stewardship in Texas will seem mind-boggling to people who don’t live there. Last week, the Austin Chronicle reported that Bush may have been at the heart of a scheme to wring campaign contributions from the funeral industry. At issue was whether mortuary mogul Robert Waltrips’s giant Service Corporation International could subcontract the embalming of corpses, thereby allegedly making additional profits. The company is at the heart of a whistleblower suit in which a former member of the Texas Funeral Service Commission alleges Bush and other politicos worked to thwart an investigation into the operations of improperly licensed embalmers.
Rudy Runs Against Con Ed
Last week’s blackouts in Manhattan were just the tip of a problem that threatens the nation’s entire electrical system.
Giuliani’s rants against Con Edison (run, Rudy, run), followed by his announcement of the city’s suit against Con Edison, could, in fact, help expose the rot affecting the country’s power grid. The reason: Throughout the ’90s the U.S. has been gradually deregulating the electric-
utility industry. This has allowed power companies to combine with other firms and move into a variety of businesses, in the process transforming the industry into a market-driven machine or, more precisely, giving it the appearance of one. For it remains a hodgepodge industry, with some parts modern, some antique.
This means two things. First, in a quasi-free market electricity producers can only stay in business if prices are high enough to realize a profit. The best way to assure profits is to decrease reserve capacity, so that, in a period of intense demand, prices rise sharply, as they did last year, from $25 per megawatt hour to over $1000. Second, explains Jim Dushaw, director of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers’ utility department, although theoretically the system is free market, it can’t operate that way because the lines that carry the juice aren’t really an interconnected system. “There is no national grid as such,” Dushaw says. That means large blocks of electricity can flow only over certain lines. Huge amounts of power pouring into the East from the Great Plains, for example, can overwhelm smaller eastern utilities.
The upshot of the volatile market maneuverings now taking place will be to saddle consumers with the cost. What happened in Manhattan last week will surely be repeated, but in the future it will be much worse.
‘Unique in World History’
Although a UN report last week indicated that the overall damage in Kosovo may not turn out to be as severe as originally thought, NATO’s bombing of Serbia is another matter.
The UN will soon begin an investigation of environmental damage in Serbia, but Pekka Haavisto, Finland’s former environment minister, who heads the inspection team, says NATO has not been forthcoming with information. Fears are greatest in Pancevo, a city 12 miles from Belgrade, where NATO targeted a huge manufacturing complex, releasing toxic chemicals into the atmosphere. Mico Mastinovic, a hydrologist, told the Chicago Tribune that the array of toxic chemicals released in the region “is unique in world history.” According to a log he kept, NATO bombed the complex for 23 days. On April 18, NATO scored direct hits on facilities holding 1500 tons of vinyl-chloride monomer, 250 tons of chlorine, 1800 tons of ethylene dichloride and 15,000 tons of ammonia. “Thousands fled the city, coughing and complaining of burning eyes, stomach upsets and choking. The fires raged as long as 12 hours. Nearly a third of the toxic chemicals went up in smoke,” Mikovic told the Tribune. “We have no idea what negative effects they will have on human life and the environment because we have no test analysis available,” he added. “We can only suspect they polluted our entire watershed, the soil, and the rivers.”
According to the UN report on Kosovo, damage to housing, health care, and water resources are “severe” in 141 of approximately 2000 villages. Forty percent of the water in the villages is unusable, with many wells polluted by animal and human corpses. However, the report adds, “the extent of the damage to housing has been overstated.” This is because two-thirds of Kosovo’s population lives in cities, and only two cities— Pec and Djakovica— experienced widespread damage. One third of Kosovo was relatively untouched.
Nuclear ‘Crown Jewels’ at Risk
In the wake of the Chinese spy scandal, the government is undertaking an extraordinary project that will provide future spies a great target. The July-August Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists reports that the nation’s most important nuclear weapons secrets are being collected, catalogued, indexed, cross-referenced, and put into a unified electronic data base called the Nuclear Weapons Information Base.
“It’s a point-and-click computer network of weapons knowledge so complete that its theft by foreign spies would constitute a loss of virtually every nuclear weapon design secret possessed by the United States,” the Bulletin states. The system is a how-to manual for many weapons in the U.S. nuclear arsenal, featuring blueprints, engineering drawings, documentary pictures of hydrogen bomb tests, full texts of classified documents, and video interviews with the physicists and engineers who designed them.
The idea was to provide workers in the nuclear weapons complex with the accumulated knowledge of 50 years of weapons work. Although the project prompted internal criticism that the security risk was too great, Bill Bookless, in charge of Livermore National Laboratory’s contribution to the network, told the Bulletin he believed the security issue could be solved.
“Unlike the uncertainty surrounding the value of weapons data that may have been lost to the Chinese, there would be no doubt about the impact if this database were compromised,” the Bulletin states. “It would explain everything; it represents the crown jewels of America’s nuclear weapons program.”
Weyrich in Wonderland
Paul Weyrich, a founder of the New Right and a driving force in the conservative culture that suffocates the Capital, is now suggesting that conservatives, taking off from the path-breaking movement in home schooling, can best tune out slime culture by setting up parallel institutions. According to Weyrich, more than a million conservative children are now being home schooled and, by and large, “taught our values.”
“This is, after all, a war,” Weyrich writes in the June 15 issue of his newsletter, The Weyrich Insider. “And wars are not won unless we control territory. . . . We need institutions of our own so that we can function as social beings without having to live in a world controlled by our enemies.”
He adds, “We need all sorts of parallel institutions to retake the culture. We need a private court system which can bypass politically correct judges. We need our own entertainment industry so that we can have an alternative to the garbage Hollywood produces. In short we need a new voluntary movement in this country, similar to voluntary efforts in the Victorian era in Great Britain which reclaimed that decadent society.”
Bursting with racial pride, a Midwest entrepreneur has begun to manufacture, under the label “Caucasians,” what the newspaper White Patriot calls “American-made jeans for proud white people.” Loose-fit and straight-legged, Caucasians are adverstised by a company in Cuba, Missouri.
Additional reporting: Ioana Veleanu
Research: Coalition for Human Dignity
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on July 13, 1999