Psychopol Nation

The Blackboard Jungle

Monopoly Money

Dirty Politics

Promises, Promises

Go Ask Alice

Bill Bradley’s Mom: ‘I Wanted a Girl’

Psychopol Nation

Politicians used to get off being tough, no-nonsense, above-the-squabbling-commons type men like FDR or Harry Truman or Ronald Reagan. Bill Clinton changed all that, feeling our pain and talking about his abused white-trash childhood. Eight years of Clinton, and the Oprahfication of politics is now in full swing. Politicians everywhere try to turn their vulnerability into an asset.

Gail Sheehy has helped us explore the psychology of Hillary Clinton; in the world of the psychopol, the best thing about Hillary is not any political experience but her husband’s infidelity. It’s comforting to know that George W. Bush was a drunk. And that he has now accepted his codependent relationship with alcohol and seems to have submitted himself to a higher power. John McCain’s famous temper has led the war hero to learn how to process his anger. Al Gore is trying to work himself out of an oedipal phase, although it must be said that, on the basis of his recently made-up history, the candidate may actually be suffering from multiple-personality disorder. Steve Forbes’s pro-family policies may be seen as a reaction to a daddy who swung both ways. What makes Pat Buchanan tick is between himself and the priest in the confessional booth.

This brings us to Bill Bradley, whose heart tick had everyone worried over the weekend. What’s his secret? Bradley was revealed in Sunday’s Washington Post to have survived a pushy mother who thought of herself as the “mind force” behind the candidate’s growing up. She went to extremes of yelling instructions at him from the sidelines during basketball games, and digging at her son with caustic remarks. When he was born, she supposedly said, “Well, it’s a boy and I wanted a girl”; she also called the infant “a long, skinny, ugly baby—I’m just being honest.” Two reporters from the Post will be exploring Bradley’s psyche all this week.

Perhaps the most important artifact they have so far turned up is a photo of a seemingly happy young Bradley, age seven, sitting in his bedroom in a rocking chair at the console of an elaborate electric train set. Meaning? Young Bill was creating an alternative world within his own control.

What About the Metal Detectors?

The Blackboard Jungle

Worried about a Columbine repeat in which children would be “cut down like sheep before wild dogs,” Jim McGregor, mayor of Gahanna, Ohio, proposed recently that certain school administrators carry guns—with the city providing “practice ammunition” and training in “combat arms.” The school officials would have to buy their own weapons.

“When demons drive a madman before them, when unfathomable hatred rules a tormented heart, when bloodlust and mayhem reign in the mind of a hostile, one individual must stand against them,” McGregor wrote. “One person must confront and take life to save life. That one reluctant peacemaker must be on-site. That one carrier of a terrible burden must be with the students. That one lonely individual must be in many of the classrooms of our school system. That person can only be an educator.”

The school superintendent immediately rejected the idea, arguing the police ought to be in charge of public safety in schools. McGregor said he thought he had general authority under city and state law to allow him to designate school administrators to carry guns. “They will have no police duties but this one terrible responsibility,” the mayor said. But Franklin County prosecutor Ron O’Brien said state law prohibits anyone except police officers from possessing a gun on school property.

Gates Rolls On

Monopoly Money

Apparently undeterred by Judge Penfield Jackson’s recent finding of fact that the software giant is a monopoly, Microsoft is pouring more money into politics, and according to an L.A. Convention 2000 press release, kicking in about $750,000 of in-kind services to help run the Democratic party’s convention. A Microsoft spokesman said that in addition to the Democratic contribution, the company would make in-kind donations in about the same amount to the Republicans meeting in Philadelphia.

The Democrats are hoping to raise $35 million for their convention and the Republicans $50 million. Other big contributors to the Democrats include UPS, AT&T, ARCO, Staples, and Pacific Bell.

Meanwhile, Microsoft has laid the groundwork for trumping the entire telecommunications industry by hooking its Internet Explorer browser directly into MSNBC’s homepage, virtually guaranteeing the Web site an enormous worldwide market and setting the stage for linking PCs to video now available on the cable channel it runs jointly with NBC. Whatever happens to Microsoft in the courts, the company seems bent on marching forward unscathed.

Bill’s Sorry Eco Record

Dirty Politics

In the wake of the government’s own reports citing a decline in prosecution of environmental crimes (by one third in a two-year period), Gregory Sasse, an assistant U.S. attorney in Cleveland for 16 years and the lead prosecutor for environmental crimes, claims his Justice Department superiors punished him for prosecuting polluters.

Sasse began his career by prosecuting the commissioner of the Cleveland airport, who was burying chemical and hazardous waste in “a big ditch. The employees were coughing blood, passing out, and having all kinds of symptoms, and going to the hospital from the fumes,” he says. “It has been my experience that government is a worse polluter than business. They seem to have less regard for the law and much less fear of the law than businesses do.”

Then there was the company that blew out a sewage plant by dumping chemical wastes down the drain. They killed the plant’s friendly sewage-eating bacteria, so that human waste poured into a river that was the source of drinking water for various municipalities. “My boss was screaming at me,” Sasse told the Corporate Crime Reporter. “His point was, this is no big deal. Who cares? He is extremely determined on the subject of not believing in the enforcement of pollution laws.”

Sasse, himself a probusiness Reagan Republican, tried to talk to Clinton’s U.S. Attorney but could never get through, and was told to lay off holding press conferences in big pollution cases because it would make the administration appear “too liberal.”

Exasperated by Clinton red tape that prevented him from discussing prosecutions with his superiors, and frustrated by endless bureaucracy that seemed calculated to stall new cases, Sasse charged the Department with intimidation under the Environmental Employee Protection Act, which shields federal employees who bring an environmental action from undue political pressure. Although an administrative law judge ruled in Sasse’s favor, Justice continues to fight the case on jurisdictional grounds, refusing to comply with discovery requests.

“I’m very probusiness myself,” Sasse said, “but I don’t want the world blighted or people getting sick from pollution.” Sasse continues to work in the U.S. Attorney’s office and waits to see what will finally happen with his grievance.

Let Them Eat Tax Cuts!

Promises, Promises

The GOP’s obsession with tax cuts is becoming a contentious issue within the party and could end up as an albatross in the general election. Frontrunner George W. Bush wants to reduce taxes by $483 billion over five years. That’s more costly than Bob Dole’s 1996 proposal to reduce taxes by 15 percent, and more than the $792 million cut congressional Republicans passed last summer, only to have it vetoed by Clinton. Bush hopes his scheme will appeal to crucial GOP conservatives in the primaries. He insists his cuts will benefit lower- and middle-income taxpayers, but Gore has gone after him already for being irresponsible, charging that his proposals would use up the surplus and ruin the economy.

More to the point, Bruce Bartlett, a former Reagan administration Treasury official writing in the Heritage Foundation’s Policy Review, argues that the tax revolt, which fueled GOP campaigns beginning with Reagan’s in the late 1970s, is dead. “Supporters of tax cuts need to be more sophisticated than they have been,” writes Bartlett. “They cannot just declare their support for tax cuts and expect hungry voters to react as if they are being thrown red meat. Voters have been burned by too many false promises. . . .”

Coming from Heritage, the most important conservative Republican think tank in Washington—which for years has set the parameters of GOP debate—Bartlett’s article is a political heads-up to GOP candidates not to go nutso on taxes next year.

Go Ask Alice

Closing in for a drug sting, British undercover detectives approached a heavily fortified house in the English town of Middlebrough, only to gasp in amazement when a three-year-old girl answered the door. The child took their money and toddled off, returning with marijuana, which she passed through a grill to the cops. “My officers were absolutely gobsmacked,” Detective Sergeant Bell said in disbelief. Five members of the child’s family, including her sobbing 23-year-old mum, were subsequently locked up, but the girl went free because she is under 10.