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This story won't run by itself. The potential of the Harken Energy story to damage George W. Bush's image has been noted by such online luminaries as Josh Marshall ("this has legs") and Charles Murtaugh ("enormous negative implications for the Bush presidency"), but the Democrats are inaudible on the subject and the respectable media seem quite content to reduce the issue to a matter of confusion over form 4 vs. form 144 filings. The media will soon exhaust this story and move on, unless the Democrats organize a political party and make a federal case out of Harken Energy.
Harken Energy is the best issue to come down the pike for Democrats in a while. Think of it as Bush's penis. Bush's weakness is a smaller version of the weakness exhibited by the people who ran Enron and WorldCom and Arthur Anderson -- an inability to resist the temptation to partake of other people's money without having earned it. The people who ran these publicly-held companies looted them for personal gain, a pure and simple betrayal of trust. And right now the public is keenly aware of the negative consequences of such behavior for shareholders, employees, consumers and just about everyone else. Strongly associating this sort of behavior with Bush, and by implication with other Republicans, should greatly improve Democratic prospects for the 2002 and 2004 elections.
Not to forget the casual breaking of rules ("like doing a 60 in a 55 zone"), the multiple explanations for late SEC filings or the possible insider selling, but there is one point the Democrats should hammer in by repeating in unison.
When Bush was on the Harken Energy Board of Directors and on the company's Audit Committee, the company cooked the books by using a phony transaction similar to Enron's Raptor scheme to conceal losses from investors.This is not merely guilt by association. The sale of the Aloha subsidiary to a group of Harken insiders took place on Bush's watch. This Harvard M.B.A. was being paid to be a company Director, and he should have known that Harken loaned money to a group of its own executives so that they could buy the Aloha subsidiary from Harken. He should not have missed the fact that this phony transaction allowed Harken to hide about $10 million in losses from its shareholders (until the SEC discovered it and forced the company to restate earnings).
This is a matter of morality and ethics. Bush was intimately involved in running a company that blatantly violated business ethics well before Bill Clinton induced such bad behavior in those other corporate CEOs. You could say that George W. Bush was a pioneer of corporate corruption, engaging in Raptor-style schemes long before they became fashionable.
If the Democratic Party can't give legs to a story like this, just what the hell is it good for?
Correction: we only kill women and children who show hostile intent. John "Akatsukami" Braue of Rat's Nest kindly points out that the Ithaca Journal interview with Army Private Matt Guckenheimer in April, quoted in my previous article, was not the last word on the subject. In a May 31 letter to the Journal, Pvt. Guckenheimer wrote:
Recently your paper quoted me as saying that my unit was ordered to kill women and children.Well, I sure hope we are better than that. I'm also sure that Pvt. Guckenheimer, whose private parts are still encased in underwear stamped U.S. ARMY PROPERTY, was not pressured in any way by his military peers or superiors to issue the clarification.
Why do we hate the International Criminal Court so much? Mr. Bush explains:
But why would Mr. Bush be troubled by the possibility that American diplomats and soldiers working to bring peace around the world would be drug into this court? Perhaps this has something to do with it (italics added):
In an April interview with The Ithaca Journal at his family's Cayuga Heights home, [Army Private Matt] Guckenheimer, 22, shared his experiences during Operation Anaconda. He was sent on March 6 in a company of more than 100 soldiers to participate in the largest U.S.-led ground engagement in Eastern Afghanistan.[Via a May posting at Blowback by Brian Lamb, who knows the duffle we're in.]
The court found that the best available evidence indicates that, "on the one hand, innocent people are sentenced to death with materially greater frequency than was previously supposed and that, on the other hand, convincing proof of their innocence often does not emerge until long after their convictions."The decision (PDF) seems well reasoned. Nonetheless, I am not breaking out the champagne quite yet.
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|The floggings will cease when morale improves.|