Public Nuisance

Random commentary and senseless acts of blogging.

The first Republican president once said, "While the people retain their virtue and their vigilance, no administration by any extreme of wickedness or folly can seriously injure the government in the short space of four years." If Mr. Lincoln could see what's happened in these last three-and-a-half years, he might hedge a little on that statement.
-Ronald Reagan

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Monday, July 15, 2002
 
A story in the LA Times today gives new information on Bush's sale of Harken stock. The story does seem to clear up some questions that I've been wondering about - one key point is that it seems clear the decision to drop the case was made by lower level investigators and not by Bush appointees.

Does this close the case? Not entirely, since there is some evidence that Bush had more knowledge of coming bad news than the investigation learned (link from Jason Rylander), and I would still like to know why the simple step of interviewing Bush to ask him exactly how much he knew at the time about Harken's coming losses wasn't done.

But the relevance of the case has always been political, not legal. Bush's position at Harken was the result of a pattern that ran through his entire business career, of making money not off his skills or work, but his name. The Texas Rangers deal that was financed by the sale of Harken stock was more of the same. And the fact that it is pretty well documented that Bush was at least technically in violation of SEC regulations by failing to submit the proper forms in time doesn't help, nor do his numerous stories in which everyone but him is responsible for the improper filings. Nor does the fact that he isn't the only Bush to have profitted extensively from his name and connections.

Some of this is probably unfair, but given the endless Clinton investigations (some still continuing today), you'll have to forgive me if I don't feel overcome with sympathy.

Bush is inescapably involved in the ethically shady (not necessarily illegal) transactions that Harken was engaged in while he served on its board. Cheney is, if anything, in deeper. Joshua Green's claim that Bush II has had the loosest ethical standards of any recent administration is entirely justified. This means, at the very least, that Bush has little to no credibility as an advocate of the tougher standards that the public - and investors - now demand.



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