WHO’S A LIAR?
In a paid ad on page 12 Verso asks the question “Did the Holocaust industry’s lead attorney, Burt Neuborne, lie in The Nation?” Our advertising policy carries a presumption in favor of publishing ads with which the editors disagree, but the magazine reserves the right to disagree with those ads. So the answer to Verso’s question is a resounding No. Decide for yourself by reading the December 18 and 25, 2000, Nation Letters pages.
KEN LAY’S GOOD WORKS
Ken Lay, the disgraced Enron leader, hobnobbed with and contributed not only to politicians but to think tanks. He was a board member and funder of the conservative American Enterprise Institute (where Second Lady Lynne Cheney is a fellow). And he had the same relationship with Resources for the Future, a corporate-backed group researching environmental and natural resources issues. Last spring, after Lay agreed to finance a chair at RFF, its president, Paul Portney, gushed, “In his role as chairman of Enron Corp., Ken Lay has almost singlehandedly made the world rethink what it means to be a modern energy company.” Lay’s gift to RFF, according to the group’s newsletter, was to underwrite research “to improve the way decisionmakers consider important issues on the top of the nation’s policy agenda.” Well, he has been an expert at winning the attention of government decision-makers–whether through doling out loads of money or getting caught overseeing a pyramid scheme that triggers a mega-bankruptcy.
THE PRETZEL AFFAIR
George Bush’s alimentary struggle with a pretzel provoked heavy-duty punditry abroad, according to the Los Angeles Times. Here is a sampler of quotes from the foreign press: Daily Telegraph (UK): “Has the stress of fighting the war on terrorism while fending off inquiries about the collapse of his friend Ken Lay’s Enron overwhelmed him?” Bild (Germany): “Has the president’s alcohol problem been taken up again?” Arab News (Saudi Arabia): “If, however, Bush’s unusual collapse is a symptom of more serious medical problems, we can be absolutely sure that, lacking any clear direction from a troubled White House, Washington’s foreign policy will click back on its traditional Zionist track. Palestinians will continue to choke on Israeli aggression while the US president may again choke on a typical Yiddish pretzel.” Le Progrès (France): “This shows that the most powerful man on Earth is, above all, a man. And as a man, he is in danger of digging his grave with his teeth…. Especially when he comes from a society that obviously has a complicated relationship with food.”Gazeta (Russia): “Bush’s organism, although weakened and unconscious… rejected the pretzel but later swallowed it and digested without mercy.”
NAFTA AND DEMOCRACY
Bill Moyers Reports will examine how an obscure provision of NAFTA is allowing multinational corporations to sue governments over laws that threaten their profits in “Trading Democracy,” set to air February 5 on PBS (10 pm Eastern Standard Time, check local listings). The program features an interview with Nation national affairs correspondent William Greider, whose investigation of the same topic appeared in these pages (“The Right and US Trade Law,” October 15, 2001).
The Freedom of Information Act lawsuit filed by the Center for National Security Studies and the ACLU against the Justice Department on behalf of a number of organizations, including The Nation, has already borne fruit. The suit calls on the department to release information on the thousand-plus foreign nationals who were detained by the government after the September 11 attack, including all their names. In the Justice Department’s reply to the suit in early January, it disclosed that of some 725 people detained on immigration charges during the post-September 11 dragnet, many were held for a week or more without any charges being brought against them. But Justice’s information release did not identify those detained, and the lawsuit continues.
NEWS OF THE WEAK IN REVIEW
Robert L. Bartley in the Wall Street Journal: “The real answer to Enron is likely to be found in, say, the little sermons on vice and virtue that make William J. Bennett so tiresome to our I’m OK, you’re OK sophisticates.” OK, Bob, if you say so.
IN COLD TYPE
This week’s issue brings the debut of what will be a monthly report by contributing editor Amy Wilentz. “In Cold Type” (see page 37) will be an eclectic look at what’s notable in the world of periodicals, whether in print or online.