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Jewish World Review Jan. 8, 2001/ 13 Teves, 5761


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Consumer Reports

Greenspan wakes up -- WEDNESDAY'S SURPRISE decision by Alan Greenspan to lower interest rates by half a percentage point was a decisive victory for President-Elect George W. Bush. Not that this view was reflected in the country's liberal newspapers the next day. No, Greenspan was hailed as a hero-even depicted as Superman in a four-color illustration on the front page of Thursday's Daily News. In fact, had Greenspan acted responsibly last month when he met with Bush in Washington, instead of egotistically playing a power game with the incoming chief executive, the current recession would've been officially recognized earlier. Wall Street might not have suffered its nonstop staggering losses had a Federal Reserve-booster been administered at the time of the strange Greenspan-Bush summit.

At least there will be no more malarkey, of the kind we heard from Clinton lackeys, that Bush and Dick Cheney were purposely discussing-in public!-the economic downturn for political reasons. Obviously, Bush has his own agenda to promote, specifically a massive, and necessary, across-the-board tax cut. But the reality is that the country's "prosperity" has been in peril since at least last September.

This isn't to say that Bush is inheriting a "Clinton recession," since the current president had no more to do with the slowdown than with the 90s boom. The economy's strength is cyclical, and Clinton was fortunate enough to have been in office during a period when the economic impact of the tech explosion came to fruition. That Clinton and his pea-brain Justice Dept. harmed investors by prosecuting Microsoft-and, by extension, all entrepreneurs whose vision exceeds that of the federal government-is another matter. But now even Democrats, most notably Dick Gephardt, are admitting that far more substantial tax relief than the amount Al Gore proposed during the campaign is a legislative priority.

The New York Times ridiculed Bush in a Jan. 4 editorial, dismissing his meeting on Wednesday in Austin with business leaders like General Electric's Jack Welch. The paper's lead editorial began: "The juxtaposition of economic activities yesterday was striking. In Austin, Tex., a hand-picked bunch of corporate chief executives sat around with [Bush] discussing the need for tax cuts and interest rate reductions. But while they talked, Alan Greenspan and the Federal Reserve in Washington took bold and carefully calibrated action to stimulate the economy."

Translation: Bush, the moronic daddy's boy, played grownup with campaign contributors, sitting around talking baseball and eating tacos, while the heavy lifting proceeded in DC. That the Times still feels the need to salve its election wounds is hardly shocking, but such an editorial underscores the paper's delusional opinion that Bush is a temporary annoyance, elevated from the hick state of Texas by the U.S. Supreme Court at the expense of black Americans.

Bush, who would be forgiven for having no respect for the hypocrites who control the Times, issued a firm statement after Greenspan's announcement. While praising the Fed's action, he also said: "I think it's really important for members of Congress to understand that the tax relief plan I've put forth is an integral part of economic recovery. I say recovery because a lot of folks in this room brought some pretty bad news, that their sales are slowing, that they're having to trim back their work force... And tax relief, meaningful, fair tax relief, will be a stimulus."

The new President ought to exploit the current political climate and go even further with his fiscal policy. In addition to cutting marginal rates, he'd be smart to eliminate the capital gains tax, freeing up an enormous amount of capital, which would in turn generate more employment.

I have no idea whether or not Bush will be a one-termer, but it's certain that he'll be an activist president, as the selection of his broad-based Cabinet has proven. The elite media can't digest that simple fact. The Times' Triple-A farm team, The Boston Globe, is in a more advanced state of denial. In a Jan. 2 editorial, the paper advised Bush "to embrace the campaign finance improvements sponsored by Senator John McCain. Bush would show himself able to rise above the narrow interests of his party to reform a tainted system."

Guess what, guys? McCain isn't president. And campaign finance reform isn't going anywhere. It's a relic by now, championed by a bitter senator who's trying to create his own legacy. Not that I'd put McCain in the same class as Clinton, who's been simply outrageous during his last month in office. Not only did he revoke his '93 executive order barring former administration officials from lobbying powerbrokers in Washington for five years, but he's also recklessly tinkering with the tumultuous problems in the Mideast. What was the point of inviting Arafat to the White House when Clinton knew nothing but continued mischief would be the result? More face time on the tube, I guess, or maybe a one-in-a-million shot at a fleeting peace accord to burnish his scant list of accomplishments during eight years as president.

William Safire, perhaps the last sane op-ed contributor at the Times, summed up in a Jan. 4 column Clinton's most current bout of narcissism. He wrote: "It is merely unseemly for Clinton, in payback mood as he departs, to appoint midnight judges or change ethics regulations that will enable his aides to profit as lobbyists in a revolving door; those are the last twitches of his permanent campaign. But it's downright dangerous for this president to saddle his successor with a lopsided proposal that voters in Israel are duty bound to reject."


Mort Zuckerman is a wily businessman-his dumping of Fast Company for a reported $300 million (who knows the real number) when that magazine is tanking is just one example-but as far as repulsive celebrity-whores go, he has few peers. On New Year's Day, Deborah Mitchell reported in Zuckerman's Daily News that her boss was at a Christmas party in honor of Hillary Clinton. Also in attendance were ABC News chief David Westin, Maya Lin, Steven Rattner and, naturally, Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr. and his wife Gail Gregg. Judy Collins was on hand to sing Christmas carols.

The News' editorial on Jan. 1, not coincidentally, blasted Bush. The writer suggested that Bush jettison his tax and Social Security reform proposals, urge the passing of McCain-Feingold and endorse the absurd Hate Crimes Prevention Act. The paper, reflecting the warped view of the Metroliner media, actually believes that Bush, because of his narrow win, is obliged to pamper Democrats. This harebrained edit, possibly dictated by Zuckerman, also said: "On the world front, Bush must immediately lend his good offices, as President Clinton did-tirelessly-to seeking a constructive peace in the Middle East. One that guarantees absolute security for Israel while brooking no nonsense from Palestinian boss Yasser Arafat."

Yup, no nonsense from Arafat. Just a private audience at the White House a few days later.


The jihad against former Sen. John Ashcroft is so appalling, so representative of everything that's wrong with the United States, that I'll reserve my comments for next Tuesday. I'm waiting for friends-of-the-underdog like Tim Robbins and Susan Sarandon to weigh in. They must be back from the Caribbean by now.

JWR contributor "Mugger" -- aka Russ Smith -- is the editor-in-chief and CEO of New York Press ( Send your comments to him by clicking here.

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