On the surface, this bit of Republican pro-big-business slime simply looks like Business As Usual for the Bush White House.
But there is a much deeper problem brewing if the White House gets their way on this particular matter.
According to work by the excellent Robert Borosage over at http://www.Tompaine.com, it seems that a group of investors who were defrauded by Enron are now getting shafted again by the Bush Administration, whose Solicitor General, Paul Clement, is now rejecting the recommndation by the SEC (Securities and Exchange Commission) that the Justice Department support Enron's victims in their appeal to the High Court (Stoneridge v. Scientific-Atlanta).
As is so typical with the BushCo, this case is so marinated in special interest that if it were pineapple juice it would burn your tongue off. But no matter. Blithely presuming (sadly, with some justification) that the public is too busy guzzling beer and voting folks off American Idol to notice, Bush has abandoned the public to the sharks of Wall Street and basically has given all Enron-like schemers a tacit green light to continue their nefarious deeds.
Some background on Clement is useful here, and Borosage provides it:
Yet, in an unprecedented failure to meet his responsibilities to the public, Solicitor General Clement, who represents the United States before the Court, decided to punt.
Clement is not exactly a neutral party. He’s a star of the right-wing bar. He clerked for Laurence Silberman and Antonin Scalia, among the most partisan and reactionary judges of our time. He served as an aide to Sen. John Ashcroft. He is an activist in the right-wing Federalist Society that seeks a return to 19th century jurisprudence.
And this spear carrier for the right got his marching orders from the top. Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson called directly and arranged for President Bush to weigh in personally.
The intervention of the treasury secretary and the president is hardly business as usual—particularly since neither Paulson nor President Bush are neutral observers either. Paulson is the former chairman of Goldman Sachs, a named defendant on the Enron case. And Enron and CEO "Kenny Boy" Lay were George Bush’s leading supporters, contributing cash, the corporate plane and fundraising energy to Bush’s rise.
Now of course, when questioned about the Administration unprcedented meddling (and apparently ANTI-law and order stance) on this issue, Bush's advisor Al Hubbard had this to say:
The president, according to his chief economic advisor, Al Hubbard, ''believes that it's important to make certain that we reduce the unnecessary lawsuits because that's a very big burden to the economy, which adversely impacts investors."
Huh? But the lawsuit is on behalf of investors, hardly typified as a motley fist-raising bunch of rabble rousers. Could someone maybe tell Bush that most people who call themselves "investors", uh, generally vote Republican? And when they get a load of how Bush is screwing them and their families, it might not make them so enamored of the Republicans next time around?
And the banks that were in cahoots with Enron have now been let off the hook, since the judges in the Enron matter determined that while the banks were involved behind the scenes, they did not directly commit market crimes as Enron had. No matter that they aided and abetted the destruction of the lives of thousands of people and the incineration of their dreams. In a choice bit of understatement, the judges acknowledged "our ruling on legal merit....may not coincide with notions of justice and fair play."
But ah, we are just the little people! Of what import is it, our quaint and silly little notions of justice and fair play? For we are peons in the shadow of the Great and Mighty Banker Class.
Borosage closes with this:
The Supreme Court justices will now decide, in the words of the old protest song, "whose side are you on," Main Street or Wall Street? How this drama turns out will say a lot about our justice system—and a lot about our economy. If Wall Street banks have no liability for fraudulent schemes they concoct, the scandals of the last decade will look like choir boy pranks compared to what is to come.
If the Enron plaintiffs lose their High Court appeal and the banks that colluded with Enron are given a free pass like this, this will be seen as a green light to banks involved in other crooked schemes that Bush and Co. have winked them through and they need not concern themselves with playing by the rules.
Which, in and of itself, could sound the death knell for capitalism itself.