Crackdown on C.E.O. Crooks | Our “Liberal” Supreme Court | The Senate’s Nuclear Deterrant

An Enron Echo—According to the Wall Street Journal the federal tax collectors at the Internal Revenue Service (I.R.S.) have belatedly learned enough about corporate tax chiseling from the infamous Enron Corporation big wigs that they are now cracking down on other “highly compensated executives.” The Journal says that what’s at stake is “a range of executive compensation issues, including stock options, deferred compensation, golden parachutes and fringe benefits.”

That won’t be very popular with the Republican fat cats—the heavy G.O.P. contributors—who have been caught dodging tax payments by setting up offshore tax havens. The I.R.S. has already indicted a top executive in one its largest criminal offshore tax evasion cases.

But the Journal says I.R.S. Commissioner Mark Everson is now “concerned about the perception of unfairness created when highly compensated people are able to get away with dodging taxes.” Huh? We’re waiting to hear what the no-new-tax-collections Bush White House has to say about that.

The Death Penalty—The Journal‘s editorial page says it is shocked—shocked!—at the Supreme Court’s 5-to-4 decision barring the imposition of the death penalty on convicted persons under 18 years of age. In Washington’s abbreviated bureaucratic shorthand, the Supreme Court of the United States is the SCOTUS. The Journal thinks the SCOTUS is on lotus. It calls it a pro-Democratic “Blue State Court.”

Its March 2 editorial says that the high court’s death penalty decision “symbolizes the current Supreme Court’s burst of liberal social activism. From gay rights to racial preferences and now the death penalty, a narrow majority of justices has been imposing its own blue state cultural mores on the rest of the country.” Whew! At least somebody’s trying.

He’s Gone—After 24 years as the host of The CBS Evening News, it’s anchor away for Dan Rather, age 74. His departure on March 9, which he scheduled months ago, has reignited the controversy on his credentials, most recently his much debated report on the Air National Guard performance of the pre-presidential George W. Bush.

The journalism watchdog FAIR—Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting—has put on its website a historic examination of Rather that finds that, at least in 2001, The CBS Evening News was not “the most liberal” TV news program, as conservative Rather critics have complained. Of all the network news broadcasts FAIR found that Rather had the most Republican viewers (76 percent) and fewest Democrats (23 percent).

And She’s Back—Another TV figure in the news—and this one is about to be back on the air—is Martha Stewart, 63, just released from her five-month term at the Alderson federal prison for women in mountainous West Virginia.

From her prison sentence there she goes back to her spacious country estate in New York, where she remains in monitored “home confinement” for five months while she figures out what to do with her corporate interest, Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia. Its stock value soared while she served her prison term for lying to the FBI about a stock purchase. During her imprisonment the company achieved a $600 million paper profit.

Busting the Filibuster—A Republican threat in the Senate is designed to keep the Democratic minority there from blocking the confirmation of the right-wing judicial nominees that President Bush keeps sending up for approval by talking at length about why they should be rejected.

The Republicans’ so-called “nuclear option” is a rule change that would give the Senate’s presiding officer, namely Vice President Dick Cheney, authority to curtail the Democrats’ extended debate by fiat from the chair, with the bang of a gavel. So much for the “advice and consent” of the Senate.

There was a stirring March 1 floor speech on the resistance to that by Senator Robert Byrd (D-WV), the senior member whom we wrote about in the March 1 FYI. As usual, the outspoken Byrd piqued someone—this time the Republican Jewish Coalition—by comparing the anti-filibuster campaign to a move by Adolf Hitler when he “turned the law inside out and made illegality legal.”

If saving the filibuster to block right-wing judges grabs you, click here for the text of Byrd’s speech.