Harold Meyerson

Harold Meyerson is editor-at-large of The American Prospect. His email is hmeyerson@prospect.org.

Recent Articles

For a Global FDA

If we're going to globalize the food we eat and still wish to be safe, we need to get serious.

And what is madame's dining preference this evening? Scallops coated with putrefying bacteria? Or mushrooms laced with illegal pesticides? These delicacies and more were among the hundred-plus foods from China that our Food and Drug Administration detained at U.S. ports last month, Rick Weiss reported in Sunday's Washington Post . Detained and sent back to the importers, who ofttimes sent them back to us again. And that's just the hors d'oeuvres. Moving on to the entrée, madame can sup on U.S. chicken, pork, and fish tainted with Chinese pet food ingredients, or on poultry arriving in crates labeled "prune slices" and "vegetables," from Chinese slaughterhouses straight out of Upton Sinclair's 1906 novel, The Jungle. Madame will be happy to know that her government is working to speed more of these toxins to her table. FDA inspectors are able to check less than 1 percent of regulated Chinese food imports (which is why the importers, if at first they don't succeed, try, try again...

The Cost of the "Voter Fraud" Fraud

The real scandal behind the U.S. attorney firings is the Republican Party's pursuit of voter suppression.

If Attorney General Alberto Gonzales clings to his job much longer, he may end up as the only remaining employee of the Justice Department. By resigning on Monday, Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty joined Gonzales's chief of staff, D. Kyle Sampson; the department's White House liaison, Monica Goodling; and Justice official Michael Battle, who oversaw the dismissal of federal prosecutors, on the list of Gonzalesites who've left the building. At this point, the number of U.S. attorneys dismissed for political reasons still exceeds the number of Justice officials who've left because of their involvement in dismissing those attorneys or dissembling about it, but the ratio is tightening. By now, it's abundantly clear that a number of the U.S. attorneys whom Gonzales's minions sent packing didn't live up to Karl Rove's expectations in one crucial particular: They had failed to ring up convictions, or even mount prosecutions, for voter fraud. As Dan Eggen and Amy Goldstein reported in...

The Enron Enablers

It looks like the financial firms that helped the company cook its books just might get away with it.

"We recognize," federal appellate Judge Jerry Smith wrote in a March opinion tossing out a lawsuit by Enron shareholders against the banks that helped the company cook its books, "that our ruling on legal merit may not coincide, particularly in the minds of aggrieved former Enron shareholders who have lost billions of dollars in a fraud they allege was aided and abetted by the defendants at bar, with notions of justice and fair play." Nothing like a judicial edict that acknowledges it violates common decency. Smith and Judge Grady Jolly had just decreed that banks that had aided Enron in concealing its liabilities and inflating its assets were not themselves liable for these acts because it was Enron, not they, that had made the misleading statements. Smith looked at a prime example of such Enron-enabling: a scheme in which Enron wanted to sell some electricity-generating barges off the coast of Nigeria so it could book the revenue and meet analysts' 1999 year-end projections. Alas,...

Missing the Middle

Fifteen years ago this week I was inside the First AME Church, a pillar of Los Angeles's African American establishment, watching Mayor Tom Bradley's aides figuring out how they could get him safely out of the building. A few hours earlier, my colleagues and I at the L.A. Weekly had watched jurors acquit the cops whose beating of Rodney King had been recorded for all to see. The city had just been thrown headlong over a cliff, and everybody sensed that the ensuing crash would be god-awful. Bradley, who had been mayor for 19 years, was an iconic African American political leader whose success at building white-black coalitions was unrivaled in his day. But while Bradley and the other civic leaders assembled in the church were voicing outrage at the verdict and preaching nonviolence in response, shouts and shots and sirens were increasingly audible outside. With bottles flying and several nearby cars ablaze, Bradley's aides formed a flying wedge around him, and the mayor, crouching so...

Unions Gone Global

The business press has barely noticed and the usual champions of globalization have been mute, but an announcement last week in Ottawa signaled a radical new direction for the globalized economy. The United Steelworkers -- that venerable, Depression-era creation of John L. Lewis and New Deal labor policy -- entered into merger negotiations with two of Britain's largest unions (which are merging with each other next month) to create not only the first transatlantic but the first genuinely multinational trade union. Mergers among unions are nothing new, of course, and as manufacturing employment in the United States has declined, some unions -- the Steelworkers in particular -- have expanded into other industries and sectors. Today, just 130,000 of the union's 850,000 members are employed in basic steel, with the remainder in paper and rubber manufacturing and a range of service industries. British unions have gone down a similar path; of the two British unions with which the...