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Meanwhile back on the Home Front
Observations from the Edge
Robert T. Nanninga
February 27, 2003
"For 200 years we've been conquering nature. Now were beating it to death." — Tom McMillan
I know I'm not alone in saying I feel like I have somehow stumbled into a Twilight Zone episode. Adding to my sense of impending doom is how every issue facing Americans is being presented in black and white. Always a place of extremes, the middle ground has given way to no man's land where nothing is as it seems, and the truth as evasive as Osama bin Lama.
Adding to the surreal quality is a national media unwilling to question corporate domination of American policy, both domestic and foreign.
As an environmental journalist it is my task to document the Bush Administration's jihad against the natural world. Recently however I have fallen into a carefully designed trap, allowing my attention to be diverted away from George. W's rejection of 100 years of environmental policy. From undermining family planning to arsenic in our drinking water no one or nothing is safe from an ideology that places profit above all else, and environmental stewardship in the dustbin of history.
It's now common knowledge that the Bush Administration is thick with corporate interests. Nothing short of a capitalist dream team, the deck is so stacked, it will be years before the American people can expect a fair deal, and decades before for the damage can be undone. Nowhere in the Administration is there an individual calling for restraint or respect for natural processes. Instead we have been given a board of directors who stand to gain the most from environmental destruction.
Epitomizing the current administration's conflict of interest is Vice President Dick Cheney. The ultimate Washington insider, Cheney the former CEO of Halliburton Co., a Texas construction and engineering outfit that services oil companies, has taken charge of the Federal energy policy. Hardly a surprise, the Cheney commission, made up entirely of industry leaders, has called for exploring wider use of nuclear power and fossil fuels, as well as increasing oil drilling. As a rule environmentalists have been shut out of the Bush White House at every level.
Others in the Bush Administration are equally cozy with multinational corporations. National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice, Interior Secretary Gale Norton, and Commerce Secretary Don Evans all have extensive ties to the oil industry. Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman and Defense Secretary are linked to the Biotech industry and Pharmaceutical giants. Most telling however of the corporate take over of the federal government is how Tommy Thompson, the Health and Human Serves Secretary, has had is hand in the deep pockets of Tobacco giant Phillip Morris for a decade or more.
Of course some people will say prior corporate connections are not relevant to policies currently being pursued by the Bush Administration. And those people would be as wrong as they are naïve. Under the cover of a war against terrorism, George W. Bush and his cabinet have systematically dismantling environmental regulation a hundred years in the making, while at the same time promoting American imperialism as a way of securing corporate control of Iraqi oil resources.
But enough about the war corporate America wants us to fight, instead let's review their war against biology. Of course this is only the short list, all of which is easily verified with a little research. If one is willing to look, there is plenty of evidence to indict the Bush Administration for conflict of interest bordering on the criminally insane.
Hours after his inauguration George and company, funds for international family planning were slashed. In March of 2001, as if abandoning his campaign pledge to reduce carbon dioxide emissions was not enough, George Jr. whole-heartedly rejected the Kyoto Protocol, signaling to the world his position on Environmental regulation. To celebrate Earth Day 2001, Team Bush called for opening the Artic National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling. In October of 2001, the compassionate conservatives gutted mining regulations on federal land and relaxed standards for arsenic in drinking water.
2002 was no different, in fact it was a banner year for those with an ax to grind. In response to wildfires, started by a lost hiker and a firefighter making work for himself, George and the Secretary Norton blamed environmentalists for the loss of timber industry profits. Rollbacks were also popular, power plant pollution standards were reduced in February and November, and in July the corporate pollution tax responsible for funding the cleanup of toxic waste sites was killed. And at the United Nations summit on sustainable development George W. bush was the only world leader not in attendance.
Why is that not a surprise?