Recently on National Public Radio, Neal Conan asked the listeners which book was the single, most essential book one should read before the election. Having highlighted and bent pages on 18 of them – 12 finished and 6 partially read – I had some opinions on this subject.
Time was I’d say Molly Ivins & Lou Dubose’s Bushwhacked to get to the heart of the matter; or I’d say Craig Unger’s House of Bush House of Saud to get a clear picture of the Saudi/Middle East/U.S. historical perspective – important and easy to read.
Then I heard Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. on NPR twice in one day, and I was horrified at what I learned. I immediately had to find his book, Crimes Against Nature: How George W. Bush and His Corporate Pals Are Plundering the Country and Hijacking Our Democracy.
Despite RFK, Jr.’s strong Democratic roots, his decades of service in environmental law have always benefitted Republicans and Democrats alike. We are all still organisms that must consume air, water and food in order to live, and to love, and to create families, and to prosper.
But these days, Bobby, Jr., as Senior Attorney for the Natural Resources Defense Council (and one of Time Magazine’s “Heroes for the Planet”), is moved to raise his voice at this time because American citizens are so unaware of the complete reversal of environmental protection that has occurred under George Bush, intentionally hidden in programs cynically named “Clear Skies” and “Healthy Forests”.
“George W. Bush will go down in history as America’s worst environmental president.”
So begins the December 2003 Rolling Stone Magazine article that grew into Kennedy’s Crimes Against Nature..
Even while most of us don’t know about Bush’s historical significance regarding our environment, the Energy, Chemical, and Industrial Farm leaders know. More to the point, they set a goal, put out the money, and got what they paid for – Bush Cheney 2000.
George W. Bush: While Governor of Texas, Bush conferred with Alcoa, Exxon, Shell, Amoco, Enron, & Dow Chemical – and their $1.5 million in campaign gifts – and state laws changed accordingly.
Companies in Texas were authorized to monitor their own nasty pollution on a voluntary basis. As long as they reported their mistakes... and promised to clean up – there would be no fines, no public disclosure and no government follow up.
Dick Cheney: It turns out Cheney wasn’t just the CEO of Halliburton between his White House assignments. He was also fundamental in developing and promoting “Wise Use” – a pseudo-practical way of perceiving the earth as something to “use wisely” – which applies cost/benefit analysis (short-term money-making) to decide how best to use up the planet.
Remember how Cheney protected the privacy of the meetings he held within days of hitting the White House -- with Enron and other energy leaders -- all the way to the Supreme Court, where his friend of 30 years, Antonin Scalia, backed him up in his secret schemes?
What went on behind those doors was betrayal – the corporations that control those utilities we have come to rely on, without which we cannot function, went to the White House with detailed wish lists. It was payback time, and their wishes – for greater profits, less restrictions, and more accessibility to the goodies of the land – took priority over the well being of the people – those fools who must be kept foolish – who believe their leader and pay more; who believe and shop; who believe and attack those who don’t believe.
So we are supposed to stand loyal, while the Vice President is fighting tooth and nail to keep knowledge away from us. Shouldn’t that make us curious? Would we walk away from a child fiercely defending the door of his closet? Wouldn’t we know that we’d better get a look?
That’s why distractions were so important.
However, the inevitable effect of this mis-prioritizing is hitting us where we are most vulnerable – our children.
Asthma, from increased particulates in the air, is now the most common childhood disease, with death rates increasing steadily, regardless of improvements in treatment.
At the same time, one out of every six American women has so much mercury in her womb that her children are at risk for autism, blindness, mental retardation and heart, liver and kidney disease.
In August, the EPA announced that all fish in 19 states are now unsafe to eat because of mercury contamination, as well as at least some of the fish in 48 states are now unsafe to eat. Actually, the only two states where they’re considered “safe” are Alaska and Wyoming, where Republican legislatures wouldn’t pay to test the fish.
The greatest source of the polluting particulates in the air, as well as the mercury in our water and fish are the 1,100 older coal-burning plants that have failed to make improvements to meet new standards. Clinton’s administration had initiated serious investigations and prosecutions against the 70 worst of these plants. Then Bush arrived.
This is an industry that donated $48 million to President Bush and the Republican Party in the 2000 cycle and has given $58 million since.
One of the first things that Bush did when he came into office was to order the Justice Department to drop those lawsuits.
The Justice Department lawyer said that this had never happened before in American history, where a president accepts money from industries targeted for investigation and prosecution, and then orders the justice department to drop those investigations once he gets into office. There were 70 utilities involved here and, according to the EPA, just the criminal exceedences from those 70 plants killed 5,500 Americans every year.
Then the administration rewrote the Clean Air Act, gutting the New Source rule, which means those plants will be able to discharge ozone and particulates forever.
-- Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., October 7, 2004, Mother Jones Magazine
They got their ticket, all right.
Please understand that the above is merely an example of the multitude of appointments and regulation rollbacks that Bush has ordered, with unusual diligence, selling out the natural resources we depend on – not just for recreational activities and tree-hugging – but for our survival, while we’ve been looking elsewhere.
Bush’s accompanying mislead is “torte reform.” Given the mercury poisoning in 48 states and the thousands of children asthmatically gasping – for starters – perhaps Bush’s push to put caps on damage awards isn’t really about the cost of health insurance. It’s a lot more likely that he is seeking to nip-in-the-bud the trillions of dollars the polluting companies should pay if their disdain for their victims is revealed.
Perhaps the entire country should be suing Bush himself, for the destructive poisons he’s unleashed upon us.
There’d be nothing frivolous about such lawsuits. Not if we have to witness our children and grandchildren struggling to breathe, struggling to think, struggling to live.
Clearly, this has nothing to do with Republican vs. Democrat. Quite the contrary. RFK, Jr. laments:
“While claiming to embrace its values, the Bush administration has stolen the soul of the Republican party. The president and his cronies have taken the conserve out of the conservative.”
Again, so much for Homeland Security and the Bush Cheney motto – “Building Safety.” Take a few minutes to explain this to a Security Mom you know.
To verify/research, Google “Bush +New Source Review” or “Bush +Kennedy, Jr.”