Friday, April 23, 2004

Know Bush Fact #21

Based on the belief that the truth shall set you free:

Two years ago, on Earth Day, Robert Martin, National Ombudsman of the United States Environmental Protection Agency (Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response) for over nine years, resigned.

The Ombudsman’s job was to stand apart from the EPA and perform independent investigations of complaints from citizens to ensure that the EPA remained accountable and true to its mission of protecting human health and the environment, particularly in cleaning up toxic sites.

Even before Bush was in office, Bob Martin was investigating an EPA deal made with Citigroup and one of its several toxic waste sites, Shattuck Chemical Company site in Denver’s Overland Park.

Then Bush arrived, and appointed Christine Todd Whitman, whose husband John Whitman is a top investment manager for Citigroup, to the position of Director of the EPA.

As Martin’s investigation grew to question the obvious conflict of interest here, Ms. Whitman turned on him and announced that his previously independent office would be closed and he would be moved into the office of the EPA Inspector General, under the authority of . . . the Director of the EPA, Christine Todd Whitman.

In the spirit of the Bush opposite-meaning philosophy, Ms. Whitman said, "The General Accounting Office report recommended that the Agency ‘take steps to strengthen the independence' of the ombudsman. By relocating the position to the Office of the Inspector General we are doing just that."

While Martin was out of town on business, she had his files seized and his locks changed. He no longer had access to his files on the Citigroup/Shattuck/Whitman connection. The EPA declared that he no longer had any defined duties and would be stripped of his title.

No longer able to help those he cared about, he resigned.

There is no longer a truly independent Ombudsman for the EPA. The Bush policies that favor industry deals and questionable science are rubber stamped, and calls from residents of toxic neighborhoods are ignored.

Meanwhile, there are pictures of Bush in the wetlands for Earth Day.

To verify/research, Google: "Martin +ombudsman."

- April 23, 2004

Tuesday, April 13, 2004

Know Bush Fact #20

Based on the belief that the truth shall set you free:

In 2003, promoting his tax cuts, Bush said, "These tax reductions will bring real and immediate benefits to middle income Americans. Ninety-two million Americans will keep an average of $1,083 more of their own money."

However, according to such organizations as The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, The Urban Brookings Institute Tax Policy Center, Citizens for Tax Justice, and many other analysts, these numbers were concocted via mathematical calculations that reveal the unreliability of the word "average".

For example, you take a group of ten people: 9 are unemployed and 1 makes $1,000,000; mathematically you can calculate the average income to be $100,000. It is a number that has nothing to do with truth. This is the same mathematical method that ends with the great-sounding numbers Bush uses to sell his tax cuts.

In actuality that $1083 "average" sits above 80 percent of those filing taxes. The top 20% would make that much and lots more. 80% would receive less than $1083. 50% would get less than $100.

To verify/research, Google "Bush +$1083."

- April 13, 2004

Thursday, April 08, 2004

Know Bush Fact #19

Based on the belief that the truth shall set you free:

With many states rejecting Bush’s "No Child Left Behind Act," it is worth learning who benefits from it.

McGraw-Hill is the big winner. "President Bush knows students can succeed if they are using the best materials, proven lesson plans and textbooks aligned with state standards," says the NCLB website under "Investing in What Works."

McGraw-Hill happens to provide all the above materials, and more.

"Education President" Bush promotes Phonics as the best method for teaching reading. Two major phonics courses, "Direct Instruction" and "Open Court Reading," are both published by McGraw-Hill.

McGraw-Hill authors also wrote the official summary of the report of the National Reading Panel presented to explain No Child Left Behind to educators. However, there were important discrepancies between the original report of the National Reading Panel, and their summary.

To wit, the McGraw Hill summary, reviewing the "scientific research" of the NRP stated, "Systematic phonics instruction produces significant benefits for students in kindergarten through sixth grade." The actual NRP report stated, "There were insufficient data to draw any conclusions about the effects of phonics instruction with normally developing readers above first grade."

Apparently McGraw-Hill itself needs further tutoring in comprehensive reading.

Gerald Coles, author of Reading Lessons: The Debate Over Literacy, notes that with phonics, "To cure illiteracy, presumably all children need is a new set of textbooks."

Leading us back to McGraw Hill, textbook publisher.

McGraw-Hill also happens to produce the worksheets, standardized tests, the accountability system in charge of research, development, scoring, reporting, tracking, intervention programs, and the remedial initiatives that are now officially a part of the No Child Left Behind Act, as well as a new website as a school evaluation service.

In addition, McGraw-Hill goes far beyond basic publishing and education, with divisions specializing in homeland security, international investing, and consultation on outsourcing, serving "more than one million professionals within the $3.4 trillion global construction community" and more.

Not surprisingly, the McGraw family and the Bush family go way back, to the 1930's, when great-grandfather Prescott Bush vacationed with James McGraw, Jr at Jupiter Island, Florida, a haven for moneyed people from the Northeast. Through the years since, the back rubbing has been mutual: reflected in board memberships, awards, endorsements, keynote addresses, executive employment, presidential appointments, transition teams, ambassadorships, global marketing and the United Nations.

In March 2003, as the U.S. pre-emptively invaded Iraq, McGraw-Hill published Team Bush: Leadership Lessons from the Bush White House.

McGraw-Hill also published My Pet Goat.

To verify/research, Google "Bush +McGraw."

– April 8, 2004

Thursday, April 01, 2004

Know Bush Fact #18

Based on the belief that the truth shall set you free:

While the spotlight is focused on the heightened drama of gay marriage, the Bush administration is withdrawing protection for federal employees from discrimination based on sexual orientation.

Last year, Bush nominated Scott Bloch as head of the U.S. Office of the Special Counsel, to start in January 2004. Mr. Bloch is the former Deputy Director of the Justice Department’s Task Force for Faith-Based and Community Initiatives. He was a research fellow for the Claremont Institute, an ultra-conservative think tank in California which boasts of "fighting the gay rights initiative." He has hired at least two religious conservative advocates to his staff and offered the #2 post at the OSC to Prof. Robert Carlson of Casper College, Wyoming, known for helping to form an anti-gay campus group.

In February 2004, Bloch removed from the OSC’s printed documents, training slide show, and website all references to discrimination based on sexual orientation in the workforce being illegal.

Bloch doesn’t believe the 1978 law, intended to protect federal employees and job applicants from adverse personnel actions taken against them for reasons unrelated to their job performance, has to be applied to discrimination based on sexual orientation — as it has since 1999.

Bloch argues that there is a distinction between one’s conduct as a gay or lesbian and one’s status as a gay or lesbian. "Someone may have jumped to the conclusion that conduct equals sexual orientation, but they are essentially very different. One is a class... and one is a behavior," Bloch said in a March 10 interview with Federal Times.

Bloch does not equate conduct based on sexual orientation with sexual orientation itself. Such a link would mean gays, lesbians and bisexuals are covered as a protected class, even though they are not protected under the nation’s civil rights laws.

Bloch’s predecessor at the OSC, Washington attorney Elaine Kaplan, called his reading of the law, "dead wrong."

"A member of George Bush's administration is altering decades of federal employment policy based on some of the shoddiest legal reasoning I have seen in my professional career," said Rep. Elliot L. Engel, New York Democrat, in a press conference.

To verify/search, Google: Bush +Bloch +gay

- April 2, 2004