Published on Thursday, May 24, 2001 in the Toronto Star
Five Very Good Reasons To Put 'Dubya' On Notice
Off the top, the American president is in the pocket of big business and big donors
by Rachel Giese
He was raised in incredible wealth and privilege, but rarely has he distinguished himself.
As Texas journalist Molly Ivins says of him: "Everyone knows the man has no clue, but no one there has the courage to say it. I mean, good gawd, the man is as he always has been: barely adequate."
He's the leader of what an editorial in Britain's The Guardian newspaper recently called "the ultimate rogue state" and he just celebrated his first 100 days in office.
He's George "Dubya" Bush and here are five reasons to hate him. Believe me, it was hard to narrow it down.
1) He's a protocol-buster.
First, he ditched the Kyoto protocol on global warming. Then, it was the Anti-Ballistic Missile treaty. Now, to the delight of the Pentagon and some big pharmaceutical companies, he's pulling out of an agreement to enforce a 20-year-old international treaty banning biological weapons.
Six years in the making, the protocol would set up an independent international body to randomly inspect private drug companies and state agencies. It would enforce the 1972 treaty, ratified by 143 nations, which bans the development, production and possession of biological weapons.
2) He's gun crazy.
Bush's new, two-year $550 million Operation Safe Neighbourhoods is apparently as close as this hunt-happy Texan is ever going to get to weapons control. Even as he acknowledged gun violence as a major social problem - stating that "three out of four murder victims in this city are shot to death with handguns. Among young victims, that figure rises to almost nine out of 10" - his plan has no teeth. Released last week with the approval of the National Rifle Association just as it began its annual convention, it focuses almost entirely on tougher prosecution of offenders and not on prevention or regulation.
In a footnote too good to be true, children who attended the annual White House Easter egg roll this year, all aged 3 to 6, were given a detailed security warning on the back of their tickets. They were warned not to bring, among other things, "guns/ammunition, knives with blades over three inches, mace or electric stun guns."
Even balloons were banned, presumably because when they pop it sounds like gunfire.
3) He's a big suck-up to big business.
Two men nominated by Bush as the civilian heads of the armed forces are executives at two of the nation's biggest defence contractors. James G. Roche, Bush's pick for air force secretary, is the corporate vice-president of Northrop Grumman Corp. and Gordon England, the executive vice-president of General Dynamics, gets Bush's nod to be navy secretary.
Meanwhile, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, Bush's cabinet is stacked with friends with strong corporate connections, including: Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman (Calgene/Monsanto; Pharmacia), Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham (General Motors; Ford Motor Company; Lear Corp.; DaimlerChrysler) and Secretary of Health and Human Services Tommy Thompson (Philip Morris; Amtrak; America Online; Time Warner; General Electric; Merck; Abbott Laboratories).
3b) He's a suck-up to big donors.
His nominees for the sweetest ambassadorships include: William Farrish (Britain), $142,875 donation to GOP candidates, $107,000 to Bush alone; Howard Leach (France), $399,359 to GOP candidates, $114,000 to Bush; Charles Heimbold (Sweden), $365,200 to GOP candidates, $102,000 to Bush; and Mercer Reynolds (Switzerland), $456,173 to GOP candidates, $111,973 to Bush.
4) He hates animals.
With its new budget, the Bush administration plans to eliminate a provision of the Endangered Species Act that allows citizens to sue the federal government to expedite the protection of disappearing species. It's a favourite tactic of environmental groups, whose suits push the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to list endangered species under the 1973 act and designate protected habitats. No surprise, opponents of the act include land developers and the mining and logging industries. Bush intends to eliminate federal funding to enforce court orders coming from citizen suits meaning people could still sue, but their suits would be ineffective.
5) He really hates the environment.
After whipping the nation into a frenzy over an alleged energy crisis, Bush is pushing forward with his plans to seek approval to allow oil and gas drilling in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and Montana's Lewis and Clark National Forest. He also hopes to weaken a provision of the Clean Air Act to permit owners of older power plants to run them without having to clean them up.
Can it be any coincidence that Bush's 2002 budget for NASA cuts programs that monitor global climate changes?
Rachel Giese's column appears in The Star on Thursday.
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