Patriot or Pirate?

by Michael W. Stowell

January 14, 2002

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Among other things, in George W. Bush's first year in office he:

•  Significantly eased field-testing controls of genetically engineered crops;

•  Cut federal spending on libraries by $39 million;

•  Cut $35 million in funding for doctors to get advanced pediatric training;

•  Cut by 50% funding for research into renewable energy sources;

•  Revoked rules that reduced the acceptable levels of arsenic in drinking water;

•  Blocked rules that would require federal agencies to offer bilingual assistance to non-English speaking persons;

•  Proposed to eliminate new marine protections for the Channel Islands and the coral reefs of northwest Hawaii;

•  Cut funding by 28% for research into cleaner, more efficient cars and trucks;

•  Suspended rules that would have strengthened the government's ability to deny contracts to companies that violated workplace safety, environmental and other federal laws;

•  OK'd Interior Department appointee Gale Norton to send out letters to state officials soliciting suggestions for opening up national monuments for oil and gas drilling, coal mining, and deforestation;

•  Appointed John Negroponte, an un-indicted, high-level Iran Contra figure, to the post of United Nations Ambassador;

•  Abandoned a campaign pledge to invest $100 million for rain forest conservation;

•  Reduced by 86% the Community Access Program for public hospitals, clinics and providers of care for people without insurance;

•  Rescinded a proposal to increase public access to information about the potential consequences resulting from chemical plant accidents;

•  Suspended rules that would require hardrock miners to clean up sites on Western public lands;

•  Cut $60 million from a Boy's and Girl's Clubs of America program for public housing;

•  Proposed to eliminate a federal program, designed and successfully used in Seattle, to help communities prepare for natural disasters;

•  Cut $200 million of work force training for dislocated workers;

•  Eliminated funding for the Wetlands Reserve Program, which encourages farmers to maintain wetlands habitat on their property;

•  Cut program to provide childcare to low-income families as they move from welfare to work;

•  Cut a program that provided prescription contraceptive coverage to federal employees (though it still pays for Viagra);

•  Cut $700 million in capital funds for repairs in public housing;

•  Appointed Otto Reich, an un-indicted high-level Iran Contra figure, to Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs;

•  Cut Environmental Protection Agency budget by $500 million;

•  Proposed to curtail the ability of groups to sue in order to get an animal placed on the Endangered Species List;

•  Rescinded the rule that mandated increased energy-saving efficiency regulations for central air conditioners and heat pumps;

•  Repealed workplace ergonomic rules designed to improve worker health and safety;

•  Abandoned campaign pledge to regulate carbon dioxide, the waste gas that contributes to global warming;

•  Banned federal aid to international family planning programs that offer abortion counseling with other independent funds;

•  Closed White House Office for Women's Health Initiatives and Outreach;

•  Nominated David Lauriski, ex-mining company executive, to the post of Assistant Secretary of Labor for Mine Safety and Health;

•  OK'd Interior Secretary Gale Norton to go forth with a controversial plan to auction oil and gas development tracts off the coast of eastern Florida;

•  Announced his intention to open up Montana's Lewis and Clark National Forest to oil and drilling;

•  Proposed re-drawing boundaries of nation's monuments, which would technically allow oil and gas drilling "outside" of national monuments;

•  Gutted the White House AIDS Office;

•  Renegotiating free trade agreement with Jordan to eliminate workers' rights and safeguards for the environment;

•  Decided to no longer seek guidance from The American Bar Association in recommendations for the federal judiciary appointments;

•  Appointed recycling foe Lynn Scarlett as Undersecretary of the Interior;

•  Took steps to abolish the White House Council on Environmental Quality;

•  Cut the Community Oriented Policing Services program;

•  Allowed Interior Secretary Gale Norton to shelve citizen-led grizzly bear re-introduction plan scheduled for Idaho and Montana wilderness;

•  Held up federal funding for stem cell research projects;

•  Made sure convicted misdemeanor drug users cannot get financial aid for college, though convicted murderers can;

•  Refused to fund continued cleanup of uranium-slag heap in Utah;

•  Refused to fund continued litigation of the government's tobacco company lawsuit;

•  Proposed a $2 trillion tax cut, of which 43% will go to the wealthiest 1% of Americans;

•  Signed a bill making it harder for poor and middle-class Americans to file for bankruptcy, even in the case of daunting medical bills;

•  Selected a Vice President quoted as saying "If you want to do something about carbon dioxide emissions, then you ought to build nuclear power plants";

•  Appointed Diana "There is no gender gap in pay" Roth to the Council of Economic Advisers;

•  Appointed Kay Cole James, an opponent of affirmative action, to direct the Office of Personnel Management;

•  Cut $15.7 million earmarked for states to investigate cases of child abuse and neglect;

•  Helped kill a law designed to make it tougher for teenagers to get credit cards;

•  Proposed elimination of the "Reading is Fundamental" program that gives free books to poor children;

•  Proposed to nominate Jeffrey Sutton, attorney responsible for the recent case weakening the Americans with Disabilities Act, to federal appeals court judgeship;

•  Proposed reversing regulations protecting 60 million acres of national forest from logging and road building;

•  Eliminated funding for the "We the People" education program, which taught School children about the Constitution, the Bill of Rights and citizenship;

•  Appointed John Bolton, who opposes nonproliferation treaties and the U.N., to Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security;

•  Nominated Linda Fisher, an executive with Monsanto, for the number-two job at the Environmental Protection Agency;

•  Nominated Michael McConnell, leading critic of the separation of church and state, to a federal judgeship;

•  Canceled 2004 deadline for automakers to develop prototype high mileage cars - Nominated Harvey Pitts, lawyer for teen sex video distributor, to head Securities and Exchange Commission;

•  Nominated John Walters, strong opponent of prison drug treatment programs, for Drug Czar;

•  Nominated J. Steven Giles, an oil and coal lobbyist, for Deputy Secretary of the Interior;

•  Nominated Bennett Raley, who advocates repealing the Endangered Species Act, for Assistant Secretary for Water and Science;

•  Pushed for the dismissal of class-action lawsuit filed in the U.S. against Japan by Asian women forced to work as sex slaves during WWII;

•  Earmarked $4 million in new federal grant money for HIV and drug abuse prevention programs to go only to religious groups and not secular equivalents;

•  Reduced by 40% the Low Income Home Assistance Program for low-income individuals who need assistance paying energy bills;

•  Nominated Ted Olson, who has repeatedly lied about his involvement with the "Arkansas Project" to bring down Bill Clinton, for Solicitor General;

•  Nominated Terrance Boyle, a foe of civil rights, to a federal judgeship;

•  Proposed easing permit processes, including environmental considerations, for oil refinery, nuclear power plants and hydroelectric dam construction;

•  Proposed giving the government the authority to take private property through eminent domain for power lines;

•  Proposed that $1.2 billion in funding for alternative renewable energy come from selling oil and gas lease tracts in the Alaska National Wildlife Reserve;

•  Abandoned a $1.5 billion project to quickly develop high-mileage gasoline-fueled vehicles;

•  Supported an Energy Department/auto industry plan to co-opt hydrogen fuel cell technology;

•  Made plans to serve genetically engineered foods at all official government functions;

•  Forced out Forest Service chief Mike Dombeck and appointed a timber industry lobbyist;

•  Announced the rejection of regulations barring companies that repeatedly violate environmental and workplace standards from receiving government contracts;

•  Issued Executive Order 13233 that effectively undermines the Presidential Records Act of 1978, in the name of "national security";

•  Pushed the "Patriot Act" through congress;

•  Pushed the new military tribunal legislation through congress;

•  Bolstered the "war on drugs" and declared a "war on terrorism";

•  Proposed a resumption of nuclear weapons testing;

•  Pushed for development of tactical nuclear weapon to attack deeply buried targets and weapons, which would violate the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty;

•  Announced the withdrawal from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty;

•  Withdrew representatives from a global conference on racism;

•  Pulled out of the 1997 Kyoto Treaty global warming agreement;

•  Directed the U.S. military to terrorize the people of Afghanistan with indiscriminate bombing that has killed approximately 5000 innocent civilians;

•  Continued the economic terrorism of the people of Cuba;

•  Continued the economic terrorism of the people of Iraq;

•  Successfully diffused the campaign finance reform and election reform movements.

Let us not forget that when Slobodan Milosevic disqualified ballots and thereby won the presidency of Yugoslavia, the United States refused to recognize his government. When Alberto Fujimori of Peru disqualified rural ballots for technical reasons the U.S. refused to recognize his presidency, because a presidency cannot be won on a technicality. America said that to Milosevic and Fujimori, but not to George Walker Bush.

If one did not read the foreign press one might assume that Bush's policies are universally popular, particularly those foreign policies employed in the war on terrorism.

However, in mid-December, the Paris-based International Herald Tribune and the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press released the results of a global poll of 275 opinion leaders from 24 countries. They found that while opinion-makers strongly support the US-led war on terrorism, they oppose spreading the action beyond Afghanistan and feel Washington's foreign policies played a significant role in fueling terrorists' anger against the United States and led to the September 11 terrorist attacks. Asked if many or most people would consider US policies to be "a major cause" of the September 11 attacks, 58 percent of the non-US respondents said they did, compared to just 18 percent of Americans.

The poll findings suggest that much of the world views the attacks as a symptom of increasingly bitter polarization between haves and have-nots. I should interject here that while the U.S. government consistently insists that the globalization of capitalism will bring more prosperity to all, the US Space Command's 'Vision 2020' describes its mission as "dominating the space dimension of military operations to protect US interests and investment. Integrating Space Forces into war fighting capabilities across the full spectrum of conflict." It also states: "The globalization of the world economy will also continue with a widening between the 'haves' and the 'have-nots'."

While around six out of ten non-American respondents believed Washington was doing the right thing in fighting terrorism, that support evaporated when the question of possible US-led attacks on Iraq, Somalia or elsewhere was raised. Fifty percent of the Americans polled said the military action should be broadened to the regimes supporting terrorism; only 29 percent outside the US agreed.

Not one American respondent believed the US attacks on Afghanistan would be widely considered as an overreaction, while over 40 percent of non-Americans, and 63 percent in Islamic countries, did. Andrew Kohut, director of the Pew center, noted as particularly striking the finding that two-thirds or more of respondents in every region outside the United States said it was "good that Americans now know what it's like to be vulnerable." A total of 52 percent of respondents said the world's wealthiest country does far too little to help the least-advantaged, citing that as a major cause for dislike of the United States.

The poll was conducted between November 12 and December 13 and included "275 influential people" in politics, media, business, culture and government; 40 in the United States and 235 in 23 other countries.

If one were to believe the U.S. corporate-media polls, it would seem that George W. has had a very good year; his popularity in America has surpassed that which his father enjoyed during the Gulf War. I believe it was Michael Moore who speculated, a month or so ago, that the son shall also follow the father in decline.

On January 2nd, the U.S. Senate's Governmental Affairs Committee announced that it would issue subpoenas for top executives and directors of the Enron Corporation and investigate ties between Enron and President George W. Bush and other top administration and Republican figures at hearings scheduled to begin on January 24th.

Had not George W. and his supporters so blatantly and proudly stole the election, I would expect that former Vice-presidential candidate Senator Joseph Lieberman (D-CT), who is heading up the Committee, would be able to quiet the Democrats and use the situation to his political advantage (if Al Gore has anything to say about it, he probably will). But remember what a big deal the Republicans made of Whitewater? This one has the makings of one of the largest scandals of all time. Bush has a long and intimate relationship with Enron.

As governor, Bush helped deregulate Texas electric markets in 1999, permitted "grandfathered air polluters" and passed laws protecting those businesses from lawsuits. Enron was the greatest beneficiary of those deregulation policies. President George Walker Bush should also be asked to explain his role in assisting Enron into the Pennsylvania electricity market.

Quid pro quo, Enron has helped line Bush's pockets; since 1993, Enron executives donated nearly $2 million to Bush. Enron Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Kenneth Lay was a major fundraiser for and contributor to President Bush (a close personal friend), both in his run for the White House and in his gubernatorial campaigns.

Also, millions of people in California have paid outrageously inflated prices for electricity because of Enron's ability to manipulate the markets for electricity and natural gas, and thousands of Enron employees and shareholders have been devastated because of insider dealing and financial trickery. Even our most esteemed Californian capitalist, Senator Dianne Feinstein, will have trouble diffusing the energetic outrage that has been generated here.

Perhaps the flag-wagging Bush patriots will soon be trading their 'stars and stripes' for the 'skull and crossbones'!


       Michael W. Stowell is chairperson of both the City of Arcata, Humboldt County, CA, Nuclear Weapons Free Zone Commission and the Board of Directors of the Friends of the Arcata Library. He is the producer/editor/videographer of numerous public access television programs; he is a naturalist, a gardener, a bicyclist and a Swans' columnist.

[Ed. Note: The City of Arcata, incorporated in 1858, is located in Humboldt County, on California's Redwood Coast, at the juncture of California Highway 101 and 299 West. The city is approximately 289 miles north of San Francisco, 150 miles west of Redding and 760 miles north of Los Angeles. The 1990 census reported Arcata's population as 15,197 and the county population as 119,118.]


         Please, DO NOT steal, scavenge or repost this work on the Web without the expressed written authorization of Swans, which will seek permission from the author. This material is copyrighted, © Michael W. Stowell 2002. All rights reserved. No part of this material may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior written permission of the publisher.

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