WMD? HA HA HA!
In “Laughing With Bush” [April 19], David Corn quotes GOP chairman Ed Gillespie, talking about George W. Bush’s missing WMD jokes at a gathering of reporters, saying, “The people in the room obviously saw the humor…and to play it back now in a different context is unfair.”
It’s interesting that for a couple of weeks straight, I couldn’t turn on the TV without seeing the “Dean Scream.” That footage was taken out of context–if you were there it didn’t come across as it did on TV; Dean was simply raising his voice over the crowd–but the media had no problem milking it for all it was worth. But of Bush making a joke out of his false WMD claims, I haven’t seen one bit of TV footage.
I’m sad and frustrated that important issues like the lying by our Administration about this war, the state of the economy, etc., are ignored by the mainstream media. Apparently “wardrobe malfunctions” are important enough to talk about for weeks, but no one wants to talk about what our President and his Administration are really up to. How is anyone ever to learn the truth?
YOU CAN HELP–I
Thank you for Mariana Katzarova’s “Letter From Juárez” [March 29]. Nation readers should urge their Representatives to co-sponsor HR 466, introduced by Hilda Solís of California: “Conveying the sympathy of the House of Representatives to the families of the young women murdered in the state of Chihuahua, Mexico, and encouraging increased United States involvement in bringing an end to these crimes.” The more co-sponsors HR 466 has, the stronger the message it can send to the Mexican government to fund adequately and otherwise support investigations and prosecutions. To echo the quote from Eve Ensler in Katzarova’s piece, we need to demonstrate that “the world is watching.”
IT BROUGHT THE WAR HOME
I thank Marianne Brown for her deeply touching letter about her son [“Letters,” April 5]. This war and all the mess surrounding it have been so disturbing and infuriating, yet at a distance up here in Vermont. But “One Mother’s War” went directly into my heart, and I cried and cried thinking of her son, my son, other people’s children in harm’s way. May Michael come home safely and heal.
YOU CAN HELP–II
In response to Robert Musil’s March 29 letter to the editor, Representative Lynn Woolsey recently introduced SMART security with Physicians for Social Responsibility and twenty Congressional co-sponsors. The bill number is HR 392. Nation readers should get their Representatives to support this bill. It would be greatly appreciated.
DUBYA & THE SCIENCE-WHACKERS
Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s “The Junk Science of George W. Bush” [March 8] laid out very well that politics comes before science in this White House. The Bushwhacking of two leading scientists who disagree with him from the President’s Bioethics Council, and the FDA’s three-month delay on the over-the-counter status of Plan B emergency contraception, are two more telling examples.
Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s cover story on the Bush Administration’s junk science is a vital opening salvo on an issue broad enough to cut across electoral lines. Bush’s flagrant lie on stem-cell research is additional ammunition. Soon after being installed, Bush limited federal funding of stem-cell research to then-existing cell lines, assuring the nation on network television that more than sixty such lines were available. Experts outside the Administration gave the President the benefit of the doubt. But soon, alas, they realized that only twelve or so lines were actually available–not enough to support scientific progress. In hindsight, we can see that Bush’s sixty-cell-line claim was an early example of the smoke-screening his Administration so shamelessly deploys.
As an outraged scientist, I want to thank you for the hardest-hitting, best-substantiated article I’ve seen on what Bushite pseudoscience is doing to us. I’ve just completed a study based on the work of the multinational, multidisciplinary General Evolution Research Group over more than a decade, which documents how Bushite policies are driving us backward on all fifteen levels of evolution identified in our new book The Great Adventure: Toward a Fully Human Theory of Evolution. I believe it’s a must-read for everyone concerned about the environment, cultural as well as physical.
The Darwin Project (www.thedarwinproject.com)
Palo Alto, Calif.
Thank you for publicizing these investigations showing that George W. Bush’s science intends to prove that up is down and black is white. After Congressman Henry Waxman’s report last August about the Administration’s abuse of science in government policy, a group of graduate students at Stanford University began their own investigations into the Administration’s abuses of science. We found a pervasive trend of manipulating scientific information and undermining objective scientific research, always with the goal of promoting policy that appeals to industry, lobbyists or the religious right.
Our group of scientists released a statement (at www.scienceinpolicy.org, signed by more than 1,100 scientists from all fifty states) condemning the Bush Administration’s abuse of our scientific work. We hope to let the public know that this is yet another topic on which we cannot trust the Administration to be honest with the American people.
MACIEJ F. BONI
Department of Biological Sciences
As assistant editor of High Country News, which has tracked Western environmental issues for thirty-three years, I am pleased to see that the Bush Administration’s habit of manipulating science is gaining national attention.
The author mentions the fish kill on the Klamath River–where more than 33,000 salmon died in tepid, low-flowing waters. It was not an unexpected event. California state and tribal biologists warned that a fish kill would occur if the Interior Department continued diverting the majority of the river for irrigation. But Interior hit back with its own “science,” highlighting a report that showed higher water levels didn’t necessarily benefit fish. When federal biologist Michael Kelly blew the whistle, revealing that politics had influenced decisions, his superiors called him “naïve.” When the fish went belly-up and the media started to realize something stank, it turned out that Karl Rove, not biologists, was influencing policy on the Klamath.
Sadly, this isn’t an isolated incident: Countering legitimate science with the work of charlatans is routine in the Bush White House–from the National Park Service allowing more snowmobiles in Yellowstone, the Bureau of Land Management prioritizing oil and gas drilling on 261 million acres of public lands, the Forest Service approving logging projects under the “Healthy Forests Initiative” or the Environmental Protection Agency approving dangerous pesticides that harm wildlife and farmworkers.
The work of federal scientists, often afraid to speak out, is being subverted, manipulated and pushed aside. Four more years of this and all the West’s scientists, and residents, will be up a creek. Please visit www.hcn.org/specialcollections/junkscience.jsp.
LAURA L. PASKUS
THE PASSION OF LENI
Melrose Park, Pa.
Katha Pollitt calls The Passion of the Christ “a movie that could safely be shown at the Leni Riefenstahl Memorial Film Festival” [“Subject to Debate,” March 29]. Funny she should mention Hitler’s filmmaker. At the peak of the controversy, Riefenstahl was included in the Academy Awards ceremony’s annual tribute to recently deceased film industry figures alongside Gregory Peck, Bob Hope, John Ritter and others the public recalls with fondness. Filmmaker Arnold Schwartzman has noted, “Riefenstahl was probably the best propaganda tool that Hitler had, and a lot of the terrible things that happened were as a consequence of what she did…. She used her skills to rouse the German people into going along with Hitler.” Although Riefenstahl later claimed she did not support the Nazis, when Hitler conquered Paris in 1940 she sent him a telegram saying: “Your deeds exceed the power of human imagination. They are without equal in the history of mankind. How can we [the German people] ever thank you?”
The applause from the audience did diminish at the mention of Riefenstahl’s name. But one would have hoped that others in the film industry had spoken out and that the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences had expressed some remorse.
DR. RAFAEL MEDOFF
The David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies
GOP GANG STRIKES BY NIGHT
I am astonished at what Wayne S. Smith reports in “Undemocratic Process” [March 15]. How could “a small group of leading Republicans” alter legislation that had been passed by both houses of Congress by removing a duly enacted amendment? This is indeed a desecration of the democratic process, but it also must be illegal. The Treasury-Transportation appropriations bill signed by the President was not the legislation enacted by Congress. How could it become law? Isn’t this subject to legal action? Can’t the General Accounting Office look into this? Who was in this gang of “leading Republicans”? Why hasn’t anyone objected? I am astonished.
NELSON T. HENDERSON
I can only say that yes, the amendment was removed, ignoring the will of the majority and established procedural rules and the will of the majority. No Republican has admitted to being part of the cabal that removed it virtually in the dead of night. But it was not technically illegal. The real question is, how did the amendment’s supporters allow its removal without a fight? No one said, “You can’t do this.”
Why didn’t they?
WAYNE S. SMITH
WHALING THE WALL
No doubt Hillel Schenker, in “Israel’s Failing Wall” [March 8], is right when he says that Ariel Sharon opposed a wall along the Green Line, but readers should not imagine that the Prime Minister’s enthusiasm for a wall inside the West Bank is recent. In an article in Yediot Aharonot (May 23, 2003), Ron Nahman, mayor of the Ariel settlement, said, “The map of the fence, the sketch of which you see here, is the same map I saw during every visit Arik made here since 1978. He told me he has been thinking about it since 1973.” To realize such an audacious dream, Sharon needed the alignment of two key elements: his own rise to unchallenged power in Israel, and a supine US administration.
WORKING HARD TO BE HOMELESS
Beth Shulman’s “Working and Poor in the USA” [Feb. 9] plainly depicts how poverty wages are attacking the very base of our socioeconomic structure. Of the 30 million impoverished workers she describes, 10 million are minimum-wage workers, and it is from this pool that 3.5 million people will experience homelessness this year. Meanwhile Congress can’t fix the federal minimum wage because it can’t select a single wage amount, like $8.70/hour, as suggested by Shulman. Workers in almost every big city would not be able to afford housing on that wage, but it would destroy small businesses in cities like Harlingen, Texas, or Duluth, Minnesota.
We agree that the minimum wage should be indexed to inflation, and it’s the inflationary cost of housing that’s making homeless people out of full-time workers. We’ve devised a national formula, indexed to the local cost of housing, that uses government guidelines and insures that anyone working a forty-hour week will at least be able to eat, be clothed and afford basic rental housing (see www.universallivingwage.org).
RICHARD R. TROXELL