I could just spit. The Bush Administration and the Shrub’s henchpersons in the US Congress had a busy Wednesday, and the results of their labors are just horrifying to behold.
First, the US Senate, by a narrow margin, approved a bill that would allow oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. The news is fabulous for oil companies salivating over the possibility of getting their mitts on what may be as much as more than 10 billion barrels worth of crude oil. (Of course, that figure may be much, much smaller.) That Alaska’s environment and the safety and security of ANWR’s wildlife population are now at risk apparently doesn’t matter to them. No surprise there.
A similar measure is now before the House of Representatives. Dubya says that if the ANWR drilling bill passes both houses of Congress, he will sign it. With a smirk on his face, no doubt.
Meanwhile, I didn’t expect Irish rocker/activist Bono would win a nod to head up the World Bank. Since the US is the bank’s largest shareholder and because it gets to choose the successor of outgoing chief James Wolfensohn, odds were that an American would get the job. But did you expect that Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz — the one depicted to have unsavory grooming habits in Fahrenheit 911 — would be nominated for the job? That is indeed what has happened.
Bush’s explanation for his choice is that the Pentagon hawk, who was a major player in the Iraq invasion, has “good experience” in the area of development. The Shrub’s choice of neocon Wolfowitz is being met with shock and dismay throughout the world. Reports Canada’s Globe and Mail:
A former World Bank executive, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said insiders are shocked by Mr. Wolfowitz’s nomination, pointing out that it will be tough for him to live down his role in the Iraq war.
The executive said the Bush administration already throws its weight around the bank’s headquarters, located just a few blocks from the White House and the US Treasury Department in downtown Washington.
“Mr. Wolfensohn was trying to build bridges between North and South,” the executive said. “It’s difficult to see how Mr. Wolfowitz will fit into that agenda.”
Much of the fear surrounding Bush’s nomination is that many world leaders fear that Wolfowitz will try to mold developing nations into systems mirroring those in the US. That fear sounds like a rational one to these ears.
According to the Globe and Mail, rumor has it that some of the World Bank’s 184 member countries may try to derail the appointment. Still, while Wolfowitz will have to win European confirmation, the US government usually gets what it wants: America gets to choose the bank chief; Europe gets to choose the head of the International Monetary Fund. So it appears most possible that Bush will get his unsettling wish.
Another bit of unsettling news: Remember the so-called Real ID Act? Opponents warn that if passed, this measure now before Congress would endanger civil liberties and refugee rights in the US. Well, those against the bill have real reason to squawk. Human Rights First has the story:
On the eve of the 25th anniversary of the Refugee Act — legislation that affirmed the United States’ commitment to protecting refugees — the House of Representatives today placed an anti-refugee bill on a fast track to becoming law. Human Rights First strongly condemns the House leadership’s decision to attach the REAL ID Act to the emergency spending bill on Iraq and tsunami aid as a serious threat to refugees seeking protection from persecution in the United States.
“It is a sad irony that as we celebrate the 25th anniversary of the historic law that cements US commitment to protecting refugees in dire need of safe haven, the House bill drastically undermines those core principles,” said Cory Smith, Legislative Counsel for Human Rights First. …
By incorporating the REAL ID Act into the emergency spending bill [H.R. 1268], the House Leadership is seeking to press the Senate to accept anti-refugee provisions without sufficient consideration or debate.
“Attaching the anti-refugee provisions to an emergency measure not only jeopardizes badly needed support for our troops and tsunami victims, but also harms refugees fleeing torture, forced abortions, honor killings and other horrific violence,” Smith noted.
The move by the leadership of the GOP-ruled House appears to be a masterstroke of political maneuvering as well. Imagine: Democrats who vote against the measure because they can not support the Real ID provisions could be slammed by Republicas in the next election for not supporting increasing the money going to troops in Iraq or for not supporting tsunami-relief funding. Or if the Dems vote for the bill, they leave themselves open to election-time criticism for being against refugee rights. Do I smell Rove-ian string-pulling here? Talk about being damned either way…
And finally, for now, the Republican-led House Judiciary Committee voted against investigating James Guckert, the discredited right-wing Internet scribe who wormed his way into the White House press corps under the name “Jeff Gannon.”
Democrats, including Rep. John Conyers (D-MI), called for a probe, saying an investigation is needed to ensure the line separating journalists and activists is clear. But GOP representatives disagreed: Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-WI), who chairs the committee, argued that the matter had been investigated fully and that the arch-conservative faux reporter posed no threat to Dubya Bush or any other Bushites.
The vote means all credentialing information on Guckert/Gannon will remain hidden in White House hands.