George W.’s mind seems to operate in a bassackward fashion. When there is zero evidence to warrant a rush to action, he plunges dead ahead, facts be damned. When there is an abundance of evidence on an issue crying out for presidential action, he sits on his duff and does nothing. As we now know, Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction, had no connection to Al Qaeda or 9/11, and posed no threat to our security. But there we are, with our soldiers and country mired in Bush’s bloody mess. Meanwhile, a new report shows that Greenland is melting in front of our very eyes. But Bush blindly insists that global warming is not happening and the U.S. should merrily keep pumping out fossil fuel emissions, leaving the entire globe facing a disastrous mess.
Using satellites, a research team from NASA and the University of Kansas has discovered that Greenland’s vast glaciers are melting more than twice as fast as they were only 10 years ago. This is no small matter—the Greenland Ice Sheet is up to two miles thick and covers an area nearly as big as Mexico. Over the last two decades, the air temperature over the country’s southern glaciers has risen by 5.4 degrees, causing a larger and faster ice melt that, in turn, is causing a worrisome rise in sea levels. In 1996, Greenland lost 22 cubic miles of its ice sheet. Last year, it lost 54 cubic miles. How much is that? Only one-fourth of a cubic mile of ice would supply all of the water that Los Angeles consumes in a year. This melt rate mirrors the findings of researchers analyzing other ice sheets, from the Himalayas to Bolivia. This drastic change not only threatens people on sea coasts, but also means the globe will see more and bigger storms. Would someone please take off Bush’s blindfold and tell him to get his butt in gear?
WAL-MART’S NEW FRONT MAN
Someone take up a collection, go to Wal-Mart, and buy a clue for Andy Young. This former civil rights worker, union organizer, mayor, Congress critter, and UN ambassador has now become a front man for—grab your socks—Wal-Mart! Yes, the retailing behemoth known and reviled for its poverty-wages, miserly benefits, discrimination against women, third-world sweatshop goods, and predatory tactics to crush small business. This is the outfit that Andy Young now works for, serving as chairman of “Working Families for Wal-Mart,” a new PR front to polish the thoroughly tarnished image of this abusive giant. Why? Well—money, for one thing.
Young is the paid head of a corporate-funded group called Goodworks, which is getting money from the new Wal-Mart PR front. Who is the largest funder of the PR front? Wal-Mart, of course. Young insists that the global corporation is not getting credit for helping local economies. “Wal-Mart is generating new wealth when it comes [in to a town],” he asserts. Hogwash. Wal-Mart merely diverts sales from local businesses and then extracts that wealth from our communities, hauling it back to corporate headquarters. Nor does Wal-Mart create jobs for local economies. Its stores employ fewer workers per dollar of sales than do the local retailers it displaces. Also, retail pay levels fall, for Wal-Mart lowers the local wage scale. Maybe Andy Young can fool himself, but he can’t fool us. Check out an independent study called, “The Effects of Wal-Mart on Local Labor Markets.” Contact the Public Policy Institute of California: (415) 291-4400.
THERE HE GOES AGAIN
Here’s a question for Bush & Company: Can any of you even spell h-y-p-o-c-r-i-s-y? I’m prompted to ask because of back-to-back news items regarding Donnie Rumsfeld’s recent jaunt to Moscow. At a press conference, our Pentagon honcho expressed concern about Russian arms sales around the world—sales that the Pentagon calls “disruptive weapons technologies.” The very next day, Rummy was in Algeria, meeting with the country’s strongman president, Abdelaziz Bouteflika. Our Pentagon chief was again talking about arms sales—but rather than condemning them, he was trying to make some sales! “They have things they desire and we have things we can be helpful with,” Rumsfeld said about a possible arms deal with the Algerian military. Among the high-tech weaponry they want are night-vision goggles, helicopters, and fighter planes to help them crack-down on antigovernment rebels in the country’s southern desert.
If Rummy’s salesmanship has a vague deja vu ring to it, that’s because the most infamous instance of his peddling U.S. firepower to the ruler of a desert nation was in 1983. He had been sent to Iraq as a special emissary from Ronald Reagan to assure Saddam Hussein that we would supply him with sophisticated weaponry and help him build up Iraq’s military.
Oh, say the Bushites, this is different. Bouteflika is our ally against global Islamic terrorism. Hello? Saddam was our ally in 1983. Bouteflika, who essentially seized power with military backing seven years ago, has a less-than stellar record on human rights and democracy. Once again, Rummy is siding with power elites—and arming them! The arms we provide to Bouteflika would be used against his own people and possibly against Algeria’s smaller Islamic neighbors. How is this helping win hearts and minds in the Islamic world?
Jim Hightower is a speaker and author. To order his books or schedule him for a speech, visit www.jimhightower.com. To subscribe to his newsletter, the Hightower Lowdown, call toll-free 1-866-271-4900.