April 30, 2006

George Bush Lectures on the English Language

George Bush has declared that the National Anthem ought to be sung in English (only, it seems), and that legal and illegal immigrants need to learn to speak English. He is upset with a Spanish-language variation (not a version) of our nation's song that is spreading among the Hispanic community protesting new immigration restrictions.

A great irony, if there ever was one, Bush never misses a chance to use his halting Spanish to speak to an Hispanic audience. So it is even more of an irony that he, our most illiterate and inarticulate President ever, who butchers his own "native tongue" is lecturing people on not speaking their native tongues, in a country where English, most certainly, was, originally, not the native tongue. Of course, Bush is as unaware of history as he is of the rules of grammar.

There are still large numbers of Vietnamese, Cubans, Cambodians, Russians, Armenians, Chinese, Koreans, and other nationalities and ethnic groups who do not yet speak English. For decades and, in some cases, for generations, there were Germans, Italians, and Poles who did not speak English after emigrating here. This is part and parcel of our heritage and history, and what has made us such a wonderfully strong mixture of peoples.

It was impossible to find anywhere on the internet (this morning) any full translation of the lyrics in question. The best I could find of this "variation" of the National Anthem, in Spanish, goes like this:

Verse 1

Oh say can you see, a la luz de la aurora/Lo que tanto aclamamos la noche al caer? Sus estrellas, sus franjas flotaban ayer/En el fiero combate en senal de victoria,/Fulgor de lucha, al paso de la libertada,/Por la noche decian: "Se va defendiendo!"

Coro: Oh, decid! Despliega aun su hermosura estrellada,/Sobre tierra de libres, la bandera sagrada?


It's time to make a difference the kids, men and the women/Let's stand for our beliefs, let's stand for our vision/What about the children los ninos como P-Star

These kids have no parents, cause all of these mean laws.

See this can't happen, not only about the Latins.

Asians, blacks and whites and all they do is adding

more and more, let's not start a war

with all these hard workers,

they can't help where they were born.

Verse 2

Sus estrellas, sus franjas, la libertad, somos iguales

Somos hermanos, es nuestro himno.

En el fiero combate en senal de victoria,/Fulgor de lucha, al paso de la libertada,/Por la noche decian: "Se va defendiendo!"

Coro: Oh, decid! Despliega aun su hermosura estrellada,/Sobre tierra de libres, la bandera sagrada?

All the howls of protest from the Right about this song are not surprising. What is somewhat funny about the whole thing is that our National Anthem, The Star-Spangled Banner, is, perhaps, the most jingoistic national anthem on the planet, and was based on an English drinking song, To Anacreon in Heaven.

It is remarkable how brittle some people are about their patriotic self-image that they cannot tolerate an alternate interpretation of a song, really a pop version, that is being used by hundreds of thousands of Spanish-speakers as an expression of respect for a country they admire and in which they have dedicated their lives to doing our scut work with the hope for a better future.

April 28, 2006

Can't You Just Feel the Diss?

BAGNewsNotes has this photo, and another photo (see below) of Bush paling around with a white soldier on his site April 25, but this one, at left, struck me as absolutely stunning.

I somehow get the strong feeling that the black soldier has just said to Bush:

Get back, white boy. You ain't gonna suck me into to your oil war propaganda and use me to pretend you got black dudes for friends, especially this black dude who would really rather whip your sorry ass.

Look closely. Is there any respect, awe, reverence, deference, or submission of any kind in the soldier's facial expression, in his posture, or anything else about his demeanor? I sure don't see it. And I do see Bush's discomfort and embarrassment.

In contrast, the picture below shows two white, good ol' boys having a fine joke together. Doesn't Bush look so much more comfortable and, even, relieved?

April 27, 2006

Scott McClellan as Gandalf

When the press asks what could actually be a good question, Scott "The Gandalf" McClellan subtly waves his staff in front of their eyes and "answers" their questions. Here is a good example of that.

One reporter asked a good question at yesterday's White House press briefing:

Q Thank you. Scott, the President's four-point plan to lower the price of gas is being criticized as merely window dressing. And most of what he proposes will take years. Is there really anything he can do to ease the pain now?

Here's what the White House press thought they heard MR. MCCLELLAN say in response (the official White House text), contrasted with what SCOTT THE GANDALF actually said as he waved his staff:

MR. McCLELLAN: Yes, the President actually yesterday talked about every little bit can help. Now, you bring up a very good point -- the underlying problem is that we are dependent on foreign sources of energy. We are dependent on foreign oil. And the President made it very clear that we have got to address that root cause of why we have high gas prices. This is something that has been building for decades. And that's why the President outlined a four-point plan yesterday.

SCOTT THE GANDALF:Any little bit we do now won't matter at all in the larger scheme of things because it is all owned and operated by forces way beyond our control, many of which are large donors to the Republican Party. The underlying problem, as you know, is that Big Oil, a very important part of the Republican Party base, has been taking huge profits at the expense of the American taxpayer. The President made it very clear that we need to continue to deflect any interest you might have in that issue onto our dependence on foreign oil. Right now, foreigners are a good target for us to concentrate on. This is something we have been doing for decades. And that's why the President outlined his silly little four-point plan that he and Karl scribbled on the back of a napkin at lunch yesterday just so we could feed you folks something you might report.

MR. McCLELLAN: We're taking a number of actions on the short run side of things because we can provide some help. But, ultimately, this is a problem that must be solved in a comprehensive way. And that's why the President outlined his advanced energy initiative to really transform the way we power our cars and homes, and lessen our dependence on foreign sources of oil -- by making use of ethanol and hydrogen and pursuing other ways to promote alternative sources of energy. And that's what we have to do in the long run.

SCOTT THE GANDALF: We're doing a number of little piddly things but we really need to concentrate on ignoring this in as comprehensive a way as possible. And that's why the President's Advanced Energy Initiative (AEI) which pretends to transform the way we power our cars and our homes could not possibly develop any real solutions for decades to come, long after the President and Vice President are dead and gone. Quite frankly, as any real scientist can tell you, ethanol and hydrogen don't amount to a hill of beans when it comes to solving anything now, or even in the medium term. Of course, it won't matter by then because global warming, which, by the way, does not exist, will have already taken its toll and no one will remember the AEI at all. And of course, foreign sources of oil won't be an issue either, because the Saudis and Iranians and Venezuelans will have run out of the stuff, and we will all be in deep doo-doo.

MR. McCLELLAN: In the short run, again, there are steps that we can take to help, but we also have to continue acting on solving the root cause. This is a supply and demand problem. We have tight supplies right now, and that's pushing the price of gas up -- it's pushing the price of oil up, which pushes the price of gas up. So that's why the President announced several steps that we're taking to help address the supply side in the short-run. But this is a problem that we see recur year after year, and it's because of our increasing dependence on oil, particularly foreign sources of oil.

SCOTT THE GANDALF: So, in the short run, we will continue to throw pixie dust into your eyes, because most of you don't know supply from demand, and couldn't possibly understand the economic forces at work that control your lives every minute. We now have tight supplies, pushing gas up, because oil is pushed up by some unseen and unknown force, and we are addressing this unseen and unknown force (some call it profit, but that's not something you guys know much about anyway), and we are laughing all the way to the bank. Our base is very happy, also, by the way. As I told you, the President has announced several steps we are taking to help address the supply side in the short-run, none of which will make even the slightest dent in solving this problem for the American taxpayer, but these little things all look good. You are all going to dutifully tell the American people about these little steps the President is taking, and not have a clue what you are talking about. They won't either, but it all sounds great.

Next question.

April 26, 2006

Misogynist Comes Out of the Woodwork

My blog entry from March 16, 2006, entitled Why I Saved My First Kiss for Marriage, has resulted in quite a few comments and responses which continue to the present. If you are not familiar with this entry, and don't want to click on the link and read about it, this entry was about the "Purity Ball" held in South Dakota, sponsored by the Abstinence Clearinghouse, partly in celebration of South Dakota's ban on abortion, and partly to celebrate girls and their male role models. The keynote address was entitled "Why I Saved My First Kiss for Marriage." The latest comment, from "Fred Z" is a really good example of the kind of language used by misogynists in talking about women and girls.

My wife pointed out to me, rightly so, that she noticed, while reading through all the comments in response to my piece that the women tended to comment on issues of substance and content, while the men, including myself, while also commenting on substance, also tended to jockey for position, a common male tendency. Looking back in hindsight, I agree with her. In my haste to respond to certain of the male comments, I wish I had avoided the personal and stuck to the substantive.

So, let's stick with the substantive in understanding the comment from "Fred Z" about the Purity Ball and his language describing women and men. [You can read Fred Z's full comment at the end of the comments section in the link above.] But I will summarize it here below.

Right off the bat, Fred Z establishes that I am "a real ass," suggests that I was conceived by my father sexually abusing my mother, that I hate all men, that I am one of Gloria Allred's "girlfriends," and that I get laid more often, with young college-aged women because I have "cool" and "progressive" and irresponsible views of sexuality. He then asks rhetorically: "How am I doing?" All I can say is that, at age 57, even though I am still a handsome devil, I haven't noticed young college-aged women banging down my door.

He then suggests that, in my world, there is no difference between men and women and yet I believe that men are terrible evil creatures while women are pure innocent beings. Of course, I said no such thing, but it is important for him to establish this falsehood, so he can describe his view of women coming up in the next paragraph. And it is here that he gives himself away with such stunning obviousness.

"Fred Z" begins by talking about how women let their breasts and asses hang out, act provocatively "like...sluts in every situation, no matter what the occasion, tease and lure men sexually (especially when there's money to be made/gifts to be received), and provoke perfectly healthy and normal men into a state of lust by appealing to their very healthy and normal biological drive to procreate." He goes on to describe how women abuse their natural gifts and beauties (he talks more about their "nice breasts and asses") by selling themselves on TV and in commercials, while "real men" are doing "physical labor," what he calls "real work to earn a living."

What Fred Z fails to acknowledge is that it is not women who have had the idea that showing tits and ass in advertising campaigns sells cars, or beer, or NASCAR racing, it is men who have created those concepts. It is his "real men" who have the obsession with those breasts he keeps talking about, men who control the media and exercise the power to create the ads and the images we are fed. Whether it is a "Purity Ball" or a sexy ad for Victoria's Secret, it is men who are making these decisions and setting the course for their vision of how women should be and how they should behave. They are equally exploitative.

At one point, Fred Z actually talks about how women use "their feminine charms" and can't keep their legs closed. He accuses women of "blackmailing men in the workplace, the bedroom, and everywhere else." Can we imagine a more perverted view of womanhood than this?

He, then, concludes by saying that he is offended by my remarks "as all 'real men' should be- unless they are so whipped by radical, ultraliberal women, (or their mommies?) that they don't have the balls to stand up for themselves." Here he gets down to his gut level about this whole thing. He establishes that I am "whipped" (read: pussy-whipped), and that "real men" have balls and I don't. I find it amusing that he has a hard time distinguishing between ultraliberal women and "mommies." Are they, perhaps, all the same in his mind?

With respect to the issue of abortion, he says this: "It's not about 'her body', but the completely SEPARATE body that happens to be growing inside of her." We could probably argue about the abortion issue till the cows come home, but suffice it to say I find it interesting that almost everything he says about women's bodies is about their lustful ways, their abuse of their sexuality, their breasts and asses, their slut-like behavior -- except when it comes to a woman's pregnancy -- then, all of a sudden, it is not her body, but some community property that men need to have control over.

Fred Z's language feels like testosterone-laden, schoolyard bully talk. It feels to me as if he wants desperately to establish his dominion, over me and over women. Both the mother/whore dichotomy and the virgin/whore dichotomy are common variants of misogynistic characterizations. It seems to me that Fred Z illustrates both these dichotomies pretty well.

April 25, 2006

A Different Class of People

We have all read stories about how George Bush's base is the rich, how he curries their favor, and how he rewards them as often as possible. We have read stories about the tremendous benefit the tax cuts for the rich have been for, well, the rich. Just today, in a CNN poll about gas prices, a small number of Americans (around 20%) is saying that the $3.00 plus gas price is not having any appreciable effect on them. Everyone else is saying that it is hurting them financially. Guess who those 20% are.

So when we hear that oil companies are making record profits, and that CEOs are making record salaries, bonuses and receiving mammoth golden parachutes, just what does this tells us about how rich the rich are actually getting?

Here are some examples of just how rich George Bush's base is getting.

In 1985, the Forbes 400 were worth $221 billion combined. Today, they are worth $1.13 trillion -- more than the GDP of Canada.

In 2005, there were 9 million American millionaires, a 62% increase since 2002.

Only estates worth more than $1.5 million are taxed. That's less than 1% of all estates. Repealing the estate tax (which rich Republicans euphemistically call the "death" tax) will cost the Federal government (that's us, the taxpayer) at least $55 billion a year. In other words, we'll have to make up the shortfall.

This year, Donald Trump will get $1.5 million an hour to speak at Learning Annex seminars.

Public companies spend 10% of their income compensating their top 5 executives.

ExxonMobil's 2005 profit of $36.13 billion is greater than the GDP of 2/3 of the world's nations.

When companies are in trouble, top executives still get rewarded. For instance, 10 former Enron directors were forced to agree to pay shareholders only a $13 million settlement which is a mere 10% of what they made by dumping stock while lying about the company's health.

And while United Airlines, as a result of its reorganization bankruptcy, has cut the pensions and salaries of most employees, 400 of the top executives have been promised 8% of the shares of United stock which will be issued upon emerging from bankruptcy. United's top 8 executives will also get a bonus of between 55% and 100% of their salaries.

1,730 Board members of the nation's 1,000 leading companies sit on the boards of 4 or more other corporations. Half of Coca-Cola's 14 member board is an example.

The rich get richer, and the poor get poorer, and it has everything to do with whether you are a member of the right class.

American Express, in their exclusive magazine, Departures, gives us an idea how rich the rich actually are getting these days:

-- David Smith's stainless-steel sculpture Cubi XXVIII (1965) was sold at Southeby's for $23.8 million, making it the most expensive contemporary work ever sold at auction;

-- an oak-and-glass table made in 1949 by Italian designer Carlo Mollino sold at Christie's for $3.8 million, double the previous record for a piece of 20th century furniture;

-- a 14th century porcelain Yuan jar sold a Christie's London for $27.7 million, eclipsing the previous record for an Asian work by $18.5 million;

-- a painted Pennsylvania candle box (estimated at $8000 to $12000) soared to $744,825, becoming the highest-priced piece ever sold by Freemans, a 200-year old auction house in Philadelphia;

-- Edward Steichen's vintage photo The Pond-Moonlight sold at Sotheby's for $2.9 million. No single vintage photo had even brought $1 million prior to this;

-- Edward Munch's painting Summer Day went for a record $9 million at Sotheby's London.

It is worth noting that this issue of American Express' Departures magazine is The Culture Issue. In a section entitled, Culture Watch, the editors begin with this Prosperity Index that reports on record setting auctions listed above. The section is sub-titled Special Edition - The State of the Arts Around the World. Another feature piece in The Culture Watch section is entitled So You Want to Buy a Rembrandt? Some people's idea of "culture" is other people's idea of extravagance and rarity.

Doesn't this all make sense? The rich have got to do something with the windfall they are reaping from the Bush/Cheney regime.

[Thanks to Mother Jones magazine for part of this data]

April 24, 2006

Another Nail in the Bush/Cheney Coffin

Another significant intelligence officer of the United States has confirmed that the White House "fit" the intelligence to its desire for war against Iraq. Bush/Cheney used the excuse that WMD were all over Iraq, based on "slam dunk" intelligence, and we had to protect ourselves from it. When no WMD was found, Bush/Cheney blamed faulty intelligence.

According to CBS News' 60 Minutes yesterday, Sunday April 23, 2006:

Tyler Drumheller, a 26-year veteran of the CIA, says he saw how the Bush administration, time and again, welcomed intelligence that fit the president's determination to go to war and turned a blind eye to intelligence that did not.

"It just sticks in my craw every time I hear them say it’s an intelligence failure. It’s an intelligence failure. This was a policy failure."

April 23, 2006

Hillary Clinton vs. Al Gore

There is a theory floated by some Democrats like Rep. Rahm Emmanuel (head of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee) that Hillary Clinton can win the Presidency if she carries the Kerry blue states (250 electoral votes) and then only picks up one other state like Ohio (22 votes) or Florida (27 votes). You need to win 270 electoral votes to win the Presidency.

The flaw in this thinking is that Hillary could carry the Kerry blue states. In the same way that many Democrats were cooled off by a McGovern candidacy in 1972, many Democrats would also turn away from a Hillary candidacy (or sit on their hands), especially if the Republicans run an apparent moderate like McCain.

Worse, Hillary could not possibly rise above the din of invective, distortions, partial truths, and uproar that would accompany her everywhere she would go. The onslaught against her would make the entire Bill Clinton Presidency look like a tip toe through the tulips. Her personality, her abrasive style, her husband, her feminism, her record -- all would work against her in a country that is, at heart, worried about security, which is naturally conservative (small "c") and not given to revolutionary political decisions. And let's face it, her very femaleness would not be an asset for the majority of voters especially in what is perceived as a time of war. It would be very unlikely for American male and female voters to elect a non-military serving woman to the Presidency under these circumstances. It just is not going to happen.

It simply is not time for a female Democratic President like Hillary Clinton, no matter how much liberals and progressives may think it is, or how much Rep. Rahm Emmanuel wants it to be. Condoleeza Rice would stand a much better chance as a female Presidential candidate for the Republicans, but I don't think even that will happen.

If, through some wierd set of circumstances, it became a Condi vs. Hillary race, I think Condi would win, given the perception of her eight years of service on the battlefront in the war on terror. That is how significant I believe Hillary's feminism and lack of military service would adversely affect her campaign. The American people, by 2008, may believe, in even more significant numbers than now, that the Iraq War was a mistake, but they will also still believe we need to be strong in the face of terror and other real threats. Hillary will not make them feel safe.

There simply is no one as powerful as Al Gore to run as the Democratic candidate in 2008. He has all the experience of serving as a United States Senator, of serving as the Vice President, and of already having run once for the Presidency and, thereby, learning from his mistakes. Although he should not personally exploit it, the increasing view that he had the Presidency taken away from him by a biased Supreme Court in what is now widely believed to be a questionable Presidential election in 2000, would also work in his favor. Many Americans could easily look back on the last eight years and imagine much better things for America than George Bush has given us.

Gore has stayed on message about the environment, he has been consistently opposed to the Iraq war and has offered concrete approaches to resolving American involvement there, and he has raised the esteem in which he is held throughout the world, a Presidential characteristic even many Republicans realize is needed for America in the years ahead. Hillary has had a muddled, lukewarm pro-Bush Iraq position that convinces no one. She tries so hard to straddle some issues (like flag-burning), it is obvious to everyone and is reminiscent of the Kerry waffling.

Gore would bring to a campaign beautifully aged and ripened political positions and voice. There is no Democrat who would be as formidable. Just on the one issue of global warming, which the American people are beginning to see with their own eyes and feel with their own skins, he would be utterly unbeatable. Over the next two years, the increase in tornadoes, hurricanes, and other natural disasters will amplify this realization. Gore can talk about these coming crises like no other candidate could.

Here is what Al Gore has said, in an interview after giving a speech at an economic forum in Sweden, about how his Presidency would have been different from the Bush years:

We would not have invaded a country that didn't attack us... We would not have taken money from the working families and given it to the most wealthy families....We would not be trying to control and intimidate the news media... We would not be routinely torturing people.

In this interview, he does shy away from any Presidential aspiration, but he also does not rule it out.

Hillary Clinton, as the Democratic Party Presidential candidate, would be a monumental mistake.

April 22, 2006

Fun with Dick (No Jane) at White House Easter Celebration

Here's a news film clip, in case you missed the fun at the White House Easter Egg Roll.

(Tip of the bunny ears to PJB)

W and Hu in Group Therapy While Dick Sleeps

While Dick Cheney nodded off, and Rumsfeld studied the shine on his shoes, W and Hu apparently got along splendidly.

According to President (I am the Decider) Bush:

"He tells me what he thinks and I tell him what I think and we do so with respect." Doesn't that sound so cozy and group therapish? Dr. Phil would be proud.

I suspect neither one of them can stand being in the other's presence and there is about as much respect between the two of them as a cat has for a dog.

This photo below probably reflects the real feelings between the two more than any I could find. It is from the BBC and Getty Images.

U.S. and China on Collision Course

Jeff, at True Blue Blog, in commenting about my post yesterday Bush Apologizes for Free Speech, referred us all to a link to a piece in the Asia Times about the U.S. and Chinese economic "bubbles" and their possible disastrous mutual explosions. Even though the article was written January 23, 2004, it is still very timely, lucid and explains a great deal about the inter-relationship of the Bush economy with the bureaucratic Communist capitalist system now in place in China. The warnings about the dangers of the coming collision are even more pertinent now.

The unspoken truth in this global relationship between the US economy and the Chinese juggernaut is that Bush's cheap words about free speech are not one of the profitable commodities, and never will be. It is useful pretense, it serves his core of delusional patriots, but it has no more real purpose than when he talks about helping Katrina victims, or preserving our natural resources, or solving the AIDS crisis.

The Asia Times article is a really important one in helping to understand what is at stake and how dangerous a game George Bush is playing.

As an update to this 2004 piece, the Asia Times has a piece just today entitled China GDP Figures Revive Overheating Fears .

Check out True Blue Blog. I love the sub-title quote to his blog name:

"Of all the varieties of virtues, liberalism is the most beloved" Aristotle

The Fourth Stooge

(Tip of the Stetson to Dicky's Doodles & Scribbles)

April 21, 2006

Bush Apologizes for Free Speech

The conflicted nature of George Bush's relationship with China could not have been more clearly illustrated by what happened on the White House lawn yesterday when he greeted Communist Chinese President Hu. In his welcoming speech, Bush called for, among other things, more freedom of speech and religion in China, and then, when a woman in the audience shouted to Hu for more freedom for the Falun Gong, she was arrested.

Here's what Bush said:

"I'll continue to discuss with President Hu the importance of respecting human rights and freedoms of the Chinese people. China has become successful because the Chinese people are experience the freedom to buy, and to sell, and to produce -- and China can grow even more successful by allowing the Chinese people the freedom to assemble, to speak freely, and to worship.


Here is how CNN reported it:

She shouted in English, "President Bush, stop him from persecuting the Falun Gong!" and in Chinese, "President Hu, your days are numbered."
The Chinese government condemns the spiritual movement Falun Gong as a cult. China began a crackdown on the group in 1999. The Epoch Times, which disavowed the protest, is affiliated with the Falun Gong movement.
The Secret Service identified the woman as Wang Wenyi, 47, a naturalized U.S. citizen who is working as a journalist for The Epoch Times and who had a one-day press pass that gave her access to the platform.
She was charged with disorderly conduct and could face additional federal charges, said service spokesman Eric Zahren.


Having her arrested must surely have felt familiar to Hu. How ironic that Bush would urge Hu to allow "the Chinese people the freedom to assemble, to speak freely, and to worship" and then arrest a Chinese American for speaking out against Hu, and follow it all up with an apology to him. I suppose we can be happy this did not happen in China, because she probably would already have been shot.

Just how seriously can Hu take Bush's call for more free speech in China, when Bush does what Hu would have done in China. It's one thing to remove the woman, but it's quite another to arrest her and to have her face possible federal prosecution. Hu will learn precisely the wrong thing from this incident.

Isn't Bush just kidding?

April 17, 2006

Grover Norquist, the Wonder Bread Boy, Thinks the French Stink

On this morning's C-SPAN Washington Journal, Grover Norquist, the extremist, loudmouth bully-boy of Washington lobbyists, described how heavily the French people are taxed which, he said, explains "why they can't afford soap." Then, with a twinkle in his eye, he asked the host whether he could say such a thing on the air and the host said: "You just did."

It takes pretty colossal hubris for a man who looks like an unwashed homeless person living on Wonder Bread to make such a comment, but it does illustrate the ignorance at the heart of many Americans' views of other countries.

April 16, 2006

Pandora's Box in China

"Chinese President Hu Jintao has expressed concern over the rapid speed of the country's economic development," according to the BBC.

The Chinese Communist Party will do anything to stay in power, including shooting as many of its own people as necessary. In the aftermath of the Tienanmen Square slaughter in 1989, it made a deal with its people: in return for the people staying out of the political sphere, giving up any hope of free speech or freedom of the press, among other things, the government would promote a new capitalist economy to help the people. Shut up and go make money. This has now led to the fastest capitalist economy in the world. So fast, in fact, it is now scaring the hell out of the the thugs in power.

The BBC says the "blistering pace" of the Chinese economy's growth is giving the Chinese leadership a "headache." People worry the economy may be "overheating." President Hu worries that people in the countryside are not sharing in the wealth of capitalism. And the BBC reports that President Hu said: "We are also concerned about saving our resources, environmental protection and the improvement of our people's livelihood." Given all the reports of expanding environmental degradation in China, as well as the increased impoverishment of uncounted millions in the countryside, President Hu is understating reality. The rest of the capitalist world had better listen.

The cat is out of the bag, the chicken has flown the coop, Pandora's Box is open. The Chinese leadership is finally understanding the basic mechanics of capitalist growth. It is voracious when left unchecked, and humans will take every advantage of its power to create wealth that they can.

In the face of this out-of-control capitalist growth, the Chinese government can do one of two things. It can let the forces of capital mushroom out of control, or it can go back on the "deal" and begin a process of political and military restraints which are going to anger tens of millions in China, upset a world economy, and ruin many new global corporate relationships in the process.

The Chinese Communist Party Central Committee made a deal with the devil capitalism. That deal is not only now biting them on the ass, it has the potential to bury them. This is what they are discovering. And if the Chinese leadership persists in its desire to maintain political control of China under any circumstance, an economic and political blowup are inevitable in China.

April 15, 2006

Rewriting Iraq's History

George Orwell would easily recognize what is going on in Iraqi classrooms. In the two-year old history textbook used in Iraqi schools, Iraq's history ends in 1968 -- no mention of Saddam Hussein's rise to power, no mention of the Iran-Iraq war, no mention of Saddam's invasion of Kuwait and subsequent defeat and expulsion, and no mention of Hussein's fall to the American invasion. Perhaps this is not so much a case of "rewriting history" as it is just not telling any at all.

Regionally, however, differences are stark and will be hard to overcome. In the Kurdish areas, the history of Hussein's murder of Kurds is taught openly, while in Tikrit, Hussein's birthplace which is heavily Sunni Arab, schools teach about "how the Persians are the enemy and hate the Arabs."

The reasoning behind this complete blank in the history books is that Iraqi officials worried that the traumas of Hussein's reign were too much for the many factions within Iraq to deal with a couple of years ago. Education officials worried that telling one history might offend too many people. A principle at one high school sums it up by pointing out that if you say something good about Saddam Hussein, someone will want to kill you, and if you say something bad about Saddam Hussein, someone else will want to kill you. It's understandable why teachers, for now, have preferred to say nothing at all.

There is now an effort underway to devise a new textbook that tells one acceptable version of the events since 1968. This will be a neat trick, especially in the face of attempts to create a government that is acceptable to all parties and which is having a very hard time getting off the ground. No small challenges, but if these two things can be achieved, Iraq may have some hope. A country united by an agreed-upon government and an-agreed upon history just may have some chance of perservering.

There are, however, several other serious challenges for Iraq's educational system which the Washington Post article cited above (and which inspired this entry) does not address. First, to what extent are Iraq's public school curricula increasingly becoming more religious and less secular? Second, to what extent are girls and women being less tolerated in educational settings? And third, what effect will there be on Iraqi society of a significant increase in male-only religious schools?

When history and religion mix, it can be a volatile combination that has always tended to limit democracy and freedom. In the Middle East, it is more the rule than the exception.

This Is Not Your Country, George Bush

This is not your country, George Bush.
This is not a country of fear.
This is our country,
Our country of refugees.

This is our country of immigrants,
Our country of slaves, building the Capitol,
Our country of Chinese, building the railroads.
Our country, George Bush, not yours.

This is our country where starving Irish found food.
Our country where Germans and Italians
Spoke no English for a generation.

This is our country, George Bush, not yours.
Our country of boat people from Cuba and Vietnam,
Our country of Asian mathematicians and scientists,
Our country of Korean shopkeepers,
Our country of Croats and Bosnians, of Jews and Kurds.

Can you hear the music, George Bush?
Can you hear Tex-Mex and Polish polka?
Can you hear Delta blues, New Orleans dixieland, and slave hollers?
Have you danced to Eskimo drums and Lakota powwow?
Can you hear New England clogging and hand-clapping games?
Have you heard French cajun and African-tinged zydeco?
Have you heard Puerto Rican music in Hawaii?
Can you hear what a country these have made?

Our country is not a country of fear
And that's the terrible drug you push, George Bush.
Our country is a country of hope, and that's why they come.
And that's why they will always come.

This is not your country, George Bush,
America is our country.

April 14, 2006

"The White House is not the intelligence-gathering agency."

I can't imagine being Scott McClellan. Can you imagine spending your entire day figuring out how to prevaricate, equivocate, and wink? Surely, he must be on the little purple pill, augmented by occasional Alka-Seltzers and swigs from a handy flask. I have spent some significant time over the past year reading transcripts of McClellan's briefings and gaggles, and writing about some of them when they are particularly outrageous.

Here's a recent one, from the McClellan April 12, 2006 press briefing, wherein he demanded a public apology from the press for its coverage of a story which shows that the administration had information about "biological laboratories" two days before President Bush made his May 29, 2003 statement that "We found the weapons of mass destruction. We found biological laboratories."

Specifically, the Washington Post reported that the Pentagon, had concluded " ...the trailers had nothing to do with biological weapons," a full two days before Bush made his May 29, 2003 declaration.

Whether, in fact, Bush actually had knowledge of this conclusion by his own military establishment, is not the point. What is at issue here is a White House, when confronted with the reality of its mistakes, whether inadvertent omissions or outright lies, never feels compelled to apologize.

Instead of McClellan attacking the messenger, it is incumbent on the Bush administration to correct itself and apologize to the American people for not having shared with them the fact that its own military had concluded the labs had nothing to do with WMD. Even if Bush did not know this two days after the Pentagon reported it, at what point did he know it, and then fail to correct the record, and, thus, his basis for the invasion? Did he find out two days later? a week later? or did he not find out at all, and someone in his administration is guilty of having kept this information from him? Isn't it more likely that he eventually did find out, but, by then, was already so committed that he decided not to share it with us?

No, it is not the press that needs to apologize, or explain, it is Scott McClellan and his boss who need to do all the explaining and apologizing.

Perhaps the most ironic thing McClellan said in this April 12 press briefing, defending the President's apparent lack of knowledge, was this:

"The White House is not the intelligence-gathering agency."

Certainly, this White House has not gathered intelligence, despite the fact that the White House is precisely where intelligence needs to gather most so that the president can make informed decisions. If the White House is not the ultimate intelligence gathering site in the government, then who is making decisions and based on what?

Two Nuggets from the Looney Bin

Charles Colson, convicted Watergate felon who schemed a cool Prison Ministries gig to rehabilitate himself, has now given us the cause of illegal immigration: abortion.

He says that if it were not for the "40 million" American workers (known as babies or fetuses, depending on your science) we have killed since 1973 -- the year women were given the right to choose -- we would have all these jobs that illegal immigrants are coming here for already filled with good, hard-working Americans who would gladly be picking our vegetables in the southern sun and sleeping in shacks stacked like cordwood.

In other words, all these south-of-the-border Roman Catholics are taking advantage of our abortion law to take low paying scut work that good American babies should have had. I can just imagine how all the mothers who chose to end their pregnancies are wishing their offspring were working like immigrant slaves cleaning our toilets and working the dirtiest and lowest paid jobs in America.

Continuing along the line of good Christian works on behalf of Christian immigrants, legal and illegal, we have the American Family Association leadership revealing their new theory of a conspiracy by the "mainstream media" to promote all the national immigrant rallies and demonstrations that have been happening as a way to strengthen the Democratic Party in the Red States.

On the April 10 broadcast of American Family Radio's AFA Report, American Family Association founder and CEO Don Wildmon, AFR news director Fred Jackson, and AFA Journal news editor Ed Vitagliano claimed the "mainstream media" have a "vested interest" in promoting recent nationwide immigrant rights rallies: to swell Democratic voter rolls and, ultimately, "to weaken the Red States."

Perhaps the "mainstream media" is simply reporting how the Democratic Party has a natural ally in the Hispanic community against the jackbooted Christians in the Republican Party? Just what are the Republican Christians doing to show how much they care about immigrant labor? Could it be that the Democratic Party has an opportunity to show its mettle and demonstrate to the world what it really means to be an American? Let's face it: if guys like Wildmon are whining that "these people" might make a difference in states like Florida, California and Texas, can we hope the Democrats take notice?


April 11, 2006

George Bush, The Religious Faker

Rabbi Dennis Shulman points out the obvious: George Bush, while he talks a good religious talk, really doesn't walk a very religious walk. The man is a fake when it comes to following traditional Judeo-Christian beliefs and practices like good stewardship of the earth, helping the disadvantaged and not favoring the rich at their expense, and supporting the powerless against the powerful. Bush is no peacemaker, nor is he charitable. He pretends to piety and acts like a moneychanger. He speaks of God and Jesus, while he sits with the high priests of the corporate world in private rooms of cigar-smoke and deal-making. The man is long past due a good bolt of lightning.

Rabbi Shulman, in his piece entitled George, Please Tell Me, Would You Consider Becoming Religious? published by CommonDreams.org, concludes his piece with the following:

Many have argued that President Bush is too religious. On the contrary, I would argue that the President is not religious enough. This president has not yet fully grasped the vast personal and social implications of taking the great wisdom of our ancient religious texts seriously. This president has not yet appreciated his personal and political responsibility to transform the highest ethical values of the Jewish-Christian tradition into a moral society in which all divine images are treated with respect.

George, please, for our sake, for God sake, it is time for you to find religion!

While I agree that George Bush needs to transform his leadership and take responsibility, both personal and political, embracing the highest ethical values, I think we all know, by now, this will never happen. In the face of history's condemnation of his years of lies and subterfuge, of his disastrous Iraq war, of his pillaging of the American taxpayer, of his wrecking of America's jobs, health and environment, can anyone imagine him apologizing? Can anyone imagine him recognizing any of his mistakes? Can anyone imagine his betraying his class interests?

April 08, 2006

Crazed Lunatic Attacks Bush with First Amendment

Every now and then, some crazed lunatic sneaks into a Bush event and gets too near him, sometimes with a grenade, sometimes with the First Amendment. The Secret Service is, of course, appalled by its failure to protect the President.

Harry Taylor is lucky Bush, the Bubble Boy himself, didn’t pull out a gun and shoot him. It’s not the message he is used to hearing, it is not the message he wants to hear, it is not the message his handlers want him to hear, and it is not the message Laura whispers to him each night. And when he looks at himself in the mirror every morning, it is not the message he hears from his god. I am certain Bush thinks Harry Taylor was some crazed lunatic that slipped by the Secret Service. They'll be living this one down for some time to come.

And what exactly was Bush forced to hear? This is what Harry Taylor said:

"While I listen to you talk about freedom, I see you assert your right to tap my telephone, to arrest me and hold me without charges, to try to preclude me from breathing clean air and drinking clean water and eating safe food. If I were a woman, you'd like to restrict my opportunity to make a choice... about whether I can abort a pregnancy... What I wanted to say to you is that--in my lifetime, I have never felt more ashamed of, nor more frightened, by my leadership in Washington, including the presidency. And I would hope from time to time that you have the humility and the grace to be ashamed of yourself... I also want to say I really appreciate the courtesy of allowing me to speak... That is part of what this country is about."

(Aren't the three reactions of the women to his right amazingly different?)

Understanding The Six Major Economic Problems We Face

If you don't read Bonddad (who writes on the MyDD - Direct Democracy blog) for economic news and analysis of what is happening to us on the economic front, you are missing some really important insights, as well as facts and figures.

A recent piece is entitled Corporations Have Biggest Share of Income in 40 Years where he informs us that:

U.S. corporate profits have increased 21.3% in the past year and now account for the largest share of national income in 40 years, the Commerce Department said Thursday.

Another is entitled Savings Crisis Continues in which he prefaces his remarks with:

The US Savings crisis continues. Today the Bureau of Economic Analysis reported personal income figures for February 2006. The figure came in at -$43 billion, or -.5% of total personal income. This is the 11th month in a row this figure has been negative. In addition, yesterday the Bureau of Economic Analysis reported revised 4th quarter GDP which includes personal income figures. The savings figure for the 4th quarter of 2005 was -15.8 billion, or -.2% of personal income. The implications of this situation are very important for the economy as a whole.

Every now and then he throws in a zinger like this, entitled Send the Right Wing Noise Machine to Iraq:

For anyone who is a member of the Right Wing Noise machine -- Hannity, Rush, O'Reilly, Hewitt, Laura Ingram the folks at Powerline etc... (you know who you are)...
If you don't like the news from Iraq, go over there yourselves and find the happy stories you claim exist. Until you do that you have no business saying there are good stories over there that aren't being reported. PS Have a nice day.

But one of his longer pieces is well worth taking the time to read in full. It is concise, easily readable, and understandable. It is called The 6 Major Problems of the Current US Economy. Here are the six major problems in a nutshell:

1. Weak Job Growth
2. Low Wages
3. Skyrocketing Consumer Debt
4. Poor Savings Rate
5. Soaring National Debt
6. Widening Trade Deficit

Here's his conclusion:

The US economy's foundations are weak. Current job growth is poor by historical standards. This has lead to weak wage growth, forcing consumers to fund their purchases with a massive increase in debt acquisition. Because consumers have spent beyond their means, they have little savings to help them through economically difficult times. In addition, their increased use of debt makes them more susceptible to insolvency should they experience a financial problem.

At the national level, the federal government has returned to deficit spending, decreasing its effectiveness in the event of a recession. And finally, the trade deficit which is financed by foreign capital inflows could correct violently, spiking US interest rates, slowing the US economy and creating a huge financial problem.

These are foundational economic issues which the current expansion has only made worse.

While I have no prediction when or if a painful correction will occur, should the US experience an economic shock we are ill prepared to deal with it. In fact, the current US economic foundations may make an economic shock much worse.

Bonddad writes about economic issues in lucid, accessible prose, using just enough facts and figures not to overwhelm and obfuscate. I recommend him highly.

April 07, 2006

This Ship of State "Leaks from the Top"

Nina Totenberg said on NPR, this morning, in reporting about the continuing Fitzgerald investigation of the CIA/Valerie Plame leak and new information (testimony from Lewis "Scooter" Libby) that may show that President Bush, although he has repeatedly says he does not tolerate leaks, actually ordered the leak :

"The ship of state is the only one that leaks from the top."

Wal-Mart and Other Huge Retailers Oppose American Port Security

UnCHECKED: How Wal-Mart Uses Its Might to Block Port Security

Almost every press story written and news show aired since the Dubai Ports World battle began has trumpeted the gaping holes in our seaports’ security systems. But few ask: Why are U.S. ports so poorly protected nearly five years after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001? Why has the government spent just $630 million—less than 4 percent of the $18 billion-plus we have spent since 2001 on airport security—to make our ports safer?

The stock answer is that port security hasn’t been a priority for Congress and the Bush administration because the United States hasn’t suffered a catastrophic attack on one of our ports. But anger over the Bush administration’s support for the Dubai Ports World deal prompted the chairman of the U.S. House Armed Services Committee, Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.), to reveal another significant reason:

[While we] talk about having strong homeland security, checking 100 percent of cargo containers…In the end, our commercial interests get ahead of us, and here we are, years after 9/11, still with a relatively small percentage [of cargo containers] being checked.
The people who should pay for [better container security] are…the trading companies and the commercial companies that are moving the cargo containers into this country, and that means we’re going to have to tax them or put a fee on them for inspection….It’s part of a cost of doing business today when you’re moving large cargo containers into the United States while we’re pursuing this war against terror.

The "commercial interests" are led by the world’s largest retailer and America’s biggest importer, Wal-Mart. The Wall Street Journal, in a "Washington Wire" blurb March 24, made it plain:

"Wal-Mart resists efforts in Congress to dramatically tighten port security in wake of Dubai-ports furor. The company argues examining all containers, or even a fixed percentage of them, could impede shipping and boost costs."

Rep. Hunter and the Journal let slip what is surely Wal-Mart’s dirtiest secret: The company and its Washington, D.C., lobbyist, the Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA), have systematically under-mined our security by working to defeat and water down rules designed to make America’s seaports and far-flung supply chains safe from terrorist attacks. And Wal-Mart and RILA have invested heavily in the members of Congress with the most sway over ports and supply-chain security issues, as well as the Bush administration and the Republican National Committee.


In other news from Wal-Mart, here's a piece from Bloomberg News / Boston Globe April 6, 2006

A Wal-Mart Stores Inc. executive who suggested last year that the world's largest retailer should avoid hiring unhealthy workers has been promoted to head its human-resources division.
The world's largest retailer yesterday shifted five executives to new posts, moves that the chain said would help train a new crop of leaders. Wal-Mart, which has a history of shuffling top executives so they can learn how different parts of the business operate, named Susan Chambers executive vice president of the unit that oversees human resources and diversity. She succeeds Lawrence Jackson who was promoted to president and chief executive of global procurement.

In October, advocacy group Wal-Mart Watch leaked an internal company memo from Chambers that said Wal-Mart's healthcare costs were rising faster than sales because its workers are ''sicker than the national population." Labor groups, US lawmakers, and community organizations have accused the company of offering inadequate pay and benefits.

Chambers, who joined Wal-Mart in 1999 from Hallmark Cards, also wrote that Wal-Mart would ''dissuade unhealthy people from coming to work" by requiring physical activity with jobs. This could include requiring cashiers to gather shopping carts, she wrote. Chambers was then executive vice resident for risk management and benefits.


Bush Administration Proposes Eliminating Equal Opportunity Survey

One of the ways we, the people, can monitor corporate behavior and hold corporations accountable for their actions is through governmental regulation. Another way is to encourage them to be more open in reporting to the public their actions with respect to issues like fair employment. When corporations operate more in the sunshine and less in the dark, there is an assumption they will behave more socially responsible.

The Bush administration is now proposing to eliminate a useful tool which helps keep corporations more open and responsive. The Equal Opportunity Survey provides data from the corporate workplace on affirmative action performance, and pay by gender and race.

From the proposed rule change:

Executive Order 11246, as amended, requires that Federal Government contractors and subcontractors ``take affirmative action to ensure that applicants are employed, and that employees are treated during employment, without regard to their race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.'' Section 202(1). Affirmative action under the Executive Order means more than passive nondiscrimination; it requires that contractors take affirmative steps to identify and eliminate impediments to equal employment opportunity. The affirmative steps include numerous recordkeeping obligations designed to assist the contractor, in the first instance, and also OFCCP in monitoring the contractor's employment practices.

This survey was created within the Clinton administration and supported by an across-the-board group of civil rights and fair employment groups, and social justice organizations. The Bush administration began the process of dismantling the Equal Opportunity Survey as soon as it took office.

"Of course I oppose the elimination of the EO Survey," said a source closely tied to the Department of Labor's Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP). "This was the first time in history that the federal government had obtained compensation data on the establishment level. The real intent of the survey was to 'encourage' contractors to police themselves and to correct any disparities they found that were unexplainable before the government found them--I called the survey 'EEO-EZ,' like the tax form," the source said. "The survey was strongly supported by the Labor Department and the Clinton Administration as part of the Equal Pay Initiative, but when the Bush Administration arrived, they made efforts to limit the survey by sending out only 10,000 surveys a year, in lieu of the 50,000 that we envisioned sending out to contractor establishments--roughly half of the non-construction contractor universe." [From SocialFunds.com]

April 02, 2006

Poisoning the Poor in Massachusetts

This is reprinted, with permission, from Rachel's Democracy & Health News #848, published by the Environmental Research Foundation.

This is data from only one state. Multiply this by 50 states, with many variations on these numbers, and you will have some idea of the degradation of our environment, and how the poor and minorities bear the brunt of our increasingly poisoned world. We are all being poisoned, some faster than others.


Environmental Injustice in Massachusetts
By Tim Montague

Our government agencies may not know the true full extent or impacts of industrial pollution in the U.S. but they certainly recognize that pollution disproportionately impacts the poor and communities of color. As Carol Browner, former head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) openly admits when speaking about air pollution, "Poor communities, frequently communities of color --suffer disproportionately." She goes on, "If you look at where our industrialized facilities tend to be located, they're not in the upper middle class neighborhoods." To the contrary, the EPA's little known risk screening environmental indicators project -- reveals very clearly that the poor and minorities are living with far more than their fair share of toxic pollution.[1]

Using similar data in Massachusetts, Daniel Faber and Eric Krieg recently published a detailed study of how working poor and minority communities are disproportionately affected by industrial pollution from landfills, hazardous waste sites, incinerators and factories. [2] People are forced to live in polluted communities by their economic circumstances. In Massachusetts, more than 25 percent of all workers are "the working poor" -- they earn less $8.84/hr or $18,387/yr ($18,400 was the federal poverty line for a family of four in 2003). And over three quarters of these families spend more than one-third of their income on housing. According to Faber and Krieg a family of four has to make at least $64,656 in Boston ($6,000 more than in New York) to "pay for basic necessities," and many families are forced by economic necessity to live in the least desirable, most industrialized communities.

For purposes of their study, Faber and Krieg define low- income communities as having a median income of less than $39,524/yr for a family of four; and communities of color as those with more than 15% nonwhites.They documented big disparities between rich and poor and between white and minority communities. And they trace the root causes of this disparity stem to the lack of political power.

"In order to bolster profits and competitiveness, industry typically adopts pollution strategies which... offer the path of least political resistance. The less political power a community possesses, the fewer resources a community has to defend itself; the lower the level of community awareness and mobilization against potential ecological threats, the more likely they are to experience arduous environmentaland human health problems at the hands of business and government. Asa result, poorer towns and communities of color suffer an unequal exposure to ecological hazards."[2, pg.1]

"The poor and communities of color face exposure to:

(1) greater concentrations of polluting industrial facilities and power plants;
(2) greater concentrations of hazardous waste sites anddisposal/treatment facilities, including landfills, incinerators, andtrash transfer stations;
and (3) higher rates of "on the job" exposureto toxic pollutants inside the factory."[2, pg. 1]


According to Faber and Krieg, Massachusetts has over 30,570 known hazardous waste sites. If all towns were of equal area, the average community would have 117 hazardous waste sites in it. But poor communities have an average of 203 hazardous waste sites per town --double the state average. Medium and high income towns average just 66 and 71 hazardous waste sites per town. Even the wealthy few are poisoning themselves with hazardous waste, but poor communities are three times more likely to have a hazardous waste site in their community than the wealthiest communities. Low-income communities have four times the density of hazardous waste sites compared to high-income communities (19.2 vs. 4.6 sites per square mile).[2, pg. 2]

White communities (95% white) have an average of 39 hazardous waste sites per town. But communities of color have a whopping 297 sites per town -- 7.6 times that of white communities. And on a per-square-mile basis, communities of color average twenty-three times as many hazardous waste sites per square mile compared to predominantly white communities (48.3 vs. 2.1 sites per square mile).


It's well known that landfills and incinerators pose many serious health risks and that the people living near them suffer abnormal rates of cancer[3, 4, 5, 6] birth defects[7, 8, 9, 10, 11], and lowbirth weight[12, 13]. Landfills contaminate the local environment with volatile organic compounds and heavy metals (see Rachel's #617). Incinerators release cancer-causing and toxic chemicals from their smoke stacks, including heavy metals, herbicide residues, polycyclicaromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and dioxins and furans (see Rachel's#592). The leachate (garbage juice) produced by landfills is extremely toxic.

Brown and Donnelly at Texas A&M University studied the leachate of 58 landfills and concluded that "...the leachate from some municipal landfills may be similar to the carcinogenic potency of the leachate from the Love Canal landfill."[14] Love Canal, of course, was the notorious toxic waste dump that alerted the nation to the dangers of toxic waste back in 1978.

Faber and Krieg found few differences in the number or density of landfills across socioeconomic class but they found that communities of color have nearly three times as many landfills per square mile as white communities (.35 vs. .13 landfills/sq. mile). They say that while "communities of color make up just 9.4 percent of all towns in the study, they are home to 27.8 percent of all incinerator ashlandfills, 41 percent of all illegal sites [not defined], and 45.9 percent of all inactive municipal incinerators."[2, pg. 5]


According to data collected by the government of Massachusetts, from1990-2002, industry in that state "released over 204.3 million pounds of chemical waste directly into the environment... an amount equivalent to over 2,550 tractor-trailer trucks each loaded with 80,000 pounds of toxic waste."[2, pg. 5]

Faber and Krieg explain that we're talking about nasty volatile organic compounds like... "benzene, 1,3-butadiene, formaldehyde andacrolein -- chemicals which are known to cause numerous adverse health effects, including neurological disorders, birth defects, reproductive disorders and respiratory diseases..."[2, pg. 5]

If you live a poor community you have an average of 9.9 industrial polluters in your back yard, and your community absorbs an average of1.6 million pounds of chemical wastes (107,034 pounds per square mile). In contrast, if you live in a wealthy community you have just 2.2 major polluters in your community spewing an average of 246,428pounds of chemicals (12,656 pounds per sq. mile). Clearly, everyone in the state of Massachusetts is getting dosed with toxic chemicals, but the poor are getting 8.5 times the dose of their wealthy compatriots.

But Faber and Krieg don't stop there. They break down the exposure by lethality."Low income communities are also over-exposed to the most dangerous families of chemical releases. Although they represent just 10.2 percent of all towns, low income communities received 23.7 percent of all carcinogens; 30.8 percent of all organochlorines; 27.8 percent of all persistent bioaccumulative toxins; and 45.8 percent of all reproductive toxins."[2, pg. 6]"Communities of color are also overburdened. High minority communities(25% or more people of color) average 11.4 TURA [Toxic Use Reduction Act] industrial facilities per town and 1.28 TURA facilities per square mile, compared to an average of just 1.5 facilities and .08 facilities per square mile for low minority communities (less than 5%people of color).[2, pg. 6] (TURA is a Massachusetts law.)

We see that poor and minority communities are exposed to greater volumes of industrial chemicals, nastier chemicals and chemical combinations. If you're poor, you receive twice the burden of carcinogens, three times the burden of bioaccumulative toxins and four times the burden of reproductive toxins. And if you live in a community of color, you have "...ten times as many pounds of chemical releases per square mile."[2, pg. 15]

The report details similar injustices around exposure to coal and oil-burning power plants, "Although communities of color comprise just 9.4 percent of all communities in the state, they are home to 29.6 percent of all active power plants."[2, pg. 8] and "...while low and medium-low income communities comprise 47.9 percent of all towns, they are home to 66.7 percent of all power plants and 73.6 percent of all releases of sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide, and volatile organic compounds. In contrast, the wealthiest populations (with median income of at least $65,876) comprise 23.8 percent of all communities but are home to only one power plant, and 0.2 percent of these emissions."[2,pg. 16]


Faber and Krieg tallied up all the various toxic exposures for each of the 250 cities and towns (and 12 neighborhoods of Boston) in the entire state of Massachusetts and divided them by the land area of each community. The resulting 'exposure index' is an estimate of how contaminated each community is and takes into account different types of exposure -- recycling centers are more hazardous than closed landfills, which are more hazardous than small industry. Not surprisingly, poor communities and communities of color scored much higher (more toxic) than wealthy and white communities. These communities averaged 35.3 points while the wealthiest communities averaged just 8.5 points. Communities of color averaged 87.7 points compared to just 4.3 points for white communities. So its four times as dangerous to be poor and twenty times as dangerous to live in a community of color. Faber and Krieg sum it up this way, "...if you live in a white community, then you have a 1.8 percent chance of living in the most environmentally hazardous communities in the state... However, if you live in a community of color, then there is a 70.6 percent chance that you live in one of the most hazardous towns. In short, if you live in a community of color, you are thirty-nine times more likely to live in one of the most environmentally hazardous communities inMassachusetts."[emphasis added; 2, pg. 10]

The authors continue, "The conclusion to be drawn from this analysis is that the communities most heavily burdened with environmentally hazardous industrial facilities and sites are overwhelmingly low income towns and/or communities of color. Clearly, not residents are polluted equally -- working class families and people of color are disproportionately impacted. Governmental action is urgently required to address these disparities." [2, pg. 10][1]

[1] http://www.rachel.org/library/getfile.cfm?ID=550#EPA_Admits_Blacks_and_Hispanics_Live_with_Excessive_Pollution

[2] Daniel Faber and Eric Krieg, Unequal Exposure to EcologicalHazards 2005: Environmental Injustices in the Commonwealth ofMassachusetts. Northeastern University, October 2005. Availablehere.

[3] State of New York Department of Health INVESTIGATION OF CANCERINCIDENCE AND RESIDENCE NEAR 38 LANDFILLS WITH SOIL GAS MIGRATIONCONDITIONS, NEW YORK STATE, 1980-1989 (Atlanta, GA: Agency for ToxicSubstances and Disease Registry, June, 1998).

[4] M.S. Goldberg and others, "Incidence of cancer among personsliving near a municipal solid waste landfill site in Montreal,Quebec," ARCHIVES OF ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH Vol. 50, No. 6 (November1995), pgs. 416-424.

[5] K. Mallin, "Investigation of a bladder cancer cluster innorthwestern Illinois," AMERICAN JOURNAL OF EPIDEMIOLOGY Vol. 132 No.1 Supplement (July 1990), pgs. S96-S106.

[6] J. Griffith and others, "Cancer mortality in U.S. counties withhazardous waste sites and ground water pollution," ARCHIVES OFENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH Vol. 44, No. 2 (March 1989), pgs. 69-74.

[7] H.M.P. Fielder and others, "Report on the health of residentsliving near the Nant-Y Gwyddon landfill site using routinely availabledata," (Cardiff, Wales: Welsh Combined Centres for Public Health:1997).

[8] G.M. Shaw and others, "Maternal water consumption during pregnancyand congenital cardiac anomalies," EPIDEMIOLOGY Vol. 1, No. 3 (May1990), pgs. 206-211.

[9] S.A. Geschwind and others, "Risk of congenital malformationsassociated with proximity to hazardous waste sites," AMERICAN JOURNALOF EPIDEMIOLOGY Vol. 135, No. 11 (June 1, 1992), pgs. 1197-1207.

[10] L.A. Croen and others, "Maternal residential proximity tohazardous waste sites and risk of selected congenital malformations,"EPIDEMIOLOGY Vol. 8, No. 4 (July 1997), pgs. 347-354.

[11] M. Vrijheid and H. Dolk [EUROHAZCON Collaborative Group],"Residence near hazardous waste landfill sites and risk of non-chromosomal congenital malformations [abstract]," TERATOLOGY Vol. 56,No. 6 (1997), pg. 401.

[12] Nancy E. Reichman, Low Birth Weight and School Readiness, TheFuture of Children, Vol. 15, No. 1, Spring 2005. pgs. 91-116.

[13] B. Paigen and others, "Growth of children living near thehazardous waste site, Love Canal," HUMAN BIOLOGY Vol. 59, No. 3 (June1987), pgs. 489-508.

[14] Kirk Brown and K.C. Donnelly, "An Estimation of the RiskAssociated with the Organic Constituents of Hazardous and MunicipalWaste Landfill Leachates," HAZARDOUS WASTES AND HAZARDOUS MATERIALS,Vol. 5, No. 1 (Spring, 1988), pgs. 1-30.

Reprinted from