Sunday, November 16, 2008
I know that every outgoing president rushes to utilize the last remaining shreds of power to achieve some agenda, such as ramming through regulatory policy changes. Clinton, for instance, pardoned 140 people on his last day in office, most notoriously Marc Rich, a disgraced commodities trader whose wife had made generous donations.
But Bush has (once again) gone beyond the pale: the New York Times has termed Bush's last-minute policy changes a "wrecking ball." Now, you might think that a president who has squandered all the "political capital" he thought he'd garnered through his reelection four years ago (and leaving aside whether he knew what the term actually means), would not be so bold as to further besmirch his reputation by selling off national resources to the highest bidder. But, of course, you'd have to think again--because as low as George W. Bush goes, he can always go lower.
In his final weeks, Bush is making it easier for mining companies to dump toxic waste into streams; for the FBI to spy on citizens without any evidence of wrongdoing; and for big banks (you know, the ones we just bailed out to the tune of $700 billion) to get tax breaks on bad loan losses. At the same time, he's making it harder for women to get abortions and emergency contraception.
Bush is also putting up for sale oil leases on public lands in Utah that are located near national parks. The proposed sales were not even announced to the National Park Service, which in the past has always had the opportunity to review and comment on such sales--the NPS had to learn about it through an environmental group. The BLM at first rejected the NPS's request to first study the impact on air, water, and wildlife before selling leases near the parks. Finally they agreed to allow them to do a review of those tracts--but that has to be done by Nov. 24. Lots of time!
And, as if that weren't enough, Bush is also moving forward to allow oil companies to begin drilling off the Virginia coast--and disingenuously claiming it was Gov. Kaine's idea. But Kaine didn't call for resource exploitation, he wanted the rules loosened so the potential for natural gas drilling could be studied. Bush's actions go far beyond that.
We all know that Bush wants to help out his oil industry buddies--isn't that what he went to Washington to do in the first place? --but the total lack of shame is somehow still shocking. I guess when you've already sold your soul there's nothing you won't do. Oh well. Just one of those presidencies, I reckon.