What Gulf Coast Congressman Gene Taylor wanted the Easter Bunny to bring him.
South Mississippi Living 4/07

Friday, May 04, 2007

Recycling Garbage

Recycling Garbage

Garbage day. Twice a week, the city of Bay St. Louis picks up the trash throughout this tiny beach town. Unfortunately, along with the homes and businesses Katrina demolished, so too went the city’s recycling program.

The first time that I had something in my hand that needed to go in the recycling bin, I asked my brother, Michael, where they put the recycling. He delighted in my obviously not-yet-acclimated-to-post-Katrina-reality. With that glorious smile of his, he informed me that the city stopped the recycling program after Katrina hit.

Oooooh. Of course!

When my brother told me that the city had to trash its recycling program after the financial devastation Katrina caused, it hit me like a ton of bricks, but not because I’m such a conscientious recycler, which I am. It hit me from a totally different point of view.

See, once my mom returned home some seven months after Katrina, I spent long periods of time on the phone with Michael nearly every week for about year. He lives here in the Bay and shared lots of stories of what is happening and not happening here. In spite of those conversations and my weekly talks with another of my brothers, I had not a clue of the impact on mundane daily life that post-Katrina reality had.

When I visited family in New Orleans, I again wanted to know where to put something recyclable that I had in my hand. Same answer. Recycling in New Orleans was trashed after Katrina.

On the long list of what this small town and others dotting the Mississippi Gulf Coast as well as my beloved New Orleans need is a White House committed to protecting the environment.

When I saw Vice President Al Gore’s Academy Award winning An Inconvenient Truth the first weekend it played in San Jose, California, I learned the connection between global warming and Katrina’s devastation. The rising water temperature in the Gulf of Mexico contributed to Katrina’s ferocity as the hurricane traveled northwest toward the Mississippi Gulf Coast. An Inconvenient Truth depicted quite graphically the factual consequences of global warming.

The Bush Administration, of course, likes to live in its own concocted world of ‘facts”. For example, George W. Bush pronounced in 2001, “There is a natural greenhouse effect that contributes to warming.” Then he went about politicizing (read: bullying) the scientific community to do his bidding by which I mean the oil lobby’s bidding.

Last year for its piece titled Rewriting The Science, 60 Minutes interviewed “John Hansen [who] is arguably the world's leading researcher on global warming. He's the head of NASA's top institute studying the climate.” Hansen told 60 Minutes “The natural changes, the speed of the natural changes is now dwarfed by the changes that humans are making to the atmosphere and to the surface."

Not only had Bush turned a deaf ear to scientific facts, but also Bush and his cronies pushed hard to silence NASA’s international expert on global warming.

In its article titled Climate Expert Says NASA Tried to Silence Him, the New York Times reported on the Administration’s behind-the-scenes political maneuvering to muzzle the expert. The White House did so with phone calls rather than through formal (and therefore documented) channels.

Click here to watch the New York Times 3-minute video interview with Dr. James Hansen who discusses what is essentially White House censorship of information critical the health and well-being of our nation’s citizens and natural resources.

The Times article stated:

"The fresh efforts to quiet him, Dr. Hansen said, began in a series of calls after a lecture he gave on Dec. 6 at the annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco. In the talk, he said that significant emission cuts could be achieved with existing technologies, particularly in the case of motor vehicles, and that without leadership by the United States, climate change would eventually leave the earth "a different planet."

"The administration's policy is to use voluntary measures to slow, but not reverse, the growth of emissions.

After that speech and the release of data by Dr. Hansen on Dec. 15 showing that 2005 was probably the warmest year in at least a century, officials at the headquarters of the space agency repeatedly phoned public affairs officers, who relayed the warning to Dr. Hansen that there would be "dire consequences" if such statements continued, those officers and Dr. Hansen said in interviews."

In 2005, a year prior to the Hansen interview, the Times reported on the Bush Administration’s systematic censoring of the nation’s scientific reports. As you might suspect, “the White House official [who had] once led the oil industry's fight against limits on greenhouse gases has repeatedly edited government climate reports in ways that play down links between such emissions and global warming, according to internal documents.”

Boy that’s a shocker. An oilman inside the White House. And he’s downplaying the connection between auto emissions and global warming. Who would have ever thought?!

What a difference the 2006 election made.

In March of this year, Philip Cooney, the former White House official who had edited the reports, testified before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. Congressman Henry Waxman (D-CA) chairs that committee. Cooney “said his past work opposing restrictions on greenhouse gases for the oil industry had had no bearing on his actions once he joined the White House. ‘When I came to the White House,’ he testified, ‘my sole loyalties were to the president and his administration.’”

What is this parsing of words?! Loyalty to the oil industry, to George W. Bush, and to the Bush White House are all one in the same.

With the vacuum in White House leadership, we are continually reminded that presidential elections also make a difference. What we need to do is to elect as president someone with Gore’s passion, knowledge, and credentials not only for leadership on the environment and to handle environmental disasters like Katrina but also for our nation’s presidential leadership vacuum in other areas like Iraq, the economy and healthcare.

Wait a minute! We did that already. Remember? In 2000. That’s right. = The guy’s name was . . . Al Gore!

Had the U.S. Supreme Court properly decided Bush v Gore and upheld as the nation’s policy the democratic ideal that every legally cast ballot be counted to determine the winner of an election, we wouldn’t be in this mess. Had that been the decision that the high court’s majority handed down on that infamous December 7th in 2000 , Vice President Al Gore would have become President-elect Al Gore. In January of 2001, President-elect Gore would have been inaugurated and become President Al Gore. [I like the sound of that: President Al Gore.]

With his continuation of the ever-expanding peace and prosperity that marked the eight years of the Clinton-Gore Administration, most likely President Gore would have been re-elected in 2004.

Real leadership in the White House. That is what we desire and deserve here in the Katrina-ravaged region of the country. Frankly from the Gulf Coast to the East Coast to the West Coast, real White House leadership is what all of us deserve.

Instead, what we have is its opposite. The stolen 2000 presidential election sowed the seeds of this inexcusable Bush White House neglect.

Whether it’s a matter of protecting federal environmental programs or local recycling programs in New Orleans and the Gulf Coast of Mississippi, the Bush Administration consistently goes AWOL or simply deserts the American people.
President Al Gore, of course, would have been prepared to deal with Katrina before hand, and in its aftermath, he would have provided real federal leadership that made a positive and noticeable difference immediately in the lives of everyone impacted.

However, the high court was filled with Bush, Sr.’s appointees, I remind you. They decided to high jack the election by stopping the official counting of the votes in Florida.

Sure, reminding everyone of the seeds sown when Bush and Cheney stole the 2000 presidential election may make right wingers a bit livid with this inconvenient truth. They may whine and carry on ad nauseum. So what. They will only be spewing their same ol' views that are garbage. Think of it as verbal recycling.

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