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Phantom President in Public, but Busy in the Background

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Message Cheri Cabot

Have you noticed that President Bush is keeping such a low profile he is practically a phantom? Ever since Barack OBama was elected as our next president, Bush has been gradually fading into the background. 

Is it because he is the most unpopular president in modern history or considered by many to be the worst president in American history? Is he embarrassed about the dysfunctional legacy he is leaving behind or just resorting to his typical M.O. of disappearing when he is stymied by a situation – in this case the obvious world- wide excitement of the new president-elect?

Except for a couple of weeks ago when he made a flurry of T.V. interviews to bolster his legacy, and the infamous shoe throwing incident, he has rarely been seen in public. However, when he realized  Americans weren't buying into his bulked up talking points, he faded into the background again.

Unfortunately, while his public persona is practically non-existent, he has been very busy creating havoc behind the scenes, by issuing new rules and regulations. He got busy the day after the election, figuring nobody would notice. And, as expected the last minute rulings favor industry, and as the U.S. News and World reports, "favoring production over protection and development over conservation."

Some of the most damaging new rules are in the environmental area. One new rule makes it easier for coal-mining companies to dump waste into nearby rivers and streams. Another eliminates a long-standing provision in the Endangered Species Act that requires independent scientific reviews before construction or drilling can occur in an endangered species' habitat. With Bush's new ruling construction and drilling companies get to decide for themselves if there is potential damage to endangered species.

Self-policing. That should work.

Three days after the election the White House approved a rule that would ease constraints on environmentally damaging oil shale development throughout the West, despite objections from Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter (D) and a majority of the state's congressional delegation. 

Ritter called the decision "not just premature, it's hasty and I would even argue reckless." The Interior Department published it in the Federal Register Nov. 21, and it will take legal effect in 60 days from that date.

That means Nov. 21 was an important political deadline to ensure they become effective before President-elect Barack Obama's Jan. 20 inauguration. Less significant regulations can take effect in 30 days or less. (Washington Post)

Another regulation would inhibit the ability of Congress to halt logging, mining and oil and gas extraction on public lands.

Bush & Co. didn't stop with environmental regulations, oh no, they also took another swipe at our civil liberties when Attorney General Michael Mukasey rushed through new F.B. I. guidelines.

Agents will be allowed to use informants to infiltrate lawful groups, engage in prolonged physical surveillance and lie about their identity while questioning a subject's neighbors, relatives, co-workers and friends. The changes also give the F.B.I. - which has a long history of spying on civil rights groups and others - expanded latitude to use these techniques on people identified by racial, ethnic and religious background. (L.A. Times)

Think your innocuous little gathering down at the local Elks Club is safe from prying eyes? Think again.

Michael Leavit, the secretary of health and human services issues new regulation aimed at further limiting women's access to abortion, contraceptives and information about their reproductive health care options.

Existing law allows doctors and nurses to refuse to participate in an abortion. These changes would extend the so-called right to refuse to a wide range of health care workers and activities including abortion referrals, unbiased counseling and provision of birth control pills or emergency contraception, even for rape victims. (L.A. Times)

"In just a matter of months, the Bush administration has undone three decades of federal protections for both medical professionals and their patients," said Nancy Northup, president of the Center for Reproductive Rights. "It replaced them with a policy that seriously risks the health of millions of women, then tried to pass it off as benevolent." (Star-Telegraph)

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Cheri is a single, freelance writer living in Southern California. She has two grown children, one in Iowa and one at Columbia University, and is the proud grandmother of two. Cheri is also a purveyor of fine coffee, warm chatter and dry (more...)
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Phantom President in Public, but Busy in the Background

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