Bush's Picks: A Cabinet that looks like Radical Right America - Part II
Property rights people love her, as do defenders of so-called "state's rights." According to the Washington Post, in a 1996 speech to a conservative group in Colorado, Norton likened her struggle to preserve states from federal interference to the cause of the Confederacy, saying "We lost too much" when the South was defeated in the Civil War. Even conservative lawyers winced at that one. It's one thing to support state's rights, Matthew Berry, a staff attorney at the Institute for Justice, a libertarian legal group, told the Washington Post. "It's rare for people in the movement to defend the tenth amendment by embracing the Confederacy. It's terrible from a public relations perspective." Then again, Norton has very little D.C. experience; in the Reagan years, she followed Watt to the Department of the Interior. She will be in control of the National Park Service, the Bureau of Land Management, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, and the Bureau of Indian Affairs.
Secretary of Transportation, Norman Mineta A conservative Democrat, he was commerce secretary under Clinton. Before that, he was a senior VP at Lockheed Martin Corp., the defense contractors. He's pro-public transit but also pro-highway construction. He was a key author of the 1991 Surface Transportation Efficiency Act, which promoted pedestrian walkways and bike paths. He is supported by the Sierra Club, and he helped push through the Civil Liberties Act of 1988 which officially apologized for U.S. World War II injustices against Japanese Americans. He himself is Japanese American.
Environmental Protection Agency Administrator, Christine Todd Whitman Former Governor of the nation's number one Superfund state. (New Jersey has the highest number of severely polluted "superfund" sites in the U.S.) On social issues, Whitman's believed to be generally pro-choice and pro-gay rights but over those issues she will have no statutory say at EPA. On the environment, her record's called "mixed." She's lauded for support of anti-sprawl programs and the preservation of one million acres of open space. But the local Sierra Club chapter reports that New Jersey lost about 60,000 acres annually to development during her tenure--the highest percentage of undeveloped land lost in any state. Whitman cut New Jersey's environmental protection budget by 30 percent, relaxed enforcement of pollution regulations, promoted voluntary compliance by industry, abolished New Jersey's environmental prosecutor's office and replaced it with a business ombudsman. Alarming local environmentalists, the governor removed 1,000 chemicals (including Mercury) from the state's right-to-know list, making it next to impossible to monitor what passes through the state. Notwithstanding New Jersey's particularly bad environmental problems, Whitman rolled back--by executive order--almost all state environmental laws that were tougher than federal ones.
For someone set to control the agency, she's had plenty of run-ins with EPA. She was late in implementing new standards for auto emissions inspections, an issue that brought her into conflict with Washington. She was also late in submitting the documentation required under the federal Clean Water Act on water quality, so the U.S. EPA withheld 2.2 million in grant money. Business interests have plenty of advocates in federal government: at Commerce, the Treasury Department, the Office of Management and Budget, just to start. But when it comes to advocating for the environment, that's the EPA director's job.
Whitman, the nation's lead protector of the environment, says she believes in "balancing" the interests of business and the environment. As for global warming and the hole in the ozone, two issues on which the U.S. has been foot-dragging behind the rest of the developed world, Whitman told the New York Times that both need more study.
8/28/2015 Alaska Court Protects Abortion Access for Low-Income Women - The Alaska Superior Court struck down a state law yesterday that would have severely limited abortion access for low-income women in Alaska.
The state's Superior Court also struck down a Department of Health and Social Services regulation that placed narrow specifications on Medicaid coverage for abortions, requiring that Medicaid-funded abortions be determined by a physician to be "medically necessary." Last year, the Center for Reproductive Rights, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Planned Parenthood sued on behalf of the Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest, claiming that the narrow definition of "medically necessary" arbitrarily established conditions designed to restrict the ability of low-income women to access abortion services.
The law was temporarily blocked last July by an Alaskan state court judge.
Superior Court Judge John Suddock ordered yesterday that the state be blocked from implementing this regulation, ruling that it placed an undue burden on low-income women seeking abortion services in Alaska.
"By providing health care to all poor Alaskans except women who need abortions, the challenged regulation violates the state constitutional guarantee of 'equal rights, opportunities, and protection under the law'," the ruling read.
"We applaud the superior court for striing down these cruel restrictions on women's health and rights that violate the Alaska Constitution," said Chris Charbonneau, CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands. . . .
8/26/2015 Saudi Women Prepare to Vote for the First Time - The fight for gender equality is making slow but notable progress in Saudi Arabia, where women will be allowed to vote for the first time in upcoming December elections.
This shift in Saudi law came in 2011, when a royal decree announced that women would be allowed to vote and run in local elections beginning in December of 2015. . . .