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feminist wire | daily newsbriefs

January-31-01

Bush's Picks: A Cabinet that looks like Radical Right America - Part IV

Although union officials are not as opposed to Bush II's second labor secretary nominee as they were to Linda Chavez, Chao merits scrutiny from progressives. She served as chairman of the Federal Maritime Commission under Reagan, and Deputy Secretary of Transportation under Bush I. She was also the Peace Corps director who expanded the organization's projects into former Soviet states, a move criticized by many liberals because it meant sending business-oriented volunteers to push capitalist ideals. Chao is also a distinguished fellow at the conservative Heritage Foundation think tank. The foundation's president says Chao is a prominent defender of a "color blind" society, which may explain her opposition to affirmative action. As the Secretary of Labor, Chao will be responsible for monitoring the safety of more than one million workers, but the Washington Times reported that Chao hinted that she believed new OSHA regulations aimed at protecting employees from repetitive strain and other work-related injuries may be too restrictive. It's also pertinent that the Secretary of Labor strongly supports the "flat tax," a regressive tax system that would enrich the wealthy and increase the tax burden on the poor.
Attorney General, John Ashcroft
Opposes abortion, supports the death penalty, opposes a moratorium on executions, supports tougher sentences for drug crimes, and is supported by the NRA. He sponsored a program in the 1996 Welfare Reform Act that allows states to provide services through church groups. In short, he's Radical Right--pro "Charitable Choice,"anti women's choice, anti-affirmative action, anti-gay. He has been an opponent of most federal civil rights laws, environmental regulations, and anti-trust regulations. With Ashcroft at the helm, there will be no more Microsoft trials or anti-tobacco suits.

Another defender of the Southern Confederacy (see Norton, above), Ashcroft opposed the appointment of Bill Lann Lee to head the civil rights division at the Department of Justice and he shot down the appointment of Ronnie White (the first African American on the Missouri Supreme Court) to a federal district court bench. In May 1999, Ashcroft accepted an honorary degree from Bob Jones University, which until recently banned interracial dating and condemned Catholicism. In his acceptance speech, he said explicitly that America "has no king but Jesus." (His remarks showed that Ashcroft "has a fundamental misunderstanding of the separation of church and state," Barry Lynn, executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State told the New York Times.) In a 1998 interview with Southern Partisan magazine (a publication that defends slavery, white separatism, apartheid and David Duke) Ashcroft called on Americans to "stand up" and "defend Southern Patriots" like the pro-slavery Confederate secessionists.

He's been linked to an extremist pro-gun lobby group which believes that the answer to U.S. school slayings is to arm teachers, principles, and janitors. According to the New York Times, in 1998, Ashcroft sent a friendly, hand-written note to Larry Pratt, the director of Gun Owners of America. Pratt is head of an anti-immigrant organization called English First and had to step down as co-chair of Pat Buchanan's 1996 presidential campaign after news leaked of his links with racist and militia groups. Ashcroft opposed David Satcher for confirmation as surgeon general because Satcher had performed late-term abortions. He was one of eight senators in 1998 who signed a letter opposing legislation to require federal employee health plans to cover the cost of prescription contraceptives because he believes that the most common forms of birth control, the pill and the IUD, are abortifacents. In the Senate he proposed federal legislation and a constitutional amendment that would not only criminalize abortion (even in the case of rape and incest) but would define life as

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