In this powerful and far-reaching indictment of George W. Bush's White House, Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., the country's most prominent environmental attorney, charges that this administration has taken corporate cronyism to such unprecedented heights that it now threatens our health, our national security, and democracy as we know it. In a headlong pursuit of private profit and personal power, Kennedy writes, George Bush and his administration have eviscerated the laws that have protected our nation's air, water, public lands, and wildlife for the past thirty years, enriching the president's political contributors while lowering the quality of life for the rest of us.
Kennedy lifts the veil on how the administration has orchestrated these rollbacks almost entirely outside of public scrutiny -- and in tandem with the very industries that our laws are meant to regulate, the country's most notorious polluters. He writes of how it has deceived the public by manipulating and suppressing scientific data, intimidated enforcement officials and other civil servants, and masked its agenda with Orwellian doublespeak. He reports on how the White House doles out lavish subsidies and tax breaks to the energy barons while excusing industry from providing adequate security at the more than 15,000 chemical and nuclear facilities that are prime targets for terrorist attacks. Kennedy reveals an administration whose policies have "squandered our Treasury, entangled us in foreign wars, diminished our international prestige, made us a target for terrorist attacks, and increased our reliance on petty Middle Eastern dictators who despise democracy and are hated by their own people."
Crimes Against Nature is ultimately about the corrosive effect of corporate corruption on our core American values -- free-market capitalism and democracy. It is about an administration, the author argues, that has sacrificed respect for the law, public health, scientific integrity, and long-term economic vitality on the altar of corporate greed. It is a book for both Democrats and Republicans, people like the traditionally conservative farmers and fishermen Kennedy represents in lawsuits against polluters. "Without exception," he writes, "these people see the current administration as the greatest threat not just to their livelihoods but to their values, their sense of community, and their idea of what it means to be American."
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Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., is senior attorney for the Natural Resources Defense Council, chief prosecuting attorney for Riverkeeper, and president of Waterkeeper Alliance. He is also a clinical professor and supervising attorney at the Environmental Litigation Clinic at Pace University School of Law. A former assistant district attorney for New York City, he is the coauthor of The Riverkeepers: Two Activists Fight to Reclaim Our Environment as a Basic Human Right.From Publishers Weekly:
"Of all the debates in the scientific arena... there is none in which the White House has cooked the books more than that of global warming," argues Kennedy in this harsh indictment of what he sees as the Bush administration’s assault on the environment and democracy in general. Kennedy’s investigation focuses on the undue influence of industry lobbyists (read Halliburton) on environmental standards and the government’s alleged suppression of nearly a dozen scientific reports on global warming. He maligns Bush appointees like Interior Secretary Gale Norton ("a champion of corporate welfare for three decades") and offers a cogent analysis of Christine Todd Whitman’s departure from the EPA in 2002. Although Kennedy accuses the Bush administration of using a campaign strategy that revolves around "fear-mongering," he uses fear to drive home his own points, noting things like the lethal mercury levels in tuna, pork industry pollution and insufficiently guarded chemical plants. Nevertheless, he competently ties the survival of democracy to sound environmental policy, contending that corporate power—particularly the power wielded by the oil, beef and lumber industries—must never supersede democratic institutions. Kennedy’s argument is strongest when he sticks to the facts and avoids making the kind of angry, sweeping statements that fill the concluding chapter ("Instead of can-do American ingenuity, this is the administration of "can’t do." It has constructed a philosophy of government based on self-interest run riot: It has borrowed $9 trillion from our children and looted our Treasury..."). Whether or not one agrees with these accusations, Kennedy makes a passionate case for more effective environmental controls and wraps it up with a practical vision of a free-market future "in which businesses pay all the costs of bringing their products to market," including the costs of environmental safeguards.
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