Friday Morning Quick Hits
In the interest of fairness, I do take the opportunity to give Bush praise when he does the right thing. Or at least I try, until I figure out that even these "right things" are scams.
First, earlier this week he surprised many, possibly including those in the Tobacco industry, when he directed Tommy Thompson to instruct our representative to accept the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, an international treaty to limit the marketing and advertising of tobacco, especially in developing nations. After telling our negotiators to oppose limits on advertising and marketing to please his tobacco-industry checkwriters, Bush signaled a shift last Saturday when Thompson said the US would support the treaty. But as with anything Bush does that looks good for the public interest, this move is a cynically designed effort by Rove to take an issue off the table between now and November 2004. The treaty that Bush agreed to allows each country to modify the restrictions in that country to fit constitutional requirements in those countries. And who will determine what needs to be changed about the treaty in the US? Bush and the GOP-controlled, Big Tobacco-bankrolled US Senate.
President Bush, a spokesman says, will carefully review the treaty before making decisions. If President Bush signs the treaty, he will forward it on to the US Senate, which must ratify it. Then Congress would have to pass implementing legislation. The US successfully inserted language that exempts nations from implementing the treaty within constitutional limits. The US Supreme Court has ruled that certain forms of tobacco advertising are constitutionally protected as free speech.
The WHO treaty is vague about suing tobacco companies. There is nothing mandatory, only a provision that lets each country decide on the basis of their own laws what to do about liability.
Some skeptics doubt the US will ratify the treaty, which includes requirements like warning labels that cover almost one-third of a cigarette pack and a provision that states' public health takes priority over commercial interest.
If those industries and others perceive the treaty that way, lobbying in Washington will be intense. "This will be one more treaty the US does not ratify," says Clyde Prestowitz, author of a new book, "Rogue Nation," and president of the Economic Strategy Institute in Washington. "The US has spent a lot of effort and lot of time trying to open markets to tobacco."
So in other words, Rove has told Bush to accept a treaty that he and the US Senate have no intention of ever ratifying, but it does make Bush look good on the issue of public health, at least for a while. Another great issue for the “Truth Squad,” eh?
Second, Mr. Bush must have employed his great skills at persuasion to convince Ariel Sharon this morning to accept the MidEast Peace roadmap as is. Again, Bush is getting a lot of positive press coverage over the move, which allows Rove to show Bush the statesman. Why is it a scam? Because what Bush got Sharon to agree to is that he (Sharon) will submit the plan to the Cabinet for debate and final decision. Any changes to the roadmap will apparently not be allowed because as a condition for Sharon working to forge Israeli acceptance of the roadmap as is, the US agreed to "fully and seriously" address Israel's concerns about the road map.
What exactly does that mean? We think we know, right? It could mean a range of things, from imposing one-sided additional requirements upon the Palestinians, to a US agreement to militarily move against both Iran and Syria to deal with “Israel’s concerns”. That would definitely be a manifestation of how “fully and seriously” the US will address Israel’s concerns. And it would be the ideal pretext for the PNAC crowd to continue their military campaign to take over the Middle East, cloaked in the “justification” that such military adventurism is necessary to obtain a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians. Nevermind the consequences in the Islamic world.
Bush, Cheney, and Rummy just cemented their pretext for additional wars between now and the election, all in the name of implementing the road map.
Isn't it nice to see when Bush does the "right thing?"