By Alex Distefano
By Scott Snowden
By Anna Merlan
By Steve Almond
By Jena Ardell
By Jon Campbell
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Tessa Stuart
George W.'s compassionate conservatism means stripped-down, no-nonsense education dished out in decentralized public schools where pupils must meet tough standards or suffer the embarrassment of low scores that are publicized. It means transferring functions once carried out by the state to churches and other eleemosynary groups, like the wing of a suburban Houston prison that is run by a church as a "Bible-based, Christ-centered" program. Muslims can join, but they're expected to convert to Christianity.
"My view is simple," Bush told the Heritage magazine, Policy Review, recently. "Government does not have a monopoly on compassion. . . . [I]t's time we shifted our focus from compassionate intentions to compassionate results."
Over the last few months, Bush has been assembling a brain trust of sorts, consisting of members of the New Right, and, as The National Reviewhas reported, people like Richard Neuhaus and James Q. Wilson, who used to be called neoconservatives. Although Bush listens to Reagan-era ideologue Linda Chavez, president of the Center for Equal Opportunity, he reportedly told her that he does not share her opposition to bilingual education.
George W.'s compassionate conservatism can be contrasted with Al Gore's recent infomercial/speech before the Democratic Leadership Conference in which the vice president laid out his philosophy of "practical idealism," in the process poking fun at Bush. Gore stressed time off to be with young children and sponsoring the next generation on the Internet as a way to create "equal opportunity" and jobs.
"America needs something better than compassionate conservatism," Gore declared. "We need an approach that will take this country forward, not backward; and not only forward, but also upward."
Hormones, Herds, and Health
Based on new information surfacing in Canada, the Center for Technological Assessment, a public-interest group specializing in biotechnology issues, is asking the Food and Drug Administration to remove rBGH, the artificial growth hormone used to stimulate milk production, from the market on grounds it may cause disease in animals.
The fight against engineered foods faces tough going in the U.S., where Monsanto easily won acceptance of its bovine growth hormone in 1993. But Europeans still have not dropped barriers to rBGH, and efforts to approve the hormone in Canada have provoked widespread controversy.
Six Canadian scientists went public with accounts of pressure that was put on them to approve rBGH. A subsequent government investigation resulted in the creation of two panels to look into the issue, but that prompted an even bigger flap when opponents maintained that one was biased because it included a McGill University nutritionist who had worked for Monsanto.
"[Canadian] scientists are forced to approve drugs not safe for animal and human consumption," said Maude Barlow of the advocacy group Council of Canadians, adding, "This is the corporatization of . . . Canada's health protection branch." She said that private business provides 70 percent of the regulatory unit's financing and exercises undue influence on its decision-making process.
A Canadian Sierra Club official claimed to have obtained internal documents that show the drug caused cysts in the thyroids of rats. Monsanto insists it has no harmful side effects.
An analysis by the St. Louis Post Dispatch found that Posilac, Monsanto's brand of rBGH, had $160 million in sales last year up 30 percent from 1996. About a quarter of the U.S. dairy herd will be injected with rBGH this year. The U.S. is the main market for the drug, although it has been cleared for commercial use in 13 other countries.
Additional reporting: Bob Frederick