Women’s march points the way forward

George W. Bush fled to Camp David for the weekend, but he still couldn’t ignore a million pro-choice demonstrators walking past the White House. On April 26, he had the Justice Department withdraw its outrageous demand that hospitals and clinics turn over to Attorney General John Ashcroft the private medical records of thousands of women who’d had abortions. The DOJ’s demand was an act of mass intimidation and a veiled threat that these women and their health care providers could potentially face arrest and interrogation.

The fact that the White House backed off shows the power of protest to force even the most arrogant and ignorant chief executive to retreat. That enormous procession was the vanguard of a huge mass movement to defend women’s rights by removing Bush-Cheney next Nov. 2.

But it still is going to take a fight. The NARAL Pro-Choice America newsletter warns, “They’ve retreated on one front, but they’re still pressing forward with the rest of their anti-choice agenda.”

The Bush administration is busy trying to give one of the biggest demonstrations in our nation’s history a negative spin. They’ve trotted out their women to do it. Dick Cheney’s media advisor, Mary Matalin, called the marchers “out of touch and irrelevant.” George W. Bush’s confidante, Karen Hughes, compared pro-choice Americans to the Sept. 11 terrorists.

Corporate media that have gotten in bed with the ultra-right may try to hide or discount a million marchers, but, in the words of Gloria Feldt, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America – one of the march’s sponsoring organizations – reproductive rights are on the election agenda.

“We sent a message to Washington today,” said Feldt. “There is a war on choice in this country, but we’re going to win this battle. If this administration and Congress don’t get the message after today, they are deaf to a growing wave of outrage … reproductive rights are human rights.”

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What is Cheney hiding?

Alan B. Morrison, a Sierra Club attorney, stood in front of the Supreme Court April 27 and demanded loudly, “Mr. Vice President, what are you hiding?”

He was referring to Cheney’s appeal, heard by the high court that day, that the Supreme Court reject a lower court ruling that would have the effect of forcing Cheney to disclose the names of his Energy Task Force and the records of its meetings.

Earlier this year, Cheney invited Justice Antonin Scalia to ride Air Force Two with him to a posh duck-hunting resort in Louisiana, buttering him up prior to the court’s deliberations. The Sierra Club demanded that Scalia remove himself from the case. But in a longwinded, pompous self-defense, Scalia refused to step aside.

Already it is known that former Enron CEO Ken Lay, a bosom buddy of former Texas oilman George W. Bush, was among the oil and gas swindlers on Cheney’s task force. It drafted the Omnibus Energy Bill now pending in Congress larded with at least $15 billion in tax cuts for the oil and gas corporations. That bill would impose massive deregulation of the natural gas industry, modeled on the California energy scam in which ratepayers have been fleeced of an estimated $80 billion in overcharges. If this bill becomes law, it will cost every energy consumer many thousands of dollars in overcharges.

It has even been reported that Cheney’s task force conspired to divvy up Iraq’s oil fields among themselves. As the former CEO of Halliburton, the oil field equipment company, Cheney stood to gain immense riches from these secret sessions. In his arguments to the Supreme Court, Solicitor General Ted Olsen spouted high sounding phrases about “separation of powers” and the need to defend “fundamental presidential prerogatives” from the prying eyes of environmental and consumer watchdog groups.

But only the gullible will be fooled by these clichés. The question remains: “Mr. Vice President, what are you hiding?”