Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The Daily Dis-Appointment: Ken Salazar, Interior

Yesterday, it was Arne Duncan, a corpoRat shill for the Chicago oligarchy, and 'proud' school privatizer (via "charter" schools)--but long-time baskabaw buddy of the P-E--to lead the Dept. Of Education. Described as a "reformer," Duncan may be expected to advance the agenda of "corporatization" of schools: To be a school “reformer” is to support:
* a heavy reliance on fill-in-the-bubble standardized tests to evaluate students and schools, generally in place of more authentic forms of assessment;

* the imposition of prescriptive, top-down teaching standards and curriculum mandates;

* a disproportionate emphasis on rote learning—memorizing facts and practicing skills—particularly for poor kids;

* a behaviorist model of motivation in which rewards (notably money) and punishments are used on teachers and students to compel compliance or raise test scores;

* a corporate sensibility and an economic rationale for schooling, the point being to prepare children to “compete” as future employees; and

* charter schools, many of which are run by for-profit companies.

Today, it's Ken Salazar, the Blue-dawg/DINO Colorado Senator with close, deep and tight ties to corpoRat agriculture and mining interests. The Interior Department's Bureau of Land Management controls oil and gas production on federal lands while the Minerals Management Service controls offshore petroleum and renewable energy production in federal waters. The Office of Surface Mining controls coal and metals mining and the Fish and Wildlife Service administers the Endangered Species Act, a major determinant of energy companies' access to natural resources.

The Center for Biological Diversity, a group that's suing the Interior Department over its Endangered Species Act designations, has reservations about Salazar's appointment.

"While Salazar has promoted some good environmental actions ... his overall record is decidedly mixed, and is especially weak in the arenas most important to the next secretary of the Interior: protecting scientific integrity, combating global warming, reforming energy development and protecting endangered species," said Kieran Suckling, the Center's executive director.

Suckling pointed to Salazar's support for Gale Norton as one of Bush's previous Interior secretaries, whose tenure was marked by scandals probed by the Inspector General, and endorsement of William Myers to the federal bench. Myers, a former Interior solicitor and ranching lobbyist, was regarded poorly by many in the environmental community for much of his work at the department.

The best thing about appointing Salazar to DoI is that it gets him out of the Senate, where he would have (and already has) been one of the very unreliable "Dim" votes on important issues such as appointments (He opposed Alito, voted for Roberts). His record in the Senate is very MUCH like that of his new boss: Pro-FISA, he voted to allow firearms in the national parks; he's voted for offshore drilling several times; voted against requiring the Army corps of engineers to consider climate change impacts in planning water projects; voted against raising fuel efficiency standards for cars and trucks. So getting him out of the Senate might be a net plus--depending on whom the (Dim) CO Gov appoints in his place.

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