Behold, some Earth Day news of a different sort. Recall that while in office, President George W. Bush relished his time outdoors in the Lone Star State, and he drew much derision from the liberal press for his habit of clearing out brush on his ranch, by hand, the old-fashioned way. Mr. Bush’s basic penchant for earthy fare is still active. Very active, in fact. The monumental George W. Bush Presidential Center to be dedicated with much ado in Dallas on Thursday is nature-centric. The center has earned the highest attainable certification for environmentally conscious and sustainable design from the U.S. Green Building Council, and is the first and only presidential library to achieve such a thing, the council says.
Interesting to note that 20 percent of the building materials in the massive limestone and brick structure were recycled from construction waste while interior pecan wood paneling, mesquite flooring, paving materials and bricks are “regionally sourced.” A 253,000-gallon cistern stores rainwater to irrigate the 17-acre site; there’s a solar hot water system, an energy-efficient “green roof,” plus 19,000-square feet of solar panels that take care of 10 percent of the center’s total energy needs. Low-maintenance native wildflowers and prairie grasses dominate the considerable landscaping, which includes bird and butterfly habitats and covers 70 percent of the property.
“It’s a reflection of the principles that guided President and Mrs. Bush in their public service, including their long-standing commitment to conservation and caring for the land,” says Mark Langdale, president of the center.
There will be much coverage of the dedication itself this week, including Mr. Bush’s first broadcast interview about the big doings, airing on ABC from the center at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday. In the meantime, a new website is up and running, found here: Bushcenter.org.
WHITE HOUSE GREEN
“We have made real progress, but we cannot stop there. We cannot afford to ignore what the overwhelming judgment of science tells us: that climate change is real and that it poses an urgent threat to our people and our planet.”
From President Obama’s official proclamation recognizing Monday as Earth Day. (See the complete proclamation at whitehouse.gov; check under “Briefing Room” heading.)
The mainstream media has long attacked billionaire conservative business mavens Charles and David Koch for assorted reasons, so much so that the pair established their own press watchdog site to monitor the phenomenon (kochfacts.com). But given a chance, journalists are often unified in their efforts to vilify the brothers. It is sport. Witness the rising media frenzy caused by a New York Times story, built around informed speculation and multiple unnamed sources, claiming that Koch Industries Inc. was poised to buy eight major regional newspapers, including the Los Angeles Times, Baltimore Sun and Chicago Tribune. All are part of the financially troubled Tribune Co. media group. “Conservative Koch brothers turning focus to newspapers,” read The New York Times’ headline Saturday.
But wait. This is fairly old news and was first reported in March by the L.A. Weekly, a local California publication. The Times account, though, set the journalistic pack on the scent, and they were off baying after their prey once again. A few headlines that resulted in the last 24 hours:
“Will California let the Kochs take over the Los Angeles Times?” and “Koch brothers set their sights on controlling the media” (Huffington Post); “The Koch brothers are bidding to become newspaper magnates” (Forbes); “Koch Brothers Salivating Over LA Times, Chicago Tribune, Baltimore Sun, Orlando Sentinel” (Daily Kos); “Koch brothers wouldn’t mind controlling the medium and the message” (The Atlantic); “Koch brothers’ LA Times bid heating up” (Deadline Hollywood)
Uh-oh, there’s an unexpected voice of dissonance from the aforementioned New York Times, meanwhile. President Obama “still has not learned how to govern,” declares Maureen Dowd in a column published Sunday.
“How is it that the president won the argument on gun safety with the public and lost the vote in the Senate? It’s because he doesn’t know how to work the system. And it’s clear now that he doesn’t want to learn, or to even hire some clever people who can tell him how to do it or do it for him.
“It’s unbelievable that with 90 percent of Americans on his side, he could get only 54 votes in the Senate. It was a glaring example of his weakness in using leverage to get what he wants. No one on Capitol Hill is scared of him,” Miss Dowd says. “Even House Republicans who had no intention of voting for the gun bill marveled privately that the president could not muster 60 votes in a Senate that his party controls. President Obama thinks he can use emotion to bring pressure on Congress. But that’s not how adults with power respond to things.”