Remember Genghis Khan? He's the Mongol leader who lived in the late twelfth century and from his late teens to age thirty-eight succeeded in building a vast empire. In Genghis Khan's childhood, the Mongols consisted of small bands of tribesmen living in portable felt structures and headed by a Chief, or Khan. They spoke a language called Altaic, named after a mountain range in Mongolia. Aside from his military exploits, Genghis Khan passed some remarkable laws for his time, and even for ours. He forbade the kidnapping of women. He declared that all children were legitimate regardless of their parentage. He made it illegal to sell women into marriage. Stealing another's property was a capital crime.

It is now 2004, and we have a Genghis Khan't at our helm. He can't stop his tony cronies from polluting the environment. According to the Wilderness Society, the Bush administration has added the least acreage of any President since Lyndon Johnson to the nation's wilderness protection areas. It has pushed relentlessly for oil and gas drilling in pristine areas. It has proposed adding arsenic to drinking water. It wants to turn over the management of some National Forest areas to local groups. It found a loophole in the Clean Air Act of 1970 that is allowing factories to belch out millions of tons of pollutants that were forbidden under the old rules. In fact, the EPA claims that if it won all of its enforcement actions against the 51 dirtiest, oldest coal-burning power plants (using the 1970 standards) it could cut in half the total air pollution caused by all of our power plants in the US.

Are you watching, helpless, as a loved one dies of cancer? Think about this.

Let's look next at the fossil record. It seems that the number of species on our planet has steadily grown over the past six hundred million years (read Mark Buchanan's "Ubiquity", Three Rivers Press, NY, 2002 for more on this). On at least five separate occasions, however, some form of unexpected mass extinction has occurred, eliminating almost all forms of living matter. Such cataclysmic cosmic events are said to be unavoidable and unpredictable. And yet ecologists at the National Environmental Research Council in Dorchester, England, have found a severe loss of butterflies, birds and native plants in Britain. They theorize that human populations are decimating the natural world, bringing it perilously close to a sixth extinction.

And then there's IraqNam. As an astute friend of mine said recently, why don't we just pull out? Now. Immediately. We have toppled the Big Nasty Guy. We have ascertained that there are no weapons of mass destruction there. (After all, we created the myth, we propagated it, who better than ourselves to bury it?). Losing a little hubris is preferable to losing a lot more limbs.Why not leave the Iraquis to decide their own future? Before your neighbor's son becomes the next fatality. Before you watch your grandchild die.

Genghis Khan't. Because his buddies want the oil and gas. Because his interests lie not with you and me, but with his wealthy cronies who run big corporations. Because weak men with a taste of power khan't admit their mistakes.

Maybe Genghis Khan't. But we - you and I - Khan, on election day, 2004.

c. Corinne Whitaker 2004