Who'd have thought Fort Worth's efforts to spruce up inner-city neighborhoods were part of a U.N. plot to rob us hard-working Americans of all we hold dear?
That head-scratching conclusion is where the dots might lead if you connect them in the way U.S. Senate hopeful Ted Cruz wants you to.
He would have you hear "sustainable development" and see a "leftist agenda," financed by loaded bogeyman George Soros (for the equivalent on the right, think Sheldon Adelson or the Koch brothers) and determined to "undermine property rights and undermine our economic liberty."
And this man wants to be your next U.S. senator, Texas.
Fort Worth's urban village concept, one type of sustainable development, has drawn attention because of Wal-Mart's request to bend some zoning rules for a new store near the corner of Hemphill and Berry streets on Fort Worth's south side. The City Council on Tuesday postponed action in hopes of finding agreement between the company and area residents.
The city has plans for developing 16 neighborhoods into centers where the mix of businesses, housing and green space would make it easier to walk, ride bikes or take the bus to jobs, shopping, entertainment and recreation, thus reducing consumption of fossil fuels and improving air quality.
Sounds more terrific ideal than invidious threat.
Now, sustainable development means something different in sub-Saharan Africa or Mexico City than in Fort Worth. But my impression was that the underlying goal is to be kinder to nature, use resources less wastefully and improve everyone's life in the process.
Those radicals at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops advocate responsible stewardship of God's earthly creation to "promote the common good of the human family." The bishops consider addressing global climate change a moral imperative in line with respecting life at all stages. (bit.ly/yiQMdK)
The conference also belongs to the National Religious Partnership for the Environment, www.nrpe.org, which formed in 1993 to bring a faith-based voice to debate about air and water pollution, environmental health risks, impacts of urban planning, economic development, land use, energy and many related concerns.
You'd think this approach to liberty and justice for all would be considered a noble imperative.
Cruz sees dangerous commie tentacles.
In a Jan. 20 posting on his campaign website, he complains about the United Nations' "Agenda 21" plan for sustainable development, calling it a "naked power grab by unelected bureaucrats" out to abolish golf courses, grazing pastures and paved roads. (bit.ly/wQ0pud)
On Glenn Beck's Jan. 26 radio show, Cruz said Agenda 21 envisions no single-family homes, no farming and ranching, no personal cars, no "American way of life." (bit.ly/wpbexl)
He warns that your local government and mine already are infiltrated via the International Council of Local Environmental Initiatives, www.iclei.org, which includes more than 600 U.S. cities.
Fort Worth's not among them, but Dallas is. They run the political gamut: Takoma Park, Md., but also Texarkana; South Padre Island and South Bend, Ind.; Austin and College Station; Coppell and Corvallis, Ore.; Berkeley, Calif., and Loudon County, Va.
Maybe I'm naive, but Agenda 21 hardly looks like it will soon plunge us into the direst deprivations of Dr. Zhivago. According to the U.N. website, the plan was adopted by 178 governments at a 1992 U.N. environmental conference and is a set of guidelines, not mandates. (www.un.org/esa/dsd/agenda21) The document says a global partnership can lead to "improved living standards for all, better protected and managed ecosystems and a safer, more prosperous future."
But Cruz, who's chasing Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst (and several lesser-known candidates) for the GOP nomination, is positioning himself as the anti-globalization champion.
He says the "biggest fight of my tenure" as Texas solicitor general (2003-08) was against the U.N. and World Court.
Actually, the case he refers to was a fight between Texas and then-President George W. Bush.
Bush told Texas to give a convicted killer a new hearing because the World Court had ruled he was entitled to one under an international treaty the U.S. had signed. Texas argued the president couldn't do that, and the Supreme Court said he didn't have that authority unless Congress expressly said so.
Cruz told Beck, "This is a fight that keeps coming and coming and coming."
Maybe so -- that is, if you see frightening leftist conspiracies under every landscaping rock.