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The Resignation of Van Jones: Who Needs McCarthy Hearings, When You Have Glenn Beck?

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When contemplating the abyss, it’s sometimes helpful to look straight into it.  In this spirit, I did something I never do: I went to the Fox News website and read their account of the Van Jones story, titled, “How Van Jones Happened and What We Need to Do Next.”  The article reads like a page from the Lee Atwater manifesto.  ( Or Harry Dent or Karl Rove, take your pick.) Herein, I learned that, according to the folks at Fox News, Van Jones was part of a bigger conspiracy, not unlike the Democrats’ secret  mission to use health care reform as a path to putting our country under the rule of socialist death panels.  

And, if not for the courage of the fearless crew at Fox News, it’d still be a secret, since the evil liberal media was, as usual, asleep at the helm, ignoring yet one more left-wing radical plot to take over our country.

Turns out, according to this article, the reason that 57 companies pulled their ads from Glenn Beck’s show was NOT because Beck said the following, of President Obama on July 28th:

This president, I think, has exposed himself as a guy over and over and over again, who has a deep-seated hatred for white people or the white culture — I don’t know what it is. …I’m not saying that he doesn’ t like white people. I’m saying he has a problem. He has a — this guy is, I believe, a racist.

No, the real reason for the boycott is much more insidious: Glenn’s show was boycotted because he broke the Van Jones story.  According to Phil Kerpen, Director of Policy for Americans for Prosperity, who officially broke the story on Beck’s July 28th show: “Given the chronology… we should consider whether the boycott was retaliation for the coverage.”

But wait, there’s more. According to Kerpen, Jones’ real agenda at the White House was, “an attempt to achieve radical ends” an end Kerpen deemed, “squarely within the mainstream of the political left and the Democratic Party.”

Just what was Jones’  secret agenda? Apparently, his agenda for the “greening” of America was really a thinly disguised plot to topple capitalism. Kerpen even gave a name to his plot, calling it “the watermelon theory,” (not to be confused with the certain stereotypes of yore about colored folk and watermelon). According to Kerpen, Jones’ efforts toward a cap and trade bill to curb carbon emissions was  “watermelon,” green on the outside but Communist red to the core.

As evidence of this, Kerpen revealed Jones’ ties to the radical organization, the Apollo Alliance, which has been involved in myriad nefarious projects, such as:

  • Working with volunteer university students, union workers and community members to caulk, seal and insulate low-income homes in Buffalo, NY.  and to also design a do-it-yourself kit for homewners — called the Home Energy Conservation Kit (HECK) that gave homeownders the necessary materialsto make basic improvements themselves.
  • Efforts to keep millions of U.S. jobs from being sent overseas. Responding to recent reports that 30% of American overseas job losses came from the manufacturing sector — and that 70 percent of America’s clean and efficient energy systems are currently being manufactured overseas — Apollo has been working with a “broad spectrum of U.S. industry, including manufacturers, distributors, labor unions, and clean energy producers” to support legislation to “revive American manufacturing through investment in clean energy.” In this effort, the Apollo Alliance supports Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown’s bill titled, “Investments for Manufacturing Progress and Clean Technology (IMPACT) Act,” — a bill to boost domestic clean energy manufacturing and ensure that new clean energy jobs stay in the United States, while also cutting American dependence on foreign oil. 
  • Efforts to modernize our long-neglected transportation infrastucture to rejuvinate our cities by bringing businesses and people back to the deteriorating downtowns, much like Chattanooga did in the early 1990s — a succes story that created jobs, prospered business, and improved the quality of life, while also setting the standard for cutting operating costs,  reducing fuel consumption and waste, while being good stewards of the environment.  

And this is only “the tip of iceberg,” accoring to Kerpen. To illusrate this point, he offered the following chart which draws the clear, undisputable connections between communism, green jobs, the Sierra Club, the president of the United Steel Workers Union and, yes, none other than Van Jones.

 

The Chart: The "Green Jobs" Radical Network Conspiracy to Take Over the WorldEven

If this reminds you of that scene with all the crazy road signs in the movie, “Pee Wee Herman’s Big Adventure,” it’s for good reason. We Americans were on a crash collision course with communism — saved only by the grace of Phil Kerpen’s meticulous research, which uncovered all manner of scary plots:    

“He [Jones] urged adoption of a carbon cap-and-trade program, renewable electricity mandates– including Al Gore’s outlandish and impossible goal of eliminating fossil fuel use by 2018, large taxpayer-funded green jobs programs, a so-called smart grid for electricity, more mass-transit subsidies, higher fuel efficiency standards for automobiles, federal funding for organic farms, a ban on new coal plants, expanded ethanol mandates, and even a spirited, multiple page pitch for a cash-for-clunkers program.”

Scary stuff, eh? Kerpen elaborates:

“Green jobs are not economic jobs but political jobs, designed to funnel vast sums of taxpayer money to left-wing labor unions, environmental groups, and social justice community organizers.”

In other words, environment protection is part of an evil fascist  plot to take over the government. Social justice is just another word for socialism. And community organizers are… Well, you get the picture. 

Kerpen continues:

“Even  if Apollo is properly tainted by the Van Jones scandal, it’s only the tip of the iceberg, as this chart shows. In fact most of the action has already moved to the Center for American Progress, the hyper-politicized think tank that’s advancing most of the left’s agenda.”

It would easy enough to confuse the name of this “leftist” organization,  “Center for American Progress,” with its polar opposite,  “Americans for Prosperity,” the group with which Phil Kelpern serves as pollicy director. A quick view of their websites dispels all confusion. Below are some of the headlines from the home page of the “leftist” group, Center for American Progress, allegedly tied to Van Jones: 

  • Serving America’s Veterans
  • Restoring America’s global leadership
  • Seizing the energy opportunity
  • Creating progressive growth
  • Delivering universal health care
  • Getting Our Sudan Policy Right
  • Mixed News for Older Workers
  • A Good Job Is Hard to Find
  • Ted Kennedy, in Substance
  • Evaluating the Elections in Afghanistan
  • Public Shows Strong Support for Changes in Energy Policy
  • Making Government Work for Families
  • What Does Reform Mean for You?

In contrast, the headlines on Karpen’s “American’s for Prosperity” site seem less geared toward  issues and solutions and, well, American progress, than toward sliming the Democrats and killing every single effort to address the enormously complex issues of our times. Their current focus appears to be on killing health care reform and bashing unions and a cap and trade bill:

  • Green Czar’s Communism No Coincidence
  • Obama to Indoctrinate Schoolchildren
  • Obama’s “new” health care strategy
  • Baucus Deal is No Compromise
  • Americans for Prosperity Exposes the Left’s “Secret Plan” to Use Forced Unionization to Take Over the Country
  • Obama’s ‘Green’ Groups Eye Lots of Greenbacks
  • Tell the Obama administration to allow offshore drilling here in America!
  • Documentary Exposes Cap-and-Trade: It’s All About Control
  • Americans for Prosperity encourages members of the general public to visit their district offices and attend town hall meetings of their senators and representatives, especially during this August break when issues like health care reform and cap-and-trade are at the peak of debate. Make sure your voice is heard!

Of course, this comes as no surprise from an organization that is bedfellows to Doug Coe’s C-Street and the insurance, pharmaceutical and oil industries, to name a few. So it also comes as no suprise that Americans for Prosperity has also been spearheading this summer’s debacles of the tea-baggers, birthers and deathers, inciting Americans to take arms against imaginary giants.

Turns out, these efforts are effective. Health care reform is dead in the water, and Van Jones resigned, saying that he took on this position with the Obama Administration so that he could put his energies into defending others, not into defending himself. His absence leaves the Obama Administration another person short of the independent voices sorely needed to counterbalance money with morals on Capitol Hill — to offer a a strong voice for the people, whose interests are not served by the kings of industry and their lobbyists, whose job is to buy political favor and squash anything that stands between the kings and their profits. 

The aptly named “Americans for Prosperity” makes no claims to be Americans for clean drinking water, or Americans for breathable air, or  Americans for preserving and protecting the environment for future generations, or Americans for decent medical care for all citizens, or Americans for serving the needs of veterans, or Americans for stopping genocide in Africa, or Americans for decent worker wages. No, their name is American for Prosperity, and the only causes they support are those that benefit the kings of industry. Causes that benefit the people and the environment are enemies to prosperity.

Having hamstrung Van Jones, on the heels of helping kill health care reform, Americans for Prosperity got a taste of blood and it seems they like it. Seems they like folk who issue death threats and accuse the president of hating white people. Seems they like folk who resurrect the ghost of Joseph McCarthy. Seems they like insurrectionists who plan revolts against our constitutional government. Seems they like folk who attend Obama events with guns strapped to their sides. Seems they don’t give a damn about death panels, so long as they’re run by insurance CEOS.

Here, Obama and the Democratic Party would do well to take a line from George W. Bush’s playbook: We don’t appease terrorists.

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by Mantis Katz for the canarypapers

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For more on Van Jones, from someone who actually knows the man and his work, see Arianna Huffington’s, “Thank you, Glenn Beck!”

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American Health Care Reform: Socialist Plot or Evil Conspiracy? You decide.

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(NOTE: If you want to cut to the chase (thereby skipping my 24-paragraph editorial hooplah, below) simply skip to page 2 of this piece for info and links on the 3 health-care options currently under consideration: the single-payer plan, the public option and the status quo.)

 

 

DrowningWhen you’re drowning, you don’t notice the color of the hand throwing you a rope.

 

Welcome to American health care!

The same band of thieves that brought our economy to our knees has brought our health care system to its knees. The only difference between the banking industry and the health care insurance industry is that, with the right propaganda, the health care industry hopes to buy just a little more time — time enough to shake the last dimes out of our pockets before the damage becomes so catastrophic that, at last, the deluded mobs will click into survival mode and grow color-blind to the hand throwing them a rope.    

Until then, it appears that our health care debate will continue to be poisoned with wild-haired fears about socialist plots, scary black men, Nazi death panels and birth certificate conspiracies.  It appears, too, that Obama fully intends to continue with this quaint notion of forging bipartisanship with the very corporate propagandists and their paid political hacks on Capitol Hill who have been spending millions upon millions to sabotage his adminstration and, by extension, America itself.

Remember all that talk during the campaign about appeasing terrorists?

Who’d a-thunk: Here we are, one year later, and darned if Obama’s not appeasing a small faction of violent extremists, who believe it is their eminent right to deem certain politicians (any, by extension, the majority of Americans who are in favor of health care reform) as being so evil, that anything and everything — up to, and including murder — is a justifiable means to silencing the opposition. It is of some irony that many of these extremists, much like their al Qaeda counterparts, believe that their God has appointed them to this agenda — that He is calling upon them, personally, to bring our country and its leaders down in flames.

This would be the same God who called upon the Puritans to hang witches; the same God who called upon white men to enslave blacks like beasts of burden; the same God who called upon white men to exterminate Native Americans; the same God who called upon the Klan to lynch blacks, Jews and union activists; the same God who, today, is calling on conservatives and the evangelical Right — many of these working under the invisible auspices of the infamous Doug Coe and The Family —  to lynch and  assassinate their political opponents.   

The complicity of the the Republican Party in this is most unholy and undemocratic process is testament to the power of the insurance industry (existing, as it does, in financial partnership with Wall Street, the evangelical Right, the pharmaceutical industry and, yes, the giants in the oil industry). The abject failure of conservative politicians to condemn the violent rhetoric is testament to the power of money: to the millions upon millions of corporate dollars that have been paid into the coffers of Republicans and blue-dog Democrats who — while they may not be among those openly fanning the flames of violence — are merely sitting on their hands, while death threats are being waged against their Democratic colleagues.

 

VIDEO BELOW: Rep. David Scott of Georgia reads the racist hate mail he received in the wake of a town hall meeting on health care reform

 

It all started innocently enough….

Back in August 2008, Obama laid out his vision for the type of health care debate he hoped to pursue under his adminstration:   

I’m going to have all the negotiations around a big table. We’ll have doctors and nurses and hospital administrators. Insurance companies, drug companies — they’ll get a seat at the table, they just won’t be able to buy every chair. But what we will do is, we’ll have the negotiations televised on C-SPAN, so that people can see who is making arguments on behalf of their constituents, and who are making arguments on behalf of the drug companies or the insurance companies. And so, that approach, I think is what is going to allow people to stay involved in this process.

Had Obama delivered on this promise — handing the reins over to actual health care reformers and the American people they represent, rather than handing the reins over to the giants who serve the insurance and pharmaceutical industries — the tone of today’s health care debate would not have devolved into a mob war, peppered with incendiary rhetoric about socialist plots to kill old people and babies. We wouldn’t be witnessing the faux outrage of paid protesters shouting shoulder-to-shoulder with genuinely terrified (albeit sadly misinformed) people who have been deluded into believing that health care reform is a secret plot to turn America into a facist, socialist state, with Obama conspiring to use health care as the vehicle for a eugenics/euthenasia program. 

Had Obama placed the health care debate in a public forum, the word “lynching” would not have made its way out of a congressman’s mouth and into the health care debate.  But the Republicans abrogated their integrity long before this. They lost it the instant they openly wished failure on the Obama Admnistration. They lost it the instant they embraced the ghost of the 1920s era Klan to carry their mantle. In order for bipartisanship to work, both sides have to engage in debate. It doesn’t work when one side is hanging effigies and issuing death threats against the other.    

This is nothing new. The entire history of our country has been one long struggle to forge bipartisanship between the wealthy and the poor, the powerful and the powerless, the Christians and the non-Christians, the violent and their victims. It has only been by sheer force of constitutional law that the noble principles of our Constitution ever held in check the baser nature of our society: slavery, Native American genocide, Black Code, Jim Crow, lynchings, McCarthyism, segregation, racial code…. And, even then, change always occurs too late — if it occurs at all — and only after decades or even centuries of intimidation and violence.  

Change has never, ever — not one single time — occurred through mutual agreement. Think about it.

 

VIDEO: Rachel Maddow interview with former Republican evangelical activist, Frank Schaeffer, on the mob violence being organized by the Republican party and the insurance industry.

 

Perhaps Obama believed that bipartisanship could be forged by appeasing the corporate giants and the politicians whose pockets they line. After all, these people don’t play nice. Obama surely figured that out early-on in his administration. Perhaps he believed it would buy their cooperation if — instead of real health care reform — he offered up a token gesture to the American people: something that constituted a change, of sorts, but would — first and foremost — do no harm to the profit margin of these corporations. Perhaps Obama believed he could buy their peace by silencing the voice of true health care reformers — which was accomplished by giving the bums-rush to the single-payer advocates, as they were ushered away from the ‘big table’ with police escorts. 

This is what happens when you make back-room deals with ruthless people: you give them the reins to power. And they take it.  

By giving the power to these corporations and the politicans they serve, Obama gave them license to hijack health care reform. And in doing so, he robbed ordinary American citizens of their voice in the political process; robbed us of the opportunity to talk, as a nation, about the actual costs — the dollars and cents — of our existing for-profit insurance coverage vs. a single payer plan; robbed us of the opportunity to study the feasibility of  incorporating “Medicare for all”  into our health care stystem — extending this government plan to cover more than just senior citizens, veterans and the disabled.  

He robbed us of the opportunity to discuss the quality of health care in this country as delivered by the for-profit insurance industry vs. single-payer Medicare type coverage; robbed us of the opportunity to learn the facts (as opposed to the fallacies) about health care systems in other developed countries, such as France, which the World Health Organization rated as #1 in health care quality, vs. the #37 slot held by the United States. It’s a safe bet that the rabid protestors carrying angry signs about socialist takeovers would be impotent to explain the health system in France, which enjoys a hybrid system — a mix of private, “for-profit” insurance and government insurance, similar in theory what has been proposed for the United States. 

Americans assume that if it’s in Europe, which France is, that it’s socialized medicine. The French don’t consider their system socialized. In fact, they detest socialized medicine. For the French, that’s the British, that’s the Canadians. It’s not the French system…. The French want pretty much the same thing as Americans: choice and more choice.– historian Paul Dutton at Northern Arizona University, author of Differential Diagnoses: A Comparative History of Health Care Problems and Solutions in the United States and France.

What would have happened, had Americans been presented with a one-paragraph bill, reading something like this?

Americans, you now have the freedom of choice: You may either pay your insurance premiums to a private, for-profit health insurance carrier, or pay your premiums into a government single-payer insurance plan, similar to the plan that has long-been enjoyed by senior citizens and veterans. Or, if you like, you can do both. The private, for-profit insurance industry, being an integral part of  the free market, is free to set their own policies. Should you choose to pay into the government’s single-payer plan, you will be covered from birth to death for all medical care, period, with no co-pays or deductibles. 

Obviously, one paragraph wouldn’t suffice, but this would be a workable starting point for plainly stating health care reform, in a nutshell. Regarding the cost for this plan, Obama could take a page from the for-profit insurance industry in the U.S.  Because they have proven, if nothing else, that insuring people can be an obscenely lucrative business. How else could UnitedHealth Group afford to pay a single executive $819,000 per day? That’s a almost $103,000 per hour paid to just one CEO! How else could the insurance industry afford to shell out $1.5 million per-day to wage a campaign to convince Americans that single-payer health care = a facist, socialist plot to take over our country and kill old people and babies?  How else could the insurance industry afford to spend 1 out of every 3 health care dollars on lobbying, PR and executive compensation packages? You think those folks haven’t calculated the net worth of this campaign? More to the point: Does anyone honestly believe that the  insurance industry gives a whit who lives or dies in America?

VIDEO: Robert Greenwald of Brave New Films and sickforprofit.com answers the question, “What does UnitedHealthcare CEO Stephen Hemsley have to lose if Congress passes real healthcare reform this year?” 

 

What the insurance industry does not want us to know is this: Human health is a commodity that generates shareholder profits and billion-dollar executive compensation packages. So long as this is the case, there will always be the built-in incentive to deny medical care — not on the basis of medical advice or science, but by its relationship to the profit margin.

The insurance industry would like us to believe that, under Obama’s plan, health care decisions would be made by government bureaucrats. The insurance industry would like us to believe that it is superior to have our health care decisions made — not by doctors, but by insurance industry executives, armed with actuary tables that tell them exactly who is (and is not) profitable to insure, as well as which diseases and treatments must be denied for the sake of the industry’s profit margin.  

As a disabled American who is insured by a single-payer plan — Medicare, for which I pay a $100 per month premium — I can tell you that no insurance bureaucrat, nor government bureaucrat, has ever stood between me and my doctor, nor dictated which providers I am “allowed” to see, or disallowed any treatment my doctors recommended. 

My point is not to extol the virtues of the Medicare system, nor to entirely demonize the insurance industry, but to suggest that there is absolutely a happy medium to be struck between the debt-plagued Medicare system, which provides efficient and unobtrusive health care, vs. the insurance industry, which  generates billions upon billions in profit by denying care.   

What the lynch-mobbers have yet to understand is their backers (politicians and insurance execs alike) don’t give a whit about the plight of sick people, or about the evils of socialism. The insurance execs funding this propaganda campaign aren’t losing sleep over the idea that health care reform is a secret plot to kill old people and babies (although the insurance industry would have to plead guilty, were they being honest, to the crime of delivering death sentences to people of all ages and walks-of-life). No, what keeps insurance executives awake at night is the elephant in the room:

It is not only possible to insure millions of people without going bankrupt, it is possible — as the insurance company has been proving for decades — to generate obscene profits doing this. It only stands to reason, then, that a well-managed insurance program, such as the single-payer plan, could exist as a break-even proposition, generating neither catastrophic loss or obscene profit.  

France has proven this. To be fair, the system in France is not perfect. They are currently tweaking their system in the response to a $9 billion debt in their health care system. Nine billion dollars is nothing to sneeze at. The U.S. has been spending this much every two weeks in Iraq, and expects to spend this amount every 18 days, after our “troop withdrawal,” for the next five years in Iraq.     

empty chairObama’s folly has been the belief that he could buy peace and cooperation from the insurance and pharmaceutical industries by putting a gag order on the true advocates of health care reform and serving up a 1,000 page bill that is so ambiguous and inscrutable that no will know just how many times the Democrats cried “Uncle!” to the insurance and pharmaceutical industries by the time all is said and done.

Maybe this is America’s destiny — to keep learning the same bitter  lesson over and over: that equality, liberty and fidelity to the spirit of our Constitution can only be realized after a protracted rein of inequality, human suffering and lawlessness. Granted, the lynch mobs represent only a small fraction of Americans, but history proves that it takes a million-fold human lives chained to misery and oppression to offset the power, wealth and influence of just one slave trader, one lynchman, one assassin, one corporate giant, one crooked politician, one Christian warrior gone amok. 

And, even then, the peace is only temporary, for it’s only a matter of time before the torch has been re-ignited, passed on to the next generation. Which is to say that it is a sad state of affairs when the best we can hope for, come September, is not honest bill for health care reform but, rather, that the death threats being issued by the henchmen of the corporate giants will not be realized.

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Mantis Katz for the canarypapers

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For more information on the specifics of the 3 health care plans, see page 2 of this article.

Making Silk Purses Out of Swine Flu

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 When I was in my twenties, I rented a small house previously occupied by a pig farmer. Fortunately, the only vestige of the former tenant (aside a thick layer of grease about the kitchen) was a subscription to a hog farming magazine, which dutifully arrived every month. I read the things with a mix of engrossment and horror, learning all sorts of curious facts about pig farming. For instance, I never knew before then that — despite the best efforts of pig farmers — a certain percentage of pigs are sent to slaughter with hypodermic needles still imbedded in their flesh, accidentally broken off during the various vaccinations and treatments to which pigs are subjected during their incarceration. From this group, a certain percentage of this needled meat (having slipped under the radar of the metal detectors used in packing plants for this very purpose) arrives at the grocery store, where the meat is then attractively packaged for sale — needle fragments intact. In this same vein, needle sticks were (and still are) one of the most common on-the-job accidents among workers at hog farms, where the same hypodermic needle is repeatedly used on animal after animal. These accidents not only put workers at risk for accidental injection of medications, but also to infection by an antibiotic-resistant strain of bacteria. I never quite saw pork in the same light after reading those magazines. All of this is to say that I’m no newbie to the annals of pig farming.   

DEU VOGELGRIPPE TAMIFLUSo I was unsurprised to learn this week that the World Health Organization — bowing to concerns by pig farmers who are suffering lagging sales due to public fears over eating pig meat — decided on a name change for our most recent pandemic threat:     

Rather than calling this swine flu … we’re going to stick with the technical, scientific name, ‘H1N1 Influenza A,'” said WHO spokesman Dick Thompson.     

Good idea. Simply rename the thing and hope the euphemism will stick. This way, people can feel warm and fuzzy again about eating pigs. This way — even as this latest strain of swine flu threatens to be that much-touted pandemic the officials keep warning will eventually decimate the better part of the human population on this planet — at least the profits of factory farming industries (such as Smithfield, implicated in the Mexico outbreak), won’t suffer too much.

Pssst…. I have an even better idea. Why not just call the virus SIV, as the pig farming industry has been doing for years? Or would calling it something close to HIV just open a whole new can of worms?

What the WHO hopes will get lost in the translation between swine flu and H1N1 Influenza A is the fact that this virus is, indeed, 2-parts pig. It’s such an efficient cocktail of animal DNA, really, that one can’t help but wonder why nature didn’t think of this recipe eons ago: 1-part domestic pig, 1-part Eurasian pig, 1-part chicken and 1-part human DNA. Fact is, no matter how much the WHO shakes, stirs and spins this cocktail, they can’t pretty up the truth that swine flu — just like its sister virus, avian flu — is inextricably linked to factory farming

Or can they? Oddly, the topic of factory farming is almost entirely absent from the evening news and the 24-7 round-robin pageantry of media coverage on this virus, and is utterly nil in the CDC’s dialogue, as they serve their role of public relations liason between the U.S. government and its citizens on matters of public health. They do assure us, tho, how very ordinary this business is of viruses jumping from one species to another. Still, no mention of factory farms (also called CAFOs, or ‘confined animal feeding operations’).  No mention of the curious fact that yet another brand spanking new virus strain has emerged on the scene already immune to two anti-viral medications, amantadine and rimantadine. No questions about how this may have occurred.

The pig farms of my childhood — back in the day when my elementary school class was reading Charlotte’s Web — averaged 53 pigs per farm, with the pigs running freely in open pens, living more or less normal pig lives until the day of slaughter. Today, the average number is 1,000 pigs per farm, described by one writer as “a transition from old-fashioned pig pens to vast excremental hells, containing tens of thousands of animals with weakened immune systems suffocating in heat and manure while exchanging pathogens at blinding velocity with their fellow inmates.”

This can be said of any factory farm operation, whether the commodity is chickens, turkey, fish, cows or pigs.  Animals are warehoused in huge sheds, stacked like cordwood in cages so small that many are forced to spend their entire lives standing up, while others are crammed together in one cage, packed so tightly that they are forced to stand one on top of the other — the result of either method being a population of filthy, stressed animals plagued with disease and deformity, ever-teetering on the brink of death. To this end, farmers utilize a vast aresenal of chemicals, pesticides, hormones, vaccines and drugs, with factory farmed animals consuming 70% of the antibiotics in this country. This enables farmers to house animals in the most crowded, inhumane, feces-ridden, disease-inducing conditions imaginable, while keeping mortality at bay. While costly, these remedies translate to higher profits than the humane animal husbandry practices of yore.  

  laying-hens2

Aside from the stomach-wrenching inhumanity that causes most people, upon viewing the reality of these farms, to either become vegetarians or plunge their heads into the sand, there are myriad problems arising from these farms that cannot be wished away, no matter hard we try to ignore them. Choose your poison: 

  • The drugs, hormones, vaccines and pesticides that have been passed from factory-farmed animals into the human food chain over the past several decades have been directly linked to serious human health issues, ranging from immune disorders, to early puberty, to the emergence of drug-resistant diseases, such as MRSA (also known as the flesh-eating disease), which causes 18,000 deaths in the U.S. every years — more deaths, even, than AIDS. 
  • The demand for the cheapest, most profitable feed for these animal populations has resulted in the practice of feeding animal wastes to animals, with the menu of any chicken, turkey, cow or pig (or household dog and cat, for that matter) likely to include a mix of feces, blood, feathers, fur, brains, bone, etc. from any or all of the above. While this feeding practice has been directly tied to the introduction of certain diseases (such as, say, mad cow disease, which rarely goes by its techical, scientific name ‘bovine spongiform encephalopathy’) into the food chain, the practice has yet to be discontinued in the U.S., which is why meat imports from the U.S., like China, have been banned in many countries. 
  • Massive tons of animal waste — from feces, to urine to blood — are routinely, but illegally dumped into the lands and waterways surrounding these farms, resulting in dead zones that extend for miles — not only decimating native flora, fauna and fish, but sickening and killing human beings, as well. For reasons about to be disclosed, our government turns a blind eye to these crimes.
  • The agriculture lobby industry is as powerful as the banking industry lobbyists on Capitol Hill. So powerful, in fact, that when our lawmakers are considering laws to protect the U.S. consumer, they defer to the judgment and ‘science’ provided by lobbyists, who are the most generous contributors to their personal and campaign coffers. Within this system, the CDC, the USDA and the FDA have followed accordingly, evolving to little more than government-funded public relations firms, their role being to polish the images of these industries and provide damage control, as needed, to allay the public’s fears. 

With regard to swine flu, the topic of factory farming is especially pertinent — not only because this virus arrived on the scene already resistant to two anti-viral medications (amantadine and rimantadine), but because it arrived right as a bill was introduced into Congress that implicates the indiscriminate use of antimicrobials by factory farmers in the emergence of drug-resistant human diseases.

Introduced in the Senate by Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-MA) and in the House by Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-NY) — Congress’ only microbiologist — the Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act (called H.R. 1549 and S.619, in case you want to weigh in on this issue) intends to phase out the non-therapeutic use of medically important antibiotics on farm animals. Designed to protect human beings, not animals, per se, this bill would nonetheless have the incidental effect of forcing factory farmers to adopt more humane methods of animal husbandry which, by extension, translates to a cut in the profit margin. This promises to be a contentious issue, not only among factory farmers, but among the American public.   

 

burger2

Because, make no mistake, such a bill would force changes upon the American consumer. No more 99-cent fast food sandwiches, layered in a 1-pound medley of sliced pig, cow, turkey and cheese. The cost of the meat in monster burgers would certainly rise, compelling the average American to eat fewer pounds of animal flesh per day.

With so much fodder for conflict, it’s hard to imagine why the mainstream media has sidestepped covering this new bill, seemingly oblivious to its importance in the current dialogue on swine flu. It’s not like they don’t know pig farms exist. I’ve seen several pig farms on the news, all of them peopled with gaggles of happy pigs being doted over by concerned farmers. Here’s one I pulled up off google, designed to allay fears over eating pork, which is a far sight from the reality of these farms: 

Equally absent in the media dialogue are the glaring inconsistencies in the CDC’s public relations blitz around swine flu. For instance:

  • While I understand that fully-cooked meat is essentially sterilized of flu germs, how can the CDC tell us that it”s safe for people to handle raw pork (which is, like any factory-farmed meat, routinely contaminated with bodily secretions from every conceivable part of a pig), considering that, according to the pork industry, swine flu is spread to humans “not just by inhalation of aerosolized virus, but also by eye and nose contact with droplets of respiratory secretions” which is why the industry urges its workers to avoid “hand to face contact,” and to change their clothes and wash-up before going home from work?
  • And what does the CDC mean when it reassures us that “… the current flu cases have been transmitted from person to person, that the swine flu strain is not from the U.S. swine herd and that U.S. pork is safe to eat.” Does that mean that this swine flu strain is from a non-U.S. herd? And does it mean that non-U.S. pork is unsafe to eat? And if this is the case, how’s a consumer to know whether their pork came from the U.S. or China or elsewhere?
  • Does the location of the disease epicenter (Smithfield pig farm in Mexico) have anything to do with the CDC”s advice that it’s safe for Mexicans to travel to the U.S. (e.g. “the cow’s already out of the barn”) while U.S. citizens are advised to exercise caution, traveling to Mexico only by necessity?

Such questions are left to those of us still puzzling over the origin of this latest pandemic threat. One thing is for sure. The answers won’t be found on the evening news, nor in the officious missives of the CDC, USDA, FDA or even in the halls of Congress, well-intentioned as some of its members may be in pushing for the Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act — a bill that doesn’t stand a snowball’s chance in hell of being passed, so long as the agriculture lobbyists are still writing the laws that regulate their industry. 

But I digress. According to statements by WHO yesterday, while scientists don’t know exactly how H1N1 Influenza A jumped from pigs to humans, they insist that it’s being spread from human to human, NOT  from contact with infected pigs. Got that through your head? “There is no evidence of infection in pigs, nor of humans acquiring infection directly from pigs,” insists WHO (even as this utterly contradicts the news — both  old and new — from the pig farming industry). Further, the WHO warns, “Killing pigs will not help to guard against public or animal health risks, ” and is “inappropriate.” 

Agreed.

But changing the way factory farmers do business is appropriate. Because no matter how strongly the WHO, the CDC and the USDA insist — along with the various other government agencies and entities working in coalition with the pork lobbyists — the fact remains that the agricultural industry has long been putting the human population on this planet at risk for a full-blown pandemic capable of wiping out a huge swath of the human race. That, in itself, is scary enough.

But scarier, still, are those governent entities that are so far off the media’s radar screen, that they’re relegated to the minions of conspiracy theorists. Here reside the darker truths about diseases, such as swine flu — which, itself,  has seen over 60 years of research and development into its use as a biowarfare weapon and has even seen successful trial runs in this capacity, such as the 1971 swine flu outbreak in Cuba, as reported in a January 1977 issue of the San Francisco Chronicle.

Necessity being the mother of invention, there is at least a silver lining to this swine flu scare. A silk purse, if you will. Turns out, the pharmaceutical industry — another of Capitol Hill’s more lucrative lobbyists — will turn a handsome profit on the sale of the anti-viral drug, Tamiflu and on any future vaccines, regardless of whether the pandemic pans out. But that’s a a different story, much as it, too, emanates from swine.   

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by Mantis Katz for the canarypapers

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For more reading:

Pew Commission Report on Industrial Farm Animal Production: FINAL REPORT: Putting Food on the Table: Industrial Farm Animal Production in the U.S. (Executive Summary pdf)  (full report pdf)

Pew Charitable Trusts: Human Health & Animal Farming: Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria in Animals

Rolling Stone: Pork’s Dirty Secret 

Huffington Post: Swine Flu Outbreak – Nature Biting Back at Industrial Animal Production?

PETA article and video: Undercover Investigation Reveals Hormel Supplier’s Abuse of Mother Pigs and Piglets[warning: graphic images]

Biosurveillance: Swine Flu in Mexico: Timeline of Events

Global Research: Flying Pigs, Tamiflu and Factory Farms

Global Research: (2005 article) Who Owns the Rights on Tamiflu: Rumsfeld To Profit From Bird Flu Hoax

tamiflu-stockpiles

The pig industry’s efforts to defend itself in the wake of the swine flu outbreak:  

Swine Flu: Wrong Name

Industry Stresses Pork is Safe

CDC, USDA Emphasize Pork and Hogs are Safe [Considering the careful PR campaign being devoted to pork safety, I find it curous that there is no explanation in this article to what they mean by “safe handling” of pork meat in the context of pork safety during a swine flu epidemic.] 

 

What Do You Want: Insurance or Health Care? (they’re not the same, you know)

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Quick question:

Do you want insurance or health care for yourself and your family? Before you answer that question, make sure you understand the difference because, make no mistake: the differences are huge.  

[pssst…. Are you already in favor of true universal health care? If so, forego reading tmy long-winded post below and, instead, spend the next few minutes doing something practical, like making your voice heard. This is an urgent matter. We have now until the end of February to:

  1. Urge your representatives to please co-sponsor H.R. 676 and actively work with Congressman John Conyers, as he reintroduces the bill in the 111th Congress.  (Here’s ane easy link to contact your Representative). The bill currently has 93 co-sponsors in the House, out of the 150 needed by the end of February. 
  2. There is still no companion bill to H.R. 676 in the Senate. Urge Sen. Edward Kennedy to sponsor a companion bill to HR 676 in the Senate. (Contact Sen. Kennedy via snail mail ).  The Senate is currently proposing a healthcare reform plan that will mandate health insurance coverage for every person in the United States. Forcing people to purchase insurance would be a real boon to the for-profit insurance industry, enriching CEOs and corporations, but it does nothing to address the needs of the millions of Americans in need of health care.   
  3. Let President Obama know how many of us are in favor of true universal health care (H.R. 676) as opposed to the watered-down versions currently being offered.  (Here’s an easy link to contact Obama).
  4. Lastly, if you’re not in favor of true universal health care, do yourself and the rest of us a favor by making sure you know the facts — beyond the insurance industry’s talking points — before permanently making up your mind.  A good place to start is at the source: Congressman John Conyers, the sponsorer of this bill. Here are some FAQs, from Conyers’ website.)]

QUICK ANSWER:

Health care.

 

LONGER ANSWER:

It’s a common myth in this country that insurance = health care. In reality, nothing could be further from the truth. And this truth has only grown more perverse during the 8-year orgy we’ve just suffered, as our politicians have fallen, one by one, into bed with the giants of commerce (e.g. the banking, pharmaceutical, energy, media and insurance industries, etc.). This fellowship has compelled our lawmakers to turn a blind eye to the well-being of the average American citizen, as they paid deference, instead, to those lobbyists promising the biggest contributions to their campaign coffers. We need look no further than Wall Street to see both the evidence and the repercussions of our lawmaker’s selective blindness.  

This dynamic explains, in part, why the following news gem got lost in this week’s media shuffle (falling somewhere between the lack of coverage on Israel’s war crimes and Bush’s farewell speech):

According to a study released this past Wednesday by the National Nurses Organizing Committee/California Nurses Association, the universal health care plan (H.R. 676) that’s been collecting dust in a House of Representatives subcommittee for the past 2 years holds the potential to create over 2.6 million new and permanent “shovel ready” jobs (that’s just slightly over the total number of jobs lost in 2008).

What’s more, according to this same study, H.R. 676 would provide a major stimulus for the U.S. economy — not only by creating the said-2.6 million jobs equivalent to $100 billion in wages  — but by infusing $317 billion in new business and public revenues into the economy and infusing public budgets with  $44 billion in new tax revenues. 

Sound too good to be true? The insurance industry hopes you’ll think so

See, the reasons this news about this study slipped under this week’s rader are the same reasons it has slipped under the radar since the bill was introduced in January 2007. Specifically, H.R. 676 (the only true, universal health care plan that has been proposed on Capitol Hill) designs to cut out the middle man — the for-profit insurance industry, one of the most powerful lobbies on Capitol Hill.

Make no mistake. By virtue of being a for-profit business, the insurance industry seeks to maximize profits, while minimizing expenses. And  their biggest expense, by far, is shelling out health care benefits to its members. To this end, the insurance industry fights tooth and nail against providing the very services they’re empowered to pay out: health care for its members. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to understand the math, nor to understand that, under such a system, the for-profit insurance industry is inherently antagonistic to providing actual health care. Is it any wonder, then, that the insurance industry has also fought tooth and nail to convince us all that universal health care is the demon? And is it any wonder that so many Americans have become convinced of the horrors that would befall us all, should we be subjected to (sweet Lord, no!) guaranteed health care? 

The supporters of H.R. 676 have worked equally hard to educate the public on the benefits of a universal, single-payer health care plan. But, lacking the lobbying clout of the insurance industry, these folks can’t command the sort of power the insurance industry enjoys both on Capitol Hill and in our media. For the record, here are a few of the talking points we might have heard from the other side, regarding the benefits of universal, single-payer health care under H.R. 676: 

  • Every resident of the US will be covered from birth to death.
  • No more pre-existing conditions to be excluded from coverage.
  • No more expensive deductibles or co-pays.
  • All prescription medications will be covered.
  • All dental and eye care will be included.
  • Mental health and substance abuse care will be fully covered.(1)
  • Long term and nursing home services will be included.
  • You will always choose your own doctors and hospitals.
  • Costs of coverage will be assessed on a sliding scale basis.
  • Tremendously simplified system of medical administration
  • Total portability – your coverage not tied to any job or location.
  • Existing Medicare benefits for those over 65 will remain the same or be vastly improved in many cases.
  • No corporate bureaucrat will ever come between you and your Doctor to deny your care

 

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A CALL TO ACTION (see contacts info in steps 1 through 3 at the top of this post)

Congressman John Conyers will reintroduce HR 676, his single-payer healthcare bill in the 111th Congress. Please ask your representative to cosponsor the bill and actively work with Rep. Conyers to gain additional cosponsors. In order to ensure HR 676 is part of the healthcare discussion in Congress, we need 150 cosponsors by the end of February.

Former Sen. Tom Daschle, President-Elect Obama’s nominee for Secretary of Health and Human Services, called for “a government-run insurance program modeled after Medicare” in testimony before the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions as part of the solution to our healthcare crisis. His plan also includes health insurance corporations. Only HR 676 would implement a sustainable, fair, and efficient solution to the healthcare crisis as well as providing economic stimulus.

While single-payer healthcare proponents have made good headway in the House, there is still no companion bill in the Senate. Urge Sen. Edward Kennedy to sponsor a companion bill to HR 676 in the Senate. And, while you’re at it, be sure Obama also knows where you stand. Lastly, bookmark this page at the Healthcare NOW! site to keep updated on activist work on H.R. 676 and consider joining forces with The Citizens Alliance for National Health Insurance HR 676 to get the word out to the media on this important bill.

 

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WHO ENDORSES H.R. 676? YOU MIGHT BE SURPRISED

Along with millions of U.S. citizens from all age brackets and economic persuasions, there are (currently) 94 Representatives in the U.S. House who endorse H.R. 676, along with 480 union organizations in 49 states, including 117 Central Labor Councils, 20 international unions, plus AFL-CIO Federations in 35 states, the US Conference of Mayors, the Houses of Representatives in Kentucky, New Hampshire and New York, and hundreds more cities, counties, faith groups and medical and health care organizations that express the great hope and dire need of our people. 

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Dennis Kucinich: patriot or nut?

It depends on what (or who) you read. If you read only the talking points (propaganda) of the industry giants, you’d have little choice but to conclude he’s not only a nut, but an awfully, terribly short man, which is somewhat of a fatal flaw in our society. But if you look past his much-slandered physical stature and look into Kuchich’s body of work, reviewing the actual issues that Dennis Kucinich has consistently fought for on behalf of the American people (with many of these in defiance of the industry giants, his campaign coffers be damned), you’d be hard-pressed to not see that he’s one of Capitol Hill’s staunchest allies to the American people. A giant in his own right and, yes, an American patriot. Had there been more lawmakers like Dennis Kucinich on Capitol Hill over the past 8 years, we wouldn’t be in the mess we’re now in. In the above video, the ever-foresighted Kucinich explains universal health care.  

John McCain and the Snake-Oil Express Take Wall Street by Storm

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Or, 10 Reasons Why Dr. McCain’s Economical Cures Could Very Well Kill the Patient

Settling on just the 10 was a bit tricky. I’m sure some of you will wonder why I left some out and put others in. My approach was much like playing a game of 52-card pickup. These were the first ten cards I found.    

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ONE

More than a few economists were taken aback when John McCain made his January 2008 prognostication: “I don’t believe we’re headed into a recession. I believe the fundamentals of this economy are strong and I believe they will remain strong.” The economists were taken aback because McCain’s words sharply contradicted on-the-ground reality: America had just seen an unprecedented year of tragedy for many American homeowners, with 1.3 million homes in various stages of foreclosure during 2007 — up 75% from 2006.  

To McCain’s credit, he’d also recently said, “The issue of economics is not something I’ve understood as well as I should,” but then added, as if this made everything all right, “I’ve got Greenspan’s book.” Greenspan is, of course, the Federal Reserve Chairman who bull-headedly refused to regulate sub-prime lending — a system designed to “grow” the economy by putting money into the pockets of realtors, developers, lenders, and all the businesses who feed off these hosts — but at the eventual expense of the millions of homeowners who have, since, lived to see the tragic folly of buying homes they couldn’t afford to pay for. Congratulations if you live in Nevada, Florida, Michigan, California, Colorado, Ohio, Georgia, Arizona, Illinois or Indiana. You made the top ten list for the highest number of home foreclosures, leaving your states to enjoy double the catastrophe of trickle-down Republican economics. 

TWO

Early this week, the aforementioned Federal Reserve Chairman, Alan Greenspan (still a staunch McCain supporter) gave McCain’s economic tax plan an emphatic thumbs-downOuch. Greenspan says the U.S. cannot afford the big tax cuts proposed by John McCain — that we cannot affort to finance “tax cuts with borrowed money.” Greenspan went on to describe our current economic crisis, in the wake of the sub-prime mortgage collapse, to be a “once in a half-century, once in a century crisis,” that will lead to the failure of more firms.

This is a marked contrast with the statement of McCain’s other economic mentor and (now former) financial adviser, Phil Gramm, who just 2 months ago described our economic troubles and recession as being only in our minds, saying that we’d become “a nation of whiners.” It is also a marked contrast with McCain’s own words this week (see more on this in #8, below) when he said that despite “fears” over the “turmoil” on Wall Street, “the fundamentals of our economy are strong.” This is, in turn, a marked contrast between Obama’s words yesterday, when he described the upheaval on Wall Street as “the most serious financial crisis since the Great Depression.” **

Wealth Creates Wealth — John McCain, 2007

THREE

In August 2007, the non-profit tax advocacy group, Citizens for Tax Justice, released their report, titled, “The Presidential Candidates on Taxes,” which assessed the candidates’ tax proposals, breaking them down into two lists: “bad ideas” and “better ideas.” McCain scored 5 out of 7 on the “bad ideas” list, and scored zero on the “better ideas” list. Among McCain’s “bad ideas” were (1) making Bush’s tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans pemanent, (2)  sharp cuts in corporate taxes to “grow” the economy, (3) repealing the estate tax, (4) a national sales tax, which many say would benefit the wealthy and hit lower income families hardest, (5) healthcare tax breaks that, again, many say would disproportionately benefit the wealthy, while doing nothing, at best, to help lower income families.

FOUR

In April 2008, McCain jumped on board with the gas-tax holiday, a plan to suspend the federal excise tax for the summer to give Americans a break at the pumps. Sounded great, until economists pointed out that, by summer’s end, the plan would have added billions to our already staggering debt to China and transferred more wealth to Saudi Arabia, for a mere 3-month savings total of $35 for the average family. Worse, still, it would have caused a $10 billion dollar deficit to the Federal Highway Trust Fund, which pays for roads and bridges throughout the country. Most economists called the gas tax holiday, in so many words, a bad idea, with Thomas Friedman describing it as “so ridiculous, so unworthy of the people aspiring to lead our nation, it takes your breath away.”  Most understood it for what it was — election year pandering, since there was nearly a zero chance for actual approval for such a plan. Good political play, bad economics. While this was minor, as economic infractions go, it did open a window into the motives of a politician who would propose such a reckless plan.

FIVE

McCain is apparently confused over the duties of the Senate Commerce Committee, on which he once served. This week, he offered his experience as chairman on this committee as credentials for knowing “how to fix this economy.”  McCain said in an interview, while discussing the crisis on Wall Street. “I understand the economy. I was chairman of the Commerce Committee that oversights every part of our economy.” (listen, below)

The fact is, the Senate Commerce Committee does NOT oversee every part of our economy, nor does it oversee the specific areas in crisis. (Perhaps McCain was confused with the Senate Banking Committee, which DOES oversee these duties — a committe on which McCain never served.) The committee on which McCain served oversaw 13 areas, beginning with the Coast Guard and continuing through regulation of consumer products and services — EXCEPT for credit, financial serices and housing (the very areas in crisis).

SIX

Another entry in the “your slip is showing” department…. Yesterday, McCain made a double-gaffe when speaking about the Securities Investor Protection Corporation (SIPC), a corporation that returns customers’ cash, stock and other securities in the event of a brokerage firm bankruptcy. For one thing, McCain repeatedly referred the company as SPIC, which is, if you’ll recall, a racial epithet. For another thing, McCain called this corporation a regulatory agency, which was heard among economic know-hows as an unintentional admission that economics are indeed foreign to McCain. This is the risk taken when memorizing talking points vs. owing a true understanding of what those talking points actually mean. (listen, below)

SEVEN

During one of the Republican presidential debates this year, in a Q & A segment between candidates, Ron Paul asked John McCain about the President’s Working Group on Financial Markets. Anyone running for president should know this group, as it works directly under the president, its stated role to prevent a stock market crash. To anyone who knows even the most rudimentary economic terms, the Working Group is a staple item. Its activities controversial in some circles, the Working Group is the economic equivalent of the war room. Specifically, the Working Group’s role is to gather it members (the President, the Secretary of Treasury, Federal Reserve chairmen, the Securities & Exchange Commission and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission) in the event of a “sudden, stomach churning drop in stock prices,” such as the one we saw earlier this week. The Working Group’s role is to keep the markets operating and to avoid the sort of panic-run that would lead to a full market collapse.

In the presidential debate, Ron Paul asked McCain (1) his opinion on the group, (2)  whether he would keep it in place or get rid of it, and (3) if he did decide to retain the group, would he be in favor of making their activities transparent. McCain’s answer only made transparent that he was without a boat and paddle to offer any knowledge of this group. His answer — a loosely strung recitation of whatever economic terms (tax cuts) and names (Gramm, Rudman, et al) he could conjure — sounded more like Miss Teen USA South Carolina’s infamously embarassing speech of last year, than a presidential candidate with an inkling of the duties of the job for which he is applying, much less on economics. (listen, below, starting at 0:45)

Worst Financial Crisis Since ’30s, with No End Yet in Sight –– Wall Street Journal Headline, Sept. 18, 2008

This has been the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, no doubt about it. – Mark Gertler, NYU Economist, Sept. 17, 2008

This is the most serious financial crisis since the Great Depression — Barack Obama, Sept. 15, 2008

The fundamentals of our economy are strong — John McCain, Sept. 15, 2008

EIGHT

Just this week, McCain again asserted that “the fundamentals of our economy are strong,” a claim he has repeatedly made througout this campaign — even as the most recent figures show bank repossessions have jumped 184% from last year, and even as unemployment rates have jumped to the highest rate in five years at 6.1%, and even as our countries oldest and most enduring financial institutions are falling like giant dominoes. It only makes sense that McCain would continue adhering to this claim, as he also continues to adhere to the economic architects (Greenspan and Gramm) of the very policies that caused the economic crisis we are in. 

Yesterday, after receiving repeated criticisms for his claim that our economy is strong, and with demands to explain his rationale, McCain attempted to defend his position. Rather than speaking on the topic, however, he evaded the topic entirely by giving a pep talk on American workers — a non-answer disguised as an answer. Here’s what he said: “The economic crisis is not the fault of the American people. Our workers are the most innovative, the hardest working, the best skilled, the most productive, most competitive in the world. That’s the American worker. And my opponents may disagree, but those fundamentals, the America worker, their innovation, their entrepreneurship, the small business, those are the fundamentals of America, and I think they’re strong. But they are being threatened today, those fundamentals are being threatened today because of the greed and corruption that some engaged in in Wall Street, and we have got to fix it.” (see the video here)

No one, to my knowledge, has blamed the American worker for our economic crisis, nor has anyone criticized the integrity of the American worker — most especially in conjunction with our economic crisis. Nonetheless, McCain used this pep talk as an opportunity to smear the Democrats, by suggesting that they somehow “disagree” on the integrity of the American workers, and somehow “disagree” that the American worker is a fundamental part of our economy. 

McCain’s speech was designed not to answer the question, but to stir patriotic fervor over the America worker, while simultaneously calling into question the Democrats’ loyalty to the American worker  (a false flag if ever I saw one). That this is a devious tactic is not the point. The point is that McCain continues to be just as out-of-touch with the daily reality of these hardworking Americans, as he is of the bigger economic picture that has plunged so many of these hardworking Americans into hard times. Here, McCain seems to be showing a greater deference for self-serving his political campaign than engaging in the straight talk necessary to addressing the real issues and real solutions to our economic crisis.  

Unions all over the country are calling McCain out on his record — a record which utterly and deplorably contradicts the campaign promise he is making:  specifically, a promise to put the interests of American working families ahead of special interests. For some real straight talk on these issues from the perspective of hardworking Americans, see the 8-minute  video, below, produced by the AFL-CIO Building & Constructions Trades. 

 

NINE

Sarah Palin. Why Sarah Palin? Because McCain is offering up Sarah Palin”s executive experience as a maverick Alaskan politician, ready to charge Washington and clean up corruption, cut out wasteful spending and bring transparency back to our government. Just like she did in Alaska. To be fair, it appears that Palin has been a shrewd manager of the Alaska oil coffers. Whether her methods were above-board, whether her policies fairly represented all the citizens of Alaska, and just what were the costs of these to the citizens of Alaska and the lower 48, are points that continue to be debated. That being said, it would be foolish to not take both her record and her integrity/honesty into account, when considering the economic credentials of the McCain-Palin ticket. Her record on both counts is well-documented:

Washington Post: Palin Billed State for Nights Spent at Home

Jack Bog’s Blog: Governor Palin, your tax return, please (outlines the tax problems Palin faces as a result of the above-mentioned per-diem payments received for nights spent at home)  

Anchorage Daily News: Palin denies Mat-Su bias in state budget

Daily Kos: Alaskanomics – How Palin’s State Sucks the Rest of the Country Dry

Gov. Sarah Palin’s September 2007 Press Release on the demise of the Bridge to Nowhere

The New York Observer: The Fairy Tale of Palin the Reformer

The Reality-Based Community: Evidence of Consciousness of Guilt

canarypapers: The Sarah Chronicles: A straight-poop compendium of questions & answers on Sarah Palin

LASTLY…. Shall our legal system also show “deference” to Madam Sarah?

Newsweek: Can He Stop Troopergate? A McCain lawyer scrambles to block a Palin ethics inquiry

TEN

John McCain’s economic policies have been shaped by lobbyists: the same lobbyists that are literally writing our laws on Capitol Hill, and the same lobbyists that are literally running McCain’s presidential campaign. Few would argue that the un-due influence of lobbyists on Capitol Hill has come to be a cancer on our politics and our politicians, the malignancy so infesting our economy, that we now find ourselves on the brink of economic collapse. When you think of McCain & lobbyists, think: Enron, home foreclosures, Jack Abramoff, Phil Gramm, Charlie Black, Tom Loeffler, Carlos Bonilla….

Rather than write an overlong exposition on this, it would be more clear-cut to simply link the many articles and op-eds written about the un-due influence of lobbyists on the McCain campaign’s economic policies and, by logical extension, the economic policies of a McCain presidency. 

TPM: John McCain’s Lobbyist Universe

McCainSource: McCain Tapped a Lobbyist to Head His VP Search

McCainSource: McCain Has Had at Least 133 Lobbyists Running His Campaign and Raising Money for Him

McCainSource: John McCain’s Iraq Policy is Good for Lobbyists and Defense Contractors

McCainSource: Lobbyists at the Helm: Bush & McCain Tap Lobbyists to Run the Show

MSNBC: McCain economic policy shaped by lobbyists — Swiss bank paid McCain co-chair to push agenda on U.S. mortgage crisis

Lastly: About those foreign policy credentials, Senator McCain….

Huffington Post: McCain’s Top Foreign Policy Advisor Got Money from Georgia 

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Enough is enough! — Barack Obama, September 2008

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by Mantis Katz, for the canarypapers

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This has been the worst financial crisis since the great depression, no doubt about it. – Mark Gertler, NYU Economist 

John McCain and the Snake-Oil Express Take Wall Street by Storm

(or, 10 Reasons Why Dr. McCain’s Economical Cures Could Very Well Kill the Patient)

For related reading, check out these links:

NPR: ‘It’s the Economy, Stupid’: Ask the Advisers

Washington Post: McCain Embraces Regulation After Many Years of Opposition

Wall Street Journal: Worst Crisis Since ’30s, with No End Yet in Sight

Financial Times: Modern History’s Greatest Regulatory Failure

Bloomburg McCain’s tax plan would block a democratic Katrina (note: this pro-McCain op-ed doesn’t exactly dispel the critics’ versions of the facts on McCain’s economic platform)

Tax Policy Center (Urban Institute and Brookings Institution): An Updated Analysis of the 2008 Presidential Candidates’ Tax Policies (pdf file)  

Tax Policy Center (Urban Institute and Brookings Institution): overview of the above document from their website, with related topics 

ABC News: Biden: McCain’s Economic stance a ‘political realization, not a policy conversion’

LA Times: John McCain tries to recover from comment on ‘strong’ economy

Economists for Obama: Got Questions on Obama’s stance on particular economic policy issues? The answers are here. If you don’t see your question, just ask, and they’ll find the answer for you.

** (Footnote from Item #2, above) Perhaps this is why Wall Street political donors favor Obama 56%  vs. 44% for McCain — an almost perfect inverse to the 2000 Democratic vs. Republican figures. It took them a few years and a few notable collapses (most recently Lehman Brothers and Merrill Lynch) but Wall Street seems to be understanding what the economists have been warning: each day spent under Bush-McCain style economics is one day closer to a total collapse of the American economy. It’s doubtful that anyone but McCain, Bush et al will find Alan Greenspan and Phil Gramm on an A-list of economic advisers anytime soon.  For his part, Obama claims an impressive list of economic supporters, including widely respected Former Federal Reserve Chairman, Paul Volcker, considered to be one of our greatest central bankers. 

 

Monkeys with Molotovs: The gutter politics of McCain, Palin, Rove & Co.

with 3 comments

 

The monkeys are at it again. Lacking substantive issues on which to wage a presidential campaign, they’ve resorted to lobbing cheap incendiary devices at their opponent, in the hope that one will hit the mark and bring Obama’s candidacy down in flames. Fact is, on the issues, the McCain ticket had already self-destructed before Sarah Palin arrived on the scene. Bereft of anything to offer, other than a shoddily re-packaged version of the fatally flawed Bush Administration, the McCain team has long since lost credibility as an agent of change, maverick or otherwise.

Palin’s addition to the ticket adds nothing, beyond the squallorous baggage of her lie and scandal-ridden Alaska politics, which have perversely served to polarize this country even further from discussing solutions to the calamitous problems we face. Here, the McCain-Palin political team is proving to be a perfect match, uniquely-suited to make a seamless transition from the Bush-Cheney years. Neither McCain nor Palin has enough respect for the merit of their own credentials to run on them, so they’ve instead reinvented and embellished their records, weaving a myth, of sorts, that they are all-American mavericks, set to shake-up Washington politics, even as their campaign — run by Bush-league lobbyists and Karl Rove minions — is exactly what has so infected Washington politics over the past 8 years. Neither candidate has enough respect for their self-described maverick credentials, because neither can prove that they are any different from the same-old, same-old reckless cowboys, not mavericks, that have been running this country for the past 8 years.

 McCain’s voting record, particularly over the past 4 years, has been lockstep with Bush-Cheney. His spell as a maverick with the Bush Administration happened only briefly, after the 2000 election, when a bruised McCain was so angry at Bush, he considered switching parties as payback. Despite that his maverick record doesn’t even exist, he runs on the claim, bolstering it with self-serving reminders of his military service, which he delivers in the countless wrenching retellings of his POW experiences — stories which, in the minds of many fellow vets, play more like shameless pandering, as John McCain’s own voting record on veteran issues is no less than deplorable. Palin, for her part, brings to the ticket a thin career in Alaska politics, riddled with lies, cronyism and scandal.

Neither Palin nor McCain have shown that they own the scruples or vision to think outside of their narrow worldviews long enough to consider that they are running for high office in a country that has been left bleeding, in shambles, from the collateral damage of the past 8 years under the Bush-Cheney Administration. Neither candidate has bothered to take notice that the last thing this bleeding country needs is more blood. Yet, the two candidates are nothing, if not shrewd. They both know that — when it comes to influencing people — if you scare the hell out of them, you can bring them, lockstep, into your camp, so long as you promise to protect them. Bush, Cheney, Rove & Co. were masters at this tactic.

 

Sad thing is — and despite that this tactic is cheap, ugly and transparent to many Americans — this tactic really, truly works on a large number of voters. And the beauty of it is that, the dirtier the tactics, the better the trap they lay for their opponent. We’ve seen this over the past 12 days, as the McCain camp’s dirty bombs have escalated, leaving Obama but two choices: respond in kind, or take the high road, adhering to the strength of his issues and the authenticity of his campaign. Translated, in Rovesque terms, this means that Obama has a choice between appearing either weak or tough on terror. And, make no mistake, the McCain-Palin tactics more closely resemble terrorist tactics than the strategy of respectable, statured politicians trying to win an election. (To see an example of the latter, you’d have to study the example of the Obama campaign over the past 18 months). The only hope for the McCain-Palin team is that they can lure Obama into an even bigger trap, in which dirty does battle with dirty. And, as anyone in Washington can tell you, there’s no one can trump Rove when it comes to dirty politics.

Excerpt from an interview with McCain on Karl Rove tactics:
QUESTION: His tactics don’t, you don’t disapprove of them? They don’t make you nervous?

MCCAIN: It’s not so much whether I approve of his tactics or not. It’s that he has a very good, great political mind. Any information or advice and council he can give us, I’d be glad to have. I don’t think anybody denies his talents. So I’d be glad to get any advice and council. We would obviously decide whether to accept it or not.

 

McCain and Palin have shown their adeptness at playing gutter politics, with no lie, no slander, no blow too low or too outrageous, so long it serves to discredit their opponent or scare the American people. After all, their team includes Karl Roves brightest protege, a man named Steve Schmidt, a master of gutter politics. McCain and Palin have also shown that they are adept at waging a petty, senseless, pre-emptive gutter war — a war waged for the sole benefit of their campaign agenda, at the expense of everyday Americans who are facing calamitous changes in their lives.  Will these same Americans take the bait, as they’ve done for the past 8 years? Are Americans still so blinded by swaggering bravado, that they see strength in a leader throwing gasoline on a fire? Will they again choose the monkeys with Molotovs, or will they choose the candidate who’s fighting like hell to wage a campaign that offers tangible solutions to the very real and tangible problems we face as Americans? Only time will tell.

 

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by Mantis Katz, for the canarypapers

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For more reading:

New York Magazine: The Low Road Warrior – Many of McCain’s advisers from 2000, such as John Weaver and Mike Murphy, express qualms about the campaign’s newly nasty tone. (One can only imagine the sigh of relief emanating from Mark McKinnon, the heralded adman who helped McCain win the nomination but whose aversion to taking a cleaver to Obama caused him to sit out the general.)

Huffington Post: While Rome Burned… They Talked About Lipstick

Huffington Post: Bob Cesca: Fooled Again