Why a New Jersey Puffer Fish Should Not Be President on Creators.com


via Why a New Jersey Puffer Fish Should Not Be President on Creators.com.

by Jim Hightower

When Mitt Romney’s campaign was investigating potential choices to be his 2012 running mate, they gave each prospect a fish-themed code name, such as Lake Fish, Filet-O-Fish, etc. Their name for New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, a tireless self-promoter known for his bloated ego, was Puffer Fish.

The Romneyites determined that the prima donna governor was wholly unqualified to be America’s vice president, but the rejection didn’t deflate Christie’s puffed-up self-esteem one dot, and he has continued to brag, bluster and bully his way into national politics. Having convinced at least himself that he’s the can-do, big-idea, forceful leader America needs, the Jersey guv is now offering to be our president and has become No. 14 on the Republican presidential dance card! How exciting is that?

Before accepting, however, you might check with one group of voters who are less than enchanted: the people of New Jersey. With a moribund economy, a state budget mess, a growing pension crisis, the state infrastructure crumbling and his own office caught in a web of scandals, Christie is not faring well with the homefolk, earning a sorry 30 percent approval rating, with most voters saying they dislike “everything about him.”

Nationwide, only Donnie Trump is rated lower than Christie by Republican primary voters. But he has found one friend — Maine Gov. Paul LePage has enthusiastically endorsed him! Problem is, LePage is even more insufferable and insolent than Christie, so arrogant and autocratic that he’s even alienated fellow Republicans in Maine and is now threatened with impeachment.

Still, if anything, the Puffer Fish’s ego is puffier than ever. Asked on Fox News why 65 percent of New Jersey voters say he’d make a poor president and shouldn’t run, the vainglorious governor actually said: “They want me to stay.

Don’t leave to run for president, because we want you to stay.”

It’s one thing for a politician to say that, but — far scarier — Christie is so out of touch with reality that he actually believes it!

The Big Man from New Jersey entered the race with all the chutzpah and hullaballoo that marked his five and a half years as governor of the Garden State, promising to be a truth-telling leader: “There is one thing you will know for sure,” he roared in his announcement speech. “I say what I mean and mean what I say.”

Swell, Chris… but when your campaign slogan is “Telling It Like It Is,” it would help if you were not infamous in your home state as a stunningly audacious, inveterate liar. Even the editor of Jersey’s largest newspaper felt a journalistic duty to warn America about Christie. “Don’t believe a word the man says,” the editor wrote, pointing not to a few fibs and fabrications, but a lengthy “catalog” of “over-the-top, hair-raising type of lies,” including these gems:

—Having assured public employees that their pensions were “sacred” to him, Christie then made cutting their pensions the centerpiece of his first term in office.

—This June, he bragged on national TV that a court had approved those pension cuts — but the court actually ruled them unconstitutional.

—At a recent South Carolina gun rights meeting, Christie crowed that “no new (gun laws) have been made since I’ve been governor,” when in fact he has enacted three gun-control measures.

—After he and his family racked up a $30,000 hotel bill during a luxurious weekend getaway at a Jordanian resort, paid for by the King of Jordan, Christie claimed the junket was not a violation of the state gift ban, for he and the king were personal friends — but he’d only met the king once at a political dinner.

Beware of Christie the compulsive liar. As the newspaper editor bluntly put it: “He’s a creep.”

To find out more about Jim Hightower, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Web page at www.creators.com..

 

What Moved Marriage Equality from Taboo to Justice? on Creators.com


via What Moved Marriage Equality from Taboo to Justice? on Creators.com.

by Jim Hightower

From 1956 until 2010, CBS television’s daytime lineup included America’s longest-running soap opera: “As the World Turns.” But times change, and now a real-life human drama of profound importance has debuted in America: “As the Generations Turn.”

It’s the inspiring story of our society’s continuing struggle to evolve toward dignity and mutual respect … as well as love. The moment came on June 26, 2015, when Justice Anthony Kennedy proclaimed from the ornate chamber of the Supreme Court: “The right to marry is a fundamental right inherent in the liberty of the person, and under the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the 14th Amendment couples of the same sex may not be deprived of that right and that liberty.”

Kennedy and Justices Breyer, Ginsburg, Kagan and Sotomayor voted to make this higher level of inclusiveness the law of the land, but they are not the producers of it. Indeed, while the court’s ruling debuts a new day, it is the culmination of generations of painful struggle by brave gay and lesbian activists and advocates. And it is particularly the product of a defiant and determined LGBTQ movement for equality that arose from the brutal police riot at the Stonewall Inn in New York on June 28, 1969.

This democratic evolution from rank inequality literally came out of America’s closet, rising through only a few neighborhoods at first, but then entering the consciousness of today’s youth. Rejecting the shibboleths, ignorance, fears and bigotry that previously permitted such intolerable discrimination, young people have, in a remarkably short amount of time, created a generational shift in the nation’s consciousness.

The true Supremes are the people themselves, and it’s their awakening enlightenment that has transformed marriage equality from taboo to simple justice.

It is unfortunately true, however, that not everyone has evolved on the issue of equality in our Land of the Free.

The Supreme Court’s ruling that states can no longer ban same-sex marriage has set off a cacophony of howling hyperbole by the GOP’s far-out presidential wannabes.

“I will not acquiesce to an imperial court,” blustered Fox News political huckster Mike Huckabee. “Resist and reject judicial tyranny,” he bellowed. Huck even couched his cry for continued discrimination against gay people by likening it to Abe Lincoln’s principled refusal to honor the court’s 1857 ruling that African-Americans could not be citizens. Sure, Mike, you’re a modern-day Lincoln — except that he was opposing discrimination, while you’re demanding that government enforce it!

Then came the wild hair of the GOP’s presidential menagerie, Donnie Trump, trumpeting his keen insight that the court’s gay marriage decision is Jeb Bush’s fault. Really. The Donald explained that Jeb’s brother George appointed Chief Justice John Roberts to the court, so … there you have it. Shhhh — let’s not spoil Trump’s hallucination by telling him that Roberts actually voted against letting gays marry.

Now on to Scott Walker, widely touted by the GOP’s billionaires as the “serious” contender. Yet, he is seriously pushing a constitutional amendment to allow states to keep prohibiting same-sex marriages. “No one wants to live in a country where the government coerces people to act in opposition to their conscience,” said Walker, apparently oblivious to the fact that state governments have long been coercing LGBTQ people to do exactly that. And now Walker is promising, if elected, to coerce them right back into a life of unconscionable injustice.

Every one of the 13 Republican presidential candidates is marching backward into the bigoted past, piously thumbing their noses not only at millions of gays and lesbians and their families, but also at the ever-growing majority of Americans — especially young people — who support marriage equality.

To find out more about Jim Hightower, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate web page at www.creators.com.

 

‘The Donald Show’ on Creators.com


via ‘The Donald Show’ on Creators.com.

by Jim Hightower

Oh, joy! Oh, goody! Oh, happy day! For those of us who love the loopy side of American politics, our dream of some serious loco for 2016 has arrived: Donnie Trump in the race! For president. Of the United States. No, really!

“Wow,” exclaimed a beaming Donald Trump as he stepped onstage, basking in the cheers of a throng that had assembled for his launch into the 2016 presidential race. “That is some group of people,” he gushed. “Thousands.”

He announced his candidacy from — where else? — Trump Tower, the luxury skyscraper on tony Fifth Avenue in Manhattan. The celebrity billionaire, who has splashed the Trump brand on casinos, hotels, resorts, condos, neckties and even steaks, now wants to put it on the Republican Party. Indeed, The Donald declared that he should be our president because, “We need somebody that can take the brand of the United States and make it great again.” There you go — the U.S. is a brand, like a Big Mac, the Nike swoosh or Vidal Sassoon hair spray.

As for qualifications, Trump brandished his wealth, exclaiming that only someone “really rich” has what it takes to be America’s CEO. This view that one’s net worth is the measure of one’s worthiness squares with an earlier self-assessment by Donnie: “Let me tell you, I’m a really smart guy.”

Of course, smart is as smart does, so what does Mr. Smarty-pants propose to do as president? He claims he has “a foolproof way of winning the war with ISIS,” the barbaric terrorists marauding through Syria, Iraq and elsewhere. Excellent! What is his plan? It’s a secret, he says, “I don’t want the enemy to know what I’m doing.”

The announcement was a showbiz extravaganza. Literally. The crowd was there to cheer the self-promoting hypester who wants to be president — but not necessarily to support him.

That’s because some of these over-the-top enthusiasts were actors! Yes, hired at $50 a pop to do a three-hour performance as Donnie’s “crowd.” An outfit named Extra Mile Casting had been retained to puff-up the audience: “We are looking to cast people for the event to wear T-shirts and carry signs and help cheer him,” said Extra Mile in an email to its list of actors who work as extras in films, TV shows, ads, etc. When The Donald Show was done, the actors were seen dumping their signs in the trash and going on to their next show-biz gig.

For his part, Trump gave a rambling, bumbling, almost-incoherent 40-minute rant. Citing his chief qualification for the highest office in the land, he said: “I’m really rich. …And by the way, I’m not even saying that to brag. …That’s the kind of thinking you need for this country.” And his immigration policy is simply, well, simplistic. He “would build a great wall” on the Mexican border to stop all the rapists and other criminals who, he claims, are streaming into the U.S. in droves. “And nobody builds walls better than me, believe me.” Wow, apparently he’s going to build the wall himself! Then he added a jingoistic gringosim to this Good Neighbor policy, declaring, “And I’ll have Mexico pay for that wall.”

And what’s his economic policy, you ask? It’s a whopper: “I will be the greatest jobs president God ever created,” he bellowed.

No, no, Donnie — don’t even try to blame God for creating you or your nuttiness. You truly are a self-made man, spawned from the fumes of your own gaseous ego. Yet you’re a godsend for people seeking comic relief in politics.

Such goofiness explains why Trump is starting his run for the White House with some 70 percent of voters (including more than half of Republicans) viewing him UNfavorably. But, as a brand-name celebrity, The Donald will qualify to be in the GOP’s presidential debates — so let the lunacy begin!

To find out more about Jim Hightower, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Web page at www.creators.com.

Big Food and Hotel Giants Trying to Peddle Plastic ‘Authenticity’ on Creators.com


via Big Food and Hotel Giants Trying to Peddle Plastic ‘Authenticity’ on Creators.com.

by Jim Hightower

Near my home in Austin, Texas, there is a great, old refurbished motel that I recommend to people when they come to visit our fair city. It not only is right on the famed Congress Avenue but also has a keep-it-real attitude that is expressed right on its iconic marquee: “No additives, no preservatives, corporate-free since 1938.”

The good news is that more and more businesses across the country are adopting this attitude, providing a buy-local, un-corporate, anti-chain alternative for customers. Food shoppers and restaurant goers, for example, have made a huge shift in recent years away from the likes of McDonald’s, Pepsi and Taco Bell, preferring upstart, independent outfits with names like “The Corner,” “Caleb’s Kola,” and “US Taco Co.”

But uh-oh, guess who owns those little local alternatives. Right — McDonald’s, PepsiCo and Taco Bell. Leave it to ethically challenged, profiteering monopolists to grab such value-laden terms as “genuine,” “local” and “honest,” empty them of any authenticity, then hurl them back at consumers as shamefully deceptive marketing scams.

In Huntington Beach, California, US Taco Co. poses as a hip surfer haunt, with a colorful “Day of the Dead” Mexican skull as its logo. The airy place peddles lobster tacos and other fare at $3 or $4 each — very un-fast-foody. Nowhere is it whispered that this is a big-chain outlet, created by a group of Taco Bell insiders. They even usurped the enterprising word “entrepreneur,” stripped it of its outsider connotation, and twisted it into an ugly corporate vanity, calling themselves “intrapreneurs.”

Fast-food restaurants are not the only ones that play this profitable imitation game. As everyone who travels a lot soon learns, when you stay in the hotels of the big chains, it’s easy to forget where you are, since they are all so alike, offering all the charm of Noplace, USA.

This disorienting sameness has become even more dizzying in recent years as the chains have merged and conglomerated.

Weary travelers might choose to stay overnight in one of the Residence Inn hotels, a Courtyard, the TownePlace Suites or even splurge for a night in a ritzy Ritz-Carlton. In fact, though, whichever one you choose, you’re in a Marriott — the $14 billion-a-year combine that owns all of the above chains, along with 15 others. Marriott is among the world’s 10 largest hoteliers that have a combined 113 different chains in their crowded stable of brand names.

Naturally, as uniformity and conglomeration have taken over the industry, a consumer rebellion has erupted, with more and more travelers — especially younger ones — seeking out independent hotels, unique inns and local B&Bs. They prefer the un-corporate places that have cool names like the Moxy, Canopy and Vib. But oh, crud, guess what. All three of those are chains of “hip” hotels that opened in the past year and are owned respectively by Marriott, Hilton and Best Western.

Known in the industry as “lifestyle hotels,” these fake-independent lodgings are the hot new niche for mega-conglomerates trying to nab travelers in search of authenticity. “The big hotel chains are in the business of pretending they aren’t big chains,” says Pauline Frommer, editor of the well-regarded Frommer’s travel guides. “They want you to think they are boutiques.”

Sneaky, sneaky! But the real problem with these fabricators of corporatized authenticity is that reality will win out in the end. Small and local has a genuine feel and flavor that the imitators can’t sustain as they sprawl out into 1,000 and then 10,000 stores. And as they do that, it becomes obvious to customers that they’ve been duped — and that’s not a good marketing strategy. We dupes will not only quickly see that we’re being sold plastic “authenticity” but also be ticked off about it.

To find out more about Jim Hightower and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.

The real scandal in Denny Hastert’s life on Creators.com


via The real scandal in Denny Hastert’s life on Creators.com.

by Jim Hightower

Washington’s establishment of politicos, lobbyists and media sparklies are shocked — shocked to their very core! — by the scandalous sexual revelations about Dennis Hastert.

The portly Republican, who’d been Speaker of the House a decade ago, was an affable, non-descript Midwesterner who was popular with his fellow lawmakers. A former high school wrestling coach in rural Illinois, Hastert was viewed as a solid salt-of-the-Earth fellow embodying Middle America’s moral values. So his recent indictment for paying $1.7 million in hush money to a man he apparently molested during his coaching years has rocked our Capitol City.

“I’m shocked and saddened,” said the current GOP Speaker, John Boehner. Likewise, former colleagues from both sides of the aisle were dismayed that “our Denny” would have been engaged in child molestation and now caught in an illegal financial cover-up of that abomination. “This has really come out of nowhere,” exclaimed Rep. Peter King, a longtime ally of the man whom all of Washington considered a straight arrow.

Washington’s gossip mill is spinning furiously over last week’s revelations. Before we join these officials in wailing about Dennis Hastert’s alleged long-hidden molestation, however, let me note that while they are bewildered by his sexual impropriety, they find it not worthy of mention — much less condemnation — that Denny has long been immersed in the immoral swamp of Washington’s game of money politics. The guy they profess to love as a paragon of civic virtue — “the coach,” as Rep. King hailed him — was one of the most corrupt speakers ever. What about the filthy, backroom affair he has been openly conducting with corporate lobbyists for nearly two decades?

During his tenure as House speaker, Hastert turned the place into the Willy Wonka Chocolate Factory of corporate favors. By putting campaign cash into Republican re-election coffers controlled by him and his top hit man, Majority Leader Tom DeLay, corporate interests gained entry into Denny’s psychedelic playhouse.

With Hastert himself singing “Candy Man,” the favor seekers could help themselves to the river of chocolate running through Congress’ back rooms.

Remember “earmarks,” the sneaky tactic of letting congressional leaders secretly funnel appropriations to favored corporations and projects? Earmarks became the trademark of Hastert’s regime, sticking taxpayers with the tab for such outrages as Alaska’s “Bridge to Nowhere.” Indeed, Denny grabbed a $200 million earmark for himself, funding an Illinois highway near land he owned — land he then sold, netting millions in personal profit.

When he left Congress, Hastert moved just a short limo ride away to become — what else? — a corporate lobbyist. Trading on his former title, personal ties to House members and knowledge of how the chocolate factory runs, he has been hauling in a fortune as a high-dollar influence peddler for makers of candy-flavored cigarettes, Peabody Coal Company, land developers and other giants. And guess what his specialty is? Getting “riders” attached to appropriations bills, so public money is channeled directly to his clients.

Hastert openly traded legislative favors for campaign cash, including profiting personally from his powerful position. And, when he was squeezed out because of the corruption, he didn’t return to the home folks — he became a K-Street lobbyist, continuing to profit to this day by doing corporate favors. That’s how he got so rich he was able to shell out $1.7 million in hush money to the student he abused.

Good ol’ Denny has always thought he was above the law. Just as Hastert should be held accountable for the deep personal damage his alleged molestation would’ve done to his former student, so should he also pay for his abominably-indecent abuse of office, his self-gratifying groping of public funds and his repeated, sticky-fingered violations of the American people’s public trust.

To find out more about Jim Hightower, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate web page at http://www.creators.com.

A Letter Carrier’s Special Delivery to Congress on Creators.com


via A Letter Carrier’s Special Delivery to Congress on Creators.com.

by Jim Hightower

Neither rain nor sleet nor snow — nor even the likelihood that he’d be killed en route — could stop this letter carrier from making his appointed rounds.

Doug Hughes is one gutsy and creative mailman. In April, this rural letter carrier from Florida stunned the Secret Service, eluded federal aviation authorities, embarrassed Washington’s haughty all-seeing security hierarchy and threw members of Congress into a chaotic panic. Hughes did all this by boldly flying his tiny, homemade, gyrocopter right through the heart of our nation’s most restricted airspace, then landing it on the front lawn of the U.S. Capitol.

Far from a terrorist or a kook, Hughes was just a mailman on a mission, a patriotic citizen who — like most of us — is disgusted that Big Money interests are able to openly buy lawmakers and laws. But he did more than write a letter to his congress critter — he wrote letters to all 535 of them, loaded the missives in his mailbag and — as postal workers do — literally went the extra mile to make a “very special delivery” in his gyrocopter.

This was no flight of fancy. Doug planned his mail delivery for months, and he was fully aware that he might crash, be killed by a scramble of military jets or be gunned down by guards when he landed. Nor was it a sneak attack — he repeatedly posted his intentions in blogs; a reporter was covering his preparations; and the Secret Service had investigated and interviewed him about his plans more than a year earlier.

His landing jolted the Capitol into lockdown. Guards rushed out to arrest Doug and haul him off to some deep cellblock; a bomb squad arrived; and spooked lawmakers were scared silly. They ran around screeching that they were threatened by terrorists. Of course, the real threat to America is not some guy flying a gyrocopter in protest but the utter corruption of Congress, the courts and democracy itself by the plutocratic elites whom this mailman targeted with nothing more (nor less) dangerous than a bagful of truth-telling letters.

Actually, Hughes was not alone on this heroic mission of civil disobedience — the great majority of Americans are totally on board with him, his message and his bold effort to shake up and shape up Congress.

It’s not surprising that when the activist mailman delivered his powerful message to Congress he drew saturation coverage from the mass media.

Not coverage of his message, mind you, but a ridiculous spasm of media scaremongering over the non-existent terrorist threat that our self-absorbed members of Congress say his visit posed to them.

While Hughes carried no weapons of terrorism on his flight, the message he brought to Washington is politically explosive. So, congressional leaders, who’re always terrified about anything that might ignite public outrage over their pay-to-play corruption, quickly rushed to divert attention from the message — to the messenger.

Shazam! In an instant, the politicos fabricated a sob story about themselves, recasting their role from for-sale villains to pitiable victims. We’re threatened by a security network so porous, they squealed, that this dangerous terrorist can easily fly right up to the Capitol building. They convened emergency hearings, went on talk shows and imperiously demanded that they be made safe from such a horrific threat. And the media meekly bought into the whole hubbub, entirely losing sight of the damning message that the mailman was carrying.

Hughes did not commit and act of terror; it was an act of civil disobedience. His flight was a thoughtful, well-planned, non-violent stand against the tyranny of money, undertaken in the spirit of Henry David Thoreau and Martin Luther King, Jr. Hughes is standing up for We the People, and like freedom fighters before him, he’s full-aware of and prepared to pay the price of civic defiance. On May 20, a federal grand jury indicted this messenger of democracy on a mess of charges that could add up to more than nine years in prison. Far from backing away, however, he’s now calling out you and me: “We spend billions protecting the United States from terrorists,” Hughes recently wrote. “It’s time for Americans to spend time protecting democracy from plutocrats.”

One time when Thoreau was in jail for his defiance of authority, his friend Ralph Waldo Emerson happened by and asked: “Henry, why are you here?” Thoreau retorted: “Why are you not here?” To help save our democracy from plutocracy, go to www.DemocracyIsForPeople.org.

To find out more about Jim Hightower, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate web page at www.creators.com.

Obama’s Ugly Show of Presidential Petulance on Creators.com


via Obama’s Ugly Show of Presidential Petulance on Creators.com.

by Jim Hightower

When the going got tough, Barack got in a huff, and then he got gruff.

President Obama has worked himself into such a tizzy over the TPP that he’s lashing out at his progressive friends in Congress. He’s mad because they refuse to be stereotypical lemmings, following him over this political cliff called the Trans-Pacific Partnership. It masquerades as a “free trade agreement,” but such savvy and feisty progressive senators as Sherrod Brown, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren have ripped off the mask, revealing that TPP is not free, not about trade and not anything that the American people would ever agree to.

It is a stealth power grab, written in top-secret negotiations by and for multinational corporations from the U.S. and 11 other nations. This raw deal effectively empowers these profiteering corporate giants to overrule actions by the governments of any of these countries — including ours — that protect consumers, workers, the environment and other interests from corporate abuse.

This gift to the Trans-Pacific Titans is going to expand the rules of trade deals of the past such as NAFTA, WTO and Korea FTA. A few examples of what we have to look forward to with this turd of a deal the president is trying to polish and force onto the American people are: more off-shoring of American jobs, which in turn leads to greater income inequality; higher costs for lifesaving and sustaining medicines; our environmental protections will be under threat of corporate attack; food and product safety regulations will be undermined; net neutrality will once again be challenged; Wall Street reform will be nothing but a memory; and say so long to Buy American initiatives.

Why an American president — especially a Democrat — would embrace this private usurpation of our people’s sovereignty is a mystery, but the great majority of congressional Democrats are not going along. So he’s been publicly scolding them (as though they’re disobedient children), huffily whining that they’re playing politics, “whupping on me” and making up “stuff” about how this deal allows corporations to challenge and even change American laws.

Yet, rather than offer any evidence that they’re making up stuff, Obama gruffly made up stuff about them.

By opposing the TPP, he prevaricated in a recent speech, the Democrats are anti-trade and want to “pull up the drawbridge and build a moat around ourselves.”

The president is on such thin ice with this ponderous giveaway to global corporate giants that his appeals for support have turned desperate, including this recent claim that TPP “is the most progressive trade deal in history.”

Wow, that’s a low bar! Does he mean more progressive than the thoroughly regressive NAFTA? Or maybe he’s comparing TPP to King George III’s East India Trading Company, which was such a bully that it sparked the American Revolution.

Indeed, Obama is doing some bullying of his own. He’s pushing the lie that such Democrats as Warren are lying when they point out that TPP would let foreign corporations sue the USA in corporate-run international tribunals to force our officials to weaken or kill laws that might pinch a corporation’s profits. “There is no chance, zero chance” of that happening, the president barked.

But, as he knows, it already has happened!

In April, under another trade agreement, his own administration was directed by a WTO tribunal to change — and essentially gut — a U.S. food-labeling law that dramatically reduced the killing of dolphins by commercial tuna-fishing fleets. Responding to public outrage over the mass slaughtering of the mammals, our Congress passed an effective dolphin-free law. But some tuna operations in Mexico complained that using dolphin-free nets hurt their profits, and the WTO ordered our sovereign nation to surrender our law to the dolphin-killing Mexican profiteers.

And just this past Monday, the WTO ordered the USofA to change its country-of-origin labeling laws, effectively saying our consumers do not have a right to know where the meat they eat is coming from.

By claiming that “no trade agreement is going to force us to change our laws,” Obama is either lying, or he doesn’t know what’s in his own agreement.

What a pathetic show of presidential petulance! It’s time for Obama to question himself — not his friends.

An Epidemic of CNE Syndrome Strikes Our State Governments on Creators.com


via An Epidemic of CNE Syndrome Strikes Our State Governments on Creators.com.

by Jim Hightower

It’s well-known that harsh climate conditions can mess with your mind — from cabin fever to heat delirium. But America is now experiencing an even more dangerous mind-numbing disease called Climaticus Non-vocalism Extremism.

Oddly, CNE Syndrome almost exclusively afflicts a narrow segment of our population: Republican political officials and candidates. Scientific studies suggest that CNE Syndrome might stem from a genetic defect, but scientists say more research is needed on that.

The symptoms, however, are uniform and include an obsessive impulse by GOP politicos to deny that human-caused climate change is happening. It’s often accompanied by a feverish insistence that government employees be banned from studying it, discussing it or even uttering such phrases as “climate change” and “global warming.”

Hard to believe? For an example of the mind-altering impact of Climaticus Non-vocalism Extremism, look at Gov. Scott Walker’s Wisconsin administration. The Koch-funded governor and Republican presidential wannabe is an ardent climate-change denier — but the state’s public lands board has escalated his denial to Orwellian censorship. The two GOP commissioners on the three-member board, which oversees the ecological health of thousands of acres of Wisconsin forestlands, have banned agency employees from even considering damage caused by climate change. Worse, they have such severe cases of CNE Syndrome that they’ve imposed a gag order on freedom of speech by public lands employees, prohibiting them from even talking about climate change while on the job.

The heartbreak of CNE is that its victims even deny that they’re in denial about the disease. Thus, the Wisconsin duo say that their no-speech rule is not censorship, because employees are still free to talk about climate change at home — or even chit-chat about it “by the water cooler,” just as they might talk about sports.

Gov. Walker — who wants to be your president — says that he finds that censorship perfectly reasonable.

But it’s not just Wisconsin that has imposed such ridiculous levels of science-denial and censorship. This begs the question: If a state government issues a right-wing political order, but it’s not written down, does it make a sound? Let’s ask Florida.

Bart Bibler, a respected employee of Florida’s Department of Environmental Protection, says you betcha it makes a sound — even though the order directed at state employees like him was meant to enforce the sound of silence. Since Rick Scott became governor of the Sunshine State, various agencies run by his appointees have issued 1984-style newspeak decrees that “climate change,” “global warming,” “sustainability” and other terms related to Earth’s looming climate disaster are verboten.

Unaware of this censorship edict, Bibler innocently blurted out the phrase “climate change” in a February teleconference. To his amazement, his breach of ideological correctness earned him an official letter of reprimand, a two-day suspension without pay, and — get this — an order to undergo a doctor’s evaluation to verify his mental “fitness for duty.”

When outrage over this blunt attempt to banish the idea of climate change spread across the country, the governor and his appointees doubled-down on Orwellian denial: “It’s not true,” said the slippery Scott, insisting that no such gag policy exists. By “exist,” though, he means his dictate is not written down. As many employees have confirmed, however, state officials verbally impose their policy of outlawing the language of climate change. The official taboo is so extreme that even a phrase as benign and factual as “sea-level rise” is banned. Instead, Scott’s team has mandated that this measurable (and alarming) reality be referred to as “nuisance flooding.”

It’s their mental fitness that needs to be evaluated! Trying to ban words only amplifies their sound, meaning and impact — while also exposing how pathetically scared and stupid the censors are.

To find out more about Jim Hightower, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Webpage at www.creators.com.

ISDS A Corporate Cluster Bomb to Obliterate our People’s Sovereignty on Creators.com


via ISDS A Corporate Cluster Bomb to Obliterate our People’s Sovereignty on Creators.com.

by Jim Hightower

The Powers That Be are very unhappy with you and me. They’re also very unhappy with senators like Elizabeth Warren, activist groups like Public Citizen, unions like the Communications Workers of America and … well, with the majority of us Americans who oppose the establishment’s latest free-trade scam.

Despite its benign name, the Trans-Pacific Partnership is a cluster bomb of legalized “gotchas” that won’t bode well for the vast majority of Americans and for our small businesses. TPP empowers global corporations from Brunei, Japan, Singapore, Vietnam and seven other nations to circumvent and even overturn our local, state and national laws. Those moneyed elites are upset that rabble like us oppose their latest effort to enthrone corporate power over citizen power, and they’re particularly peeved that we’ve found TPP’s trigger mechanism — something called “Investor-State Dispute Settlements.”

That’s a mouthful of wonky gobbledygook, isn’t it? Indeed, ISDS is an intentionally arcane phrase meant to hide its democracy-destroying impact from us. It would create a system of private, international tribunals through which corporations (i.e., “investors”) could sue our sovereign governments to overturn laws that might trim the level of corporate profits that — get this — they “expected” to make.

These tribunals are not part of our public courts of justice but are totally privatized, inherently biased corporate “courts” set up by the UN and the World Bank. A tribunal’s “judges” are corporate lawyers, and they unilaterally decide whether the protections we’ve enacted for workers, consumers, our environment, etc. might pinch the profits of some foreign corporation.

This mess all started when the Dr. Frankensteins on our Supreme Court created a monster by declaring that a lifeless, soulless corporation is a “person.” But the corporate giants thought, “Why stop there?” So now, another coterie of Frankensteins is trying to transform multinational private corporations into “nations.” The secretly engineered Trans-Pacific Partnership magically endows private profiteering corporations with sovereign rights equal to those of real nation-states.

Under TPP, a “corporate nation” — unlike individual citizens of real nations — could directly compel the U.S. or other countries to alter their laws in order to increase corporate profits. Of course, the Frankensteins dismiss such concerns as an “irrational fear,” claiming that no corporation would actually be able to force a country to change its laws.

To give you a look of what this is going to look like, let’s take a peek at what other corporate-written trade deals have done to the laws written in the USofA.

Remember that these Frankensteins say that no corporation outside our country can change our laws. Really? Well, just ask “Flipper” the dolphin. While not yet able to confront a nation directly, corporations can get their home governments to sue in the World Trade Organization to overrule another nation’s laws. That’s what happened to our “dolphin-safe” tuna labeling law. Most Americans oppose tuna fishing with nets that also catch and kill the loveable Flipper, so we have a law encouraging dolphin-free fishing methods. Tuna packers that comply can put “dolphin-safe” on their labels, thus giving consumers a marketplace choice. Free-enterprise at work!

But some Mexican fishing companies got their government to complain that our label discriminates against their dolphin-slaughtering methods — and a World Trade Organization “compliance” panel ruled that our label is a “technical barrier to trade,” essentially overruling a law that We the People enacted.

And now, if the Trans-Pacific Partnership is approved, foreign corporations won’t have to get their national governments to intervene, for they will become governments. Jefferson, Madison, Adams and the other revolutionaries of 1776 would upchuck at this desecration of our nation’s democratic ideals — and so should we. For the lowdown on this and to join today’s rebellion against the aristocracy of corporate elites, go to www.citizen.org/trade/.

To find out more about Jim Hightower, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Webpage at www.creators.com.

“Dr. Evil” Turns out to Be “Dr. Silly” on Creators.com


via “Dr. Evil” Turns out to Be “Dr. Silly” on Creators.com.

by Jim Hightower

Big Oil, labor exploiters, industrial food factories, frackers and other corporate profiteers have been paying a lot of money to a man that celebrates himself “Dr. Evil” — the scourge of all progressive groups!

But Rick Berman is not a doctor, not evil and not a scourge. While he is a wholly unprincipled little man, he’s just a self-serving huckster who grubs for corporate dollars by offering to do their dirty PR work. His specialty is taking secret funding from major corporations to publicly slime environmentalists, low-wage workers and anyone else perceived by his corporate clients as enemies.

Berman’s modus operandi is not exactly sophisticated. Taking money from the likes of Phillip-Morris, Monsanto and Tyson Foods, he sets up tax-exempt front groups (with non-descript names like Center for Consumer Freedom, Employment Policies Institute and Environmental Policy Alliance), posing them as independent research and academic outfits. Each one is an empty shell, run by his small staff of political hacks out of his Washington, D.C., office, and, using the names of the front groups, Berman and Co. buy full-page newspaper ads and write opinion pieces filled with made-up facts and manufactured horror stories for clueless media outlets that amount to raw hatchet attacks on whatever progressive groups or public policies the corporate funders want to kill.

His mad dog style is hardly worrisome to those targeted, for rather than drawing converts to the corporate funder’s cause, it merely rallies the usual anti-labor, anti-enviro, anti-“fill in the blank” crowd. But it still appeals to brand-name corporate clients, for Berman promises to spew their message into the media without having any of the nastiness stick to them. “We run all this stuff through nonprofit organizations that are insulated from having to disclose donors,” he assured energy executives last year.

“There is total anonymity,” he bragged. “People don’t know who supports us.”

And can you even imagine a political PR campaign against environmentalists that was so negative, so ridiculously slanted and downright dirty, that it actually repulsed executives of some of America’s biggest fracking corporations?

Wow — it’s got to take a big wad of ugly to gag a fracker! But in the gross world of political rancor, few cough up hairballs as foul as those produced by Berman. Last year, he was in Colorado Springs, speaking at a meeting of Big Oil frackers about his down and dirty plan to smear and ridicule the grassroots enviros who’ve dared to oppose the fracking of Colorado’s land, water, people and communities. Dubbing the campaign “Big Green Radicals,” the Berman team revealed that their PR firm had dug into the personal lives of Sierra Club board members, looking for tidbits to embarrass them. Gut it up, Berman cried out to the executives, “You can either win ugly or lose pretty.” The Little Generalissimo then urged them to pony up some $3 million for his assault, saying they should “think of this as an endless war,” adding pointedly, “and you have to budget for it.”

Unfortunately for the sleaze peddler, one appalled energy executive recorded his crude pitch and leaked it to the media. “That you have to play dirty to win,” the executive explained, “just left a bad taste in my mouth.” Even Anadarko, an aggressive fracking corporation with 13,000 fracked wells in the Rockies, publicly rejected Berman’s political play, telling the New York Times: “It does not align with our values.”

Berman likes to be called “Dr. Evil,” but he’s so coarse, strident, bombastic and clownish that he’s become known as “Dr. Silly.” And oops, not only is this huckster an ineffectual fake, but big holes in his curtain of anonymity are now revealing some of the corporations hiding behind it and his big funders want no part of that. To take a peek, go to www.BermanExposed.org.

To find out more about Jim Hightower, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Webpage at www.creators.com.