by JACQUELINE MARCUS FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
The powerhouse super PAC contributions to both candidates went down on record as the largest money-ball race in history. Election time is Christmas at Wal-Mart for the corporate networks. You could probably buy a resort home in Hawaii for the cost of three presidential prime time campaign ads.
The question is did all that money influence voters? Let’s just say that corporate money doesn’t have quite the power of persuasion the oligarchs thought it would have. Arguably, the Supreme Court's 2010 is eroding our democracy. Nevertheless, Americans are pretty good at seeing through deceptive political ads such as the blatantly false and sleazy Romney ad that accused President Obama of shipping Jeep Chrysler jobs to China.
This 2012 election proved a few encouraging lessons: that Democrats who are enormously outspent by their Republican opponents can still win elections. So what’s a sold-out industrial Republican to do in light of this revelation? “Independent conservative groups are going to have to come to terms with the fact that they spent more than $700 million -- 70 percent of all of the reported independent spending in the 2012 election -- and walked away with little to show for it.” (Paul Blumenthal, HuffingtonPost.com)
Why do they have little to show for it? As discussed by MSNBC’s political team and acknowledged even at FOXTV, the Republican Party is a shrinking dinosaur party of old white male racists (my words) who are directly clashing with the new voting demographics across America.
Should it surprise anyone except Mitt Romney that they lost? Consider the following issues that cannot be easily dismissed with stacks of dirty money:
1. The Middle Class Economy Factor
2. The Ron Paul Factor (end the wars and defense spending)
3. Corporate tax welfare Factor
4. The Global Warming Factor
5. The Diversity Factor
6. The Women’s Rights Factor
7. The Obama Health Care Factor
First, Americans rejected Romney’s idea of jobs for Americans i.e. third world sweat shop jobs with no unions, no benefits, low wages, no regulations on poor working conditions and policies that would allow industrialists to pollute ad infinitum with impunity.
Second, Americans, including the Ron Paul voters, rejected more unnecessary defense spending for expansion of wars. Thus Romney’s promise to increase defense spending by $two trillion dollars, when the nation’s debt primarily grew out of Bush’s wars, was met with disapproval.
Third, Americans reject corporate welfare tax benefits for millionaires and billionaires at the expense of public social service jobs and programs (veteran benefits, schools, hospitals, post offices, fire and police, infrastructure, college grants, etc) a plan that Romney embraced and behind closed doors expressed with his infamous “47% are victims” remark.
Fourth: Romney underestimated Americans’ genuine fears over global warming. Hurricane Sandy made a mockery of Romney’s RNC speech that “Obama wants to heal the planet and stop rising sea levels.” Campaigning for Big Oil & Coal and threatening to end all green energy progress when we’re facing extreme climate change disasters did more damage to Romney than he could possibly know.
Fifth: Younger generations from a growing diversity of ethnic backgrounds, including the gay community, cannot relate to Romney’s Pleasantville elitist-segregated-golf club-society, if Republicans haven’t noticed. They haven’t. Hence, there is no future for the Republican Party.
Sixth: This is not the 1940s. The issue of contraceptives and abortion rights are “dated”; we’ve won those battles, it’s 2012.
Seventh: Middle-class Americans definitely appreciate affordable options for health care coverage; they don’t want Paul Ryan vouchers to replace their Medicare. In short, they don’t want Obama Care repealed.
You add it all up together and no amount of money can change these basic, common sense concerns. Furthermore, contrast the rich diversity of individuals at the Obama camp with the pale faced suits at the Romney camp and you’ll get the picture of a shrinking, aging Republican Party that’s out of touch with reality, “…nothing’s gonna change my world…” could be their theme song.
As for a farewell song to Mitt Romney, perhaps “The fool on the hill…” would be an appropriate selection. Arrogant right up to the end, blinded by ambitious greed, Romney was his own worst enemy.
Day after day,
Alone on a hill,
The man with the foolish grin is keeping perfectly still
But nobody wants to know him,
They can see that he's just a fool,
And he never gives an answer,
But the fool on the hill,
Sees the sun going down,
And the eyes in his head,
See the world spinning 'round…
The world's most hated corporation is at it again, this time in Vermont.
Despite overwhelming public support and support from a clear majority of Vermont's Agriculture Committee, Vermont legislators are dragging their feet on a proposed GMO labeling bill. Why? Because Monsanto has threatened to sue the state if the bill passes.
The popular legislative bill requiring mandatory labels on genetically engineered food (H-722) is languishing in the Vermont House Agriculture Committee, with only four weeks left until the legislature adjourns for the year. Despite thousands of emails and calls from constituents who overwhelmingly support mandatory labeling, despite the fact that a majority (6 to 5) of Agriculture Committee members support passage of the measure, Vermont legislators are holding up the labeling bill and refusing to take a vote.
Instead, they're calling for more public hearings on April 12, in the apparent hope that they can run out the clock until the legislative session ends in early May.
What happened to the formerly staunch legislative champions of Vermont's "right to know" bill? They lost their nerve and abandoned their principles after a Monsanto representative recently threatened a public official that the biotech giant would sue Vermont if they dared to pass the bill. Several legislators have rather unconvincingly argued that the Vermont public has a "low appetite" for any bills, even very popular bills like this one, that might end up in court. Others expressed concern about Vermont being the first state to pass a mandatory GMO labeling bill and then having to "go it alone" against Monsanto in court.
What it really comes down to this: Elected officials are abandoning the public interest and public will in the face of corporate intimidation.
Monsanto has used lawsuits or threats of lawsuits for 20 years to force unlabeled genetically engineered foods on the public, and to intimidate farmers into buying their genetically engineered seeds and hormones. When Vermont became the first state in the nation in 1994 to require mandatory labels on milk and dairy products derived from cows injected with the controversial genetically engineered Bovine Growth Hormone, Monsanto's minions sued in Federal Court and won on a judge's decision that dairy corporations have the first amendment "right" to remain silent on whether or not they are injecting their cows with rBGH - even though rBGH has been linked to severe health damage in cows and increased cancer risk for humans, and is banned in much of the industrialized world, including Europe and Canada.
Monsanto wields tremendous influence in Washington, DC and most state capitols. The company's stranglehold over politicians and regulatory officials is what has prompted activists in California to bypass the legislature and collect 850,000 signatures to place a citizens' Initiative on the ballot in November 2012. The 2012 California Right to Know Act will force mandatory labeling of GMOs and to ban the routine practice of labeling GMO-tainted food as "natural."
All of Monsanto's fear mongering and intimidation tactics were blatantly on display in the House Agriculture Committee hearings March 15-16.
During the hearings, the Vermont legislature was deluged with calls, letters, and e-mails urging passage of a GMO labeling bill - more than on any other bill since the fight over Civil Unions in 1999-2000. The legislature heard from pro-labeling witnesses such as Dr. Michael Hansen, an expert on genetic engineering from the Consumers Union, who shredded industry claims that GMOs are safe and that consumers don't need to know if their food is contaminated with them.
On the other side of the fence, Monsanto's lobbyist and Vermont mouthpiece, Margaret Laggis employed inaccurate, unsubstantiated, fear-mongering claims to make Monsanto's case. She warned during the hearings that if this law were passed, there would not be enough corn, canola, and soybean seed for Vermont farmers to plant.
Laggis lied when she said that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) had done exhaustive feeding tests on genetically modified foods. Hansen corrected her, testifying that all of the GMO feeding tests submitted to the FDA were conducted by Monsanto and other GMO corporations and that the FDA had not done any GMO testing of its own.
Laggis lied again when she claimed that a recent Canadian study showing that more than 90% pregnant women had high levels of a genetically modified bacterial pesticide in their blood resulted from them "eating too much organic food" during pregnancy. Again, Hansen refuted this nonsense by pointing out that the Bacillus thuingensis (Bt) bacterium spray used by organic growers is chemically and materially different from the GMO Bt bacterium which showed up in the pregnant women's blood and the umbilical cords of their fetuses. Hanson pointed that the high levels of Monsanto's mutant Bt in the women's blood was due to the widespread cultivation of GMO corn, cotton, soy, and canola.
The committee heard testimony that European Union studies have been conducted which showed that even short-term feeding studies of GMO crops caused 43.5% of male test animals to suffer kidney abnormalities, and 30.8% of female test animals to suffer liver abnormalities. Studies also have shown that the intestinal lining of animals fed GMO food was thickened compared to the control animals. All of these short-term results could become chronic, and thus precursors to cancer.
Studies like these have prompted 50 nations around the world to pass laws requiring mandatory labels on GMO right foods.
In the end, none of the scientific testimony mattered. Monsanto operatives simply reverted to their usual tactics: They openly threatened to sue the state.
Unfortunately, in the US, industry and the government continue to side with Monsanto rather than the 90% of consumers who support labeling. Monsanto's biotech bullying is a classic example of how the 1% control the rest of us, even in Vermont, generally acknowledged as the most progressive state in the nation.
Vermont activists are organizing a protest at the state capital on April 12 to coincide with the next round of hearings on H-722, and are asking residents to write letters, make calls, and e-mail their legislators and the Governor. For more information, please go to the website or the Facebook page of the Vermont Right to Know Campaign.