The Justice Department notified Chiquita Brands International yesterday that it will not seek to criminally charge its former top executive and other former high-ranking officers over the company's payment of bribes to a Colombian organization on the State Department's list of terrorist groups.Corporations trump taxpayers and soldiers. How typical. Why should they be held accountable or have to sacrifice for the war on terror? That's what we have soldiers and taxpayers for according to Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH). From Think Progress:
In an interview on CNN today, Wolf Blitzer asked House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) about “the Americans who are killed every month” in Iraq and “how much longer” the “military commitment is going to require?” “The investment that we’re making today will be a small price if we’re able to stop al Qaeda here,” replied Boehner.What arrogance. Even one life is too much to pay for Bush's lie. But, wait, there's more:
...it's not only going to be a small price for the near future, but think about the future for our kids and their kids.Does Boehner honestly think we believe he cares about our children? Bush and friends only care about corporations. Take the recent toy recalls by Mattel as an example. This is how Dana Milbank described the testimony of Nancy Nord (acting chairman of the Consumer Product Safety Commission and Bush appointee) when she appeared before legislators to answer questions about all that lead:
Actually, the lawmakers' drilling of Nord made it sound as if every day is a sad one for her agency. Product safety regulators, broke and undermanned, have been powerless to prevent millions of Barbie dolls, Polly Pockets, Dora the Explorers and Thomas the Tank Engines from entering the country from China with lead paint and other defects. Parents -- and therefore lawmakers -- are furious. But instead of showing contrition, Nord treated the lawmakers as if they were impertinent children.It's pretty obvious Nord doesn't care about our children, which turns out to be a plus for corporations.
"Are you saying that the Chinese have now adopted a new and different standard when it comes to lead paint?" asked Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), chairman of the panel examining the issue.
"I think, sir, that that's a question you would really need to put to the Chinese," Nord replied curtly.
Durbin, with some of the offending toys on the table in front of him, asked why the commission didn't do more to block lead in children's jewelry.
"Well, the law is what it is" was Nord's brushoff.
Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) asked Nord if she knew what percentage of toys get lead tests.
"No, I don't."
After much hemming and hawing from Nord about her agency's ability to stop dangerous toys coming from China, Brownback got cranky: "Chairman, what I want to hear is you say these products are not going to enter our shores if that's what you continue to find."
"Well, I'm happy to say that," Nord retorted.
While dismissive of the senators, the acting chairman was solicitous of the manufacturers. She "commended" the industry for its safety initiatives. A toy manufacturer reciprocated, calling Nord's agency "exemplary."So the toy testing department's budget has been drowned in a bathtub. Let me guess. The Republicans trust corporations to do the right thing and test their own products, those same corporations that cut costs by outsourcing jobs to China. The same corporations that never stopped to think that the Chinese might cut costs too.
If Nord sounded a bit like a corporate fox guarding the consumer henhouse, consider her previous employers: the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the American Corporate Counsel Association and Eastman Kodak.
Among the nuggets served up at yesterday's hearing: The CPSC's staff, once 978, is down to 401; its budget is half of what it was three decades ago, in inflation-adjusted terms; its toy-testing department consists of one man, Bob, who drops toys on the floor in his office; and its toy-testing lab is an overloaded workbench in its outmoded headquarters.
Why is lead paint — or lead, for that matter — turning up in so many recalls involving Chinese-made goods?So you can see why I don't believe the Republicans and their corporate friends when they say they care about our children. Their actions speaker louder than their words, and because of them, our children are dying or in danger.
The simplest answer, experts and toy companies in China say, is price. Paint with higher levels of lead often sells for a third of the cost of paint with low levels. So Chinese factory owners, trying to eke out profits in an intensely competitive and poorly regulated market, sometimes cut corners and use the cheaper leaded paint.