Sunday, August 29, 2010

Same Old, Same Old

The Philadelphia Inquirer reports

As Gov. Christie approaches rock-star status within certain circles of the Republican Party, candidates nationwide are turning to him for inspiration and advice for November's midterm elections.

The Republican Governors Association is so taken with its new poster boy that it is producing a 20-minute movie, to be released online Sept. 8, about Christie's upset victory over a millionaire Democratic incumbent, Jon S. Corzine, in a heavily blue state, and his first eight months in office.

"I think Gov. Christie is clearly being seen as a model for Republicans throughout the country," said Mike Schrimpf, a spokesman for the governors association. "

The quality that most sends the tingle up the legs of professional Republicans seems to be the audacity he displays taking on the liberal Democratic consensus of New Jersey politics. Republican strategist Bill Pascoe says

He doesn't hide behind staff, and he tells everyone he deals with - staff, political allies, political opponents, voters, residents, the guy who delivers his morning newspaper - the straight scoop. In a time when voters are ever more wary and distrustful of politicians, that candor is refreshing, and it'll take him a long way.

No doubt, because there is nothing a state needs more than a governor with the courage to yell at the paper boy. Apparently, a governor "doesn't hide behind staff" when his regime loses up to $400 million in Race to the Top Grants for education and says "I am accountable for what occurs in my administration," wrapped around blaming the Obama administration, an unnamed clerk ("clerical error"), and his Education Secretary. Presumably, Christie would have blamed also "the guy who delivers his morning newspaper" if he had remembered his name.

On This Week on August 22, Governor Christie told ABC's Jake Tapper

I think Republicans across the country need to get back to our brand, and I think that is the Republican brand. It's why I became a Republican: less government, lower taxes, less spending, and commonsense regulation that grows private-sector jobs.

It has been a long time since Republican congresses and Republican presidents believed in less government or less spending. This isn't your father's fiscally prudent GOP but the GOP of Ronald Reagan, George W. Bush, and Dick Cheney, who famously said "Reagan proved deficits don't matter."

When Chris Christie advocates, euphemistically, "commonsense regulation," he is promoting less regulation, rather than more effective regulation. As if the near-destruction of the economy by financial institutions, the Upper Big Branch mining disaster, and the BP oil spill (while the regulators avoided regulation but literally slept with the industry) didn't make it obvious enough, now we have eggs:

Attention is also focused on the nation's food inspection system. CBS News obtained a series of state inspection reports of one of the companies linked to the recall -- Wright County Egg of Galt, Iowa. Each report shows during separate visits last April, the state inspector did not check any of the 27 points on his safety checklist, including whether the facility was free from the "presence of birds, insects, rodents," and whether shell-washing equipment was in "clean and sanitary condition." A spokesman for the Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals says the inspector did not do more because the facility had "a full-time USDA inspector on site," as noted on the reports.


Inspections are the responsibility of the FDA, which had never inspected the farms.

"They don't have the inspectors and they haven't had the mandate to really do effective food inspection for these facilities," DeWaal said.

That may be the case at more than half the nation's food production facilities. An Inspector General's report in April found that 56 percent of food production facilities have gone without an FDA inspection for at least five years, despite recent recalls of tainted spinach, tomatoes and peanut butter.

Don't like eggs- or spinach, tomatoes, or peanut butter? How about fish? While there is disagreement about whether seafood from the Gulf is contaminated

The National Marine Fisheries Service says that 90 percent of the shrimp consumed in the U.S. is imported, mostly from China, Thailand, Ecuador, Indonesia, India, Mexico and Vietnam.

"About 80 percent of the seafood we eat in the U.S. is imported, but less than 2 percent of those imports are actually inspected for contaminants like filth, antibiotics, chemicals and pathogens," Food & Water Watch's Cufone said.

The prevalence of harmful contaminants in some imported seafood is documented repeatedly in the small number of inspections that the Food and Drug Administration makes.

Many of the health hazards come from how the shrimp are raised overseas.

Properly run shrimp farms yield up to 445 pounds per acre. Food & Water Watch, which has long studied aquaculture, has documented that many foreign shrimp farm operators densely pack their ponds to produce as much as 89,000 pounds of shrimp per acre.

"The water is quickly polluted with waste, which can infect the shrimp with disease and parasites. In response, many such operations in Asia and South or Central America use large quantities of antibiotics, disinfectants and pesticides that would be illegal for use in U.S. shrimp farms," the group's researchers wrote in a recent report.

This is not a "maybe" situation, Cufone says.

"With imported shrimp, we see pathogens like E. coli and salmonella, and filth, which is the official name [for] things like mouse and rat droppings, hair, insects, and the assorted chemicals, antibiotic and disinfectants they're doused with to fight disease from the filthy conditions in which they're raised," she told AOL News.

That's right- whatever the health hazard the oil spill has brought to seafood caught in the Gulf of Mexico, it pales in insignificance to the danger of seafood from abroad, which constitutes the vast majority of the fish consumed in the U.S. and which is characterized by E. coli, slamonella, mouse and rat droppings, hair, insects, antibiotics, and disinfectants.

Less than two percent of this fish is inspected, but to Chris Christie, that's too much regulation. When the Food and Drug Administration rarely inspects egg farms, that's too much regulation. And when food production facilities are inspected less than once every five years, that's too much regulation. The health of the American people- why, that's way too much government.

These are the classic Republican talking points- less government (except when a GOP president expands it); lower taxes (that would be income taxes, not payroll taxes, so we can be sure most of the benefit goes to the wealthy); less spending (except when a GOP president spends more); and less regulation (because we like our eggs with salmonella, our fish with mouse droppings, and our spinach with e-coli).

Republicans swoon, the mainstream media swoons. Anti-worker and anti-consumer, Governor Christie is a Republican who ignores abortion and gay rights, so he is passed off in the media as a "moderate," a "pragmatist," and presidential timber.

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