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Thursday, September 29, 2016

Here’s hoping that Stewart Parnell goes to prison.

The former president of the now-bankrupt Peanut Corp. of America, Parnell ran a filthy Georgia processing plant contaminated with salmonella that injured more than 600 people in a 2008-2009 outbreak, killing nine. Last month, federal prosecutors charged Parnell and three others with criminal offenses, claiming the executives intentionally shipped out contaminated peanut products.

It’s about time that white-collar criminals whose actions result in death or horrible injuries have to do the perp walk, just like the leeches who sell narcotics to kids. Former workers and federal inspectors say the plant, located in the small southeast Georgia town of Blakely, was a breeding ground for bacteria — with a leaky roof, dirty floors, mold on the ceiling and walls, and rats and roaches everywhere.

Still, it’s not enough to know that Parnell is finally going before the bar of justice. I also want a vigorous and assertive government that will help ensure that plants like Parnell’s Blakely facility won’t be free to operate in the future.

With President Obama battling Republicans over government spending, it’s easy to forget the important functions that federal agencies carry on every day. The Washington commentariat has concluded the agreement — known as “sequestration” — that produced shortsighted budget cuts hasn’t caused any harm to the majority of Americans, an indication, in that view, that Obama oversold the consequences of the cuts.

Is that true? The fact is we may never know how much harm will be done by those cuts. We don’t know how many children will miss their vaccinations, how many Head Start teachers will be laid off, or how many food inspections will be skipped.

The line between cause and effect is especially hard to draw in the work of those federal agencies whose jobs are aimed at prevention. The inspectors at the Food and Drug Administration have done their jobs well when you don’t hear of a food-borne illness or a faulty medical product. That sort of work is essential, but its results are hard to measure. And it never attracts public attention of the sort that ensures big budgets.

  • There is no question that the continuous funding changes influenced by diverging political ideologies are hurting the effectiveness of our governmental institutions. Republicans tend to see government through the narrow scope of welfare, social programs, civil rights, and equality. The often ignore the critical services that departments and agencies involved in things like air traffic control, the Center for Disease Control, our diplomatic service, border patrol and customs officers, intelligence agencies, food and drug inspectors and so many other civil servants provide to guarantee our national security and maintain our standard of living.
    Our way of life would come to a halt if institutions such as those cited above are rendered ineffective due to constant fluctuations in funding. There are ways to reduce spending without crippling our government and becoming a Third World country. Eliminating loopholes that benefit the wealthy and often allow them to pay little or no taxes should not even be debatable. The same goes for subsidies to the oil industry, the agri-business, and the insurance industry. Oil companies are ripping us off without impunity. They have been doing it for years, they still do, and by the looks of things they will continue to do so for years to come. The same goes for the banking industry. Sadly, a person is more likely to end up in the slammer for being caught with a couple of ounces of marijuana, than a white collar executive guilty of defrauding the country to enrich himself.

    • nobsartist

      I know someone that got 10 years for 2 joints. Meanwhile Bill Ford crawls under Blankfiens desk, gets 26 BILLION 1 year before the collapse and gets a couple of billion from the government for “studies”. Yet no investigation.

      • TheSkalawag929

        It seems like both incidents occurred under either republican policy (Reagan’s war on drugs) or while a republican was the head of the country (during the Bush administration). Yet you seem to be implying that somehow the current administrations fault.

      • RobertCHastings

        Don’t worry your pretty little head about. Elizabeth Warren is the new sheriff in town, and she is about ready to open a big old can of whup ass. She has HSBC in her sights, and she is about to put the pedal to the metal against all those big banks who hide behind “too big to fail”. Too bad W didn’t have her on the payroll. Oh, excuse me, he didn’t WANT her on the payroll. Another thing Bush didn’t want was a Consumer Protection Bureau.

    • RobertCHastings

      Over the past several years there has been a spate of defective goods shipped here from China, for one reason or another getting past Federal inspectors, of various ilk. During the Bush W adminsitration, thousands of inspectors were dismissed, making American consumers vulnerable to whatever poison China (or anyone else) wished to ship to us. The most blatant and far=ranging one that I recall was the pet food laced with Melmac, a plastics product added to pet foods to enhance their protein levels. Before it was detected, thousands of pets were sickened, and hundreds died of painful kidney failure. Of course, in typical fashion, the Chinese caught SOME of those responsible, even going so far as to execute some. However, it seems that on a weekly basis we read of some product from China being recalled for lead content, for safety, because it is an imitation, because it involves copyright violations, etc., etc., etc. And yet it seems that more and more of the products on our shelves read “Made in China”, in fact that’s pretty much all you find at Wal-Mart. During the Clinton administration, Clinton’s greatest nemesis in the Senate, Jesse Helms, had an Institute fo International Studies at a small college in North Carolina, Wingate. When Senator Helms learned that the gift shop at his Institute was selling coffee mugs “made in China”, he immediately ordeered them off the shelves, boxed up, and shipped back – that was about the only thing I could ever find to cheer about regarding Senator Helms. With our current dearth of inspectors, it sounds like a pretty good idea that would probably save a lot of lives, as well as bringing a lot of jobs back to the US. The agencies you named, including the CDC, will ALL be negatively impacted by sequestration. Pink slips are already being handed out. Air traffic controllers, contagious disease specialists, food inspectors, border inspectors, etc. will all either lose their jobs, or a sizeable chink of their annual salaries. This will not only make it difficult for a large chunk of the populace to contribute positively to the GDP, it will endanger all the rest of us.

  • charleo1

    Remember when President Clinton, and the Republicans announced the era of big government
    is over? As it turns out, the era of responsible government was over. NAFTA was going to create
    a booming economy with Mexico. China’s new, Most Favored Nation status, was going to open
    up a market of billions of new consumers for American products. Wall Street was finally throwing
    off the yoke of depression era regulations. While high tech entrepreneurs, with names like Gates,
    Dell, and Jobs, were bringing the enormous power of the personal computer to the masses. And
    the American economy had not ever been better. Who knew? It seemed as though the Republicans
    had had it right all along! Reduce the size of government, by regulating, and inspecting businesses
    a whole lot less. While making public assistance a lot harder to qualify for. And suddenly there
    was a Republican in the Oval Office, to put the final piece of Right Wing, Nirvana into place.
    Unburden the investor class, and corporate world, from their tax obligations, so they can keep
    even more of their profits to expand, and grow, and create even more jobs for the American economy. I have just one question. After going in whole hog, so to speak, on Republican economic
    policy. Why is anyone, not rich, still listening to the Republican’s demands, that if we would but,
    “Ty it our way,” we’re gonna turn everything around?

    • nobsartist

      Would you prefer that they listen to the Dems?

      Face it, both parties are the same. Time for both to go.

      • latebloomingrandma

        And what, pray tell, would you put in their place? Rand Paul? Teabaggers? Militias, since they are so “patriotic”? We need a 2 party system. but we need to get the big, corporate $$ ot ouf the process.

      • elw

        No both parties are not the same. There is a very large difference between them.

      • charleo1

        Yes, I would prefer the Country listen to the Dems. rather than T-Pots.
        You do realize, your assertion that both Parties are just two sides of the
        same coin, is exactly what the Communist in the USSR. told their people
        about the U.S. for years? But, alright then.I pronounce you King of the forrest.
        Do you want to replace all current politicians, at local, state, and federal levels?
        If so. Do you recommend we do this in stages, first federal, then state,
        and so on. Or just pick a day, and eliminate them all at once?

        • Charle01, Nobartist is nothing more than a mentally incompetent idiot who abviously has to smoke pot before getting on here to post because no rational human being could come out with the total nonsense that he does.

          • charleo1

            Well, to me, it’s like this. He sometimes points out legitimate concerns, I agree with.
            Like wealth disparity. If we condensed our economic problems to their root cause,
            too much money in too few hands, would be the major contributing factor, in 90%
            of the issues. But, to say, there is no difference, none at all, is so cynical. I mean,
            if one truly believes that, where does one go from there? A gun to one’s head, maybe?
            BTW. I’m a huge fan of your posts! Well written, concise, and the unvarnished truth!

          • Unfortunately, to me, the fact that onbsartist once in a blue moon comes out with a rational comment, maybe when the pot has warn off, doesn’t absolve the countless times he brings up issues after many in these comment threads have pointed out the error of his thinking; only to then the next day spout the same jibberish – is just plain unacceptable.

            Sorry, but I’ve lost my patience with nobsartist, Joeham1, Lana Ward, Montana Bill and several others who insist on spewing toxic comments after the truth has been pointed out to them dozens of times. To me, these posters are here for one intent only – to see how much they can rile up those of us who want to discuss our honest reactions to National Memo news items. My preference is to no longer respond to those who I think make nonsense comments just for the fun of making nonsense comments.

          • rustacus21

            Thanx for the reminder & the coherence… We are at a place that happens maybe once in a lifetime & needs serious minds – both in elective office & among we the people, to deal w/these issues responsibly. Which is the reason things have gone undone for so long. Boehner’s, McConnell’s, Issa’s, Paul’s, Ryan’s, etc., voting base are cases in point. This article points out fundamentals creating the divide & as U say, it’s been pointed out in disgraceful overabundance. Fortunately, there are enuff American’s ‘getting it’ to make the necessary difference in the upcoming Mid Terms next year, but it’s here the battles are also being waged, so please don’t think it a waste to respond accordingly. Others are watching who may be fence-sitting & need to get off there & engaged here as well…

  • Eleanore Whitaker

    Republicans have always had one and only one agenda…anything that supports putting more funding into their campaign warchests to insure their re-election. When all of the cotton candy of the GOP is scraped away, you see that it has always been their most fervent desire to use payroll tax deductions to allow for reckless spending on Big Businesses that take tax subsidies, use them to pay business debts (as they did in 2001 when Bush handed them billions in funding to “hire and create job,” and less than 1% who took that funding used it for its express purpose.) and then use the profits of their businesses to stuff into annual salary increases they neither need nor deserve.

    American taxpayers have become nothing more than a source of salary and wealth growth of a tiny 1% who refuse to pay their fair share in taxes, hide their profits in offshore tax free havens in the trillions, resist paying any employee benefits and then have the gall to increase the price of their imported goods and services on the same people they are bilking for those hundred million dollar salaries.

    The GOP does not now nor ever will believe their first priority as elected officials is to the individual American Middle Class taxpayer. They believe that by stuffing our tax dollars into Big Oil, Big Insurance and the rest of the Biggie Piggies, somehow it will benefit everyone else. So? Has it? You bet not. No billionaire ever gives a dime of his moolah unless he gets something in return. But this, these greedy thieves call “charity?”

    Apparently their only version of “charity” is that it begins and ends at the top. They give a dime and demand a hundred million back in return for their “investment.” BS to that.

    • nobsartist

      It looks like Obama must be a republiCON based on your view point. That is excusable considering that when you look at it, there is no difference between the two parties. Obama’s record indicates that he is the best republiCON president that we have had since raygun.

      You remember raygun dont you? He is the one that made “for profit” health care legal “to stabilize prices” and “spur competition”. As we have seen, that did not work very well which brings the question..Why did Obama force us to buy into a republiCON policy that does not work?

      Obama is a republiCON plant. If he was not, he would have used the Sherman Act to fix our economy instead of these charades that are intended to make it look like he gives a shit.

      • 4sanity4all

        insulting name-calling does not help to make your point.

      • TheSkalawag929

        If your occupation were to be described in terms of yesteryear it would be the resident Village Idiot.
        And must say I am compelled to apologize to Village Idiots everywhere for including you among their ranks.

  • nobsartist

    Lets call this charade what it really is. EXTORTION. Lets look at activities of both parties since 9/2008.

    Banks and corporations collapsed the economy. Neither party proposed helping working Americans. Both approved the “stimulus” that only benifieted the states while they were receiving NO revenue from income tax. The stimulus only kept corrupt state and local governments solvent so they could evict homeowners for the banks.

    Washington allowed the states to modify unemployment laws to keep as many people from collecting as possible adding fuel to the mortgage crisis.

    Both parties bailed out the banks with no restrictions and as a consequence, while the stock market may be booming, the unemployment rate in the United States is still OVER 25%. Perhaps that was the motivation the banks needed to donate millions to Obama’s campaign.

    Both parties bailed out the auto companies with no restrictions so now those same companies hire H1B visa people before Americans. Neither party proposed investigating Ford Motor and Goldman Sachs for insider trading, in fact OUR government gave BILLIONS to the “big 3” so now salaries for executives are even more bloated than they were before.

    The “affordable health care” joke turns out to be simply an executive order to give the “for profit health insurance cabal” 350 MILLION FORCED SUBSCRIBERS. Perhaps that was the motivation United HealthCare needed to donate millions to Obama’s campaign.

    The wars are still going and we are still spending more on other countries than on domestic programs that help people whos lives have been destroyed by corrupt politicians, corrupt banks and corrupt corporations.

    There have been no investigations on the banks, no investigations as to why energy prices are so high and no attempt to bring back Glass Steagal or to use the Sherman Act against these anti-American cabals.

    It looks to me like the government is a party in this criminal enterprise.

    Obama is a plant and we were duped into voting for someone whos record consisted of voting against war, once.

    As Stevie Wonder said…”you havent done nothin'”

    Dems and republiCONs have the same motivation. They do not give a shit about the American voter. They stack the supreme court with hacks who intend to subvert the Constitution for their own personal gain.

    It is time to throw the terrorists out of Washington.

    It is time to make both parties eat cake. And tar and feathers for dessert.

    • latebloomingrandma

      You are wrong about the “stimulus.” You need to read “The New, New Deal” by Michael Grunwald. As for the ACA, are you then for single payer? If so, then we can agree on something. also, there are many of us on both sides of the aisle who are sick of wars and bankers who paid no price for their crimes.

  • whodatbob

    Republicans are getting what they want Less Federal oversight of corporate American. Freedom to do as they please. Let the unclean, all of us not part of thie status fend, fend for ourself. To republicans white collar crime does not exist. Government should get out of Wall Street’s way, control the masses do not help them and please make the masses subserveant to Corporate America.

    CEO of GM once said What’s good for GM is goos for America. It was BS then AND IT STILL IS.

    • idamag

      Study Peter Peterson of Wall Street.

  • latebloomingrandma

    Conservatives’ constant yammering about “small government” is very confusing when from the other side of their mouths they keep proposing restrictions on women’s rights with intrusive laws. Then just de-regulate everything else, and we see what has happened over the past decade when everything blew up. It’s very hard to argue effective gov’t when things are humming along well, such as our food safety. When an outbreak of salmonella occurs, then some scream that gov’t can’t do anything right. When all along , they do a phenomenal job of keeping our food supply and products safe. But, as the article says, you need people do that. Yes, the gov’t does “create” jobs. Don’t be afraid to say it. Maybe this sequester thing has to cause a considerable amount of pain until citizens actually see what their government does.

  • tobewan

    Interesting views – When government doesn’t move to protect the nations vast majority, you have what took place during Bush’s 8 years and the GOP wants to continue. Government must be there to protect the many in the nation from the few, as President Obama seeks to do.
    It has been said that “Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely!” The Financial power of the few has corrupted absolutely. The “Haves” are not ceding their power nor their wealth quietly, but are fiercely fighting to maintain that power, and revealing their corruption through their manipulative efforts.

    As informative communication increases, the more their corrupted ways are manifest. This is in harmony with the incoming kingdom who righteously will overthrow all evil powers and the false beliefs so plentiful among people of every nation, to the end that the hearts of the people will be converted. Leveling of the “playing field” will take place, the “Haves” will become part of the “many;” and every form of Violence will STOP and guns will NO LONGER be needed or wanted.

    The various storms of society will come to an end, the upheavals and earthquakes among the world’s nations will cease by His Will, but only when it is understood that man cannot find a way to justly and beneficially govern himself, that everything man tries runs afoul and bankruptcy is world-wide, as we now see happening. All governments must and will bend to His righteous will.
    We have approached what we have been praying for, for nearly 2000 years – His Will be done on earth as it is in heaven. In harmony with that, let us continue to so pray, while we also salute any and all who seek our betterment – Gabby Gifford comes to mind, for example.

  • montanabill

    Here’s a list of countries that fit your requirements, Cynthia. They have more government with higher costs. North Korea, Eritrea, Sudan, Uzbekistan, Syria, Myanmar, Turkmenistan, Cuba, Mbasogo and Zimbabwe. Venezuela might still be a candidate, but we’ll have to see if enough of their people have wised up. Let us know which of these ‘more government’ paradises you would like to use as a model.

    • Replying to montanabill –

      You forgot to mention places like Switzerland, Sweden, Germany, etc.

      But, of course, you only wanted to show one side of the equation anyway.

      • idamag

        Of course.

      • montanabill

        You have added just a few more to the ‘more government is better’ bunch, though not quite as extreme as those I listed. I could add Britain, France, Spain, Greece, Italy, Russia, in fact, I would be leaving out very few countries. Now what was it that was in the minds of the millions of peoples from those countries when they decided to pick up stakes and head for the U.S.A. Oh yes, it was freedom and opportunity. What is that all of those countries have in common besides massive government? Reduced freedoms and lack of opportunity. Do we really need create another nanny state in a world of nanny states? Or can we have one country in the world where people of every strata have the opportunity to succeed or fail, to decide for themselves what is best for their lives without a government dictating how it should be, in their view. When we have a country where a government official can decide such trivial things as the size of a soft drink you can have, how far will you let them go in making all the other decisions for you?

    • WhutHeSaid

      Hey Bill, here are some countries that you will love — they have the lowest government cost to GDP ratios:

      Afghanistan
      Bangladesh
      Haiti
      Turkmenistan
      Cambodia
      Guatemala

      All of the above are, no doubt, veritable paradises for money-grubbing deadbeats who squeal about paying their share. I have no doubt that for somebody like you, who causes successful business to sprout like weeds wherever he walks with nary a need for infrastructure, a customer base, or government-assured safety — why, here you could achieve ‘deadbeat nirvana’.

      One added benefit is there are no pesky Bill Gates or Warren Buffetts to remind you how inconsequential your success is compared to theirs, and how they pay hundreds and thousands of times more tax than you with none of the pitiful bleating.

      Happy hunting!

      • latebloomingrandma

        Don’t forget that libertarian paradise, Yemen, where there is very little central government and everyone carries a gun!

        • WhutHeSaid

          Yes, and then there is always the REAL libertarian paradise: Antarctica, where there is no government at all, and you can happily hire as many penguins to work for substandard wages as your greedy little deadbeat heart desires.

          MontanaBill could be happy here, and I might add that we’d be happy with him there as well. He’d have to take care, of course, since a successful business is created whenever he sneezes (according to him). Given the average temperature and the mere 5.4 million square miles of available land, Bill’s ‘deadbeat utopia’ could become quite congested over time.

  • tcburch

    Why do I not see, here in the article or susbsequent posts, a description of what the actual sequestration “cuts” are? They are, very simply cutting a portion of the budget INCREASE, not existing budgets. Therefor, there should be no threat to existing levels of funding. Blame whatever on whomever, but at least get the reality correct. Further, even if it were to cause cuts in existing budgets, where is the call from yourself Ms. Tucker, and the public at large, to cut the waste and fraud rampant within every government agency? While the blame goes on from all parties, the citizenry idly stand by, and even agree, that we should continue to increase funding because quite frankly we/they’ve lost control of the agencies. Smoke and mirrors to save the sacred cows…nothing more.

    • idamag

      Instead of going to each agency and telling them to cut their budgets by $$$, they decided to cut programs and regulations. Yes, there is government waste and that is a problem that should be addressed. However, there have been people who have tried to destroy Social Security from its inception. Senator Preston Bush was one. One of his descendants decided to do the job his grandfather didn’t. I think it would save a lot of money just to have more oversight in agencies.

    • Sorry, the cuts are not from a portion of “the budget increase”, given that Obama has cut budgets faster the past 3 years than during any other 3 year period since WWII – and given that he had already mandated that agencies hold stringent budget guidelines,
      Americans the Sequester cuts are really going to hurt. Despite your and many millions of other American’s misguided notions, Obama has already implemented numerous restructuring changes to government agencies that have helped in reducing the size of government by over 565,000 people during his 1st term. He’s also made a concerted effort to attack fraud, especially related to defense industry contractors and healthcare providers; do a search on: War on Fraud in the Defense Industry, and read a paper by Tom Gallagher of Pepper Hamilton, LLC to get a sense for just some of the fraud cases that the Obama administration started their drive to reduce costs on back when he first took office in 2009. Over the past 4 years, the Obama administration has recovered billions in fraudlently charged monies – far more than any president in history.

      • droptheBS

        Good read, thanks I1

      • How DARE you confuse these people with mere facts. And providing source references for the reader to back up your factual & accurate reporting are just unforgivable.

        If only you could boil the message above down to fit on a bumper sticker it’d be understood.

    • rustacus21

      B/c they are many, they are draconian & don’t separate the waste & the fraud from the essentials, which was the original conservative plan. By adding to the pain & suffering, they (conservatives) hope the nation at large will feel as they (conservatives) do about the President & turn on him as a result. This situation, being a catastrophe years in the making, is the results of turning from expert, responsible & appropriate governance (the Clinton model) to irresponsible, self-serving (among the greedy elite & their conservative political flunkies) & completely incompetent (the 2001-2009 governance version). Starting w/tax modifications for the 2% dividend check ‘confederacy’, banking & investment house fraud & the waste of corporate ‘welfare’, where companies are profitable on their own, but get subsidies by virtue of affective lobbying, will save billions – maybe a trillion or 2 yearly. The situation hi-lighted in this article is the result of the ‘shrunken government’ of the 2001-2009 conservative ‘hate-government’ enterprise. The sociopathy of beating up on retiree’s, women & children & injured vets should leave us shamed & disgraced to call ourselves American. It’s time conservative lazy-asses, collecting checks to enable their ‘cat fights’ w/Obama, come to an end. Cutting their salaries & ejecting them from office immediately would save how many millions per year? Lets try there 1st!!! What say ye?!

  • elw

    Food safety in this Country has been on a downward slide since the Reagan Presidency. The Right’s call for less regulation and government oversight of business practices has always included little consideration of how poor practices might affect the consumer. The push for profit is corporate food supplier’s primary goal, not the health and safety of their customers. The Sequester cuts are no excuse for the poor health and safety record of corporate suppliers, the problem is decades old. In spite of multiple examples of wide spread illness and death from contaminated food, very few people have ever gone to jail. If you want to blame, just consider how long our elected representative have been willing to turn the other cheek for corporate America in banking, pharmaceuticals, and healthcare. It is the reason I buy local, do not buy processed food, and question every prescription I am given. There are very few Elizabeth Warren’s out there.

  • I can’t think of very much that the gov’t does for anyone that doesn’t involve taking money, property, rights or lives away from the citizenry.

    THEIR version of estential services that must be allowed to continue operating are those functions that throw wheel barrows of money at the Corporations & special interests that PAY THEM to represent THEM not US.

    Shut down the DoD programs ASAP. They are like having a shredder for your money. You get nothing for it except pain & suffering. The US can defend itself from any threat on the planet & doesn’t need to be in this constant war mode.

  • rustacus21

    More than anything else, as this article points out, we all must remind ourselves this is about the government we demand – not government as defined by those who have lined up as its opponents &/or enemies. We have no business listening to conservatives, w/their recklessly dangerous history of mismanaging & devastating both government & society, w/their warped perspectives of what government ‘is not’. They don’t understand civic governance, so President Obama & the Senate majority would be wise to use this ‘knowledge’ to do what is necessary to preserve governments Constitutional ‘purposes’ & stop trying to thread needles at the pleasure of those whose pleasure is the suffering of the poor, elderly, under/unemployed, women & their children, injured vets & everyone else not White, male & wealthy…