Sunday, February 26, 2012

Stake in the Heartland #1


GlaxoSmithKline Implicated in Massive Global-Warming-Denial Scheme
or
Are Vampires People, Too?
Yesterday afternoon, I noticed three fat robins in our crabapple tree, picking off the fermented fruit the waxwings inexplicably never came for. That’s been one of several odd things I’ve noted this winter. The waxwings usually get most of the crabs before the robins arrive. It’s usually quite a party, but almost March and no waxwings. The shriveled red raisins still beckon all comers.
I watched the robins for a minute, and then another flew down to imbibe, and then another and another, like leaves falling from the tall green ash by the driveway. I looked up and there was the whole community, about twenty birds, huddled against the wind in the old tree’s unkempt branches. Gossiping, I suppose, like we do at our parties.
 But unlike our parties, dreams of worms were in these fat kids’ eyes. They weren’t just winter-overs. They were part of the migrant horde, and they’d settle for fermented crabs now and have some fun, but they were expecting the ground to thaw sooner rather than later, the worms to wriggle out of the wet, warming soil. They knew, even if we can’t quite wrap our heads around it through gossip or by other means, that spring’s coming weeks earlier than usual.
Notwithstanding gossip, a big part of why we’re behind the robins in understanding our beautiful, fragile world is Heartland Institute (1) , probably the most well-heeled and well-funded Reality-Denial factory (“conservative think tank” in the vernacular) in the world. With a projected 2012 budget of almost $8 million, they promote scientific ignorance, misrepresentation of facts and good ol’ American naked political expediency. Among several other anti-science canards which, if they can sell them to the public will make them richer than Zeus, is a program to promote a money-cooked curriculum to our public schools which will teach K-12 kids that global warming (or climate change if you’re squeamish) is a liberal hoax.
How do we know this? Not from Corporate Media that’s for sure. But rather from extrapolating Reality out of grade-B horror movies. We’ve always known, for example, that while vampires aren’t really alive, they are possessed of certain anti-social personality disorders that animate and mobilize them for the sake of their own bottom line at the expense of Life itself, and that we as a society reward this kind of behavior at our extreme and scary peril. So it goes for corporations, and for Heartland Institute.
A creature of giant energy companies, the tobacco industry, the Koch brothers and the Bitterroot’s own GlaxoSmithKline, Heartland was recently exposed about its secret plans to corrupt society for the sake of profit (surprise!) in an internal document  leaked by the Pacific Institute(2). According to the leaked document (3) Heartland proposes to manufacture a “global warming curriculum for K-12 Schools” that “isn’t alarmist or overtly political”, and then they plan to buy the politicians to stick this high-priced garbage to us and our kids.
This “curriculum” is being developed for Heartland by Dr. David Wojick, a scientist who has worked for the Dept. of Energy and has no degrees in climate science. For about $1 million, Dr. Wojick is slated to produce the step-by-step educational tools our teachers will need to teach our kids to pony up to corporate ideology regarding global warming that essentially goes like this:
·         Global Warming isn’t happening.
·         Well, there’s no evidence it’s happening.
·         Well, if there is evidence, then it’s not due to people.
·         Well, if it’s due to people, then it’s beneficial.
·         Well, if it’s not beneficial, our C.E.O.s have the right to make obscene profits, so too bad.

Just as we know that vampires aren’t living people, we also know that corporate cynicism isn’t genuine scientific skepticism.  You don’t need a degree in science or cinematography. It’s visceral. To point: Heartland Institute cut its teeth—or fangs if you will-- back in the 80s and 90s funding “studies” disputing the overwhelmingly and patently-obvious evidence that cigarette smoke was bad for you. Anyone who remembers the tobacco industry’s—and Heartland’s-- sleazy tactics during the long battle to get lawmakers to admit the obvious then will recognize the tactics used by Heartland now, in its campaign to attract vast amounts of capital from what it self-defines as its “affluent libertarian” donors. These tactics can easily be boiled down to the following:
·         Any reality-based situation that is in danger of being regulated by the government to the detriment of the “affluent libertarian’s”  bottom line will be denied and opposed by well-funded junk science and junk arguments with paid-for “scientists” who behave more  like defense lawyers trying to save a mafia boss’  skin than technical professionals promoting a truly-alternative view.
·         Conversely, any government actions or regulations that will pad their bottom line, like War for instance, will be supported to the point of destroying our kids’ and grandkids’ health and ecosystems up to and including the point of their possible extinction.
In other words, Heartland and its “affluent libertarians” fundamentally believe: that they bought this government and it is theirs, not ours, that they will do with it what they want, thank you, and that we and our kids and grandkids can simply go to hell. Is it a coincidence that this is the same philosophy adhered to by the 18th century despots America’s “founders” overthrew? I don’t think so.

GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and, more to the point, the average Bitterrooter, has a level of responsibility in all this. I certainly don’t blame you if you count yourrself with the majority of Bitterrooters who cherish the notion that our little community is too small-potatoes to make any difference in the Big Bad World so the best thing to do is go skiing or fishing. Of course it is—on  the surface. But here’s a few things to think about that might bring this train wreck of a social disease home a bit: Heartland’s budget is up 170% from their 2011 $4.6 million budget .  A single “Anonymous Donor”—probably David Koch—has contributed $13 million between 2007 and 2011. Nineteen corporate donors, including GSK, contributed almost $1.5 million last year alone.  While GSK’s  contribution of $50,000 appears small to Koch’s $13 million infusion, consider that General Motors (remember that company that got billions of taxpayer-funded bail-out money?) kicked in only $30,000. Microsoft contributed $60,000. For all you good ol’ boys out there, put $5,000 from Anheuser-Busch in your boilermaker and pound it down for perspective. GSK’s $50,000 will buy 50 of the 70 “elected officials” Heartland intends to purchase with a plane ticket, a party and steak and eggs for breakfast. For perspective, when was the last time you had $1000 spent on your head that wasn’t a criminal background check? How much does your local Democratic Central Committee have in its bank account? For a clue, most Democratic organizations in Western Montana operate on less cash than the price of buying off just one of these corrupt politicians. In other words, GSK is a major player in this death-wish fa├žade our kids will have to pay for and live with, and it wants to be. And part of their massive profit-base that enables such bad-boy corporate behavior is generated right here in Ravalli County. That should be of significant concern to Bitterrooters who care about robins and suchlike.

So what to do? Well, first of all, contact GSK and ask them what the hell?! Bearing in mind, of course that those who work at GSK are our friends and neighbors, which also begs the question. Do we Bitterrooters really believe that we have to drink the libertarian Kool-Aid, mixed up for us by ethically-challenged Big Pharma companies and equally-challenged commissioners, faux preachers and anti-environmentalists who would dope us into believing we have to teach our kids that Reality is a Liberal Hoax in order to keep jobs in the Bitterroot? That, in my opinion, is the core question we all have to deal with before we can make any headway against this Tea Party/libertarian “populism” that is threatening to turn our county into a theocracy.
If you think this chain-of-thought is simple-minded to the extreme, you’re right. If you think it’s just plain false, then first of all please download and read the document  (2), and then consider how simple it has been for these “corporate persons” to bald-facedly buy and pedal enough influence within our corrupted political and media systems to stall the United States, and therefore the whole world, against acting on any meaningful policies to avert the unprecedented human-caused ecological disaster we affectionately refer to as Global Warming.  

As for robins and other Bitterrooters, inevitable life dramas shrink up even normal winters for us mere humans. That can’t be helped. In a way we’re too smart for our own good. Sometimes we can’t find our seasonal bearing because we just have more mental clutter than a robin. But notwithstanding our limited capacity to comprehend life cycles as well drunken birds do, we all know spring is coming earlier and earlier. We don’t need a Big Pharma company to tell us different. The snow’s on the ground for less and less days.  Short season with no real cold weather. Bark beetles molly-coddled through light frosts lurking in the lurch, along with early runoffs and rumors of drought. Blamers waiting in the wings, already deploying accusations of treason against those who have been fingered by our corrupted politicians—local and national-- to be the easy targets of their unexamined anger. The conclusion of that drama, of course, is for us to decide. I won’t name names here, but history is unkind to societies who allow thugs and snake-oil salesmen to flush them violently down the collective toilet bowl. Even rational minds, for all their faults, can grasp this. It could get bad for those of us who consider ourselves rational. The least we can do is speak up.
Contact GlaxoSmithKline (553 Old Corvallis Road, Hamilton, http://us.gsk.com/html/contact-us/index.html ) , and tell them to quit funding junk science with their Bitterroot profits.   

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