“It’s Big Tobacco All Over Again”


Doctors used to sell tobacco @ 1 minute

We often have the computer playing some form of left wing radio while we do our daily tasks around the house. In the US, there are few outlets for left wing radio, so for a person in Iowa has to go to the internet to get left wing radio. For those interested – KTNF in the Twin Cities (http://www.am950radio.com/listen-live), WCPT in Chicago (http://www.wcpt820.com/listen-live/) and free speech TV online (https://www.freespeech.org/) is where we get our “radio” these days.

We had the Stephanie Miller Show on. They were talking about the Trump (sorry to talk about him again, he is hard to avoid) campaign. Her guest said “It’s Bug Tobacco all over again.” He went on to flesh it out a little – how for those all those years that Big Tobacco was staving off both lawsuits and government action for selling a product whose product when used as directed gives people a terrible disease they developed some strategies that are still used successfully by various friends of Big Tobacco.

If you don’t think the Republican Party is a close friend of Big Tobacco, remember that when Nixon deployed the Southern strategy Republicans not only sold their souls to hop on board on the wrong side of the racial issue they also became the party of Big Tobacco ready to stall any meaningful action as long as they could. One only need to see one of their current standard bearers, Mike Pence, bowing down to kiss their butts (pun intended) throughout his political career:

Over his political career Gov. Mike Pence (R-IN) has consistently carried the tobacco industry’s water, denying the dangers of cigarettes, opposing government regulation, and slashing smoking cessation efforts. In return, they rewarded him with more than $100,000 in campaign donations.

In 2000, Gov. Mike Pence (R-IN), then running for an open U.S. House seat, came out against a proposed settlement between government and the tobacco industry, calling it “big government.” In a shocking editorial, he wrote: “Time for a quick reality check. Despite the hysteria from the political class and the media, smoking doesn’t kill.” Pence acknowledged that smoking is not “good for you,” but claimed that two-thirds of smokers do not die from smoking related illness and “9 out of ten smokers do not contract lung cancer.” He warned of a slippery-slope in which government would soon seek to discourage fatty foods, caffeine, and SUVs.

As Stephanie Miller’s guest explained they “deny, deny, deny” any and all charges – think lying about their real policies. Then they create their own “facts” or assertions and alternate realities in which those facts can exist. Note Pence’s assertion that “9 of 10 smokers do not die of lung cancer” in the excerpt above. If they don’t die of lung cancer they often die of painful, smoking related diseases with some form of cancer in the mix if it is not the final killer.

The guest went on to say they also misdirect or redirect the conversation. For instance we start out talking about the effects of smoking and end up talking about natural carcinogens in the environment. We have had a classic misdirection this week. As a blockbuster story on how Trump’s financial entanglements in foreign countries and with foreign – sometimes not friendly to the US – was about to come out in Newsweek this week Republicans with an assist from corporate media – were able to redirect the conversation to Clinton’s health.

Other strategies include dressing folks as experts such as doctors to claim that their product, tobacco, is no more harmful than breathing. Today’s campaign version of this is the think tank “expert” or the paid “expert.” Donning the guise of a person with some amount expertise and sometimes having some impressive initials behind their name, the faux expert is more than willing to explain to us how cutting taxes for the rich or giving them tax abatements or even building their places of business for them will create jobs and prosperity. This despite 35 years of proof that it doesn’t.

Here are a few other things right wing “experts” have told us over the years: Making health care to all citizens will ruin our health care system; increasing minimum wages results in unemployment despite tons of evidence to the contrary; climate change isn’t actually happening; Donald Trump will be the healthiest person ever elected to be president.

Of course the Big Tobacco strategies would be of no value were it not for a corporate media whose mission is to create controversies that create the climate that makes people want to turn into their “news” shows. In other countries there was no controversies over Big Tobacco. Once the science was in and verified other countries moved to make tobacco hard to get. In the US we treated scientific truth only as an equal to unfounded speculation and uninformed opinion. Media has had a vested interest in giving unfounded speculation and uninformed opinion an equal billing with verified science because then everyone can be involved even without any previous knowledge of a subject.

The use of the Big Tobacco strategies are used by Republican campaigns up and down the ticket. We have been to a couple of Grassley events where he was grilled mercilessly by attendees about his obstruction of court appointments. Throughout the campaign we have read of many others where Grassley was questioned hard on his obstruction. It got to the point where his campaign made few appearances often on very short notice and only in very friendly circumstances. We documented on these pages his paucity of appearances during the exceptionally long summer break.

Despite what my eyes saw and read, the Grassley campaign the other day claimed that that Iowans back his decision to obstruct. Deny, deny, deny and create a new reality with unsubstantiated “facts” – the Big Tobacco playbook. None of which is true according to the Burlington Hawkeye.

Grassley, with a straight face, has said repeatedly he wouldn’t play politics on this while at the same time he’s playing politics with this by declaring he won’t hold a hearing on Garland’s fitness for the job. He’s doing the bidding for his boss, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who will do whatever it takes to block any initiative of President Barack Obama.

Grassley went on to say he’s been told repeatedly by his constituents the decision should be up to the next president. Said Grassley: “At meeting after meeting this summer, Iowans told me that they appreciate the Senate’s decision that the next President should nominate Justice Scalia’s replacement.”

Odd. We’ve reported on Grassley’s meetings — including the one with his hand-picked constituents at Great River Medial Center — and his declaration of overwhelming support for his obstruction on this important matter didn’t surface at that meeting.

More than anything else this election we need elected officials who will deal with reality, not create false reality. We must turn back Trump and send Grassley home.

About Dave Bradley

retired in West Liberty
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