Friday, June 1, 2007

Hillary & Staff are Tied to Corporations

Ari Berman's Hillary Inc. (The Nation, 6/4/07) raised the hair on the back of my neck, even on this hot day in So OR. Berman describes Hillary as the "compromised" candidate because of her close attachments to corporate interests. Her staff is Mark Penn, who was fired by Al Gore in 2000, runs a polling firm, Penn, Schoen and Berland, whose clients have been Texaco, Eli Lily, AT&T and Microsoft--corporations that support the Democrat Leadership Council. Penn set up the National Smokers Alliance "on behalf of Philip Morris to fight tobacco regulation in the 1990s."

Penn also works for the Glover Park Group, referred to as "the White House in Exile" because it's loaded with former Clintonites in waiting, to do more for free trade, pharmaceuticals, and former Wall Street connections. Murdoch is a Glover Park client. Glover Park has created Medicare Advantage, a privately run plan which has overcharged the government 12 percent compared with traditional Medicare. I recently received a mailer from Medicare Advantage, but tossed it because my Medicare prescription drug plan has paid fully for the few meds I use. It is evident that Penn and his candidate do not see the conflicts of interests that are everywhere.

Berman asserts Hillary is an incrementalist, who will be unable to offer the innovation and change needed when BushCo leaves office. Joan Claybrook, president of Public Citizen is quoted about the Senator: "She votes the issues that come up, rather than take the leadership role." Her health care experience has frightened her, and her staff recommends her program contain small changes. Hillary keeps saying re: health care, "We tried to do too much, too fast twelve years ago."

Berman spends time on Howard Wolfson, spokesperson for the Senator these days, who has taken a leave of absence from Glover Park but continues to hold an interest in the firm. The article is an important read.

I urge progressives to support only those candidates who have declined contributions from lobbyists and corporate PACs. It's evident that Hillary has nothing new to offer and that her race is contaminated.