Silver Rights

News, thoughts and comments on civil rights and related issues.

Thursday, December 02, 2004  

News: 'Black' PAC misleads public

In our continuing probe of the National Center for Public Policy Research and its offspring, our next stop is with one of its political action committees, the Black America's PAC. As you may have guessed already, many of the candidates supported by the 'black' PAC are white conservatives. The black candidates who get backing from the group seek succor from the far Right. Two black candidates from BAMPAC's 2002 and 2004 lists are representative.

The Progress-Index reports on one of them.

RICHMOND - Democrat Robert "Bobby" Scott won his seventh term in Congress, handily defeating challenger Winsome Sears to retain the 3rd District seat in the U.S. House of Representatives.

. . .Sears, an ex-Marine and member of the Virginia House of Delegates, ran with the endorsement of U.S. Sen. George Allen, R-Va. She had directed a homeless shelter for women and children and served as regional education manager with the Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce.

Before being elected to Congress, Scott served five years in the Virginia House of Delegates and 10 years in the state Senate.

Allen, Sears' patron, has ties to the neo-Confederate movement. As governor, Allen supported dedicating April as Confederate History Month in Virginia.

Herman Cain, who ran for the Senate in Georgia, is a 'front' for the National Center for Public Policy Research in regard to issues of corporate malfeasance. The failed candidate is a former head of Godfather's Pizza. He is usually brought forth to deny that global warming is a problem. A piece he penned for the CNS opinion site is typical.

For several years, the news media have been warning us of the impending doom of global warming. Well, they almost got it right. Forget their reports that blame everything from hot weather to cold weather on global warming. The impending doom lurking just around the corner is the Kyoto Protocol - and Russia's decision to go along with this nonsense will make it a reality for a good bit of the globe. The U.S. is already under pressure to join in despite the potential price tag of more than $400 billion each year.

Some of the candidates supported by this 'black' PAC leave you scratching your head even more than this odd couple. People like Sears and Cain are at least African-American. They live in states with significant black populations. Mark Shurtleff of Utah, supported by BAMPAC for attorney general, is a white conservative. He is best known for extreme advocacy for gun ownership. The NCPPR's support of any far Right political position is the only reason that I can see for Shurtleff being listed as a Black America's Pac candidate.

If you have read my coverage of black 'front' groups for the Right over time, I suspect you may be experiencing dizziness by now. Relax. It is not you. The trail is a winding and confusing one. But, it always leads back to the same place -- conservative white interests and the organizations they fund. It is their opinions that are being promoted, not those of black Americans.

What's the art?

A black puppet.

Reasonably related

Herman Cain says that his views represent those of many African-Americans. He expresses some of those views in this article from Men's News Daily.

posted by J. | 7:15 PM

Tuesday, November 30, 2004  

Commentary: Project 21 shills for tobacco industry

We've talked about the Right Wing 'front' group, Project 21. We've talked about the health and economic problems associated with smoking among the low-income, who are disproportionately African-American. It is time to talk about the two topics together. One of the monied interests the parent organization of Project 21 is in bed with is the tobacco industry. The Center for Media & Democracy offers background information on the National Center for Public Policy Research.

The National Center for Public Policy Research (NCPPR) began operations in 1982. It was created to present the conservative perspective on issues of significant public concern. As its first project, it exposed human rights abuses by the Soviet Union in Afghanistan. It then fought against a proposed "nuclear freeze" and began supporting the Reagan Administration's policies regarding Central America. It now calls itself a "communications and research foundation dedicated to providing free market solutions to today's public policy problems."

Following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, NCPPR began using the rhetoric of anti-terrorism to attack environmentalists. In May 2002, it created the Envirotruth web site, to attack what it called the "jihad" that environmental activists are waging against corporations.

The NCFPPR is easy to read. If conservative and/or corporate interests will profit from a policy, they favor it. If the policy will have an equalizing or protective impact on society, the NCFPPR opposes it. Among causes it opposes are environmentalism and regulation of food manufacturers.

The names are the same ones we already know from the African American Republican Leadership Council and Project 21. Amy Moritz Ridenour is president. Her husband, David A. Ridenour, is vice-president. The white fellow who pulls the puppet strings at Project 21, David Almasi, is executive director.

NCPPR's projects include Project 21, a conservative African American organization that opposes affirmative action and the minimum wage and has issued news releases in support of genetically modified foods. Project 21 has been funded by R.J. Reynolds, and it has lobbied in support of tobacco industry interests, opposing FDA regulation of the industry, excise taxes and other government policies to reduce tobacco use.

A column by a Project 21 member at World Net Daily, a conservative opinion site, is typical of the front group's advocacy for the tobacco and fast food industries, including its sponsor, RJ Reynolds. Mychal Massie argues that the multi-state tobacco settlement was picking on the corporate giants of the industry. According to him, they are charitable organizations who should be praised for their unselfishness, instead of criticized for the contributing to ill health and morbidity worldwide.

The cigarette industry is almost single-handedly responsible for the NASCAR experience so many have come to enjoy. RJ Reynolds alone has contributed over $101 million to the old Winston Cup series. They contributed over $50 million to the NHRA. RJR had involvement in Formula 1 racing and every other kind of racing. They poured millions into facilities, marketing, support and promotion. All of which translated into jobs and money back into the communities. All of that from just one company.

Yet the tobacco industry was forced into a $246 billion legal settlement with 46 states. I personally have known many people who smoked cigarettes, myself included – I cannot identify one that is being treated for a cigarette related illness. But in the past 8 years, I know three people who have died from AIDS – a family member and a life-long friend, both of whom ascribed to a lifestyle that was obviously detrimental to their health, and the another from intravenous drug abuse.

. . .When one examines the beneficial numbers of both the fast-food industry and the cigarette industry, I would argue their collective good far outweighs the bad to all but the trial lawyers.

When I questioned other friends, none knew of anyone suffering from cigarette-related illnesses, or a french-fry-and-pickles health-related problem – but several knew at least one who either had HIV or whose death was AIDS related. More than 400,000 Americans die of a smoking-related condition each year.

The World Health Organization estimates 4.9 million people die of smoking related illnesses each year. More than 440,000 Americans are among them.

Massie's piece is so poorly reasoned that it is unintentionally comic. Particularly telling is the straw man he has set up to compare the tobacco and fast food industries to -- sodomists who molest children. If one has to go there to make one's corporate sponsor look good, one is is deep trouble. Suffice it to say that Project 21's handful of black miscreants are not chosen on the basis of intelligence. Read "If health costs are key, why not sue sodomists?" in its entirety.

As I said in a previous entry, the tobacco industries' continuing claim that there is no link between smoking and disease mainly falls on deaf ears these days. But that does not prevent its paid lackeys from continuing to spread the propaganda. Among those participating are the denizens of Project 21.

What's the art?

The Grim Reaper.

Reasonably related

I with not hesitate to call 'front' organizations what they are. My hope is that knowing a group is a fraud is enough for most people to treat it with skepticism. But, some folks express stronger opinions about these groups. Read what two African-American writers think at The Black Commentator.

posted by J. | 3:45 PM

Monday, November 29, 2004  

Health: Low-income more likely to smoke

A recent study reveals mokers pay through the nose for their habit. The cost of smoking is high -- and not just for the cigarettes. Smokers pay about $37.50 per package of cigarettes in costs of various kinds. Those costs include the routine, cleaning their clothes, and the esoteric, buying medications.

Ironically, the people most likely to be spending that money are least able to afford to.

The Centers for Disease Control have the data.

Unfortunately, disparities in smoking prevalence by socioeconomic status have not narrowed and may have widened during 1983?2002, highlighting the need for expanded interventions that can better reach persons with low socioeconomic status. Comprehensive tobacco control programs at local, state, and national levels need to ensure that their prevention and cessation efforts reach persons with inadequate resources and limited access to health care.

The news is not all bad. African-Americans, who were more likely to be smokers when data collection began considering race in the 1960s, now are less likely to be smokers. Women have gone from 28.4 percent of smokers in 1955 to 20 percent in 2002. Still, race and economic status are two characteristics that highly correlate with smoking. The Institute on Race, Health Care and the Law, citing data from the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) has observed:

The prevalence of cigarette smoking is related to age, education, and income, and, thus, race, ethnicity, and gender. The percentage of persons smoking decreases as income increases. Similarly, among both men and women, those with less than a high school education were almost twice as likely to smoke as those with a college degree or higher education.

According to NCHS, the "[h]igher prevalence of cigarette smoking among those of lower socioeconomic status was manifested in elevated lung cancer and heart disease death rates for lower income adults during 1978-89." As shown in table 2.2, in the poor, near-poor, and middle-income groups, Hispanic women are least likely to smoke cigarettes. Similarly, Hispanic males are less likely to smoke than all other groups, except Hispanic women. In the poor and near- poor income groups, white males and black males are the groups with the highest percentages of adults who smoke. Thus, those persons are at greater risk for health problems. [Footnotes omitted.]

The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association has additional analysis.

Current smoking prevalence also was higher among adults living below the poverty level (32.9%) than among those at or above the poverty level (22.2%). (Published 2000 poverty thresholds from the U.S. Bureau of the Census were used in these calculations.) During the gap in smoking prevalence between those living below the poverty line and those living at or above it increased from 8.7 percentage points to 10.7 percentage points. In addition, the percentage of ever smokers who had quit was higher for persons at or above the poverty level than for those below the poverty line. As with current smoking prevalence, this gap was larger in 2002 than in 1983 (20.0 percentage points versus 18.7 percentage points). [See link for supporting citations.]

An interesting aspect of the data is that blacks and women are disproportionately poor, but have had a high rate of reduction in smoking over a four-decade period. Perhaps smoking among low-income white males is a major factor keeping the relationship between socioeconomic status and smoking high.

Reasonably related

Read more about the cost of smoking at Mac-a-ro-nies.

posted by J. | 3:55 PM