The C.I.A. is investigating an informant’s accusation that Iraq obtained a particularly virulent strain of smallpox from a Russian scientist who worked in a smallpox lab in Moscow during Soviet times, senior American officials and foreign scientists say.
The officials said several American scientists were told in August that Iraq might have obtained the mysterious strain from Nelja N. Maltseva, a virologist who worked for more than 30 years at the Research Institute for Viral Preparations in Moscow before her death two years ago.
Miller’s Tuesday scoop in the Times, “C.I.A. Hunts Iraq Tie to Soviet Smallpox,” explores the theory that a Russian virologist named Nelja N. Maltseva might have given “a particularly virulent strain of smallpox” to the Iraqis, a finding that obviously grows out of the expertise she acquired in writing the book.
As the U.N. and member governments seek to uncover whatever illicit weapons programs Iraq might have, few tasks are as urgent as determining whether Baghdad has obtained the smallpox virus.
The only declared reserves of the 120 known strains of smallpox are in two labs, in the U.S. and Russia, but fears that Iraq may possess the virus have lately come to a head.
Why the suspicions? As the New York Times first reported last week, the CIA is investigating the possibility that a Russian scientist, Nelli Maltseva, ferried a nasty strain of smallpox from the Research Institute for Viral Preparations in Moscow to Iraq in 1990. She died two years ago.
A Bush administration intelligence review has concluded that four nations — including Iraq and North Korea — possess covert stocks of the smallpox pathogen, according to two officials who received classified briefings.
. . . In public, the White House has described its smallpox concerns in only hypothetical terms, and until now the gravity of its assessment has not been known.
. . . “Al Qaeda is interested in acquiring biological weapons, to include smallpox,” according to a classified intelligence summary prepared for senior officials debating options on the scope of a preventive vaccination campaign. . . . The “top five list” for al Qaeda, one official said, included anthrax, the nerve agent ricin, and botulinum toxin.
Think about how much money was involved with that war. Completely unaccountable money, pallets of money, shrink-wrapped bundles of cash, literally flowing to all those campaign contributors…
And the Tea Party wants that crowd back in charge. Hard to imagine.
Does Sanity Matter?
The reality that the Tea Party’s phony “grassroots” obscures is that the hated federal government is the only force potentially powerful enough – if it were energized on behalf of the people – to counter the overwhelming might of multinational corporations. By hobbling the government, the Tea Partiers are simply empowering the corporations to run everything.
Here is one example of why Americans “know” so many things that are false. This is an ad (shown of FOX News Oct. 28, 2010 approx 1pm PST) from one more Koch/corporate front group, “Americans for Prosperity.”
Lies? Of course. But THIS is all that many people know about the health care reform (except that insurance companies are raising their rates 40% and telling them it’s because of Obama.)
Conservative policies have propelled us into a global raced to the bottom. Conservatives can take pride: we’re winning!
“Free trade” — moving factories across borders to evade the protections of democracy that generations of Americans fought for — pits exploited workers with few rights and no means of improving their condition against Americans who once had environmental and wage protections. But ideas like protecting the gains of democracy are out of favor. That is labeled “protectionism” and is thought for some reason to be a bad thing. Conservatives were able to break the unions and wages for working people have stagnated, while the amount going to the top few has soared. Here is the future of American wages: From today’s Washington Post: In its biggest foreign market, BMW gets skilled workers for less,
Among the applicants: a former manager of a major distribution center for Target; a consultant who oversaw construction projects in four Western states; a supervisor at a plastics recycling firm. Some held college degrees and resumes in other fields where they made more money.
But they’re all in the factory now making $15 an hour – about half of what the typical German autoworker makes.
. . . the price of having a more globally competitive workforce means more in the United States could fall well short of the middle-class living standards that manufacturing workers once could expect. Wages adjusted for inflation have declined for these workers since 2003.
That’s right, German workers are now paid almost twice what American’s can make. (And they get health care and an average of 35 paid vacation days, we get 13.) Tea Party Wants To End Minimum Wage
The Tea Party has its sights set on the minimum wage. They say it is “unconstitutional” and want it “abolished.” Your Wages Are Next
If you still have a job, your wages are next. You can bet that executives in every company are wondering why they are paying their employees so much when there are so many hungry, unemployed people out there looking for work. Every dollar they can save on paying you goes into their pockets.
Isaiah Poole pointed out the other day, in Latest Reagan Revolution Price Tag: A $313 Billion Wage Cut, (Please click through an dread his whole post!)
New data compiled by the Social Security Administration reveals that the total wages earned by American workers fell by a total of $313 billion from 2007 to 2009, Johnston writes. That’s a 5 percent cut, and is measured in 2009 dollars.
In one year alone, from 2008 to 2009, wage income declined $215 billion.
Here’s another reason to vote in the mid-term elections this November: Conservatives think you need a pay cut. As I’ve said once or twice before, conservatives’ bottom line message is simple: America has economic problems because too many people have had it good for too long; and when they’re worse off again, the nation and its economy will be better off. The people they think had it too good for too long are you and me, and almost anyone who punches a clock to pull a paycheck.
The answer is to insist that goods brought into this country are made by people who are paid a decent wage. That way they could make enough to buy things we make, too. That really could be called trade. And the other answer is to pay people here enough to have a decent standard of living, even if it means hedge fund manager could only make maybe $100-200 million a year instead of billions. That way we would all benefit from our economy, instead of everything going to the top at the expense of the rest of us. Vote as if your standard f living depended on it. Sign up here for the CAF daily summary.
This post originally appeared at Campaign for America’s Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture I am a Fellow with CAF.
Tea Party members hate Wall Street bailouts, trade deals like NAFTA, job outsourcing, giant corporations buying laws, government spending, and elites telling the rest of us what to do. But there is no question that their candidates – many of them wealthy corporatists themselves – are funded by big corporations (even foreign oil companies) and Wall Street. So the question is, once in Congress will they vote with their base or their owners? And when they vote with the people who bought them, what will Tea Party members do about it? Trade
Tea Party members want to be able to buy things that are “Made In America” in stores again. I have yet to meet a Tea Party supporter who doesn’t absolutely hate NAFTA, WTO and other one-sided “free trade” agreements. They say these treaties “violate our sovereignty.” But Tea Party candidates are funded by groups like the Chamber of Commerce and others who are the drivers of these “free trade” policies that close American factories and send jobs out of the country. This does not bode well for these candidates voting the way Tea Party members expect them to if they are elected. Outsourcing
Tea Party members are astonished when they learn that the government gives companies tax breaks that encourage companies to send jobs away. But just a month ago a bill to do something about this was filibustered in the Senate by a unanimous Republican caucus. One thing about Tea Party candidates – they’re also unanimously Republicans. Does anyone other than Tea Party members really think the Tea Part candidates are going to go against the now-unanimous Republican support for these outsourcing incentives if elected? Tea Party candidate Scott Brown didn’t after he was elected. Bailouts
If there is one thing that unites all Tea Party members, it is hatred of the Bush Bank Bailouts (except they think these passed under Obama.) But this is an area where their leaders will almost certainly stand with the banks, because that’s where the money is — their campaign money to be precise. The other day I wrote about In Oregon one Wall Street hedge fund manager is spending up to $1 million (pocket change) on a front group to elect a Tea Party candidate and unseat a Congressman who sponsored a couple of Wall Street reform bills. Government Spending
Will Tea Party politicians vote to balance the budget? Really? Their members certainly expect them to. But like so many misinformed Americans, Tea Party members think the government spends most of its money on welfare and foreign aid. This is why Tea Party candidates refuse to specify just what spending they will cut to balance the budget. (Also see here, and here, and here, and here, and here, and here, and here, and here, etc.)
So when they get into office will they really cut spending — where the spending really is? There are plenty of reasons to think they won’t. The first and foremost reason is they are funded by people like the Chamber of Commerce who really, really want that spending to keep flowing. This is why Republicans increased government spending and deficits so much the last time they were in charge. In fact, there are reasons to think they’ll incresase spending. For example, they hate health care reform, but if they really vote to repeal it they will increase the deficit, because the reform cuts the projected deficits by at least $138 billion. But the bloated, huge, vast, overwhelming military budget might be worth a look. We spend more on military than every other country combined. (Total military-related spending actually pretty closely matched the deficit this year.) What do you think the odds are that the Tea Party politicians will cut the military budget? Foreign Oil
Tea Party members understand that our addiction to foreign oil is harmful. We spend more than $300 billion a year on foreign oil — much of it sent to the Middle East (MUSLIMS!) — and need to find alternative sources of energy. But Koch Oil is the primary organizer, supporter, funder, and everything of the Tea Party, as well as much of the so-called “conservative movement.” But Koch Oil is mostly about oil, not representative government. This is why they directly fund or set up front groups to support climate denial or oppose transit projects, alternative energy, even energy conservation. So don’t expect Tea Party leaders to do anything — anything — that Koch Oil doesn’t want them to do. What Happens When Tea Party Members Are Betrayed?
It’s pretty clear that the Tea Party members are being set up for a big disappointment. There is little chance that the politicians they are supporting are going to do what the members think they’re going to do once in office. The members might supply the votes, but the big corporations behind so many of the things that the Tea Party members hate are the ones supplying the money and organization. These politicians, once in office, will understand that the big money can go after them just as well is it went for them this time, if they don’t do what they’re told by their big corporate funders. But on the other hand, there will be lucrative lobbying jobs waiting for them if they play along. They are going to disappoint the Tea Party members, no question. What will Tea Party members do then? Sign up here for the CAF daily summary.
Should you vote? Does your vote matter? If you care about jobs, your vote really, really matters this time. If the Tea Party wave does manage to take over the House and/or Senate the plans they have announced will mean a jobs crisis far beyond anything we are seeing now.
Republicans say that cutting government spending to reduce deficits (and cutting taxes on the rich to bring them back) will create jobs by lowering interest rates. While they refuse to say what they will cut, they pledge to cut a lot. What will be the effect of cuts on jobs? Lowering interest rates is not going to happen because interest rates are already zero, but the cuts will clearly cost jobs. We know this for sure because in the last two years state budget cuts caused layoffs that simply overwhelmed job creation elsewhere — so many people were laid off by states that jobs created by the stimulus and private sector just didn’t register. So we can expect more of this.
Will their tax cuts for the rich create jobs? Bush cut taxes for the rich, and his two terms created a net of … wait for it … zero jobs. So don’t hold your breath waiting for jobs to come out of that plan. Businesses need customers, not tax cuts.
So what about ideas to get customers to businesses? Don’t get your hopes up there, either. Republicans want to get rid of any remaining stimulus designed to take up the slack in demand in our economy.
How about jobs from maintaining and modernizing our infrastructure — and the long-term job creation that comes from making our economy more competitive? Republicans call maintaining and modernizing the infrastructure “government spending” and since government spending is bad, ain’t gonna happen.
What about doing something about companies that send jobs out of the country? Well just a few weeks ago Democrats voted to repeal the tax break that encourages job outsourcing. Every single Republican voted to keep it. So don’t get your hopes up there, either.
So what about working with the other side to come up with new ways to create jobs? Republicans blocked everything for the last two years — something like 420 bills were filibustered, plus many nominees to agencies and the courts. So expect more stalemate – which means no action on jobs, unemployment or anything else. If You Care About Jobs
If you care about jobs you had best get out and vote. The change that is coming if you don’t vote is not the change you want. Sign up here for the CAF daily summary.