The Hightower Report

The Rise of the Imperial Presidency; and What Color is Your Steak?


THE RISE OF THE IMPERIAL PRESIDENCY

Let's measure how far we've gone down the road to imperial government under the reign of King George the W.

Start with 9/11, when al Qaeda operatives crash-bombed America. In response, George W. misused and fabricated foreign intelligence in order to mislead We the People so he could attack Iraq – a country that had nothing to do with 9/11 or al Qaeda. Some 2,200 American citizens have been killed in his war of lies, which he now calls a "fight for freedom."

Meanwhile, in the name of this phony freedom fight, the Bushites have suspended some of our real freedoms. For example, George has illegally been using the national security agency to spy secretly on American citizens who have no connection whatsoever to terrorists. When confronted, Bush imperiously snarled at the majority of Americans who oppose this unconstitutional spying program, branded critics as treasonous, and royally asserted that he has an inherent presidential power to usurp our right to be free of snooping by his government.

Now we learn that Bush okayed the takeover of six U.S. ports by a company owned by the government of the United Arab Emirates. These are the same oil monarchs who helped finance the terrorists who crash-bombed us on 9/11! So much for homeland security! Tut-tut, says Bush, this is "a legitimate deal that will not jeopardize the security of the country." We're told we should just trust him.

Trust you? You lied about Iraq and sicced spies on us. Show us the details of this port deal you signed. Oh, no can do, says the White House – we've declared the deal a secret.

So that's where we are. Our loved ones are dying in Iraq, our phones are secretly tapped, and our ports are secretly dealt to the UAE without our even being allowed to know what the deal entails. All of this is the new "freedom" imposed on us by a president who would be king.


WHAT COLOR IS YOUR STEAK?

Time for another "Gooberhead Award" [Beanie-cap breakdown], presented periodically to someone in the news who has their tongue running 100 miles per hour ... but forgot to put their brain in gear.

Today we have three Goobers, all trying to convince us consumers that there's nothing devious or dangerous about the politically powerful meat industry using "modified atmosphere packaging."

Tyson, Wal-Mart, and other food giants have been gassing their precut packaged meats with carbon monoxide, which turns steak puckishly pink. This makes weeks-old meat appear to be as fresh as the day it was cut. But, wait – we've been taught that the clearest indicator of freshness is the meat's color: Pink, good. Brown, bad. It's raw consumer deception to let industry pass off old meat as pink and fresh.

Yet, the FDA has allowed just that, without even holding public hearings or requiring that gassed meat be labeled. Oh, says Laura Tarantino, FDA's head of additive safety, "If we had evidence that consumers would be misled [by the color alteration] ... we'd be concerned." Hello, Gooberhead, before you okayed this deception, you were given three separate studies showing that, indeed, meat shoppers do rely on color.

Then there's Ann Boeckman, a Washington lobbyist for one of the meat gassers. This Goober gaily proclaims that perpetually pink meat won't cover up spoilage because bad meat will have "slime formations and a bulging package." Gosh, Ann, I'd really rather have a clue before the meat turns totally rotten, wouldn't you?

John Catsimatidis is Goober No. 3. Honcho of a grocery store chain selling the pink stuff, John has no patience with those who're balking at the trick meat: "This is what's going to happen in the meat business," he says flatly.

If you consumers would like to have something to say about that, call STOP (Safe Table Our Priority) at 802/863-0555.

For more information on Jim Hightower's work – and to subscribe to his award-winning monthly newsletter, The Hightower Lowdown – visit www.jimhightower.com. You can hear his radio commentaries on KOOP Radio, 91.7FM, weekdays at 10:58am and 12:58pm.

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

George W. Bush, 9 / 11, al Qaeda, Iraq war, United Arab Emirates, Gooberhead Award, Tyson, Wal-Mart, FDA, Ann Boeckman, Safe Table Our Priority

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