John Edwards: Don't Replace Corporate Republicans with Corporate Democrats
by TomP, Sat Oct 06, 2007 at 05:58:08 AM EDT
Yesterday, John Edwards criticized the corporate nature of the Clinton campaign and why it is the wrong way for Democrats. John Edwards highlighted Senator Clinton's chief advisor, Mark Penn, as a prime example:
"Bush has been a perfect example of cronyism, because Blackwater has given hundreds of thousands of dollars to Republicans and to President Bush. I also saw this morning that Sen. Clinton's primary adviser, Mark Penn, who is like her Karl Rove - his firm is representing Blackwater. I think it is important for Iowa caucus-goers to understand the choices they have in this election. And it is the reason I continue to say we don't want to replace a group of corporate Republicans with a group of corporate Democrats."
Who is Mark Penn, what's the story on Blackwater, and why should any care that Clinton's chief advisor is a union buster? All around the fold.
First, Mark Penn has sought to clarify his company's role with Blackwater:
Burson says its subsidiary, BKSH & Associates, run by GOP operative Charlie Black, "helped Blackwater prepare for their recent hearing before Congress. With the hearing over, BKSH's temporary engagement has ended."
Okay, so his company's subsidiary prepared Blackwater to testify before Congress. Hmmm. And they won't do it again, right? Not until next time, anyway. And tell me, why do you need a PR firm to tell the truth to Congress?
Who is Mark Penn and why is he important?
But perhaps the most important figure in the campaign is her pollster and chief strategist, Mark Penn, a combative workaholic. Penn is not yet a household name, but perhaps he should be. Inside Hillaryland, he has elaborately managed the centrist image Hillary has cultivated in the Senate. The campaign is polling constantly, and Penn's interpretation of the numbers will in large part decide her political direction.
Yet Penn is no ordinary pollster. Beyond his connections to the Clintons, he not only polls for America's biggest companies but also runs one of the world's premier PR agencies.
Morris knew Penn from his days as a pollster in New York and brought him into the White House. Morris decided what to poll and Penn polled it. They immediately pushed Clinton to the right, enacting the now-infamous strategy of "triangulation," which co-opted Republican policies like welfare reform and tax cuts and emphasized small-bore issues that supposedly cut across the ideological divide."They were the ones who said 'Make the '96 election about nothing except V-Chips and school uniforms,'" says a former Clinton adviser. When Morris got caught with a call girl, Penn became the most important adviser in Clinton's second term. "In a White House where polling is virtually a religion," the Washington Post reported in 1996, "Penn is the high priest." He became known as the "most powerful man in Washington you've never heard of."
The man with the polls tells Hillary what to say and how to say it. Hiding corporate policies under the pablum of poll-tested platitudes. PR firms do that every day for corporations.
Just ask Labor about Mark Penn:
"Learning that Mark Penn was CEO of a company that in fact conducts some of its business busting unions was very, very problematic to the AFL-CIO, as well as to many other unions, and we made that clear" to the Clinton campaign, said Karen Ackerman, AFL-CIO political director. "This is an issue that continues."
Teamsters General President James P. Hoffa said in a statement: "We have expressed our concerns to Sen. Clinton about Mark Penn and his firm's work for anti-union companies. We value Sen. Clinton's commitment to strengthen America's middle class. But as long as Mark Penn continues to profit from his company's involvement with anti-union companies, this issue will not go away."
One of labor's bigger irritations with the Clinton campaign has been the role of chief strategist Mark J. Penn, who has remained worldwide president & CEO of Burson-Marsteller, the global public relations and public affairs firm. One of the B-M clients most despised by labor is Cintas Corp., which is the largest uniform supplier in North America and say it clothes 5 million people for work each day.
With Burson-Marsteller's assistance, Cintas has staved off a push to unionize its workforce, and the public relations firm's website at one point boasted of its work in parrying union pressure.
You cannot ask Eleazar Torres-Gomez about Burson's work for Cinitas in fighting unionization, a union that would have forced the company to obey safety rules, because he's dead:
Eleazar Torres-Gomez was pronounced dead on the scene after apparently being dragged by a conveyor into an industrial dryer. Torres-Gomez was trapped in the dryer--which can reportedly reach temperatures of 300 degrees--for at least 20 minutes.
A particularly brutal way to die. And Cinitas had been repeatedly fined by OSHA for the same safety violations that killed Mr. Torres-Gomez.
"Federal safety officials have called for a $2.78 million penalty against the Cintas Corporation, the nation's largest supplier of uniforms, for violations at its Tulsa plant, where a worker died when he was pulled into a large dryer
Representative Phil Hare, Democrat of Illinois, said yesterday, "OSHA's findings prove that Cintas inaction led to the death of Mr. Torres Gomez despite the company's ridiculous allegations that he tried to commit suicide or was too stupid to operate the machinery."
Hmm. Cinitas spin. It's enough to kill.
Cintas spokeswoman Pamela Lowe said it was Cintas' main public relations agency, doing "a wide range of corporate communications for us."
"I'll tell you that Cintas is pleased with the work that Burson has done," she said.
Connect the dots. Triangulation. Union Busting. Blackwater. Here's another: The Security Industrial State Lobbyists Paying for Future "Access" to Hillary Clinton:
Just days after the sixth anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, Hillary Clinton and several Democratic lawmakers will be getting uncomfortably cozy with moneyed interests who have stood to reap billions in post-9/11 homeland security spending, watchdog groups say.
No amount of PR can hide the truth.
Mr. Torres-Gomez' son Emmanuel Torres-Gomez testifying before a Congressional committte:
On March 6, 2007, my father was killed while working at a Cintas laundry in Tulsa, Oklahoma. He was reportedly dragged into an industrial dryer by a conveyor belt. This has been devastating for us. In 2005, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration fined Cintas for not putting guards on a dryer at a laundry in New York. The equipment that was unguarded in that case was similar to the equipment involved in my father's death. If the company had added the guards, which it knew was required by OSHA, my father would be alive today...
My father's death was preventable.
My Father's Death was Preventable
Please also check out Uniform Justice. Do what you can to help the Teamsters and UniteHere unionize Cinitas and prevent another horrific death like that suffered by Eleazar Torres-Gomez.
Which side will The Democratic Party be on? The Side of Money or the Side of The People?
John Edwards is right:
"we don't want to replace a group of corporate Republicans with a group of corporate Democrats."
For some, it may be a matter of life and death.