Friday, August 18, 2006

Judge Finds Tobacco Firms Deceived Consumers

The original article header for this Washington Post online article had a different title, specifically: Tobacco Firms Deceived Consumers, Judge Finds. Then, the Post pulled the link and put the article back up under a different title, namely: Big Tobacco Lied to Public, Judge Says.

I can only guess why the Washington Post did that. Maybe their editors got a call from some lawyer threatening a huge lawsuit or something; I mean, it's one thing to be caught lying to the public in general. But to be caught lying to one's own consumers, specifically? That would affect sales! And the press simply can't print a headline that would affect a company's sales, now can it?

Or maybe the Post simply found a shorter, less space-consuming headline. Who knows.

At any rate, I want you to think about the implications of the article for a few moments. Here's a bit of interesting information from said article:

A federal judge ruled yesterday that tobacco companies have violated civil racketeering laws, concluding that cigarette makers conspired for decades to deceive the public about the dangers of their product and ordering the companies to make landmark changes in the way cigarettes are marketed.

But U.S. District Judge Gladys Kessler said that under a 2005 appellate court ruling, she could not impose billions of dollars in penalties that had been sought by the Justice Department in its civil racketeering suit against the eight defendant tobacco companies.

So a judge can find that a company lied about its deadly product, but can't do anything to hold them accountable like imposing a hefty fine for deceit that led to the deaths of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands or even millions of smokers over decades?

While the article states that the ruling "will cost the industry millions of dollars -- a fraction of the cost of sanctions the companies faced at the outset of the case," it goes on to lay out the fact tobacco companies willfully and deliberately lied to consumers and destroyed evidence. Why a more devastating fine cannot be imposed on companies that got their customers hooked on a highly addictive drug so they would keep buying a product that would eventually kill them with cancer and respiratory diseases--and engaged in a massive conspiracy not only to cover it up but to continue the cycle by targeting younger "replacement" consumers in ad campaigns--is beyond my comprehension.

Tobacco companies have, through deceit and willful practices, sold a product that slowly kills its customers. They should be punished by sending their executives to prison that knew the truth and still engaged in those practices. They should be fined into bankruptcy and shut down. But they won't be, because that would rob an increasingly corrupt government of hundreds of millions of future bribery dollars paid out by tobacco lobbyists.

Case in point, current U.S. House Majority Leader John Boehner passing out blank checks from the tobacco lobby on the floor of the House of Representatives, trying to bribe his fellow members into supporting pro-tobacco legislation.
In 1995, Boehner handed out campaign checks from the tobacco industry to members on the House floor at a time when lawmakers were considering eliminating a tobacco subsidy.
Why Boehner is even still in Congress much less the House Majority Leader is a question that should be answered with something along the lines of, "damned if I know, let's vote the bum out!" by his constituents. Whether or not that happens is up to the election-rigging J. Kenneth Blackwell, Ohio's secretary of state and candidate for Ohio governor even though he himself has committed numerous criminal acts violating voting laws.

As we inch closer to the November elections in Ohio, it is imperative that voters turn out in enough numbers to oust the GOP from power. Newspapers report the growing anger at the Republican Party by Ohio voters, and by voters across the nation. They're sick and tired of the rampant, unchecked corruption and criminal wrong-doing by a GOP-dominated government that has stripped away civil liberties and padded the pockets of the already very wealthy--all at the expense of the public.

Ohio voters must turn out in droves to vote out Boehner, Senator Mike "I never saw a doctored 9/11 image I couldn't exploit" DeWine, and the majority of the state's Congressional GOPers. Most importantly, they must turn out in enough numbers to vote out the Republican-controlled Ohio legislature and elect Ted Strickland governor.

The future of our state, and our nation, hinges on taking back power from those who abuse it to further their own ends.

EDIT: In case you require further proof of those abuses of power, look no further than here. A dictatorship trying to justify and make legal blatant lawbreaking by a sitting occupant of the Oval Office. If this were Clinton doing it, the GOP would be all over his ass screaming for his head. But it's George W. Bush using the NSA to spy on Americans without warrants, so to them it's okay. This is the reason ALito and Roberts were appointed to the Supreme Court, folks.

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