Sunday, October 19, 2014

The Political Economy of Ebola by Leigh Phillips Ebola is a problem that will not be solved, because it isn’t profitable to do so.

  Verne Strickland USA DOT COM:  October 19, 2014  
 I can afford not to agree with what you are going to read -- and I think I will. Nothing I have ever seen that has been "socialized", in my recollection, has ever succeeded without burgeoning government, loss of rights, and even murder and mayhem. Ebola is killing enough people as it is. But socialization of the entire quagmire will only result in more death and more disillusionment. More devices, collusion and politicization. In our country it is the left-wing radicals who want to run this show. It is a high stakes battle, and they -- led by the ever devious and plotting Barack Obama -- should be pushed off the stage. Already they have botched many opportunities to tamp down the danger, but have failed. Government is too big and ponderous to make sense of these things. Let's now keep them out of this, save some lives, and get this disaster turned around as only free enterprise and free thinkers can do it.
Joseph Ferdinand Keppler / Library of Congress

The Political Economy of Ebola

Ebola is a problem that will not be solved, because it isn’t profitable to do so. Or so some may say.

Joseph Ferdinand Keppler / Library of Congress
The Onion, as ever, is on point with its “coverage” of the worst recorded outbreak of Ebola, and the first in West Africa, infecting some 1,779 people and killing at least 961. “Experts: Ebola Vaccine At Least 50 White People Away,” read the cheeky headline of the July 31 news brief.
Our shorthand explanation is that if the people infected with Ebola were white, the problem would be solved. But the market’s role in both drug companies’ refusal to invest in research and the conditions on the ground created by neoliberal policies that exacerbate and even encourage outbreaks goes unmentioned.
Racism is certainly a factor. Jeremy Farrar, an infectious disease specialist and the head of the Wellcome Trust, one of the largest medical research charities in the world, told the Toronto Star: “Imagine if you take a region of Canada, America, Europe, and you had 450 people dying of a viral hemorrhagic fever. It would just be unacceptable — and it’s unacceptable in West Africa.”
He noted how an experimental Canadian-developed Ebola vaccine had been provided on an emergency use basis to a German researcher in 2009 after a lab accident. “We moved heaven and earth to help a German lab technician. Why is it different because this is West Africa?”
But Ebola is a problem that is not being solved because there is almost no money to be made in solving it. It’s an unprofitable disease.
There have been around 2,400 people killed since Ebola was first identified in 1976. Major pharmaceutical companies know that the market for fighting Ebola is minute while the costs of developing treatment remain significant. On a purely quantitative basis, some might (perhaps rightly) warn against focusing too much on this one disease that kills far fewer than, for example, malaria (300,000 killed since the start of the Ebola outbreak) or tuberculosis (600,000).
Yet the economic constraints retarding progress in developing Ebola treatment also explain why drug companies are resisting developing treatment to those diseases as well as many others.
The last decade has actually seen a tremendous advance in research into therapies for Ebola, usually in the public sector or by small biotech companies with significant public funding, with a variety of treatment options on the table including nucleic-acid-based products, antibody therapies, and a number of candidate vaccines — five of which have successfully protected non-human primates from Ebola.
Anthony Fauci, the head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has been telling everyone in the press who will listen to him in the last fortnight that an Ebola vaccine would be within spitting distance — if it weren’t for the corporate skinflints.
“We have been working on our own Ebola vaccine, but we never could get any buy-in from the companies,” he told USA Today.
“We have a candidate, we put it in monkeys and it looks good, but the incentive on the part of the pharmaceutical companies to develop a vaccine that treats little outbreaks every thirty or forty years — well, that’s not much incentive,” he told Scientific American.
Almost everyone familiar with the subject says that the know-how is there. It’s just that outbreaks are so rare and affect too few people for it to make development worthwhile — that is, profitable — for large pharmaceutical companies.
“These outbreaks affect the poorest communities on the planet. Although they do create incredible upheaval, they are relatively rare events,” Daniel Bausch, the director of the emerging infections department of Naval Medical Research Unit Six (NAMRU-6), a biomedical research laboratory in Lima, Peru, told Vox. “So if you look at the interest of pharmaceutical companies, there is not huge enthusiasm to take an Ebola drug through phase one, two, and three of a trial and make an Ebola vaccine that maybe a few tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of people will use.”
John Ashton, president of the UK Faculty of Public Health, wrote a vituperative opinion piece in the Independent on Sunday decrying “the scandal of the unwillingness of the pharmaceutical industry to invest in research to produce treatments and vaccines, something they refuse to do because the numbers involved are, in their terms, so small and don’t justify the investment.
“This is the moral bankruptcy of capitalism acting in the absence of an ethical and social framework,” he concluded.
This situation is not unique to Ebola. For thirty years, the large pharmaceutical companies have refused to engage in research into new classes of antibiotics. Due to this “discovery void,” clinicians expect that within twenty years, we will have completely run out of effective drugs against routine infections. So many medical techniques and interventions introduced since the 1940s depend upon a foundation of antimicrobial protection. The gains in life expectancy that humanity has experienced over this time depended on many things, but would certainly not have been possible without antibiotics. Prior to their development, bacterial infections were one of the most common causes of death.
In April, the World Health Organization issued its first-ever report tracking antimicrobial resistance worldwide, finding “alarming levels” of bacterial resistance. “This serious threat is no longer a prediction for the future, it is happening right now in every region of the world and has the potential to affect anyone, of any age, in any country,” the UN health body warned.
The reason for this is straightforward, as the companies themselves themselves admit: It simply makes no sense to pharmaceutical companies to invest an estimated $870 million (or $1.8 billion accounting for the cost of capital) per drug approved by regulators on a product that people only use a handful of times in their life when suffering from an infection, compared to investing the same amount on the development of highly profitable drugs for chronic diseases such as diabetes or cancer that patients have to take every day, often for the rest of their lives.
Every year in the US, according to the CDC, some two million people are infected with antibiotic-resistant bacteria. 23,000 die as a result.
We see an identical situation with vaccine development. People purchase asthma drugs or insulin, for example, for decades, while vaccinations usually require only one or two doses once in a lifetime. For decades now, so many pharmaceutical companies have abandoned not just vaccine research and development but production as well, that by 2003, the US began to experience shortages of most childhood vaccines. The situation is so dire that the CDC maintains a public website tracking current vaccine shortages and delays.
But at least with respect to Ebola, where the market refuses to provide, the defense department is comfortable intervening and setting aside free-market principles in the interests of national security.
Virologist Thomas Geisbert of the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston told Scientific American about his hope for the VSV vaccine, one of the most promising options against Ebola:
We’re trying to get the funds to do the human studies … but it really depends on financial support for the small companies that develop these vaccines. Human studies are expensive and require a lot of government dollars. With Ebola, there’s a small global market — there’s not a big incentive for a large pharmaceutical company to make an Ebola vaccine, so it’s going to require government funding.
William Sheridan, the medical director of BioCryst Pharmaceuticals, the developer of experimental anti-viral drug BCX4430, describes the financial predicament facing Ebola treatment research and development: “It just wouldn’t make the cut at a major company.”
But for a small company like his, the federal government has both backed research and promised to purchase stockpiles of anti-Ebola drugs as a preventative measure against bioterrorism. BCX4430 is also co-developed with the US Army Medical Research Institute for Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID). “There is a market, and the market is the US government,” he told NPR.
USAMRIID, along with Canada’s Public Health Agency, is also backing the development of ZMAPP, a serum of monoclonal antibiodies by a small San Diego-based biotech firm MAPP Biopharmaceutical, which was administered last week to two American doctors, Kent Brantly and Nancy Writebol, working with the evangelical Christian missionary group Samaritan’s Purse.
The pair had fallen ill in Liberia while taking care of patients infected with Ebola. Brantley’s condition had been rapidly deteriorating, and he had phoned his wife to give his farewells. Within an hour of Brantley receiving the experimental serum, his condition had reportedly reversed, with his breathing improving and rashes fading.
The following morning, he was able to shower on his own, and by the time of his arrival in the US after being evacuated from Liberia, he was able to climb down out of the ambulance without assistance. Writebol is now similarly “up and walking,” after her arrival in Atlanta from the Liberian capital.
We should be extremely cautious about drawing any conclusions from this development and claiming that the drug has cured the missionaries. We have a sample size of just two in this “clinical trial,” with no blinding or control groups. The drug had until now never been tested on humans for safety or efficacy. And as with any illness, a certain percentage of patients will recover on their own. We do not know whether ZMapp was the cause of the apparent recovery. Nonetheless, it is not unreasonable to state that this turn of events gives great hope.
Two of the ZMapp antibodies were originally identified and developed by researchers at the National Microbiology Laboratory in Winnipeg and at Defyrus, a Toronto-based “life sciences biodefense company,” with funding from the Canadian Safety and Security Program of Defence R&D Canada. The third antibody in the cocktail was produced by MappBio in collaboration with USAMRIID, the National Institutes of Health, and the Defense Threat Reduction Agency. The companies then partnered with Kentucky Bioprocessing in Owensboro, a protein production company that was bought earlier this year by the parent firm of RJ Reynolds Tobacco, to pharm the antibody-laden tobacco plants.
On hearing of the role of the Pentagon and Canada’s defense establishment, some have jumped to conspiracy theories. Indeed, ZMapp appears to be a perfect storm of popular nemeses: GMOs, Big Tobacco, the Pentagon, and injections that look a bit like vaccines!
But the Defense Department funding should not be viewed as nefarious. Rather, it is evidence of the superiority of the public sector as shepherd and driver of innovation.
However, not all unprofitable diseases are subjects of the colonels’ bioterror concern. And why should the private sector get to cherry pick the profitable conditions and leave the unprofitable ones for the public sector?
If, due to its profit-seeking imperative, the pharmaceutical industry is structurally incapable of producing those products that are required by society, and the public sector (in this case in the guise of the military) consistently has to fill in the gaps left by this market failure, then this sector should be nationalized, permitting the revenues from profitable treatments to subsidize the research, development, and production of unprofitable treatments.
In such a situation, we would no longer have to even argue whether the prevention of malaria, measles, or polio deserves greater priority; we could target both the big name and neglected diseases at the same time. There is no guarantee that turning on the tap of public funding will immediately produce a successful result, but at the moment, private pharmaceutical companies aren’t even trying.
This is precisely what is meant when socialists talk of capitalism being a fetter on the further development of the forces of production. Our concern here is not merely that the refusal of Big Pharma to engage in neglected tropical disease, vaccine, and antibiotic R&D is grotesquely immoral or unjust, but that the production of a potential cornucopia of new goods and services that could otherwise benefit our species and expand the realm of human freedom are blocked due to the free market’s lethargy and paucity of ambition.
Focusing on a vaccine or drugs is critical. But doing so without also paying attention to the deterioration of public health and general infrastructure across West Africa, and the wider economic conditions that contribute to the likelihood of outbreaks of zoonotic diseases like Ebola, is at best using a bucket to empty the water out of a leaky and sinking boat.
Phylogeographer and ecologist Rob Wallace has described well how neoliberal fallout has established the ideal conditions for the epidemic. Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone are some of the poorest countries on the planet, ranking 178th, 174th, and 177th out of 187 countries in the UN’s Human Development Index.
Were such an outbreak to occur in northern European countries, for example, nations with some of the best health infrastructure in the world, the situation would more likely have been contained.
It is not merely the dearth of field hospitals, lack of appropriate hygiene practices in existing hospitals, absence of standard isolation units, and limited cadre of highly trained health professionals that are able to track down every person that may have been exposed and isolate them. Or that better supportive care is a crucial condition of better outcomes, whatever the treatment available. The spread of the disease has also been exacerbated by a withering away of basic governmental structures that would otherwise be able to more broadly restrict movement, to manage logistical difficulties, and to coordinate with other governments.
Epidemiologist and infectious diseases specialist Daniel Bausch, who worked on research assignments near the epicenter of the current outbreak, describes in a paper published in July in the Public Library of Science journal Neglected Tropical Diseases how he “witnessed this ‘de-development’ firsthand; on every trip back to Guinea, on every long drive from Conakry to the forest region, the infrastructure seemed to be further deteriorated — the once-paved road was worse, the public services less, the prices higher, the forest thinner.”
Wallace notes that here, as in many countries, a series of structural adjustment programs have been encouraged and enforced by Western governments and international financial institutions that require privatization and contraction of government services, removal of tariffs while Northern agribusiness remains subsidized, and an orientation toward crops for export at the expense of food self-sufficiency. All of this drives poverty and hunger, and, in turn, competition between food and export crops for capital, land, and agricultural inputs leads to an ever greater consolidation of land ownership, in particular by foreign companies, that limits access of small farmers to land.
Ebola is a zoonotic disease, meaning a disease spread from animals to humans (or vice versa). Some 61 percent of human infections throughout history have been zoonotic, from influenza to cholera to HIV.
The single biggest factor driving growth in new zoonotic pathogens is increased contact between humans and wildlife, often by the expansion of human activity into wilderness. As neoliberal structural adjustment forces people off the land but without accompanying urban employment opportunities, Wallace points out, they plunge “deeper into the forest to expand the geographic as well as species range of hunted game and to find wood to make charcoal and deeper into mines to extract minerals, enhancing their risk of exposure to Ebola virus and other zoonotic pathogens in these remote corners.”
As Bausch puts it: “Biological and ecological factors may drive emergence of the virus from the forest, but clearly the sociopolitical landscape dictates where it goes from there — an isolated case or two or a large and sustained outbreak.”
These outcomes are the predictable result of unplanned, haphazard development in areas known to be the origin of zoonotic spillover, and without the sort of infrastructural support and egalitarian ethos that permitted, for example, the elimination of malaria from the American South after World War II by the CDC in one of its earliest missions.
Over these past few months, the worst Ebola outbreak in history has exposed the moral bankruptcy of our pharmaceutical development model. The fight for public health care in the United States and the allied fight against healthcare privatization elsewhere in the West has only ever been half the battle. The goal of such campaigns can only truly be met when a new campaign is mounted: to rebuild the international pharmaceutical industry as a public sector service as well as address wider neoliberal policies that indirectly undermine public health.
We could take inspiration from HIV/AIDS activist groups from the late 80s/early 90s like ACT UP and the Treatment Action Group, and, in the 2000s, South Africa’s Treatment Action Campaign, which combined direct action and civil disobedience against both companies and politicians with a scientifically rigorous understanding of their condition.
But this time, we need a larger, more comprehensive campaign covering not just one disease, but the panoply of market failures with respect to vaccine development, the antibiotic discovery void, neglected tropical diseases, and all neglected diseases of poverty. We need a science-based treatment activism that has the long-term, ambitious but achievable aim of the pharmaceutical industry’s democratic conquest.
We need a campaign to destroy the unprofitable diseases.

Voter Guides: North Carolina -- It's Tillis vs. Hagan. How do the Catholics see it?

via Verne Strickland usa dot com 10/19/2014 

Voter Guides: North Carolina



The New York Times takes down the Clinton Foundation. This could be devastating for Bill and Hillary

via Verne Strickland usadotcom  10/19/2014

The New York Times takes down the Clinton Foundation. This could be devastating for Bill and Hillary 
An internal review of the Clinton Foundations' workings has proved troubling.

Is the New York Times being guest edited by Rush Limbaugh? Today it runs with a fascinating takedown of the Clinton Foundation – that vast vanity project that conservatives are wary of criticising for being seen to attack a body that tries to do good. But the liberal NYT has no such scruples. The killer quote is this:
For all of its successes, the Clinton Foundation had become a sprawling concern, supervised by a rotating board of old Clinton hands, vulnerable to distraction and threatened by conflicts of interest. It ran multimillion-dollar deficits for several years, despite vast amounts of money flowing in.
Over a year ago Bill Clinton met with some aides and lawyers to review the Foundation's progress and concluded that it was a mess. Well, many political start-ups can be, especially when their sole selling point is the big name of their founder (the queues are short at the Dan Quayle Vice Presidential Learning Center). But what complicated this review – what made its findings more politically devastating – is that the Clinton Foundation has become about more than just Bill. Now both daughter Chelsea and wife, and likely presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton have taken on major roles and, in the words of the NYT "efforts to insulate the foundation from potential conflicts have highlighted just how difficult it can be to disentangle the Clintons’ charity work from Mr Clinton’s moneymaking ventures and Mrs Clinton’s political future." Oh, they're entangled alright.
The NYT runs the scoop in its usual balanced, inoffensive way – but the problem jumps right off the page. The Clintons have never been able to separate the impulses to help others and to help themselves, turning noble philanthropic ventures into glitzy, costly promos for some future campaign (can you remember a time in human history when a Clinton wasn't running for office?). And their "Ain't I Great?!" ethos attracts the rich and powerful with such naked abandon that it ends up compromising whatever moral crusade they happen to have endorsed that month. That the Clinton Global Initiative is alleged to have bought Natalie Portman a first-class ticket for her and her dog to attend an event in 2009 is the tip of the iceberg. More troubling is that businessmen have been able to expand the profile of their companies by working generously alongside the Clinton Foundation. From the NYT:
Last year, Coca-Cola’s chief executive, Muhtar Kent, won a coveted spot on the dais with Mr. Clinton, discussing the company’s partnership with another nonprofit to use its distributors to deliver medical goods to patients in Africa. (A Coca-Cola spokesman said that the company’s sponsorship of foundation initiatives long predated Teneo and that the firm plays no role in Coca-Cola’s foundation work.)
In March 2012, David Crane, the chief executive of NRG, an energy company, led a widely publicized trip with Mr. Clinton to Haiti, where they toured green energy and solar power projects that NRG finances through a $1 million commitment to the Clinton Global Initiative.
This is typical Clinton stuff. The second thing I ever wrote for this website was about how corporations invest in politicians as a way of building their brand and raising their stock price. It can lead to some funny partnerships. This, from 2011:
Just this month, bedding manufacturer Serta announced that it will be sponsoring Bill Clinton’s keynote address to an industry conference in August. "To us,"’ said the head of the company, "Clinton represents leadership. This appearance shows Serta is a leader and is taking a leadership position. This singles us out." Some might say that it is beneath a former president to basically endorse Serta’s new "Perfect Sleeper" line, even with its "revolutionary gel foam mattress".
The cynical might infer from the NYT piece that the Clintons are willing to sell themselves, their image, and even their Foundation's reputation in exchange for money to finance their personal projects. In Bill's case, saving the world. In Hillary's case, maybe, running for president.
It's nothing new to report that there's an unhealthy relationship in America between money and politics, but it's there all the same. While the little people are getting hit with Obamacare, high taxes and joblessness, a class of businessmen enjoys ready access to politicians of both Left and Right that poses troubling questions for how the republic can continue to call itself a democracy so long as it functions as an aristocracy of the monied. Part of the reason why America's elites get away with it is becuase they employ such fantastic salesmen. For too long now, Bill Clinton has pitched himself, almost without question, as a homespun populist: the Boy from Hope. The reality is that this is a man who – in May 1993 – prevented other planes from landing at LAX for 90 minues while he got a haircut from a Beverley Hills hairdresser aboard Air Force One. The Clintons are populists in the same way that Barack Obama is a Nobel prize winner. Oh, wait…
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Tim Stanley 

Dr Tim Stanley is a historian of the United States. His new book about Hollywood politics is out in May. His personal website is and you can follow him on Twitter @timothy_stanley.

Editorial: Tillis best for Senate -- The Daily Reflector, Greenville NC October 18, 2014

via Verne Strickland usa dot com
Editorial: Tillis best for Senate
The Daily Reflector, Greenville NC
Saturday, October 18, 2014

The U.S. Senate race between incumbent Kay Hagan and challenger, N.C. House Speaker Thom Tillis, is among the nation’s tightest as Republicans look to regain control of the Senate. The Obama administration’s Affordable Care Act and the president’s unpopular handling of numerous scandals, military operations and public safety issues reflect poorly on Sen. Hagan’s close alliance with the president. Tillis’ lead role in the state’s refusal to accept Medicaid expansion dollars, and in reshaping funding for education and teachers’ pay in North Carolina, have worked against him among those who depend on health care and supporters of public schools.
Hagan and Tillis each discussed their goals and policy positions with The Daily Reflector’s editorial board — Hagan visiting in August, and Tillis on Friday.

Hagan has embraced her ranking by the National Journal this summer as “the most moderate senator,” to which Tillis responds by pointing out that she has voted with Obama 95 percent of the time.
This newspaper has commended Hagan’s efforts to reach across party lines, such as earlier this year when she worked with Republicans to introduce the Sportsmen’s Act of 2014, aimed at providing more access to federal lands. But Hagan has never emerged as a recognizable advocate for compromise. In fact, she has steadfastly supported what is arguably the most divisive piece of legislation this nation has endured — the Affordable Care Act.
Tillis can be criticized for his stance on rejecting Medicaid expansion dollars, which has allowed too many working North Carolinians to fall through the cracks in health care coverage. The move also has hurt this state’s network of health care providers, a sizable portion of which are built around government subsidies for indigent care. Tillis’ defense of that position has merit, however, especially noting that he believes the situation should change next year, now that the state has corrected budgeting problems with Medicaid.

Although Tillis favors diversifying the public school model in ways that will not benefit most North Carolina families whose children occupy schools, his extensive involvement in public schools, including serving as PTA president, is impressive. Given the chance to expound on his vision for public education and many other issues, Tillis comes across as thoughtful, compromising, well studied and sincere.
Tillis sees government’s primary function as helping to promote job growth. His economic ideas and views on regulation are favorable toward corporations and wealthy people, with the expectation that such policies would benefit everyone through job creation. That view has merit, but must be mindful of the burdens faced by middle- and lower-income citizens in making sure the balance does not swing too far.
For Republicans, this and other key Senate races seek to end the gridlock that has essentially shut down the U.S. Senate. Tillis is right in pointing out that the ACA was ill conceived, deceptively promoted and is hurting far more Americans than it is helping. He is right to point out that Hagan’s support for the ACA has disrupted the health care plans and raised the cost of coverage for most of her constituents.
The nation must move beyond the failed policies and partisan gridlock that have served to stagnate incomes and slow economic recovery by stopping the wheels of government, most notably in the Senate.
North Carolina can best contribute to facilitating that change by electing Thom Tillis on Nov. 4.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Kay Hagan’s October Surprise: Her family’s businesses benefited from $400K in stimulus funds.

Kay Hagan’s October Surprise:
Her family’s businesses benefited from $400K in stimulus funds.

(Alex Wong/Getty Images)


Campaigning for the Senate in 2012, former Harvard law professor cum left-wing populist Elizabeth Warren touched down in North Carolina and told voters, “The game is rigged.”
She was more right than she knew. As it turns out, North Carolina’s Democratic senator was doing some of the rigging. Now, Kay Hagan’s political future may depend on how voters react to the story.

Hagan’s vote for the 2009 stimulus, coupled with revelations that the legislation resulted in taxpayer funding for her family’s businesses, has emerged as an October surprise in a race hitherto marked by her unexpected resilience in a difficult political environment.
The story has received limited attention in local press, but now a Koch-backed free-market group is launching a major TV ad campaign accusing the Hagans of self-dealing.
“Kay Hagan said that the stimulus would help North Carolina — instead it helped the Hagans,” James Davis of Freedom Partners Action Fund told National Review Online. “What voters despise most about Washington is that they aren’t playing by the same set of rules as everyone else. The fact that the Hagan family business received nearly $400,000 taxpayer dollars from the stimulus just reinforces what everyone already suspects. The Hagans got richer and North Carolina paid the price.”
The super PAC plans to spend at least $1 million to bring that message to TV screens across the Tar Heel state, starting next week.
In late September, Politco reported that JDC Manufacturing, a company owned by Hagan’s husband, received almost $400,000 in stimulus grants to help pay for energy-efficiency upgrades. Thereafter, the Carolina Journal reported that Hagan’s husband kept the stimulus money in the family by paying a company he founded with their son to make the upgrades. That decision “appears to be at odds with the conflict of interest policy the company submitted with the grant application,” wrote the Carolina Journal in mid October, noting that the elder Hagan assured the federal government that his company avoids even the appearance of a conflict of interest.
Hagan’s campaign told Politico that she had nothing to do with her husband’s winning the grants. Presumably, she also had nothing to do with his decision to use the stimulus money to hire another family-owned company to make the upgrades.
JDC Manufacturing did Hagan’s campaign no favors when, as the project came in under budget, it “kept all of the savings, sending none back to taxpayers who had funded the stimulus grant,” according to the Carolina Journal. The Freedom Partners ad puts it this way:
Kay Hagan claimed Obama’s failed $800 billion stimulus would help North Carolina, but now we know it was Kay Hagan’s family who profited. . . . And what did the company do? It funneled the money to another company owned by the Hagans to do the work.
This kind of story can damage a candidate, as a liberal super PAC acknowledged in another context. “Voters are connecting the dots when candidates take positions that are not in the best interest of their state or good public policy, but instead financially benefit a candidate’s campaign benefactors,” Christopher Lehane wrote in a memo obtained by Politico for Next Gen Climate. The super PAC, which is backed by environmentalist Tom Steyer, is “on pace to spend $50 million on the 2014 midterm elections” against Hagan’s opponent, Thom Tillis, and other Republicans, according to Mother Jones.
Now Steyer’s counterparts on the right are helping voters connect the dots between Hagan’s position in government and her family’s bank account. The issue has already gained traction among Republican voters. “A lot of the volunteers are really upset about this story,” Donald Bryson, executive director of American for Prosperity’s North Carolina chapter, told NRO. “Whether it’s illegal or not, it doesn’t look good.” Americans for Prosperity, a Koch-supported advocacy group focused on get-out-the-vote efforts in North Carolina, might also have its army of volunteers raise this issue when going door-to-door.
The independent swing voters likely to decide a close election, according to a public pollster in the state, tend to be very concerned about these sorts of allegations.
“Their suspicion of the integrity of government is part of their identity,” says Martin Kifer, a former Democratic staffer who now conducts polls for High Point University. That might explain why, for instance, Peter Schweizer’s book on congressional exemptions on insider-trading laws generated such outrage and immediately prompted action. More than 150 lawmakers co-sponsored the Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge Act in response to the book, which was spotlighted by CBS’s 60 Minutes. In short order, a bill that had previously received minimal support was signed into law.
Hagan’s access to stimulus funding is obviously different from insider trading, but the story on “how Senator Hagan’s husband won stimulus cash” taps into the same kind of voter suspicions.
With Hagan and Tillis separated by 1.4 points in the Real Clear Politics average of polls, anything that increases the passion of the GOP base while appealing to independents could be decisive.
On Election Day, “if we’re within a few thousand votes of each other, everything matters,” Kifer says.
— Joel Gehrke is a political reporter for National Review Online.

Friday, October 17, 2014

From CAROLINA JOURNAL -- All About the Hagan Grants. It's ugly, factual and incriminating!

CJ Special Series:                       

Carolina Journal News Reports
All About The Hagan Grants

                               October 18, 2014

Several businesses owned by Democratic U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan's husband, son, and other family members received federal energy grants. One grant, of $250,644, came from the Obama administration's stimulus program; the second, of $50,000, was from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Rural Development program.

The money was used to make energy improvements and install solar panels on a building owned by a Hagan family company, while another Hagan family company handled the installation. Meantime, the senator or her husband consulted a powerful Washington-based Democratic attorney for ethics advice about the grants. Read all of CJ's coverage in this series.

(10.16.14) USDA Office Blocks Access To Hagan Grant Records
RALEIGH — After first agreeing to allow Carolina Journal to inspect the documents relating to a taxpayer-funded U.S. Department of Agriculture energy grant to a company owned by family members of U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan, the USDA Rural Development office in Raleigh later said the matter was being handled in Washington — implying the USDA’s headquarters in the nation’s capital.

(10.15.14) Hagan Firm Received Second Federal Solar Grant
RALEIGH — JDC Manufacturing, a company co-owned by Democratic U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan’s husband Charles “Chip” Hagan, received a $50,000 renewable energy grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture in July 2011, less than a year after it got a $250,444 stimulus grant for a related project. The two grants were used for the installation of rooftop solar panels on a 300,000-square-foot building in Reidsville owned by JDC and leased to another Hagan family business.

(10.15.14) Stimulus Story Reveals Much
The next time you have solar panels installed on your property at public expense, you may want to hire yourself to do the job. It worked out well for the Hagans.

(10.14.14) Hagan Firm Keeps Stimulus Project Savings, Sends None to Taxpayers
REIDSVILLE — JDC Manufacturing, a company co-owned by Democratic U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan’s husband Charles “Chip” Hagan, lowered the total cost of a 2010 stimulus-funded energy project but kept all of the savings, sending none back to taxpayers who had funded the stimulus grant. Also, JDC’s decision to hire a separate company founded by Chip and son Tilden appears to violate a conflict-of-interest provision that was included in the application for the stimulus grant.

(10.13.14) Hagan Inconsistent About Stimulus Ethics
RALEIGH — Democratic U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan’s account in Thursday’s Senate debate regarding ethics questions surrounding the $250,644 stimulus grant awarded in 2010 to JDC Manufacturing, a Reidsville-based company owned by her husband Charles “Chip” Hagan and his brothers, John and David, differed from a statement made last month by her campaign.

(10.07.14) Hagan’s Husband Used Stimulus Money To Hire His Own Company
RALEIGH — Green State Power was formed seven weeks before JDC Manufacturing — a company owned in part by Greensboro attorney Charles “Chip” Hagan III, Sen. Hagan’s husband — received a $250,644 stimulus grant that was used for the solar project Green State Power installed at a 300,000-square-foot facility in Reidsville, N.C. that JDC owns. Chip Hagan, son Tilden, and son-in-law Will Stewart are listed on a 2013 annual report as managers of Green State Power.
NC SPIN: North Carolina's most intelligent television talk show

Matt Drudge Tweets Dire Warning: “Self-Quarantine”!

Matt Drudge Tweets Dire Warning: “Self-Quarantine”

matt drudge

The world’s leading news aggregator always stays on top of the most important stories in the world. With over a billion monthly visitors to his web site at, it’s why thousands of media organizations follow his every post. Though seemingly a private person, there is no doubt that Matt Drudge has the inside scoop on many goings on in Washington and around the country. With contacts in high places, it stands to reason that the man behind the largest news source on the planet might get a heads up about key developments every so often.
Wednesday, after having completely wiped his social media Twitter account clean recently, Matt Drudge posted his first message in months.
It’s a simple message and very much to the point, but for those following the news of failing Ebola containment protocols it’s terrifying.
Maybe Matt Drudge has gotten word of something that we’re not yet aware of just yet.
Or, perhaps, like any concerned citizen watching the Centers for Disease control botch the handling of Ebola, he sees the writing on the wall. The virus, as has been the case in Africa, will continue to spread.
Given what we know of the last 48 hours, the virus made it’s way from Dallas to Ohio and back when the second person to contract Ebola in America, Amber Vinson, boarded a commercial passenger plane while symptomatic. She was approved to fly after contacting the CDC and telling them she had a low-grade fever and had been a nurse treating Patient Zero Thomas Duncan.
There’s no telling how many people Vinson or Nina Pham (Patient #2) came into contact with while they were infected or where those people are now.
Given these latest developments, Matt Drudge may be right on target with his recommendation to self-quarantine.
But is it time to do that now?
Tess Pennington, author of The Prepper’s Blueprint, addresses this in her latest guideWhen Should I Go Into a Full Pandemic Lockdown Mode And Self Quarantine?
Before you dismiss this as just another over-sensationalized attempt at fear mongering, understand this: Ebola has a 70% mortality rate and there is no cure.
Let’s be absolutely clear – this is not a common cold or flu. If you get Ebola, odds are you will die.
Pennington outlines several events and warning signs that should trigger your personal lockdown plan. She also goes on to provide details on what you’ll need to survive an extended quarantine in your own home.
For people who have never considered the possibility of a pandemic or large-scale emergency, it sounds simple enough. Lock the doors. No one goes in, no one goes out.
But unless you’ve planned for a pandemic in advance you can expect to run out of essential supplies like food pretty quickly. Moreover, have you considered what you’ll do if utility workers stop showing up for work and the power or water treatment plants stop functioning? What about sanitation – where will you put all that waste, especially if the sewage system goes down along with other utilities?
For those with country retreats or survival “bug outs” and the means to go off-grid, the solution is easy. For those living in cities, working full-time jobs, and kids at school it becomes a daunting task.
Nonetheless, Drudge is right. What happens if this virus continues to spiral out of control and the medical system can no longer handle it? Despite our purportedly advanced health care infrastructure, what if we go the way of West Africa? What if the CDC can’t stop it?
Then, self quarantine becomes the only viable means of prevention.
You absolutely cannot depend on the government to protect you this time. If Ebola spreads, your ability to prevent infection and survive will come down to one factor: YOU.
Are you ready for this possibility?