Humane Society Makes It's First Presidential Endorsement Ever-- Vote No On Palin
This morning's Washington Post has an incisive look by Dan Froomkin on why the Bush years has been such a good era for fat cats.
Looking back on the wreckage of the Bush era, there is one undeniable bright spot: It's been a very good time to be a fat cat. A consistent result of virtually every major Bush policy, from tax cuts to war, has been to enrich the already wealthy.
The pinnacle of Bush's legacy may turn out to be a $700 billion bailout of the high-flying Wall Street firms that made enormous fortunes -- and rewarded themselves with billions in bonuses-- leveraging risky mortgage-backed assets. Now that those firms are in deep trouble, the Bush administration wants taxpayers-- many of whom are facing their own financial troubles-- to come to the rescue.
And, in case there's any doubt that it's fat-cats-first with this White House, the news today is that Bush aides are balking at moves that would require companies accepting bailouts to cap executive pay, or give taxpayers equity for their contributions.
Looking at McCain's career-long voting record-- and especially his voting record during Bush's second term-- and looking carefully at the proposals McCain has laid out as a basis for a McCain-Palin administration, it is impossible to doubt that we are being asked to give the basic philosophy behind the Bush era four more years. It is clear, however, that the only cats that will benefit from 4 more years are fat cats. Cats, dogs and other animals... not so much.
Now, the Humane Society of the U.S.A. was founded in 1877-- even before McCain was born-- and it's stated goal was to help develop a network of local organizations to prevent cruelty to children and animals. Today it's the nation's largest and most effective animal protection organization. It isn't liberal or conservative, Democratic or Republican. In fact, it has never in its entire history endorsed anyone running for president... until yesterday.
Yesterday, the Humane Society Legislative Fund unanimously endorsed Barack Obama and Joe Biden. In the past they have endorsed candidates from both parties based narrowly on issues pertaining to animal welfare. I remember being angry in 2006 that they endorsed reactionary Republicans like Sue Kelly (R-NY), John Sweeney (R-NY), Randy Kuhl (R-NY), Dave Reichert (R-WA), Dan Lungren (R-CA), Mary Bono (R-CA), Ken Calvert (R-CA), Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), David Dreier (R-CA), Michael McCaul (R-TX), Lamar Smith (R-TX), the Diaz-Balart Brothers (R-FL), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Ric Keller (R-FL), Mean Jean Schmidt, who eats live puppies (R-OH), Steve Chabot (R-OH), Randy Forbes (R-VA), Virgil Goode (R-VA), Frank Wolf (R-VA)... even Rick Santorum (R-PA) and George Macacawitz Allen (R-VA). Yesterday I got a letter from Mike Markarian, president of the Humane Society Legislative Fund announcing that they had taken the very unusual step of endorsing Obama-Biden and asking that we at DWT help spread the word.
One of the guiding principles of the Humane Society Legislative Fund is that we evaluate candidates based on a single criterion: where they stand on animal protection policies. We don’t make decisions based on party affiliation, or any other social issue, or even how many pets they have. We care about their views and actions on the major policy debates relating to animal welfare.
It stirs controversy to get involved in candidate elections. But we believe that candidates for office and current lawmakers must be held accountable, or they will see the animal protection movement as a largely irrelevant political constituency. In order to have good laws, we need good lawmakers, and involvement in elections is an essential strategy for any serious social movement, including our cause.
While we’ve endorsed hundreds of congressional candidates for election, both Democrats and Republicans, we’ve never before endorsed a presidential candidate. We have members on the left, in the center, and on the right, and we knew it could be controversial to choose either party’s candidate for the top office in the nation. But in an era of sweeping presidential power, we must weigh in on this most important political race in the country. Standing on the sidelines is no longer an option for us.
I’m proud to announce today that the HSLF board of directors—which is comprised of both Democrats and Republicans—has voted unanimously to endorse Barack Obama for President. The Obama-Biden ticket is the better choice on animal protection, and we urge all voters who care about the humane treatment of animals, no matter what their party affiliation, to vote for them.
Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) has been a solid supporter of animal protection at both the state and federal levels. As an Illinois state senator, he backed at least a dozen animal protection laws, including those to strengthen the penalties for animal cruelty, to help animal shelters, to promote spaying and neutering, and to ban the slaughter of horses for human consumption. In the U.S. Senate, he has consistently co-sponsored multiple bills to combat animal fighting and horse slaughter, and has supported efforts to increase funding for adequate enforcement of the Animal Welfare Act, Humane Methods of Slaughter Act, and federal laws to combat animal fighting and puppy mills.
In his response to the HSLF questionnaire, he pledged support for nearly every animal protection bill currently pending in Congress, and said he will work with executive agencies such as the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Department of the Interior to make their policies more humane. He wrote of the important role animals play in our lives, as companions in our homes, as wildlife in their own environments, and as service animals working with law enforcement and assisting persons with disabilities. He also commented on the broader links between animal cruelty and violence in society.
Obama has even on occasion highlighted animal protection issues on the campaign trail, and has spoken publicly about his support for animal protection. In reaction to the investigation showing the abuse of sick and crippled cows which earlier this year led to the largest meat recall in U.S. history, he issued a statement saying “that the mistreatment of downed cows is unacceptable and poses a serious threat to public health.” He is featured in Jana Kohl’s book about puppy mills, A Rare Breed of Love, with a photo of Obama holding Baby (shown above), the three-legged poodle rescued from an abusive puppy mill operation, and his political mentor, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), is the author of the latest federal bill to crack down on puppy mills.
Importantly, Obama’s running mate, Sen. Joe Biden (D-Del.) has been a stalwart friend of animal welfare advocates in the Senate, and has received high marks year after year on the Humane Scorecard. Biden has not only supported animal protection legislation during his career, but has also led the fight on important issues. He was the co-author with Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) in the 108th Congress on legislation to ban the netting of dolphins by commercial tuna fishermen. He was the lead author of a bill in the 107th Congress to prohibit trophy hunting of captive exotic mammals in fenced enclosures, and he successfully passed the bill through the Senate Judiciary Committee.
On the Republican ticket, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) has also supported some animal protection bills in Congress, but has been inattentive or opposed to others. He has voted for and co-sponsored legislation to stop horse slaughter, and voted to eliminate a $2 million subsidy for the luxury fur coat industry. But he has largely been absent on other issues, and has failed to co-sponsor a large number of priority bills or sign onto animal protection letters that have had broad support in the Senate.
The McCain campaign did not fill out the HSLF presidential questionnaire, and has also not issued any public statements on animal welfare issues. He was silent during the downed animal scandal and beef recall, which played out during a high-point in the primary fight. Yet he did speak at the NRA convention earlier this year, and is the keynote speaker this weekend in Columbus, Ohio, at the U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance rally-- an extremist organization that defends the trophy hunting of threatened polar bears and captive shooting of tame animals inside fenced pens.
While McCain’s positions on animal protection have been lukewarm, his choice of running mate cemented our decision to oppose his ticket. Gov. Sarah Palin’s (R-Alaska) retrograde policies on animal welfare and conservation have led to an all-out war on Alaska’s wolves and other creatures. Her record is so extreme that she has perhaps done more harm to animals than any other current governor in the United States.
Palin engineered a campaign of shooting predators from airplanes and helicopters, in order to artificially boost the populations of moose and caribou for trophy hunters. She offered a $150 bounty for the left foreleg of each dead wolf as an economic incentive for pilots and aerial gunners to kill more of the animals, even though Alaska voters had twice approved a ban on the practice. This year, the issue was up again for a vote of the people, and Palin led the fight against it-- in fact, she helped to spend $400,000 of public funds to defeat the initiative.
What’s more, when the Bush Administration announced its decision to list the polar bear as threatened under the Endangered Species Act, Palin filed a lawsuit to reverse that decision. She said it’s the “wrong move” to protect polar bears, even though their habitat is shrinking and ice floes are vanishing due to global warming.
The choice for animals is especially clear now that Palin is in the mix. If Palin is put in a position to succeed McCain, it could mean rolling back decades of progress on animal issues.
Voters who care about protecting wildlife from inhumane and unsporting abuses, enforcing the laws that combat large-scale cruelties like dogfighting and puppy mills, providing humane treatment of animals in agriculture, and addressing other challenges that face animals in our nation, must become active over the next six weeks to elect a president and vice president who share our values. Please spread the word, and tell friends and family members that an honest assessment of the records of the two presidential tickets leads to the inescapable conclusion that Obama-Biden is the choice for humane-minded voters.
As for their endorsements of reactionary Republicans in Congress who vote alright on some animal-related issues... may I recommend you make your political donations for candidates who are good on animals AND working families, like the ones at Blue America. So forget the Dave Reicherts, Ileana Ros-Lehtinens, Mean Jean Schmidts, Dana Rohrabachers and Ric Kellers of the world-- members of the House whose extremist policies could soon be forcing people to eat their pets-- and support candidates like Darcy Burner, Annette Taddeo, Victoria Wulsin, Debbie Cook and Alan Grayson who will look out for the well being of pets and pet-loving American families.
Labels: Humane Society