We have come to the end of spring break, it is amazing to me how fast time flies by…I have some interesting links for you, some of them I have saved for a little while, you may just want to come back to them during the day.
By the way, later tonight is the season premiere of Mad Men, I don’t know about you…but I sure am looking forward to it.
Y’all know that CNN made the huge mistake of sacking Soledad O’Brien last month. The Guardian had an article about her last appearance on the network:
O’Brien, who has built a reputation for hard-hitting interviews, said on the last edition of her morning show, Starting Point, that “facts matter”.
The new CNN boss, Jeff Zucker, cancelled O’Brien’s show, which has performed poorly in the ratings, and announced on Thursday that it will be replaced by a new show hosted by Chris Cuomo and Kate Bolduan.
She said: “My tenure at the helm of this show ends today, and I’m not going to be covering daily news at CNN after today. Over the last decade at CNN I’ve had a really great chance to cover some of the biggest stories, I think it’s fair to say, of our time.”
O’Brien recalled when she and a CNN team received a standing ovation at the airport in New Orleans after covering hurricane Katrina.
“So I think if I’ve learned anything over the past year it’s that facts matter,” she continued. “And we shouldn’t be afraid to have tough and honest conversations and maybe even argue a little bit when there’s a lot at stake, and yes, Governor Sununu, I am talking to you.”
You remember that interview don’t you? Soladad kicked Sununu’s ass! O’Brien told the Guardian that CNN did not provide a lot of support for her show Starting Point. They did not get a lot of promotion and were not fully staffed. No wonder, with CNN going down the shit bucket of news. In fact, you need to see this bit Jon Stewart did this past week:
Stewart then turned to CNN, a network that is neither leaning left nor right, but is instead on a “steady spiral downward.” He took on the new approach of CNN executive Jeff Zucker to the news, mockingly saying things like “I love brunch! Who doesn’t love brunch? That’s news!”
Stewart brought up some graphic faux pas of CNN, including (for some reason) a CNN personality standing in the middle of a virtual field of goats. And most egregiously of all, CNN showed off a live recreation of the Jodi Arias crime scene, complete with dead boyfriend in a pool of blood on the floor.
Of course, new changes don’t come without new show experiments, and following the success of The Five and The Cycle, CNN is testing out a new primetime show called (Get To) The Point. Stewart figured CNN must have “mistook what people are constantly yelling” at the screen for a show pitch. He showed clips of the show’s hosts talking about important subjects like lizard people and vegetarians who eat bacon.
What Stewart loved the most about the show was that when promos for this new program appear on the screen during other CNN shows, it looks like a subtle jab at whoever’s talking to get to the damn point already.
Go watch the video clips…my gawd, what shit CNN is pulling out their ass now a days!
Now, this next article is something I also saved from a while back, funny how it has caused quite a controversy of late….anyway, you know that my father’s family came from Cuba back in the late 1800′s. Here is a photograph of the town Marti City, in Ocala, Florida where my great-great grandfather had one of his cigar factories. In 1890s, cigar industry flourished, died in Ocala
A horse-drawn trolley, shown in Marti City, ran south from Ocala’s railroad station along North Magnolia to Broadway, turned west and followed Broadway to haul passengers and freight to the cigar factories at Marti City.
CHANGE is the latest news to come out of Cuba, though for Afro-Cubans like myself, this is more dream than reality. Over the last decade, scores of ridiculous prohibitions for Cubans living on the island have been eliminated, among them sleeping at a hotel, buying a cellphone, selling a house or car and traveling abroad. These gestures have been celebrated as signs of openness and reform, though they are really nothing more than efforts to make life more normal. And the reality is that in Cuba, your experience of these changes depends on your skin color.
The editor of a publishing house in Cuba who wrote a critical article in The New York Times opinion section about persistent racial inequality on the island, something revolutionaries proudly say has lessened, has been removed from his post, associates said on Friday.
The author, Roberto Zurbano, in an article published March 23, described a long history of racial discrimination against blacks on the island and said “racial exclusion continued after Cuba became independent in 1902, and a half century of revolution since 1959 has been unable to overcome it.”
On Friday, The Havana Times blog reported that Mr. Zurbano had told a gathering of Afro-Cuban advocates that he had been dismissed from his post at the publishing house of the Casa de las Americas cultural center, leaving the implication that the dismissal was connected to the article. Other associates said Mr. Zurbano told them he had been removed but would continue working there.
There is a lot more to it than there appears to be…
Reached by telephone in Havana, Mr. Zurbano would not comment on his employment. “What is The New York Times going to do about it?” he asked. He angrily condemned the editors of the opinion section for a change in the headline that he felt had distorted his theme.
The article’s headline, which was translated from Spanish, was “For Blacks in Cuba, the Revolution Hasn’t Begun,” but Mr. Zurbano said that in his version it had been “Not Yet Finished.”
“They changed the headline without consulting me,” he said. “It was a huge failure of ethics and of professionalism.”
Eileen Murphy, a spokeswoman for The Times, said the editor stood by the article’s preparation.
“We worked very hard to ensure that the wording in the piece was translated properly and accurately reflected the writer’s point of view,” she said in a statement. “There were numerous versions of the piece sent back and forth, and in the end, Mr. Zurbano and our contact for him (who speaks fluent English) signed off on the final version.”
“We knew,” she added, “that Mr. Zurbano was in a sensitive situation, and we are saddened if he has indeed been fired or otherwise faced persecution, but we stand by our translation and editing, which was entirely along normal channels.”
Believe me, there is an underlying racism within the Cuban community and to say there isn’t is bullshit. Yes, it is taboo to speak of it too. However, there is a history in a little town in Florida of Cuban whites and blacks coming together to fight for labor rights.
Restaurant in Havana, note the Albinos allowed sign.
Revolution is part of the Cuban culture, and I do believe that it is fair to say that for the Black-Cuban, the revolution is not finished. It just barely started and has been put on hold, it needs to get back in gear. Racism is alive in Cuba, there is no doubt about that. And the fact that Zurbano was fired says a lot about how things are handled in Cuba.
Both stars are proud African-Americans — yet, curiously, chose to vacation in a country notorious for relegating its black population to second-class status, or worse.
It is no surprise that many of Cuba’s top dissidents are Afro-Cubans. Did Sasha Fierce and Jigga Man find time to meet with these brave souls, or with their families? Did they mention them? Did they even think of them?
Of course not! This was not a trip to discover truth…or to learn about history or even music. Take a look at the link for a list of Afro-Cubans advocates who have either been imprisoned or killed for speaking out against the racism.
But why stop Cuba’s racism, and its atrocious human rights record, from getting in the way of a good time? After all, Jay-Z is the ‘artist’ who famously raps: “Welcome to Havana, smoking cubanos with Castro in cabanas!”
All Jay and “B,” useful idiots extraordinaire, seem to hear when visiting Cuba is: “Extra sugar on that mojito, señor?” Never mind the life-long plight of the Afro-Cuban waiter serving that drink, who casts a longing, hopeful look in their direction, only to be met with an aloof, distant smile from the two callous multi-millionaires who, while sharing his skin color, could not care less about his plight.
Cuba’s seemingly immortal former leader Fidel Castro, who knows a thing or two about threats of nuclear destruction, is asking both Kim Jong-un and Barack Obama to think before they do anything stupid. “The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea was always friendly with Cuba, as Cuba always has been and will continue to be with her,” Castro wrote in his first state media op-ed in almost nine months, but “this is one of the gravest risks of nuclear war since the October Crisis in 1962 involving Cuba, 50 years ago.”
“Now that it has demonstrated its technical and scientific advances, we remind it of its duties to other countries who have been great friends and that it would not be just to forget that such a war would affect in a special way more than 70 percent of the world’s population,” wrote Castro, who’s apparently gone soft in his old age.
While the situation in the Koreas is “incredible and absurd,” he added, he warned Obama that if bombing breaks out, he “would be buried by a flood of images that would present him as the most sinister figure in U.S. history. The duty to avoid [war)]also belongs to him and the people of the United States.”
It seems like some sort of SNL skit, doesn’t it? Castro calling North Korea “incredible and absurd.”
A Tennessee lawmaker introduced legislation last week to stop welfare payments to parents if their kids get bad grades in school. The sponsor, State Senator Stacy Campfield said, “One of the top tickets to break the chain of poverty is education.” But he added, “We have done little to hold [parents] accountable for their child’s performance.”
The bill would chop nearly a third of family’s Temporary Aid for Needy Families benefits, already a pittance, if their child fails to pass state competency tests or get’s held back. How exactly the threat to make poor people poorer will improve educational outcomes isn’t at all clear.
The bill is sponsored by Sen. Stacey Campfield, R-Knoxville, and Rep. Vance Dennis, R-Savannah. It calls for a 30 percent reduction in Temporary Assistance for Needy Families benefits to parents whose children are not making satisfactory progress in school, the Knoxville News and Sentinel reported.
You know what? My kids are not from a “broken” home, and both their parents and grandparents are college graduates…and they struggle in school. They do not get A’s and B’s…so this would be a disaster in terms of assistance if we were a “needy” family. I mention my kids performance at school because even with positive backgrounds and no worries about food and a place to sleep, a kid can be a disappointment when it comes to their grades. This is a horrible law…damn these GOP assholes.
The shooting of Kaufman, Texas district attorney Mike McLelland and his wife Cynthia remains a mystery. But investigators are increasingly looking into a cell of extremist white terrorists as the suspects. Two months ago, a county assistant district attorney, Mark Hasse, was murdered not far from his office at the court. (I used the term extremist white terrorists because that is what they are, but usually the American press only describes foreigners and Muslims as terrorists, while calling whites “extremists.”)
Rep. Peter King (R-NY) and other Islamophobes in Congress, seeking to look good to campaign donors who hate Muslims, has conducted several hearings on the alleged increased radicalization of American Muslims. Sociologists don’t find evidence of such a thing; American Muslims on the whole are relatively well-integrated into US society and are disproportionately well off and pillars of the society. The hearings are a form of McCarthyism.
Rep. Peter King is a big supporter of the old 1980s Irish Republican Army, which killed two Americans in a bombing at Harrod’s department store in London. The man’s feet won’t touch the ground when he walks because of the rivers of hypocrisy exuding from between his toes.
Read the rest at the link.
Like I said at the beginning of this morning’s reads, lots of links for you today. More after the jump.
Kevin MacDonald, a professor of psychology whose anti-Semitic writings make him a favorite of Neo-Nazis, penned a pro-secession piece for a prominent white identity site, The Occidental Observer, that might finally get him fired from California State University, where he inexplicably still works.
White males constituted only 34% of the electorate and this will continue to decline. It’s no accident that stocks of gun companies soared after the election, even though the stock market as a whole took a dive. What we have here is a situation in which around 70% of traditional American White men (correcting for the overly inclusive White’ category used by the media) are now pretty much officially disenfranchised in a country where they see themselves as the founding population. That’s a lot of angry White men….
It may take a while for this 70% to wake up to the reality that they are politically impotent. But it will happen. Separatist movements in the many states that are deeply red are certainly a possibility. … Is there any other realistic alternative? Apart from futile violence against the Leviathan, do White men really have any other choice?
The concept of a wake-up call articulated by MacDonald was widely echoed in posts on white nationalist blogs and forums. Some thought it would come sooner, others thought it might come later, but many agreed the writing was on the wall.
When you look at the overall picture, however, we are still fighting the Civil War. That is to say, the contest was mainly between two huge groups of white people who don’t much like each other, with the colored folk playing a marginal role. That’s how it was in the War Between the States, and that’s how it still is today.
He went on to suggest whites will ultimately have no choice but to unite as a race-based voting bloc. The current problem, Derbyshire explained, was that “Republicans are white, sure enough, but whites are not Republican.”
Berger concludes that when these groups finally realize that history and demographics are leaving them behind, they will have no choice but to turn to violence. I just hope the Secret Service and FBI are aware of and ready to deal with this threat from the right.
He is likely to be asked — both by reporters on his way in and by lawmakers — about any possible intelligence breaches involving his biographer, Paula Broadwell. Law enforcement officials said Broadwell is the woman with whom the retired general has acknowledged having an affair….
Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) told reporters Wednesday that Petraeus has agreed to testify. After his sudden resignation, acting CIA Director Michael Morell had been tapped to appear in Petreaus’s place.
“Gen. Petraeus is willing to come before the committee and the details will be worked out,” Feinstein said.
Noam Scheiber has an interesting and thoughtful piece about the relationship between Paula Broadstone and David Petraeus: Paula Broadwell, a Hanger-On in King Petraeus’s Court. According to Scheiber, the people around Petraeus could not understand how Broadwell managed to get so close to this supposedly “intellectual” general.
Petraeus wasn’t just the Army’s most famous general. He was the military’s best-known and most accomplished intellectual. If he wanted an official biography, he could have had his pick of dozens of scholars and writers. “My gosh, if you are going to have someone interview everyone who has ever touched you in your life, choose someone who has written a biography or at least a history book,” Peter Mansoor, one of the general’s top aides, told The Washington Post.
Scheiber describes Petraeus as the “ultimate meritocrat–with his Ph.D. from Princeton and his reputation as a “brainiac.”
[T]he term “meritocracy”—a bit like its cousin, “the best and the brightest”—wasn’t actually intended to be complimentary. It entered the lexicon through a book, “The Rise of the Meritocracy,” by the British social thinker Michael Young, who imagined a dystopian world in which a small group of highly educated elites controls society. The meritocrats persuade themselves that, unlike the ruling classes that came before them, they are uniquely deserving of power because they earned it rather than inherited it. (And they have the SAT scores to prove it, by God!) And yet, over time, they somehow manage to become just as inbred, self-serving, and corrupt.
Over time, Petraeus went through that same transformation, surrounding himself with
…growing hoards of groupies who descended on his command posts, including conservative think-tankers from Washington, for whom he arranged office space and aircraft….Paula Broadwell, it turns out, was the kind of hanger-on whose arrival heralds a meritocracy in decline. Outwardly, she checked all the right sociological boxes: High school valedictorian, all-state basketball player, West Point alum, Harvard master’s degree. But, up close, she could be remarkably shallow. “There was no room for a conversation of shortcomings of the Petraeus theology. She wasn’t a reporter. She struck me as an acolyte,” a wonk who met her told the Post. “I was underwhelmed….
What Broadwell excelled at instead was leveraging credentials to impress fellow achievers. She didn’t stop at her own. When my friend met her, she was fond of pointing out that her husband was no mere radiologist but a special breed known as an “interventional radiologist.” (She would draw out the word “interventional” for emphasis.) Later, she would boast about hanging out with the glitterati on the panel-discussion circuit—“Heading 2 @AspenInstitute 4 the Security Forum tomorrow! Panel (media & terrorism) followed by a 1v1 run with Lance Armstrong,” she recently tweeted, according to the Times. She was a kind of successful-person trophy collector who made no apologies for her ambitions. (My friend remembers the Facebook appeal in which she asked, “Can anyone introduce me to Lance Armstrong?”)
It’s a fascinating article, and an antidote to all the trashy coverage of the Petraeus-Broadwell scandal in much of the corporate media.
Does the U.S. military have an adultery problem? A woman problem? A generic, all-purpose craziness, sleaze, and corruption problem? A public-image problem?
Answering these questions in order, I can offer a definitive “sort of,” “kind of, “maybe,” and “very possibly.”
The article is too long and detailed to sum up quickly, but here’s an excerpt from the section on the military’s “woman problem.”
The military remains plagued by allegations of sexual harassment and assault, and a number of studies by the Defense Department and the Department of Veterans Affairs have concluded that women in the military face higher rates of sexual assault than do civilian women. Here again, no big surprise: The military remains an overwhelmingly male — and overwhelmingly macho — institution. Women are outnumbered and often rendered nearly invisible in a culture in which nearly all senior officers are male.
This extends to the home front, as well. In certain ways, the informal culture of military officers resembles the 1950s more than the 21st century. Military life isn’t just hard on marriage — it’s also hard on the careers of the (mostly female) civilian spouses of military personnel. Rising up the career ladder isn’t easy when you move from one military base to another every few years. One military friend of mine recalls a general telling junior officers — in a recent lecture at an official Army command training event — that they should actively discourage their wives from pursuing careers, because career women would be less supportive and flexible military wives. And though official publications now speak of officers’ “spouses” rather than “wives,” the military still produces etiquette guides for spouses, with a rather gendered focus on appropriate forms of address at social functions and the proper pouring of tea and coffee.
Yuck. Read all about it at the link.
Frederick Humphries, FBI agent
Last link on the Petraeus clusterfu&ck: The NYT has learned the name of the mystery FBI agent who sent shirtless photos to Jill Kelley and disrupted the investigation by contacting Rep. Eric Cantor.
The F.B.I. agent who spurred the investigation that led to the resignation of David H. Petraeus as C.I.A. director is a “hard-charging” veteran who helped investigate the foiled millennium terrorist plot in 1999, colleagues said on Wednesday.
The agent, Frederick W. Humphries II, 47, is also described by former colleagues as relentless in his pursuit of what he sees as wrongdoing, which appears to describe his role in the F.B.I. investigation involving Mr. Petraeus. Suspecting that the case involved serious security issues and was being stalled, possibly for political reasons — a suspicion his superiors say was unjustified — he took his concerns to Congressional Republicans.
“Fred is a passionate kind of guy,” one former colleague said. “He’s kind of an obsessive type. If he locked his teeth onto something, he’d be a bulldog.”
I know everyone has probably heard already about how Mitt Romney spoke to donors yesterday on a conference call and insulted women, African Americans, Latinos, and young people by claiming that these groups voted to reelect Barack Obama because he <a showered them with “gifts” during his first term. But I can’t help including it, because it’s so typical of the cluelessness that Romney and his supporters showed throughout his campaign. Here’s how the NYT Caucus Blog reported on the call:
In a conference call with fund-raisers and donors to his campaign, Mr. Romney said Wednesday afternoon that the president had followed the “old playbook” of using targeted initiatives to woo specific interest groups — “especially the African-American community, the Hispanic community and young people.”
“In each case, they were very generous in what they gave to those groups,” Mr. Romney said, contrasting Mr. Obama’s strategy to his own of “talking about big issues for the whole country: military strategy, foreign policy, a strong economy, creating jobs and so forth.” ….
“With regards to the young people, for instance, a forgiveness of college loan interest was a big gift,” Mr. Romney said. “Free contraceptives were very big with young, college-aged women. And then, finally, Obamacare also made a difference for them, because as you know, anybody now 26 years of age and younger was now going to be part of their parents’ plan, and that was a big gift to young people. They turned out in large numbers, a larger share in this election even than in 2008.”
The president’s health care plan, he said, was also a useful tool in mobilizing black and Hispanic voters. Though Mr. Romney won the white vote with 59 percent, according to exit polls, minorities coalesced around the president in overwhelming numbers: 93 percent of blacks and 71 percent of Hispanics.
“You can imagine for somebody making $25,000 or $30,000 or $35,000 a year, being told you’re now going to get free health care, particularly if you don’t have it, getting free health care worth, what, $10,000 per family, in perpetuity — I mean, this is huge,” Mr. Romney said. “Likewise with Hispanic voters, free health care was a big plus. But in addition with regards to Hispanic voters, the amnesty for children of illegals, the so-called Dream Act kids, was a huge plus for that voting group.”
Breathtaking, isn’t it? This man really needs to go away and never be heard from again. I certainly hope Obama won’t consult him on anything, including what the weather is like outside his window. Goodbye, Mitt. Please don’t ever come back.
President Obama is using a Cold War-era mind-control technique known as “Delphi” to coerce Americans into accepting his plan for a United Nations-run communist dictatorship in which suburbanites will be forcibly relocated to cities. That’s according to a four-hour briefing delivered to Republican state senators at the Georgia state Capitol last month.
On October 11, at a closed-door meeting of the Republican caucus convened by the body’s majority leader, Chip Rogers, a tea party activist told Republican lawmakers that Obama was mounting this most diabolical conspiracy. The event—captured on tape by a member of the Athens-based watchdog Better Georgia (who was removed from the room after 52 minutes)—had been billed as an information session on Agenda 21, a nonbinding UN agreement that commits member nations to promote sustainable development. In the eyes of conservative activists, Agenda 21 is a nefarious plot that includes forcibly relocating non-urban-dwellers and prescribing mandatory contraception as a means of curbing population growth. The invitation to the Georgia state Senate event noted the presentation would explain: “How pleasant sounding names are fostering a Socialist plan to change the way we live, eat, learn, and communicate to ‘save the earth.’”
There’s much much more insanity at the link.
Now what’s on your reading and blogging list for today?
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The political news this past week has been so strange and disturbing that I’ve begun to feel as if I’ve gone through the looking glass into some alternate reality. For years we’ve dealt with a press corps that refuses to deal in facts and will only report what one group of politicians say on the one hand, and contrast it with what another group of politicians say on the other hand, refusing to evaluate the truth value of what they are reporting.
But suddenly in 2012, we are dealing with a presidential candidate who seemingly has no scruples whatsoever. Mitt Romney lies blatantly and constantly, believing that he can get away with it in this media culture of false equivalency. And his running mate, Paul Ryan, also has a troubled relationship with the truth, although he isn’t quite as practiced a liar as Romney is.
James Fallows has been chronicling the way the media deals with what he calls the “post truth” era in politics. A few mainstream reporters have also begun trying to confront the blatant lying head on. Surprisingly, Norah O’Donnell, whom lefties have often mocked in the past, has been a standout. She successfully confronted Paul Ryan on blaming President Obama for spending cuts that Ryan voted for. And yesterday, she did it again with Romney surrogate Ohio Sen. Rob Portman.
Former Chief White House Correspondent and newly-minted CBS This Morning co-host Norah O’Donnell has been on fire lately, holding a veritable clinic on how to interview dishonest politicians that her mainstream media colleagues would do well to study. In the latest example of this, O’Donnell abandoned the current media fashion of ignoring lies (or presenting the truth as just another counter-argument), and pursued Sen. Rob Portman‘s (R-OH) disinformation on the recent violence in Libya like a Terminator with OCD.
What O’Donnell has been doing recently shouldn’t seem as remarkable as it is, but good old-fashioned feet to the fire followup is a sadly dying art, especially in television news. Interviewers either let lies and misinformation slip by because they need to hit all their prepared questions before time’s up, or because they’re numb to post-truth politics, or they present the facts in asterisk fashion before moving on to allow more lies to spew forth.
Portman completely twisted the timeline of events surrounding attacks on the embassy in Cairo and on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya. He actually claimed that Romney had made his statement the U.S. embassy in Cairo had issued a statement after the attacks saying “We apologize,” and that Romney’s Tuesday night statement had been made before the violent attacks in Libya. O’Donnell point out the falsehoods, and Portman attempted to continue lying. O’Donnell kept at it, and Portman came out looking the fool. You can watch the video at the link.
After describing O’Donnell’s performance, Christopher concludes:
O’Donnell’s performance here should be in network news training videos, because the only way to get these people to stop lying is to put up a lie stop sign. For awhile, of course, every interview would look like this one, with the subject being stuck on the one lie for the whole interview, but eventually, they’d have to either start fessing up when they’re busted, or (heaven forbid) just start telling the truth.
Clearly, Republicans have learned they can blatantly lie to the media a get away with it; now Romney and Ryan have raised the lying to a new level. Will other reporters begin to point it out, as O’Donnell has? For the sake of our democracy, I hope so.
In contrast, I urge you to read the full transcript of George Stephanopoulos’ interview with Mitt Romney yesterday. Stephanopoulos half-heartedly pushed back on some of Romney’s lies, Romney just ran right over Stephanopoulos’ weak protests. There are points in this interview where Romney makes long rambling statements that make absolutely no sense, and gets away with it!
Romney actually claims that the White House agreed with his his initial statement on Tuesday night, that the U.S. Embassy in Cairo had apologized to terrorists for a muslim-bashing internet video!
Here is the Embassy’s statement, posted on its website hours before any protests began.
The Embassy of the United States in Cairo condemns the continuing efforts by misguided individuals to hurt the religious feelings of Muslims – as we condemn efforts to offend believers of all religions. Today, the 11th anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States, Americans are honoring our patriots and those who serve our nation as the fitting response to the enemies of democracy. Respect for religious beliefs is a cornerstone of American democracy. We firmly reject the actions by those who abuse the universal right of free speech to hurt the religious beliefs of others.
Now Romney’s Tuesday night statement, released after it was known that there was an ongoing violent attack on the Consulate in Benghazi with one American death already reported.
“I’m outraged by the attacks on American diplomatic missions in Libya and Egypt and by the death of an American consulate worker in Benghazi,” Romney said in the statement. “It’s disgraceful that the Obama Administration’s first response was not to condemn attacks on our diplomatic missions, but to sympathize with those who waged the attacks.”
And of course Romney doubled down the next day at his infamous smirk-filled Wednesday morning press conference, by attacking and lying about President Obama even after it was known that four Americans, including Ambassador Chris Stephens, had been murdered. Now let’s look at how Romney tried to wriggle out of responsibility for his ugly remarks in his ABC interview:
STEPHANOPOULOS: Boy, there has been quite a controversy in the last couple of days, since those killings in Libya, the chaos in the Middle East. And we heard some of that at your event today. President Obama has stepped in as well. He said your comments on Tuesday night displayed a tendency of yours to “shoot first and aim later.” What’s your response?
MITT ROMNEY: Well, early on, with the developments in Egypt, the embassy there put out a statement which stayed up on their website for, I think, 14-15 hours.
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: But before the protestors had breached the wall.
MITT ROMNEY: Well, it first went up before they breached the wall. But it stayed up. And they reiterated the statement after they breached the wall, even after some of the tragedy in Libya, the statement stayed up. And I thought the statement was inappropriate and pointed that out. And of course, the White House also thought it was inappropriate. But of course, now our attention is focused on the loss of life and the tragedy of having a remarkable ambassador and diplomatic members, have their lives taken. This is a great sadness and tragedy for America.
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: You said the statement showed a tendency to sympathize with those who waged the attacks. And what the statement seems to be is condemning the continuing efforts of individuals to hurt the religious feelings of Muslims. Where do they show sympathy for those who waged the attacks? It was done before the attacks happened.
MITT ROMNEY: Well, the statement as I indicated stayed on the website for some 14-15 hours. The statement was reiterated after they had breached the sovereignty of the embassy.
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: Coupled with a condemnation–
MITT ROMNEY: Even– and even–
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: –of the attacks, though.
MITT ROMNEY: And even after the killing in Libya. And by the way what I said was exactly the same conclusion the White House reached, which was that the statement was inappropriate. That’s why they backed away from it as well.
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: They didn’t say that it was showing sympathy for the attackers.
MITT ROMNEY: Well, I think the statement was an inappropriate statement. I think it was not directly applicable and appropriate for the setting. I think it should have been taken down. And apparently the White House felt the same way.
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: So no regrets?
MITT ROMNEY: Well, I indicated, at the time, and continue to that what was said at that time was not appropriate, that they continued to have that. They reiterated the statement after the then breaching of the grounds. And I think that was wrong. And by the way my statement was the same point, which was that the White House said they distanced themself from the statement. I also thought it was an inappropriate statement. I made the statement– my point at the same time, I think, the White House did. So I think we said about the same thing there. I just thought the statement was wrong.
Is it just me, or does Mitt Romney sound like a gibbering idiot? Yet the Stephanopoulos allows him to spew his nonsense at will after a few weak efforts to point out fallacies. Seriously, does Romney expect people to believe this garbage? Stephanopoulos should have said something like that–slightly more tactfully, of course, but emphatically. Please read the entire disgusting thing, if you can stand it. And then cleanse your palate with this hilarious post by Sarah Proud and Tall at Balloon Juice.
Here are a few more links to get you started on your weekend reading:
A little over a week ago, I emailed bostonboomer that I wanted to do a post about Monsanto. She was kind enough to share older posts done by Sima about Monsanto. After reading Sima’s posts I have to admit that I was intimidated by her detailed, informative and brilliant commentaries. Her knowledge of Monsanto’s business and political dealings, stemming from her experience as an organic farmer, is incredible. I highly recommend going back and reading or re-reading them. I’m going to try to bring you up to date on what has been happening since her last post. I just hope that I can do both Sima and the subject justice.
Once I became involved in the animal rights movement in 1990, a formerly unseen world opened up to me. It was akin to looking behind the curtain in the Wizard of Oz. Learning about how the animals we call food are raised, what they are fed and the chemicals that are put into their bodies, was disturbing to say the least. Since that time, the major media outlets, along with independent filmmakers, have covered issues such as factory farming, the overuse of antibiotics and the rise of antibiotic resistance, along with other issues that affect the food supply. A good place to get started is with the film Food Inc. and its website.
Monsanto popped up on my radar around 1993 with the introduction of rBGH, recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone. Although there was an overabundance of milk on the market, this chemical was being introduced to increase the supply of milk available for consumption. Why? One of the reasons was to drop the price of milk. That would be good for the consumer, right? Well, corporations are not in the business of making their products more affordable for their customers, as we all know. The ploy was to drive prices low enough so that family dairy farmers could not afford to stay in business, leaving the business to Monsanto’s real customers, giant dairies who would use their product(s). With family dairy farms bankrupt, Monsanto could better control the market and prices. From a study by the Economic Research Service/USDA.
Between 1970 and 2006, the number of farms with dairy cows fell steadily and sharply, from 648,000 operations in 1970 to 75,000 in 2006, or 88 percent (fig. 1). Total dairy cows fell from 12 million in 1970 to 9.1 million in 2006, so the average herd size rose from just 19 cows per farm in 1970 to 120 cows in 2006.1 Moreover, because milk production per cow doubled between 1970 and 2006 (from 9,751 to 19,951 pounds per year), total milk production rose, and average milk production per farm increased twelvefold.
Monsanto has since sold its posilac (rGBH) business to the Big Pharma company, Eli Lilly. If you still believe that advertising slogan, “Milk, it does a body good”, you might want to read this.
Let me start off with yesterday’s article by Jim Hightower, although it’s mostly about Dow Chemical, Monsanto gets some space as well. And there are some great comments. For more on 2, 4-D check out these links:
Monsanto is a multi-tentacled corporation attached to all aspects of our lives. At their facilities in Dayton, OH during WWII they were involved with the development of the first nuclear bomb. One of their early successful inventions was Astroturf. They have manufactured Agent Orange (the defoliant/herbicide used during the Viet Nam war), and PCBs (banned in the U.S. in 1979 but still found in the environment since PCBs don’t break down easily). For more information, you can download the free E-book, A Small Dose of Toxicology. In recent years, Monsanto has focused on the world food supply, whether it’s chemicals to kill weeds, like Roundup, or creating genetically modified (GM) seeds for which they hold patents. Natural News began a July, 2010 post with this unsettling paragraph:
At a biotech industry conference in January 1999, a representative from Arthur Anderson, LLP explained how they had helped Monsanto design their strategic plan. First, his team asked Monsanto executives what their ideal future looked like in 15 to 20 years. The executives described a world with 100 percent of all commercial seeds genetically modified and patented. Anderson consultants then worked backwards from that goal, and developed the strategy and tactics to achieve it. They presented Monsanto with the steps and procedures needed to obtain a place of industry dominance in a world in which natural seeds were virtually extinct.
Some of the crops grown with Monsanto’s GM seeds include corn, soy, sugar beets, alfalfa and cotton. Monsanto also produces and sells Stevia and Aspartame. To preserve their ownership of these patented seeds, farmers using them cannot save seeds produced from the crops they grow. The farmers must buy new seeds each year for their annual crops. Monsanto has sued farmers suspected of harvesting seeds along with their crops.
One of the most recent areas Monsanto wants to exploit are public lands. In November, several groups filed a lawsuit to prevent the planting of GM crops on refuges.
The Center for Food Safety, Beyond Pesticides and Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility sued Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and its director, in Federal Court.
Fish and Wildlife signed agreements allowing farmers to plant crops, including genetically modified soybeans and corn, on refuges and wetlands in eight Midwestern states, according to the complaint.
And planting on public lands isn’t just limited to U.S. lands. World Wildlife Fund (WWF), one of the most respected conservation groups worldwide has ties to many multinational corporations, including Monsanto. They are helping to promote GM crops in other countries.
On the federal tax front, Monsanto paid an average of 22% in taxes for years 2008 – 2010. This report lists the 2008 – 2010 period detailing the profits, taxes and rates for 280 of U.S. corporations.
ALEC Exposed has a page dedicated to Monsanto, detailing much of their history and activities. As with most multinational corporations, Monsanto is heavily invested in lobbying. Interestingly, the years they spent the least money on lobbying were during the reign of King George II, otherwise known as GW Bush. Monsanto’s highest expenditures were in 1999, 2000 and 2008 – 2011. Open Secrets has an overview of Monsanto’s lobbying expenditures, the lobbyists, the issues in which their lobbying efforts were focused along with the agencies and the associated bills before Congress. Open Secrets is quite an informative site, also covering PAC contributions and campaign contributions to specific elected officials.
In our current political climate, campaign contributions and lobbying expenditures aren’t a surprise. After all, it is how the system is fueled. Open Secrets has a recent blog post detailing Monsanto’s activities so far this year. The Monsanto/government connections go even deeper though. During Clarence Thomas’ confirmation hearing, he worked as a counsel for Monsanto. When a recent case involving Monsanto came before the Supreme Court, not surprisingly, Thomas did not recuse himself. The Organic Consumers’ Union’s site, Millions Against Monsanto, has a list of both elected officials and agency appointments of former Monsanto employees from Bush Sr. to Obama. Sadly, Bill Clinton appointed more than any other president listed. Unfortunately, they don’t list U.S. diplomats who also once worked for Monsanto. What a wonderful way to help promote the products of their former employer in countries all around the world.
Wikileaks posted documents showing connections between Monsanto and U.S. Ambassadors. Several EU countries have rejected the use of Monsanto’s GM seeds. Fearing loss of export income, the possibility of pressuring or even retaliating against these countries were discussed in the diplomatic cables Wikileaks obtained. You can read Sima’s post here: http://skydancingblog.com/2010/12/28/wikileaks-and-gmogm-food-more-cables-more-fun/
Monsanto’s reach extends around the world. GM cotton was promoted as a boon to small farmers, but the reality is different. This story details the results in one village and the collaboration between Monsanto and The Times of India. Stories from Africa aren’t any better. The Gates Foundation is investing millions to promote and encourage the use of GM crops. I find it disturbing with a number of NGOs, researchers and politicians who are working hand in hand with Monsanto and other GM companies seemingly without concerns for the possibilities of the damage to the world food supply, public health and the environment. Alternet has posted a story about Kenya and the support from The Gates Foundation for Monsanto’s GM crops. For another opinion on The Gates Foundation/Monsanto/Africa issue, check out this Opinion piece in the Seattle Times written by Glenn Ashton.
The one beacon of hope has been some EU countries. The people have loudly spoken out against GM foods. However, the picture may not be as rosy as it has been portrayed. Gaia Health digs deeper into the announcement in February, 2012 that both Monsanto and BASF are pulling out of Europe.
Let’s not forget about the stock market either. Monsanto has signed an exclusive licensing agreement with Marina, a bio-tech company. I especially liked (not really!) this from the post:
Time and again, the company’s collaborations with agri-business research firms and molecular-bred hybrid technologies have proved effective. Although instances of societal resistance to new technology and poor acceptance of new products by farmers continue to raise anxiety, continuous increase in production led by technology upgradation helps balance such unease.
The personal is the political, and what is more personal than the food you eat and the food that you feed your families? If you are interested in digging deeper, here is the documentary The World According to Monsanto
You can also get more information about the many issues and areas of concern about food at the Center for Food Safety site. I hope I didn’t give you too much to “chew” on.
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