On September 10, 2007 MoveOn.org ran a full page ad in the New York Times charging General David Petraeus with “cooking the books for the White House.” The ad was in response to a report Petraeus issued to Congress about the situation in Iraq in which he concluded that the government’s surge strategy had worked and violence in Iraq was decreasing. MoveOn.org disputed Petraeus’ account of the situation in Iraq. Some members of Congress immediately jumped to Genral Petraeus’ defense. Republican John Cornyn of Texas introduced an amendment to “strongly condemn personal attacks on the honor and integrity of General Petraeus.” All 49 Republican senators and 22 Democratic senators voted for the amendment. Barack Obama, then a senator, refused to vote, calling the amendment “a stunt” and saying he abstained in order to register his “protest against these empty politics.” Multiple reports currently reveal that to reduce detection while communicating with each other, Petraeus and his mistress used a trick long used by terrorists to avoid detection when communicating through email: they established a shared GMail account, then composed messages to each other and stored them in the “Drafts” folder, where each could read them without having to transmit them. In having his affair, General Petraeus violated the trust of his wife of 38 years, Holly, who gained respect for battling against the financial sector’s abuses against military families, like illegal foreclosures and abusive lending practices.
Karl Rove, whom Vanity Fair called “one of the most powerful unelected officials in the United States,” is facing criticism and derision after his two well-funded super pacs, American Crossroads and the more secretive Crossroads Grassroots Policy Strategies (“Crossroads GPS”), proved surprisingly ineffective after Democrats largely emerged victorious in the 2012 general election. Rove, a Republican political strategist who famously once dreamed of creating a “permanent Republican majority” in U.S. government, helped create the two groups which together sucked in over $300 million in the last election cycle, mostly from billionaires hoping to influence the election’s outcome. Crossroads GPS, which refused to make public the names of it’s super-wealthy donors, blanketed the U.S. with attack ads against Democratic candidates in which the group made notably false and misleading claims against candidates. Despite spending vast amounts of money, however, Rove’s groups were ultimately unable to influence the outcomes of the November 6 elections. Rove has spent the last week defending his super PACs and scrambling to devise a new strategy for boosting Republicans’ fortunes in elections nationwide. Rove served as former president George W. Bush’s deputy chief of staff. Since leaving the government, he has worked as a political strategist, consultant and a paid speaker. Rove’s normal speaker’s fee in 2010 was $60,000, but he has had his appearances canceled on several occasions due to protests.
In a Nov. 7 article titled “Five ways the mainstream media tipped the scales in favor of Obama,” Rich Noyes of Fox News thrashes the major media as the sole cause Obama’s victory. Noyes faults the networks for reporting on the gaffes Romney made during his trip to Europe. He points to Mother Jones’ reporting of the sensational “47%” video in which Romney denigrated millions of Americans who don’t pay income taxes, saying the “networks hyped it as a sensational sex scandal.” Noyes whines that the major news networks failed to report on Obama’s “You didn’t build that” comment, when in reality the networks engaged in appropriate journalism by refusing to take that remark out of context like the Republicans insisted on doing. Noyes complains that Romney was “pounded with partisan fact-checking,” when the media was forced many times to correct errors and mis-statements Romney frequently made, including his bizarre repetition of an easily-verfiable geographical error he repeated no fewer than five times during the campaign that “Syria is Iran’s route to the sea.” Noyes also faults the debate moderators, the lack of clarity over what happened in Benghazi and reporting on the state of the economy for Romney’s defeat. He faults everyone but the GOP itself.
In the aftermath of the presidential election, some vendors at outlets like CafePress and Zazzle are starting to shift their marketing strategies to keep capitalizing on bitterness and hatred. They are starting to discount their racist, anti-Obama bumper stickers and swag denigrating “other” types of people. The price of a sticker featuring a photo of President Obama that says “Somewhere in Kenya, a village is missing its idiot,” for example, has been cut from $5.00 to $3.75. But merchandise exploiting the battered emotions of the millions of angry, racist and hyper-religious people who lost the election is starting to appear, and it’s not cheap. A pack of 100 refrigerator magnets that yelp “Obama Won, America Lost! Nation in Distress — Only God can Save Us” is going for a whopping $200, and a 50-pack of stickers with a graphic that depicts the phrase “No White Guilt” is selling for an insane $140.00.
Former Arizona state senator Kyrsten Sinema made history November 6 when she became the first openly atheist female ever to be elected to Congress. Sinema, 36, replaces Rep. Pete Stark of California as the only other openly atheist person ever to have served in Congress. Stark, who will turn 80 this year, represented a district near San Jose, California. While holding office in 2007, he went public in about his lack of belief in God. In spite of this admission, he won re-election twice, making huge in-roads for non-believers’ representation in Congress. Stark’s coming out about his lack of belief in God helped paved the way for Sinema’s election. Sinema will represent Arizona’s 9th Congressional district, which includes parts of Phoenix, Scottsdale, Mesa, Chandler, Tempe and Paradise Valley. Sinema, a former Mormon, is also openly bisexual. While Stark was elected to office prior to admitting he was an atheist, Sinema is the first candidate ever in U.S. history to run openly as a non-theist and get elected.
Americans may be on the brink of electing Mitt Romney as their first Mormon president, but so far, Romney has refused to talk about his faith, preferring to leave people in the dark about it. Judging by the popularity of our recent blog about Romney’s Mormon underwear, though, Americans seem to be eager for more information about Mormon beliefs and practices. So what DO Mormons believe? Mr. Romney may not tell you, but we will. To get you started, here are a few Mormon beliefs Mr. Romney might prefer you didn’t know:
1) Mormons believe that the Garden of Eden is in Jackson County, Missouri and that Missouri is destined to have a prominent role in the second coming of Christ. Mormons also believe that “destruction throughout the earth” (Armageddon) will occur prior to the second coming.
2) Mormons believe God has his own planet, called Kolob. Kolob has its own time. One revolution of Kolob takes one thousand years.
3) The Mormon church bans women from the priesthood.
4) Mormons baptize dead people. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (the Mormon Church) explains this by saying “The validity of a baptism for the dead depends on the deceased person accepting it and choosing to follow the Savior while residing in the spirit world.” Some famous dead people Mormons have baptized include Anne Frank, Hitler, Lady Diana, Mohandas Ghandi, Pope John Paul II and Barack Obama’s mother, Ann Dunham.
5) Mormons believe that before Armageddon (which, remember, must occur before the second coming of Christ) two countries called “Gog” and “Magog” will battle each other ferciously over the country of Israel. One will be for Israel and the other against it. Mormons believe that God will descend to break up the fight and that afterwards “beasts and fowls” will “eat the flesh and drink the blood of the fallen ones.” Christ will come again after the battle.
6) Black people were banned from the Mormon priesthood until the LDS church reversed that doctrine (pdf) in 1978.
Russell Renwicks, an Internal Revenue Service (IRS) manager in the mid-Atlantic region, said at a legal seminar in Washington, D.C. October 18 that the IRS is intentionally opting not to audit more than thousand churches across the U.S. that have purposely violated federal laws restricting political activity. The Alliance Defense Fund, a Christian activist group that recently changed its name to the “Alliance Defending Freedom,” since 2008 has urged church pastors across the country to openly endorse political candidates from the pulpit and then send a record of their statements to the IRS. Pastors who do violate a federal tax-exempt rules that say federally-registered charities “may not participate in any campaign activity for or against political candidates.” The ADF considers the rule an unconstitutional government intrusion and is urging the mass lawbreaking to try to goad the IRS into taking action against violators that could eventually end up in court. Dean Patterson, an IRS spokesman in Washington, D.C. said Renwicks “misspoke” when he charged the IRS was purposely failing to take action against the churches, but attorneys who specialize in tax law for religious groups say the IRS has indeed taken no action at all over the last three years to audit any of about 1,500 churches that have been reported to the agency for intentionally engaging in partisan political activity.
Main source: Minnesota Public Radio, November 3, 2012
Big food, candy and chemical companies are pouring tens of millions of dollars into fighting California’s Proposition 37, which would require foods be labeled as to whether they contain genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Genetically-modified foods have their DNA artificially altered in a laboratory, for example Monsanto genetically engineered a type of sweet corn to make it also contain an insecticide. GMOs have been linked to allergies, organ toxicity and other ailments. The problem is, consumers are in the dark about whether the foods they buy contain GMOs because food producers have not been required to identify foods that contain them. Monsanto has paid over $4.3 million to fight Proposition 37, followed by DuPont, ($4 million), Pepsi ($2.1 million), Bayer ($2 million), Dow ($2 million), Coca Cola ($1.69 million), Nestle ($1.46 million) and ConAgra Foods ($1.1 million). Other companies working to defeat the disclosure law include familiar household companies that dominate the grocery stores, like Campbell’s Soup, General Mills, Bumble Bee (tuna), Hershey’s, Heinz, Kellogg, Kraft, Land O’Lakes (butter), McCormick (spices), Nestle (cocoa), Tree Top (apple juice), Smuckers (jam), and Welch’s (grape juice). The big food and chemical companies have hired former tobacco industry operatives to apply big Tobacco’s playbook to fight the initiative. Hiring out professional PR flacks to oppose the measure also distances the companies from the unpopular effort and helps shield their valuable brands from backlash. The “No” campaign is using the tobacco industry tactic of hiding behind a front group made to appear as though it is made up of small businesses, family farmers and the like, to give the public the impression that the anti-37 effort is a “grassroots” campaign by real people. Far from it. The “Yes on 37” campaign points out that many of the wealthy companies secretly bankrolling the fight against Prop. 37 are the same ones that for years assured Americans that cigarettes were safe, and DDT and Agent Orange were harmless.
General Motors publicly rebuked Mitt Romney over a misleading Ohio radio campaign ad that wrongly infers GM is planning to move U.S. auto manufacturing jobs to China. The ad’s narrator states, “Under President Obama, GM cut 15,000 American jobs, but they are planning to double the number of cars built in China, which means 15,000 more jobs for China. And now comes word that Chrysler plans to start making Jeeps in, you guessed it, China.” GM spokesman Greg Martin said “We’ve clearly entered some parallel universe during these last few days. No amount of campaign politics at its cynical worst will diminish our record of creating jobs in the U.S. and repatriating profits back to this country.” Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne, similarly tried to limit the damage Romney has done to his company’s reputation after Romney lied at a campaign event October 27 when he wrongly stated Jeep was moving all its manufacturing jobs to China. Marchionne sent an email out to employees reiterating that “Jeep production will not be moved from the United States to China. The numbers tell the story…Those include more than $1.7 billion to produce the successor of the Jeep Liberty and hire about 1,100 workers on a second shift by 2013.” Earlier this month, the Salt Lake City Tribune, the leading newspaper in the most Republican state in the U.S. and in the heart of Mormon country, endorsed Barack Obama for president, calling Romney “shameless” and suggesting the GOP presidential nominee will say whatever he thinks he must to win votes.
The United States Air Force Academy (AFA) is fighting its reputation as an aggressive promoter of fundamentalist Christianity by holding a conference on religious respect this week, but organizers conspicuously excluded representatives of secular belief systems like atheists, agnostics and humanists. Mikey Weinstein, founder of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF), who is Jewish and a 1977 graduate of the academy, believes the conference is a public relations stunt to try and improve the AFA’s image. An AFA press release promoting the Conference said “attendees will comprise a widely diverse mix of religious affiliations …” and “Attendees will review and discuss the new Religious Respect Training Program for cadets that includes training in both the Establishment and Free Exercise of Religions clauses of the First Amendment of the US Constitution.” But in an October 29, 2012 press release, Weinstein pointed out that “secularists are the most disrespected and proselytized-to group, yet they are not even represented at this so-called ‘Religious Respect’ conference.” Weinstein says the AFA hosting a religious respect conference is “akin to the KKK hosting an ‘African American Appreciation Conference.'”