Monsanto is a plague upon the Earth.
Monsanto is a plague upon the Earth.
FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) is an important US law that allows the public access to government records. Anyone can file a FOIA. Most scientists are employed by universities, which are subject to FOIA requests. A right-wing group called “American Tradition Institute” has filed several requests to review emails of climate scientists, especially communications those scientists have had with the media, such as the New York Times, etc.
The issue gets complicated from there - issues of intimidation, conspiracy, free speech, politics, etc. It’s an interesting question - should government employed scientists’ emails be made public?
Environmentalists and urban planners are on the run in Alabama as the state becomes the first to pass legislation banning Agenda 21, and all that entails. Tea Party types are ecstatic
Over at Huffpo, Andrew Reinbach writes a great summary of the Agenda 21 issue and its roots in the John Birch Society. I have called it the right wing “theory of everything”; Reinbach calls it “a sort of grab-bag for fringe ideas.”
Absolutely fascinating and the best part? Real. The Official (Declassified) C.I.A. Manual of Trickery and Deception
“At the height of the Cold War, the Central Intelligence Agency paid $3,000 to renowned magician John Mulholland to write a manual on misdirection, concealment, and stagecraft. All known copies of the document — and a related paper, on conveying hidden signals — were believed to be destroyed in 1973. But recently, the manuals resurfaced, and have now been published as “The Official CIA Manual of Trickery and Deception.” Topics include working a clandestine partner, slipping a pill into the drink of the unsuspecting, and ‘surreptitious removal of objects by women.’”
At the January 7 ABC/Yahoo News Republican presidential debate, moderator George Stephanopoulos asked Mitt Romney if he shared Rick Santorum’s belief “that states have the right to ban contraception.” Romney mildly rebuked Stephanopoulos for the “unusual topic that you’re raising,” and said no, he does not share that belief.
From that one question a bizarrely intricate conspiracy has erupted and enraptured the conservative media. Seizing upon the Obama administration’s January 20 announcement that health insurers (including church-affiliated organizations) would have to provide plans that cover contraception, allegations have sprung up that Stephanopoulos’ question was “coordinated” with the White House as some sort of trap for the Republican candidates to fall into.
And we’re not talking about the fringe here. Dick Morris, in a moment of perfect irony, accused Stephanopoulos of being a “paid Democratic hitman.” Morris accusation and the broader conspiracy were picked up by Fox News, a former Bush administration official, and CNN contributor Erick Erickson. Now the Breitbart hive is getting in on the action:
The question targeted Sen. Rick Santorum, who was then — despite a strong showing in the Iowa caucuses — still considered a distant long shot for the nomination. Romney won praise from conservatives for pushing back, calling it “unusual” and “silly,” noting that no state or candidate (including Santorum) wanted to ban contraception, even if states had that right.
The issue of contraception had not come up, neither in the Santorum campaign or in general. Two weeks later, the Obama administration reiterated the now-infamous ObamaCare mandate requiring religious social institutions and charities to insure their employees for contraception and abortion-inducing drugs. Catholic leaders and other religious authorities opposed the move, while the Obama administration dug in, offering an “accommodation” that changed nothing of substance and merely ensured that the controversy would continue.
Given the fact that Stephanopoulos was known — at least early in the Obama administration — to participate in daily conference calls with key White House staff and Democrat strategists, it is reasonable to ask whether his question on contraception was a setup — done with advance knowledge of the Obama administration’s intent to make contraception a key political issue, and of the Obama campaign’s intent to make Santorum’s social views a key target for attack.
I highlighted that sentence above because it’s the lynchpin of the conspiracy, and it’s easily proven false. Santorum was asked about a state’s right to ban contraceptives on January 2 — just five days before the debate — by ABC’s Jake Tapper. “The state has a right to do that, I have never questioned that the state has a right to do that,” Santorum told Tapper.
Prior to that, Santorum talked about contraception quite a bit. He told NBC News on December 29 that contraception “leads to lot of sexually transmitted diseases, it leads to a lot of unplanned pregnancies, and it’s not a healthy thing for people to engage in, you know, sex outside of marriage.” He gave an interview in October in which he said: “One of the things I will talk about that no President has talked about before is I think the dangers of contraception in this country.”
So once you view Stephanopoulous’ question in the context of Santorum constantly bringing up contraception, and Stephanopoulos’ ABC colleague specifically asking Santorum about contraception a mere 120 hours before the debate, it starts to look less like part of an impossibly complex game of 12-dimensional chess played by the Obama reelection team.
Unless, of course, Tapper and Santorum are also in on the conspiracy, and that interview was just a head-fake to give Stephanopoulos cover.
MORNING-AFTER REPUBLICAN DEBATE UPDATE: At last night’s GOP debate in Arizona, CNN’s John King brought up birth control as “the latest hot topic, which candidate believes in birth control, and if not, why?” As the candidates answered, Stephanopoulos’ name was dropped.
1) It’s terrifying to me a) how fucking paranoid the GOP is, b) they think they can get away with these far-fetched conspiracy theories because no one will fact check them or can remember back far enough to show they’re lying and c) that it works, it totally works for them.
2) Newt STFU. They didn’t ask because it didn’t happen.
3) I could be wrong about what I’m about to say (and I’ll happily admit that), but I’m fairly certain the whole point of Griswold v. Connecticut and Eisenstadt v. Baird was to guarantee both married couples and single people the right to contraceptives. Those are Supreme Court cases so on what basis does Santorum think individual states have the right to ban birth control?
Probably on the basis that “god told him so”. This guy is the most pathetic crank out there and I can’t believe he’s actually getting votes. The republican sheeples are bat shit crazy this year. I think they should be in mental hospitals instead of at the polls.
More excellent coverage of “denialgate.”
“In the wake of reports linking theHeartland Institute to an alleged anti-science campaign, several scientists, as well as the President of the Union of Concerned Scientists, are publicly asking Heartland to to desist from spreading misinformation and attacking scientists. This news comes as 19 public corporations have been identified for supporting Heartland.
Scientists speak up:
- At 3:24pm EST The Guardian published a report that linked to a letter from a group of climate scientists who have personally been on the receiving end of attacks from Heartland and bloggers funded by the thinktank, and whose email was posted online after a notorious 2009 hack, for Heartland to “recognise how its attacks on science and scientists have poisoned the debate about climate change policy.”
- Also on Friday afternoon in the United States, UCS President Kevin Knobloch published a blog post on the Heartland documents that finishes with this quote: “Heartland called for ‘common decency and journalistic ethics.’ I couldn’t agree more. But an even-handed application of either or both would never lead an organization to dream up a middle- and secondary-school curriculum that deceptively undermines the truth.”19 Corporations revealed for supporting to Heartland
- At 2:00pm EST Think Progress Green published a report revealing that the climate-denial think tank Heartland Institute received funding from at least 19 publicly traded corporations in 2010 and 2011. The companies’ combined contributions exceeded $1.3 million for an array of projects.
- Some companies have issued statements about their contributions, but none have committed to ending their support for the Heartland Institute.
- “Diageo provided a small contribution (nearly two years ago) to Heartland Institute – related to an excise tax issue,” a spokesperson said. “We vigorously oppose climate skepticism and our actions are proof of this. We will be reviewing any further association with this organization.”
- “GSK absolutely does not endorse or support the Heartland Institute’s views on the environment and climate change,” a Glaxo Smith Kline spokesperson said. “We have in the past provided a small amount of funding to support the Institute’s healthcare newsletter and a meeting.”
- General Motors defends the Heartland Institute as “careful and considerate,” even though the radical think tank has accused “Government Motors” of “corporate welfare-sucking” and told people to “never again buy a GM car or truck.””
Coverage of “denialgate” is increasing. Reblog if you can…
“Heartland, which bills itself as anti-regulatory and libertarian, annually produces climate change “denier” conferences and pays expenses for elected officials to attend. For example, the budget shows that Heartland allocated $304,704 for scientists supporting its contrarian views in 2012.
One of these scientists is Fred S. Singer, a physicist and National Weather Bureau satellite center founder, who is said to receive $5,000 a month. The same day as the document leak, a science watchdog named John Mashey released a detailed investigation into Singer and his Science and Environmental Policy Project, indicating that he failed to properly fill out income forms for the foundation. Singer has previously worked with Heartland arguing that secondhand smoke is harmless. One of Heartland’s funders, according to the documents, is Phillip Morris.
Other scientists, researchers and pseudo-scientists on the Heartland payroll include a former California TV weatherman, Anthony Watts, who runs an anti-climate change science blog called WUWT (Watts Up With That). Heartland budgeted him $90,000 for a “special project.”
On his blog yesterday, Watts admitted taking an unspecified sum:
Heartland simply helped me find a donor for funding a special project having to do with presenting some new NOAA surface data in a public friendly graphical form, something NOAA themselves is not doing, but should be. I approached them in the fall of 2011 asking for help, on this project not the other way around.
The Heartland budget allocates more than half a million dollars for “government relations” and another $800,000 for communications. Besides the big-budget annual climate conference, another $25,920 was budgeted for eight “Heartland Capital Events” identified as “events in state capitals for elected officials,” at $3,240 each.
As a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, Heartland is legally barred from using its tax-free income of $7.7 million to lobby for or against legislation. The fact that the group appears to be intending to do just that could transform the group’s ongoing public relations disaster into a legal problem. Heartland’s activities are no surprise to environmentalist watchdogs, but actual proof of moneys spent on lobbying activities might affect their legal status, if the IRS bothers to investigate.
Besides trying to influence public (and lawmaker) opinion on fossil fuels and climate change, Heartland works on other overtly political projects that have nothing to do with climate change. The group gave $612,000 for something called “Operation Angry Badger,” aimed at the nonscientific goal of supporting Wisconsin’s anti-union Gov. Scott Walker, who is targeted for recall by progressives.”
Read the rest at Salon
Cartoon by Stuart Carlsson