2012 - %3, September

We're Still at War: Photo of the Day for September 26, 2012

Wed Sep. 26, 2012 7:15 AM PDT

Cpl. Bobby Liverman, an infantryman with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 5th Battalion, 20th Infantry Regiment, clears an area during Operation Southern Strike III in the village of Jandad Kalay, district of Spin Boldak, Kandahar province, Afghanistan, Sept. 9, 2012. US Army photo.

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Why Don't More American Women Use IUDs?

| Wed Sep. 26, 2012 3:00 AM PDT

Data from 2006 except for the US, which is from 2009. Source: Guttmacher Institute

It's easy to forget, amidst the current threats to restrict access to contraception, that for much of their lives, women still face the dilemma of which type of birth control to use. My friends and I are no different: More and more of us are now choosing intrauterine devices, those hormone-emitting or copper-wrapped plastic wonders that I hadn't paid much attention to until about a year or two ago, when I decided to switch to an IUD. After one albeit painful appointment to get the tiny instrument inserted, I no longer have to remember to take a pill or worry about needing to re-up my supply every month or before traveling; lucky for me, my insurance paid for the whole shebang. (My colleagues Kate Sheppard and Stephanie Mencimer both wrote about recently landing on this option, too.)

As it turns out, we're in the minority. Although long-lasting reversible contraceptive methods (LARCs) like IUDs are pretty popular in Europe (27 percent of Norwegian female contraception users have one) and China (41 percent!), only around 8.5 percent of women in the United States choose these as their birth control method, among the lowest of any developed country, according to a recent report by the Guttmacher Institute. But while at least half of my girlfriends now have IUDs, some of them have had to jump through hoops and even lie to convince their doctors to prescribe them one. Why has it been hard for young women in the United States to get their hands on this type of birth control?

Joe Walsh, Flailing in the Polls, Sticks it to the 47 Percent

| Wed Sep. 26, 2012 3:00 AM PDT
Rep. Joe Walsh (R-Ill.)

Rep. Joe Walsh (R-Ill.) probably could have picked a better time to come rushing to the defense of Mitt Romney. On Tuesday, a new survey from Public Policy Polling showed the first-term tea partier trailing Democratic challenger and Iraq war vet Tammy Duckworth by 14 points (52–38) in his Chicagoland district. Just 35 percent of voters said they approved of his job performance.

But Walsh, a bombthrower famous for overheated floor statements and dismissive critiques of his political rivals—he recently suggested that Duckworth, a double-amputee, was not a "hero" because she talks about her military service too much—doesn't appear to be toning things down. While other Republican candidates across the country are distancing themselves from Mitt Romney's suggestion that 47 percent of Americans are moochers, Walsh came to the GOP presidential candidate's defense at a campaign stop on Saturday in Roselle, Illinois:

He didn't say it as probably exquisitely as he should have said it...But what Mitt Romney meant to say was this: Here's why this is the most important election in our nation's history: Because we are at a very scary point right now where there are too many Americans dependent upon government right now. Or as a very wise woman told me in the last campaign, we have too many people in the wagon and not enough people pulling the wagon. And if we don't get this election right, the people pulling the wagon are going to put the wagon down and say, "You know what? I've had it, I'm tired." That's what this election is all about.

Here's the video, captured by the liberal super PAC CREDO:

Walsh's hardline on the 47 percent would make a bit more sense if Romney were at least polling well in the district. But Walsh has hitched his horse to the wrong wagon: Only 40 percent of voters in the 8th district say they'll vote for the former Massachusetts governor this fall.

Does Monsanto Man Mitt Romney Secretly Eat Organic?

| Wed Sep. 26, 2012 3:00 AM PDT
Organic food? Not for you 47 percenters.

Mitt Romney hasn't divulged many details about what kind of agriculture policy he'd pursue as president. (Sound familiar?) But all signs suggest that he'd follow the agribiz party line. As Wayne Barrett showed in a recent Nation piece (my comment here), Romney has ties to agribusiness giant Monsanto that date to the '70s, when GMO seeds were an R&D project, not a business model. According to Barrett, Romney, then a young Bain consultant, helped nudge Monsanto on its path away from disgraced industrial chemical concern toward its current status as world-beating agribiz player. Then there's the agribiz execs and shills the GOP nominee tapped for his campaign's Agriculture Advisory Committee.

But guess what? In the privacy of his campaign jet, the beleaguered presidential contender apparently eats organic, reports the Today show's Peter Alexander:

Night of the Living Honeybees?

| Wed Sep. 26, 2012 3:00 AM PDT

There are so many things in this world to be afraid of: hantavirus, brain-eating amoebas, the bubonic plague. Now you can add "zombie bees" to that list.

Beekeepers in Washington state have found bees whose bodies were taken over by apocephalus borealis, a type of parasitic fly that "causes the bees to lurch around erratically before dropping dead." It's really something straight out of a horror flick. While normal bees spent the night in their hives, infected bees are out on the prowl, exhibiting "zombie-like behavior" on "a flight of the living dead," according to the website researchers have put together on the subject, ZomBee Watch. Here's how the Seattle Times described what happens, per San Francisco State University biologist John Hafernik, the guy who first discovered the infected bees:

The fly's life cycle is gruesomely reminiscent of the movie "Alien" — though they don't pose a risk to people. Adult females, smaller than a fruit fly, land on the backs of foraging honeybees and use their needle-sharp ovipositors to inject eggs into the bee's abdomen. The eggs hatch into maggots. "They basically eat the insides out of the bee," Hafernik said.
After consuming their host, the maggots pupate, forming a hard outer shell that looks like a fat, brown grain of rice. When [Washington beekeeper Mark] Hohn looked in his Ziploc bag a week later, he saw several pupae — the smoking gun evidence that his bees were infected. He's still waiting for the first adult flies to emerge from the shells, a process that takes three to four weeks.

The zombees were first documented in California in 2008. There are now confirmed instances of the afflicted bees in Washington, Oregon, and South Dakota, and sampling is taking place in five other states where cases are suspected. The project is a collaboration between San Francisco State University Department of Biology, the San Francisco State University Center for Computing for Life Sciences and the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County.

Scientists are trying to figure out if the parasitic flies may be one of the reasons for Colony Collapse Disorder, a mysterious condition causing massive die-offs in honeybee populations.

WATCH: In Pro-Obama Ad, Samuel L. Jackson Tells Complacent Voters to "Wake the Fuck Up!"

| Wed Sep. 26, 2012 3:00 AM PDT

Hollywood megastar and snake-punching virtuoso Samuel L. Jackson plays the lead in a new ad from The Jewish Council for Education & Research (JCER), a liberal super-PAC. It is nearly four minutes long. It is unabashedly pro-Obama. It will be shown exclusively online. Oh, and it's titled, "Wake the Fuck Up."

Jackson, 63, narrates in a Seussian fashion (Whoville!), while paying homage to the audiobook he recorded for Adam Mansbach's children's book sendup Go the Fuck to Sleep. The clip consists primarily of the actor, clad in jeans and a black beret, magically appearing in houses and hurling obscenities and Democratic talking points at unsuspecting white suburbanites.

In one scene, for example, Jackson intones:

Sorry, my friend, but there's no time to snore.
And out-of-touch millionaires just declared war.
On schools, the environment, unions, fair pay.
We're all on our own if Romney has his way.
And he's against safety nets, if you fall, tough luck.
So I strongly suggest that you wake the fuck up.

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Corn on MSNBC: Romney's Foreign Policy Fail

Tue Sep. 25, 2012 3:09 PM PDT

After a rough week in the polls, Mitt Romney took to speaking at the Clinton Global Intiative. Mother Jones' DC Bureau Chief David Corn talks about Romney's rather confused foreign policy with MSNBC's Martin Bashir.

Who Really Blew It in Last Night's Seahawks-Packers Game?

| Tue Sep. 25, 2012 1:43 PM PDT

So, um, football. By chance, I tuned into last night's Packers-Seahawks game with six seconds left to play. And that turned out to be plenty! One Hail Mary later it was the blown call heard round the world, leading to an improbable Seahawks victory and a million outraged tweets about the incompetence of the replacement refs and the greediness of the NFL.

All of which I agree with.1 But I do have a question here. The call on the field2 didn't seem wildly outrageous to me. The two refs were far enough away from the scrum that they couldn't see who caught the ball first, and by the time they ran over it probably looked like simultaneous possession to them and therefore a Seattle reception. That's a mistake, but frankly, it's hardly the worst on-field mistake I've ever seen. These things happen.

But in replay, it was obvious that it was a Green Bay interception. So the real problem here is with the replay official who didn't overturn the ruling on the field. But the replay officials aren't replacement refs. They're the same folks as always.

As it happens, I don't care much about pro football, and I definitely don't care much about the Seahawks and the Packers. So maybe I'm viewing this whole thing with more equanimity than it deserves. But I'm curious: who really blew it here? Seems to me it's more the replay official than the replacement refs. What am I missing?

UPDATE: OK, I see my problem. In college ball, there's a separate replay official who reviews calls. That's what I'm used to. In pro ball, the replay official merely signals the referee on the field, and it's the referee who reviews the play. So it was replacement refs who blew the initial call, and a replacement ref who blew the replay call. Sorry about the confusion.

1Seriously, I do. This is just a question about the blown call at the end of last night's game.

2I'm talking only about the question of who caught the ball here. For the time being, I'm ignoring the missed offensive interference call.

See the New Full-Page "Seriously Ugly and False Anti-Obama Ad"

| Tue Sep. 25, 2012 12:06 PM PDT

Tampa Bay Times political writer Adam Smith has flagged this full-page ad from Sunday's Sarasota Herald-Tribune—a reliably balanced reporter, he calls it a "seriously ugly and false anti-Obama ad":

Screenshot courtesy of Sarasota Herald-TribuneAccording to Smith, the ad has also run this month in tiny dailies all over Florida, Iowa, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. It was created by the Government Is Not God Political Action Committee, the 18-year-old soft-money vehicle of religious conservative crusader William Murray (who is the son of famed atheist activist Madalyn Murray O'Hair, as well as a big supporter of Todd Akin). It's hard to say exactly what electoral impact the GINGPAC ad will have, especially since Murray himself came out in the primaries as a Santorum-loving Romney-resister:

By the way, Murray—who lists his favorite books as the King James Bible and the Annapolis Book of Seamanship—is not a Texan; he hails from Maryland and the District of Columbia. This is what he sounds like when not wearing a cowboy hat and pandering to Lone Star staters:

More Fallout From "47 Percent" Video: MoJo Joins the Lexicon

| Tue Sep. 25, 2012 10:55 AM PDT

Under "surreptitious" in the dictionary, see us.

When Mother Jones' intrepid copy editor, Ian Gordon, was perusing the Merriam-Webster home page this morning, he noticed a funny thing on the site's "Trend Watch" section—a reference to the "47 percent" video of Mitt Romney released by our DC bureau chief, David Corn, last week:

Screenshot courtesy of Merriam-Webster.comScreenshot courtesy of Merriam-Webster.comThe dictionary folks say lookups of the word "surreptitious" spiked last Tuesday:

In the main campaign story of the week, surreptitious was widely used to describe the video of Mitt Romney speaking to wealthy supporters at a fundraising dinner and discussing low-income voters.

The video was apparently taken without the knowledge of the candidate or others at the event.

Surreptitious means "done, made, or acquired by stealth," or "clandestine." It comes from the Latin verb that means "to snatch secretly."

Okay, I'll stop without further comment, before they update their page and list us under "bluster" and "hubris." Meanwhile, true fans of verbiage can continue to puzzle over which "vulgar, unprintable phrase" an anonymous adviser used to describe the Romney campaign to the New York Times!