Andy Kroll

Andy Kroll

Senior Reporter

Andy Kroll is Mother Jones' Dark Money reporter. He is based in the DC bureau. His work has also appeared at the Wall Street Journal, the Detroit News, the Guardian, the American Prospect, and TomDispatch.com, where he's an associate editor. Email him at akroll (at) motherjones (dot) com. He tweets at @AndrewKroll.

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The Truth About Mike Daisey—and Walmart

| Wed Mar. 21, 2012 6:00 AM EDT
A Walmart store in Beijing, China.

Mike Daisey made you care. Give the man that much.

For all the flaws and fabrications in his monologue "The Agony and Ecstasy of Steve Jobs," excerpted and then retracted on the popular radio program "This American Life," Daisey changed how you looked at your iPhone or iPod or iPad. He caused you to consider how and where your Apple gadgets were made, and who made them. That Daisey lied about meeting underage workers at Apple supplier Foxconn does not mean Apple suppliers don't hire underage workers. They do. That Daisey misrepresented meeting a man with a hand snarled from repeating the same motion on an Apple production line doesn't mean such injuries aren't common in China. They are. Daisey's lies have stained his reputation. But Apple's once-glittering reputation is tarnished, too. For that Apple can blame Daisey, and even more so the reporting team behind the New York Times' superb iEconomy series.

But the problems plaguing the Chinese manufacturers are not limited to Apple. Far from it.

Today, you can read my investigation into an even more massive American corporation that, like Apple, depends on cheap, fast, and nimble Chinese labor: Walmart. It's a story 18 months in the works, and it reveals how the world's largest retailer has fallen well short on its much-hyped sustainability campaign, especially in China, where so much of Walmart's products are made.

Walmart launched its sustainability campaign in 2005, billing it as a boardroom-to-break-room effort to shrink the retailer's waste footprint, slash emissions at its stores and suppliers worldwide, and stock its shelves with more environmentally friendly products. Walmart's "green" embrace fit into a broader makeover at the embattled retailer. Walmart redesigned the company logo, de-cluttered its shelves and store aisles, and changed its slogan from "Always Low Prices" to "Save Money. Live Better."

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Santorum: 'I'm Praying' for Dan Savage Who 'Has Serious Issues'

| Mon Mar. 19, 2012 4:54 PM EDT
Rick Santorum and Dan Savage.

RealClearReligion posted an interview with Rick Santorum on Monday in which the reporter asked the candidate about Dan Savage, the gay sex columnist who held a contest in 2003 to redefine the word "Santorum." Savage started the contest after the Pennsylvania senator controversially said the "definition of marriage" never included "man on child, man on dog, or whatever the case may be." The winning redefinition in Savage's contest for Santorum was, famously, "the frothy mixture of lube and fecal matter that is sometimes the by-product of anal sex."

Savage's redefinition took hold, so much so that his "Spreading Santorum" site quickly became one of the top three Google search results for Santorum's name. It's since dropped to the eighth result, but the GOP contender still has a major Google problem.

Asked what he'd say to Savage if the two met, Santorum replied:

I would tell him that I'm praying for him. He obviously has some serious issues. You look at someone like that who can say and do the things that he's doing and you just pray for him and hopefully he can find peace.

I emailed Savage to see what he had to say about that. He wrote back:

Rick Santorum thinks that women who have been raped should be compelled—by force of law—to carry the babies of their rapists to term, he thinks birth control should be illegal, he wants to prosecute pornographers, etc., etc., basically the guy wants to be president so that he can micromanage the sex lives of all Americans...and I'm the one with issues? Because I made a dirty joke at his expense eight or nine years ago and it stuck? I'm the one with issues?

Okaaaaaaaaaaaaaay.

Rick can pray for me. I'll gay for him. And we can call it even.

Flashback: Santorum Compares Voting for Him to Tiananmen Square's "Tank Man"

| Mon Mar. 19, 2012 6:00 AM EDT

Kristin Brenenman/Flickr. Original photograph by Jeff Widener, Associated Press.Kristin Brenenman/Flickr. Original photograph by Jeff Widener, Associated Press.

On the presidential campaign trail, Rick Santorum has never shied away from calling out the bluster of his fellow Republicans, chief among them Newt "Moon Base" Gingrich. "Grandiosity has never been a problem with Newt Gingrich," Santorum deadpanned at a January presidential debate. Casting Newt as a loose-lipped gaffe machine, Santorum said, "I don't want a nominee that I have to worry about going out and looking at the paper the next day and worrying about what he's going to say next."

Yet Santorum himself is no stranger to overblown campaign talk. In a previously unreported radio interview from April 1994, then-Rep. Rick Santorum (R-Penn.) argued that supporting his underdog US Senate campaign and voting for him in the election was "every bit as important" as the bold Chinese protester who, in June 1989, blocked a column of military tanks near Beijing's Tiananmen Square, the site of student protests against China's Communist ruling elite.

Santorum's remarks were included in tracking documents compiled by Sen. Harris Wofford, the Democrat who Santorum narrowly defeated in his 1994 Senate race. Here is Santorum's full statement:

"...What you have to do is recognize that when you get up in the morning, you look in the mirror, you're looking at the person who really bears the moral responsibility for the future of that country, so your children can be safe and prosperous and free, and unless you take that responsibility seriously, you have no one to blame for the Roberta Achtenbergs being in the White House than yourselves.

You've gotta take that responsibility seriously, and the work you do, if it just means going out to vote, if it means passing the word onto friends and neighbors about what you've heard on this program, the work that you do is every bit as important as the guy who stood in front of the tank at Tiananmen Square when it comes to the future of our civilization in this country, and I don't know if I can say it any more strongly than that."

Here's the transcript itself:

 

Suffice it to say that comparing voting for Rick Santorum with the act of defiance by Tiananmen's "Tank Man," as he's known, far surpasses any of Newt Gingrich's bombast. The Tank Man shuffled left and right to block the tanks' forward progress, then clambered on top of the first tank, stuck his head inside, and reportedly said, "Why are you here? My city is in chaos because of you." Tank Man could've easily been shot or run over; one theory about his fate holds he was killed by a government firing squad weeks later. He etched his name, if anonymously, into the history books with one of the most iconic protests in the 20th century.

The Tiananmen line was one of many hyperbolic one-liners uttered by Santorum during his 1994 campaign. As Mother Jones reported, Santorum made welfare reform a pillar of his Senate bid. His welfare stump speech often targeted single mothers, and he claimed they were "breeding more criminals" and that lawmakers were needed who weren't afraid of "kicking them in the butt." In another grandiose touch, Santorum argued that the single mother problem posed an existential threat to the United States itself. At a February 1994 Clairtown, Pennsylvania, town hall, he said, "We are seeing the fabric of this country fall apart, and it's falling apart because of single moms."

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