Political MoJo

We're Still at War: Photo of the Day for June 23, 2014

Mon Jun. 23, 2014 8:44 AM EDT

The USS North Carolina returns after a deployment to the Western Pacific Region to friends and family waiting at Pearl Harbor. (US Navy Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Jason Swink)

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Herman Cain: A First Grader Could Run America Better Than Obama

| Fri Jun. 20, 2014 2:09 PM EDT
Herman Cain.

Failed Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain—remember him?—laced into President Obama and his administration at the annual conference of the Faith and Freedom Coalition, a confab for evangelicals and pro-life activists.

Cain said the Obama administration was suffering from "a crisis of crises" on the home front and abroad. He then contended that "a first grader would approach these problems a lot smarter" than Obama and his team. "I'm not saying that to be insulting," he said. "I'm just telling you the truth."

Cain also exhorted the half-filled ballroom at Washington, DC's Omni Shoreham hotel to inform themselves and get active in politics. They needed to get involved because, as he put it, "stupid people [who do vote and volunteer] are ruining America."

Those in the room need to outnumber those "stupid people," he continued. "The solution is real simple folks. Those of us who are informed have got to outvote the stupid people. And you have got to become ambassadors of intelligence, ambassadors of information."

We're Still at War: Photo of the Day for June 20, 2014

Fri Jun. 20, 2014 10:04 AM EDT

American, Japanese and Australian service members assemble for a photo in Cambodia at the start of the 2014 Pacific Partnership program to provide humanitarian and disaster relief preparedness aid to the Asia-Pacific region. (US Navy Photo by Chief Mass Communication Specialist Greg Badger)

Tea Party Darling Joe Walsh Says He Was Kicked Off His Own Radio Show for Using the N-Word

| Thu Jun. 19, 2014 11:14 PM EDT

On Thursday, former Republican congressman and Tea Party darling Joe Walsh complained on Twitter about being kicked off his radio show for using the n-word and other racial slurs on air.  He tweeted, "It appears I can say [The name of Washington's pro football team], which is supposedly offensive, but when I say other words, commercial." He then proceeded to go on a bizarre online rant, repeating more racial slurs. 

Walsh's radio show airs on "The Answer" in Chicago and New York, which is home to a number of conservative talk shows. According to Walsh's Twitter account, his manager allowed him to say the name of Washington's football team on-air, but didn't allow him to say other offensive racial epithets. Here's what Walsh had to say about it all:

Walsh, who once called Obama a "tyrant" for ceasing to deport certain young undocumented Americans, noted that the radio station had sent him home, and he would find out what happens next with his job tomorrow at 5 p.m. Mother Jones has reached out to Walsh and "The Answer" for comment.

The CIA Wanted to Make Bin Laden Demon Dolls. Here Are 4 Other Bizarre CIA Plots.

| Thu Jun. 19, 2014 2:43 PM EDT
Pakistani journalist Hamid Mir interviewing Osama bin Laden

On Thursday, the Washington Post's Adam Goldman had the scoop on how, circa 2005, the CIA began secretly developing creepy-looking Osama bin Laden action figures in their war against Al Qaeda. You read that right:

The faces of the figures were painted with a heat-dissolving material, designed to peel off and reveal a red-faced bin Laden who looked like a demon, with piercing green eyes and black facial markings.

The goal of the short-lived project was simple: spook children and their parents, causing them to turn away from the actual bin Laden.

The code-name for the bin Laden figures was "Devil Eyes," and to create them the CIA turned to one of the best minds in the toy business…The toymaker was Donald Levine, the former Hasbro executive who was instrumental in the creation of the wildly popular G.I. Joe toys that generated more than $5 billion in sales after hitting the shelves in 1964.

It wasn't long before the CIA abandoned this project (you can check out photos of a demon-doll prototype here).

While we're on the subject, here's a quick look at some of the spy agency's other notably bizarre or goofy pet projects:

The Sukarno Porno Plot:

The operation that inspired the Ben Affleck movie Argo wasn't even the craziest CIA scheme that involved a fake movie: In the mid-'60s, the CIA was no fan of Sukarno, the first president of Indonesia. The agency began production on a sex tape (titled "Happy Days") and naughty photos of a Sukarno lookalike gettin' it on with a Russian lover. The CIA wasn't able to track down a double who looked enough like a nude Sukarno, so "Happy Days" never got its big premiere date. Regardless, Sukarno was overthrown in 1967 during Indonesia's transition to the "New Order," and replaced by general Suharto, a US-backed, genocidal military dictator who held on to power for more than three decades.

Spy Cats:

In the '60s, the CIA tried implanting small microphones into cats, which they would then send to spy on the Soviets. The project was dubbed "Acoustic Kitty." The first attempt at cat-espionage resulted in the animal getting crushed by a taxi near the Soviet embassy in Washington, just moments after the operation began. All other missions failed, as well, and the initiative was terminated in 1967. Here's a diagram of the secret project:

 

Poison toothpaste:

The poisonous toothpaste, concocted by a CIA chemist, was meant for the assassination of Patrice Lumumba, the first democratically elected prime minister of the Republic of the Congo. The idea was later vetoed, and Lumumba was murdered in a coup after barely three months in office.

Exploding cigar:

Fidel Castro: The CIA didn't like him all that much. So they wanted to blow up his head with a special exploding cigar. Click here to read about the other weird ways the CIA tried to whack Castro.

On Iraq, McCain Won't Take McCain's Advice

| Thu Jun. 19, 2014 1:19 PM EDT
The couple, in happier times

Last week, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) went ballistic. In response to the intensifying crisis in Iraq, an apoplectic McCain took to the Senate floor and demanded the resignation of President Barack Obama's entire national security team. He huffed that Obama's advisers have "been a total failure." He suggested that Obama was somehow responsible for the present predicament in Iraq. And what was McCain's big idea for addressing the crisis? What steps would he take had he not been prevented from becoming commander in chief by Obama? The senator proposed calling in former General David Petraeus, who led US forces in Iraq during the 2007 surge, and former General James Mattis, who succeeded Petraeus. That was it: Ask Petraeus what to do.

Well, it turns out, McCain wouldn't abide by his own advice. Earlier this week, I contacted Petraeus' office to ask what he thought the president should be doing in Iraq. Not surprisingly, Petraeus did not respond to the invitation (which was probably one of many from reporters). But on Wednesday, Petraeus, speaking at a conference in London, did share his current views. He accused Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki of "undermining" national reconciliation—an obvious point made by most observers. He also declared that Iraq needed a more inclusive government—another obvious point that the president and others have pushed. And Petraeus dismissed the possibility of US airstrikes against the Sunni insurgents that have captured several cities in Iraq: 

This cannot be the United States being the air force of Shia militias or a Shia-on-Sunni Arab fight. It has to be a fight of all of Iraq against extremists who do happen to be Sunni Arabs but extremists that are wreaking havoc on a country that really had an enormous opportunity back in 2011, has made progress in certain areas but has certainly not capitalized on that enormous opportunity in the way that we had all hoped.

McCain, apparently, wasn't listening. On Thursday, McCain went full McCain. He called for ousting Maliki. (Obama and his aides are trying to nudge Maliki aside, but it's not a snap-of-the-fingers task to get rid of a Washington-endorsed guy who was elected.) And McCain demanded, yes, airstrikes: 

Of course Maliki has to be transitioned out. But the only way that's going to happen is for us to assure Iraqis that we will be there to assist. And let me make it clear: No one that I know wants to send combat troops on the ground, but airstrikes are an important factor, psychologically and many other ways, and that may require some forward air controllers and some special forces.

Several other GOPers joined McCain on the Senate floor to denounce Obama. On the other side of the Capitol, House Speaker John Boehner has been blasting Obama on Iraq, accusing the president of "napping" but not proposing any specific actions. On Wednesday, Boehner refused to comment on whether Obama should order airstrikes. The crisis is confounding Obama's GOP critics. And they're not even listening to Petraeus.

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Food Activists Target Ben & Jerry's Even Though It Supports GMO Labeling

| Thu Jun. 19, 2014 11:43 AM EDT

Ben & Jerry's pitched a tent at Tennessee music festival Bonnaroo this week, where they dished out free ice cream with a side of lobbying. Their new flavor, ‘Food Fight!’ was inspired by the debate over genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and consumers’ right to know what they’re eating. The ice cream brand has publicly supported the fight to GMO labeling on foods since its decision a year ago to start phasing out genetically modified foods from its products. So why is it still getting boycotted by organic-food activists?

The first victory in the fight for genetically modified food transparency came in Ben & Jerry’s home state of Vermont last month, when the state passed a law requiring food and drink manufacturers to label all genetically modified foods. The Grocers’ Manufacturers Association, a trade group that represents Monsanto, Pepsi-Co, and other big food companies, has sued Vermont as of last week over the new law and hopes to destroy legislation requiring food to be labeled with GMO stickers. In response to the lawsuit filed by the GMA, the Organic Consumers' Association, a consumer protection and organic agriculture advocacy group, has renewed a 2013 boycott against the GMA and "traitor brands" whose parent companies are members. One of those "traitor brands" is Ben & Jerry's, whose parent company, Unilever, is part of GMA.

Despite Ben & Jerry's support for labeling laws and plan to phase out GMOs from its ingredients, the OCA won't be amending its boycott list. "Any company that pays dues to the GMA is by virtue of its membership in the GMA, supporting the GMA's anti-labeling campaigns, including the campaign against Vermont," OCA representative tells Mother Jones. "We are asking brands like Ben & Jerry's to pressure their parent companies to withdraw from the GMA."

Christopher Miller, a Ben & Jerry's representative, says that the ice cream manufacturer doesn't deserve to be one of OCA's banned brands, but acknowledges that "there is a role for everyone to play on the issues they care about." Unilever owns more than 1,000 brands and holds a membership in the GMA, but when it acquired acquired Ben and Jerry’s in 2000 for $326 million, it promised to keep its hands off the brand's social causes. Miller makes it clear that Ben & Jerry's sides with Vermont in its ongoing fight against the GMA. “Anyone’s entitled to file suit,” he says. “But we believe that the law is legally defendable and sound. We think we’re going to win.” And Ben & Jerry's will continue to support labeling bills as they spread through the states. "Our voice is important in this debate," Miller says. "As a business, we can bring this to the mainstream audience." 

WATCH: MoJo's Dan Schulman Talking Koch Brothers, 'Sons of Wichita' on The Daily Show

Thu Jun. 19, 2014 11:25 AM EDT

Mother Jones' own Daniel Schulman appeared on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart on Tuesday to talk about Sons of Wichita, his new book on the Koch brothers. If you'd like to buy the book, click here.

Watch:

We're Still at War, Photo of the Day for June 19,2014

Thu Jun. 19, 2014 9:22 AM EDT

Marine Corps men train in the Jungle Endurance Course of Camp Gonsalvez in Okinawa, Japan. (Photo by US Marine Corps, Cpl. Henry Antenor) 

Watch: Dick Cheney's Utter Lack of Self-Awareness on Iraq

Wed Jun. 18, 2014 8:58 PM EDT

Mother Jones Washington bureau chief David Corn stopped by Hardball to talk with Chris Matthews and the Huffington Post's Howard Fineman about Dick and Liz Cheney's op-ed criticizing President Obama's response to the Iraq crisis. Also, read David on the seven talking points you need for discussing Iraq.

David Corn is Mother Jones' Washington bureau chief. For more of his stories, click here. He's also on Twitter.