Jim Hightower

Wash, Rinse, Repeat


When George Romney ran for president in 1968, he opposed the war in Vietnam. When it came out that he’d earlier supported the war, the Republican governor of Michigan blamed the contradiction on having been “brainwashed.” Another presidential hopeful at the time, Democratic Sen. Gene McCarthy, noted that Romney wasn’t known for being too bright. Brainwashing Romney wouldn’t have been necessary, McCarthy observed, since “I would have thought a light rinse would be sufficient.”

Now comes a chip off the old block. George’s son, Mitt Romney, is running for president as a Republican, so he’s trying to show his party’s extreme right wing that he’s one of them. Abortion? Agin it! But, oops, Mitt was pro-choice when he was running for office in Massachusetts. Gay marriage? No way, says Mitt. Oops again, he previously embraced gay rights.

The most fun, though, is Romney’s macho assertion that he’s “been a hunter pretty much all my life.” This is an important claim since he wants the National Rifle Association’s endorsement. But-oops, oops, oops-his campaign had to admit that he’d actually gone hunting only twice.

He later made the blunder worse by saying: “I’ve always been a rodent and rabbit hunter. Small varmints, if you will.” Not exactly Teddy Roosevelt big-game stuff! And what NRA member says, “If you will?” Mitt brags he’s an NRA member. Yeah-he joined eight months ago. And in Massachusetts, he supported gun control laws the NRA hates.

Well, he declared this year, “I have a gun of my own.” Not exactly. Mitt-your son owns a gun, not you. Still, he claims that he keeps his son’s gun in his home. Which one? He owns homes in three states-just like your typical NRA hunter-guy, huh?

Worse than a flip-flopper, Mitt Romney simply can’t shoot straight with the American people. Haven’t we had enough of that from our current president?


Bees all across America are dying. Lots and lots of bees.

Since starting in Florida last fall, the great bee die-off has spread to 24 states. Whole colonies are dying. In Western states, commercial beekeepers report losing up to a 60 percent of their bees, with losses at 70 percent in Texas and on the East Coast. It’s unprecedented.

Who cares? Well, few people realize that many of America’s food crops-from almonds to watermelons-rely heavily on commercial honeybees for pollination. No bees, no fruit. One study finds that these bees pollinate every third bite of food we consume.

Bee pollination is increasingly a highly concentrated industry. Rather than a dispersed system of local hives, a few commercial operators now haul tens of billions of bees from coast to coast in 18-wheelers.

“Colony collapse disorder,” as it’s now called, could be the result of this industrialized model of pollination. First, the bees themselves have been bred into single-purpose superpollinators, rather than bees with multiple functions (make honey, feed the queen, maintain the hives, and extend the species). The industrial bees have lost the diversity and natural traits of wild bees.

Second, constant trucking puts stress on the bees, suppressing their immune systems and making them vulnerable to viruses, mites, and diseases. As part of their forced migration, the bees are fed a limited diet of high fructose corn syrup-about as healthy as humans trying to live on Cokes.

Once again we have the heavy hand of mankind messing with Mother Nature in ways that come back to mess with us-big time. It’s not just bees these food industrialists are messing with-it’s our food supply.


Just when you thought the incompetence of the Bushites had topped out, here comes another embarrassment. While George W keeps popping back to New Orleans for political photo ops with Katrina victims, he hasn’t mentioned that his budget whackers have been steadily shortchanging the National Hurricane Center, which we rely on to give us as an accurate picture of when and where a Big One will hit.

The center’s new director says the nation’s hurricane protection program is underfunded by “hundreds of millions of dollars” and warns of another funding failure that could result in disaster during this year’s hurricane season: The Center’s QuikSCAT satellite-crucial for providing accurate forecasts of a storm’s intensity and movement-could fail “at any moment.”

QuikSCAT went up in 1999 with an expected lifespan of five years, so it’s already overdue to be replaced. Yet even after Katrina in 2005, Bush’s budgeteers have failed to plan for its replacement. Apparently, George W’s plan is for everyone in a hurricane zone to cross their fingers and pray. Call it “faith-based” emergency preparedness.

The failure to prepare can’t be a matter of money. Yes, it’ll cost about $400 million to replace QuikSCAT, but Bush blows that amount every two days in Iraq. Plus, George wants to spend at least $170 billion to send astronauts to Mars-shouldn’t he put a pittance of that into protecting people here on Earth first?

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