Limbaugh, Monsanto, the Occupy movement, and the line connecting them

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Well, poo. All the really great eviscerations of Rush Limbaugh have been written. Maureen Dowd did it best (New York Times, March 3) and Jon Stewart did it funniest (The Daily Show, March 5), so commenting now would just be gratuitous piling on.

Nonetheless, I feel gypped, so I must pile a little. I was loathing Limbaugh before loathing Limbaugh was cool. I have one of the original “Flush Rush” stickers on the wall here at the Express office from, like… 1994, maybe?

It’s from the Rush and Dave show era, when Limbaugh (who had a Sacramento radio show at the time) and Davis icon Dave Rosenberg faced off on television. Or was it radio? Hard to remember through the haze of midlife sometimes. But I do remember that the show was short-lived because watching Limbaugh mince Rosenberg over and over got boring. Intelligence is no match for bombast.

I wonder if cutting his teeth on easy Davis meat helped Limbaugh leapfrog to national prominence, gathering lucrative radio sponsorships along the way. His success spawned other similarly loathsome conservative celebrities, like Glenn Beck and Ann Coulter, and greased the wheels for the ultimate vehicle of partisan tripe, Fox Spews — err — “News.”

If only Rosenberg hadn’t been calm, articulate and intelligent. This is why Democrats never win. They can’t seem to grasp that Republicans don’t play nice, which is why Democrats always end up hanging by a wedgie from a gym locker door. If only Rosenberg had begun his rebuttals with, “Rush, you fat, bloated, lump of human excrement,” maybe poor Sandra Fluke wouldn’t have ended up getting verbally raped by Limbaugh further down the line.

Ironically, Fluke is a sacrificial lamb of sorts. Limbaugh’s “slut” insults and assertion that he’s entitled to videos of her sex life were the flashpoint. It suggested a stunningly nauseating image of a tearful, humiliated Fluke splayed out on video while Limbaugh pops a Viagra and spanks himself, and the public’s tolerance for his megalomanic bile finally snapped. The collective roar of “Enough is enough” was loud enough for Limbaugh’s sponsors to hear. And listen.

Within one day of Limbaugh’s Fluke comments going viral, along with lists of his sponsors, Sleep Train yanked their ads from his show, quickly followed by, at last count, 43 others. Like the public, Limbaugh’s sponsors were unswayed by his sad, hollow “apology” to Fluke. Rush isn’t sorry he attacked Fluke, he’s only sorry it hurt him financially. Not hard to see who the real slut is here.

Besides yet another screaming example of the Radical Right’s burgeoning misogyny, the other takeaway to this story is that when the public fights back with the only real weapon it has — money — it can be a game-changer.

Allow me to connect this dot to another: On March 16 and 17 in Davis, the Occupy Sacramento group is helping to organize a protest in front of Calgene (which is owned by Monsanto), located at 1910 Fifth St., beginning at 6:30 a.m. The protest is one of several planned at Monsanto sites for “Global Solidarity Days of Action to Shut Down Monsanto.”

A Facebook “friend” announced the protest, and encouraged others to participate. I balked. I asked what would actually be done to fight Monsanto’s stranglehold on our food supply beyond yelling and waving signs; what was the specific plan of attack that will smack Monsanto hard enough to make it sit up and pay attention. Well, err, nothing, he responded. It was about raising awareness, like the Occupy movement.

Now, although the Occupy movement is to be applauded for propelling grotesque financial disparity into mainstream awareness, it hasn’t evolved beyond yelling and waving signs, except maybe in Oakland where it dissolved into riots and vandalism. That said, protesting to raise awareness is better than doing nothing. But not much. The Occupy movement must mature to the next level of protest: action.

Case in point: While talking with an avid Occupy supporter, I asked him where he banks. He named one of the biggest Big Banks. I pointed out the irony of financially supporting the same industry he was protesting. Why hadn’t he moved his money to a small, community bank? His response: “It’s just more convenient to bank there.” Therein is a glimpse into why the Occupy movement isn’t progressing. Ultimately, at the end of the protest day, Americans are intrinsically too lazy to save themselves.

To the Monsanto protestors: You’re taking the first step: raising awareness. Fabulous. But (and all you Occupiers pay attention) you must learn from the Fluke flap. You must transform your collective roar of “Enough is enough” into dollar signs. If Monsanto makes it, or invests in it, don’t buy it. It’s that simple.

If it contains genetically modified (GMO) corn or soy, it was probably made by Monsanto. Put it back. Start reading labels, and you’ll discover Monsanto-designed corn syrup in everything from soup to lunchmeat. It’s horrifying. Learn about the impact Monsanto’s genetically modified seeds have on farming worldwide. It’s even more horrifying.

A complete list of Monsanto products and investments is a mouse-click away online, and includes Aspartame (NutraSweet/Equal), Roundup herbicide and dairy products from cows treated with genetically engineered Bovine Growth Hormone (rBGH). Adjust your shopping list accordingly, and let the manufacturers know what you’re boycotting and why. And if protesting is cathartic and makes you feel better, fine. But at the end of the protest day, you must be willing to sacrifice convenience if you really want to make a tangible difference. That’s right, people: No NutraSweet in your coffee, and start pulling your weeds.

I’ll keep pounding this drum until my hands bleed: Move your money, move your money, move your money — whether it’s your checking account, or your next mattress purchase, or to the local farmer’s market. It’s the only weapon we have.

— Email Debra at debra@wintersexpress.com; read more of her work at www.wintersexpress.com, www.edebra.com and www.ipinion.com

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  1. Debra, it will be easier to know where to move our money if we can get the initiative to label genetically modified foods in CA on the ballot for this November 2012. There are petitions circulating now in Davis. I signed one today at the Farmer’s Market and the petitioners will be there every weekend through mid-April. 50 countries world-wide already label gmo food products. it is terrifying to me that here in America we do not have the right to know when gmos are in our food. I want Democracy back! The initiative will be a good place to start.

  2. Debra, it will be easier to know where to move our money if we can get the initiative to label genetically modified foods in CA on the ballot for this November 2012. There are petitions circulating now in Davis. I signed one today at the Farmer’s Market and the petitioners will be there every weekend through mid-April. 50 countries world-wide already label gmo food products. it is terrifying to me that here in America we do not have the right to know when gmos are in our food. I want Democracy back! The initiative will be a good place to start.

  3. If you have maybe a half million to move, it will hurt the big banks. What we need is a serious institutional-funds divestment movement. What better place to start than UC and its retirement system. At one time at least (don’t know about now), UC payroll went through Wells Fargo. How ’bout demanding they use USE Credit Union. As the Napster guy told the Facebook guy, “A million dollars isn’t cool. You know what’s cool [i.e. what makes an impression] ? A billion dollars. That’s cool.

  4. If you have maybe a half million to move, it will hurt the big banks. What we need is a serious institutional-funds divestment movement. What better place to start than UC and its retirement system. At one time at least (don’t know about now), UC payroll went through Wells Fargo. How ’bout demanding they use USE Credit Union. As the Napster guy told the Facebook guy, “A million dollars isn’t cool. You know what’s cool [i.e. what makes an impression] ? A billion dollars. That’s cool.

    1. Seriously? Speak for yourself. And then do something to make this country a better place. If not for my kids, for yours–or for your sister’s, or for the kid who lives on your street. I’ll back cynicism over laziness any day as what is taking this country down…you can be exhibit A–

    1. Seriously? Speak for yourself. And then do something to make this country a better place. If not for my kids, for yours–or for your sister’s, or for the kid who lives on your street. I’ll back cynicism over laziness any day as what is taking this country down…you can be exhibit A–

  5. I understand you are an entitled ultra liberal to get away with using any words you want, but I being of Gypsies descent take umbrage to you using the racist termed ‘gypped’. You should apologize in capital letters next week. To Gypsies; gypped is like using the N word to the black community!

  6. I understand you are an entitled ultra liberal to get away with using any words you want, but I being of Gypsies descent take umbrage to you using the racist termed ‘gypped’. You should apologize in capital letters next week. To Gypsies; gypped is like using the N word to the black community!

  7. I was curious enough about the headline to read the article, but then completely thrown off by the immediate use of a derogatory term ‘gypped’ and then about a woman being ‘verbally raped’. I assume this was done for irony, but it really left me wondering about the objectivity of the article. Are you trying to elevate the level of speech in our community, or taking some of your own advice about using bombast over intelligence?

  8. I was curious enough about the headline to read the article, but then completely thrown off by the immediate use of a derogatory term ‘gypped’ and then about a woman being ‘verbally raped’. I assume this was done for irony, but it really left me wondering about the objectivity of the article. Are you trying to elevate the level of speech in our community, or taking some of your own advice about using bombast over intelligence?

  9. I don’t like to eat aspartame, because I don’t think that it tastes good. So, I always check the ingredients of low calorie foods and beverages before I make a purchase. I would, however, not impose my personal preferences on others. Public policy needs to be based on sound scientific information. Aspartame has been on the market for more than thirty years and with the exception of people with a very rare genetic disorder, phenylketonuria, there is no credible evidence that aspartame has an adverse effect on human health. The FDA has stated that aspartame is “one of the most thoroughly tested and studied food additives the agency has ever approved” and that it safety is “clear cut”. It has also been thoroughly scrutinized by regulatory agencies in many other countries and deemed safe. Misinformation and paranoia also shroud the whole GMO issue. GM crops on the market today have gone through an extensive regulatory review in this country and many other countries. Credible NGOs have also determined that GM crops are safe. This includes the World Health Organization, the American Medical Association, the National Academy of Sciences, the United Nations Food Agency etc. Ultimately, it is a question of who you want determining public health policy. Dedicated scientist and healthcare professionals or a collection of chefs, Hollywood celebrities, and various othe individuals that lack the expertise to make informed decisions.

  10. I don’t like to eat aspartame, because I don’t think that it tastes good. So, I always check the ingredients of low calorie foods and beverages before I make a purchase. I would, however, not impose my personal preferences on others. Public policy needs to be based on sound scientific information. Aspartame has been on the market for more than thirty years and with the exception of people with a very rare genetic disorder, phenylketonuria, there is no credible evidence that aspartame has an adverse effect on human health. The FDA has stated that aspartame is “one of the most thoroughly tested and studied food additives the agency has ever approved” and that it safety is “clear cut”. It has also been thoroughly scrutinized by regulatory agencies in many other countries and deemed safe. Misinformation and paranoia also shroud the whole GMO issue. GM crops on the market today have gone through an extensive regulatory review in this country and many other countries. Credible NGOs have also determined that GM crops are safe. This includes the World Health Organization, the American Medical Association, the National Academy of Sciences, the United Nations Food Agency etc. Ultimately, it is a question of who you want determining public health policy. Dedicated scientist and healthcare professionals or a collection of chefs, Hollywood celebrities, and various othe individuals that lack the expertise to make informed decisions.

  11. Steve, if you would not impose your personal preference on others, then you should be in favor of labeling GMOs. Regardless of your opinion, millions of us world-wide have done our own research and decided that GMOs are not safe for us or appealing to us. Just as you search labels for aspartame because you don’t wish to purchase items containing it, we should be free to search labels for GMOs because we don’t wish to purchase them. Therefore, GMOs need to be labeled so we can each express our personal preferences with our dollar votes. Further, Hollywood chefs aside, more than 40 countries world-wide have labeling or bans on GMOs, including the UK, France, China, Russia, Japan, Hungary and Peru. The latter two countries have banned all GMOs. What does the rest of the world know that we do not in the USA? Why are Americans kept in the dark? For more information:www.labelgmos.org

  12. Steve, if you would not impose your personal preference on others, then you should be in favor of labeling GMOs. Regardless of your opinion, millions of us world-wide have done our own research and decided that GMOs are not safe for us or appealing to us. Just as you search labels for aspartame because you don’t wish to purchase items containing it, we should be free to search labels for GMOs because we don’t wish to purchase them. Therefore, GMOs need to be labeled so we can each express our personal preferences with our dollar votes. Further, Hollywood chefs aside, more than 40 countries world-wide have labeling or bans on GMOs, including the UK, France, China, Russia, Japan, Hungary and Peru. The latter two countries have banned all GMOs. What does the rest of the world know that we do not in the USA? Why are Americans kept in the dark? For more information:www.labelgmos.org

  13. Jan, You are correct. GM crops have become a very contentious issue in the UK, France, and most of the rest of Europe. Thanks for bringing it up. This is another example where public policy is not based upon sound science. Here is a statement from the European Commission Directorate-General for Research-

    “The main conclusion to be drawn from the efforts of more than 130 research projects, covering a period of more than 25 years of research, and involving more than 500 independent research groups, is that biotechnology, and in particular GMOs, are not per se more risky than e.g. conventional plant breeding technologies.”

    Regarding the labelling laws in Russia and China, neither country can be considered a stalwart of food safety. You may remember reports in this very paper about heavy metals in Chinese manufactured toys, plastic in infants formula, …. I suspect that there is more of an economic and/or political reason for Russian and Chinese opposition than an actual food safety concern.

  14. Jan, You are correct. GM crops have become a very contentious issue in the UK, France, and most of the rest of Europe. Thanks for bringing it up. This is another example where public policy is not based upon sound science. Here is a statement from the European Commission Directorate-General for Research-

    “The main conclusion to be drawn from the efforts of more than 130 research projects, covering a period of more than 25 years of research, and involving more than 500 independent research groups, is that biotechnology, and in particular GMOs, are not per se more risky than e.g. conventional plant breeding technologies.”

    Regarding the labelling laws in Russia and China, neither country can be considered a stalwart of food safety. You may remember reports in this very paper about heavy metals in Chinese manufactured toys, plastic in infants formula, …. I suspect that there is more of an economic and/or political reason for Russian and Chinese opposition than an actual food safety concern.

  15. I don’t know or much care who the “European Commission Directorate-General for Research” is or what they have said about the safety of GMO foods! I do care that there be transparency concerning the food that is offered for sale in this country and I am impressed deeply with the fact that other countries have the right to know what is in the food they eat, and here we do not. If you appreciate having the right to locate aspartame on a label so that you can avoid it, you should support my right to be able to locate possible allergens and pesticides that I wish to avoid in GMO foods, through labeling. You and– the scientists– really can’t decide for me how my body is reacting to certain substances in foods, whether it is bt toxin in GMO, or a spliced animal or plant gene in GMO. Unless the food is labeled, I lose–we all lose– that intrinsic right to choose what I am eating. Scientists cannot possibly predict, let alone control, all the potential variables for me. Please consider supporting labeling. GMOs are new and novel food group, so new and novel that they are patented.

  16. I don’t know or much care who the “European Commission Directorate-General for Research” is or what they have said about the safety of GMO foods! I do care that there be transparency concerning the food that is offered for sale in this country and I am impressed deeply with the fact that other countries have the right to know what is in the food they eat, and here we do not. If you appreciate having the right to locate aspartame on a label so that you can avoid it, you should support my right to be able to locate possible allergens and pesticides that I wish to avoid in GMO foods, through labeling. You and– the scientists– really can’t decide for me how my body is reacting to certain substances in foods, whether it is bt toxin in GMO, or a spliced animal or plant gene in GMO. Unless the food is labeled, I lose–we all lose– that intrinsic right to choose what I am eating. Scientists cannot possibly predict, let alone control, all the potential variables for me. Please consider supporting labeling. GMOs are new and novel food group, so new and novel that they are patented.

  17. So. When it comes to gmos, why not be safe instead of sorry. Scientists are concluding that the pesticides used on gmo corn crops are probably responsible for the decline of butterfly and bee populations. I recently read Einstein said, if the bees go, humans have about 5 years. Why mess with something like that–

  18. So. When it comes to gmos, why not be safe instead of sorry. Scientists are concluding that the pesticides used on gmo corn crops are probably responsible for the decline of butterfly and bee populations. I recently read Einstein said, if the bees go, humans have about 5 years. Why mess with something like that–

  19. So if you are in favour of punctilious labelling would you also support a label that read something like this- “WARNING this food has been produced in accordance with Organic farming practices, which can significantly increase the risk of death from foodborne illnesses”. Last Summer at least 47 people died in Germany from an E. coli outbreak that was definitively linked to organic sprouts. Then there was the 2006 E. coli outbreak from organic spinach grown right here in California. Considering what a small percentage of our food is produced organically, there really is a disproportionate number of incidents associated with organic farming. For safety concerns are you sure that GMOs are the right target for labelling?

    I really don’t want to get into an extended debate on the GMO labelling initiative. So, this will be my last response on the subject.

    1. That exaggerated label you’ve made up is nothing like what will appear on GMO foods. The GMO label should just be like the organic one we have now :USDA organic, and USDA GMO or “may contain GMO.” Then people who want to eat GMOs can find them easily and people who want to avoid them–like you and aspartame–can do just that. It’s fair to all and would not be at all difficult to do.

  20. So if you are in favour of punctilious labelling would you also support a label that read something like this- “WARNING this food has been produced in accordance with Organic farming practices, which can significantly increase the risk of death from foodborne illnesses”. Last Summer at least 47 people died in Germany from an E. coli outbreak that was definitively linked to organic sprouts. Then there was the 2006 E. coli outbreak from organic spinach grown right here in California. Considering what a small percentage of our food is produced organically, there really is a disproportionate number of incidents associated with organic farming. For safety concerns are you sure that GMOs are the right target for labelling?

    I really don’t want to get into an extended debate on the GMO labelling initiative. So, this will be my last response on the subject.

    1. That exaggerated label you’ve made up is nothing like what will appear on GMO foods. The GMO label should just be like the organic one we have now :USDA organic, and USDA GMO or “may contain GMO.” Then people who want to eat GMOs can find them easily and people who want to avoid them–like you and aspartame–can do just that. It’s fair to all and would not be at all difficult to do.

  21. Um, Steve, organic foods ARE already labeled…? and you could trace the E Coli outbreak for that reason, right?….so, labeling is useful…and therefore labeling weird laboratory foods we call GMO frankenfoods seems a no-brainer. They really need to be traceable!

  22. Um, Steve, organic foods ARE already labeled…? and you could trace the E Coli outbreak for that reason, right?….so, labeling is useful…and therefore labeling weird laboratory foods we call GMO frankenfoods seems a no-brainer. They really need to be traceable!

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