Take Five (Borrow and Spend edition)

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ONE: Debt ceiling cat iz watching u hyperventilate.

Frontrunning GOP presidential wannabe Michele Bachmann began tossing fistfuls of raw meat to her Teabagger fans this week in the aftermath of the debt ceiling agreement. Despite her enthusiasm for government spending back when George Bush was squatting in the Oval Office, Bachmann has decided that spending while black is a no-no.

The Bachmann campaign site is filled with her righteous thunder at that darned old Barack Obama. Hear her roar:

“Mr. President, the real losers in the budget deal were the American people who will continue to be subjected to your failed economic policies. The President got what he wanted — a blank check, debt ceiling increase of at least $2.1 trillion to continue his wasteful spending next year… We needed real cuts and a fundamental restructuring in the way Washington spends taxpayer dollars to solve the spending crisis we are in…

Mr. President, it’s time for you to take responsibility for this failed economy and stop blaming the American people, earthquakes, the previous administration and the wind. It’s time to stop the ‘hot air’ in Washington and let the winds of true change, economic growth and job creation spurred by the private market sweep through this country.”

Wow, Bachmann sure sounds unhappy, and she has lots of company. Today alone, I’ve read these comments about the President in the context of the debt ceiling brouhaha, all taken verbatim from three heavily-trafficked “progressive” websites: “impotent,” “useless and clueless,” “intentionally screwing us,” “not on our team,” “shill for the plutocracy,” “grifter,” “inept,” “treasonous,” “a fucking moron,” “motherfucker,” “the enemy,” “betraying progressive ideals,” “colluding with the right from the beginning,” “Republican,” “closet Republican,” “weak and not terribly capable,” “a conservative,” “going for the 2012 Republican nomination,” “lying,” “disgusting,” “evil,” “sinister,” “doing more harm to all things liberal than any Republican ever could,” “worse than having a Republican in charge,” “massively destructive,” “consistent­ly and actively sought to undermine every progressiv­e interest,” “never practiced anything but lying, secret dealmaking­, capitulati­ng and selling out his supporters,” “a horrible president,” “clearly isn’t bright,” “beyond disappointing,” “spineless,” “one lousy leader,” “a mole in the ranks of true progressiv­es.”

Golly. If only the President had ignored his own legal advisers and implausibly invoked the 14th Amendment, then had to defend himself against impeachment proceedings even as the nation defaulted on its debt and dragged the world into a depression, while both Michele Bachmann and the puerile yacktivists quoted above raised their voices in unison huzzahs, well, what a wonderful world it would be, huh? Way to go, President Buzzkill…

TWO: My kingdom for a time machine, some birth control pills and a short audience with Steve King’s mother…

A much more important story broke on Monday, the announcement that HHS will require insurers to cover birth control and other preventive services for women, with no co-pays or deductibles:

Nancy Keenan, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, commended Health and Human Services Secretary (HHS) Kathleen Sebelius for accepting an expert panel’s recommendation that family planning be considered preventive health care.  Now, newly issued insurance plans must cover the full range of Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved contraception at no cost.

The federal health-care law requires newly issued health plans to cover—at no cost—certain preventive-health services that are specific to women. HHS appointed an Institute of Medicine (IOM) panel to recommend which services should be included. The panel of leading women’s health experts recommended fully covering family-planning care. Secretary Sebelius’ decision to adopt this recommendation will make no-cost contraception a benefit required by law.

Not everyone is happy about this, of course:

In a statement, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops opposes the new guidelines, saying, “Pregnancy is not a disease, and fertility is not a pathological condition to be suppressed by any means technically possible.”

And at least one critic of the new provision isn’t even rational about it, although he and rationality have generally managed to avoid one another for 62 years and counting:

Rep. Steve King (R-IA) thinks it’s “Orwellian” that the federal government would require health insurance providers to cover birth control, and that if left unchecked the policy could allow the U.S. to become “a dying civilization…”

King particularly took offense to the “preventative” part of the language: “And they’ve called it preventative medicine. Preventative medicine. Well, if you applied that preventative medicine universally what you end up with is you’ve prevented a generation. Preventing babies from being born is not medicine.”

“That’s not constructive to our culture and our civilization,” King said. “If we let our birth rate get down below the replacement rate we’re a dying civilization.”

He later added: “Now, none of us would have health to care about if they prevented us, would they, Mr. Speaker? That is just – it is bizarre, it’s Orwellian.”

Speaking of prevention, King is running for what would be his sixth term in Congress, but voters in the Iowa 5th can prevent that from happening. Bonus: he’d have to pay for his own health coverage.

THREE: Endless Bummer

As the mercury continues to boil in thermometers across the continent, Texas Governor Rick Perry continues to importune God to chill out his state. Back in April, after months of punishing drought and raging wildfires, Perry came up with a three-day event called: “Days of Prayer for Rain in the State of Texas.” Currently rumored to be giving strong consideration to a presidential run, Perry recently unveiled plans for:

… a new conservative Christian event called “The Response: A call to prayer for a nation in crisis.” It is a day of prayer and fasting to be held at Reliant Stadium in Houston in August. Says Perry in a letter on the front page of the event’s website:

“Right now, America is in crisis: we have been besieged by financial debt, terrorism, and a multitude of natural disasters. As a nation, we must come together and call upon Jesus to guide us through unprecedented struggles, and thank Him for the blessings of freedom we so richly enjoy.”

Perry adds that “there is hope for America … and we will find it on our knees.”

Let’s put aside speculation about that last point, shall we? The Response is only two days away! So how’s everything coming along, you ask?

… with only 8,000 RSVPs for a stadium that seats 71,500 people, virtually no politicians planning to attend, and a slate of organizers who hold out-of-mainstream views on religious freedom, gay rights and even Adolf Hitler, the event has become a potentially risky gamble if Perry is serious about running for the White House.

“Virtually no politicians” is not quite right, since Kansas Governor Sam Brownback previously announced that he’ll be there, though his office has been rather quiet about confirming whether that’s still the case. You might be wondering why the governors are attending this event, what with that old separation of church and state thing still not overturned by Republicans. Be not perturbed! The Response isn’t costing taxpayers a dime. Instead, it’s being bankrolled by these fine organizations:

The American Family Association is paying for the event — no public money is involved. The evangelical association is a nonprofit that describes itself as being “on the front lines of America’s culture war” and… publishes a magazine and operates 200 radio stations. The group condemns homosexuality, opposes abortion rights and argues that the First Amendment’s guarantee of religious freedom only applies to Christians.

Another group sponsoring the event is the International House of Prayer, a Christian missionary group based in Kansas City, Mo. The church’s founder, Mike Bickle, has called Oprah Winfrey’s tolerance and popularity a precursor to the apocalypse, and he has called on Christians to use “spiritual warfare” against legalized abortion and gay rights.

You might remember the International House of Prayer from a Take Five back in December, when the International House of Pancakes dropped its copyright infringement suit against the church.

Looking for more reasons to attend? Well, there’s this:

Another key pastor speaking at “The Response” is televangelist John Hagee. GOP presidential nominee John McCain rejected Hagee’s endorsement in 2008 after a recording from the late 1990s surfaced in which the preacher suggested God sent Adolf Hitler to hunt Jews so that they would go to the Promised Land.

And this:

It’s worth noting that evangelical heavy-hitters including Focus on the Family founder James Dobson and the Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins have said they will appear at The Response, so it’s possible they will be able to bus in some attendees and avert a disaster for Perry.

And just in case God finally gets around to listening to Rick Perry and whips up some rain, Reliant Stadium has a retractable roof. Sweet.

FOUR: PAC Attack

I wonder if Rick Perry’s prayers ever mention anything about Mitt Romney, who would probably be Perry’s main obstacle to a nomination, that is unless somehow Romney’s campaign was involved in something of highly questionable legality:

W Spann LLC made its million-dollar donation to Restore Our Future — a new so-called “super PAC” started by a group of former Romney political aides to boost the former Massachusetts governor’s presidential bid. It listed its address as being in a midtown Manhattan office building that has no record of such a tenant.

The Boston lawyer, Cameron Casey, dissolved the company on July 12 — two weeks before Restore Our Future made its first campaign filing of the year reporting the donation from the now-nonexistent company, the corporate records show.

Hey, no big deal, though, right? It’s not as if Romney himself has anything to do with the PAC:

While it says it is independent of the Romney presidential campaign, Restore Our Future was created by three former top Romney political aides who have made little secret of their interest in boosting his presidential candidacy. “This is an independent effort focused on getting Romney elected president,” Spies, the former counsel to Romney’s 2008 presidential campaign, recently told the Washington Post.

The relationship between Romney and Restore Our Future was further underscored when, according to the Center for Public Integrity, Romney spoke at a private dinner in New York for Restore Our Future donors last month, shortly after attending a fundraiser for his presidential campaign at the posh Mandarin Oriental hotel.

So I say keep praying, Rick. This story is only going to get more interesting.

FIVE: Another small step forward for civil rights.

The council of the Suquamish tribe in Washington unanimously approved same-sex marriage on Monday, after a four-year effort led by Heather Purser, a lesbian Suquamish:

The new law allows the tribal court to issue a marriage license to two unmarried people, “regardless of their sex,” if they at least 18 years old and at least one of them is an enrolled member of the Suquamish Tribe.

The Suquamish join the Coquille tribe of Oregon in recognizing same-sex marriage; a Coquille lesbian couple were married in 2009.

Purser has no immediate plans to wed, but:

… wanted that option should she later decide on marriage.

Purser said gays who are open about it are an extreme minority within the tribe and that she hopes this change may encourage some members to feel more comfortable acknowledging publicly their homosexuality.