Take Five (WTF edition)

ONE: “Ma’am, are you aware you have no clothes on?”

Some weeks back I breezily suggested that there might be a plot afoot to destabilize America via inconvenient nudity. It seems my jocularity was misplaced. A startling incident in Ballston, New York provides chilling new evidence that something eldritch is indeed unfolding. Be afraid. Be very afraid.

On May 15, Barbara LaFleur, naked as a jaybird though significantly taller, strolled into Curtis Lumber on Route 67 in Ballston, chatted with several employees, asked for the time, then walked out of the store. Manager Bob Eakin was not present at the time of the occurrence, but did a fine job describing what his employees endured, which was also captured on surveillance video:

“No one wanted to say much to her,” he said. “It’s not a situation you want to be involved in.”

After exiting Curtis Lumber, LaFleur, still bare, walked to a nearby Stewart’s, where store staff attempted a somewhat more engaged approach with the perp:

“The manager said ‘Ma’am, are you aware you have no clothes on?’ She was kosher and cool about it, and the manager told her she needed to leave,” said a Stewart’s employee, who only identified himself as Terry.

LaFleur was clothed again by the time she was apprehended by the Saratoga County Sheriff’s Office and charged with misdemeanor public lewdness. Happily, no injuries were reported. Saratoga County DA James Murphy still sounds haunted by the crime as he tries to get to the bottom of it:

“While the defendant claimed she was merely expressing her freedom to be fully liberated by walking nude into Stewart’s and Curtis Lumber, this alleged conduct is actually a crime under the penal law,” said Murphy in a statement. “Surprisingly, mental health found no psychiatric issues whatsoever.”

Despite her casual crime spree, LaFleur is currently free on her own recognizance, and it’s reassuring that she isn’t considered a flight risk. The TSA has enough nudity problems of its own.

TWO: Will Vote for SNAP Benefits

If one wanted to make a case for the inferiority of white people, a solid start would be to point at Phyllis Schlafly. I don’t intend to make such a case, but I’m going to point in her direction anyway. Schlafly’s Eagle Forum, a sort of virtual outhouse that makes you want to stand upwind of your computer monitor, is in a tizzy over a recent New York Times report that white births are no longer a majority of births in America:

Non-Hispanic whites accounted for 49.6 percent of all births in the 12-month period that ended last July, according to Census Bureau data made public on Thursday, while minorities — including Hispanics, blacks, Asians and those of mixed race — reached 50.4 percent, representing a majority for the first time in the country’s history.

Of course it’s been known for many years that this would happen. It’s even reasonably interesting as an alternative to chatting with someone about the weather, but “Roger” at the Eagle Forum blog finds it acutely distressing:

The immigrants do not share American values, so it is a good bet that they will not be voting Republican when they start voting in large numbers.

“Voting in large numbers”? That does seem sort of un-American, come to think of it, but not the way “Roger” might think. “Roger” thinks that voting for anything other than a Republican isn’t patriotic, and that’s because “Roger” is delighted to surrender his freedom to The Party just like a good Soviet. It’s depressingly predictable, as well, that “Roger” thinks all these non-white births are from fecund immigrants, as opposed to simply augmenting the reproductive efforts of millions and millions and millions of American citizens who are not white. I suppose “Roger” doesn’t accept the legitimacy of their citizenship anyway.

This should be more than enough corn-fed stupid for any one skull to contain, but “Roger” goes on.  In particular, a passing reference in the Times piece to Ozzie and Harriet really seems to chafe:

The NY Times liberals seek to destroy the American family of the 1950s, as symbolized by Ozzie and Harriet. The TV characters were happy, self-sufficient, autonomous, law-abiding, honorable, patriotic, hard-working, and otherwise embodied qualities that made America great. In other words, the show promoted values that NY Times liberals despise.

“Roger” left out “trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean and reverent,” among other things, but it’s easy to see where he’s going with this:

Instead, the USA is being transformed by immigrants who do not share those values, and who have high rates of illiteracy, illegitimacy, and gang crime, and they will vote Democrat when the Democrats promise them more food stamps.

Food stamps? Man, these immigrants work cheap. Yet “Roger” didn’t quite purge himself adequately with his original tirade. He has since updated the blog post twice to berate Daily Kos and Right Wing Watch for finding fault with his “thought” processes:

Why do they hate Ozzie and Harriet so much? Draw your own conclusions. I say that they despise the mere concept of a national archetype that extols traditional American values…

Why is it that the only people who use meaningless phrases like “traditional American values” without irony are mouth-breathing bigots?

The liberal blogs hate that archetype, but they are not willing to say why.

I can only speak for one liberal blog – this one – but I have no problem saying why I hate that archetype. I hate it because it’s phony, cartoonish and beloved of xenophobic whites pining for a fantasy version of America where “diversity” only means more brands of toothpaste on the drug store shelf. I hate it because immigrants have always been a boon to America and there’s not a shred of evidence to prove that the newest immigrants will be any different from those of 50 or 100 or 200 years ago in terms of the energy, ambition and imagination they’re eager to devote to their cherished new country. I hate it because even Ozzie and Harriet’s forebears came from somewhere else.

My own tolerance ends abruptly when I encounter intolerance of the sort that “Roger” and his pals in Schlafly’s moral pigpen have raised into a creed and a crusade to turn back history. I hate that too.

THREE: Renaissance Moron

You might remember that the economy nearly melted down under George Walker Bush. While the nation narrowly avoided financial Armageddon, it is still struggling out of the worst downturn since the Great Depression. Meanwhile, the New York Times recently caught up with Bush and found him involved in a little economic self-stimulus:

Two months from now, he plans to publish a book outlining strategies for economic growth.

With all due respect to the Times, I believe the word “strategeries” is what their reporter must have meant, but never mind. I’ll be watching for Tax Cuts for the Rich! You’re Welcome, America in the remainder bins in July, and hoping that in future the would-be author sticks to topics he actually knows something about: weaving lies into wars, shirking a National Guard service commitment, instituting “enhanced” interrogation, prospering from insider trading, ignoring hurricanes, nodding when that nice Mr. Cheney asked for energy policy task force meetings to be kept secret, shrugging off the threat of bin Laden, shrugging off the pursuit of bin Laden, ordering warrantless wiretapping, suspending habeas corpus and stealing two elections.

For dummies.

FOUR: Unglued in Arizona

A recent report indicates that Arizona Secretary of State Ken Bennett has ambitions to take over Jan Brewer’s job when term limits force her from office in 2014, and he certainly seems sufficiently obtuse to fill Brewer’s shoes admirably. Bennett caused an uproar last week when he admitted on air that he’s a birther, by insisting:

“I’m not a birther. I believe the president was born in Hawaii — or at least I hope he was. But my responsibility as secretary of state is to make sure the ballots in Arizona are correct and that those people whose names are on the ballot have met the qualifications for the office they are seeking…”

Bennett said that he might exclude President Obama from the ballot this November if verification was not forthcoming:

“Or the other option would be I would ask all of candidates, including the president, maybe to submit a certified copy of their birth certificate. But I don’t want to do that.”

Hawaii initially greeted this nonsense with skepticism:

The attorney general’s office in Hawaii is telling Arizona’s secretary of state that if he wants confirmation of President Obama’s birth records, he’ll have to prove he legitimately needs it.

Special Assistant Joshua Wisch said late Friday that Arizona Secretary of State Ken Bennett hasn’t done that despite numerous e-mail and phone exchanges between their offices.

By Tuesday, Bennett had changed his tune:

“If I embarrassed the state I apologize, but that certainly wasn’t my intent,” Bennett, a Republican, told Phoenix radio station KTAR.

Bennett had demanded “verification” from Hawaii that President Obama’s birth certificate was authentic.  He claimed to be responding to a torrent of letters raising questions about the 44th President’s birthplace.

All sorts of things happened.  Officials in Hawaii demanded verification of Bennett’s authority to make the request.  Democrats began sending Bennett letters demanding that he seek verification that Mitt Romney was born in the U.S. A.  And it was disclosed that Bennett is co-chairman of Romney’s campaign in the Grand Canyon State.

Oh, my. To add to Bennett’s discomfiture, shortly after he relented, Hawaii fulfilled his request:

Regarding the inquiry from the Arizona Secretary of State, Ken Bennett, requesting a verification of birth for President Obama from the State of Hawaii, Department of Health, the matter has been resolved.  We have received information from Secretary Bennett that satisfied our requirements, and have therefore provided his office with a verification of birth for President Obama.

Bennett’s brief flirtation with the birther movement has left him sadder, though probably not wiser:

“I feel like I was just trying to glue the far little corner of the carpet down,” he said, “and as soon as you just touch the carpet, the whole floor buckles.”

This just proves that birtherism should be left to the pros, by which I mean people like Joe Arpaio, a man so determined to unseat the Kenyan Usurper that he has, among other things, sent investigators to sniff around Hawaii:

Two men who identified themselves as being from the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office in Phoenix went to the Hawaii Department of Health Monday morning requesting verification of President Barack Obama’s birth certificate, said a state spokeswoman.

A Hawaii deputy attorney general gave the men information concerning the legal requirements to obtain such a document; the requirements are posted on the Health Department’s website. The two men then left the office, Health Department spokeswoman Janice Okubo said.

There’s just one problem with this. Both Arpaio and his surrogates have long insisted their investigation into Barack Obama’s eligibility for office is being financed solely by 501(c)3 donations, not by taxpayer money. Arpaio associate Jerome Corsi claimed:

None of the Cold Case Posse members assigned the Obama investigation will receive any personal compensation, and all expenses incurred in their investigation will have to be derived from funds raised through contributions from the public received by the Cold Case Posse 501(c)3 organization.

So what’s the problem? Well, the problem is that Arpaio and Corsi are liars:

The two men showed Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office badges and identified themselves as Michael Zullo and Brian Mackiewcz, Okubo said…

Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio has been researching Obama’s residency status using a volunteer cold-case “posse,” but now has employed a taxpayer-funded deputy, The Arizona Republic reported Monday.

Zullo is a volunteer, the Republic reported, but Okubo said that Mackiewicz presented a business card showing he is with the Threats Management Unit of the sheriff’s office.

Ruh-roh! But Sherriff Joe doesn’t do contrition:

Arpaio, who has previously claimed that the investigation was being funded through private donations, dismissed concerns about tax dollars funding the conspiracy quest and said he “hopes the agency will be paid back through private donations”:

“It’s one deputy, so what? We have security issues, too, that I can’t go into,” Arpaio said on Friday. “For six months we were not spending any money. When you’re doing investigations sometimes things change, you put more resources into it.”

That’s how the pros roll, Ken Bennett. Watch and learn.

FIVE: Rogue Elephant Crosses State Lines 

Despite his vaunted “business” acumen, Mitt Romney has always struck me as being less than intellectually distinguished. Who better, then, to give him campaign advice than America’s favorite winking tree stump?

Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin says presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney should “go rogue” and attack President Barack Obama for his former associations with Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Marxists and radicals.

During an interview on Fox News on Monday, host Sean Hannity told Palin that he thought the president’s former pastor was “relevant” even though Romney had repudiated a proposal to use Wright in attack ads.

The half-term Alaska governor replied: “I thought so in 2008 and that’s why I went rogue, if you will, and disagreed with some of John McCain’s advisers when they said, no, a lot of these issues like past associations and Rev. Wright and Bill Ayers and those that helped shape Obama’s world view needed to be off the table and not discussed. I disagreed then, I disagree now.”

Other than offering Romney her demonstrable lack of expertise on how to beat Barack Obama, what else has this political genius been up to recently? She’s been calling Kansas:

In her time championing all things Republican, former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin (R) has traveled all over the country, popping up in the most surprising places. She’s even been spotted in Topeka, Kansas recently, bending ears in the state via a pre-recorded telephone message, asking for their support in… a Texas Senate race.

That’s according to Topeka Capital-Journal reporter Tim Carpenter, who actually received one of Palin’s recent calls for Texan Ted Cruz (R). Cruz is one of the leading candidates to replace Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchision (R-TX), who’s retiring in November.

“Hello, Texas!” Palin announces in a robocall heard in Kansas this week. “I’m Sarah Palin.”

She should have paid less attention to Putin’s head coming into Alaskan airspace and more to the geography of the Lower 48.