Take Five (Looking Down on Creation edition)

Take-FiveONE: Big Bung Theory

Creation Museum founder Ken Ham brought tidings of great joy to creationists and non-creationists alike when he announced that on February 4 at the “museum,” he and Bill Nye will debate the question: “Is creation a viable model of origins?” Ham thinks the event will be a chance to “show Mr. Nye and our debate audience that observational science confirms the scientific accuracy of the Genesis account of origins, not evolution.” Personally, I think it will be a chance for Ham to make a fool of himself, though that would hardly be novel.

Ham – who, ironically, kind of resembles the Neanderthal from the Geico commercials, not that there’s anything wrong with that – describes the event as “an important debate to have.” Well, for the Creation Museum, that’s no doubt true; it will put desperately needed asses in the 900 seats of “Legacy Hall” at 25 bucks a pop. Tickets purportedly sold out within minutes, which sounds impressive until you consider that a recent Pew poll finds only 43% of Republicans currently believe in evolution, down from 54% in 2013.

On the brighter side, if $29 million in municipal bonds aren’t purchased by February 6, the Creation Museum’s long-delayed sister project, the Ark Encounter, might run aground. Which is in itself a more convincing suggestion of the existence of God than any of the Ark Encounter’s proposed exhibits could ever be.

TWO: Diet Hard

For all their efforts to stake a claim to the bottom of the political barrel, Republicans invariably find that the territory has already been surveyed and subdivided, by folks like Trestin Meacham. The former political candidate for something called the Constitution Party recently staged a hunger strike to protest Utah’s same-sex marriage prohibition being found unconstitutional.

I’d never heard of Meacham’s party before. And now that I have, I wish I hadn’t. The Constitution Party’s official platform is an eerily calm manifesto of addled extremism, equal parts libertarian gobbledygook and white-picket-fence fascism. The Constitutionists (Constitutionals? Constitutionics?) would ban abortion, even in cases of rape or incest. They want to repeal the 17th Amendment and turn the business of electing the Senate over to state legislatures. They want the Voting Rights Act and McCain-Feingold repealed, and the FEC abolished. They would eliminate the Departments of Energy and Education. They deny global warming and want the Endangered Species Act overturned. And they oppose “any legal recognition of homosexual or civil unions,” which is where Meacham’s little stunt comes in.

Meacham announced his fast with the solemn self-importance of a five-year-old declaring that he’s running away from home. Minus the cuteness:

“I cannot stand by and do nothing while this evil takes root in my home. Some things in life are worth sacrificing one’s heath and even life if necessary. I am but a man, and do not have the money and power to make any noticeable influence in our corrupt system. Never the less, I can do something that people in power cannot ignore.”

Well, “not with standing” his confidence, the people in power “never the less” ignored him for over two weeks, long enough for him to shed 26 pounds. When the Supreme Court conveniently ordered a stay on same-sex marriages in Utah pending a review by the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, Meacham was understandably quick to break his fast with a bowl of yogurt. But be assured that whatever his weight, he’s still a fathead, as he’s happy to prove over and over again on his Facebook page:

“The homosexual movement is less tolerant than the Nazis and if they had the power of the Nazis, I have no doubt they would not hesitate to march people of faith into ovens.”

Oh, please just go eat it, Mr. Meacham.

THREE: A Star Is Sworn?

In about a year, Arizona will be rid of the term-limited Jan Brewer. The bad news? Her successor might be even worse. For starters, Ken Bennett, Arizona’s current Secretary of State, has made no secret of his interest in the office. Among his many liabilities, if elected he would be the first known birther to inhabit a governor’s mansion.

It gets worse. Oafish action star and non-credentialed law enforcement officer Steven Seagal now says he’s maybe, kinda, sorta considering a run. The idea appears to have originated with Seagal’s crime-bustin’ compadre Joe Arpaio. At least that’s one Arpaio brainstorm that won’t cost Maricopa County taxpayers astonishing sums of money.

From a population of 6,553,255, is Steven Seagal – who probably doesn’t even fulfill the state’s residency requirement – really the best Arizona can do? No, but better alternatives have been slow to present themselves so far. Brewer has even hinted on several occasions that she might challenge the term limit statute. Absent a Democrat winning the office, which is far from assured, it’s more than a little pathetic that the best possible follow-up to Jan Brewer could be Jan Brewer herself.

As far as I’m aware, the only announced Democrat in the running so far is former Bruce Babbitt protégé Fred DuVal, who went on to work in the Clinton White House.  He seems like a bright guy, but one who has spent an excessive amount of time and energy pursuing the chimera of meaningful bipartisan cooperation. He also has a clutch of tediously moderate positions and disconcerting ties to that old snake oil merchant T. Boone Pickens.

Arizona deserves better, so I’m just going to go ahead and nominate my sister-in-law Arlene for the position. She’s liberal as all get-out, she meets the residency requirement, and I’ll bet she could snap Steven Seagal’s neck like a twig. Continue reading Take Five (Looking Down on Creation edition)

Take Five (Dave Brubeck memorial edition)

ONE: Alle Menschen werden Brüder…

Suffused with bipartisan good vibes, Republicans greeted Barack Obama’s re-election with smiles and outstretched hands… firmly withheld. Grapes actually don’t get any sourer than the ones Republicans have been angrily stomping into whine – uh, wine, since the evening of November 6. The 2012 Grand Old Vintage will long be remembered for its pronounced acidity, robust historical revisionism and almost maddeningly insistent notes of cattle droppings.

The sheer volume (in both senses of the word) of Republican angst, anger and anxiety in the wake of the election has been a challenge to keep up with, but out of many dozens of conservative tantrums I’ve read and bookmarked over the past few weeks, here are some examples I thought worth highlighting.

It was no surprise that one of the first querulous voices raised was that of tufted pink windbag Donald J. Trump. Trump took to Twitter on election night and, as he is wont to do, made an utter jackass of himself:

Trump began tweeting before the election was called that it was “a total sham and a travesty.” After news outlets projected that Obama won the election, Trump tweeted, “Well, back to the drawing board!” He posted more than 10 angry tweets, declaring “our nation is a once great nation divided” and “the world is laughing at us…”

“The electoral college is a disaster for a democracy,” fumed the celebrity mogul…

He [later] deleted some of Tuesday night’s tirade, including tweets calling for revolution and incorrectly saying that Obama had lost the popular vote…

Hinge-less commentary of a different sort was served up by William Murray, chair of the Religious Freedom Coalition. Murray is convinced that the President won a second term because he promised to put a chicken, or something, in every pot:

… millions of people… voted for Obama because of “what’s in it for me.” Some feared welfare payments would be cut or unemployment payment periods reduced by a Republican. Still others voted for Obama because they were promised more union jobs with higher pay. Most Obama voters had no interest in the “fiscal cliff” or the huge deficit, or the declining economic and military power of our nation. They voted for Obama’s race, his image and for their hope of personal gain.

Barack Hussein Obama received millions of votes from people who have little command of the English language beyond that needed to shop at Wal-Mart and who have no concept of our form of government. Millions more cast their ballots for Obama for purely racial reasons.

No question, Mr. Murray. Now that you mention it, I distinctly remember filling out my absentee ballot for Barack Obama and drooling at the idea that I’d just voted for a guy of mixed race. Take that, whitey!

Others, such as Tea Party Nation founder Judson Phillips, quelled their disappointment by adopting an activist approach. Phillips had the bright idea to advocate for a de facto Electoral College coup:

We have one last, final chance to save America. We have one last, final chance to stop Barack Obama. One final chance…

According to the 12th Amendment, for the Electoral College to be able to select the president, it must have a quorum of two-thirds of the states voting. If enough states refuse to participate, the Electoral College will not have a quorum. If the Electoral College does not have a quorum or otherwise cannot vote or decide, then the responsibility for selecting the president and vice president devolves to the Congress.

Except, of course, that Phillips is full of crap, as WorldNutDaily itself tersely acknowledged a day later:

Editor’s note, Nov. 20, 2012: Since this column was posted it has been discovered that the premise presented about the Electoral College and the Constitution is in error. According to the 12th Amendment, a two-thirds quorum is required in the House of Representatives, not the Electoral College.

Wow! Barack Obama hasn’t even begun his second term yet and somebody over at WND honest-to-God actually bothered to read at least part of one amendment to the Constitution. And yet there are still some who refuse to admit that this presidency is transformational.

Michael Reagan was equally stroppy about the election results, but took a road less traveled in his desperate search for a scapegoat:

For four years Barack Obama has blamed the Great Recession on [George W. Bush] and used his presidency as his excuse for why the economy is taking so long to get fixed.

And where’s G.W. been? MIA or AWOL, take your pick…

The 2012 campaign was all about “the economy, stupid.” Obama blamed G.W. and Republicans. Plus, he had Clinton and Carter bashing G.W.’s record with their bully sticks every day and countering Romney’s arguments that Obama was to blame.

We should have had G.W. standing up and saying, “This is bull. I’m tired of this. This is what I did or did not do with the economy as president. The real culprits are Dodd & Frank and four years of Obama’s failed policies.”

Nobody with any credibility has ever accused Michael Reagan of being smart, but it’s a little stunning that even as witless an observer of current events as Reagan could be unaware of how George W. Bush was swept under the rug by the Republican Party long before Barack Obama was sworn into office. Bully sticks, indeed.

For some fretful scapegoat hunters, however, there’s no place like home:

A Mesa woman was arrested [November 10] after she allegedly chased her husband around a Gilbert parking lot in an SUV during an argument over the presidential election.

The woman finally ran over her husband, leaving him with critical injuries.

According to a Gilbert police report, the argument started over her husband’s lack of voter participation in the recent election…

Solomon’s husband, Daniel Solomon, told police his wife “just hated Obama” and was very angry he was re-elected and blamed the President for problems her family is going through.

But there’s taking it hard and then there’s taking it really hard, as the late Henry Hamilton did:

A Key West man who told his partner that “if Barack gets re-elected, I’m not going to be around” was found dead on Nov. 8, with the words “F— Obama!” scrawled on his will and two empty prescription bottles nearby.

Henry Hamilton, 64, owner of Tropical Tan off Duval Street, was “very upset about the election results,” his partner Michael Cossey told Police Officer Anna Dykes.

Super Mario doppelganger and chair of the Maine Republican Party, Charlie Webster, didn’t kill himself, unfortunately. Instead, he went on TV and angrily blamed the President’s garnering of the state’s four electoral votes on – gasp!suspicious black people:

“In some parts of rural Maine, there were dozens, dozens of black people who came in and voted on Election Day,” he said. “Everybody has a right to vote, but nobody in (these) towns knows anyone who’s black. How did that happen? I don’t know. We’re going to find out.”

Webster said he has identified five “pockets” of the state where he has concerns about voting irregularities. He would not identify those areas, but said he plans to mail “Thank You” cards to all of the newly registered voters. If a large number of cards are returned because the addresses are invalid, Webster said, he will know he is on to something.

Within 48 hours, Webster was on the phone to Portland’s WSCH again, eager to clarify his remarks (“clarify” being the term conservatives like to use to describe the pathetic flailing around they do after people take offense at the objectionable things they say):

Charlie Webster says he is not a racist, and that he regrets using the words “black people”, but he says he feels his comments are being taken out of context. He says his point was that voter fraud occurs in Maine.

“I still believe there are people who vote in Maine who are not residents in some of the towns and that was my point. It wasn’t that they were black or Chinese or they were obese, it wasn’t like that. It’s that if you live in a small town and someone comes in and weighs 400 lbs, you usually know who that person is.”

That same day, Webster cranked up the cringe-worthy in an interview with Talking Points Memo:

“There’s nothing about me that would be discriminatory. I know black people. I play basketball every Sunday with a black guy. He’s a great friend of mine. Nobody would ever accuse me of suggesting anything,” he said…

Webster hopes his investigation will settle his concerns.

“One of the things I’d like to do is nip this in the butt (sic) for good, and that’s why at my own expense I will do something after I’m no longer chairman,” Webster said. “I’m sick of hearing about it. Maybe there’s not a problem, maybe there is. I believe there is.”

As it happens, however, Webster won’t be nipping any butts:

In a statement issued late Thursday by the Maine Republican Party, Webster said it was “my intention to talk not about race, but about perceived voting irregularities. However, my comments were made without proof of wrongdoing and had the unintended consequence of casting aspersions on an entire group of Americans. For that, I am truly sorry.”

… after the controversy that followed his comments, Webster said Thursday he would not send the postcards.

Webster’s term as chair ended on December 1. Where the Maine Republican Party will find someone with feet big enough to fill his clown shoes is anyone’s guess.

But Charlie Webster’s asshattery hardly begins to illustrate the virulence of the re-election variant of Obama Derangement Syndrome. Within days of the election, maniacs in Texas, Louisiana, Kentucky, New York, New Jersey, Alabama, Colorado, Oregon, Georgia, Montana, Florida, Mississippi, North Dakota, North Carolina and Indiana had filed petitions at We the People to have their states secede from the Union. Petitions for all 50 states have since been posted, which begs the question of what these states – were they ever to successfully sever their ties with the nation – would collectively call themselves. The Disunited States of America? The Spoilsport States of America? We’re with Stupid?

The Oregon petition, created by a fellow named Kristopher W. Tillamook, is not only a splendid example of the “thought processes” of the secessionistas, but a solid contender for this year’s most egregious misuse of apostrophes in pointless furtherance of a lost cause:

With the Federal Govenrment increasing it’s size much larger than our Founding Father’s intended, and it’s abuse of power trumping over the rights of State constitutions, and the forcing of unconstitutional laws over it’s own citizens, the people of Oregon would like the chance to vote on leaving the Union immediately. The Federal Government has imposed policies on Oregon that are not in Oregon’s best intrests, and we as citizens would respectively and peacably seperate ourselves from a tyranical Government who cares nothing about creating a sustainable future for our children. At any time that the citizens of Oregon felt the Federal Government was no longer imposing on the Constitution we could re-vote to again join the Union under a new agreement.

As of this writing, 14,991 people, untroubled by the petition’s linguistic high crimes and misdemeanors, have signed it. Continue reading Take Five (Dave Brubeck memorial edition)

Take Five (Aw, Shut Up edition)

ONE: Family Circus of Horrors

Among the persistent annoyances of modern life, like “smart” phones, white kids desperate to make the world think they just came straight outta Compton, and those infuriating micro-commercials that have started to crop up between batters in televised ballgames, one stands out as especially irksome. His name is Dick Cheney.

Everybody’s favorite scabrous, loathsome heap of lurid hell-spawn crawled out of the anus of Satan into the daylight last Tuesday (which, not at all incidentally, was September the 11th) to vomit forth a few sulfurous lies about the President before disappearing back up the Great Deceiver’s bunghole.

Actually, it was a little less dramatic than that. The retired war criminal simply had a spokesperson send an e-mail on his behalf to Tucker Carlson’s scurrilous website The Daily Caller, in which Cheney fulminated:

“If President Obama were participating in his intelligence briefings on a regular basis then perhaps he would understand why people are so offended at his efforts to take sole credit for the killing of Osama bin Laden…

“Those who deserve the credit are the men and women in our military and intelligence communities who worked for many years to track him down. They are the ones who deserve the thanks of a grateful nation.”

The dusty old vampire obviously based this bogus accusation on a recent Washington Post screed by noted imbecile and former Bush speechwriter Marc Thiessen, wherein the President was accused of “skipping more than half of his daily intelligence meetings.” (A day after Thiessen’s tripe ran, Jonathan Capehart, with reference to an earlier Post piece by Walter Pincus, calmly and thoroughly debunked it.)

Since President Obama has never made any effort to take “sole credit” for the killing of Osama bin Laden, it was difficult at first to understand why Cheney was so vigorously trash-talking him all of a sudden. Things became much clearer when I read Kurt Eichenwald’s New York Times article about the Bush Misadministration’s repeated failure to act on clear warnings throughout 2001 of an imminent terrorist attack. Turns out there was a hell of a lot more than just that infamous August 6th PDB that Cheney and friends turned a blind eye to. Imagine that. Better, then, to distract, deflect, and denounce Barack Obama rather than concede the obvious, which is that Cheney’s entire career in nominal public service has been obsessively devoted to damaging the nation he nominally served, along with as many others as expedience dictated.

For good measure, the bilious old fossil’s eldest daughter Liz weighed in with her own bullshit-based anti-Obama jeremiad in the benighted pages of the Wall Street Journal just a couple of days later. Its fifteen scandalously stupid paragraphs imply that the embassy attacks in Egypt and Libya were “the logical outcome of three-and-a-half years of Obama foreign policy,” and proffer the usual stale accusations of “apology” and “appeasement” and “rushing for the exits” in Iraq and Afghanistan and “leaking intelligence” and “slashing our military” and a whole bunch more aggressively offensive calumny and cant.

By the way, if you’re wondering what Ms. Cheney is doing with herself after serving as a wholly unqualified Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs back during daddy’s crime syndicate days, she’s chairing an organization called Keep America Safe, which also counts famed neocon nincompoop William Kristol as a board member. Feel the safety, America!

TWO: Starstruck

Republicans sure do love celebrities, except for all those really famous and talented ones who are Democrats, of course. And there’s nothing like an upcoming election to compel the Z-list, like freeze-dried action star Chuck Norris and clownish family embarrassment Hank Williams Jr., to add their voices to the national conversation.

Norris kicked off September bin Laden-style, with a video. With help from his granddaughter – sorry, wife, Gena, Norris wastes 2:15 of his and the viewer’s time, confiding earnestly:

“We know you love your family and your freedom as much as Gena and I do, and it is because of that we can no longer sit quietly or stand on the sidelines and watch our country go the way of socialism or something much worse.”

Gena urges us to register to vote. Chuck quotes Edmund Burke and Ronald Reagan. Gena ups the Reagan ante with that storied bit of Gipperspeak featuring, in the space of three portentous sentences, the clichés “rendezvous with destiny,” “last, best hope of man,” and “a thousand years of darkness.” The video was shot in what appears to be the cloakroom at a Klan meeting, albeit with the radiant light of God’s love, or maybe just the sun, streaming through an open doorway behind them. Old Glory stands watch over their left shoulders, presumably in case Obama and his fellow socialists try anything funny while the camera rolls, though we all know that Chuck would stop them in their tracks if they did.

The intent, as Gena makes clear elsewhere in the video, is to rouse evangelicals to get off their asses and vote out the President this November. Mitt Romney, a man many of those recalcitrant evangelicals consider a devil-worshipping cultist, is not mentioned.

Pretty thin soup, Mr. and Mrs. Norris. Next time, take a cue from Hank Williams Jr., who never lets his brain get between his mouth and a microphone. Williams enthralled a crowd at Fort Worth’s Stockyards Music Festival with an impromptu rant about, you guessed it, Barack Obama:

“We’ve got a Muslim for a President who hates cowboys, hates cowgirls, hates fishing, hates farming, loves gays, and we hate him!”

What’s next for Williams? I have no idea, but if it turns out to be recording an “unplugged” set on the sixth floor of the Texas School Book Depository, I for one won’t be shocked.

Barack Obama still has friends, though. One of them, the Most Interesting Man in the World, is hosting a fundraiser for the Obama campaign tomorrow.

THREE: Secession from Reality Narrowly Averted in Kansas

After all the ridicule, scorn and opprobrium directed at Arizona Secretary of State Ken Bennett over his brief public flirtation with birtherism in May, Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach must have scratched his head and wondered: Hey, how do I get me some of that?

Courtesy of a guy named Joe Montgomery, Kobach’s wish has come true. The Secretary of State, a – surprise! – Republican, along with fellow State Objections Board members Lieutenant Governor Jeff Colyer and Attorney General Derek Schmidt, also – surprise! – Republicans, did Kansas proud on Thursday by deciding to request copies of the President’s birth records from Hawaii. Leaving no stone unturned, they also sent requests for information to Arizona for that state’s investigation results, to Mississippi for some birther litigation documents, and announced that they would defer a decision on whether to strike Barack Obama from the state’s ballot this fall until they had a chance to examine the requested documentation.

Montgomery, who works at the College of Veterinary Medicine at Kansas State University, said Obama hadn’t provided valid documentary evidence to establish his birth in the United States.

In Montgomery’s written complaint, he declared “there is substantial evidence showing that much of Mr. Obama’s alleged birth certificates have been forged or doctored, and have not been confirmed as legally valid, true and accurate.”

Kobach, who is also – surprise! – an adviser to the Romney campaign, commented:

“I don’t think it’s a frivolous objection… I do think the factual record could be supplemented.”

The day after this momentous announcement, Montgomery had second “thoughts”:

The Manhattan Republican who posed a formal challenge to President Barack Obama’s place on the Kansas general election ballot Friday requested immediate withdrawal of the appeal due to an avalanche of criticism…

“There has been a great deal of animosity and intimidation directed not only at me, but at people around me,” Montgomery said in the formal request to Secretary of State Kris Kobach. ”I don’t wish to burden anyone with more of this negative reaction.”

Poor guy. Just what does a delusional closet racist have to do to get some respect these days? The board announced this morning that the Hawaii documents were found satisfactory and that Barack Obama will remain on this November’s ballot. Sounds pretty cut and dried, right? Wrong: Continue reading Take Five (Aw, Shut Up edition)

Take Five (Joke on the Water edition)

ONE: Issa Muggin’

Following his failure to bring down the Obama Administration with the Fast and Furious pseudo-scandal, Congressman Darrell Issa found himself faced with a choice: do something worthwhile with his time, or occupy himself with more ephemeral crap. Can you guess which he chose?

Issa has gone back and revived an idea that got no traction on multiple previous occasions; he’s trying once again to persuade fellow legislators to rename America’s coastal waters, to exchange the drab moniker “Exclusive Economic Zone” for the super-duper ain’t-that-America gee-whiz red-white-and-blue hyper-patriotic name “Ronald Wilson Reagan Exclusive Economic Zone.” Catchy, n’est-ce pas?

Other than sabotaging the nation’s future prosperity with voodoo economics and more than tripling the national debt, ruthlessly shutting down mental health facilities and leaving their patients to fend for themselves, trading arms for hostages and then lying about it, ignoring the AIDS epidemic, invading Grenada for the mucho macho cred, unleashing a crack plague on inner cities, and shrugging off global warming, just what did Reagan do to deserve Issa’s proposed encomium?

Well, back in 1983, he issued Proclamation 5030, which created the EEZ in the first place. The proclamation reads in part:

Within the Exclusive Economic Zone, the United States has, to the extent permitted by international law, (a) sovereign rights for the purpose of exploring, exploiting, conserving and managing natural resources, both living and non-living, of the seabed and subsoil and the superjacent waters and with regard to other activities for the economic exploitation and exploration of the zone, such as the production of energy from the water, currents and winds; and (b) jurisdiction with regard to the establishment and use of artificial islands, and installations and structures having economic purposes, and the protection and preservation of the marine environment.

Gosh. That sort of brings a patriotic tear to my eye, I’ll tell you. Yet the point of Issa’s exercise isn’t really to rename the EEZ, or even to honor the sainted, Grecian Formula-enhanced corpse of Ronald Reagan. It’s simply about Issa keeping himself busy with matters of absolutely zero benefit to the nation. That’s pretty much been his specialty since he was inexplicably elected to office, and in that, he has no end of company in the 112th Congress.

But what about the Exclusive Economic Zone? Isn’t it time a little creativity was brought to bear on this? Why should 12,500 miles of coastline all be named after one guy, even if he did tear down the Berlin Wall with his bare hands? Why not have a Slappy White Chesapeake Bay, to commemorate the legendary Baltimore-born comedian? Or a Biscayne Eat, Pray, Love Bay, in recognition of million-watt megastar Julia Roberts having a residence nearby?

Come to think of it, why not open up corporate bidding for naming rights to different areas? How about Puget Sound by Starbucks? Or the MGM Grand Banks? Sure, most of the latter is under Canadian jurisdiction, but if the Canucks put up a fuss, just invade ‘em, Congressman. That’s what the Gipper would have done, right? You could even call it the Ronald Wilson Reagan Commemorative Invasion and Total Ass-kicking of Canada. If you’re going to pretend to be doing the people’s business, at least pretend with a little vigor.

TWO: Drive, They Said

Speaking of Congressional wastes of space, ThinkProgress did an investigation recently into seven teabagging House freshmen, and found some fascinating information:

Though they campaigned on a platform of reducing the deficit and ridding wasteful spending, more than a half-dozen Tea Party congressmen have collectively spent over $100,000 in taxpayer money on personal vehicles.

ThinkProgress examined spending records for the 112th Congress and found seven GOP freshmen — Reps. Chip Cravaack (R-MN), Sean Duffy (R-WI), Bill Flores (R-TX), Cory Gardner (R-CO), Bill Johnson (R-OH), Mike Pompeo (R-KS), and Steve Womack (R-AR) — who had spent an average of $15,000 on cars for themselves. All together, their taxpayer bill totaled $106,643.

There is nothing illegal about the practice of using taxpayer money to lease personal-use cars, but it smacks of hypocrisy for Tea Partiers like Duffy who promised to “lead by example” when it comes to deficit reduction.

ThinkProgress tersely notes that the spending totals were:

… compiled from the House of Representatives’ official Statement of Disbursements, a quarterly publication regarding all expenditures for House offices, for the 112th Congress.

And when the lame duck session gets underway, don’t be surprised if the munificent seven propose eliminating the Statement of Disbursements in the interest of saving taxpayers some money…

THREE: Razing Arizona, part I

Of course, teabaggers in Congress can be fairly said to be mirroring the folks who sent them to Washington in the first place, a demographic characterized by astonishing ignorance, revolting bigotry, cringe-inducing paranoia, putrid hypocrisy and a world view as narrow as one would expect the vista from inside a colon to be. The recent dustup over Michele Bachmann and four other members of Congress accusing Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin of having ties to the Muslim Brotherhood leads to a case in point.

The controversy began outrageously enough, and went quickly downhill from there, reaching what one would fervently hope would be its nadir on Monday, when Wes Harris – who heads the Original North Phoenix Tea Party – told the Arizona Capitol Times that John McCain’s spirited defense of Abedin warranted a recall petition, and maybe more:

While Harris has many problems with McCain, a mass email he sent out focused solely on the senator’s recent defense of Huma Abedin…

Harris said he plans to circulate recall petitions against McCain. In his email, he said, “We must find a way to get rid of this embarrassment.”

The email Harris sent includes a forwarded item from the blog Bare Naked Islam that castigates McCain for defending “Islamic enemies of America” and attacking U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann, a Minnesota Republican and tea party favorite. The blog piece ends by saying, “Go to hell, Senator, it’s time for you to take your final dirt nap.”

What specifically prompted the blog’s call for the Senator’s death were McCain’s remarks on the Senate floor:

“I have every confidence in Huma’s loyalty to our country, and everyone else should as well. All Americans owe Huma a debt of gratitude for her many years of superior public service. I hope these ugly and unfortunate attacks on her can be immediately brought to an end and put behind us before any further damage is done to a woman, an American, of genuine patriotism and love of country.”

Bare Naked Islam’s banner slogan, by the way, is: “It isn’t Islamophobia when they really ARE trying to kill you.” Now, if you’re like me, you absolutely despise taking John McCain’s side on anything, but it’s impossible not to here.

Harris had plenty more spleen to vent, of course:

“Have you ever read the Quran? I suggest you do so, because anyone that is a Muslim is a threat to this country, and that’s a fact…”

Harris said he believes Abedin has ties to the Muslim Brotherhood. But ultimately, he said it doesn’t matter whether she’s linked to the group or not because he doesn’t believe Muslims should work for the federal government…

“Is she a Muslim? Is she an active Muslim?” Harris said. “I rest my case. That’s all she needs to be.”

Harris offered no definition of an “active Muslim” and I strongly suspect he couldn’t do so if challenged, but in the post-fact America Harris and his fellow bigots are working so hard to create, actual knowledge and a capacity for critical thought are unnecessary. Ironically, John McCain’s 2008 candidacy did a lot to move all this, uh, forward. Continue reading Take Five (Joke on the Water edition)

Take Five (What a Fool Believes edition)

ONE: Bleatings from Asbury Park, N.J.

Which little city has the sixth-best beach in New Jersey, was famously name-checked in a Bruce Springsteen album title, and just got a self-appointed Republican nanny? If you guessed Asbury Park, then kudos to you, even if you only got it from the subtitle above.

Louise Murray used to serve on Asbury Park’s city council, and although the predominantly blue burg no longer has to put up with her in that role, it will have to endure her tenure as chair of the local Republican Party, a position she assumed this week. Murray’s avowed first order of business is to “concentrate on re-energizing the Republicans in the city,” and if you’d like an example of what it apparently takes to re-energize Republicans, here you go:

Beachgoers may be surprised to learn beachwear is illegal on the boardwalk in Asbury — and one resident wishes the city would enforce the dress code rules.

Louise Murray… spoke during public comment at the June 20 council meeting about the issue.

Murray’s remarks no doubt sent an electric shock right through the hindquarters of local Republicans:

“I’ll be darned if I want to be standing at a bar and have somebody slither up in a Speedo or bikini that shouldn’t be in a bathing suit,” Murray said. “It’s disgraceful… I implore you to enforce this, but do not amend it.”

Good thinking. This will finally give Asbury Park’s 86 police officers something to concentrate on other than a violent crime index over five times higher than the national average. And – bonus! – Murray’s position has the support of at least one local Democrat:

Deputy Mayor John Loffredo responded, “I honestly don’t disagree with you.”

So here’s to a boardwalk unadulterated with butt-floss, postage-stamp-sized banana hammocks and other assorted fashion crimes. After all, as Murray insightfully points out:

“I don’t want to go back to 1940 or 1950 but the bottom line is you have on your books an ordinance — no person clad in bathing attire shall be on the boardwalk or public walks adjacent thereto,” Murray said. “Asbury Park was known for being the classiest boardwalk in the summertime. You never went down there unless you were dressed.”

Even if The Boss didn’t want you to be:

“Chasin’ the factory girls underneath the boardwalk where they all promise to unsnap their jeans…”

For all her admirable heavy lifting in New Jersey, I do hope Louise Murray stays away from Oregon. I’m just not sure how she might react to a recent wardrobe-related incident there, what with the GOP being The Official Political Party of JesusTM and all:

State police say a 26-year-old Texas man, who identified himself as Jesus Christ, has been arrested after he was discovered disrupting traffic near Roseburg wearing only his underwear and socks…

The man, whose name has not been released, was able to evade arrest from [a state] trooper for disorderly conduct, even after the trooper used a baton and pepper spray to try and subdue him.

A vacationing, off-duty Virginia police officer who was in the area and an officer from Roseburg soon joined the fray to help apprehend the man.

The Roseburg officer used a Taser on the man as the state trooper and Virginia officer put him in handcuffs.

Now, I don’t know if God so loved the world that He couldn’t even wait until His only begotten Son was fully dressed before sending Him back to this screwy planet, but the last time the authorities got hold of Jesus, things went south pretty quickly. And now we wait uneasily to see if Governor Kitzhaber gets involved, or whether he washes his hands of the matter.

TWO: Joe Rockhead

Viewers of The 700 Club got a rare treat recently when Congressional aspirant Samuel “Joe the Plumber” Wurzelbacher related to the program how he came to Christ. It all began when his youth pastor invited him out for a bite and told him to bring along a science book:

He put the Bible on one side and I put the science book on this side.  He said: Okay.  Read the cover. And I don’t exactly remember, you know, if – my biology or chemistry book, but I do remember this, you know: “Revision 7.”

And he said: Now look at the Bible. What’s it say? I said: “Holy Bible.” He said: Do you see any revisions on it, Joe? I said: Well, no. He says: Well, the reason why is because this is God’s word. You know, it was right the day it was penned, as it is now, as it will be in a hundred years or a thousand years. Man’s always looking for an answer. That’s why it’s revised.

It hit me like a ton of bricks right then and there, and I accepted Jesus Christ there at Frisch’s Big Boy, and it was – it was pretty incredible.

Pretty incredible? The only way it could be more incredible would be if Joe had seen the face of Jesus on the rye bun of his Brawny Lad.

Along with this artful pandering to evangelical voters, Joe is making sure to kiss some NRA ass, as well. A recent web video offered up an idea so thoroughly scrambled it makes the ravings of Wayne LaPierre seem almost rational:

Mr. Wurzelbacher released a campaign web video in which he blamed the Holocaust and the Armenian genocide on gun control laws.

“In 1911, Turkey established gun control. From 1915 to 1917 one-point-five million Armenians, unable to defend themselves were exterminated,” Mr. Wurzelbacher says in the clip. “In 1939, Germany established gun control. From 1939 to 1945, six million Jews and seven million others unable to defend themselves were exterminated.”

Mr. Wurzelbacher’s video features footage of him on a shooting rage blasting fruits and vegetables with a shotgun. As the clip draws to a close, Mr. Wurzelbacher, gun in hand, proclaims, “I love America.”

Maybe you do, Joe, but why do you hate her produce?

THREE: Birth of a Notion

A chastened Arizona Secretary of State Ken Bennett appeared in Take Five late in May, apologizing for having made his state a laughingstock by pestering Hawaii to provide proof that the President was born there:

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

Bennett must believe that his brief lapse into remorse cost him some of his GOP street cred, so last week he decided to just go for the conspiracy theory gold:

Secretary of State Ken Bennett says he’s convinced Obama was born in Hawaii, but he now believes the president fraudulently claimed to be born in Kenya so he could get into college. He also believes the president has spent millions of dollars since then to cover it up…

“So if there was weird stuff going on,” he said, “I actually think it was happening back in his college days because I think he has spent $1.5 or $2 million through attorneys to have all of the college records and all of that stuff sealed. So if you’re spending money to seal something, that’s probably where the hanky panky was going on.”

I have to disagree, Ken. I think the weird stuff is still going on. Weird stuff like 59% of Arizona voters actually believing you’re fit to be their Secretary of State. That’s so weird I still have a hard time believing it. Continue reading Take Five (What a Fool Believes edition)

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. Continue reading Take Five (WTF edition)