A Good Year for the Poses

freehandThe 2014 Values Voter Summit wrapped up Sunday in Washington, and Omni Shoreham Hotel staff must be working hard to expunge the building of the heavy stench of gunpowder and cliché. Like previous editions, this year’s version was a consummate freak show with a gaggle of grotesques worthy of Todd Browning, but even speakers making their second, third or fourth appearance seemed to bring a little extra Republican bile, guile and vile to the festivities this time around.

The theme this year was “Defending the Dream, Defining the Future,” a phrase so vague it could be used for a corporate training seminar, a high school valedictory address, or a Shriners convention. But VVS organizers know what they’re defending and defining; they proudly state their intention is to “inform and mobilize citizens across America to preserve the bedrock values of traditional marriage, religious liberty, sanctity of life and limited government that make our nation strong.”

Yes, that’s right. The same snake oil they’ve been peddling since the first iteration of the conclave back in 2006. The Southern Poverty Law Center’s terse description of the VVS really summarizes it much better: “An annual political conference bringing together some of the most extreme groups on the religious right.” That includes host organization and lead sponsor, the Family Research Council (which the SPLC calls a hate group), along with other America-hating organizations like Liberty Counsel (shouldn’t that be “council”?) and the American Family Association (which wants to destroy your family, if you’re gay).

But of course the real, ahem, elephant in the room is, as always, the Republican Party, which coyly maintains no “official” connection to the VVS even as elected Republicans madly stampede to its podium year after year to pander, preen and pose. Why, there’s even a presidential straw poll conducted, which purulent demagogue Ted Cruz topped for a second consecutive year, with up-and-coming conservative clod Ben Carson a close second and perennial pious pseudo-Christian Mike Huckabee a distant third.

As always, though, the real “attraction” was the speechifying. The Values Voter Summit showcases more know-nothing arch-conservative blowhards than any venue outside the even bigger freak show known as the United States House of Representatives, and VVS speakers don’t even have to make a pretense of obeisance to parliamentary decorum. Nor do attendees, who seem to spend much of their time whooping like gibbons on nitrous oxide. Thanks to the event’s video archives, which get sadly more generous every year, we can all experience the horror of being at an event we wouldn’t actually be caught dead attending.

The “values voters” were thrilled by lame duck Congresswoman and future convicted felon Michele Bachmann, who described herself, unasked, as “a normal, real person.” She decried the bailout that saved the automobile industry as “gangster government,” said that the “trillion dollar” stimulus that prevented the economy from collapsing “didn’t work so well,” and bragged about introducing “the very first repeal bill” against Obamacare.

She waxed nostalgic about her “deep dive into the leading foreign policy and national security issues of our day.” She also griped about Benghazi, the Bergdahl prisoner swap, and Iran “racing toward completing nuclear weapons,” called Barack Obama “the first anti-Israel President in American history,” averred that Hillary Clinton will be defeated in 2016, and thundered that “it is never too late to save the country.” The fierce urgency of whenever, you might say.

Ted Cruz smirked more than anyone I’ve ever seen not named Bush. He called Obamacare a “disaster,” which I suppose it is if you hate seeing the number of Americans without health coverage drop by 26% and counting. He made a Cat in the Hat joke harking back to his ludicrous “faux-libuster” last year, to show how charmingly self-deprecating his handlers have coached him to be. He served up a tasteless quip about the White House fence-jumper (which he admitted he stole from Jimmy Fallon), and then added one of his own. He called for a debate between Hillary Clinton and the Little Sisters of the Poor. He called the Democratic Party an “extreme radical party.” In short, he said not a single truthful, worthwhile or remotely intelligent thing. Naturally, the crowd loved his speech.

Rick Santorum has appeared at every one of these things so far, and so most of his speech was heavily recycled from his previous heavily recycled speeches. He spent a little of his time hawking his upcoming book, Bella’s Gift, about raising a special needs child. (Will Bella’s gift be saving her old man from having to get a real job for yet another year? Probably not, but we’ll see.) Santorum called the President “a descendant of the French Revolution,” which – bien sûr – was a refreshing change from years of ridiculous allegations about Kenya. Mostly, though, he stuck with the self-evident and obvious, as in his observing at one point that: “You don’t have any Baptist ministers going on jihad.” Continue reading A Good Year for the Poses

Try It Out!

DDI spent the week watering the well. Drinking coffee from five Ethiopian regions, feeling a link to the small family farms that depend on the income from the sales of beans, thankful to have a good relationship with a coffee seller in DC who provides me the 15 to 20 pounds my daughter sends me every two or three months.

But I can’t get my friends to try it! The corporate brands have them dialed in. So this morning’s Sumatra brings an old question: how do you get people to change? Why is change resisted?

In part the questions explain the Republican attraction: People don’t have to give up very much except government to be Republican. It’s a safe default for the risk-averse, even when in sight of something better.

I also spent the week anticipating the visit of friends I haven’t seen in 40 years. That energy was a celebration of passage; how vision grows out of change. Vision pushes away fear and brings hope. That why Sarah Palin sneered at “that hopey thing”—it give a freedom found on the inside, a freedom to grow; not just a freedom to fight government. Friends bring collective energy, a unique group experience that in politics is called the public good.

Republicans have abandoned that part of the public square, substituted profit for its focus, and measure of profit.

The maxim that people are willing to turn down collective advancement and fight against their own interests is proven both by the experimental and empirical. Why are we surprised?

What’s the strategy that will make the resistant change their minds?

On race? No way. On women? Lip service contradicted. On the public good? A rip-off! On income? Be glad for what you got.

This core is the Republican fortress. Impenetrable. But it’s placed to cause the maximum fright. As Barack begins to end his second term, race matters less; the coded challenges now go after his record and deliberately misconstrue his policies. The goal is to tear down his legacy. Listen, you can hear it from all sides. Continue reading Try It Out!

Take Five (Way Stranger than Fiction edition)

Take-FiveIf those present at the March on Washington imagined anything about the national conversation on race half a century hence, they might well have assumed it would at least be an adult conversation, because of course they had no way of knowing that the Republicans of the new millennium would so decisively abandon any pretense of maturity, emotional or intellectual.

The GOP Dog-Whistle Philharmonic haughtily eschewed the high-profile 50th-anniversary celebrations of the March, opting instead to stage a series of energetic but stridently off-key recitals by its few minority soloists, like Bobby Jindal and Ted Cruz.

In an op-ed supposedly penned to commemorate Dr. King’s “I have a dream” speech, Jindal, stunningly, used the occasion to criticize – wait for it – minorities:

Jindal accused minorities of placing “far too much emphasis on our ‘separateness,’ our heritage, ethnic background, skin color, etc. We live in the age of hyphenated Americans…

“Here’s an idea: How about just ‘Americans?’ That has a nice ring to it, if you ask me. Placing undue emphasis on our ‘separateness’ is a step backward. Bring back the melting pot,” the governor opined.

Jindal underscored that waste of electrons with an appearance on Meet the Press last week that included a jaw-dropping rationalization for the tidal wave of bigotry to which the nation’s first not-entirely-white President has been subjected:

David Gregory asked Gov. Jindal about Colin Powell’s opinion that there is a dark vein of intolerance within the Republican Party. Jindal answered by comparing the Republicans’ Obama racism to Democratic treatment of George W. Bush.

The same day Jindal was pitching that idiocy, Senator Ted Cruz, touted, toasted, hyper-hyped Cuban-Canadian-American Demagogue Extraordinaire, appeared on CNN and claimed that his party’s vigorous efforts to destroy Obamacare are based in part on trying to help Hispanics and African Americans:

“… it’s not working and it’s hurting Americans,” Cruz insisted. “And by the way, the people that it’s hurting the most are the most vulnerable among us… The people who are losing their jobs are young people, are Hispanics, are African-Americans, are single moms. I don’t think that’s fair, I don’t think that’s right.”

Sure you don’t, Senator. Your party is all about minorities, after all. Case in point, the government’s figures for 2012 show African Americans at 13.1% as a percentage of total population, and Hispanic Americans at 16.9%, while a 2012 Pew study found that 31% of African Americans and 22% of Hispanic Americans have received SNAP benefits at some time in their lives. Yet, strangely, the party you and your doughy cohort of sophists insist is on the side of minorities has yet to reinstate food assistance funding after summarily stripping it out of the Farm Bill, the legislation through which SNAP money has traditionally been disbursed.

If it’s no longer mind-boggling that the stubbornly self-congratulatory “Party of Lincoln” is so utterly, offensively worthless on race and every other issue of minority rights, it’s only because everybody got used to it ages ago. And not a single po-faced minority conservative mouthing glib clichés in the direction of the nearest TV camera is going to do anything but make it worse.

TWO: Crass from the Past

Leave it to Republicans to keep their presidential campaigns in the news long after the campaigns have ended. You might remember a fellow by the name of McCain who ran against Barack Obama back in 2008. You know, the mavericky guy? Thought his long-suffering wife would be a fabulous “Miss Buffalo Chip”? Recklessly chose a running mate who had never heard of the Bush Doctrine and couldn’t name a single newspaper she read? A POW in Vietnam, although his campaign only ever mentioned it on days of the week with names ending in “y”?

Five years on, the FEC has managed to reach a “conciliation agreement” with “Five-Plane” McCain’s campaign for taking excessive campaign contributions and sundry other violations, all of which would have been easily avoided if anyone working on the campaign had cared enough to care. The agreement stipulates $80,000 in fines. Chump change in the grand scheme of things? Sure. And it certainly won’t be coming from the spouse-subsidized pockets of Senator “Keating Five” himself, but it’s a mildly gratifying little story nonetheless.

You might also recall that while the 2008 Obama campaign was running an impressively web-savvy operation (modeled on but expanding greatly on the blueprint of Joe Trippi’s groundbreaking work for Howard Dean in 2004), the hapless John McCain was reduced to admitting he relied on his wife and aides to get online, with the almost pathetically hopeful postscript:

“I am learning to get online myself, and I will have that down fairly soon, getting on myself…”

Well, times sure have changed. McCain’s just a regular old cybernaut nowadays, as he proved Tuesday at a Senate hearing on Syria. As his colleagues mulled over matters of life, death, international law, and scruffy old domestic politics, Senator McCain was photographed by the Washington Post‘s Melina Mara playing online poker on his iPhone.

There are three possible takeaways here, as I see it. One is that McCain is so fixated on the idea of raining explosive ordnance on Syria that he doesn’t give a nickel-plated crap what he might hear at a hearing intended to furnish him with the sort of information important decision-makers supposedly need to make their decisions. The second is that McCain is a goldbricking charlatan who owes his state and the nation a formal apology and his immediate resignation. The third is he’s both.

Then there’s Rick Santorum, whose granitic façade of moral rectitude has long been suspected of masking an inner sleazeball. Well, suspected by me, at least, but also by electoral watchdog groups Democracy 21 and the Campaign Legal Center, who recently filed a formal complaint with the FEC alleging that Santorum directed a $1 million donation to the Red White and Blue Fund, a Super PAC, in violation of federal election law.

If true, it’s disgusting behavior for any politician, let alone one who wants the world to believe he invented ethics, but the most disturbing allegation is that Bill Doré, the Louisiana businessman whose donation is at the heart of the complaint, actually thought it was sensible to cough up a million bucks to try and get Rick Santorum elected President of the United States.

Last, and almost certainly least, there’s Michele Bachmann, whose ill-fated 2012 campaign has already resulted in a probe by the House Ethics Committee for possible financial violations, a lawsuit over an allegedly stolen mailing list, and an active investigation into Kent Sorenson, a state senator who chaired her campaign in Iowa and may have received improper payments for so doing, in addition to more recent allegations that he solicited money from the Ron Paul campaign in exchange for switching his support.

The newest Bachmann scandal-in-waiting revolves around possible illegal coordination between her campaign and the National Fiscal Conservative PAC, coordination that might have involved her husband Marcus Bachmann. The Justice Department subpoenaed financial and other records from the Super PAC last week. It seems Bachmann’s imminent retirement from Congress could prove fortuitous, freeing her to spend more time with her attorneys.

THREE: The Mire Next Time

And then there are the horrors and hilarity of Republican presidential campaigns yet to come. If you thought ’08 and ’12 were grotesque spectacles of dank depravity, untrammeled ugliness and anti-intellectual pandering to the scummiest side of human nature, you were right, but ’16 is going to be much worse. Or better, depending on how entertaining you find all this stuff.

Former centerfold model and temp Senator Scott Brown, having nothing much else to do these days, recently went to the Iowa State Fair, and explained to the Boston Herald why. He wants to find out if the country is collectively deranged enough to consider putting him in the White House:

“I want to get an indication of whether there’s even an interest, in Massachusetts and throughout the country, if there’s room for a bi-partisan problem solver… It’s 2013, I think it’s premature, but I am curious. There’s a lot of good name recognition in the Dakotas and here – that’s pretty good.”

Yeah, real good. Hey, maybe Cosmo can do a sort of “where are they now?” follow-up shoot, with a naked President Brown stretched out on an Oval Office couch, a copy of the Constitution barely preserving his modesty.

As I noted here a couple of weeks ago, Congressman Peter King of New York is on a jihad to neutralize what he calls the “Rand Paul isolationist wing” of his party, and if that means he has to get elected President to do so, well, so be it. At least he wouldn’t do any nude modeling, or so we can hope.

Ted Cruz, of course, has been running all over the country, most recently to New Hampshire, South Carolina and Iowa, pretending that a presidential run is the last thing on his mind, while hurriedly initiating the process to divest himself of the Canadian citizenship he pretends he didn’t know he had. If it were up to Texas Teabagger Christine Katok (a woman on record as doubting President Obama’s eligibility) Cruz wouldn’t need to bother:

“As far as I’m concerned, Canada is not really foreign soil…”

With no Democratic incumbent to face in ’16, Republicans, theoretically, have a shot at retaking the White House, but these early stirrings already hint at their determination to ensure it won’t happen. Continue reading Take Five (Way Stranger than Fiction edition)

Stormy Monday, 6/3/13

Tuesday, more IRS crap hits the fan with the release of a watchdog’s report that fingers the agency for, among other things, spending $49 million on employee conferences over the past three years. Some of the expenses have already been described by Acting Commissioner Danny Werfel as “inappropriate” (like $60,000 for two training videos, one of which was a Star Trek parody featuring a large, taxpayer-funded mock-up of the bridge of the Enterprise, and the other showing IRS employees learning how to do the Cupid Shuffle).

House of Representatives Thug-in-Residence Darrell Issa has announced a Thursday hearing on the watchdog report. This will follow two more IRS-related House hearings this week, an Appropriations Committee hearing Monday, at which Werfel will testify, and a Ways and Means Committee hearing on Tuesday, where Teabaggers will complain publicly about how dreadfully unfair it was for the IRS to scrutinize them simply because they loudly hate the government, hate paying taxes, and hate democracy.

After a Wednesday stop in Charlotte on his continuing “Middle-Class Jobs & Opportunity Tour,” the President will attend some California fundraising events for Congressional Democrats before meeting Friday with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping for a brief summit at Sunnylands, the Rancho Mirage home of the late Walter Annenberg. This comes mere days after the State Department called on China to end persecution of Tiananmen Square dissidents and “fully account for those killed, detained or missing,” an exhortation that prompted China’s foreign ministry to accuse the United States of “interfering in China’s internal affairs.”

No information has been released about summit menus, but after a few hours discussing trade, human rights and North Korea, let’s hope the hungry leaders avoid tucking into a ham or other pork product from Smithfield; the company’s food safety record is so dreadful that Smithfield was just bought up by the even more dreadful Chinese conglomerate Shuanghui International. Hold the clenbuterol.

The Supreme Court is expected to rule this week on Fisher v. University of Texas, a decision that could have a significant impact on the future of affirmative action. Elena Kagan has recused herself, increasing the odds that the Supreme Court’s conservative faction will find against the school’s minority admissions policy. Continue reading Stormy Monday, 6/3/13

Take Five (Zero Worship edition)

ONE: I Just Can’t Quit Her

She might be an obscure political footnote waiting to happen, but Michele Bachmann will always be heroic to me. Even among her fellow House Republicans, few would even try to yearn to aspire to attempt to emulate her straight-up weirdness, seemingly involuntary lying, and relentless misunderstanding of pretty much everything about everything. Unlike wannabes such as the suspiciously non-contiguous Sarah Palin or the implosion-primed Nikki Haley, Bachmann is truly the GOP’s current It Girl.

As I mentioned a few weeks back, Bachmann kicked off the 113th Congress by unsuccessfully trying to repeal Obamacare. Yes, that’s something the House Majority does compulsively at this point, like meth or knuckle cracking, but Bachmann brought a whole new level of earnest sincerity to this nasty habit:

That’s why we’re here because we’re saying let’s repeal this failure before it literally kills women, kills children, kills senior citizens. Let’s not do that. Let’s love people, let’s care about people. Let’s repeal it now while we can…

ThinkProgress managing editor Igor Volsky covered himself completely with dust and glory in his enviably nimble reporting on Bachmann’s speech:

Moments after calling for the complete repeal of a law that will extend health care coverage to 30 million Americans, Bachmann claimed that her belief in Christ inspires her to care “for the least of those who are in our midst.” After she completed her remarks, fellow Republican Rep. Michael Burgess (TX) observed that the Minnesota Congresswoman “has a way of stating these things that none of us are capable of.”

Yes, she certainly has a unique way of going about all kinds of things, so unique that the Office of Congressional Ethics has apparently developed something of a fascination with it:

The Daily Beast has learned that federal investigators are now interviewing former Bachmann campaign staffers nationwide about alleged intentional campaign-finance violations… investigators have allegedly asked about allegations of improper transfer of funds and under-the-table payments actions by Bachmann’s presidential campaign…

In a piece last weekend, Charles M. Blow of the New York Times insisted:

People like Bachmann represent everything that is wrong with the Republican Party. She and her colleagues are hyperbolic, reactionary, ill-informed and ill-intentioned, and they have become synonymous with the Republican brand. We don’t need all politicians to be Mensa-worthy, but we do expect them to be cogent and competent.

Sorry, but please speak for yourself, Mr. Blow. I expect no such thing, at least from Republicans.

As for you, Michele Bachmann, long may you run, be it for office or from the law.

TWO: Pride and Prejudice and Piss and Vinegar

Bachmann isn’t the ’12 cycle’s only failed Republican hopeful still attracting headlines. Two of her primary rivals are at the center of a fascinating new story by Joshua Green of Businessweek:

As Mitt Romney struggled in the weeks leading up to the Michigan primary, Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum nearly agreed to form a joint “Unity Ticket” to consolidate conservative support and topple Romney.

Damn. As much as I loved seeing Barack Obama and Joe Biden beat Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan, I reckon I’d have loved seeing Obama and Biden beat Gingrich and Santorum just a little more. Or should that be Santorum and Gingrich?

… the negotiations collapsed in acrimony because Gingrich and Santorum could not agree on who would get to be president.

Poor bastards should have called me; I could have told them the only one who would get to be President was the guy who already had been for four years.

Like Gingrich, Santorum has fallen back on public speaking gigs, continuously augmenting an already lengthy record demonstrating why he’s unfit to hold any elected office, of any kind, anywhere, ever. Santorum, essentially, is very hard to distinguish from a vile little bigot:

… during a speech in Naples [Florida]… Santorum… said he found that Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama lacked leadership in defending the U.S. against the threats of radical Islam.

“I’m not talking about all Muslims, just like I’m not talking about all Christians and all Jews. The Christian faith, the dominant religion in the west, and the Islamic faith, come down to two men, Jesus Christ and Mohammed,” he said.

“Jesus did not fight, rule or reign. Mohammed fought, killed, ruled, conquered and governed,” Santorum said.

In a clear indication that Santorum slept through every stinking thing that happened in the world from his regrettable birth in 1958 right up until the moment he took the stage, his grubby little stem-winder included this astounding pseudo-observation:

“We are about to hand off to our children, grandchildren, the most destabilized, threatening world we’ve ever seen,” he said.

Ironically, he would have been eloquently correct had he been talking about catastrophic climate change, but Santorum is on record as a stalwart climate change denialist, who once sneered on the campaign trail:

“… an absolute travesty of scientific research that was motivated by those who, in my opinion, saw this as an opportunity to create a panic and a crisis for government to be able to step in and even more greatly control your life.”

Vexing as you and I might find it, Santorum’s refusal to go away is a timely morale boost for the vile little bigot wing of the Republican Party (often referred to simply as “the Republican Party”) since said wing might soon have to adjust to the tragedy of life without vile little bigot Gary Bauer. Bauer might be irrelevant now to all but three or four other Republicans – who are probably related to him – and he quite possibly spends most of his time floating in a jar of formaldehyde on a shelf in a dark K Street basement, but he spoke Tuesday at a DC march organized by the National Organization for [some] Marriage, waving his stunted little saber valiantly at the Republican Party and the spring sky over the National Mall, and declaring the preservation of marriage inequality his personal line in the litmus:

“… if you bail out on this issue, I will leave the party and I will take as many people with me as I possibly can.”

I guess I’m a sentimental fool, but somehow I find it touching that Gary Bauer is still out there on the front lines of the 21st century, fighting to keep a Republican Party recklessly flirting with the 20th stuck firmly in the 19th. And the Unhappy Warrior has company, such as the equally post-relevant Mike Huckabee:

When asked by the website Newsmax “if he sees the GOP ever pivoting and backing gay marriage,” Huckabee admitted they might.

“And if they do, they’re going to lose a large part of their base because evangelicals will take a walk…”

As someone who’s been suggesting they take a walk for years now, I for one can’t wait.

THREE: Neighborhood Watch

Speaking of raging bigots, the festering sore on the body politic known as the Westboro Baptist Church is still widely acknowledged as an on-point answer to the question: What’s the matter with Kansas? But Fred Phelps’ hatemongering Topeka “church” couldn’t deter a decorative new neighbor from settling in right across 12th Street, a gay-rights center, complete with rainbow-painted clapboard and a conspicuous Pride flag:

The center is the work of a roving do-gooder named Aaron Jackson, a 31-year-old community-college dropout whose other projects have included opening orphanages in India and Haiti and buying a thousand acres of endangered rain forest in Peru. This year, his charity, Planting Peace, also intends to de-worm every child in Guatemala.

While Planting Peace works for a worm-free Guatemala, the folks across the street will be equally busy. Currently, they’re gearing up to picket not only the Final Four at the Georgia Dome, but Kansas City concerts by Bon Jovi (who apparently “stood by silently” while gay people “took over this nation”), Itzhak Perlman (for killing Jesus), Carrie Underwood (for “promoting sin and shame”) and Fleetwood Mac (because “singer Stevie Nicks proudly joins fellow sodomitical harlots Lady Gaga, Cher and Madonna as a well known ‘gay icon’”).

Is it just me or is Sodomitical Harlots the greatest band name ever? Oh, and call me petty, but why, when I simply want to know what the Westbores are up to, do I have to wander around 10 of their deeply hideous websites? Why can’t they just put everything together under one convenient URL, like GodHatesEveryoneButUs.com? Continue reading Take Five (Zero Worship edition)

Take Five (Cry If I Want To edition)

ONE: There’s Got to Be a Morning After

On November 7, the sun rose over a Republican Party in bleary-eyed disarray. Clearly, it was time for institutional soul searching, time to push the chair back from the immovable feast of civic ignorance, time to build bridges to women, blacks, Hispanics, the LGBT community, time to stop screeching and – politely, respectfully, humbly – rejoin the American conversation.

Naturally, none of this happened. Instead, the GOP nonchalantly brushed the cigarette butts off the pizza crusts, shook off its electoral hangover, and resumed its reckless bender. Compromise? Nope. Public interest? Don’t care. Policy proposals? Not a chance. Constitution? Screw it.

There’s no better (meaning worse) example of this than Louie Gohmert. The fifth-term Texas Congressman kicked off 2013 by joining with the equally loathsome Paul Broun to nominate Allen West for Speaker of the House, but quickly moved on to what Gohmert considers much more serious business, in this case the defense of the Republic from the grave and gathering threat of, uh… sharia law.

Gohmert used a recent appearance on a rightwing radio show to share his “thoughts” on the topic:

We – we’ve got some people that think Sharia Law ought to be the law of the land, forget the Constitution. But the guns are there, that Second Amendment is there, to make sure all the rest of the Amendments are followed.

Of course, this is the same guy who commented, following the Newtown massacre:

I wish to God [the principal] had had an M-4 in her office, locked up so when she heard gunfire, she pulls it out and she didn’t have to lunge heroically with nothing in her hands, but she takes him out, takes his head off before he can kill those precious kids.

If there’s a silver lining to having Gohmert sitting in the House of Representatives, it’s that he no longer presides as Chief Justice of the Texas 12th Court of Appeals, a position to which he was appointed in 2002 by fellow empty-headed loudmouth Rick Perry.

TWO: Michele Bachmann, Job Creator

Her presidential campaign never got past Iowa. She barely held on to her House seat despite outspending her Democratic opponent by a factor of 11. She’s currently embroiled in a sordid set-to with former campaign staffers over unpaid wages and various other alleged improprieties. Despite all that, Michele Bachmann is heartily pleased with herself.

In an appearance at Patrick Henry College the other day as part of the school’s Newsmakers interview series, Bachmann boasted:

“If you’re a conservative you can never get anything wrong and I was very proud of the fact that I didn’t get anything wrong that I said during the course of the debates… It forces a person to be better. You have to be a virtual Wikipedia.”

Or not. At all. As Raw Story points out:

During the Republican presidential primary debates, Bachmann claimed the HPV vaccine could cause mental retardation.

And in a later debate, Bachmann claimed she had never made the claim.

She also claimed President Barack Obama had “the lowest public approval ratings of any president in modern times,” accused former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney of implementing “socialized medicine,” and said the U.S. “will be paying for the entire People’s Liberation Army of China” by 2015.

In a November 2011 debate, Bachmann insisted that the Obama Administration had canceled the Keystone XL pipeline (it hadn’t) and the 20,000 jobs it would supposedly create (it won’t), and that the President had met, without preconditions, no less, with Iranian officials (he didn’t).

This is just the latest example of Bachmann vigorously and quite inappropriately patting herself on the back for veracity she doesn’t possess. In one of the debates, she went as far as asserting that PolitiFact backed her up:

“After the debate that we had last week, PolitiFact came out and said that everything I said was true.”

Of course, Politifact had done no such thing:

… in fact, Bachmann earned two ratings from us at that debate, a Mostly True for her claim that Newt Gingrich advocated for the individual mandate in health care and a Pants on Fire for her claim that Mitt Romney set up a health plan in Massachusetts that is “socialized medicine.”

And PolitiFact didn’t let it go at that:

… The fact that Bachmann would cite us was interesting given that her PolitiFact report card shows 60 percent of her ratings have been False or Pants on Fire.

In another debate, Bachmann hilariously claimed that raising the debt ceiling would be equivalent to handing Barack Obama a “blank check,” but I agree with John Avlon that a favorite hit from the Bachmann songbook of deceit is this:

“This is one thing we know about Barack Obama. He has essentially handed over our interrogation of terrorists to the ACLU. He’s outsourced it to them. Our CIA has no ability to have any form of interrogation for terrorists.”

Bachmann may consider herself a “virtual Wikipedia,” but I think Robert Schlesinger was a lot closer to the mark when he described her as:

… practically a walking, talking full-employment plan for journalistic fact-checkers.

THREE: Three of an Imperfect Pair

But a vibrant democracy needs more than just elected asshats; it also needs unelected ones. Enter Larry Pratt, Stan Solomon and Greg W. Howard.

Pratt is something of a Renaissance asshat. Yes, he did serve briefly in the Virginia House of Delegates, but he’s been far more active and effective since leaving office. He founded the xenophobic organization English First, served as a board member of ALEC, and currently helms Gun Owners of America, a group of firearms fetishists who consider the NRA a bunch of pinko sellouts.

Solomon is a broadcast hatemonger with a particular bent for homophobia, and is best known for his inability to shut up.

Howard is sort of a journeyman asshat. He considers Alan Keyes “eloquent” and Twitter a “haven for cyberbullying, pornography, racism,” he describes abortion in the African American community as “America’s Holocaust,” and he has a strange obsession with Saul Alinsky, in much the same way, I suppose, that some people are obsessed with Space Food Sticks or surreys with a fringe on top or The Buggles. Continue reading Take Five (Cry If I Want To edition)

Take Five (The Wrong Remains the Same edition)

ONE: “What part of ‘second’ don’t you understand?”

Did you daydream that Republicans would accept the legitimacy of Barack Obama’s renewed mandate and resolve to be a little more cooperative? That restless legions of Teabaggers and assorted civics-challenged bigots would cease their puling about “Socialism!” and “Death Panels!” and their frenzied flocking to gun stores and gun shows in advance of an imaginary Obama vendetta against the Second Amendment? That the comically desperate birthers would quietly disperse at last, their tumid fantasies of the Republic being “saved” by Antonin Scalia and/or Donald Trump deflated for all time?

Yeah, neither did I.

President Obama’s second term already seems destined to be as rife as his first with an unrelenting din of obstructionist Republicans, conspiracy cranks and bullet-headed jerks utterly horrified by the President’s only-half-white pigmentation. Hold your breath and let’s start at the very bottom of the barrel.

Although her campaign to become an obstructionist Republican was a characteristically garish failure, Orly Taitz certainly has the conspiracy crank and bullet-headed jerk categories comprehensively covered. The national poster child for every fool out in the darkness aspiring to be a dentist/attorney/fanatic has once again been smacked down from the bench, in this case by District Court Judge Morrison C. England Jr. in Sacramento:

“Your argument, it doesn’t make any sense whatsoever,” the judge told her at one point…

“Why do you keep filing these lawsuits when they keep getting rejected?” England asked…

Taitz responded by comparing herself to Thurgood Marshall and his persistence in filing suits to fight segregation. She explained that one of the plaintiffs is a Republican elector for Mitt Romney, who came in second to Obama in November.

“But second,” England countered. “What part of ‘second’ don’t you understand?”

Like Wile E. Coyote in the Roadrunner cartoons, no matter how many times she finds herself running right off the edge of a mesa (carrying an AcmeTM anvil) Taitz doesn’t quit. And her fans love her for it. Her website – not linked here because it’s said to be riddled with viruses and spyware – recently featured this testimonial from someone purporting to be a court reporter in attendance at the oral arguments before Judge England:

… I found the judges actions to be unbelievable.  There is something terribly wrong when our judiciary system will not stand up and take note of this kind of blatant corruption. I was one of the last ones filing out that shock you hand, it was a pleasure. Although I am on a fixed income, I will contribute to your (our) cause in the near future. Sincerely, Vernon Steinkamp

Personally, I think there’s something terribly wrong when the “judiciary system” allows Vernon Steinkamp to transcribe legal proceedings, but perhaps that’s why they put him on a fixed income. Still, I’ve read enough of Taitz’s submissions in serial unsuccessful proceedings to think Mr. Steinkamp might just be her ideal transcriptionist. At a minimum, I surely would like to see him, um, shock she hand.

Elsewhere on the “World’s Leading Obama Eligibility Challenge Web Site,” you can find Taitz’s funhouse-mirror musings on the proceeding in Sacramento. Ever wanted to know how the exact opposite of a great legal mind works? Here’s how:

The judge nodded and told me, indeed the U.S. Constitution does not require the US President to have valid IDs.

I responded to him that the U.S. Constitution does not require the President to have a pulse also…

Taitz is at least perceptive enough to notice that Judge England was pained by the proceeding, but earnestly misconstrues the cause of his suffering:

The judge lowered his head, he was holding his head with his hands, he was clearly following the marching orders from the regime and was deeply ashamed of it. A number of people later told me that they felt that the judge looked like he was ashamed of what he was doing…

For Taitz, though, misconstruing things is a vocation, a calling, a crusade:

I showed him that it is impossible to have a white hallo around words if you only place a document on the green safety paper…

It seems that during Obama regime the only ones who get protection from the law are the criminals, the law abiding citizens are completely deprived of all of their rights, the only thing they have to protect them, is ammo…

Well, and those shocking hands, of course. As is customary with any story involving Taitz, the weirdness soon got ratcheted up further. After Judge England rejected her claims, he went on to reject her emergency 60(b) motion, which alleged – among many other things – that the President has, or is, a double. Or something:

Additionally, widely published picture by Dr. Scott Inoue, Obama’s former classmate, shows Barack Obama as a third grade student in Hawaii in 1969. At the same time official Obama school records show him in Indonesia in 1967-1969 attending school in Jakarta Indonesia under the name Barry Soetoro. It means that from January 1, 1967 till 1969 we could see two distinct individuals: Barry Obama residing in Hawaii and Barry Soetoro residing in Indonesia. We do not know, which one of them came back to the U.S. in 1971… If Barry Soetoro came back, than the question is, what happened to Barry Obama? Is he even alive? A number of high ranking officials of the U.S. Government and the government of Hawaii are complicit in the most egregious crimes, cover up of the forgery, however it might be more than fraud and forgery. If Barry Soetoro came from Indonesia instead of Barry Obama, this is espionage.

TWO: Failing Upward

At the moment, Taitz is aglow with the prospect of a potential new ally, in the form of a nakedly political Supreme Court controlled by the Republican Party, or at least a powerful faction of it. She buoyantly announced recently that the Supreme Court doesn’t yet find her as irritating as Judge England does. Perhaps they’re still unaware of her terrible prose:

Press release!

Law offices of Orly Taitz

Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States John Roberts scheduled a case by attorney Orly Taitz dealing with Barack Hussein Obama’s use of forged IDs to be heard in conference before the full Supreme Court…

Please, keep in mind, Richard Nixon was reelected and sworn in, but later was forced to resign as a result of Watergate. over 30 high ranking officials of Nixon administration including Attorney General of the United States and White HouseCcounsel were indicted, convicted and went to prison.  ObamaForgery gate is a hundred times bigger then Watergate.  More corrupt high ranking officials, US Attorneys, AGs and judges were  complicit, committed high treason by allowing a citizen of Indonesia and possibly still a citizen of Kenya Barack Hussein Obama, aka Barack (Barry) Soebarkah, aka Barack (Barry) Soetoro to usurp the U.S. Presidency by use of forged IDs and a stolen Social security number.

The Supreme Court will turn its collective mind to the case in a February 15 conference, and if four of the justices decide it’s warranted, the Court will go on to hear argument. In other words, the Supreme Court is going to waste time deciding whether to waste further time on this scurrilous nonsense. If that’s not outrageous enough, consider the possibility that, just maybe, Clarence Thomas will open his yapper during consideration of Taitz’s litigation, now that he has recently broken seven years of weird silence from the bench. Heady days for democracy. Continue reading Take Five (The Wrong Remains the Same edition)

Take Five (Did You Hear His Middle Name's Hussein edition)

ONE: Q – What’s the difference between the Republican Party and a flat earth society? A – It’s a trick question. There is no difference.

With a second Obama term looking more and more assured, Republicans across the nation are hurrying to make complete dicks of themselves about it, blathering shrilly about everything from the ascendancy of an Obama-nurtured caliphate, to fraudulent electronic birth and Selective Service records, to everybody’s guns being confiscated, to conservatives being thrown into FEMA concentration camps, to Michelle Obama destroying America’s youth with healthy food, to Stalinist death panels for granny, to [insert dimwitted, hysterical conspiracy theory here].

In other words, all the same stale crap we’ve been hearing for four years, just louder and more urgent than usual.

Take Alabama Republican Party chair Bill Armistead, for example. Armistead, eager to avoid talking about, you know, policy and stuff, put on his film critic hat for a gathering of the Eastern Shore Republican Women last week:

Armistead suggested that audience members see the movie ’2016: Obama’s America,’ a documentary by conservative commentator Dinesh D’Souza that is critical of the president.

“If you haven’t seen it, you should,” he said. “But I’m going to tell you about another movie. The name of it is ‘Dreams From My Real Father.’ That is absolutely frightening. I’ve seen it. I verified that it is factual, all of it. People can determine.”

The movie… claims that Obama’s real father is Frank Marshall Davis, an American labor activist and organizer for the Communist Party USA.

Understandably, Armistead didn’t detail how he went about his verification. In the courtly Deep South, it’s still considered bad manners to mention rummaging around in your own ass to a roomful of ladies, especially Republican ones.

While Armistead dips a toe into irrationality, David Howard, a Republican member of the Montana Legislature, is pretty near up to his uvula in it. Kudos to Don Pogreba’s superb blog Intelligent Discontent for shining a cold light on Howard’s Monday Facebook post:

If we lose this election the Secular Socialist Democrats will place two more secular anti-American Justices on the Supreme Court and kill America from within…

This could force American Patriots into a Civil war to regain our freedoms. Where we won’t be able to worry about being offended by what some people in a political party do or don’t do!

Yeah, don’t you just hate it when that happens? And if an impending Civil War doesn’t scare you, no problem. Howard, who calls himself a “principled conservative,” has plenty more kindling to set his hair – and, he no doubt hopes, yours – on fire. It’s a veritable Bonfire of the Inanities. Herewith, some verbatim excerpts from his recent posts:

September 12:

In the Islamic world, if you are not Muslim, and if they don’t fear you, they can justify killing you through their Religion of Hate!

They killed our Ambassador because they don’t respect or fear America. The reason, we have a bend over President, who hates Americas imposing excellence and wants America to be a weak secondary Country.

Obama’s intolerance for America’s excellence is weakening America, and has enabled the hate monger Muslims to kill our Ambassador.

We live in a dangerous world, an eye, for an eye world. Therefore, we have to be both the most benevolent Country but when attacked, we have to be the Country that will take no shit off of anyone.

September 14:

Planned Parenthood should be called Planned Infanticide! This is the culture of death, supported by the secular socialist Democrats, run by President Obama!

September 19:

The Press is the marketing arm of the secular socialist democRATs. The SSD’s

September 22:

The definition of Madness is Extreme folly! That describes the Obama’s “Sorry they had to kill Americans ad on Pakistani television”. I would call it an anti-American Insanity!

September 23:

The question begs to be asked, are Christian Pastor’s today speaking Christ’s truth in the Public Square or have they played into the hands of Satan and rationalized themselves into committing the sin of silence that God warned Ezekiel against…

Yes pastor’s do your God given duty: Speak the truth from the pulpit.

September 26:

This morning the Muslim Brotherhood warned the United States that if the United States continued meddling in Egypt , Libya , and other potential hot spots in the Middle East, they intend to cut off America’s supply of 7-11 and Motel 6 managers. If this action does not yield sufficient results, cab drivers will be next, followed by Dell, AT&T and AOL customer service reps.

Finally, if all else fails, they have threatened not to send us anymore presidents either. It’s gonna get ugly, people

September 26:

MONTANA’S GOVERNMENT IS LIKE A KILLERING AND EATING IT’S HARD WORKING CITIZENS!

You don’t even want to know what some of the comments on these posts are like, although you can probably guess. Howard has all kinds of support in Stillwater County and in the broader wrongosphere, people who actually cheer for his loathsome opinions and revolting bigotry. Pogreba somberly notes that Howard is:

… a leader of the Stillwater County Republicans, and the Chair of the House Human Services Committee. He’s also a member of the Judiciary, Agriculture, and Ethics Committee.

TWO: Hungry for Knowledge

David Howard wasn’t the only politician active on Facebook recently. Mayor Greg Stanton of Phoenix was too, and deserves great praise:

This week I’ll join staff and board members from the Arizona Community Action Association (ACAA), the Valley of the Sun United Way and others in the community in the weeklong SNAP Experience when we’ll limit total food purchases to the weekly budget of a typical SNAP participant:  $4.16 a day.  That’s about $29 a week for one person and $97 a week for a family of four…

I’ll be adding to this post daily with a diary entry of my experience…

Day 1

In thinking about this exercise, I did some homework.  In July of this year, there were 1.1 million Arizonans on SNAP, about twice as many as there were before the downturn in 2007… 1 in 4 Arizona kids are food insecure, and 1 in 5 households in Arizona struggled to put food on the table last year. The Phoenix metro area is ranked the 34th worst, in terms of hunger- out of the 100 largest metro areas.  We’ve got a lot of families fighting to get by here…

Day 3

I wonder how folks with health problems get by on SNAP.  An individual with diabetes has got to stay away from too many simple carbs, and have protein at every meal to maintain level blood sugar.  By far the cheapest food items are potatoes, noodles, tortillas and white bread…

Day 5

Identifying, in a concrete way, with struggling families is an important exercise for any leader. By walking in the shoes of those who depend on the SNAP program, I certainly feel like I’ve gained critical perspective as a policymaker.  From a broader perspective, I’m starting to think about all the other challenges families on food stamps (SNAP) must face at the same time they are stretching their food benefit. Census data in 2010 showed Arizona had the second highest poverty rate in the nation with 21.2% of its citizens living in poverty. The national figure was 14.3 percent. We’ve improved since then, but we’re still in the 10-poorest states category.  Worse, women raising children alone here aren’t doing well.  More than 45% of mothers raising children by themselves are in poverty…

Stanton, you won’t be surprised to learn, is a Democrat, and despite the tough times Democrats have been experiencing in Arizona for, well, forever, I’m sensing that the tide could finally be turning. The Obama campaign might be thinking the same thing:

Signaling confidence, Obama’s team is considering competing in Arizona.

Obama looked at competing in Arizona in 2008, but decided against it because of the support there for home state Sen. John McCain, the GOP nominee. Obama still won 45 percent of the vote.

This year, Obama’s team talked early on about running in Arizona, which offers 11 electoral votes, but it never did. Now, with an internal Democratic poll showing Obama narrowly leading Romney, Obama’s team might make a play for the state that has seen a 160,000 increase in voter registrations by Democratic-leaning Hispanics over the past four years.

THREE: Not Lovin’ It

I don’t mind admitting that the plastic-headed Burger King from the Burger King commercials always scared the hell out of me, and the fast food chain’s decision last year to retire the character was a great relief. Imagine my horror, then, when I learned that the polyethylene potentate has been spotted again, skulking around Rome, Georgia:

Police were called to a local McDonald’s in relation to a disturbance caused by a man dressed as the Burger King…

Police stated that, upon his arrival, the Burger King mascot reportedly began to hand out free hamburgers to customers, and stopped to take pictures with several children.

Officers were additionally told that one child ran away from the man in fear…

I sympathize, kid. So just what prompted the maleficent monarch’s appearance at the Golden Arches? Old scores to be settled? Territorial conquest? Hatred of clowns? Apparently none of the above:

The McDonald’s manager told authorities she had approached the unidentified man before calling police. When asked what he was doing, the man allegedly told the manager he was collecting money for charity…

Before leaving in his white Acura, the man removed his mask in view of the manager, the paper learned. She then described him as a white, middle-aged man with dark hair, according to the report.

That wasn’t the only peculiar incident in what was a non-banner week for McDonald’s. A patron in Oregon took the “problem customer” archetype to a whole new, scary level:

A Gresham man was arrested Sunday afternoon after allegedly throwing soda in a McDonald’s manager’s face and smashing a cash register after a dispute over onions on his quarter pounder burger…

According to Gresham Police reports, [Jayme John] Leon went to the McDonald’s at 2231 N.E. 181st Ave. late Sunday afternoon and ordered a quarter pounder without onions, then left the restaurant. When he got home he said he found onions on the burger. He called McDonald’s, where an employee said the restaurant would refund his money and give him a new burger.

However, when he arrived at the McDonald’s at 4:48 p.m., he didn’t have the burger, only the drink he ordered.

“Since he ate the quarter pounder, McDonald’s would not refund his money, sending Mr. Leon into a McFury,” said Sgt. Claudio Grandjean, Gresham Police spokesman.

Sarge, if your law enforcement gig doesn’t work out, you might think about a career in McMarketing. The Jayme John Leons out there need to be brought back into the fold somehow, lest they end up at Burger King or, worse, having Burger King come to them. Continue reading Take Five (Did You Hear His Middle Name’s Hussein edition)

GOP: FYI

If you are a Republican who has wondered from time to time why we Democrats don’t take you seriously, let me explain it for you. (And please feel free to ask for assistance when you get to the big words.)

Part of it is your politicians’ penchant for hypocrisy, corruption, and blatant lying. Part of it is your collective attitude towards the poor, the homeless, the disabled and the uninsured, which is basically to ignore their plight. Part of it is your utter selfishness and greed as you demonstrate your outrage when you think someone somewhere – regardless of how dire their need may be – might benefit from a penny of your tax dollars. And a big part of it is the fact that you do all of the above while claiming to be good Christians, following the path of The Nazarene who taught love, tolerance and a clear responsibility to one’s fellow man.

But the biggest reason we have for not taking you seriously is the fact that you are, to put it bluntly, so unspeakably fuckin’ stupid.

Todd Akin’s recent remarks about a woman’s body being able to block an unwanted pregnancy while being raped is, as many have pointed out, a despicable excuse for denying access to abortion, even in such circumstances. What is even more disturbing is the fact that Akin, a sixty-five year old man with a college degree and no small amount of life experience, can be that ignorant about simple biology. And proudly so. There is only one reason for anyone of his age and education to be that ill-informed: he is fuckin’ stupid.

A quick perusal of the current crop of Republican politicians is rife with displays of unending fuckin’ stupidity. Sarah Palin was too stupid to come up with the name of a single newspaper she read while campaigning. Worse, she was too stupid to even fake it by naming any newspaper (even if she had to resort to lying, which is considered a virtue among you), rather than look like what she was: too fuckin’ stupid to handle the responsibilities of local dog-catcher, no less those of the vice presidency.

Mitt Romney’s current campaign for the presidency is rife with stupidity. Once caught in the glare of the “where are the tax returns” headlights, instead of hoping the story dies down and disappears, Mitt has continued to bring the topic up himself repeatedly. That’s because he’s too fuckin’ stupid to do otherwise.

Michele Bachmann. There’s a reason why she’s known as Michele “Batshit Crazy” Bachmann throughout the blogosphere. The woman believes that Muslim terrorists are infiltrating the US government. She also believes her husband is “straight”. Like I said, too fuckin’ stupid. And yet you people vote for her, time and again.

These are just a few paltry examples of fuckin’ stupidity within your party’s ranks. The list goes on far beyond that – but you’re probably too fuckin’ stupid to retain any more information than can be communicated beyond a few short sentences.

Aside from the stupidity of your politicians, one need not go far afield to determine just how stupid the average GOP voter is. A few hours watching Fox News leaves no doubt.

My favorite demonstration thereof was their showing footage of what was allegedly a Teabagger event held in D.C., allegedly attended by hundreds of thousands of people. The only problem being that the footage was from Obama’s inauguration in January, while the Teabagger gathering was held in the summer. How’d they get away with that? Well, it probably has a lot to do with knowing their viewing audience is too fuckin’ stupid to realize that people don’t parade around in winter coats under bare trees in the middle of June.

Over the past few years, we have heard from Republicans that the earth is 6,000 years old, that dinosaurs cavorted with humans on Noah’s ark like a below-decks scene from Titanic, that global warming is a hoax, that evolution is an unsubstantiated theory – and now we learn that not only is there such a thing as “legitimate rape” but that women can simply block the process of impregnation via some kind of automated mindset clicking in at the moment of what could have been conception. Continue reading GOP: FYI

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)