ONE: Living for the City
My erstwhile hometown North Miami was supposed to elect a new mayor on May 14, but no winner has yet emerged, ballots are still being recounted, and the air is thick with innuendo and accusations of skullduggery. So far, nothing unusual for a Florida election, but this particular election has expanded the frontiers of weirdness in other ways.
Candidate Anna Pierre, who likes to refer to herself as a princess and who once had a hit song in her native Haiti, claimed that someone placed voodoo artifacts – “candles, food and dolls with pins stuck in them” – outside the door of her campaign headquarters on Easter Sunday. She also filed a complaint with police over the alleged theft of 50 campaign signs, and claimed that she had received phone calls telling her to abandon her candidacy.
The malevolence arrayed against her could only be countered with some sort of godsend, and she got one in the form of what she called “a spiritual endorsement” from none other than Jesus Christ. In spite of that, she finished dead last in the field of seven candidates. While she didn’t publicly express disappointment that Christ’s backing had failed to secure her a win, Pierre had plenty to say about other topics on her Facebook page:
The results are in. The administration screwed me big time…. They claimed I only have 56 votes – YOU CAN BELIEVE THEM IF YOU WANT
I do, as it happens, but I confess to admiring Pierre’s deep commitment to the truth, which actually prompted her to revise her post midway through:
To this, I’ ll make a correction – since I voted for myself also – I will say that I AM GIVEN ONLY 55 VOTES FROM ALL THE BALLOTS THAT WERE CAST FOR ME.
So is she bitter about her defeat? It’s actually a little hard to tell, but the caps do hint at some degree of discomfiture:
NOT ONLY I AM COVERED UNDER THE BLOOD OF JESUS…I AM SWIMMING IN IT. MY JESUS HAS CONTROL OVER MY LIFE & THE TITLE OF MAYOR DOESN’T DEFINE WHO I AM AS A PERSON. NORTH MIAMI CHOSE “LUCIEFER” OVER JESUS.
Pierre generously left her dozens of supporters with one potential consolation, at least:
Keep my campaign flier as a souvenir. It might worth a lot one day.
Well, maybe. If a grilled cheese sandwich with a fuzzy image of the Virgin Mary on it can fetch $28,000 on eBay, I suppose anything’s possible. Despite Pierre’s difficulties, she’s had it easier than at least one of her rivals, who got punched in the mouth:
Officers arrested Blaise Felix, 58 [May 7] at the campaign headquarters of candidate Jean Marcellus, after an attack that left the candidate with a bruised lip.
“We were just talking, he just attacked me and threw the punch and you can see the damage,” said Marcellus, pointing to his swollen lip…
[Campaign worker Louis] Ricardo also said Felix lunged for a knife that was laying on a snack table, but was tackled by other campaign workers.
Candidates Kevin Burns and Lucie Tondreau came in first and second, respectively, and will advance to a June 4 runoff, but first, a recount is underway at the behest of third-place finisher Joseph Smith, who, like Marcellus, believes that votes have gone missing. Marcellus contends that 746 absentee ballots have vanished, although election officials claim there was a simple clerical error and that no votes have disappeared.
Assuming the recount finds nothing nefarious, will the runoff result in a clear winner? It’s Florida, of course, so nothing is guaranteed, but if neither James Baker nor David Boies is spotted in the vicinity over the next few weeks, I’ll take it as a good sign.
TWO: Boy Wonder
Next time around, North Miami might want to consider emulating Dorset, Minnesota, which chooses its mayor by drawing a name from a hat. The current mayor, Robert “Bobbie” Tufts, seems to have a firm though surprisingly small hand on the municipal tiller. Tufts is four years old, but don’t for a second underestimate him:
“He’s amazing. He’s just completely amazing,” said Kathy Schmidt, whose family has lived in the area for four generations. “He’s right in your face and well-spoken. You can’t imagine what a ball of fire he is.”
Tufts’ one-year term is up in August, when the 22 citizens of Dorset will meet again to draw another name. What’s next for Hizzoner? Fishing, dancing and singing, probably. It’s a pity he can’t be persuaded to relocate to South Florida, but he probably wants to finish kindergarten first.
THREE: Dark Horse’s Ass?
Republicans face a difficult choice for the 2016 presidential election: go with a lackluster but known commodity (Tim Pawlenty, Jeb Bush, Mike Huckabee) or nominate a callow, intemperate know-nothing who will spend most of the campaign trying to keep his or her feet out of his or her mouth (Rand Paul, Kathy McMorris Rodgers, Bobby Jindal). Personally, I think their dream candidate is already waiting noisily in the wings. He’s a Southerner, he’ll be a young-but-not-too-young 48 in ’16, he’s as dumb as a jar of paint thinner, and his views on a wide variety of issues are shaped by a caustic combination of appalling bigotry, misinformation, arrogance, rudeness, spite, and a complete inability to show remorse. Like I said, a dream GOP presidential candidate. His name is Stacey Campfield.
The state Senator from Tennessee has “graced” this column several times in the past, first for getting banned from Nashville’s Bistro at the Bijou because its owner, Martha Boggs, found his blatant homophobia objectionable. She described Campfield as “an embarrassment to the state” and noted: “He’s really gone from being stupid to dangerous.” More recently, I commented on Campfield’s outrageous scheme to slash TANF benefits to families whose kids perform unsatisfactorily in school, a saga that ended (for now) with Campfield putting a hold on his bill shortly after being bested in a battle of wits with an eight-year-old girl.
Campfield’s newest political performance art happening was inspired by the University of Tennessee’s first annual Sex Week. He was scandalized – scandalized! – by reports of louche and lascivious activities at the event, including: “A lesbian bondage expert and a campus-wide condom scavenger hunt…”
Why, even the names of some of the events seemed calculated to drive uptight conservatives sprinting for the fainting couch:
“Getting Laid,” “Sex Positivity; Queer as a Verb,” “Bow Chicka Bow Woah,” “How to Talk to Your Parents About Sex,” “Loud and Queer,” and “How Many Licks Does It Take…” – a workshop about oral sex.
But even Campfield realizes he can’t just clamber up on a soapbox and scream about how icky sex is, so when university president Joe DiPietro appeared at a Senate subcommittee hearing last Thursday, Campfield resorted to the dependable tactic of using “fiscal responsibility” as a fig leaf for his mutated version of Victorian social conservatism, maintaining:
… the issue is “forcing students to pay for speech they find objectionable.” He cited as an example a “transgender cross-dressing show” during the April week of events.
“If someone wants to dress up like a duck, God bless them. But I shouldn’t have to pay for it.”
Campfield also took the opportunity to pout about a list of guest speakers at the university over a three-year period, a roster he claimed consisted mostly of “a whole lot of ‘left.’”
In other Campfield news this week, a 2008 Democratic candidate for the state House had a libel suit against Campfield thrown out, but has filed notice of appeal:
Campfield… blogged before the 2008 election that he had heard candidate Roger Byrge had multiple drug arrests, and that the mug shots were “gold.” It was later determined the arrest record belonged to Byrge’s son.
The suit was tossed by a – surprise! – Republican judge on the grounds that Campfield didn’t know that what he posted was false. Appeal or not, Campfield blithely continues to use his blog to offend, insult and demean, as he did with an April 21 post entitled “Here comes Feinstein again,” which consisted of a cutaway graphic of an “assault pressure cooker” with sarcastic captions describing its component parts; the bottom handle is a “tactical pistol grip,” the top handle a “folding stock,” and the body of the cooker itself is described as “evil, black.”
Campfield followed up this laugh riot with an appearance on CNN’s Piers Morgan Live, where he commented:
“We’re talking about an inanimate object that does nothing by itself,” said Campfield comparing a firearm to a pressure cooker. “It does absolutely nothing by itself just like a pressure cooker does absolutely nothing by itself.”
“The joke was really about the left and how they push for gun control on inanimate objects just like pushing for spoon control for obesity, it doesn’t do anything.”
If you think that’s a knee-slapper, just wait until Campfield’s acceptance speech at the 2016 Republican National Convention. Continue reading Take Five (Stool for Scandal edition)
ONE: Apocalypse Whenever
The Internet has really revolutionized insomnia. By 5:00 this morning I had already finished watching a Julian Lennon interview from 1999 and several videos of cats riding Roombas, before rashly moving on to footage of speeches from the NRA’s recent annual meeting in Houston.
The only thing rivaling the brimstone stink of the rhetoric at this year’s conclave was a Zombie Industries product being hawked there, a female target mannequin – christened “The Ex” – capable of bleeding when shot. Another one of the company’s range of charming models – “Bleeding Rocky Zombie” – had been removed from the company’s kiosk at the NRA’s request due to its resemblance to President Obama. “The Ex” was hastily renamed “Alexa” after the marketing geniuses at Zombie Industries finally decided there is such a thing as bad press after all.
The NRA’s rare circumspection over “Bleeding Rocky Zombie” was deeply overshadowed by the vicious, imbecilic sentiments of many of the convention’s speakers, starting with those of the organization’s executive vice president and perennial poster boy for vicious imbecility, irascible pipsqueak Wayne LaPierre.
After a warm introduction from everyone’s favorite America-hating felon, Oliver North, LaPierre manned the podium to talk about gun control pretty much the way people in the 1940s talked about the Axis powers:
We are in the midst of a once-in-a-generation fight for everything we care about. We have a chance to secure our freedom for a generation, or to lose it forever
… we will never surrender our guns, never!
… they’re coming after us with a vengeance, to destroy us, to destroy us and every ounce of our freedom.
LaPierre’s apocalyptic spew was echoed by speaker after speaker after speaker, with frenetic attempts to link any and all gun regulation measures to an undefined but existential threat to The Republic itself. Maybe the NRA was offering a free howitzer to the speaker who could ratchet up the nativist paranoia the highest. Chris Cox, executive director of the Institute for Legislative action, the NRA’s lobbying operation, certainly gave it his all, deftly sounding multiple dog whistles while the crowd bayed for more:
Make no mistake. We are in a culture war. Where we once faced hundreds of voices against us, there are now thousands attacking us every day, from Organizing for America to Code Pink to Occupy the NRA, Wall Street, and for that matter, Occupy Anything-but-a-Job.
Outgoing NRA president David Keene warned of the regulatory Ragnarok to come:
We all know that, as we meet here, our opponents are regrouping, and we know that they’ll be back. They’re as dedicated today as they have ever been to consigning you and me and all those who believe in the freedoms guaranteed us by this nation’s Founders to the outer darkness.
Keene’s successor, Jim Porter, kept it old school, treating his audience to the sort of seditious innuendo he knew they craved:
You know, last fall just before the elections, as community organizer-in-chief, President Obama demanded that his followers extract “revenge”. I can’t remember a president ever publicly using that word against fellow Americans.
Porter probably meant to say “exact” but it hardly matters since everything else out of his mouth was incorrect, much of it deliberately so:
[Obama]‘s now threatening Democratic senators who are friends of NRA. He will destroy them if he can… you know, Obama is meeting and plotting with the “who’s who” of the gun ban movement, scheming to create a gun control by bureaucracy.
Threatening, scheming, plotting… yes, that sure sounds like Barack Obama. And Porter brought some dog whistles of his own:
President Barack Obama is AWOL on virtually every critical threat facing this nation… but there’s one issue where Obama is not AWOL: gun control. But there’s something Obama will never, never understand: you, me, our friends, neighbors, coworkers, colleagues and family, and the larger family of patriots who know that the Second Amendment, the freedom of our Republic, trumps the Chicago political machine and its gun ban agenda every time.
Now, as basic frothing at the mouth goes, that’s not bad, but the NRA’s in-house cranks all lack a certain vim, a certain telegenic je ne sais quoi. For that, they turned to the inimitable Glenn Beck, who obliged in spades, oozing fake sincerity all over the floorboards of the stage for 100 white-knuckled minutes. Beck’s was a soliloquy equal parts hair-on-fire millenarian sermon and triumphalist Thousand-Year Reich chest-thumping. He seemed to draw inspiration from a smorgasbord of conflicting sources: the Bible, the Constitution, the Letter from Birmingham Jail, Atlas Shrugged, the Port Huron Statement, and perhaps even the cover of Sgt. Pepper:
Our right to keep and bear arms will not be infringed. We will follow the footsteps of Jesus Christ. We will follow the footsteps of Frederick Douglass, Winston Churchill, Thomas Paine, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Ben-Gurion, Margaret Thatcher, Ronald Reagan, Gandhi, Thomas Jefferson and Martin Luther King. Hear me now. Hear me now. We shall overcome. Let us not talk any more about our cold, dead hands, but rather act, rather be the people who have a cause to use our hands…
Yes, because people who don’t have a cause to use their hands might as well not even have hands. Like, why are the most self-evident truths the ones most in need of repeating by visionaries like Glenn Beck? But what the hell are they all going to do with their hands? Beck had it covered:
… we will work together as Americans, not only to preserve our rights, but the rights of our children to be safe, our wives and our daughters to not be held at gunpoint, not be raped…
Possibly sensing that he was stepping on his own message with the “held at gunpoint” bit, he tacked vigorously toward the sublime:
We will not be the generation that loses mankind’s freedom. Instead, let us declare to one another that we, instead, will be the generation that historians look back to with awe and wonder, and say: How did they do it? They’ll look back for inspiration, that even in our darkest times, with the greatest reason for doubt and fear, we rose above it. We pushed the darkness back. We held the torch of liberty. We held it high for all men to see and aspire to…
And – bonus! – made damned sure that universal background checks would never spoil anybody’s Constitutionally enshrined firearm fun. Win-win! Keenly aware of the zealotry hanging moistly over the room, Beck shrewdly pitched his closing comments like unto a sounding brass or a tinkling cymbal for his audience:
Jesus was a man of love. He was a man of peace. He was a man of forgiveness. But make no mistake; Jesus Christ was also immovable. The right to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed, and we will win by strapping on the full armor of God. We shall stand firm with the belt of truth, with the breastplate of righteousness, with the shield of faith, with the helmet of salvation and the sword of the spirit. We will fight their tactics of fear, we will fight their tactics of darkness, we will fight their lies, and we will counter them with love, peace and equal justice for all mankind.
And as much ammo as they can hoard, I expect.
TWO: Nonsense and Sensibility
Beck’s unusual wardrobe tips weren’t the only practical advice on offer in Houston. There was also this, from the “Home Defense Concepts” seminar by Rob Pincus: Continue reading Take Five (Talking Second Amendment Blues edition)
ONE: And a Little Child Shall Impede Them
Tennessee Republican state senator Stacey Campfield describes himself on his blog as “just an average guy….with a real cool job.” The trouble is that Campfield seems to believe his job is to be an utter dick. Take for example his newest idea, noted here a couple of weeks back, a bill to slash TANF benefits by 30 percent for households with children performing unsatisfactorily in school.
Last week, Campfield asked fellow legislators to hold the bill “for further study,” shortly after he was shown up by an eight-year-old girl. Aamira Fetuga confronted Campfield in the state Capitol and handed him a petition with 2,500 signatures in opposition to the legislation. Campfield’s immediate reaction, as expected, was to be a complete dick:
“How are you? Thanks for coming,” Campfield said, taking the petition. “I love it when people use children as props.”
And I love it when a politician who once proposed issuing death certificates for aborted fetuses lectures other people about props. Campfield quickly cut and ran from his pint-sized nemesis, or tried to:
He then set off on the three-minute walk to the Senate chamber. Rasheedat Fetuga, founder of child advocacy group Gideon’s Army, which organized the protest along with Clergy for Justice and Stand for Children, shouted after him that her daughter was not a prop and that he works for the people…
Well, Rasheedat was half right; her daughter is certainly not a prop. In fact, Aamira was a full participant, and seemed admirably self-possessed and engagingly direct:
“I’m worried about the lights being cut off,” she said.
“That won’t happen as long as you have a decent parent who can show up for two conferences,” Campfield replied.
He was referring to a provision in the bill stipulating that parents could avoid having their family’s benefits slashed by jumping through one of a number of possible hoops: “an eight-hour parenting class, meeting twice with teachers, enrolling a child in summer school or arranging tutoring.”
After taking refuge in the Senate chamber only to find that several Republican senators previously onside were now opposed, Campfield finally withdrew the bill. For now, anyway; a crucial element of Campfield’s comprehensive dickishness is his persistence. I offer as Exhibit A the fact that he has been introducing various iterations of his “Don’t Say Gay” bill for fully half a decade now.
For more context, check out Les Leopold’s horrifying new overview of what happened in Tennessee while civilization had its back turned and absolute dicks like Stacey Campfield were elected to positions of power.
Last word goes to the wholly unreconstructed dick himself, an exceedingly rare example of Campfield actually being correct about something:
“There’s always going to be detractors.”
TWO: Love and Marriage
A recent poll by NBC News and the Wall Street Journal finds that 53 percent of respondents support same-sex marriage. Among Democrats, it was favored by 73 percent of respondents, while 66 percent of Republicans continue to support discrimination.
So it wasn’t exactly shocking that the RNC, at its spring meeting in LA, decided to renew its official opposition to marriage equality, by supposedly unanimous voice vote:
Resolved, the Republican National Committee affirms its support for marriage as the union of one man and one woman, and as the optimum environment in which to raise healthy children for the future of America; and be it further
Resolved, the Republican National Committee implores the U. S. Supreme Court to uphold the sanctity of marriage in its rulings on California’s Proposition 8 and the Federal Defense of Marriage Act.
Now, a cynical observer just might think the Republican Party’s definitive reaffirmation of institutional bigotry is a response to the threat of reliable money spigots being turned off, but of course it could be simply a remarkable coincidence:
After the Republican National Committee hinted at new outreach to gay voters, and possibly changing its stance or at least its tone on gay-rights issues, 11 influential social-conservative groups aired their grievances in a letter addressed to [Reince] Priebus timed to coincide with the start of the RNC’s meeting…
“We respectfully warn GOP leadership that an abandonment of its principles will necessarily result in the abandonment of our constituents to their support…”
Even more suspiciously, the “unanimous” aspect of the resolution’s approval was cast into doubt by an unfortunately soft-spoken attendee:
… Robert Kabel, a gay committeeman from the District of Columbia who supports allowing same sex nuptials, didn’t speak up. At least not loud enough for anyone to hear him.
Immediately after the vote… Priebus declared that all 157 members present had supported the measure.
… Kabel insists he dissented.
“I voted against the resolution. I did, it just wasn’t very vocal,” Kabel said after the meeting. “It’s hard to hear in here.”
Others, however, made themselves heard loudly, one being Michigan’s Dave Agema, the resolution’s sponsor. Agema appeared on a Family Research Council radio show to expound on his views in more detail:
“What I’d like to have the homosexual community know is I don’t hate them,” he said. “As a matter of fact when Jesus caught a woman in the act of adultery when they brought her to him he said, ‘I don’t condemn you but go and sin no more.’ That ought to be the church’s goal here. We ought to be saying to these people, ‘Hey, we don’t agree with your lifestyle and we’ll help you get out of it, but we want you to know the facts of what’s going to happen to you if you stay in this lifestyle.’”
The former state representative from West Michigan entered the national debate on gay marriage two weeks ago by sharing an article on Facebook titled “Everyone Should Know These Statistics on Homosexuality,” which began with a warning to parents that their children could be “indoctrinated” at public schools.
Agema repeated that claim on Wednesday, saying that school kids are already being conditioned to accept homosexuality and that “the next thing that will occur is your kids will come home and say, ‘I think this is a good thing and I think I want to be one.’”
Yet when it comes to ludicrous views about homosexuality, Agema is a callow hobbyist compared with Bryan Fischer of the American Family Association, who recently treated his radio audience to this sarcastic tirade:
“We’re getting to the point where these homofascists are going to force us to wear on our sleeves some kind of identifying marker so people will know who the racists and the homophobes and the bigots are, and can stay away from them.”
The very same day, a different but equally appalling take was offered up by the reflexively offensive Bill Donohue, loosely hinged president of the Catholic League, in a television appearance on Current:
“This idea of two men getting married is the most bizarre idea in human history,” Donohue told host John Fugelsang, adding that the purpose of marriage is a “duty” to procreate.
“The whole purpose of marriage is to have a family,” he said. “It’s not about making people happy. It’s not about love.”
I’m beginning to understand why Donohue’s marriage ended in divorce. Continue reading Take Five (Mouths of Babes edition)
ONE: The 5.8-Percent Solution
Who better to eulogize the execrable Margaret Thatcher than the abysmal Sarah Palin? And so she has, in 1,002 suspiciously articulate words that appeared under Palin’s byline Monday courtesy of virtual fishwrap National Review Online. As Bob Cesca’s very entertaining dissection of the eulogy makes clear, Palin (or whichever staffer wrote this C-minus boilerplate on her behalf) is essentially paying tribute to Palin here, with telling lines about media persecution, ceilings (both glass and class), and misty-eyed praise for Thatcher’s supposed populism, her superhuman imperviousness to “childish attacks” from her political foes, her noble fetish for liberty, her salt-of-the-earth leadership, and her general maverickitudinous maverickosity.
With Thatcher now en route to meet her Maker for a lengthy and probably awkward discussion about the destructive effects of her policies, Palin seems to be banking on the dubious notion that conservatives everywhere yearn for a new Iron Lady. If she really aspires to assume the mantle, she might want to rethink her PAC, a widening sinkhole for the misdirected dollars of the faithful.
While SarahPAC describes itself as “dedicated to building America’s future by supporting fresh ideas and candidates who share our vision for reform and innovation,” its parsimony in supporting Republican candidates stands in garish contrast to its lavish disbursements on consultants and ancillary expenses, all of which adds renewed resonance to Palin’s longstanding reputation of pronounced carefreedom with other people’s money.
The PAC’s FEC filings for 2012 show that it spent $5,186,777, of which $80,000 was donated to Senate candidates, $213,500 to candidates in House races (including $10,000 to Allen West’s failed reelection bid and $2,500 to an Ohio Democrat, convicted felon Jeffrey Johnson), along with another $5,000 to the Romney campaign. If you’re interested in where the remaining $4,888,277 went, John Avlon provides some helpful details, after quoting Palin’s high-minded, cast-out-the-moneychangers rhetoric at this year’s CPAC:
“Now is the time to furlough the consultants, and tune out the pollsters, send the focus groups home and throw out the political scripts, because if we truly know what we believe, we don’t need professionals to tell us…”
Palin’s chief PAC consultant, Tim Crawford, pocketed more than $321,000 this election cycle in direct payments alone… Aries Petra Consulting was taking in between $6,000 and $8,000 a month for speechwriting and “grassroots consulting”—something that sounds like an oxymoron, but ended up costing north of $160,000. C&M Transcontinental racked up $10,000 a month in management consulting, which is hard to imagine for a PAC whose job is simply to raise money and spend it on candidates.
I do have to take issue with that last point. Given that this is Sarah Palin’s political action committee, it’s hard to imagine that things could have gone any differently.
TWO: Hanging Party
The Alaska GOP’s Anchorage headquarters, a building with all the curb appeal of a bait shack or a three-for-the-price-of-one taqueria, last week became the epicenter of what one insider described as a “civil war for the soul of the Alaska Republican Party.”
The war actually began back in January when chair-elect Russ Millette was ousted by the party’s executive committee a day before he was due to begin his term. The position was then assumed by vice-chair-elect Debbie Brown, whose political skills seem to fall just a tad short of making friends and influencing people. Whatever the machinations over the span of the last weeks, Brown eventually alienated a sufficient proportion of the executive committee that she felt it necessary to have the locks at 1001 West Fireweed Lane changed, while she hightailed it out of the state. The committee then organized an impromptu meeting in the parking lot of the shuttered HQ before deciding they looked too ridiculous there. After moving the meeting to the boardroom of an engineering firm, they deliberated for nearly five hours and finally voted Brown out.
But this isn’t over yet. Failed GOP Senate candidate Joe Miller yesterday posted a scan of a letter from Alicé Leuchte, party secretary, affirming that Brown’s April 8 removal was invalid. Meanwhile, in her capacity as state party chair, Brown is attending the RNC’s spring meeting in California, as is Peter Goldberg, whom the executive committee installed in her place. The new locks at 1001 West Fireweed Lane are apparently still virgo intacta, and the Alaska Republican Party is still reeling.
Isn’t it obvious what they need to do? If she’s not at home in Wasilla or Scottsdale, the executive committee might find Governor Palin speeding down the wrong side of the road somewhere between Land’s End and John o’Groats, stumping to overthrow David Cameron. The Alaska Republican Party’s Iron Lady awaits, unless of course the British outbid them.
THREE: Far Out
In a week where President Obama, with apparent seriousness, described Margaret Thatcher as “one of the great champions of freedom and liberty” and unveiled a budget that calls for the implementation of a chained CPI framework for future Social Security increases, I suppose nothing else should seem shocking. Yet I was shocked just the same to see WND’s Joseph Farah offer up an alternative to war on the Korean peninsula:
I say forget about talking to Kim.
I say forget about considering plans for invading North Korea.
I say there’s an alternative to bombing the country’s nuclear installations to prevent a future holocaust.
Let’s try bombing the people with support.
Let’s try carpet-bombing North Korea with food, with small arms and munitions and the instructions they need to overthrow the little despot who keeps them in chains.
Let’s try extending our hands in love to the people of North Korea…
Holy crap! Farah had better watch his step; if he ever advocates carpet-bombing poor, hungry Americans with food, WND’s zero-information readership will overrun his offices, brand his buttocks with the words “Filthy Hippie” and push him out of a helicopter somewhere over Marin County. Continue reading Take Five (Iron Lady Down edition)
ONE: Boom Shakalaka
Baseball is back, and so is a freshly redoubled effort on the part of the Texas Rangers to kill their fans. With food.
2013 is the sophomore year for the Boomstick, a two-foot hot dog smothered in onions, nacho cheese, chili and jalapenos, all heaped on a 22-inch potato bun. The Boomstick, named for the bat of outfielder Nelson Cruz, will set you back $26 at Rangers Ballpark.
These and other food items at the stadium are served up by Delaware North, a company I saluted previously for donating 8,000 pounds of food to Charlotte-area food banks and charities last September, food originally prepared for the President’s nomination acceptance speech at Bank of America Stadium before the event was moved to TWC Arena. The Boomstick generated half a million in sales last season, and this year the dog even gets its own merchandise line, along with some comparably heavy-duty menu companions:
The Boomstick will be joined by the “Totally Rossome” Boomstick ($32), named after Rangers relief pitcher Robbie Ross, which is smothered with smoked brisket, fresh pico, sour cream and Doritos chips. Also on the menu is a whopping 24-ounce bacon burger ($26), a 24-inch sausage ($26), a 24-inch pretzel ($13) and a 24-inch quesadilla ($26) covered with brisket and served on a bed of nacho cheese Doritos.
Last July, in honor of National Hot Dog Month, Delaware North made the gargantuan wiener available for a limited time at six other MLB stadiums. Marketed as the Giant Slugger, it wowed fans of the Padres, White Sox, Cardinals, Twins, Reds and Brewers. Fortunately, the Kansas City Royals (whose food services are provided by The Bigelow Companies) have no equivalent product; they’re having a hard enough time with ordinary hot dogs. The Missouri Court of Appeals recently overturned a frankfurter-related lower court verdict involving the club:
The Kansas City Royals must face a lawsuit from a fan who was hit in the eye by a hot dog thrown by the team mascot, a Missouri appeals court ruled.
John C. Coomer went to a Royals baseball game in September 2009 with his father. After the third inning, the team’s crown-topped lion mascot, “Sluggerrr,” came out for the Hot Dog Launch.
Twenty to 30 hot dogs are thrown to fans or launched from an air gun in the spectacle.
Coomer testified that he while he was looking at the scoreboard, a hot dog hit him in the face, knocking off his hat.
Two days later, Coomer was diagnosed with a detached retina. He underwent surgery for that and again for a cataract, and now has an artificial lens in that eye. He sued the team for negligence and battery in 2010.
Yet whatever the hazards, fans’ love affair with the tube steak looks to remain ardent, according to the National Hot Dog & Sausage Council:
… baseball fans will consume [an estimated] 20,421,361 hot dogs over the course of the 2013 season. That’s enough hot dogs to round the bases 28,113 times. It’s also enough to feed all 56,000 fans at Dodger Stadium, Major League Baseball’s largest stadium, for 361 straight home games.
TWO: Gun Shysters
Turning from guns that fire hot dogs to ones that fire bullets, Colorado has been ground zero in the renewed struggle for meaningful gun control. While recent measures passed there are actually pretty feeble, they’ve been sufficient to provoke both gun-huggers and companies that exist to cater to them into some dismayingly childish behavior:
Michael Bane, a producer for The Outdoor Channel, announced he will no longer film his four shows in Colorado, and hunters are joining the protests. It’s reportedly a small number, but growing.
Somehow, against all odds, I believe Colorado will survive Bane taking his creepy, paranoid shows elsewhere, and – bonus! – animals left alone by boycotting hunters will survive too. Democrats, on the other hand, might want to keep their eyes open and their heads down if Dudley Brown, head honcho of a group called Rocky Mountain Gun Owners, is anywhere nearby:
Brown complains that universal background checks are just a step toward identifying gun owners so the government can seize their weapons, and he calls the 15-round limit on ammunition magazines arbitrary. He’s promising political payback in next year’s election that could cost Colorado Democrats their majorities.
“I liken it to the proverbial hunting season,” Brown says. “We tell gun owners, ‘There’s a time to hunt deer. And the next election is the time to hunt Democrats.’ “
Meanwhile, the management team of Magpul Industries (makers of 30-round magazines, buttstocks, shotgun accessories, semi-rigid iPhone cases offering “basic protection in the field,” and other assorted items no free society should be without) are about to pull their operations out of the state, their corporate feelings having been hurt by Colorado’s insistence on background checks and a ban on magazines holding more than 15 rounds:
Magpul employs 200 people directly, ranging from basic assembly workers to product designers and other professionals specializing in weapons-related components…
Like any successful mid-sized business, Magpul nurtures many other businesses, or did until it decided to throw its little corporate tantrum:
As much as possible, the company tries to contract with Colorado vendors, who represent about 90 percent of its supply chain… Those suppliers received about $46 million last year from Magpul, with the company projecting that number to reach $85 million for 2013…
Personally, I project that the company’s projection is marinated in bullcrap, but there’s no doubt that the disappearance of $46 million in revenues to Magpul suppliers is going to hurt.
Texas, Alabama, West Virginia and Alaska are already courting Magpul. Another company, HiViz Shooting Systems, makers of “light-gathering sights, recoil pads and accessories,” announced that it too is cutting and running from the imminent danger of a little more civilization encroaching on Colorado:
“We cannot in clear conscience support with our taxes a state that has proven through recent legislation a willingness to infringe upon the constitutional rights of our consumer base,” HiViz President and CEO Phillip Howe said in a news release.
As of this writing, I’m still trying to find the Constitution’s guarantee of unrestricted access to recoil pads and light-gathering sights, never mind all the goddamned guns. Maybe I should ask Senator Mark Pryor of Arkansas, a “Democrat” who:
…hinted on Tuesday that he would oppose a Democratic initiative to expand background checks to all gun purchases, but reiterated his support for an NRA-backed measure that would permit individuals deemed mentally ill or incompetent to purchase firearms more freely.
Why, you ask?
“You know, I’m a Second Amendment guy, everybody knows that…”
Sure thing. I’m a Second Amendment guy too, Senator. I’ve always believed that a well-regulated militia is necessary to the security of a free state. Continue reading Take Five (Let’s Play Two 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)
ONE: Middle Age Queasy
The Conservative Political Action Conference turns 40 this year, but don’t expect maturity from a gathering where the speakers include Sarah Palin, Ted Cruz, Artur Davis, Dick Morris, Wayne LaPierre, Rick Perry, Allen West and Donald Trump.
The coveted keynote slot will provide a generous 33 minutes for Cruz to prevaricate, obfuscate, fabricate, fulminate and regurgitate. Organizers have allotted the second and third longest slots to Palin and Trump, respectively, though why Palin needs 16 minutes and Trump 14 to recite “me, me, glorious me” is a mystery only slightly less mysterious than either of them being invited to begin with. I suppose The Donald and The Sarah deserve grudging credit for realizing that Fitzgerald’s dictum about American lives having no second acts is irrelevant now that first acts can simply be prolonged indefinitely.
Over and above her CPAC gig, Palin manages to keep busy just being Palin. She devoted at least part of Monday to crafting a tweet celebrating the overturning of New York City’s ban on sodas larger than 16 ounces:
Victory in NYC for liberty-loving soda drinkers. To politicians with too much time on their hands we say: Govt, stay out of my refrigerator!
Yes, because nothing says “liberty” like 17 ounces of carbonated water, HFCS, artificial color, artificial flavors and caffeine. But it’s not all freewheeling Twittery for Palin; her latest higher calling is nothing less than saving Christmas:
The former Republican vice presidential candidate and Alaska governor has a deal with HarperCollins for “A Happy Holiday IS a Merry Christmas,” scheduled for November.
HarperCollins announced Monday that the book will criticize the “over-commercialism” and “homogenization” of Christmas and call for a renewed emphasis on the religious importance.
Wow! Only 48 years after A Charlie Brown Christmas definitively addressed the very same issues. And Palin’s so versatile that she even wrote the first review of the not-yet-written book:
“This will be a fun, festive, thought provoking book, which will encourage all to see what is possible when we unite in defense of our faith and ignore the politically correct Scrooges who would rather take Christ out of Christmas.”
That’s what cutting edge is all about, Charlie Brown. You betcha. As for Trump, he’s taking his cues from none other than Charlie Brown doppelganger Newt Gingrich, who last Friday tweeted his brainstorm to save White House tours recently suspended under sequestration:
Donald trump should offer to pay for the white house tours. He can afford it and it would show who cares more for American students
This was followed two minutes later by:
Trump and president obsma both golf but trump doesn’t charge the taxpayers $920,000 for a golf weekend in florida.
Yeah, damn that obsma anyway! Two minutes later, Gingrich found some more meat on that bone:
If trump offers to pay for the White House tours what will President Obama’s excuse for punishing visiting school children be?
Trump was nonplussed about all this until he joined Fox and Friends by phone on Monday:
“I think it’s so nice of Newt to suggest that,” the media mogul said, adding that Gingrich and his wife are members of his club in Washington. “But it sounds reasonable to me. Why not?”
Gingrich is also speaking at CPAC, so he and Trump have a readymade opportunity to discuss the idea in detail, assuming the Gaylord National Hotel has a room large enough to accommodate both their egos simultaneously.
TWO: In Through the Out Door
CPAC drew criticism recently for barring GOProud, an action that prompted the Log Cabin Republicans to withdraw from the event in solidarity. The groups have now gained some exceptionally unsavory company: notorious Islamophobe Pamela Geller.
Geller devoted a recent appearance with Christian radio host Janet Mefferd to throwing a tantrum about the CPAC snub:
… I’ve always held events there even though I wasn’t warmly welcomed because of the influence of what can only be described as Muslim Brotherhood facilitators or operatives like Suhail Khan and Grover Norquist… This year I could not get an event, I was banned…
What are they doing at CPAC? Essentially they are enforcing the Sharia. Under the Sharia, the blasphemy laws, you cannot say, you cannot offend, you cannot criticize and you cannot insult Islam. That is effectively what they’re doing, they are enforcing the Sharia.
Also joining GOProud and the Log Cabin Republicans, albeit voluntarily, is MSNBC’s resident purveyor of flapdoodle, SE Cupp. She recently tendered her regrets, publicly:
“… as a proponent of gay rights, CPAC’s decision to sideline GOProud and Log Cabin Republicans makes me increasingly uncomfortable… It seems like we’re hardly in a position to be marginalizing any kinds of conservatives, let alone ones who have been so courageous in the face of adversity… until the conference stops shaming some of its most valuable advocates, it’s unfortunately not an event I can take part in.”
Cupp’s calmly reasoned position prompted a fretful rant from Mr. Unreason himself, Joseph Farah. Sensing the black helicopters of tolerance hovering over his pinched and pusillanimous reality, WND’s founding father lamented:
This little brouhaha with Cupp comes at the same time dozens of Republicans – including top advisers to former President George W. Bush, four former governors and two members of Congress – have signed a legal brief arguing in favor of same-sex marriage…
Farah went on to shake a querulous finger at Meg Whitman, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Richard Hanna, Stephen Hadley, Carlos Gutierrez, James Comey, David Stockman and Deborah Pryce, noted conservatives all. Or not:
What do all these people have in common?
They are not conservatives.
Ah. Good to know, I guess. Farah finished with a flourish of hyperbole worthy of a pilled-up teenager posting on a message board at 4:00 AM:
The Conservative Political Action Conference is for conservatives – not for people who seek to undermine the Judeo-Christian basis of Western civilization with one of the most radical ideas considered since child sacrifice.
Keep it unreal, Joe.
THREE: Hot Air Apparent
CPAC 2013 will also feature John Ellis “Jeb” Bush, who recently stuck his head up out of the ground to find out whether he would see Mitt Romney’s shadow. Bush is ostensibly in the public eye these days because he’s hawking a new book, Immigration Wars: Forging an American Solution, but of course what he’s really hawking is the idea that the GOP will be desperate enough to nominate him in 2016. To that end, Bush has been appearing on various talk shows, casually trying to convince conservatives of his viability with a string of inane observations. Continue reading Take Five (CPAC Up Your Troubles edition)
ONE: California Knows How to Party
Since I’ll probably find out soon enough, the precise nature of eternal damnation isn’t something I spend much time wondering about. I’m inclined to think it’ll resemble being stuck in an elevator with an endless loop of Adele songs blaring from unseen speakers, but for all I know it could be even worse. One thing I’m sure of is that sharing this mortal coil with the rabid right is an excellent warm-up for it.
Let’s begin with Harmeet Dhillon, clearly a young woman on the rise. A founding partner of the San Francisco “boutique business law” firm Dhillon & Smith LLP, the Indian-born graduate of Dartmouth and the University of Virginia is an accomplished, respected member of her profession. Unfortunately, she’s also a Republican.
After an unsuccessful 2012 run for a California state senate seat, she has just become vice-chair of the California Republican Party, the first woman ever to hold the position. But Dhillon is also a devout Sikh, so her ascension to the post was marred by her party’s famous disinclination to rid itself of racists and other assorted scum.
Enter Vera Eyzedooren, president of the San Bernardino County Federation of Republican Women. Desperate to short-circuit Dhillon’s vice-chair bid, Eyzedooren took to Facebook with this little punctuation-challenged screed:
I was told by one of Harmeets friends that because of her religion her loyalty is to the Muslim religion. So she will defend a muslim beheading 2 men without any hesitation. The person who told me that on Facebook private message, erased it. But I copied the screen and saved it in case. She is not Republican….
Eyzedooren then linked to a blog reposting of an Examiner.com piece entitled: “Muslim who beheaded two men arraigned in New Jersey.”
The Facebook page where she posted this (“AlwaysRightUSA”!) now returns a “link you followed may be broken, or the page may have been removed” message, but the San Bernardino County Federation of Republican Women site still features this uplifting message from Eyzedooren herself:
Our goals are to promote an informed public through political education, communications and use persuasive tools on issues that matter to us the most, registering Republicans, and spreading the word of Republican values and principles.
I think you can safely consider the word spread and the public informed now, ma’am. Thanks much.
TWO: He Said, She Said
That wasn’t the only foul odor emanating from the California GOP spring convention. Celeste Greig, a high-profile attendee who heads the California Republican Assembly, a volunteer organization, was asked the other day to comment on Todd Akin’s offensive musings on rape and pregnancy from last August. Greig was happy to oblige, first by decrying Akin:
“That was an insensitive remark… I’m sure he regretted it. He should have come back and apologized.”
And then by, essentially, agreeing with him:
“Granted, the percentage of pregnancies due to rape is small because it’s an act of violence, because the body is traumatized.”
And then by more or less admitting that she doesn’t know what the hell she’s talking about:
“I don’t know what percentage of pregnancies are due to the violence of rape. Because of the trauma the body goes through, I don’t know what percentage of pregnancy results from the act.”
Greig’s organization proudly notes on its website:
President Ronald Reagan called the California Republican Assembly, “the conscience of the Republican Party.”
I never thought I’d say this, but I have to agree with Reagan.
THREE: Ignoble Gases
California Republicans don’t have a monopoly on stupid, of course. Up the coast, there’s Ed Orcutt, a representative who is the ranking Republican on Washington’s State Transportation Committee. Orcutt is bucking the GOP’s beloved no-tax ideology and expressing willingness to support a Democratic proposal that consumers who spend more than $500 on a bicycle in the state be subject to a new $25 tax. Orcutt explained his position in an e-mail to Dale Carlson, a Tacoma bicycle store owner:
… you claim that it is environmentally friendly to ride a bike. But if I am not mistaken, a cyclists [sic] has an increased heart rate and respiration. That means that the act of riding a bike results in greater emissions of carbon dioxide from the rider. Since CO2 is deemed to be a greenhouse gas and a pollutant, bicyclists are actually polluting when they ride.
In fairness to Orcutt, he soon issued a retraction:
… let me apologize for the carbon emissions line of an e-mail which has caused so much concern within the bicycle community. It was over the top and I admit is not one which should enter into the conversation regarding bicycles.
Although I have always recognized that bicycling emits less carbon than cars, I see I did a poor job of indicating that within my e-mail. My point was that by not driving a car, a cyclist was not necessarily having a zero-carbon footprint. In looking back, it was not a point worthy of even mentioning so, again, I apologize – both for bringing it up and for the wording of the e-mail.
Hmm. Orcutt better watch that contrition thing; I’d bet money that it contravenes one or more planks in the official Republican platform. Another Republican state representative, Jim Sacia of Illinois, is in no such danger. Sacia is miffed because Chicago’s daunting level of gun violence might prompt firearms control measures that would also affect – gasp! – non-Chicago Illinoisans. Continue reading Take Five (Fresh Hell 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)