I'm fifty-three years old, a middle class white guy. I saw the first Star Wars film (now laughably categorized as "Episode Four") when I was a teenager; when it was first released in the late seventies. Even then I recognized it as a washed-out, left-liberal version of the old "Flash Gordon" serials that i used to watch for free on local syndicated broadcast television...
...and I loved it. I loved it from the very first shot of those booming, dooming "overhead" space dreadnoughts, rumbling over us like trains -- a rebellion against the Empire!
..and just a few years later, a white middle class American male in the 1980s thought he was 'of' the Empire. The National Lampoon and PJ O'Rourke in Rolling Stone told the maturing white male marketing demographic that it was cool to be the dominant, racist, coke-doing caste. (I didn't buy that. I knew that was bullshit, because ever since I was a teen I'd worked manual labor.)
But now. at this moment -- FINALLY -- it is my time to shine, personally.There is a role I am perfect for. And I WILL audition for it... It's said to be the lead in the NEW Star Wars film (to be directed by JJ Buffy Marvel Abrams!:)
Here's something funny that I read in the New Yorker this week. It's writer Louis Menand's appraisal of what feminism was really all about:
(The point of the women's movement) was to create a society in which the life chances of a mediocre woman are no different then the life chances of a mediocre man.
It's curious that Menand (and his editors at the New Yorker) think that's the "point" of this particular world-historical battle for civil rights. I've never seen any of the other modern struggles for civil rights summed up in exactly that way -- "this battle is all about creating a society where mediocre black people have the same life chances as mediocre white people, where mediocre gay people have the same life chances as mediocre straight people..."
Perhaps in a future issue of New Yorker Menand will identify "the point" of democracy and civil liberties as "empowerment of the mediocre." (I admit I don't understand Menand's analysis, but I can envision him arguing that the truly exceptional members of humanity usually managed to thrive with or without all that democracy/civil liberties jazz.)
So let's analyze Menand's claim in light of the success of two truly exceptional women: Michele Bachmann and Sarah Palin. Now it is true that both of these women have been widely identified as mediocre; worse than mediocre. And both of them are considered "over;" spent as a political force. Yet (for a time) both of them attained far more influence and political impact than women of superior intellect, integrity and achievement. And for a time, both Bachmann and Palin enjoyed far more societal impact than the vast herds of mediocre men roaming across the North American continent.
I don’t believe there is such a thing as “essential human dignity,” because I have attended “open mic” nights at cafes and heard people singing their own original folk songs. But if you require further evidence of our degraded human condition, you will find it in “Bachmannistan: Behind the Lines” by Peter Waldron and John Gilmore.
The authors themselves don’t seem to understand how much they’re confessing about Republican politics, American conservatives, and the Christian Right. The authors don’t even seem to understand how much they’re confessing about themselves.
The chief source for events is co-author Waldron, who directed evangelical outreach during Bachmann’s presidential campaign. Other Bachmann insiders also provided material (longtime Bachmann political advisor and campaign manager Andy Parrish seems to have contributed recollections appearing in early chapters.)
So when the authors recount ‘the scene where Michele and Marcus Bachmann are at home one night in their Stillwater, Minnesota bedroom’ — the scene in which Marcus Bachmann lays in bed looking on as Michele Bachmann stares at herself in a full length mirror, saying: “I am the President of the United States” — I feel fairly sure that that actually happened. (See the original illustration I have created to represent this scene, above.)
The Christian Right claims to represent God’s moral agenda in American politics. The Tea Party claims its candidates will return integrity to government. Anyone who is intimidated, energized, or appalled by these claims ought to read the pdf documents at the link below. (It’s a collection of evidence related to the recent Heki v. Bachmann lawsuit, posted online by the Iowa Republican.)
In these documents former "Bachmann For President" campaign staffers Barb Heki and Pastor Peter Waldron (and others) detail allegations of serious misconduct by Michele Bachmann and some of her senior staffers during and after her presidential campaign. Heki and her husband sued Bachmann and some of those senior staffers and consultants, accusing them of making the Hekis victims of "libel and slander, invasion of privacy, computer trespass, conspiracy, etc." (There's also a criminal charge of theft being investigated by local police in Iowa.)
It's fortunate that these documents survive. Because Bachmann (or one of her allies) apparently managed to settle the Heki lawsuit at the very last minute, "making it go away." This stopped a public trial, circulation of testimony by the press…and thus stopped the very serious damage that would have done to Michele Bachmann’s credibility with her national and local political base.
But we still have access to the ethics complaint and to some of the records used to initiate the lawsuit. These Bachmann insider accounts suggest that practices like "conspiracy, theft, defamation, etc." were condoned and in some cases carried out by Michele Bachmann and some of her senior personnel...and carried out as part of running a Republican Tea Party/Christian Right presidential candidacy. This is very instructive and entertaining reading.
1) Why now? Despite her denials, it almost certainly has to do with the following (make sure you read the linked interview with the pastor, if you really want to understand how this wingnuts can be taken out of American politics:) http://mnprogressiveproject.com/...
2) What to next? Here, do this (it's what I'm doing):
Michele Bachmann has been reappointed to her seat on the House Intelligence Committee despite the fact that she continues to make crazy charges of Obama administration plans to impose Sharia law on the United States. (Link below.)
And there's more law trouble on the horizon for Michele Bachmann's campaign:
Last year the Network of Iowa Christian Home Educators (NICHE) alleged that its contact list for thousands of home-school families had been obtained by the Bachmann campaign and improperly used for their campaign fundraising.
NICHE policy forbid the use of its contact list for political purposes. Barb Heki, a former Michele Bachmann presidential campaign staffer and Bachmann’s homeschool coalition director, filed a lawsuit against Bachmann, Iowa State Senator Kent Sorenson, and other members of Bachmann’s senior campaign staff. Heki claimed that she and her husband lost their seats on the NICHE board after they were unjustly blamed for leaking the contact list.
But if use of the NICHE contact list for political purposes was forbidden and NICHE didn't give the Bachmann campaign access to it: how did Bachmann's presidential campaign obtain it?
On Friday NBC News obtained a copy of a September 4th affidavit written by Bachmann presidential Iowa campaign chair Eric Woolson. (Woolson was also named in Heki lawsuit against the Bachmann campaign.) Woolson accuses former Iowa State Senator Kent Sorenson "of stealing the list from another Bachmann staffer:"
...in his affidavit, Woolson says he approached Sorenson on the same day the fundraising emails were sent, and was told the list had been stolen.
Obama and the Democrats in Congress point out that they've already voted for 1.6 trillion dollars in spending cuts. The White House said "no" to GOP proposals to cut Medicare and Social Security. So what the hell kind of cuts are Republicans looking for, to get this deal done?
Now we know, because Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell just told us. The thing that's stopping the GOP from signing an agreement that will prevent a tax hike on the American middle class is: a mechanical squirrel. According to Senator McConnell, the mechanical squirrel's name is "Robo-Squirrel."
(WARNING: What follows is a real news story. I did not make this up. C-SPAN has video of this, actually happening. See the following:)
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) took to the Senate floor on Tuesday to blast Democrats for spending $325,000 educating students with a “robo-squirrel” project...
Last weekend US Congressmember Michele Bachmann went on the radio to tell Americans that the President of the United States is actively aiding Islamist attempts to impose Sharia law in America.
Bachmann also recommended that Americans study Islamic materials and documents, suggesting they were analogous to Hitler's Mein Kampf (the book that outlined his hateful ideology and plans for conquest.)
What sort of Muslim-authored documents give a "Mein Kampf"-like clue to Islamist plans for conquest of America? In the radio interview Bachmann references one example. In October various American Muslim civil rights organizations sent a letter to the Department of Homeland Security protesting the use of bigoted teaching materials in law enforcement training. Bachmann says this letter protesting government use of anti-Islam training materials "is 'proof positive' that the Obama administration wants to introduce Sharia law to the U.S."
You can probably spot "the gaps" in Bachmann's logic, there. First: the letter isn't authored by the Obama administration--it's a letter to the Obama administration. So the letter she cites can't be "proof positive" of the Obama adminstration's intentions about anything.
Second: the letter doesn't call for or even suggest the imposition of Sharia law in America. Instead it's a plea to the US government to end any national security training teaching that "Islam is essentially evil and anti-American." The authors' aim is to prevent law enforcement from targeting Americans simply because they happen to be Muslim.
At my home blog, the Minnesota Progressive Project, we're doing a series on the top Michele Bachmann lies of 2012. Not all of her 2012 lies, just the top ones--in no particular order. Today's installment:
Telling people that she had credible evidence that a Muslim Brotherhood conspiracy has penetrated the US State Department and is shaping American policy.
Michele Bachmann has a seat on the US Congress' Intelligence Committee. That means that she has access to some very sensitive national security information. That has made her more effective than ever as national demagogue to the paranoids, because that access lends credence to any nutty conspiracy claim that Bachmann makes.
Earlier this year, Bachmann claimed that she had seen credible evidence of a Muslim Brotherhood conspiracy operating within the Obama administration and influencing US foreign policy. She called for an official government investigation.
Here's an account by conservative evangelical columnist Cal Thomas, explaining her charge against the State Department and defending it:
Suppose Michele Bachmann is right?
By Cal Thomas (July 26, 2012)
Like the ghosts of Shakespeare's Banquo or Dickens' Jacob Marley, the specter of the late commie-hunting congressman from Wisconsin, Joseph McCarthy, will always be with us. It is summoned up today, by some on the left, who use it as a tool to thwart legitimate questions about people and ideologies that seek to destroy America.
On December 2, Congressmember Michele Bachmann was the keynote speaker at a dinner sponsored by Bet El Institutions in New York City. Bachmann stated that "every president since Harry Truman has unequivocally submitted and affirmed...support for Israel", but United States commitment to Israel is now "anything but certain." Bachmann blamed President Barack Obama directly for the change in policy:
BACHMANN: Four years ago, beginning with his speech in Cairo, June 9th, 2009, the president sent numerous signals that the United States commitment for Israel is anything but certain.
(I can't help it, I'm a little distracted by this whole "Sen. Jim DeMint resigns, just two years into his six year term" thing. DeMint was a key Teavangelical ally of Bachmann, and US senators just don't resign from the Senate two years into their terms, unless someone threatens to leak photos of them in bed with a dead--
--Anyway, back to Bachmann claiming Obama's selling out Israel. Here's a list of what Bachmann says President Obama must do now, to restore the US' broken commitment to Israel. I count five demands on her list:)
BACHMANN: I call on President Obama to share a true solidarity with Israel, to declare Jerusalem the undivided eternal capital city of Israel.
And when he makes that announcement, we should already have the final brick in place of the building that will be the United States Embassy, so there's no question--the building will be built, the boxes will be in, the personnel will be inside, and then we'll make the announcement that we're in business.
("The boxes will be in?" WTF is she talking about? I understand the part about demanding that the President declare Jerusalem the undivided eternal capital of the nation of Israel. The push-the-envelope Zionists at the Bet El dinner love that idea.)
(But why is it important to her that a US embassy already be in place there, at the time the announcement is made? Why does she insist that embassy personnel already be "inside" at the time? She expects trouble on the streets, I guess--and she's right. But what's this stuff about "the boxes" being inside, too? Boxes of what? Ammunition? Stuff from Ikea? Anyway, back to her list of demands:)
Is she really "over"--as some commenters have suggested to me lately? Is she really spent as a national force, in the aftermath of this year's election?
There's a huge budget battle topping the headlines hourly, right now. That topic is classic Bachmann meat-and-potatoes--tax hikes, big government spending, welfare state entitlements, the national debt and deficit, the Constitution and the proper role of government...
But she's not chiming in this time; not adding her latest loony lies, smears, and conspiracy theories to the headlines.
Does her conspicuous absence that mean that she's "over?" Has the GOP establishment finally figured out how to shut her up? Does her post-election invisibility mean that the Christian Right and conservative media dropped her? (To be clear: if they have dropped her, that's the end of Michele Bachmann as a force in national politics.)
After nearly two weeks of listening to GOP officials pledge to assert greater control over the party and its most strident voices in the wake of Romney’s loss, grass-roots activists have begun to fight back, saying that they are not to blame for the party’s losses in November.
“The moderates have had their candidate in 2008 and they had their candidate in 2012. And they got crushed in both elections. Now they tell us we have to keep moderating. If we do that, will we win?” said Bob Vander Plaats, president of the Family Leader.
(Vander Plaats is an influential conservative evangelical leader and Republican politician. He wrote a political pledge asserting that African-American families were better off during the era of slavery. Republican presidential candidates Michele Bachmann and Rick Santorum both signed that pledge.)
When the Christian Right "moderates" (softens its ultraconservative political positions)--that's when it will become okay for the Republican Party to "moderate," to try and bring more voters into its incredibly shrinking demographic. But according to the Christian Right: it's the voices of moderation and tolerance who are the villains.
My two favorite people in the world of media, Rachel Maddow and New Yorker writer, Frank Rich, came together on Maddow's show yesterday for the purpose of discussing Michele Bachmann's decision not ...
The economic blogosphere lit up a couple weeks ago when the 90% debt cliff, pretty much the only empirical basis austerians have for imposing austerity during a weak economy, blew up. It reached the ...