Michelle Bachmann: The Idiot Who Won't Shut Up
Since posting Seditious Words From Republican Who Believes Democrats Are Anti-American on March 24, 2009, I've been negligent in providing updates on the continuing idiotic mutterings of Rep. Michelle Bachmann (R-Minnesota). Unfortunately, this lunatic masquerading as a member of Congress keeps opening her mouth and each time that she does so, more drivel and inanity ensues. So, let me take this opportunity to highlight a few of her more recent pronouncements. (For those who want a refresher on Rep. Bachmann, take a look at these other previous posts: Republican Congresswoman Follows Palin's Lead and Calls for Investigation Into Anti-Americans in Congress, Bachmann Misreads Herself! Huh?, Another Republican Accuses Liberals of Being Unpatriotic, Bachmann Calls Her Own Comments an "Urban Myth", and Seditious Words From Republican Who Believes Democrats Are Anti-American).
First, in late March, Congress passed the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act which, as described by The New York Times "expand[s] national community service programs, increasing the number of positions to 250,000 from 75,000 and creating new cadres of volunteers focused on education, clean energy, health care and veterans." The Act expands AmeriCorps and creates several other similar organizations. The bill passed the Senate 78-20 and the House 275-149. Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) called the Act "probably the most bipartisan bill we will see on the Senate floor this year". Yet in Rep. Bachmann's world of conspiracies aimed at American freedoms, the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act is a dangerous first step toward brainwashing America's youth:
I believe when it's all said and done, this service that -- I believe that there's a very strong chance that we will see that young people will be put into mandatory service. And the real concern is that there are provisions for what I would call re-education camps for young people, where young people have to go and get trained in a philosophy that the government puts forward and then they have to go and work in some of these politically correct forums. It's very concerning.(My emphasis.) Really, Rep. Bachmann? Re-education camps? And even if some form of mandatory service were enacted (I doubt that there would be much support for that...), how does that equate to re-education camps? To me, it seems that her use of that phrase was intended (presuming that she is even smart enough to have intent) to have her right-wing audience equate the Act with the re-education camps of communist regimes (remember the whole "Obama is a socialist/Marxist" talking point...). Well, now Rep. Bachmann apparently wants to equate President Obama's ideas to enhance youth service opportunities with Mao and Pol Pot and the Gulag. Yep, volunteering to help with clean energy projects or health care for veterans is but a short leap to "re-education camps". Do you think she ever takes a moment to even listen to herself?
On April 7, 2009, Rep. Bachmann wrote an op-ed for the Minneapolis Star-Tribune in which she repeated a Republican talking point that President Obama's proposed cap-and-trade program would impose a severe burden on American families: "According to an analysis by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the average American household could expect its yearly energy bill to increase by $3,128 per year." Pretty scary, the idea of every family having to pay $3,128 more each year. And, hey, if MIT says that is what will happen, then we should probably be willing to rely on that information, right? Well, not so fast. You see, Rep. Bachmann, like a number of other Republicans, got the math wrong. In fact, one of the authors of the MIT report told Republicans that they were wrong before they began using their bogus scare-tactic. After the Republicans began touting this number, several news organizations demonstrated its falsity, but Republicans, including Rep. Bachmann continued to offer the false analysis. For more information, see GOP full of hot air about Obama's "light switch tax". It is also worth noting that Rep. Bachmann is a staunch opponent of the idea of global warming; just recently, in fact, she mentioned that carbon dioxide isn't harmful at all. There are scores of videos available online of her speaking out against the notion of global warming. So, as a reward for her failure to pay any attention to things like facts and her continued insistence that global warming isn't real, the Republican Congressional leadership appointed Rep. Bachmann to the GOP's "Energy Solutions" group.
When it comes to her thoughts on President Obama's policies, here are a few choice pieces from an interview Rep. Bachmann did with right-wing blogger Atlas Shrugs (who last year claimed that Barack Obama is the illegitimate child of Malcolm X) on April 1. Unfortunately, none of this was an April Fool's joke:
- "We have to be extremely bold in our agenda for freedom, we need a freedom agenda, that would repeal and cut out what president Obama has implemented, but go beyond that and put this nation back on a footing where we will be the venue for risk taking, and to be a preserver of the freedoms that are enshrined, not only in the Constitution but in the Bill of Rights [editor's note: Um, isn't the Bill of Rights part of the Constitution?]. The Bill of Rights has been trampled upon, because the Bill of Rights as you know, was enjoining government from treading upon the liberties the people. It was all about ensuring individual liberties and rights, and President Obama is marching full steam in the opposite direction."
- "And then we would pull way back on our spending, including eliminating the federal department of education."
- "And so we need to once again decide, do we want to be free, or do we want to be slaves? We have to make that decision. And I know I've made my choice, you've made your choice. And we have to act in concert if we want to make sure that we can hold on to what we have."
Remember the report that the Department of Homeland Security issued concerning the possibility of right-wing extremism? (For the record, it is worth noting that the report was begun during the Bush administration and a similar report was issued concerning left-wing extremism.) Well, Rep. Bachmann apparently read the report, too (well, "read" might be to strong a word; perhaps "skimmed" or maybe "saw it on a bookshelf" or even "listened to Glenn Beck tell her what the report said" would be more accurate). Anyway, the report has Rep. Bachmann shaking in fear and anger. Here are some of the thoughts that she expressed about the report in a speech in Congress:
Homeland Security has redefined pro-life gun-owning veterans who like smaller government and who believe America should secure our borders against invasion from illegal aliens as domestic right-wing extremists, as you have in the report upon the stand.
You can't get on a plane in the United States, a commercial aircraft, without going through security. What's going to happen now? Will the Federal Government start IDing returning veterans, start IDing gun owners, start IDing pro-lifers and then pull us out of line for special searches at the airports before we are allowed to get on a plane because we could be considered a domestic right-wing terrorist while we would see Osama bin Laden and his friends skate by because they are not, because maybe they would be involved in a manmade disaster. But those who are pro-life gun owners, returning veterans on the other side, they are the real threat?
This is an upside down Alice in Wonderland world. I can see why the American people are so upset right now. They are so upset. They look at what's happening. They shake their head. They say, is this America? Is this what we are used to? We are normal God-fearing people who love this country, and now we are the threat while Osama bin Laden and the people who seek to really bring us harm are let off scot free. And we are going to call them manmade disaster, we have got to be nuanced and so careful so we don't hurt their feelings? (Transcript [with minor typo corrections] taken from C-Span.)
I'll leave discussion of what the DHS report really says (and how some of it just might be true; after all, look at the recent spate of killings of police officers by just the sort of people that the report describes; oh, and don't forget Timothy McVeigh...). Instead, focus on the "Alice in Wonderland" world of Rep. Bachmann where she is less concerned with trying to actually understand the report or, more importantly (and especially in her case) an examination of whether some of the suggestions and concerns raised in the report might be true (and I can't imagine where right-wing extremists might get the idea of violence; after all, it isn't like members of Congress are suggesting armed revolu ... oops ... my bad ... never mind). Instead, she wants to go on one of her usual fear-mongering diatribes, this time suggesting that the TSA might use the report as a basis for screening veterans, gun owners, and pro-life advocates. Huh? You see, that demonstrates the problem with Rep. Bachmann (and others of her ilk); rather than read what the report actually says and think about its conclusions (and maybe take a giant step back from calling for armed revolution or McCarthy-esque investigations into patriotism), she wants to simply scare people. It is a far, far journey from making law enforcement aware of potential societal and economic factors that could play into the radicalization of certain elements of society to the suggestion that all members of society who happen to fall into the broadest categories of this societal cohorts should be viewed as dangerous. (And I didn't hear Rep. Bachmann worrying about left-leaning computer users being targeted, notwithstanding the DHS report suggesting they might be a source of cyber-terror.)
And one more thing: Where does she get the notion that bin Laden is being let of "scot free"? If I recall, President Bush (who you'll recall, Rep. Bachmann just loves to hug), had 7 years to find bin Laden (and yesterday was the 6th anniversary of President Bush's "Mission Accomplished" speech). I haven't heard the Obama administration say anything about letting bin Laden off the hook; instead, I recall hearing then-candidate Obama talk about re-focusing our attention from Iraq to al-Qaeda and those who really seek to do us harm. And President Obama just sent more troops to Afghanistan and his administration is currently working to convince Pakistan to get more serious about their actions against the Taliban.
Finally, here is one of her latest (and funniest, in a scary-sort of way) bizarro-world conspiracy pronouncements:
I find it interesting that it was back in the 1970s that the swine flu broke out then under Democrat President Jimmy Carter. And I'm not blaming this on President Obama, I just think it is an interesting coincidence.There are two problems with this quote. First, what is the point of noting the "interesting coincidence" other than to raise some kind of conspiracy fear at the same time that she says she isn't doing just that? She isn't blaming President Obama, but... What makes the coincidence interesting in her neanderthalian brain (oops, she doesn't believe in evolution, so that metaphor probably doesn't work). Perhaps we should also note that the Pittsburgh Steelers won the Super Bowl in 2009, just a few months before the swine flu outbreak and they also won the Super Bowl in 1976, the month before that previous swine flu outbreak. Now that is an interesting coincidence, too! So, maybe the real culprit is the Steelers! Of course if you read that previous factoid carefully, you'll note the other problem with Rep. Bachmann's ongoing idiocy. The previous swine flu epidemic occurred in 1976 -- during the administration of President Gerald Ford, a Republican! But then, when you're trying to create a conspiracy fear, why bother to let mere facts get in the way. (And while I'm on the subject, MSNBC offered an interesting tidbit while ridiculing Rep. Bachmann on this point: Legionnaire's Disease, HIV/AIDS, Avian Flu, and SARS, all made their presence known during Republican administrations. Hmmmm.)
I could go on and on with some of her other recent idiotic statements. For example, Rep. Bachmann blamed Franklin Roosevelt for signing legislation that caused the Great Depression, even though the legislation in question was signed by Herbert Hoover and authored by Republicans, not to mention the fact that the Great Depression started several years before Roosevelt was elected. Rep. Bachmann has also argued that recent discussions about altering the world's reserve currency meant that the United States was considering giving up the Dollar as our national currency. Rep. Bachmann even introduced a Constitutional Amendment to prevent us from doing so; the funny thing is that if you read the text of the proposed amendment, you'll see that she doesn't understand how the separation of powers works because in drafting the amendment she seems to have forgotten that while the President can sign a treaty, only the Senate can ratify a treaty. (So far, 36 Republicans have chosen to co-sponsor the Amendment.) Nothing like amending the Constitution to stop a non-existent problem in a way that isn't necessary; now that's conservatism for you! However, after going through her statements and trying to address them point by point, I find myself becoming exhausted, exasperated, and I usually develop a bout of nausea and a bad headache.
Of course, Rep. Bachmann thinks things have been a bit overblown. She told The Minneapolis Star-Tribune "I haven't purposely been trying to be inflammatory" and that she was "trying to just explain to the American people what’s happening here in Washington, D.C." Well, considering that her frightening rhetoric has netted her over $300,000 in campaign contributions for the first quarter of 2009, I can't say that I feel any better.
The point to all of this is that Americans of all political viewpoints (other than the nutjobs at the fringes) need to be aware (or "armed with information" as Rep. Bachmann might say) with just what some of our elected leaders are really saying. Our leaders should be free to hold whatever viewpoints they want (subject to election and subsequent defeat by the electorate), but they should at least make a minimal effort to back up their statements with accurate facts, to avoid creating or feeding conspiracy theories, and to avoid inflammatory rhetoric that serves no purpose other than to divide and cause dissension, fear, and perhaps violence. Rep. Bachmann may be a buffoon, but those campaign contributions demonstrate that some people believe in what she is saying. And that is really scary.