Cliven Bundy Just Put Away The Dog Whistle, That’s All

I don’t know, I really don’t know, what everybody is so upset about.

So Cliven Bundy said the following, via The New York Times:

I want to tell you one more thing I know about the Negro,” he said. Mr. Bundy recalled driving past a public-housing project in North Las Vegas, “and in front of that government house the door was usually open and the older people and the kids — and there is always at least a half a dozen people sitting on the porch — they didn’t have nothing to do. They didn’t have nothing for their kids to do. They didn’t have nothing for their young girls to do.

“And because they were basically on government subsidy, so now what do they do?” he asked. “They abort their young children, they put their young men in jail, because they never learned how to pick cotton. And I’ve often wondered, are they better off as slaves, picking cotton and having a family life and doing things, or are they better off under government subsidy? They didn’t get no more freedom. They got less freedom.”

So what? Why are so many people, who jumped in bed with Cliven Bundy and began a rather lurid affair (Have a nice day, Senator Dean Heller!), now scurrying around looking for their clothes and the door? What is in Bundy’s racist remarks that hasn’t been endorsed, in one form or another, by any number of Republicans, especially during the 2012 presidential election? There are many examples to choose from, but I will give you only two.

Remember back in 2012 when two GOP presidential candidates—I said, presidential candidates, people!—Michele Bachmann and Rick Santorum, signed a “Marriage Vow” pledge that included the following as a preamble:

Slavery had a disastrous impact on African-American families, yet sadly a child born into slavery in 1860 was more likely to be raised by his mother and father in a two-parent household than was an African American baby born after the election of the USA’s first African-American President, according to the document.

Translation from Cliven Bundy: “Are they better off as slaves, picking cotton and having a family life and doing things…?”

But we don’t have to go back to 2012, which featured Mitt Romney’s class warfare on the mooching 47%. His partner in that presidential run, Paul Ryan, recently made remarks that mirror Bundy’s comments about how blacks “never learned to pick cotton” because of all the government subsidies they enjoy. On right-wing Bill Bennet’s radio show Ryan said:

Bennett: You gave a talk about poverty, lifting people out of poverty. A great party has a plan to help people get out of poverty. What’s the plan? What are the broad outlines? What’s the roadmap, as someone might say?

Ryan: In a nutshell, work works. It’s all about getting people to work. And when you were one of the leaders of welfare reform in the late ‘90s, we got excoriated for saying you know what, as a condition of welfare, people should go to work and it should be a bridge, not a permanent system. And it worked very well, but there were dozens of other welfare programs that did not get reformed that have sort of overtaken events and have now made it harder for people to get into work. We call it a poverty trap. There are incentives not to work and to stay where you are; that’s not what we want in society. 

And later he told Bennett:

Ryan: And so, that’s this tailspin or spiral that we’re looking at in our communities. You know your buddy (conservative scholar) Charles Murray or (public policy professor) Bob Putnam over at Harvard, those guys have written books on this, which is we have got this tailspin of culture in our inner cities, in particular, of men not working and just generations of men not even thinking about working or learning the value and the culture of work; and so there’s a real culture problem here that has to be dealt with. 

The only difference, to my ears, from what Ryan said and what Bundy said is that Ryan was careful to substitute “inner cities” for “Negroes.” The rest of it is essentially the same idea: if you don’t make black people work by threatening to starve them to death, then what will happen is that all the older blacks will sit on the porch and count their food stamps, while their young girls get pregnant and then get abortions and their young boys commit crimes and end up in jail.

So, let’s get off Cliven Bundy’s racist ass and congratulate him for saying plainly what many, many Republicans have been saying in code for so long.

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“A Murderer Is Less To Fear” Or How Barack Obama Is Driving Right-Wingers Crazy

We’ve all seen it since 2008. They hate this man. They hate the President of the United States. And there is no sign that the hate will abate. In fact, it may be getting worse.

I received today an email from a group called TheTeaParty.net. The subject line shouted:

You are going to WANT to listen to this!

“This” was an interview of Rep. Pete Olson from, where else, Texas. He is lately famous for introducing “articles of impeachment against Attorney General Eric Holder for high crimes and misdemeanors,” as his official government website proudly boasts. Texas Pete’s resolution has 22 co-sponsors, including Michele Bachmann and Louie Gohmert. So, you sort of get the idea. These Obama-haters can’t yet impeach President Obama, so they are trying to impeach his pigmented friend at the Justice Department.

I visited the website of TheTeaParty.net, which brags about having “well over 3 million members and a huge national social media presence.” Yeah, well, I don’t know about all that, but I did find this tweet, which was posted just yesterday:

obama the traitor

Sure, we’ve seen this stuff before. Obama is a traitor, blah, blah, blah. But this one seems particularly vicious. “He rots the soul of a nation and works secretly to undermine the pillars of the city…” Really? Just whose soul is rotting here? And just who is working, not so secretly, to undermine the pillars of our civilization? Huh? In any case, you know what is left out of that Cicero quote? This:

A murderer is less to fear.

That’s right. The next line in that Cicero citation is “A murderer is less to fear.” Why did they leave that line out? Is it even too much for these Tea Party folks to say the President of the United States is worse than a murderer? Well, let’s see.

If you go to TheTeaParty.net website, you will find the usual nutjob fare: a “DEFUND Obamacare NOW” petition, a “Demand Full Benghazi Investigation” petition, and, yes, an “Impeach Obama & Remove Him From Office” petition (“President Obama is the most corrupt president in U.S. history”). These things are all designed to entice the haters among us and, more important, to separate the haters from their money. Conveniently you can donate to the cause.

But there was one petition that is more disturbing than the rest, even by the pitifully low standards of Tea Party groups out to make a buck. It’s called:

Show President Obama That He Is Not A King!

Now, again, we’ve all seen this sort of thing before. It’s the everyday kind of stuff on, say, the Rush Limbaugh Show. But this one goes a little deeper. While the Obama-is-a-traitor tweet left out the “A murderer is less to fear” line, this petition begins:

Untouchable. That is what President Obama believes that he is. If you’ve seen the movie “The Untouchables” that chronicles the days of Al Capone in Obama’s hometown of Chicago, then you will totally get this. Capone broke every law in the book, yet still viewed himself as untouchable. After all, he had law enforcement agents, attorneys, even judges bought and paid for. They towed the line and Capone beat the rap over and over again for crime after crime. Until, that is, a certain tax agent named Elliot Ness entered the picture. He was relentless in his pursuit of Capone and, when one of his men was murdered, the killer scrawled the word “Touchable” in blood on the wall.

Forget for a moment the fact that it was not Al Capone who was considered “untouchable.” It was the small group of feds trying to bring him down who were called the Untouchables. How could these Tea Party nuts muck that up? And forget for a moment the irony of having an anti-big-government Tea Party group extol the virtues of “a certain tax agent named Elliot [sic] Ness.” Ness wasn’t just a tax agent, he was first an agent for the Bureau of Prohibition, and if there ever was an intrusive government agency, it was that one. Besides that, the hero of this Tea Party story never did get Al Capone. It was really the IRS that brought him down. And Eliot Ness, according to one source, had a heart attack at age 54 and died “depressed, disillusioned and deeply in debt.” Oh, yeah, Al Capone allegedly found Jesus in prison. Yikes.

Anyway, forget all that. Look at the Tea Party image created so far: President Obama is a gangster who will not only kill his enemies, but taunt them with blood-scrawled writing on the wall. To these Tea Party-crazed people, “a murderer is less to fear” than our president.

Here’s a little detail from the petition:

The self perceived ‘untouchable’ Obama Regime has blood on their hands. They have the blood of the four men, including U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens, on their hands since they sat back and did nothing while the torturous massacre at Benghazi occurred. They have the blood of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry and the hundreds of Mexican citizens killed by individuals wielding guns from the botched gun running Operation Fast and Furious on their hands. They have the blood of all those who were killed during the shooting initiated by the Muslim serviceman Nidal Malik Hasan who is still not prosecuted under Eric Holder’s Department of (In) Justice. The fact that the Obama Regime refuses to answer questions surrounding these avoidable, tragic situations is an insult to the American people and those victims who died in these incidents…

Add in his thuggish threatening of journalists Bob Woodward, Lanny Davis, and a reporter with the National Journal and we have a presidency ripe for the investigation of a special prosecutor!

You can see now why Attorney General Eric Holder is under attack by at least 23 Republicans in the House and, if the impeachment resolution ever came to a vote, likely many more. If you read the press release introducing the articles of impeachment drawn up by Texas congressman Pete Olson, you will find some of the same references as in the Obama-is-Capone petition:

During his tenure, Mr. Holder refused to cooperate with a congressional investigation into Operation Fast and Furious and the resulting death of a Border Patrol agent, refused to prosecute IRS officials who unlawfully disclosed private tax records to third party groups, and misled Congress about his involvement in the investigation of a journalist…

At least Rep. Olson had the decency to leave out not only the “A murderer is less to fear” quote, but also the Al Capone reference. I guess these days that’s saying something. But there is no mistaking one thing. These teapartiers are full of hate for this president and most everyone around him. Congressman Olson and his House friends, Michele Bachmann and Louis Gohmert and the others who co-sponsored that Eric Holder impeachment resolution, may have dressed it up in slightly kinder legislative language, but at its base it is still “Show President Obama That He Is Not A King!”

And do it all in the name of Cicero and, uh, Elliot [sic] Ness.

Guns, God, Hemp, And Ozark Billy

The local wingnuts have been busy.

The Joplin Globe reported:

More than 150 residents, local politicians and rally organizers attended what was described as a “peaceful demonstration to support and defend the Second Amendment” Saturday at Landreth Park in Joplin…

One of those residents is a man named John Broom, who the Globe said is trying to start a “permanent group” of locals in order “to support firearm rights.” Apparently for Broom the NRA isn’t doing enough.gun rally in joplin

Broom, I must say, did an excellent job—much better than I could do—of exposing just how misguided gun enthusiasts can be:

We want people to know what we are about and why we support this right. The Second Amendment isn’t about hunting. It’s not about competition or sport, and it really isn’t about self-defense. It’s about rights of the people to protect themselves from invaders and from tyrants. We have to start educating folks really quick.

Yep, really quick, I mean, quickly: before people figure out how dumb it is to sit around the house with a small arsenal, waiting for invaders and tyrants. In any case, thanks to John Broom for that enlightening interpretation of the Second Amendment.

Last Saturday proved to be a busy day for local reactionaries. The Jasper-Newton County Lincoln Days brought into Joplin none other than Tom Schweich, who is Missouri’s auditor. Schweich told his Republican congregation:

God is a part of the Republican Party.

Yep, he said it. And, as the Joplin Globe reported, he said it “to applause from the crowd.” God always gets an ovation around here, don’t you know.

Apparently, the Globe couldn’t get God to comment on the remark, or, more likely, the paper didn’t bother to ask Him. Maybe next time. Oh, and maybe the Globe could ask God about that ass whippin’ that Barack Obama and the Democrats gave His party last November and just what He intends to do to get even. Democrats would do well to remember: Vengeance is mine, I will repaysaith the Lord.

During his keynote speech, Schweich estimated that 70 percent of the gathered locals were Christian conservatives. He was way off on that one. I doubt you could have found anyone in the crowd who would have courageously testified to being, say, an Allah-loving Republican. It’s GOP Jesus or nothing around here.

And speaking of GOP-Jesus-loving Republicans, Ozark Billy Long was in attendance. My congressman did not disappoint. He gave my president a compliment:

We spent all our time saying Barack Obama was nothing but a community organizer. He organized his community and got out the vote.

That had to hurt the Sarah Palin fans in attendance. The former fractional governor and former Fox babe made a small fortune by making fun of the community organizer. But fearless Billy had more to say, as reported by the Globe’s Susan Redden:

Long, speaking at the local Lincoln Days event, noted that a recent National Journal ranking had placed him as more conservative than Reps. Michele Bachmann and Paul Ryan.

Only in Southwest Missouri would a congressman actually brag about being nuttier more conservative than Michele Bachmann. And although Redden didn’t report it this way, I’m guessing that Long made his I’m-crazier-than-Bachmann statement “to applause from the crowd.”

Finally, Ozark Billy has been called out by, uh, The Weed Blog: Marijuana News and Information. It seems one of Billy’s constituents wrote him, asking support for the Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2013. Yes, there is such a bill, and it has several bipartisan co-sponsors in the House (the Senate version includes Mitch McConnell as a co-sponsor).billy long and hemp

For those of you who don’t touch the stuff, industrial hemp is not marijuana, although both are prepared from Cannabis plants. As Wikipedia points out,

Hemp is refined into products like hemp seed foods, hemp oil, wax, resin, rope, cloth, pulp, and fuel.

The stuff in the Cannabis plant that gives you the munchies (THC) is very low or nonexistent in industrial hemp. Thus, when we’re talking about hemp farming we’re not talking about growing pot, as disappointed as that may make some of you out there, and you know who you are.

In any case, Billy Long responded to his constituent with a letter that, as The Weed Blog noted, indicated Long didn’t have the slightest idea what industrial hemp was. In the response letter, Long said,

While I am a strong believer in personal freedom, I do not support the recreational or medical use of illegal drugs regardless of whether the drug is marijuana, cocaine, or any other illegal substance.

The Weed Blog writer, Johnny Green, wrote:

I find it odd that someone who dislikes hemp so much, doesn’t even understand what it is. Is he serious?

Well, it’s hard to answer that question, Johnny. Perhaps Billy Long, somewhere in his past, had a bad experience smoking industrial hemp. Who knows? Smoking industrial hemp may explain a lot about Billy Long.

But I certainly don’t find it “odd” that Long, like so many Bachmannish conservatives, can dislike something without understanding it. That’s how they manage to stay in power in places like Southwest Missouri. From evolution to global warming to hemp farming, the less they understand, the more popular they are.

Smoke ’em if you got ’em, everyone!

Only In America?

One kid dreams of fame and fortune, one kid helps pay the rent,

One could end up goin’ to prison, one just might be President

— “Only in America,” by Brooks and Dunn

hat other universe, the one inhabited by mutants who love Jesus more than they love the things Jesus arguably stood for, was at it again with their creepy 2012 Values Voter Summit, brought to us by that extremist hate group, the Family Research Council.

Amid all the talk at the summit of just how right Romney was to lie about and then trash the Commander-in-Chief during an international incident that saw an American ambassador killed, these GOP Jeezus-loving folks also managed to pile on the Commander-in-Chief by loudly accusing him of bending his knee before “radical Islamists” and causing all those extremists to flex their very tiny muscles in the face of our beloved America.

The usual irrational suspects (irrational in this universe, but coldly logical in the one in which they live and move and have their being) were at it, including Republican foreign policy expert Michele Bachmann, who as HuffPo reported:

slammed President Barack Obama and his administration on Friday for pursuing a foreign policy of what she called “apology and appeasement” and claiming they played a direct role in enabling the recent attacks in Egypt and Libya that took the lives of four Americans.

Her exact claim was,

[W]hat we’re watching develop before our eyes today are the direct consequences of this administration’s policy of apology and appeasement across the globe and the supposed success of the president’s foreign policy genius…

Yes, all that apologizing and appeasing, which Mr. Obama has delivered time and again via drones and dead terrorists, has definitely pissed off the extremists. In fact, let’s go ask Mr. bin Laden how he feels about it:

ERSTWHILE CONSERVATIVE: I’d like to ask the leader of al Qaeda if he is taking advantage of Mr. Obama’s weakness as an American president. Well, is he?

SPOKESMAN FOR OSAMA BIN LADEN: Uh, Mr. bin Laden cannot come to the phone right now. He has gone deep sea diving in the Arabian Sea.

ERSTWHILE CONSERVATIVE: Okay. When do you expect him back?

SPOKESMAN FOR OSAMA BIN LADEN: Uh, it will be a very long dive.

Oh, well. Maybe he will get back to us real soon.

In the mean time, Ms. Bachmann finished up her bearing-false-witness speech by offering some GOP Jesus love to our president:

Barack Obama has been the most dangerous president we have ever had on foreign policy.

You mean, more dangerous than Jimmy Carter? Come on now, Michele. You can’t mean it. President Carter will be upset that he is no longer the poster child for bad foreign policy at Republican gatherings.

In any case, Gary Bauer, an evangelical zealot who gives me the willies, had the crowd on their holy feet with this:

Don’t tell me to worry about Muslim sensibilities.

Okay. So nobody should tell Mr. Bauer to worry about Muslim sensibilities. I know I won’t tell him to because, well, I don’t much worry about them either. But thank Allah that somebody told George W. Bush and Barack Obama to worry about them, because if our political leaders don’t, then more Americans may die.

I guess one can conclude, using the logic governing that strange Bachmann-Bauer universe, that evangelical American Christians who don’t care about Muslim sensibilities apparently want Americans to die.  Yeah, that’s it. They don’t give a damn if Americans die, right?

And speaking of that strange universe with its strange logic, we now know it is okay to pal around with terrorists as long as,

a) they now love GOP Jesus, or

b) they weren’t really terrorists at all.

I am talking about the appearance at the screwy summit of a man who John Glasstetter of Right Wing Watch called a “fake terrorist,” a man who,

is identified on the schedule as Kamal Saleem, but his real name is Khodor Shami. He claims that he was a Muslim Brotherhood operative who “came to the United States of America…to destroy this country” and crossed the Canadian border and “brought weapon caches right through cities.” He also claims to have “completed his first bloody terror mission into Israel for the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) at the age of seven.”

Saleem is widely known to be a fraud. Yet he’s being presented by the Family Research Council as the real deal and appears next to Ryan on the featured speakers page, with “former terrorist” under his name.

For a complete rundown of just how deluded this guy is, of how he is able to fleece gullible right-wingers, go here and be prepared to puke uncontrollably, as you contemplate the fact that he was prominently featured on a program of prominent conservatives that also featured appearances by Paul Ryan and, via video, Mitt Romney. It truly is sickening.

Given the endless and factless attacks on President Obama for hanging out with terrorists, I would never have thought it was okay for followers of GOP Jeezus to not only hang out with a terrorist, phony or no, but to embrace him with loving, if hypocritical, GOP Jeezus arms. Especially a man who claims that “killing Jews and Christians” was his “dream as a child.” 

I guess the following words helped make that awkward embrace easier, which Mr. Saleem-Shami uttered before those gathered angels of Republicanism at the Values Voter Summit:

How do you change a terrorist? Introduce him to Jesus.

Okay. The old “I’ve been redeemed” play. I get it . But which Jesus did he meet? Because Barack Obama also claims to have been introduced to Jesus, redeemed by Jesus, albeit not GOP Jeezus. It’s important to identify correctly this Jesus fella, because the former or fake terrorist, either Mr. Saleem or Mr. Shami, said the following about Mr. Obama’s was-it-or-wasn’t-it curtsy to Saudi King Abdullah:

When the president bowed before the King of Islam and bowed his knees — in Islam we bow five times a day, that’s what we used to do, and when we kiss the signet ring of the king, that means we are under his authority. And when we surrender to that authority and we apologize to everybody over there, in Islam that is a victory, and that is the start of the march now, somewhere to take over your land, take over your country and fulfill your purpose and become united Islamic nation. This is what happened.

Yes, he said that. But he also said more than that. He said that Hillary Clinton is about to introduce a UN resolution that will,

subjugate American people to be arrested and put in jail and their churches and synagogues shut down and go under ground…

Yes, he said that, too.

Talking, falsely, about how much Obama wants to arm Egypt (“our president enabled Egypt to have two submarines to control the Suez Canal against Israel“) and how Obama has turned his back against Israel, this crazy man on the program with Ryan and Romney also said of our president:

Netanyahu wanted peace, but our president says, “I don’t have time for peace. You all go knock your heads together.”

Maybe they want Iran to obtain the nukes so they can control the region.

Of course! It’s obvious. President Obama wants Iran to rule the world!

Needless to say, after his speech, this Obama-hating self-proclaimed terrorist exited to thunderous applause from the Saints of Obama Hate, as Brooks and Dunn bellowed out “Only in America.”

Only in America, indeed. Only in a very strange America in a very strange and disturbing universe, a universe peopled by conservative Christian Republicans who worship an equally strange and disturbing Jeezus.

Muslim Internment

Recently I read an essay written by one of my favorite thinkers, Sam Harris (author of bestsellers The End of Faith: Religion, Terror, And the Future of Reason and Letter to a Christian Nation, among others). The essay is titled, “In Defense of Profiling,” and its basic argument is that at our nation’s airports,

We should profile Muslims, or anyone who looks like he or she could conceivably be Muslim, and we should be honest about it.

Harris claims that all the unnecessary screening procedures at airports amount to a “tyranny of fairness” because they are wasted on “people who do not stand a chance of being jihadists.”  While I recommend reading Harris’s post, I also recommend reading a thoughtful rebuttal of it written by security expert Bruce Schneier, who argues that Harris’ profiling idea is a bad one because,

It doesn’t make us any safer—and it actually puts us all at risk.

Schneier offers several good arguments against profiling Muslims at airports and the one I find most convincing is this one:

Beyond the societal harms of deliberately harassing a minority group, singling out Muslims alienates the very people who are in the best position to discover and alert authorities about Muslim plots before the terrorists even get to the airport. This alone is reason enough not to profile.

This deliberate harassment and resulting alienation is not something to ignore just because “we” are not the ones being harassed or alienated. As with most important policy issues, it comes down to this: What kind of country do we all want to live in?

I bring up all this because of the shameful nonsense in the news about right-wing legislators, including Michele Bachmann, and their conspiracy theories about Hillary Clinton’s aide, Huma Abedin, being nefariously connected to the Muslim Brotherhood.

Even John McCain found what these legislators did—and continue to do— shameful and he, along with a handful of Republicans, denounced it. But other prominent conservatives, including Newt Gingrich and Rush Limbaugh, have defended Bachmann and her colleagues, claiming she was only asking questions and not making allegations.

Gingrich suggested that the Muslim Brotherhood may have influence over the Obama administration and he asked Bachmann’s critics,

What is it they are afraid of learning?

Gingrich’s and Limbaugh’s and Bachmann’s curiosity would be admirable if, say, it was applied to Mitt Romney’s tax returns, but it is disgusting in this case because there is no evidence—exactly no evidence—that the Muslim Brotherhood or any other Muslim group has “infiltrated” our government. The only “evidence” is that there are folks working in the government who happen to be Muslims.

And that is why people like Sam Harris are wrong to endorse profiling at airports. Once such profiling is widely accepted, the public can easily slither into dangerous reasoning like the following, from the founder of an Arizona Tea Party group:

Have you ever read the Quran? I suggest you do so, because anyone that is a Muslim is a threat to this country, and that’s a fact. There is no such thing as a moderate Muslim. If they are Muslim they have to follow the Quran. That’s their religion and that’s their doctrine.

As the AzCapitolTimes reported, the Tea Party honcho is planning on recalling John McCain for criticizing Michele Bachmann’s smearing of a government official and he also endorsed an email from an extremist website (which used to be hosted by WordPress, by the way) that accused McCain of defending “Islamic enemies of America.”

You see? If you are a Muslim you are ipso facto a threat to the country and if you dare to oppose such specious and culturally-damaging reasoning you are defending our “Islamic enemies.” Such hysteria characterizes reactionary politics these days, and Sam Harris, a man whose mind I admire greatly, contributes to it with his advocacy of profiling Muslims at airports.

I share with Harris a deep aversion to fundamentalist Islam, which is similar to my deep aversion to all fundamentalist religions. But I ask again: What kind of country do we want to live in? Isn’t taking your shoes off at an airport and undergoing a brief screening better than pushing a whole group of people into metaphorical internment camps?

The Real Muslim Conspiracy

Look, it is obvious that congresswoman Michele Bachmann, a nut’s nut, is a very sick woman. But her conspiracy-laden, paranoic mind couldn’t do the country much harm if it weren’t for folks like John Boehner, who appointed her, for God’s sake, to sit on the House Intelligence Committee.

And her paranoia would mostly go unnoticed, if it weren’t endorsed and spread far and wide by people like Glenn Beck, who said on Thursday:

There are a few people in Washington D.C. that I trust and tell the truth…Michele Bachmann is one of them…

One of the Beckian truths that Bachmann is still telling, despite a scolding by John McCain, is that our government is being infiltrated by double naught Muslim Brotherhood spies, one of whom may be Hillary Clinton’s long-time aide, Huma Abedin. The truth is, though, that our government, particularly the House of Representatives, has been infiltrated by some folks with double naught IQs.

As Salon pointed out, Michele Bachmann, who is taking much of the criticism for slandering Huma Abedin, is not the only one who signed onto letters demanding investigations of five national security agencies. One of those other nuts is a man named Louis Gohmert, needless to say a Tea Party Republican from Texas. Gohmert warned just a few short years ago that Muslim terrorist babies—yep!—were invading us:

It appeared they would have young women who became pregnant [and] would get them into the United States to have a baby. They wouldn’t even have to pay anything for the baby. And then they would return back where they could be raised and coddled as future terrorists. And then one day, 20, 30 years down the road, they can be sent in to help destroy our way of life.

Yes, I know. It sounds like I’m just making that up, a fine piece of satire. But I’m not making it up, just like I’m not making up what Gomer, uh, I mean Gohmert said today about the killings in Aurora, Colorado:

You know what really gets me, as a Christian, is to see the ongoing attacks on Judeo-Christian beliefs, and then some senseless crazy act of a derelict takes place…People say … where was God in all of this? We’ve threatened high school graduation participations, if they use God’s name, they’re going to be jailed … I mean that kind of stuff. Where was God? What have we done with God? We don’t want him around. I kind of like his protective hand being present.

If God had a protective hand, surely he would use it to slap some sense into people like Louis Gohmert and Michele Bachmann and Glenn Beck, wouldn’t he? I mean I can’t think of a better use of his hand than that.

But the sad fact about all this is that even paranoics have enemies. As Nina Burleigh pointed out, there is something to worry about in terms of a global Muslim conspiracy, and the latest nuttery from the right-wing draws attention away from it and even undermines an understanding of it:

There is a kernel of truth to Bachmann’s paranoia. If she really cared, she could start looking at America’s good friend, Saudi Arabia, which, according to political scientist Alexi Alexiev, spent over $80 billion between 1973 and 2002 creating a worldwide network of Wahhabi mosques, Islamic centers, madrassas, and charities “that constitute the actual infrastructure of Islamic extremism worldwide,” including in many Western cities. Among the recipients of Saudi money are the Afghan Taliban and Islamic fundamentalists as far away as Indonesia. “This truly colossal sum” Alexiev told a Congressional committee, was “the largest worldwide propaganda campaign ever known.”

Saudi Arabia’s publicists and agents in the United States and on K Street include highly paid men in fine suits and savvy blonde PR girls who tote expensive designer bags and sport gold earrings snagged during layovers in Dubai. They have American and British accents and names that Bachmann’s constituents at Lake Woebegone can pronounce. Some of them have probably even walked through the Capital Hill offices of the intelligence expert and Congresswoman from Minnesota.

Note: Before some of you, especially my liberal friends, criticize me for including the above quotation, please read “The Global Spread of Wahhabi Islam: How Great a Threat?” as well as this article by Thomas Friedman, then we can have a discussion.

There’s No Such Thing As A 9-Year-Old Activist

This post isn’t going to win me any points with some in the liberal community, but here it goes.

First, let’s start with this:

And then this:

The story behind these headlines is that the LGBT “activist” is a “soft-spoken 8-year-old.” That’s right, a second-grader named Elijah.

That second-grader said this—after what is termed “some lighthearted coaxing”—to Michele Bachman at a book signing event:

My mommy— Miss Bachmann, my mommy’s gay but she doesn’t need fixing.

The reference is to Bachmann’s Christian counseling business, operated by her husband, that purports to use some kind of “reparative therapy” to undo the gay in those folks who happen to be afflicted with it. Yeah, I know, that sounds crazy doesn’t it? It’s hard to believe that anyone in the 21st century believes such stuff.

But plenty of people do believe that stuff, and plenty of those who do believe it happen to live in South Carolina, where Bachmann was signing copies of her book (imagine that: a conservative presidential candidate has a book for sale!) when little Elijah bushwhacked her.

The HuffPo story noted:

A dumbfounded Bachmann then shot the boy’s mother an icy look before the pair walked away.

The story also urged us to “Watch Bachmann’s awkward moment below.” Okay, let’s watch the 40-second video:

As bad as Michele Bachmann’s position on homosexuality is, and as much as her position deserves ridicule, the real awkward moment in the video is not hers but Elijah’s mother, who put him up to the stunt.

I have been critical of Tea Party activists here in Joplin for using their kids as props to make political points at Tea Party rallies. It is no less offensive when those on the left use their kids to make points, or in this case, to embarrass a political candidate.

There are other ways to address Ms. Bachmann’s Iron Age views on homosexuality than by putting shy second-graders on the spot and calling them “activists.”

“The Dumb Spake”

And he was casting out a devil, and it was dumb. And it came to pass, when the devil was gone out, the dumb spake; and the people wondered.”

—Luke 11:14

 

We now have two stunning episodes in which a Republican presidential candidate was unable to articulate what should have been for them the obvious: Rick Perry’s blanking out on the three agencies he would eliminate and Herman Cain’s stuttering search through his obviously spacious mental warehouse of world knowledge for a response to an easy question on Obama’s Libya policy.

Let’s face it: Rick Perry and Herman Cain have about the same chance of becoming president as a fried turkey leg has of surviving an encounter with Newt Gingrich, so it’s not what those two couldn’t say that scares me about this crop of GOP candidates.

It’s what actually escapes, with varying degrees of fluency, from the mouths of some of the rest of them:

In March, Newt Gingrich, who is now the Republican front-runner in some national polls and in all campaign-trail buffets, said this:

I have two grandchildren — Maggie is 11, Robert is 9. I am convinced that if we do not decisively win the struggle over the nature of America, by the time they’re my age they will be in a secular atheist country, potentially one dominated by radical Islamists and with no understanding of what it once meant to be an American. 

Newt was 67 when he made that statement. You do the math as to how long we have before the “radical Islamists” dominate a “secular atheist” America, and then wonder why Newt didn’t bother to explain how the country could be secular and atheist if it were dominated by folks who adhere to a very radical and non-secular and non-atheist version of Islam.

Gingrich’s reputation for brilliance, as you can see, is well-deserved.

Then there’s Michele Bachmann, who said last Saturday:

I think, really, what I would want to do is be able to go back and take a look at Lyndon Baines Johnson’s Great Society … The Great Society has not worked and it’s put us into the modern welfare state.

If you look at China, they don’t have food stamps. If you look at China, they’re in a very different situation. They don’t have AFDC [Aid to Families with Dependent Children]. They save for their own retirement security. They don’t have the modern welfare state. And China’s growing. And so what I would do is look at the programs that LBJ gave us with the Great Society and they’d be gone.

I can’t remember the last candidate from one of the two major parties who used China as a model for American domestic policy, can you? Reagan? Bush?

And by the way, we don’t even have AFDC anymore, thanks to the 1996 welfare reform bill that changed it into a block grant program. So take that you wonderful Chinese! We’re catching up!

And here’s don’t-Google-me-please Rick Santorum, who said last month

I’ll repeal all funding for abortions…We’ll repeal Obamacare and get rid of any kind of idea that you have to have abortion coverage or contraceptive coverage. And one of the things I will talk about, that no president has talked about before, is that I think the dangers of contraception in this country—the whole sexual libertine idea. And many in the Christian faith say, “Well, that’s okay, you know, contraception’s okay.” It’s not okay. It’s a license to do things in the sexual realm that is counter to how things are supposed to be…

Let me see. Besides putting restrictions on our sex licenses, Santorum is opposed to contraception, abortion, and has bragged about killing the federal entitlement program, Aid to Families with Dependent Children, that Michele Bachmann thinks still exists.  It all makes sense to me.

Then there is the “sensible” and “adult” Jon Huntsman, who said during last Saturday’s debate, in response to a question from Tea Party kingpin Sen. Jim DeMint on “federal spending and debt”:

My speech was a very short one on debt and spending. It’s three words: The Ryan Plan. I think The Ryan Plan sets out a template that puts– everything on the table.

I’ve got three words for Mr. Huntsman: Find another job. The Ryan plan, besides morphing Medicare out of existence, did not put “everything on the table.” His plan was advertised as revenue neutral and all the deficit reduction pain would be felt by—guess who?

Finally, there’s the eventual Republican nominee, Mitt. This one is short and sweet and easy to remember:

Corporations are people, my friend.

“And it came to pass, when the devil was gone out, the dumb spake; and the people wondered.”

Strange Things From The Mouths Of Evangelicals

“Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me…See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that in heaven their angels always see the face of my Father who is in heaven…So it is not the will of my Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish.”

—Jesus of Nazareth

 

As a former evangelical Christian I know that evangelical Christians sometimes say strange things.

For instance, after the St. Louis Cardinals’ heart-stopping victory in Game Six of the World Series, Josh Hamilton, who had hit for the Texas Rangers what appeared to be a series-clinching two-run home run in the top of the 10th inning, told reporters about the dramatic hit:

I would tell y’all something, but y’all wouldn’t believe me. The Lord told me it was going to happen before it happened.

Hamilton said the Lord’s words were: “You hadn’t hit a home run in a while. You’re about to right now.”

Now, it’s not unusual that people like Josh Hamilton—who very publicly claims the Lord helped him with a severe addiction to drugs and alcohol—believe the God of the Universe speaks to them and tells them things before they actually happen.

What is unusual in Josh Hamilton’s case is that God chose that particular time and that particular game to get all chatty with the talented outfielder. You see, in July at another Texas Rangers game, when God could have done some real good in the world, he didn’t have much to say.

Everyone remembers that on that sad day a fireman named Shannon Stone, 39-years-old, was at the Rangers game with his little boy, six-year-old Cooper. Cooper’s favorite baseball player is Josh Hamilton and his dad was trying to get Hamilton to toss him a foul ball to give to his son.

Hamilton said that he heard the father shout, “Hey, Hamilton, how about the next one?” after Hamilton had tossed a foul ball to the ball girl. “I just gave him a nod,” Hamilton said, “When I got it, I found them again.”

He tossed the ball to Shannon Stone who reached for it over the railing and fell 20 feet to his death.

This tragedy was not Josh Hamilton’s fault and he was obviously distraught over it.  But that’s not the point. My question for Mr. Hamilton is this: If you honestly believe that God would give you a heads-up on a tie-breaking home run and you felt it necessary to tell the world about it, then you owe the world an explanation as to why God did not whisper in your mind, just before you tossed that ball to Shannon Stone, to throw it somewhere else, or give it to the ball girl.

What must Shannon Stone’s family have thought upon hearing that the Almighty is on speaking terms with Josh Hamilton?

If he can go public with the homer revelation from God in October, Hamilton can also go public about God’s stunning and deadly silence in July. He should tell us how God has the time and inclination to talk baseball with Hamilton in a World Series game but apparently not the time and inclination to issue a warning to save a little boy’s dad at a regular season contest.

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Michele Bachmann, who says she gave her heart to Christ and “wept before the Lord” when she was in high school, believes she is “pro-life.”  She said so, just last week:

I want you to know quite firmly, I stand for life – from conception to natural death.

Quite firmly,” she said, she stands “for life.”  “From conception to natural death.” We know this all-inclusive statement means she believes that just-fertilized eggs are deserving of the full protection of the U.S. Constitution, which, no doubt, her followers find quite charitable and godly.

By Saturday, however, her all-inclusive statement about firmly standing for life had been subjected to what appears to me to be a rather uncharitable and ungodly revision. MSNBC reported:

A 19 year-old college student, identifying himself as Latino, asked what Bachmann would “do to” the children of illegal immigrants.

Bachmann responded that she is “not doing anything to them,” and described why she is against the federal government rewarding citizenship to the children of illegal immigrants.

“Their parents are the ones who brought them here,” Bachmann said.

“They did not have the legal right to come to the United States,” Bachmann added, of the parents.  “We do not owe people who broke our laws to come into the country.  We don’t owe them anything.”

Bachmann is right of course. We don’t “owe them anything” in a frosty technical sense. Their parents did bring them here illegally, obviously for a better life, and the children have no legal claim to stay and no legal claim on our American stuff.

But all that Arctic Christian hair-splitting is not exactly what most people understand someone to mean when they say, again:

I want you to know quite firmly, I stand for life – from conception to natural death.

And neither is it all that spirtually becoming for someone who says she “wept before the Lord” and gave her heart to Jesus so long ago, to harden her heart toward kids brought here to live.  That same Jesus who allegedly witnessed a weeping Bachmann told a famous little story that went sort of like this:

A certain family with children was going up from Juarez to El Paso to escape poverty and drug dealers, who were destroying their homeland.

By chance a certain conservative evangelical Christian presidential candidate was going up that way.  When she saw them, she passed by on the other side.  She said, “We don’t owe these people or their children anything.We need to build a secure double fence because they are burdening taxpayers in America.”

In the same way, a conservative Mormon presidential candidate also, when he came to the place and saw them, passed by on the other side. “These folks are just here for the in-state tuition,” he said. “It’s like a magnet.”

But a certain liberal, as he traveled, came where the family was.  When he saw them, he was moved with compassion, came to them and told them: “Look, we’ll let your kids go to school, we’ll get them some food and make sure they have health care. After all, this is supposed to be a Christian nation.”

Which now of these three, do you think, was neighbor to him that came to America for a better life?

For someone who has made her Christianity a very public matter, it seems to me an answer to Jesus’ updated question is in order.

 

Remarks And Asides

An amazing coincidence in the news, or is it?

♦ House Speaker John Boehner says that Republicans are from a different planet.

♦ Scientists have discovered a new planet orbiting two stars. The planet is quite frigid—too cold for life—and is about 200 light years away from earth-bound reality.

That pretty much describes the Republican Party.

___________________________

Speaking of John Boehner, not only has he rejected Mr. Obama’s call for taxes on the rich to pay for the new jobs program, Boehner has presented a jobs program of his own: No new taxes, reform the tax code, and end excessive government regulations.

Why didn’t the rest of us think of that?

Oh, I know why.  See the item above.

___________________________

And Boehner says, “Hell no, I’m not having any fun!”  That makes 300 million of us, John.

___________________________

Rick Perry has been hammered by Michele Bachmann for indulging in crony capitalism. Alas, it is true. Former staffers and appointees of Perry have cashed in on their relationship with the government-hating governor. But doggone it! Crony capitalism is the only reason why government-hating Republicans run for office in the first place! They’re not socialists, for God’s sake.

___________________________

Speaking of God, who, when he isn’t busy keeping the universe from collapsing into the Big Crunch, occasionally wrestles with GOP presidential candidates.

One of his past opponents was Rick Perry, who spoke recently at the University of Iron Age Thinking, also known as Liberty University, and said:

…what I learned as I wrestled with God was I didn’t have to have all the answers, that would be revealed to me in due time, and that I needed to trust him.

At some point during the wrestling match, Perry got impatient and dropped God to the canvas with a flying clothesline and pinned him down until God told Perry all the answers to the nation’s problems.

Then Perry got up and ran for president.

___________________________

Speaking of Rick Perry and running for president, the wrestler’s Ponzi scheme comments about Social Security don’t seem to bother Republicans all that much, at least right now (36% say they “don’t know enough to say”). 

But 32% of independents are “less likely” to support him against 12% who are “more likely” to support him.

For his part, Perry is not backing down (if you’d wrestled God and survived to tell Jerry Falwell’s kids about it, would you back down? ).  Stone Cold Rick Perry from Austin told a fawning Time magazine:

If you want to call it a Ponzi scheme, if you want to say it’s a criminal enterprise, if you just want to say it’s broken –they all get to the same point.

Well, not exactly. Unless you’re Dick Cheney, normally criminal enterprises land you in jail. That’s sort of why they call them “criminal.” And Ponzi schemes and other such criminal enterprises aren’t “broken” such that they can be fixed. So, no, they all don’t “get to the same point.”

Boy, where’s God when you need him? Oh, yeah. He’s still on the canvas.

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