Michele Bachmann

A Note re: Kaine vs. Pence

22 FEBRUARY 2015: Indiana Gov. Mike Pence appears on 'FOX News Sunday with Chris Wallace'. Guest host John Roberts interviewed Mr. Pence regarding various issues, including his status as a 2016 'dark horse' for the GOP presidential nomination, and the Hoosier State's 'religious freedom' bill empowering discrimination, which Pence signed into law in late March. (Image credit: FOX News)

This is important:

In one important area, Pence has the advantage of being perceived as a mainstream pol. Politico published a piece yesterday that characterized tonight’s vice presidential debate as “Battle of the Normals,” and a “sane moment” in a campaign cycle that’s often seemed insane.

On a certain level, I can appreciate where analysis like this is coming from. As a matter of tone and temperament, Mike Pence is hardly scary: the governor is a mild-mannered, soft-spoken Midwesterner. Unlike the man at the top of the GOP ticket, no one would ever expect Pence to start tweeting at 3 a.m. about his disgust for a beauty-pageant contestant and encourage Americans to seek out a “sex tape.”

But to shift one’s focus from tone to policy is to see one of the most extremist politicians to seek national office in over a generation.

Steve Benen is not wrong. This has been a factor worth considering in recent years, and even more so this cycle. What counts as centrist or mainstream is, in American politics, a roving range. The msnbc blogger and producer continues:

About four years ago, Nate Silver published an interesting analysis of Paul Ryan, who’d just been named to Mitt Romney’s ticket. Nate wrote at the time, “Various statistical measures of Mr. Ryan peg him as being quite conservative. Based on his Congressional voting record, for instance, the statistical system DW-Nominate evaluates him as being roughly as conservative as Representative Michele Bachmann of Minnesota. By this measure, in fact, which rates members of the House and Senate throughout different time periods on a common ideology scale, Mr. Ryan is the most conservative Republican member of Congress to be picked for the vice-presidential slot since at least 1900.”

Nate added a chart, highlighting the fact that Ryan’s record put him slightly to the right of Dick Cheney, who was slightly to the right of Dan Quayle.

There are curious circumstances, now and again, in which the GOP hardliners leave me standing shoulder to shoulder with Republicans I generally wouldn’t get along with. George W. Bush on China, and suddenly I’m commiserating with Pat Buchanan? What was it, Jade Helm? How do Rick Perry and I land on the same side? I can tell you, though, that when Lindsey Graham is bagging points off John Kasich being described as a “moderate”, well, at least we have that much in common.

It happens.

We revisit the question for Mike Pence. Benen notes the Indiana governor also has a record in Congress:

In the 107th Congress (Pence’s first, covering 2001 and 2002), for example, out of 435 members of the U.S. House, Pence ranked #428―meaning that 427 members were to his left, putting the Hoosier on the far-right-wing fringe. The results were roughly the same in the 108th Congress and the 109th.

By the 110th Congress, Pence was at #432, putting him to the right of nearly everyone in the chamber. The results were roughly the same in the 111th Congress and the 112th.

Let’s put this another way: during his congressional career, Pence wasn’t just more conservative than Paul Ryan. His voting record also put him to the right of Michele Bachmann, Todd Akin, Steve King, and even Louie Gohmert. That’s not an exaggeration. Bachmann, Akin, King, and Gohmert all had voting records less extreme than Mike Pence.

The problem is the gap between perceptions of Mike Pence and his actual record. To use Politico’s phrasing, the Hoosier is seen as “normal” and “conventional.” But on a substantive level, we’re talking about a politician whose claim to fame is an anti-LGBT law that did real harm to his state. Pence is a climate denier. He rejects the idea that cigarettes are deadly. He doesn’t believe in evolutionary biology, but he does support “conversion therapy.”

There was an embarrassing episode having to do with alleged Iraqi WMDs; something about privatizing Social Security not being conservative enough; something about government shutdowns; oh, right, and some manner of conspiracy theory about Disney film and women in the military.

Unfortunately, that last isn’t a joke.

This is the problem: If Gov. Mike Pence is “normal”, then we might pause to consider how we define normalcy.

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Image note: Indiana Gov. Mike Pence appears on FOX News Sunday with Chris Wallace, 22 February 2015. Guest host John Roberts interviewed Mr. Pence regarding various issues, including his status as a 2016 GOP dark horse and the Hoosier State’s infamous “religious freedom” bill intended to empower discrimination. (Image credit: FOX News)

Benen, Steve. “Mike Pence saw secret propaganda in Disney film”. 18 July 2016.

—————. “Pence becomes the most far-right running mate in modern history”. msnbc. 15 July 2016.

—————. “To see Mike Pence as ‘normal’ is to grade on a generous curve”. msnbc. 4 October 2016.

Kaczynski, Andrew. “Mike Pence Argued In Op-Ed That Disney’s ‘Mulan’ Was Liberal Propaganda”. BuzzFeed. 17 July 2016.

Salter, Lamar. “‘My party has gone bats— crazy’: Lindsey Graham jokes about killing Ted Cruz and bashes the remaining GOP candidates”. Business Insider. 26 February 2016.

Silver, Nate. “A Risky Rationale Behind Romney’s Choice of Ryan”. FiveThirtyEight. 11 August 2012.

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A Perfect Way to Ruin Your Day (Light Bulb Belfry Remix)

Rep. Michelle Bachmann (R-MN), left, and Rep. Steve King (R-IA), right, speak with reporters at the Capiol, 11 December 2014. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

If I tell you that the headline above Scott Eric Kaufman’s report for Salon yesterday reads, “Michele Bachmann: Refugees coming to America in order to commit ‘rape jihad’ against non-Muslim women and girls”, and would, unfortunately, seem a reasonably accurate description of the wisdom proffered by Our Lady Light Bulb, do any of us really need me to post the detail?

Or is this one of those occasions we can trust that you will click and read, or not, according to your inclination?

Because it really is sickening.

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Image note: Detail of photo by J. Scott Applewhite/AP Photo.

Kaufman, Scott Eric. “Michele Bachmann: Refugees coming to America in order to commit ‘rape jihad’ against non-Muslim women and girls”. Salon. 30 November 2015.

The End Times Shuffle (Bachmann’s Belfry Backbeat Redux Remix)

Rep. Michelle Bachmann (R-MN), left, and Rep. Steve King (R-IA), right, speak with reporters at the Capitol, 11 December 2014.  (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

The Bach is back.

Indeed, if Michele Bachmann is aiming for a new hit, perhaps recycling her old clearance-bin favorites isn’t the best of ideas.

Former Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann this weekend warned that gay couples marrying and legal abortion could lead to America’s destruction.

Appearing on Understanding the Times with Janet Markell, Bachmann, who spent much of her political career heaving anti-gay rhetoric, denounced President Barack Obama’s “dangerous policies,” which she claimed have angered God.

“When we raise our fist to a holy God and say that we are going to redefine marriage, we are going to be okay with paying a Planned Parenthood to cut up innocent baby parts and sell them for research, that clearly is a problem,” Bachmann said. “And we have seen God render judgment in the days of Noah, in the days of Sodom and Gomorrah and so forth throughout history. What the prophets have told every generation is that there is a just God and the people must repent and turn to him. So too in this day of wickedness in our own culture, we need to do the same. We need to repent, and we need to confess because a holy Savior is coming to save us and redeem us from this sin-sick world.”

Markell agreed, saying that the pair could witness “the Lord’s literal return even before we finish this broadcast.”

(On Top)

Maybe the problem is that Bachmann wasn’t clear enough last time, when she said God would remove his “hedge of protection” over the United States, “and we will suffer the consequences as a result”.

Then again, we might also wonder at the strange phenomenon in which faith in the Almighty and American patriotism alike depict a God and nation so horrible.

Think about it this way: This is the same brand of “Christian” faith that bawls about the lack of patriotism in a black preacher complaining of racial discrimination, but rallies around white Christians celebrating a murderous God who will destroy America because we’re not being mean enough to gays and women.

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Image note: Michele Bachmann, then a Republican Congresswoman from Minnesota’s Sixth Congressional District, speaks with reporters at the U.S. Capitol, 11 December 2014. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

On Top Magazine Staff. “Michele Bachmann: God May Destroy America Over Gay Marriage, Abortion “. On Top. 29 September 2015.

The Marco Rubio Show (Gaffe Rig)

Marco Rubio: A New American Century

There are so many places to go and bizarre spectacles to see, but for the moment these paragraphs from Steve Benen ought to be devastating:

Rubio, a member of both the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the Senate Intelligence Committee, is basing much of his campaign on his alleged expertise on international affairs. The far-right Floridian would love nothing more than to be seen as the candidate who has a “deep understanding” of “the threats that the world is facing.”

But Rubio has run into Trump-like problems of his own. Just last week, in a big speech on foreign policy, the GOP senator told an embarrassing whopper about military preparedness, touching on an issue Rubio should have understood far better.

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., arrives for the Senate Republicans' policy lunch in the Capitol on Tuesday, Sept. 17, 2013. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call/Getty)In June, Rubio was asked about his approach towards Iraq. Told that his policy sounds like nation-building, the senator responded, “Well, it’s not nation-building. We are assisting them in building their nation.”

Just this year, Rubio has flubbed the details of Iran’s Green Revolution. His criticisms on the Obama administration’s approach towards Israel were quickly discredited as nonsense. His statements of nuclear diplomacy were practically gibberish.

In the spring, Rubio had a memorable confrontation with Secretary of State John Kerry, which was a debacle – the senator stumbled badly on several key details, and Kerry made him look pretty foolish.

Soon after, Rhonda Swan, a Florida-based journalist, wrote that the Republican senator “should be embarrassed.” Swan added, “By his own standard that the next president have a ‘clear view of what’s happening in the world’ and a ‘practical plan for how to engage America in global affairs,’ Rubio fails the test.”

What’s more, as readers may recall, when Rubio has tried to articulate a substantive vision, he’s relied a little too heavily on shallow, bumper-sticker-style sloganeering, rather than actual policy measures. Rubio declared “our strategy” on national security should mirror Liam Neeson’s catchphrase in the film “Taken”: “We will look for you, we will find you and we will kill you.”

Soon after, the candidate’s team unveiled the “Rubio Doctrine”, described by Charles Pierce as “three banalities strung together in such a way as to sound profound and to say nothing.”

And yet the narrative leads with Donald Trump.

(more…)

The Not-So-Gay Divorceé

VIII. Adjustment.

The question of a divorceé has long plagued Christian supremacists who denounce marriage equality and gay rights, but, you know, really? Not only has Kim Davis already licensed transgender man and his pansexual wife, and most likely also issued plenty of marriage licenses to divorceés, but it also turns out that Ms. Davis is herself a serial adulterer.

On this point, Travis Gettys of Raw Story considers an appearance by Dan Savage on msnbc; the author, advice columnist, and editor of The Stranger, Mr. Savage spared no punches:

“I think Kim Davis is waiting to cash in,” Savage told MSNBC. “I predicted from the beginning that she would defy all the court orders, defy the Supreme Court, she would ultimately be held in contempt of court, lose her job, perhaps go to prison for a short amount of time. And then she will have written for her, ghost written books. She will go on the right-wing lecture circuit and she’ll never have to do an honest day’s work ever again in her life.”

Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis, in a mugshot, 3 September 2015, after being held in contempt of court by U.S. District Judge David Bunning, after she refused to comply with the law and issue marriage licenses to homosexual couples.“This is about someone hypocritically cashing in, and she is a hypocrite,” he added.

Savage referred to the defiant clerk’s statement complaining that courts were asking her to “violate a central teaching of Scripture and of Jesus Himself regarding marriage” — which the columnist dismissed as ridiculous.

“This is a woman who’s been divorced three times and married four times,” he said, reading from the US News & World Report article that pointed out Davis “gave birth to twins five months after divorcing her first husband, (and) they were fathered by her third husband but adopted by her second husband.”

“She’s now onto her fourth husband,” Savage said. “Jesus Christ himself in scripture condemned divorce, called it adultery and forbids it. Jesus Christ himself in scripture says not one word about same-sex marriage.”

Savage said the U.S. Supreme Court had already decided the issue of same-sex marriage, and he said Davis clearly should have followed the law all along.

“She’s not being asked to perform a sacrament, she is tasked with ascertaining that the people in front of her, the couple in front of her, have a legal right to get married and to provide them with that license,” he said. “She is not a minister. She actually thinks she works for God there in the county courthouse, when she actually works for Caesar — and someone needs to acquaint her with that fact.”

Or we might attend Mr. Savage himself, who recently blogged, among other notes:

I would say I can’t wait for a Muslim county clerk in, say, Dearborn, Michigan (which has a huge Muslim community), to refuse to issue a marriage license to a Christian couple on the grounds that the this kafir couple hasn’t been paying jizya… but that’s not going to happen. Religious minorities in this country intuitively understand that to empower religious bigots like Davis is to paint bullseyes on their own backs. So the Jesus-freak goons at the Liberty Counsel work to frame discrimination as a “religious freedom” because they’re confident that American Christians will be the ones doing the discriminating, not suffering from it.

This is an important point. Something about functional reality goes here.

(more…)

A Note on the Republican Clown Car

Kamon Dreams and Stranger Things: Detail of frame from 'FLCL' episode 5, "Brittle Bullet".

There is little about Timonthy Egan’s blistering critique of the Republican Clown Car that we might call … er … ah … not unkind:

Last election cycle, the Republican presidential field was a clown car, holding the thrice-married Newt Gingrich lecturing about values, the pizza magnate Herman Cain fending off sexual harassment claims, and Michele Bachmann confusing John Wayne with a serial killer. That was just the front seat. This time around it’s a clown bus, with as many as 17 Republicans expected to compete for the nomination.

Most of them are unelectable, to say the least. But can any of them get out of the party’s winnowing period without saying things they picked up in the far right netherworld? Probably not. As previous gaffe-a-matics have shown, it pays to be crazy. And for many Republicans, crazy is the new mainstream.

† † †

There is no ceiling for crazy in Texas, nor political consequence. This year, the Lone Star State’s most odious export is Senator Ted Cruz, who also has some concern about the nefarious designs of our military, and those Walmart tunnels. He couldn’t just say, as the Pentagon did, that our troops would soon be conducting a long-planned field operation, called Jade Helm 15. He had to dog-whistle to the mouth frothers.

“I understand a lot of the concerns raised by a lot of citizens about Jade Helm,” said Cruz. “It’s a question I’m getting a lot, and I think part of the reason is we have seen, for six years, a federal government disrespecting the liberty of citizens.” Dwight Eisenhower — look him up, Texans — is rolling over in his five-star grave.

If you don’t think the inability to distinguish a military exercise from a totalitarian takeover disqualifies you from leading the free world, Fox News has a hosting chair for you in its studios. That’s where Mike Huckabee promoted his brand of Gomer Pyle politics over the last few years, building a following for quack health remedies and Christian victimhood.

It is not so much a matter of being funny because it’s true. Rather, this bit that reads like comedy is, at the very least, a little sad because it really, really is happening. Now and then it is easy enough to fancy that what voters really want is a spectacle, but the problem with that notion is the proposition that every spectacle must be a bacchanal of ignorance and clodhopping disgrace.

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Egan, Timothy. “Fringe Festival”. The New York Times. 8 May 2015.

The Setup

Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, joins House Republicans to speak during a news conference in opposition to the Supreme Court's Defense of Marrriage Act (DOMA) decision on Wednesday, June 26, 2013.  (Photo by Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

From the office of Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX01):

“Over the past few weeks, my office has been inundated with calls referring to the Jade Helm 15 military exercise scheduled to take place between July 15 and September 15, 2015. This military practice has some concerned that the U.S. Army is preparing for modern-day martial law.

Certainly, I can understand these concerns. When leaders within the current administration believe that major threats to the country include those who support the Constitution, are military veterans, or even ‘cling to guns or religion,’ patriotic Americans have reason to be concerned. We have seen people working in this administration use their government positions to persecute people with conservative beliefs in God, country, and notions such as honor and self-reliance. Because of the contempt and antipathy for the true patriots or even Christian saints persecuted for their Christian beliefs, it is no surprise that those who have experienced or noticed such persecution are legitimately suspicious.

Having served in the U.S. Army, I can understand why military officials have a goal to see if groups of Special Forces can move around a civilian population without being noticed and can handle various threat scenarios. In military science classes or in my years on active duty, I have participated in or observed military exercises; however, we never named an existing city or state as a “hostile.” We would use fictitious names before we would do such a thing.

Once I observed the map depicting ‘hostile,’ ‘permissive,’ and ‘uncertain’ states and locations, I was rather appalled that the hostile areas amazingly have a Republican majority, ‘cling to their guns and religion,’ and believe in the sanctity of the United States Constitution. When the federal government begins, even in practice, games or exercises, to consider any U.S. city or state in ‘hostile’ control and trying to retake it, the message becomes extremely calloused and suspicious.

Such labeling tends to make people who have grown leery of federal government overreach become suspicious of whether their big brother government anticipates certain states may start another civil war or be overtaken by foreign radical Islamist elements which have been reported to be just across our border. Such labeling by a government that is normally not allowed to use military force against its own citizens is an affront to the residents of that particular state considered as ‘hostile,’ as if the government is trying to provoke a fight with them. The map of the exercise needs to change, the names on the map need to change, and the tone of the exercise needs to be completely revamped so the federal government is not intentionally practicing war against its own states.”

(more…)

The End Times Shuffle (Bachmann’s Belfry Backbeat)

NATIONAL HARBOR, MD — MARCH 16: Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) speaks at the 2013 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) March 16, 2013, in National Harbor, Maryland. The American Conservative Union held its annual conference in the suburb of Washington, DC to rally conservatives and generate ideas. (Photo by Pete Marovich/Getty Images)

There are so many things going on, here.

In a radio interview last week, Bachmann, the former Minnesota Republican congresswoman, told “End Times” host Jan Markell, “We need to realize how close this clock is getting to the midnight hour.”

“We in our lifetimes potentially could see Jesus Christ returning to earth and the rapture of the church,” Bachmann said. “We see the destruction, but this was a destruction that was foretold.”

Bachmann cited the Obama administration’s nuclear negotiations with Iran as a cause. The U.S. and five partner nations are discussing a deal with Iran that would prevent the country from developing or obtaining nuclear weapons.

“We are literally watching, month by month, the speed move up to a level we’ve never seen before with these events,” Bachmann said. “Barack Obama is intent. It is his number one goal to ensure that Iran has a nuclear weapon.”

(Fang)

(more…)

An Example of How It’s Going to Go

WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 10: U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) (L) and Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) wait to speak at the "Exempt America from Obamacare" rally, on Capitol Hill, September 10, 2013, in Washington, D.C.  Some conservative lawmakers are making a push to try to defund the health care law as part of the debates over the budget and funding the federal government.  (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

“‘Vote for me because I introduced a bunch of bills that didn’t pass’ is a tough pitch to sell on the presidential campaign trail.”

Steve Benen

In truth, there isn’t really much to add, but if you’d like the detail, the inimitable Mr. Benen does provide:

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., arrives for the Senate Republicans' policy lunch in the Capitol on Tuesday, Sept. 17, 2013. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call/Getty)Cruz, Paul, and Rubio, meanwhile, are championing all kinds of proposals, but between them, they have precious few laws. There’s a difference between those who push legislation and those who actually legislate.

Consider the problem in a different context: imagine if I told msnbc, “I had great ideas for hundreds of blog posts.” If the network asked me how many I wrote, and I responded, “Well, I haven’t really gotten around to following through on my ideas,” msnbc probably wouldn’t be too pleased.

Wait, what?

Trivia time: Word association―”light bulbs” … go.

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Benen, Steve. “Senators adopt legislative strategy with 2016 in mind”. msnbc. 17 February 2015.

Unsolicited Advice on Preaching to the Choir

NATIONAL HARBOR, MD — MARCH 16: Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) speaks at the 2013 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) March 16, 2013, in National Harbor, Maryland.  The American Conservative Union held its annual conference in the suburb of Washington, DC to rally conservatives and generate ideas.  (Photo by Pete Marovich/Getty Images)

“If the Commandments are supposed to be the foundation for our laws, it would appear our lawmakers lost their copy of the Commandments when creating our legal system.”

Steve Benen

You know, I sympathize. I really do. This really is an annoying habit, since most of the people who insist that the U.S. is based on the Ten Commandments, or founded as a Christian nation, are usually doing so in advocacy of some sort of supremacism because they want the government to punish other people that they don’t like. And we hear it all the time. And it’s always stale, and it’s always wrong.

But come on. This is Michele Bachmann we’re talking about.

Let her say these dumb things on the Congressional record. Let her say them to her heart’s content. In fact, the more stupid things she says, the better.

Because then the next time you hear someone making that point, you can ask them why they want to sound as ignorant as Michele Bachmann.

And, you know, if they want to insist that she’s some sort of genius, fine. Pick your battles. At least now, with someone sitting across the table, you have a reason to waste your time explaining that the problem with Michele Bachmann is that nobody can figure out what the hell her unholy freakin’ problem actually is.

Seriously, let her say all the idiotic things she wants to get off her chest before she leaves Congress. It’ll be a great archive, and then she will go back to her moonbatted belfry and leave the rest of us alone. Or maybe join FOX News, like so many of her Republican colleagues. Or maybe Lady Lightbulb will follow the Gingrich arc, and spend the rest of her life trying to swindle her supporters.

But you’ll always have that to pull out when circumstance demands: “What? I didn’t know you were on the Bachmann bandwagon!”

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Benen, Steve. “Bachmann connects Ten Commandments, U.S. prosperity”. msnbc. 11 December 2014.