Archive for November, 2010

It all makes sense now!

November 29, 2010

Bachmann did an interview with the BBC — perhaps an attempt to branch out to media organizations that don’t donate to her campaigns. Not surprisingly, she got harder questions than she’s used to from Sean Hannity. Most amusingly, the BBC asked her about the widely debunked “$200 million a day” figure she threw around earlier this month. And look at what she actually said about it:

MAITLIS: You claimed that President Obama spent $200 million a day on a trip to India. It’s been roundly ridiculed as a quote.

BACHMANN: Actually, I didn’t claim that. I was quoting a newspaper out of India. And I only used that quote–

MAITLIS: Well why would you do that?

BACHMANN: Well number one it came out of the host country in India, a well-respected financial newspaper.

MAITLIS: And you believe that? $200 million dollars a day?

BACHMANN: Well, all I did was I quoted the newspaper. I quoted the newspaper and major national figures in the United States, many in the media had already been using that figure. […] The reason it was so important was that the president has a two-year history of out of control spending. […]

MAITLIS: You still believe that it was $200 million dollars a day?

BACHMANN: I didn’t say if I believe it or not. What I said was a I was quoting a newspaper.

This explains so much! Michele Bachmann doesn’t actually BELIEVE that gay people are all child molesters; she was just repeating what she’d read on a third-rate website! Michele Bachmann doesn’t actually BELIEVE that Americorps is a communist reeducation camp; she was just repeating what she’d read on a third-rate website! What we have here is not an aspiring religious fascist who cynically lies and tells half-truths to whip up enthusiasm among evangelical voters with poor critical thining skills. Rather, she is ONE of those poor people with the poor critical thining skills! Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, our girl is guilty of nothing more than believing everything she reads, no matter how believable it is or what the source. If we don’t carefully regulate her access to the Internet, she will soon believe that elephant populations tripled in 2006.

Or maybe she was just lying to the BBC.

Respectable national newspapers profile Michele Bachmann

November 24, 2010

On Nov. 19, not one but two East Coast rags profiled our girl! The New York Times had the more damning headline: Bachmann’s Popularity Puts G.O.P. on the Spot. It uses her campaign for House conference chair, and then withdrawal from the race, to show that the mainstream GOP is not eager to embrace her even though she’s good at getting out the crowds.

Senior House Republican staff members said that while the party’s leaders were eager to have a woman and a Tea Party member in their upper ranks, they were concerned about Ms. Bachmann’s high rate of staff turnover and were not sure she would be willing to deliver the party’s message rather than her own. They were also concerned about her high-profile faux pas, like the claim about the expense of Mr. Obama’s Asia trip or the time on MSNBC’s “Hardball” when she suggested that Mr. Obama might have “anti-American views.” Both of those statements put fellow Republicans in the uncomfortable position of having to either defend her or distance themselves from one of their own. 

Exactly. Note the reference to the high turnover, which of course is code for “she is unpleasant to work for.” And possibly also to work with.

However, that paragraph is directly followed by analysis from a UMN political scientist, and his quote makes us fear for the Republic. No, really.

“Michele Bachmann does not have a strong record as a legislative strategist, and that’s never been her forte,” said Lawrence Jacobs, a University of Minnesota political science professor. “She says things that are kind of off the wall, but these are often calculated statements on her part, to register with conservative, grass-roots people, and that’s very hard for folks who are not grass-roots conservatives to understand,” he said. “Some of the things she says are zany and embarrassing to other Republicans, but that’s part of what has given her this authenticity.” 

So what he’s saying here is that Bachmann’s popularity is BECAUSE, not in spite of, the fact that she lies. That lies appeal to the far right wing. This doesn’t sound wrong to us (we are after all talking about a group that includes Biblical literalists), but it does kind of make us want to cry. How do you have productive policy debates with people who feel free to choose their own facts? Speaking of whom, the NYT mentioned the Constitution classes without noting that they are going to be taught by a revisionist nutjob.

Meanwhile, the WaPo’s headline says Minnesota’s Bachmann finds herself atop tea party movement, but will it last? It says basically the same stuff, though maybe with more of a “Tea Party vs. establishment GOP” storyline. It does mention that she hasn’t managed to pass any actual legislation, though:

But it isn’t at all clear that Bachmann’s fame will translate into political respect within the Capitol. Many colleagues consider her to be more of a show horse than a workhorse. She has yet to make a mark with a significant piece of legislation and has a reputation as someone more interested in heading to the green room than hitting the books – advancing her own agenda ahead of her party’s. She even set up a YouTube channel in which fans can view clips of her television appearances. 

This article also has a link to a Faux News interview in which Bachmann makes her semi-famous claim that she won’t fill out the Census forms, even though the article doesn’t mention the census thing.

Bachmann gets second negative PolitiFact review in two weeks

November 23, 2010

If Bachmann’s lie about the $200-million-a-day trip to India wasn’t enough BS for you, you’re in luck — she was at it again this week. The MSP City Pages picked up a PolitiFact rating made Nov. 17, about a claim she’s made on taxes.

George Stephanopoulos, on “Good Morning America,” asked her why it was okay for the wealthy to get tax breaks, but not okay to extend unemployment benefits. So instead, she equated plumbers with rich people; who wants to raise taxes on plumbers?

Here’s what she said:

“And people want to think that these are millionaires, sitting in leather chairs, lighting their cigars with $100 bills,” she said. “That’s not what we’re talking about. These are people who, who are carpet layers who maybe employ two or three other guys, or a plumber, maybe himself and his brother, and it’s $250,000 in gross sales for their business. They’re the ones that are looking at massive tax increases.”

PolitiFact found that, like Joe The Plumber, she’s not telling the truth.

It wasn’t true then, and it isn’t true now. Here’s why: Plumbers — or any other small business owner — get to deduct their business expenses, so they’d have to be bringing in more than $250,000 in gross sales.

She made the same claim in an interview with the Stillwater Gazette.

As it happens, we are familiar with this part of the tax code and confirm without even checking that businesses get to deduct their expenses. In fact, we suspect any tax professional in the United States would follow that up with “duh.” If you’re a plumber, you’d subtract from your gross income costs like your van, your tools, mileage driven, insurance, employee salaries, etc — down to the stamps you buy so you can send out invoices. The number you get after subtracting all of that stuff is your taxable income for the purposes of the self-employment tax. It’s all right there on Schedule C. (PDF)

Any small business owner who does his/her own taxes knows that. Bachmann likes to claim she runs a small business — her husband heals gay people with Jaysus and also they own a farm for which they collect government pork. So once again, we are left to ask this question: Is she that clueless, or does she just think we’re that clueless?

She made the $200 million a day claim repeatedly through the first two weeks of November, but it was rated “false” by PolitiFact on Nov. 4, which means the Nov. 17 “Pants on Fire” rating is the second in two weeks. Keep making Minnesota proud!

Bachmann stumbles on Iran policy

November 22, 2010

Specifically, on the difference between Obama’s Iran policy and Bush’s. Talking Points Memo attended a Freedom Watch USA panel at which Bachmann was speaking. (Freedom Watch USA is a conservative foreign policy organization that can fairly be described as explicitly anti-Islam.) She said the State Department under Clinton (and Obama) is allowing Iran to threaten the United States, and criticized its decision to allow Mahmoud Acmadidn’twin on U.S. soil. Of course, as TPM pointed out, our least favorite Persian had been here twice during the Bush administration.

Asked by TPM about what substantive differences she saw between the Bush administration’s policy on Iran and the Obama’s handling of the regime, Bachmann didn’t have much to say. 

“Well, that’s not the purpose of my remarks here today,” Bachmann said. She did say that prior engagements with Iran during previous administrations were not productive.

TPM followed up to see if she any criticism specifically of the way the Bush administration handled Iran. “My remarks stand for themselves, thank you,” Bachmann said.

OK, so the remarks stand for themselves even though she’s already acknowledged that the remarks do not addres the asker’s question. Confused? Don’t be! This is just another example of how Bachmann is “effective[] … with our friends in the local and national media.” See how effective? Anyone who didn’t already agree would TOTALLY be convinced by this!

News flash! “Compromise” now means “keeping everything exactly the same”!

November 21, 2010

You heard it at MPR first! Next up: Bachmann redefines “earmark” to exclude “transportation funding for the Sixth District of Minnesota.”

MNIndy with more on Bachmann’s Constitution “teacher”

November 20, 2010

This one has been making the rounds in the media, but we’d like to present you the original story authored by MNIndy. Much good stuff is in here. If you haven’t been watching this: Michele Bachmann wants to start Constitution classes for new Congresspeople, so that they keep the Constitution in mind before they are co-opted into the Washington establishment, whatever that means. (No word on how Bachmann, who just won her third term, has managed to avoid this dreadful fate.)

So who is she getting to teach this? One of the con law professors at the several well-regarded law schools in D.C.? No, she has recruited a Texan preacher with no formal legal training, who teaches at Glenn Beck’s “university” that the separation of church and state is a myth. MNIndy profiles him.

But Barton, who has said the idea of separation of church and state is a myth, has garnered his fair share of controversy. He has suggested the federal government should regulate homosexuality*, and his association with reported anti-Semitic groups prompted the Anti-Defamation League to condemn him earlier this year. In the 1990s, he spoke to the Christian Identity Movement, a group that “asserts that Jews are ‘the synagogue of Satan’; that Blacks and other people of color are subhuman; and that northern European whites and their American descendants are the ‘chosen people’ of scriptural prophesy.” 

He has called holding congressional sessions on Sunday unconstitutional and he has stated that United States borders were drawn by God.

“God’s the one who drew up the lines for the nations, so to say open borders is to say, ‘God, you goofed it all up and when you had borders, you shouldn’t have done it,’” he said recently on his radio program. “And so, from a Christian standpoint, you cannot do that. God’s the one who establishes the boundaries of nations.”

His point: God condemns illegal immigration.

There’s lots more, including condemnation from other evangelical Christians. Actual professors would be fired for teaching these sorts of outright lies, so it’s not surprising that Bachmann had to go outside of academia to find someone whose views she likes.

*Unclear how this fits into the Republican worldview that government should stay out of people’s private business. Oh wait, that only applies when your business is selling sausages full of e.coli! Consensual sex between two adults is much more dangerous.

Bachmann turns down chance to do meaningful work on federal spending

November 19, 2010

Specifically, according to Politico, she has turned down a chance to be on the House Appropriations Committee, which as you can imagine is quite powerful because it funds things. Or doesn’t. This seems like a great opportunity for an anti-spending crusader like Bachmann to finally do the work she’s been claiming she wants to do. Right? But she declined, along with several other “fiscal conservatives.” The article doesn’t quote her on a reason, but the prospective chair of the committee suggested one: because this is hard work that could make them politically vulnerable.

“Anybody who’s a Republican right now, come June, is going to be accused of hating seniors, hating education, hating children, hating clean air and probably hating the military and farmers, too,” said Jack Kingston (R-Ga.), a fiscal conservative who is lobbying to become chairman of the House Appropriations Committee. “So much of the work is going to be appropriations related. There’s going to be a lot of tough votes. So some people may want to shy away from the committee. I understand it.” 

Rep. Steve King, R-Racistland, and a few other tea party types also turned down the opportunity. This is a big shift in what people used to want, according to the article. We suspect that tea partiers don’t want to do this job because it would require them to live up to campaign claims they can’t actually live up to without screwing their districts; see also Bachmann’s recent hypocrisy on earmarks and the stimulus bill.

Bachmann is claiming this isn’t true, according to the Strib. They said they’d try to confirm with the office of Georgia Republican Jack Kingston, who said he’d made the offer, but it isn’t online just yet if they did. It’s possible that she’s telling the truth, but given her perfect record of never telling the truth on controversial statements, we have our doubts.

Bachmann caught in more spending hypocrisy

November 18, 2010

Nearly a month ago, we blogged about how Michele Bachmann put her hand out to get a chunk of the stimulus bill for her district — the same bill she has vehemently opposed both before and after its passage. Bachmann is an enemy of almost any kind of government spending not intended to support wars, so it probably won’t surprise you to learn that she also opposes earmarks.

EXCEPT, as it turns out, when they are intended for her distrct. Time magazine’s Swampland blog has the delicious, delicious story:

“It’s all bad, as far as I’m concerned,” Michele Bachmann announced in April, in an appearance on Fox Business. “All this pork is bad. The old pork was bad. The new pork is bad.” 

But she didn’t mean it. In an interview Monday with a homestate newspaper, she said she doesn’t think transportation projects should count as earmarks.

“Advocating for transportation projects for one’s district in my mind does not equate to an earmark. . . . I don’t believe that building roads and bridges and interchanges should be considered an earmark,” Bachmann said. “There’s a big difference between funding a tea pot museum and a bridge over a vital waterway.”

For anybody who has followed the debate over earmarks, this is a breathtaking retreat by someone who presents herself as Tea Party purist. Transportation projects are, after all, among the most blatantly abused slices of the pig.

It goes on from there. We actually think this kind of thing is inevitable for politicians who make an issue out of opposing almost all spending for any reason. This allows people like Bachmann to paint themselves into a corner, which they must then rely on voter amnesia to get out of. The projects may even be worthy of funding, but it’s very amusing to see Bachmann trying to rewrite reality in order to not look like the hypocrite she is.

November 12, 2010

Remember how Bachmann’s planning on offering Constitution classes? At the time, we wrote that we look forward to the day when she actually reads the First Amendment. As it turns out, she’s neatly bypassing any chance of genuine learning by hiring a religious nutjob. AOL News reported:

If tea party darling Michele Bachmann gets her way, conservative broadcaster Sean Hannity, Fox legal analyst Andrew Napolitano and David Barton, a Christian evangelist who has said church-state separation is “a myth,” will make up the faculty roster when the first classes of her new constitutional conservative caucus convene in the next Congress.

“Professor Barton” is a regular lecturer at Beck’s “university.” He has a bachelor’s degree in Christian education from Oral Roberts University and is best known for his conservative group WallBuilders, which teaches that America was founded as a Christian nation.

It’s a free country. Thus, people like Barton and Bachmann are free to spread lies. We’re aware these lies are usually aimed at taking other people’s freedom (e.g. the freedom to not be a Christian) away. But it’s not a crime, it’s just a horrifying, shameful attempt to undermine democracy. You voted for this, Sixth District.

Bachmannfreude!

November 11, 2010

Politico reports that Bachmann has dropped her bid to become House conference chair. This surprised some observers, according to Politico, who perhaps have noticed that Bachmann doesn’t let practicality or facts get in her way. But check this out: even someone on Faux News pointed out that she would be an ineffective and embarrassing leader!

“These people oppose negotiation! If you’re seen in the same room as a Democrat, you’re committing treason!”