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Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Goodbye, 2014!



I've been prolific today, writing two pieces for Forward Progressives (one end-of-the-year piece, and one on ManBook, a crazy clubhouse for MRAs), but sometimes, the snark spirit moves me. For this little article, no snark is included, because this is a simple thank you, and a bit of a preview of what 2015 will hopefully bring. I hope you will bear with me for one more scribble.

This year has been, at least creatively, a good year. I spent part of 2014 at Forward Progressives, part of it here, and part of 2014 at Musings on the Muse. I didn't receive any viable death threats, which is always a plus. And I made the front page of Reddit's /rpolitics with my article on Steve Stockman

I didn't do any of that on my own. My husband is always supportive, always understanding, and never fusses when I miss dinner because I'm writing or going on the radio. This is a good man, and my best friend. My friends, who read what I write wherever it is, are amazing. It is a privilege to surround myself with gifted and talented people like Carol, Arik, Jason, Gwen, Manny, and so many others.

Carol is Carol Baker, quite possibly the best woman I have ever met. She is also without a doubt one of the finest writers online. Want proof? Click this link. Arik Bjorn is the creative genius behind Pastor Pillow, which is now a book! You can find Jason Dye's work at Forward Progressives, and at his own blog, Gwen Andrix is an activist in Ohio whose bravery has helped change her state for the better. And Manny doesn't need any more publicity; he's about to get into a Twitter war with James O'Keefe. But since he's my editor, you can find him over at Forward Progressives. On Facebook. Twitter. Probably My Space. Ello. Tumblr. Space, the final frontier. I am in so much trouble.

<I realize that was snark. I can't help myself.>

Tomorrow begins 2015, and I have made some promises to myself. I'm going to publish a book, I am going to learn how to promote myself, and I am going to stop being quite so self deprecating. Yes, I have almost no self esteem. However, sometimes when I read one of my own articles, I think "Hey, this is pretty good." Maybe there's nothing wrong with saying that in public? The question mark at the end of that sentence tells me I've got a long way to go. 

Anyway, thank you for helping make 2014 a pretty good year for me. On a larger scale, the year kind of sucked, and I am not ignoring that. But I have plenty of time to trudge through the scum and the rhetoric and the racism and the hate; for tonight, for this moment, I am thankful for my friends, my family, and my life. 

Goodbye, 2014. 


Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Farewell, Michele

Michele Bachmann pouring water for male candidates during the 2012 campaign


Michele Bachmann is leaving congress. After a failed presidential campaign, almost losing to Jim Graves in in 2012, and numerous allegations that her 2012 presidential campaign violated federal laws, Bachmann decided not to run for reelection last year.

Personally, I have mixed feelings about this. On the one hand, Michele Bachmann's legacy is one of xenophobia, homophobia, Islamophobia, and many other phobias, all of which have given me a rich and fertile source for The Bachmann Diaries. On the other hand, Michele Bachmann's legacy is one of xenophobia, homophobia, Islamophobia, and many other phobias, all of which have harmed her district, her state, and the country.

Michele Bachmann was first elected to national office in 2006, after being a state senator for six years. As a state senator, Bachmann proposed a constitutional amendment in Minnesota that would bar the state from legally recognizing same-sex marriage. She also tried to put a marriage amendment on the ballot in 2004; her effort failed.

Let's take a look back at Michele Bachmann's life, her time in congress, how she has served the people of Minnesota's 6th District and her country, and how she will be remembered. We will wander down Memory Lane, taking a hard right turn at Climate Change Corner, possibly find ourselves hiking up Muslim Brotherhood Mountain, and obviously dip our toes into Stimulus Stream. And at the end of our journey, we will take a deep breath, and bid adieu to soon-to-be former Congresswoman Michele Marie Bachmann.

We must begin at the beginning: Waterloo, Iowa, birthplace of John Wayne Gacy, serial killer. Or John Wayne, actor.  On April 6, 1956, a tiny Michele Bachmann was born. Bachmann's parents moved from Iowa to Minnesota when she was 13, and divorced soon after. Numerous people (just me, honestly) have wondered if her parents' failed marriage inspired Michele to her rather rabid defense of "traditional marriage," but then I realize she has never tried to ban divorce. Onward!

Michele attended public high school in Anoka, Minnesota, and after graduating, spent a summer working on a kibbutz in Israel. She went on to graduate from Winona State University with a bachelor's degree, attended Oral Roberts University, receiving a Juris Doctor degree, and finally, a Master of Laws degree in tax law from William and Mary. From 1988 to 1993, Bachmann was a tax attorney, working for the IRS. She left to be a stay-home mom after the birth of her fourth child with husband, Marcus, to whom she has been married since 1978.

Ah, Marcus. Marcus Bachmann has a Masters degree from Regent University, and a PhD from Union Graduate School. He is an unlicensed psychologist, specializing in "Christian counseling" and reparative therapy. Dr. Bachmann shares his wife's views of the LGBT community, referring to homosexuals as "barbarians."

We will skip over the Bachmann's five children, and the twenty-three foster children...well, except for son Harrison's time with Teach For America, one of the programs under the AmeriCorps umbrella. Michele Bachmann said this about AmeriCorps:
It's paying people to do work on behalf of government. There are provisions for what I would call re-education camps for young people, where young people get trained in the philosophy the government puts forward and then they have to go work in these politically correct forums.
As a parent, I would have a very, very difficult time seeing my children do this. (source)
Awkward. 

Back to congressing.

Michele Bachmann's legislative record is less than stellar, as seen in this chart from Huffington Post:

Michele Bachmann's Complete Legislative History (source: www.govtrack.us)

THINGS ATTEMPTED BY MICHELE BACHMANNTHINGS ACCOMPLISHED BY MICHELE BACHMANN
Bills Sponsored58
Referred to Committee(aka: went nowhere)53
Reported by Committee(Got out of committee)1
H.R. 850 (112th): To facilitate a proposed project in the Lower St. Croix Wild and Scenic River, and for other purposes.
Agreed To (Simple Resolution)3
H.Res. 373 (111th): Expressing support for designation of the month of September as “National Hydrocephalus Awareness Month"
H.Res. 923 (110th): Recognizing the State of Minnesota’s 150th anniversary.
H.Res. 789 (110th): Honoring public child welfare agencies, nonprofit organizations and private entities providing services for foster children.
Passed House1
H.R. 45: To repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and health care-related provisions in the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010
Signed Into Law0


This is not to say Bachmann hasn't done anything as a United States congresswoman. In 2007, she joined a Congressional delegation traveling to Ireland, Germany, Pakistan, Kuwait, and Iraq. The delegation traveled by armored vehicle while visiting Islamabad, and upon her return, Michele Bachmann told reporters "The group [of U.S. Legislators] had to travel in armored vehicles and was constantly accompanied by Pakistani military...We were all able to see extremely up close and personal what it's like to be in a region where fighting is occurring. We constantly felt like we were in need of security." 

Also in 2007, Bachmann voted against the College Cost Reduction and Access Act. The goals of this act were, among other things: 

*Raising the maximum Pell Grant from $4, 310 to $5,200.
*Lower interest rates on subsidized student loans to 3.4% from 6.8%.
*Favoring public sector over private sector workers with more favorable loan forgiveness benefits.

Bachmann objected because the act "fails students and taxpayers with gimmicks, hidden costs, and poorly targeted aid." Another objection was that "it favors the costly, government-run direct lending program over non-profit and commercial lenders." The bill passed the House, and former president George W. Bush signed it into law. 

Michele Bachmann is in favor of drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, and in 2008, joined another Congressional delegation on a trip to Colorado and Alaska. This trip was set up by Arctic Power, an Alaskan lobbying group advocating for "development" of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Bachmann is also opposed to Cap and Trade, and has called global warming "voodoo," "nonsense," " a hoax," and "hokum." (source) 

And in March of 2008, she declared war on light bulbs with H.R. 849, lovingly titled the "Light Bulb Freedom of Choice Act." See? She's sort of pro-choice!

As for stimulus money, Bachmann hates it, unless she loves it. After decrying TARP and slamming President Obama's stimulus package, Bachmann managed to keep that money flowing for her constituents. In 2009, Michele Bachmann strongly objected to the bailouts prior to the congressional vote, and just seven months later, she wrote six (six!) letters to Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, asking for-you guessed it-stimulus money. (source)

She's also accepted quite a bit of government assistance herself, receiving almost $30,000 from the state of Minnesota for Marcus's clinic, and a family farm in Wisconsin has been the willing recipient of nearly $260,000 in subsidies. Because nothing says conservative like being pro-something and anti-something at the same time.

Who can forget Michele Bachmann's insistence that former congressman Anthony Weiner's wife has ties to the Muslim Brotherhood? She joined four other Republicans in writing a series of letters that linked Huma Abedin (through her deceased father) to the Muslim Brotherhood, and some in the GOP were less than supportive. Speaker John Boehner called the accusations "pretty dangerous," while Senator John McCain labeled them "sinister." Jeff Flake, not exactly a liberal, Tweeted his support of McCain's statements, and Scott Brown said Bachmann's accusations were "out of line." Michele said her letters were being "distorted." 

Finally, there is her hatred of the LGBT community, and how that hatred indirectly helped lead to a rash of teenage suicides in the Anoka school district. Pro-life Michele Bachmann pointedly and obviously ignored a series of tragic events, kowtowed to two of the most conservative and homophobic groups in Minnesota, and remained silent as families buried their children. No publication covered the horrible situation in Bachmann's district better than Rolling Stone, and I highly encourage you to visit this link to read their heartbreaking account.

So, there it is. Michele Bachmann's legacy is one of paranoia, fear, hypocrisy, bigotry, and ignorance. Pro-life, except for LGBT teens. Christian, except when it comes to caring for this planet. Anti-big government when it comes to middle class and poor kids going to college, pro-big government when it comes to Minnesota pork farmers and a bridge.

Michele Bachmann has ended her tenure on a typical note: President Obama is embracing and lifting up the agenda of Islamic jihad. She claims this because the president didn't think the annual White House Christmas party was an appropriate place for Bachmann to bring up nuking Iran. 

Farewell, Michele. My guess is, you will never be far away from a television camera or a microphone, and I must admit, my satirical heart hopes you run for president again. But if you don't, take care, God bless, and enjoy your early retirement. We will.






Tuesday, December 9, 2014

The Bachmann Diaries: Her Name is Freedom



Dear Diary,

Today I gave my final speech on the House floor as a United States congresswoman. I have to say, it was sad. My career as a congresswoman has been rewarding, joyful, and blessed by Holy God. Marcus helped me write the speech, because I must admit I got a little misty-eyed while typing. Either that or I am allergic to this new giraffe-skin scarf he bought me as an early Christmas gift. He's the best friend husband a girl could ask for.

In my speech, I touched on many points, some of which may have been wrong, but what the hell, I'm done. I said our motto was "In God We Trust." Yes, I know that wasn't always our motto. It was something like out of many, one, or tie a yellow ribbon 'round the old oak tree, or there's no crying in baseball. But in the 1950's, Ronald Reagan changed the motto to show the evil commies how awesome we are. I think it was Reagan. You know, Marcus made me eggnog, and I have to be honest here, it's pretty spicy. I've had a few glasses. It's super hot in here.

Anyway, did you know Blackstone wrote the Ten Commandments? Wait, no. Moses wrote the Ten Commandments, Blackstone edited them. No. Why is Moses staring at John Boner Boehner? Does Moses get mad when Johnny staggers onto the house floor, drunk as a skunk? Our country was founded on the Ten Commandments, which is why I do not understand why Newt Gingrich hasn't been smited. Smitted.

I spoke very eloquently about the stupid huge chick on top of the Capitol building. She's got a crow on her head, and her name is Freedom. She faces east, because she's Jewish. No. Rising sun. Shit, hang on. Okay, her name is Freedom and Freedom's face looks into the rising sun. Because that's where Holy God lives. Oh my God, I think I'm drunk. How is that possible? I'm a teetotaler. I must be high on nutmeg.

Did you know I represent Lake Woebegone country? And did you know the most famous person in Lake Woebegone OH MY GOD MARCUS I KNOW IT'S A FAKE TOWN JUST LIKE YOUR HETEROSEXUALITY other than me is Garrison Keillor? Who hates me? Do you know what that bastard said about conservatives? He said "A compassionate conservative is someone who electrocutes juveniles but lets them have a last 'make a wish.' " Are you kidding me? The Make-A-Wish foundation is for children with cancer, not for little criminals.

In my wonderful speech, I made sure to thank everyone I've ever met, except my 346 574 28 foster children who never call, never write, so screw them. I thanked the voters of the 5th 6th district, because without their raging homophobia and lack of intellectual curiosity, I never would have been elected four times in a row. Of course, I had to thank my campaign volunteers except the one whose name WE DO NOT SAY who left me to go work for Ron Paul after Ron Paul paid him millions of dollars and it's his fault I am probably going to prison.

And my donors, especially the Minnesota Family Council and the Parents Action League. These two amazing Christian groups supported my efforts to keep Minnesota marriage between one man and one woman, and to allow Christian kids to bully preach to their peers who have made the evil choice to be homos. I remember the night our idiotic politicians voted to allow homo Minnesotans to marry their toasters. John Helmberger and I knelt on the tile floor in my kitchen, praying in tongues for guidance. We did not receive it, probably because Marcus was rolling around in his office in hysterics. Poor thing-that whole episode really did him in.

There are a few things I wish I had accomplished. Obviously the impeachment of Barack Hussein Obama, and the reinstatement of Don't Ask Don't Enlist Tell and the Defense of Marriage Act. Also closing our embassies in Iran and North Korea. Deporting Arianna Huffington. Where the hell is she from, anyway? That accent sounds like Natasha from "Bullwinkle." I wish I could have pushed the emergency button in the congressional elevator just once when Steve and I were in there together, ripped off all our clothes, and made him call me Mama. He's my Boo. Marcus is my Boo. This eggnog is delish.

So, this is it. Now I have to plan for the future. I know I'm not really going to prison, so I can think about running for Queen of Godlandia. OH! I figured out how to pay to have everything renamed "Godlandia:" we shut down every government agency except the Defense Department and the Pentagon. No more FAA, FDA, DEA, DOA, DOJ, FBI, but keep the CIA because those torture techniques would be awesome to try on Nancy Pelosi. I had my photo taken with her at the White House Christmas party! It was hilarious-I had a huge smile on my face, and she looked like someone rammed a Christmas ornament up her butt. I also had a snuggle with Joe Biden, because even though he's a flaming libtard, he's sexy as hell.

I wore Marcus's giraffe-skin scarf for my speech. I should not have worn pants, though, my thighs looked huge. Phyllis Schlafly called me this evening and yelled at me for not wearing a skirt. I hate it when she's mad at me. She's my heroin heroine.

Well, at least now I have time to catch up on all of Stan Solomon's shows. I love Stan dearly, he speaks the truth, and is such a great Christian. Phyllis appears on his show a lot, which proves what kind of man he is. I'm also considering a music career. Marcus says I have the voice of a harpy. How sweet is he, comparing my singing voice to such a beautiful musical instrument!

I need more eggnog. I'll write more later, when the room stops spinning.

Hugs and kisses-Queen Michele


*Erin here. I need to send a huge thank you to my dad for sending me the photos, and the link to Shelly "rapping."

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

God Damn America

Image from Afro Punk.com

During President Obama's first campaign, the right wing media dragged out a clip of Rev. Jeremiah Wright, speaking to his congregation. In that sermon, Rev. Wright said "God Damn America." Conservatives went ballistic. How dare he, they cried, he's a traitor, he's a monster. No. He was right.

Today, Wednesday, a Staten Island grand jury declined to indict a white New York City police officer for the death of Eric Garner. Garner's death was ruled a homicide by the medical examiner, the entire event was recorded on video, and yet, his killer walks free. God Damn America.

Darren Wilson, the white police officer who shot and killed Michael Brown, is resigning his position a millionaire. Between the $500k he received in donations, and the high six figures he received from ABC news for his interview, Mr. Wilson is now a rather wealthy man. His reward for killing an unarmed, black teenager. God Damn America.

Finally, there is Tamir Rice. Tamir Rice was twelve years old. He was walking around a park, alone and bored, with a pellet gun. Someone called 911, telling them there was a kid in the park, with what was most likely a fake gun. A cop car roars up onto the grass, and in less than three seconds, Tamir Rice's unconscious body lays on the cold ground. Tamir died the next day. The officer who shot Tamir says he "had no choice." God Damn America.

And yet we hear, from the majority of white conservatives, how this is a "Christian nation." The same white conservatives who are demanding Micheal Brown's stepfather be arrested for "inciting a riot," because at the moment he learned that his stepson's killer would not face justice, his agony and rage got the best of him. Hell, Keith Ablow wants Michael's stepdad charged for somehow being "culpable" in his own stepson's death. Mainstream media (or what conservatives laughingly call the liberal media) are, instead of writing about the horrors of Tamir Rice's death, digging through that young boy's family, as if anything other than a cop is responsible for a twelve year old dead child. Mainstream media is posting Eric Garner's rap sheet, because that makes it okay to kill him on the sidewalk.

Those conservatives, when confronted with overwhelming evidence of white police officers killing black men with impunity, will retort "Black on black crime." I refer you to Elon James White's eloquent explanation of why that is a false equivalence here.

We live in a country with a caste system. Some lives matter, while others do not. Eric Garner was killed with a choke hold, a maneuver banned by NYPD's own guidelines, and his killer is free. Michael Brown was killed by a terrified white police officer, who saw Brown as a "demon." Tamir Rice was killed for literally playing while black.

My heart aches for Michael Brown's family, for Eric Garner's widow, for Tamir Rice's parents. For all the families whose husbands, wives, sons and daughters have been killed because of the color of their skin. And I am ashamed to live in a country where that seems to be okay with a large segment of our population. We are better than this, or at least, we're supposed to be.

But right now, in this moment, I agree with Rev. Jeremiah Wright. God Damn America.

Thanks to Carol Baker for this photo of Eric Garner and his children.


Monday, December 1, 2014

The War on Christmas


Gentle wombats, we have come to the time of year when many conservatives wrap themselves in tinsel and begin screaming about the War on Christmas. The general in the army against this war is Bill O'Reilly, Fixed News...I'm sorry...Fox "News" talking head extraordinaire. Mr. O'Reilly hates the War on Christmas, because in his befuddled mind, the leftists (me) are out to destroy this most sacred of holidays. Except we're not.

You should see my house. The tree is up, the lights are hung all along the bottom of the roof, my knickknacks are loving displayed, including a (get ready for it) NATIVITY SCENE. My mother sculpted Joseph, Mary, and the infant Jesus over forty years ago, and I inherited it when she died. The figures sit on a side table in the living room. Yes, yours truly-evil libtard femiNazi-has a nativity scene in her house. 

Oh. About that tree, and the evergreen boughs, and the mistletoe. All pagan in origin. According to the Catholic Education Resource Center, all the pagan traditions we now include in our Christmas celebrations were blessed and/or baptized, thus making them okay for we Christians to use. And you know how many on the right go on and on and on and on about the Pilgrims? Those bastards banned Christmas because it "did not originate as a Christian holiday." In fact, the Puritans thought Jesus was born in September.

It gets better. In 1836, Alabama was the first state to declare Christmas a public holiday. And Christmas Day was not declared a federal holiday until 1870. So from approximately 1620 until 1870, Christmas was not a big deal in the United States.

The Puritans waged a pretty serious War on Christmas, but do you hear Uncle Billy slamming them? No, he lobs his pine cone grenades at liberals. What did we do? I'll tell you. Liberals for the most part understand the U.S. has this pesky thing called separation of church and state. The same separation of church and state that makes Rick Santorum's tummy feel icky. The same separation of church and state that makes it possible for me to be a Christian, while raising an Atheist son. And this makes Bill-O very, very angry.

You see, in Bill O'Reilly's world, we should all be Christians, and if we're not, well by GOD, he'll either convert us or kill us. Wait, no. Well, maybe. No, Bill O'Reilly has his faults, but I'm pretty sure he's not a member of ISIS. 

In order to understand what has Uncle Bill's red and green boxers in such a twist, let's take a walk through the mind of Sarah Palin.

Sarah Palin is a perfect example of the bullshit spewed by right-wing pundits during this most festive of times. In 2013, her book, Good Tidings and Great Joy: Protecting the Heart of Christmas, was not selling very well. So, the Half-Governor went on the teevee and the radio, to talk about angry Atheists and leftist scum who are destroying Christmas. Jerry Falwell's "university" invited Mrs. Palin to their campus, where she uttered a truly bizarre series of statements. From The New Civil Rights Movement:

"Thomas Jefferson today, he would recognize those who would want to try to ignore that Jesus is the reason for the season, those who would want to try to abort Christ from Christmas," Palin told her religious college audience. "He would recognize, for the most part, these are angry atheists armed with an attorney. They are not the majority of Americans."

Palin exclaimed that the "message" the "angry atheists … need to receive is, no more double standards.'"

"Why is it they get to claim some offense taken when they see a plastic Jewish family on somebody’s lawn -– a nativity scene, that’s basically what it is right? Oh, they take such offense, they say it physically can hurt them, it mentally distresses them so they sue, right? But heaven forbid we claim any kind of offense when we say, 'wait, you’re stripping Jesus from the reason, as the reason for the season,' so that double standard, I think Thomas Jefferson would certainly recognize it."

In Sarah Palin's world, angry Atheists are suing private citizens who have nativity scenes on their front lawns. And Thomas Jefferson, a deist, and the Founding Father who is responsible for the separation of church and state, would somehow side with her. I have no idea if she sold more copies of her book after her appearance at Liberty University; I doubt it, since this year she launched her own web channel, a subscription to which costs more than Netflix.

Back to Uncle Bill. He's been whining about this imaginary War for a very long time. Funny thing, though: In 2005, Bill sold ornaments emblazoned with the name of his show on the Fox website. Tiny problem. These were marketed as "holiday" ornaments, to decorate a "holiday tree." Not Christmas tree ornaments, not your Christmas tree. Don't you fret-as soon as the story and screenshots went public, Fox changed it all to Christmas, because Jesus wants you to buy a Factor ornament. But why would Bill "General Evergreen" O'Reilly leave the word Christmas off his ornaments in the first place?

Well, duh, he's a giant, flaming hypocrite, that's why. O'Reilly knows, as do Gretchen Carlson (see Festivus Freakout) and Sarah Palin, that there is no War on Christmas. This is make-believe thing created to sell books (unless you're Sarah Palin), rile up the base (ring-wing Christians who think the word "God" has always been on our money and in the Pledge of Allegiance), and make money, honey. Fox "News" knows that when their entertainers/pundits start yelling "War on Christmas, hide the Baby Jesus!," their ratings go through the roof. 

Because we all have to remember what Christmas is really all about. Not peace, not goodwill towards others, not giving, not the joy of family and friends. The reason for the season is money. Recall that in 2013, the Half-Governor visited the Today show, and said this:

"I love the commercialization of Christmas! It spreads the Christmas cheer; it's the most jolly holiday obviously on our calendar."

Happy Festivus.