Bachmann’s Last Stand: Tea Party Queen Laments Imaginary Snub By Obama

In many ways I’m going to miss Michele Bachmann. She has provided an unending stream of hilarity during her brief tenure in Congress, and especially her epic run for the Republican nomination for President in 2012.

Michele Bachmann Tea Party

As a parting gift to comedians everywhere, Bachmann visited her pal Bill O’Reilly on Fox News (video below) to regale him with an account of her adventures at the White House Christmas party (which O’Reilly belittled as a “holiday” party). While bragging that attendance at the event was a high honor, she also complained about the less than respectful treatment she received from President Obama. The sad tale went something like this:

“I knew that this would be the last time that I would speak to the President as a member of Congress and I thought, I want to say something substant (sic) to him about what I think is the most consequential issue of the day. […]

“‘Mr. President, with all due respect, I’m concerned about the Iranian nuclear program and I think it would be wise to bomb the program before they obtain a nuclear weapon because once they obtain a nuclear weapon the world changes.’

“The president smiled, and he was fairly condescending and patronizing and said, ‘Well, it’s not quite that easy, Michele. But that’s okay,’ like I’m just, you know, an idiot and I don’t know anything.”

Had Obama intended to imply that Bachmann is an idiot it would have been entirely appropriate. She has proven it herself innumerable times. However, the President’s response was in no way disrespectful. It was pretty much all he could say under the circumstances. Bachmann confronted him with her comment in a photo line where many guests were waiting to greet the First Family. What did she expect him to do? Was he supposed to interrupt this photo-op to engage her in a protracted debate on a complex matter of national security standing there in the foyer? Perhaps she thought his eyes would light up with surprise and he would thank her for contributing such a brilliant idea that had never occurred to him. All things considered, Obama was rather polite after having been lobbied at a Christmas party to bomb another country.

It is that sort of laughably arrogant nonsense that we will miss in the coming years. Unless of course Bachmann signs up with Fox News and joins her comrade Sarah Palin in delivering comic relief (in the form of pseudo-political analysis) whenever she can score some airtime. But we will always have her past record of lunacy to cheer us up. Here’s a short summary of some of her classic moments:

  • Bachmann believed that the government had been infiltrated by enemy Muslims and she joined a group of congressional colleagues to insist on an investigation to uncover them.
  • Bachmann proclaimed her intention to be subservient to her husband were she to be elected president: “…the Lord said, ‘Be submissive. Wives, you are to be submissive to your husbands.’”
  • Bachmann signed a pledge circulated by a radical evangelical asserting that life for African-Americans was better during the era of slavery.
  • Bachmann gushed her admiration for a serial killer: “Just like John Wayne was from Waterloo, Iowa, that’s the kind of spirit that I have, too.” Actually, it was serial murderer and clown painter John Wayne Gacy who was from Waterloo.

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Michele Bachmann Explains “The Way We Spank The President”

Michele Bachmann

When you’re a conservative Tea Party Republican and you’re not certain that you’ve fully established your Teabagger cred, there is only one place to go to shore up the wingnut reputation you so feverishly crave: WorldNetDaily – the premiere web destination for Obama-phobic conspiracy dementia. And that’s just where Tea Party queen Michele Bachmann went to unleash a stream incoherence that must be heard to be believed.

As tempting as it is to focus on Bachmann’s fixation on President Obama’s “magic wand” and her lessons on “the way we spank the President,” I’m going to resist and direct your attention instead to the blatant dishonesty in her interview. She begins with this deliberate falsehood:

Bachmann: “Republicans won’t get patted on the back, or get new votes for passing amnesty. They’re going to get blamed.”

There is, of course, nothing in the immigration reform bill currently being debated that has anything in it that even remotely suggests amnesty. First of all, you need to know that amnesty, by definition, is an act of forgiveness for past offenses. The bill, in its present form, does not forgive any offenses at all. There are stiff financial penalties, as well as obligations to be employed, fluent in English, and free from any criminal record. The process to become a legal resident would take about thirteen years. These punishments and penalties are the opposite of amnesty.

As for Bachmann’s assertion that Republicans would suffer some sort of blame were they to support the bill, she never bothers to explain how that would manifest. The more obvious consequence of failing to support the bill is the continued rejection of the GOP by Latino-Americans, the nation’s fastest growing electoral constituency. Many analysts, including those on the right, warn that Republicans are perilously close to handing traditionally red states like Texas over to the Democrats. And if that weren’t bad enough, Bachmann goes on to say…

Bachmann: “I think that the President, even by executive order, could again wave his magic wand before 2014, and he’d say ‘Now all of the new legal Americans are going to have voting rights.’ Why do I say that? He did it in 2012. Do you remember? Anyone who was here as a Latina, under age thirty, he said you get to vote. What? He decides you get to vote?”

Well, I don’t remember that, Michelle. But then again, I don’t suffer from paranoid hallucinations. In the real world the President never gave the right to vote to anyone, and he has no executive authority to do so. Immigrants can only obtain voting rights by fulfilling all of the requirements of residency and then applying for and passing the mandatory citizenship tests. Bachmann has made up an event that only occurred in her cartoon brain.

She may be confusing a presidential instruction to the INS to assign a lower priority to the deportations of certain undocumented residents who have lived in the U.S. from an early age, are in school or the military, and have no criminal record. These are people who never broke immigration laws because they were brought into the country when they were children by their parents. It is wholly within the authority of the INS to prioritize its enforcement procedures, just as every law enforcement agency does. And most importantly, the people to whom this applies did not, and will not, get any voting rights unless, and until, they become citizens through the usual process.

Of course, Bachmann has a somewhat notorious history for becoming confused, such as the time she claimed to have to have “the kind of spirit” of a serial murderer.

Michele Bachmann
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Tea Party Leader Accuses Grover Norquist Of Growing A Muslim Beard

Can we finally agree that these Teabagging cretins are friggin nuts?

Raw Story is reporting on a Tea Party leader who is making the claim that conservative stalwart and anti-tax crusader Grover Norquist is secretly an Islamic extremist plotting to infiltrate the U.S. government with his Muslim Brotherhood comrades.

“In a video posted by the Far North Dallas Tea Party on Thursday, Texas Eagle Forum President and former Chairman of the Texas Republican Party Cathie Adams presented evidence that Norquist was part of a ‘stealth jihad’ in the United States.

“Adams said that Norquist, who is married to a Muslim woman, was ‘trouble with a capital T’ because ‘he’s showing signs of converting to Islam himself.’ As you see, he has a beard,’ she pointed out. ‘He’s married a Muslim woman.'”

Grover Norquist

Just to reiterate, this is not some fringe Alex Jones disciple – this is a former GOP chair. And she is not alone. Last year Michele Bachmann and four House colleagues (Louie Gohmert, Trent Franks, Thomas Rooney, and Lynn Westmoreland) sent a letter (pdf) to the Department of Homeland Security calling for an investigation into Muslim subversives infiltrating the government. The letter specifically cited a film called “The Enemy Within,” that identified Norquist as an agent of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Remember, Norquist is the guy who said that his goal is to drown the government in a bathtub. So he has had it in for America for decades. The question is: If Norquist is a Muslim jihadist, and almost every Republican in congress has signed Norquist’s “pledge,” then isn’t pretty much the whole of the GOP aligned with Al Qaeda? Considering how much they have in common, this is not really all that surprising. They both want government to be subservient to religion. They are both fiercely opposed to abortion and gay marriage. They both consider torture a valid tactic in warfare. They both dismiss science and modern academia. It all seems so clear now.

When we get to the point that facial hair can be a determinate of terrorist leanings, we have a serious departure from reality. And earlier this year, the lie factory at Fox Nation made a similarly idiotic claim about the evilness of beards. They posted an article sourced to the Washington Times that said that the Aurora theater shooter had converted to Islam in prison, and cited the same evidence (that he grew a beard) of his conversion. As I noted at the time, there are many more converts to Christianity amongst prisoners.

Fox Nation

You really have to wonder where this ends. But more importantly, how can anyone take seriously the unsupported accusations that Tea-publicans make against Obama, Clinton, Holder, etc., if they are so obviously mentally deranged?

Michele Bachmann Abandoning Ship As Perfect Storm Approaches

It’s hard to say who will be hurt most by Michele Bachmann’s announcement that she will not seek reelection – The congressional Tea Party Caucus or America’s comedy writers.

Michele Bachmann

There is no doubt that Bachmann has been the source of endless material for mockery. Her surreal extremism, coupled with a passion for self-promotion, combined to pack a walloping punch of political psychopathy. But according to Bachmann, her exit from the congressional stage must not be viewed as any sort of weakness on her part as a candidate (despite nearly losing last November), nor any commentary on the fact that investigations into her finances have blossomed from the congressional ethics committee to the FBI.

ThinkProgress has complied an entertaining review of Bachmann’s career in congress. And here are a couple of choice morsels they left out:

Bachmann proclaimed her intention to be subservient to her husband were she to be elected president: “…the Lord said, ‘Be submissive. Wives, you are to be submissive to your husbands.’”

Bachmann signed a pledge circulated by a radical evangelical asserting that life for African-Americans was better during the era of slavery.

Bachmann gushed her admiration for a serial killer: “Just like John Wayne was from Waterloo, Iowa, that’s the kind of spirit that I have, too.” Actually, it was murderer and clown painter John Wayne Gacy who was from Waterloo.


Bachmann will now be free to pursue an even greater ambition than gumming up the work of congress. Look for her to make more frequent appearances on Fox News and perhaps even score her own program (watch out Greta Van Susteren). She has plenty of evidence of the profitability of being a right-wing, Teabagging, fruitcake, in the works of her comrade, Sarah Palin. It’s a safe bet that she will journey down the same path and participate in the fleecing of the flock and the lining of her pockets. Because that’s what grifters do.

Question: Is The Tea Party Dead? Answer: It was Never Alive

Dave Weigel at Slate has done some fun sleuthing and discovered that the House Tea Party Caucus, launched by Michele Bachmann, is, if not dead, in critical condition and slipping away fast:

Today, the membership page for the caucus is defunct. The caucus hasn’t met since July 2012; it has posted no news since July 2012. In the press, “Tea Party caucus” has become an offhand way to refer to conservatives. In her speech to CPAC, which included a typically Bachmann-ian error about how much TANF money is wasted on administration, Bachmann didn’t mention “the Tea Party.”

The only dispute I have with Weigel’s analysis is that the Tea Party cannot be dead if it was never alive. It has long been my observation that there never was a Tea Party. All of its constituents are Republicans (or vote Republican). All of the elected representatives who associate themselves with it are Republicans. All of its policy positions are straight from the GOP Party platform. Much of it’s original organizing muscle was provided by establishment Republican operatives like Dick Armey’s FreedomWorks and GOP flacks Russo Marsh & Rogers. The Tea Party is, and always has been, a wholly owned subsidiary of the GOP, and everyone from Republican leadership to the GOP PR agency (aka Fox News) knows it:

John Boehner, House Minority Leader: There really is no difference between what Republicans believe in and what the tea party activists believe in.

Michael Steele, Republican Party Chairman: It’s important for our party to appreciate and understand that so we can move toward it, and embrace it.

Mark Skoda, Tea Party Leader: This movement is beginning to mature … not as a third party but a force to be reckoned with in the traditional party structure.

Carl Cameron, Fox News: They plan to establish separate spin off political action committees to fund raise for candidates who back Tea Party goals and the official Republican National Committee platform.

Newt Gingrich, Former GOP House Speaker: If the Republican Party offers a positive alternative in a way that Tea Party activists and independents join them, the tide could turn.

GOP Tea PartyConsequently, the Tea Party could not have died. Its purpose was to promote the most extreme, far-right positions of the GOP and to denounce compromise and cooperation. That stubbornness has resulted in unprecedented gridlock in Washington and decline in support for the Republican Party to historic lows. The Tea-publican bonds are tightly wrapped and they cannot pretend they were never an item. The GOP web site even featured a page explicitly aligning themselves with “Tea Bagging” (which is interesting because they now consider the term derogatory).

So, no…the Tea Party is not dead. It was never alive. And its place in the GOP is as firm as ever despite their failure to acknowledge it. Bachmann’s defunct caucus is a joke and the infighting between the GOP establishment and their Tea Party wing is just more fertile material for humor. Karl Rove and Sarah Palin are at each others throats. RNC chair Reince Priebus and Rush Limbaugh are feuding fiercely. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell faces a Tea-publican primary challenger. And John Boehner is being ostracized from within his own ranks.

Aah yes, these are good times.

American Conservatives Who Still Think That Slavery Was A Good Thing

Right-Wing RacismFor obvious reasons, the American conservative movement has long been dogged by accusations of racism and racial insensitivity. From their famed Southern strategy to their determined efforts to suppress minority voting via phony voter ID initiatives to their race-baiting Obama attacks, conservatives have made clear their opposition to a tolerant, multicultural America. In fact, much of their electoral strategy relies on scaring older, white voters about blacks and Hispanics taking over “their” country.

It’s not uncommon to hear a prominent conservative, even one who holds elected office, make patently offensive remarks, yet some occasionally hit an unimaginable low. This week, it was revealed that Republican Rep. Jon Hubbard has published a book in which he wrote that “[T]he institution of slavery that the black race has long believed to be an abomination upon its people may actually have been a blessing in disguise.” He defended his book on Wednesday, telling the Jonesboro Sun that he still believed slavery to be a blessing because it helped blacks come to America. Yes, he praised slavery. And when given the opportunity to backpedal, he doubled down.

This article was also published on Alternet

You may think that this does not occur often. You would be wrong. Here are a few other prominent conservatives who have suggested slavery was not all that bad.

1) Pat Buchanan
In his essay “A Brief for Whitey,” Buchanan agreed that slavery was a net positive saying that, “America has been the best country on earth for black folks. It was here that 600,000 black people, brought from Africa in slave ships, grew into a community of 40 million, were introduced to Christian salvation, and reached the greatest levels of freedom and prosperity blacks have ever known.”

2 & 3) Michele Bachmann and Rick Santorum
Bob Vander Plaats, the leader of the arch-conservative Family Leader, a religious organization that opposes same-sex marriage, got GOP presidential candidates Bachmann and Santorum to sign his pledge asserting that life for African-Americans was better during the era of slavery: “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.”

4) Art Robinson
Robinson was a publisher and a GOP candidate for congress in Oregon. One of the books he published included this evaluation of life under slavery: “The negroes on a well-ordered estate, under kind masters, were probably a happier class of people than the laborers upon any estate in Europe.”

5) Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson
Peterson is a conservative preacher who articulated this bit of gratitude: “Thank God for slavery, because if not, the blacks who are here would have been stuck in Africa.”

6) David Horowitz
Horowitz is the president of the David Horowitz Freedom Center and edits the ultra-conservative FrontPage Magazine. In a diatribe against reparations for slavery, Horowitz thought this argument celebrating the luxurious life of blacks in America would bolster his case: “If slave labor created wealth for Americans, then obviously it has created wealth for black Americans as well, including the descendants of slaves.”

7) Wes Riddle
Riddle was a GOP congressional candidate in Texas with some peculiar conspiracy theories on a variety of subjects. His appreciation for what slavery did for African-Americans was captured in this comment: “Are the descendants of slaves really worse off? Would Jesse Jackson be better off living in Uganda?”

8) Trent Franks
Franks is the sitting congressman for the 2nd congressional district in Arizona. As shown here, he believes that a comparison of the tribulations of African-Americans today to those of their ancestors in the Confederacy would favor a life in bondage: “Far more of the African American community is being devastated by the policies of today than were being devastated by the policies of slavery.”

9) Ann Coulter
Known for her incendiary rhetoric and hate speech, Coulter was right in character telling Megyn Kelly of Fox News that, “The worst thing that was done to black people since slavery was the great society programs.”

10) Rep. Loy Mauch
This Arkansas GOP state legislator has found biblical support for his pro-slavery position. He wrote to the Democrat-Gazette to inquire, “If slavery were so God-awful, why didn’t Jesus or Paul condemn it, why was it in the Constitution and why wasn’t there a war before 1861?”

There is an almost palpable nostalgia amongst some conservatives for a bygone era wherein they could sip Mint Juleps under the Magnolias while the fields were tended to by unpaid lackeys. And it isn’t a vague insinuation. Mitt Romney supporter Ted Nugent declared explicitly that “I’m beginning to wonder if it would have been best had the South won the Civil War.” Allen West, the chairman of Romney’s Black Leadership Council, frequently portrays Democrats as plantation masters who want to enslave American citizens. And no one should regard it as a coincidence that so much of this racist animus has surfaced during the term of the first African-American president of the United States.

It’s one thing to harbor such offensive racial prejudices privately, but when people in public life are comfortable enough to openly express opinions like these, it reveals something of the character of their movement. And what’s worse is that conservative and Republican leaders, given the opportunity, refuse to repudiate the remarks. Mitt Romney has stated that all he’s concerned about is getting 50.1% of the vote, and if that means tolerating appeals to racist voters in order to attain his goal, then it’s just a part of the process. Conservatives often complain about being characterized as racists, but there’s a simple solution to that problem that would make it go away overnight: Stop being racist.

UNHINGED: The Crackpot Conspiracy Theories Of Clueless Conservatives

This article was also published on Alternet.

Conservatives and professional Obama haters have been nurturing an animosity for Obama that far exceeds anything directed at previous presidents. The lengths that they will go to bury Obama in mud often resemble D-Movie spy plots that set new standards for implausibility. The all too familiar birther conspiracies that allege that President Obama is a Manchurian socialist bent on transforming America into an Islamic Caliphate are mere fairy tales when compared to some of the horror stories that shiver the spines of the delusional right.

The frequency and outlandishness of their conspiratorial imaginations grows in sync with their desperation. With Obama leading in most polls and the election season drawing to a close, it seems like a good time to recap some of the more ludicrous conspiracies hatched by our conservative fear mongers. So with our tin-foil hats securely strapped on, let’s venture down the primrose path of hair-raising hypothesis.

Cooking the Unemployment Rate
The most recent crackpottery of the right was revealed last week as new unemployment numbers were released. The new data put the unemployment rate at 7.8%, the lowest it has been since the Bush administration cratered the economy on their way out of town. Almost immediately, right-wingers declared that the numbers were manufactured by Obama’s henchmen in the Labor Department. Never mind the fact that the Bureau of Labor Statistics is an independent body that currently has no Obama appointees serving. That didn’t stop conspiracists like Jack Welch from alleging that they are “Unbelievable jobs numbers..these Chicago guys will do anything..can’t debate so change numbers.” That unsubstantiated charge was adopted by Rep. Allen West, Fox News’ Stuart Varney, and much of the rest of the right-wing media circus.

The Media is Skewing the Polls
For several weeks now, Obama has maintained a steady lead in election polling. That fact has been difficult for conservatives to square with their conviction that Obama is the most hated man in America. Consequently, they must conclude that all of the polls have been tampered with by scheming liberals. However, for their conspiracy to be credible, they would have to include Fox News and Rasmussen amongst the conniving lefties because their polling also puts Obama in the lead. One way they have found to workaround that inconvenient fact is to ignore the polls that challenge their thesis. Therefore, Fox News simply neglects to report on polls that show the President leading – even their own Fox News polls.

Fox Nation Polls

Politicizing the Stock Market
In a year when the economy is such an integral part of the news cycle, conservatives have found it necessary to glom onto any factoid that they can use to bash the President. That manifests into a frenzy of spin that casts any decline in the stock market as the fault of Obama, and any increase as investor speculation that Obama is on the way out. Last week, many of the right-dominated business networks feebly described a positive day for the Dow as a Romney rally, simply because it occurred on the day after the presidential debate. There is a long history of the right making idiotic assessments of the stock market. In May of 2009, Fox News anchor Brenda Buttner gushed, “Call it a tea party rally. Wall Street’s sure partying, up six weeks in a row.” In September of 2011, Fox Nation reported “Stocks Tumble Worldwide After Obama Speech.” Then in June of 2012, they fantasized that “Stock Market Drops After Obamacare Upheld.” Fox’s Neil Cavuto hosted a discussion of what he called the “Bush recovery” nine months into Obama’s term. What they commonly miss is that markets traditionally perform better under Democratic administrations than Republicans.

Obama is Coming for Your Guns
This conspiracy theory takes a considerable measure of willful suspension of disbelief. The National Rifle Association has alerted its members that a second Obama term will result in the repeal of the second amendment and a wholesale confiscation of guns. Their evidence of this is that Obama has done nothing at all to roll back gun rights during his first term. That, they surmise, is a devious trick to lull gun rights advocates into a false sense of security. Then, when Obama is no longer facing a reelection campaign, he will be free to curtail all of our precious liberties.

The Social Security Administration’s Arms Cache
When it was discovered that the Social Security Administration had purchased 174,000 bullets, the right-wing sirens went off and presumed that they were preparing for massive civil unrest and intended to use the ammo on Americans. “‘Why would the U.S. government want the SSA to kill 174,000 of our citizens, even during a time of civil unrest?’ Maj. Gen. Jerry Curry wrote on the conservative website The Daily Caller.” That would be a good question if it weren’t rooted in utter dementia. In fact, the actual reason for the purchase was a routine acquisition to arm conventional security personnel at the agency’s offices across the country.

The Muslim Mole in the Secretary of State’s Office
A longtime aide to Hillary Rodham Clinton was accused by conservatives of having ties to the Muslim Brotherhood. Huma Abedin has worked with Clinton for many years as a trusted and effective public servant. No evidence was given for the repugnant allegations that cast her as a traitorous double agent. She is also married to former Rep. Anthony Weiner, who is Jewish and unlikely to be affiliated with Muslim extremists. But that didn’t stop Rep. Michele Bachmann who said, “it appears that there are individuals who are associated with the Muslim Brotherhood who have positions, very sensitive positions” in our government. She was joined by other prominent conservatives like Newt Gingrich and Frank Gaffney. This conspiracy dove-tails nicely with those alleging that Obama is a Muslim plant as well.

Fact-Checkers Are A Liberal Plot
Creative and shameless conservatives are establishing a new and unique front in the political war zone. Not satisfied with bashing everything about the media (despite the fact that talk radio and their own Fox News are a huge part of it), the wackoids on the right have declared war against – get this – Fact-checkers! This may seem wildly deranged, but upon reflection it makes perfect sense. If your entire movement is built on a foundation of lies, then fact-checkers are your mortal enemy. This became clear a few weeks ago when Neil Newhouse, a Mitt Romney adviser, publicly declared that “We’re not going to let our campaign be dictated by fact-checkers.” Since then they have disputed or ignored every challenge of their truthfulness. The result is a record setting collection of dishonorable mentions from PolitiFact and other media lie detectors.

Romney Fact Checkers

The Secret Behind The Gulf Oil Spill
When millions of barrels of oil were pouring into the waters of the Gulf of Mexico, most Americans were disturbed by the devastating environmental damage and the negligence of the company operating the drilling platform. But conservatives led by Rush Limbaugh saw through the scheme and revealed that the massive malfunction was actually a deliberate act of sabotage devised to create a justification for eliminating all off-shore drilling. Limbaugh told his audience that “I want to get back to the timing of the blowing up, the explosion out there in the Gulf of Mexico of this oil rig … What better way to head off more oil drilling, nuclear plants, than by blowing up a rig?” You can’t argue with logic like that, because it’s the logic of a mad man who thinks the President would murder twelve workers and foul an environmentally sensitive region in order to achieve a political goal.

Obamacare’s Death Panels
No list of conspiracy theories would be complete without a mention of Sarah Palin’s “death panels.” These nefarious groups were said to have the power to decide whether your grandmother would live or die based on her level of productivity to society as determined by a team of government bureaucrats. In reality the section of the Affordable Care Act to which Palin referred actually provided for coverage to pay for end-of-life counseling. These were voluntary sessions to help patients determine and document what sort of life-saving measures they preferred in the event that they were incapacitated and unable to communicate their wishes to their doctors. When that proved to be an embarrassing misinterpretation of the law, conservatives switched to another section of the bill, the Independent Payment Advisory Board, and called that the death panel. However, the IPAB was simply a board that assessed the best practices in medicine and made non-binding recommendations in order to prevent excessive billing and unnecessary procedures. Palin was awarded the “Lie of the Year” award from PolitiFact for her imaginary panel.

The Green Plot to Enslave the World
Conservatives have never taken to science. So it should come as no surprise that many of them regard global warming as a hoax whose purpose is to enrich Al Gore and a few socialist wind farmers. But there is another faction of the anti-environment movement that has uncovered something even more dastardly lurking behind the effort to maintain a clean, sustainable planet. Agenda 21, a little known and non-binding resolution adopted by the United Nations is viewed by some on the right as an attempt to control the lives of people throughout the world by regulating everything they do. Amongst their paranoid fears is that Agenda 21 will cede U.S. sovereignty to the U.N. and a one-world government. The truth is that Agenda 21 is a set of principles to guide the development of practices to preserve a sustainable environment for future generations. It is entirely voluntary and was agreed to by the U.N. in 1992 and signed by President George H.W. Bush. But to hear doomsayers like Glenn Beck put it, it will “suck all the blood out of [our communities], and we will not be able to survive.”

These are but a few of the tales woven by angst-ridden right-wingers in the dark moments when their thoughts wander from rational reality. However, the science that they scorn may have an explanation for their fantastical imaginings. Ryota Kanai, at the University College London Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience, examined how liberals and conservatives brains differ. Among the findings were that the brains of liberals have a larger anterior cingulate cortex which has been shown to produce thought proceses that are more flexible and reliant on data, proof, and analytic reasoning. Conservatives are more likely to have an enlarged amygdala which is associated with greater inflexibility, emotion, and fear response.

This could account for conservatives having a greater susceptibility to conspiracy models of thinking. Whatever the explanation, it is clear that their senses are working overtime and the results produce some pretty wild visions of nightmarish liberals threatening America’s very existence. They seem to have taken very seriously the warning from the Reagan-era horror film, The Fly: Be afraid. Be very afraid.

Fox Nation: Historic Debacle At CNN

It has been well documented that Fox News is a disreputable enterprise that shuns any semblance of journalistic ethics. The most recent example, producing and airing an anti-Obama campaign-style video, perfectly demonstrates how far afield they are from a being legitimate news organization. Amongst the traits of Fox News that separate them from the pack is their tendency to attack their peers in the news business. That is almost unheard of from other cable networks, newspapers, or other outlets.

Fox Nation

Today Fox News continued in that vein by leaping on the Nielsen ratings reports for May 2012. To be sure, CNN’s ratings were dismal. But so were the ratings for Fox which declined double digits and notched a primetime low that they haven’t seen since 2008. Nevertheless, Fox reported only on CNN’s numbers and ignored their own sickly showing. And nowhere in their story did they note that the decline was primarily due to the inflated ratings in May 2011, when the killing of Osama Bin Laden, hurricanes in the Midwest, and Casey Anthony were dominating the airwaves.

That said, Fox is inadvertently correct about a debacle at CNN, but not the way they mean. CNN is suffering a decline in viewership that is historic mainly because they pioneered the concept of the 24 hour cable news network but are now languishing in last place. But if they are perplexed by the sorry turn of fate they have experienced in recent years it is only because of their own willful blindness to the circumstances that led to it.

When Fox News began to approach and overtake CNN in the ratings, CNN management made the foolish mistake of concluding that Fox’s success was related to their blatant conservative bias and abandonment of journalistic principles. While that was (and is) the model for Fox’s programming, that played only a small part in their success story. The real reason that Fox excelled was that they had switched the deck. They were not in any practical sense a news network. Their programming was (and is) closer to an entertainment channel than anything else. They feature shallow, sensationalistic stories that rely heavily on melodrama, controversy, emotion and sex – the main characteristics of soap operas and reality shows. And they decorate their broadcasts with flashy graphics and sound effects that would be more appropriate for game shows. That’s what draws their viewers in, and that is always more compelling than actual news content.

However, CNN panicked and decided that the way to compete with Fox was to emulate their right-wing partisanship and theatrics. Ironically, even Fox’s business network recognized that emulating Fox News was a losing strategy. Fox Business Network VP Kevin Magee sent a memo to his staff saying that…

“…the more we make FBN look like FNC the more of a disservice we do to ourselves. I understand the temptation to imitate our sibling network in hopes of imitating its success, but we cannot. If we give the audience a choice between FNC and the almost-FNC, they will choose FNC every time.”

CNN Tea PartyUnfortunately, no one at CNN could grasp that simple truth. Instead they installed Ken Jautz, a rabidly right-wing promoter, as it’s chief. Jautz was the man who gave Glenn Beck his first job in television. Then CNN went on a hiring binge that consisted of the most unsavory figures from Wingnutlandia including: Amy Holmes (of Glenn Beck’s GBTV), Will Cain (of Beck’s The Blaze), Erick Erickson (of the uber-conservative blog RedState), Dana Loesch (of Breitbart News and the Tea Party), and E.D. Hill, a former Fox anchor and Bill O’Reilly guest host, who is most famous for saying that a friendly fist bump between the President and the First Lady was really a “terrorist fist jab.”

CNN demonstrated its new found rightist perspective by producing programming that was straight out of the conservative PR playbook. They were the only cable news network to broadcast live Michele Bachmann’s Tea Party response to Obama’s State of the Union address. They co-sponsored a GOP primary debate with the corrupt Tea Party Express. They also co-sponsored a debate with the ultra-right-wing Heritage Foundation and the American Enterprise Institute.

For a network that claims to be the only truly neutral source for news, CNN has conspicuously failed to permit a representative from to respond to a presidential address, nor to co-host a debate with the Center for American Progress. They have navigated toward a full-on Foxification of the network without any pretense to objectivity or balance.

And what have they got for it? A steep collapse to last place in the ratings, an embarrassing forfeiture of credibility, a severe loss of viewer loyalty and respect, and the pleasure of becoming a target of Fox’s ridicule.

As a division of TimeWarner, CNN has the resources to brand itself as a powerhouse news provider. They have more domestic and international news bureaus than any television news enterprise. They have access to the talent and technology that could set them apart from their competitors. Yet they fail to take advantage of these assets. And worse, they squander them in the vain hope of being FoxLite.

That’s what I call an historic debacle. And it’s why CNN just posted their worst ratings in twenty years. It’s also why they are now seen as an object of sympathy as Fox News batters them in the ratings and in the press. The first step in rehabilitating themselves would be to recognize their problem and clean house. Then they would need to fight back. If they would aggressively hammer at Fox as a lightweight purveyor of lies in a flashy, soap opera package, they might just begin to recover some measure of pride and start their long trek back to legitimacy.

Will There Be Another Live Tea Party Response To The State Of The Union?

After last year’s State of the Union address by President Obama, the Tea Party produced a response delivered by Michele Bachmann, the founder of the Congressional Tea Party Caucus. Astonishingly, this irrelevant and amateurish production was broadcast live by CNN immediately following the Republican response. It was one of the most surreal and embarrassing lapses in judgment by a news network for the whole year.

This year, the Tea Party Express (TPE) has announced that they will produce a similar response featuring failed GOP presidential aspirant and serial sexual harasser, Herman Cain. There is no indication at this time whether CNN intends to carry his response. The choice of Cain leaves little to the imagination about the content of the Tea Party response. Cain has already expressed his opinion that Obama is a liar who engages in rhetorical bullshit:

Herman Cain

Stay classy, Herman. I couldn’t care less what, or who, a disreputable organization like TPE wants to waste their time on. They are best known for funneling the donations from their supporters into the coffers of the GOP PR firm that created the group, and they were thrown out of the Tea Party Federation due to racist remarks by their spokesman. But it would be unconscionable for CNN, or any other network, to broadcast their extremist tripe again on live television.

It is an incontestable fact the Tea Party is the far-right flank of the Republican Party and it is losing even the meager support that it managed to achieved. It does not deserve to be elevated to the status of legitimate political party by media that is only interested in generating fake controversy. Carrying the Tea Party response to the State of the Union amounts to having two Republican rebuttals to a single speech by the President.

If the media is concerned with responsible reporting they will not repeat the absurdity of last year by broadcasting the Tea Party response. However, if they do choose to proceed with such a broadcast, then they should be fair and balanced and also air a response from the other side. The Congressional Progressive Caucus (a much longer established and larger group than the Tea Party) could produce a response suitable for broadcast. Or an independent group (i.e. Common Cause, Rebuild the Dream, AFL-CIO, etc.) could put together a response. They could get Robert Reich or Al Franken or Elizabeth Warren to act as the spokesperson.

Given that the State of the Union is just a couple of days away, it is important to act quickly to ensure that a response is available to the networks. Then, if the press goes ahead with a Tea Party response they will have to provide equal time or explain their obvious bias. Anyone reading this with access to the people or organizations that could put this together is encouraged to pass the idea along ASAP. Let’s not be caught unaware again.

Lyin’ Ass Bitch: Michele Bachmann Appears on the Jimmy Fallon Show

You gotta love this. When Michele Bachmann was introduced on last night’s Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, The Roots, the show’s house band, played a particularly appropriate number as she walked out onto the stage:

Yep, that was “Lyin’ Ass Bitch” by the incomparable Fishbone. This was an inspired selection by The Roots that went undetected by Bachmann. However, Glenn Beck took note and was overwhelmed with apoplexy. He called Fallon a “despicable human being,” and insisted that Fallon fire the band, saying…

“Fire them! You won’t. You know why? Because you’re a girl.”

Way to go, Glenn. The best insult you can come up with is one that shows contempt for all women? And this is what you use for your defense of a woman running for president. Would Bachmann also be incapable of terminating an employee? What would your pal Sarah Palin say?

Beck claimed that he never would have done such a vile thing. He said that he wouldn’t even do that to Michelle Obama or George Soros. But Beck’s phony indignation is repudiated by the fact that he has been far more repulsive in his attacks. He routinely insults Michelle Obama’s appearance and refers to her as a dictator just because she advocates healthy diets for children. And speaking of children, Beck has called the Obama kids stupid. And after apologizing for that he called John McCain’s daughter, Meghan, fat.

As for George Soros, Beck produced a three day series on his Fox News show dedicated solely to Soros whom Beck labeled the “Puppet Master,” an old Nazi slur for Jews. Beck also falsely accused Soros, a Holocaust survivor, of sending fellow Jews to the gas chambers. Soros was nine years old at the time.

And then there’s Beck’s comments on President Obama. Beck has called the President a liar, an idiot, a racist, and a traitor. While the Fallon show, a comedy program, merely played a few bars of a song with a provocative title without ever mentioning the title or the lyrics, Beck has used explicit language to express his repulsive thoughts and he did so on a so-called “news” network.

Does Beck really think that his direct and repeated insults are less abhorrent than a suggestive musical introduction for Bachmann? It should also be noted that this morning Beck made an announcement on his radio program that, although he does not endorse candidates, he would vote for Bachmann, and then he spent several minutes explaining why she is now his choice for president.

This disgusting little hypocrite continues to prove that he has no moral center whatsoever. He behaves like an emotionally stunted delinquent who mocks people he despises but shrinks back into a defensive crouch if anyone should mock him or his idols. I can’t wait for him to appear on Fallon’s show. The band wouldn’t even have to learn a new song. Beck is at least as much a lyin’ ass bitch as Bachmann.