February 20, 2009

End Times Prophecy, Meet Neo-McCarthyism

In past posts to this blog I’ve briefly examined our constitution and the first five amendments. I’ve posited that the first and second were possibly in priority order, with the freedom of expression, a free and vital press, and religious freedoms to be primary in the eyes of our founders, with an armed citizenry in place to protect these liberties. In subsequent posts (here, here, here and here) I blogged about actual or potential infringements of the first and second amendment. Some of the potentials I described are subtle, as in the Third Wave/Sarah Palin piece describes.

Today I’d like to point to what happens when we are deluded into letting our guard down and accepting a wolf in sheep’s clothing into our fold.

Beware the Wolf

The religious right comes to us wrapped up in the guise of “family values.” They champion the fact that they have it and, by implication, that the Democrats don’t. Even on the surface that is absurd, but, if 10 years of Republican controlled congress and eight years in the White House tell the real story, it must be what the people believe. I find it difficult to blame Jane Q. Citizen for wanting a government based on traditional values. The problem comes in how we describe these values. A voter from rural Nebraska will obviously have different values than one from Manhattan. Voting patterns indicate that rural folk lean to a more conservative candidate, while voters from more densely populated regions tend to be more liberal.

So, what happens when there comes a candidate running for a national office with a voter base in a mostly rural area of Minnesota? She professes deep religious (Christian, of course) beliefs, has previously championed religious causes, and has become the darling of the right wing conservative movement.. She even graduated from Bob Jones University. What happens? You get Michele Marie Bachmann elected to be the Republican Representative of Minnesota's 6th congressional district.

So where is the real problem in this? Many of similar stripe have come before, and the district is pretty hardcore Republican, so it seems appropriate that Bachmann would be a good fit. The problem is that the voters were fooled by a wolf in disguise. Many eventually recognized this, but it was too little, too late.

Although it seemed likely that she had torpedoed her own reelection hopes, Bachmann defeated Democratic Elwyn Tinklenberg in the 2008 election. This election gained national attention following a television interview in which she called on the media to investigate unnamed members of Congress for anti-American activities. She made a special inclusion of then Senator Barack Obama.

More Iceberg Exposed

Bachmann’s history includes some very interesting clues to what we now find in the Minnesota 6th District office. In 1993, along with some other parents, Bachmann helped open New Heights, a K – 12 Charter school in Stillwater, MN. Theschool quickly ran into trouble with both state and federal law. Minnesota charter schools receive funding from the state and operate as tax exempt 501c3 non-profit agencies. Oversight is by the local school district. The problems started when a group of parents went to the school board complaining about the school’s leadership. The school’s board of directors, of which Bachmann was a member, was illegally attempting to insert Christianity into the curriculum. Creationism was being taught and the theory of evolution was all but banned. The confrontation eventually led Bachmann and four other board members to resigning.

In 1998 Bachmann was again in the spotlight. She was gaining favor with the Christian right by her opposition to the Minnesota "Profile of Learning", which was intended to raise the state’s standard for high schools. Bachmann’s position on these new standards were in line with the Maple River Education Coalition (now called EdWatch) and the Minnesota Family Institute, both Christian based political organizations.

Creationism Morphs to Intelligent Design

Bachmann had foster children living under her care. In 1996, while here biological children attended the charter school she founded, these children were attending public schools in the same school district. Bachmann wanted the same Christian curriculum taught in the public schools as she had attempted to slip into the charter school, so she started and spearheaded an effort to have intelligent design taught alongside the scientific theory of evolution in science classes. The effort failed.

A couple years later Bachmann ran for a seat on the Stillwater school board. Revisionist historians would be proud of the way she denied having ever attempted injecting her religion into the classroom.

Faggots Beware!

Over the next several years Bachmann ran for and was elected to a variety of state offices, including State Senator. While serving in that office she organized and appeared at various public rallies for an assortment of socially conservative causes. She soon established herself as a true ally of the religious right. At an October 2003 “Ten Commandments Rally,” broadcast on the local Christian radio station, Bachmann called for a return to “biblical and Christian” values. She went so far as to call for the posting of the Ten Commandments in classrooms and in public buildings.

The next month, Bachmann proposed a constitutional amendment, co-authored with Representative Mary Holberg, to ban same-sex marriage. The amendment was opposed by members of the Minnesota Democrat Farmer Labor party. In March of 2004, along with a coalition of religious leaders, Bachmann promoted a rally in support of the bill on the steps of the statehouse. About 3,000 people attended. At this rally the 35 DFL opponents of the amendment were demonized and threatened. Rally participants received maps of the Capitol with these senator’s offices marked. Rally organizers urged their flock to go forth and flood the offices of the heathens. Good Christians, eh?

Bachmann’s insistent demands for a vote on the amendment were fought by the DFL with equal resolve. The ensuing floor battles completely stalled the 2004 session to the point that no other legislation could survive. Even the budget measure failed to make it to the floor. Banning gay marriage, it appears, was more important to this woman than the fiscal survival of her state.

In the end reason prevailed and the effort failed. In 2004, at least, the same-sex marriage prohibition would not see daylight. Not to be denied, Bachmann brought it up again in the 2005 session. By this time she had been appointed head of policy for the Senate Republican Caucus, chaired by Dick Day. She was being groomed to run for the 6th district congressional seat. Even though it again failed, she organized another demonstration at the statehouse, with speaking guest Governor Tom Pawlenty and Tony Perkins, of the Family Research Council. Minority Leader Day fired Bachmann three months later, citing “philosophical reasons”.

Ms. Bachmann Goes to Washington

It was only a few months later when the 6th District congressman, Mark Kennedy, announced he would run for a Senate seat, and Bachmann threw her hat in the ring for the seat Kennedy would vacate. Hew stature in Washington was immediately apparent, as one Republican dignitary after another came to Minnesota to stump and help raise funds for her campaign. Dennis Hastert, then Speaker of the House, Presidential Chief of Staff Karl Rove, VP Dick Cheeny and even the Shrub himself visited Minnesota. It is notable that most of Bachmann’s in-state funding came by donations from contributors outside her district, and that none of the Washington VIP’s ever visited the 6th District.

In a previous piece I talked of the National Republican Congressional Committee’s (NRCC) involvement in dirty tricks by using a phone bank to make dummy calls. Well, about the time all that was happening the RNCC was funneling something close to $3 million into an electronic and direct-mail dirty tricks campaign targeted against Bachmann’s Democratic opponent, Patty Wetterling. Even with this cash injection and the VIP fundraising tour, Wetterling raised more than Bachmann by about double.

Then came the November 2005 debate in which Bachmann first showed her true self in a public, videotaped, irrefutable format. "There is a movement afoot that's occurring and part of that is whole philosophical idea of multicultural diversity, which on the face sounds wonderful. Let's appreciate and value everyone's cultures. But guess what? Not all cultures are equal. Not all values are equal." See the video.

Christians Roll out the Big Guns

The evangelicals badly wanted a win for Bachmann, so they hitched up the big horses. James Dodson’s group, Focus on the Family, spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on the campaign (NOTE: Dobson has found a new favorite wingnut in Minnesota politics). A more local church, pastored by Mac Hammond, has found itself in deep doo doo for contributing to the Bachmann campaign. Bachmann spoke at Hammond’s Living Word Christian Center, stating in part, “You are now looking at a fool for Christ. This is a fool for Christ.”

This must have been what the Minnesota voters want to hear, because Bachmann went on to win the election, and was reelected in 2008, in spite of several verbal blunders.

Joe McCarthy in Lipstick

Incumbents have a real edge and almost always win. Thus when Democrat Elwyn Tinklenberg tossed his hat in the ring almost nobody gave him much hope. Democrats thought they might have a chance based upon Tinklenberg's credentials. He had held a statewide office as Transportation Commissioner, and was a former Methodist minister. In October 2008, Bachmann gave Tinklenberg some much needed ammunition.

In a Friday, October 17 2008 televised interview with MSNBC’s Chris Matthews, Bachmann makes statements that raise the specter of the long deceased House Un-American Activities Committee, and the Senate’s own Joe McCarthy.

Among other rather reactionary comments, Bachmann questions then Presidential candidate Obama’s patriotism, calling him and his wife Michelle, “un-American.” See the full video here.

Even though the Tinklenberg campaign’s phone rang off the hook in reaction to the interview, and donations poured in over the next several days, Bachmann won reelection.

Now it is February 2009 and we have a new President. Bachmann apparently didn't learn much from the Hardball debacle, even though she has since called it a "big mistake" and has all but stopped talking to the mainstream media, but that hasn't stopped her from putting her foot in her mouth. In the clip below we hear her on Chris Baker's KTLK conservative talk show spouting off about the recently passed stimulus package.

As has been the case with much of her political career, this is more of Bachmann's fact-free ranting. This may be the kind of representation rural Minnesota wants, but for some reason I have a tough time swallowing it.

However, there is a movement afoot to draft a Bachmann-Palin ticket for 2012. Wouldn't that be interesting?



Rogue Medic said...

Why is it that these obsessive sexual fanatics are not seen as perverts, but their prey are?

chuckr44 said...

"Not all cultures are equal. Not all values are equal."

OMG. I can't believe someone said that in real life. In some movie, I remember someone saying "All men are created equal. But some are more equal than others."