March 29, 2009

The Tattlesnake – GOP: Road to the Nut House Edition

Conservative Christopublican Michele Bachmann Offends American History By Quoting Liberal Deist Thomas Jefferson

Descending into obscurity, bereft of leadership, and driven to distraction by Obama’s cool, the fading Republican Party has opened yet another can of crackpot and let it pour over the religiously bewitched and acutely ignorant leftovers of nasty Nixonism, regressive Reaganism and bumbling Bushism.

Joining the cranky ranks of Michael Steele, Rush Limbaugh, Bill O’Reilly, Sean Hannity, Newt Gingrich, Ann Coulter, Mike Pence, John Boehner and all of the other daft neocons needing professional help, the new can in question is boiling-over-the-top-crazy Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota, who barely won reelection in 2008 over an obscure Tolkien character named, no kidding, Elwyn Tinklenberg. No offense to poor old Elwyn, but Tinklenberg is a politician like Limbaugh is a neurosurgeon.

Bachmann’s fringe-right dementedness is nothing new for her, as the excellent Dump Bachmann blog has archived, just not yet exposed to a national audience. In fact, Michele’s been in the forefront of every extreme Christopublican-corporatist nutcase movement since she was in the MN state legislature. In her Jesuitic devotion to the poor, she vehemently opposed any increase in the minimum wage, saying in January of 2005: “Literally, if we took away the minimum wage … we could potentially virtually wipe out unemployment completely because we would able to offer jobs at whatever level.” (No doubt she did not mean this to include Minnesota Congresswomen, nor any member of their immediate families.)

She has also been a stern Old Testament foe of all things gay, as this quote from a 2004 interview on a Minnesota radio program called “Prophetic Views Behind The News” highlights: “This is a very serious matter [homosexuality], because it is our children who are the prize for this community, they are specifically targeting our children.” (The gay is comin’ ta get ya!)

But just so the reader doesn’t think this might have been a singular anti-gay eruption elicited by one too many cocktails, there are also these tidbits from something called the ‘EdWatch National Education Conference’ in November 2004: “If you’re involved in the gay and lesbian lifestyle, it’s bondage. It is personal bondage, personal despair and personal enslavement.” (As opposed to the bondage, despair and enslavement to corporate kindness caused by the lack of a minimum wage.) At the same venue, she took the hatchet to companies that neglected to contribute to her campaign fund, “They aren’t just kind of gay-friendly, they are gay advocates at Proctor and Gamble… Here’s just a few other companies that support the pro-homosexual agenda. They include Levi-Strauss, American Airlines, Sara Lee Bakery, Jaguar and Land Rover.” (“Sara Lee – Their Delicious Cakes Will Make You Gay!”)

Bachmann has also had some curious encounters with the law, as her bizarre “Bathroomgate” story elucidates. It seems in 2005, Bachmann was at a town meeting at the New Scandia Township, MN, city hall and went to the restroom. As she was leaving, two women who had been at the meeting asked to talk to her – the hysterical Michele thought she was being trapped by agents of GLBT, started screaming and later filed a police report for harassment (.pdf file). The two ‘agents’ turned out to be women who did not know each other, and apparently had no contact to GLBT, who simply wanted to continue the conversation begun at the meeting. One of them even tried to apologize to Bachmann for inadvertently frightening her. The case, as in most of Bachmann’s pursuits, went nowhere.

Of course, all of this flim-flammery is pretty much routine for the modern Republican wingnut politician, especially one like Michele who gets her largest chunks of campaign change from groups like the Club For Growth, Eagle Forum, House Conservatives Fund and something called the Texas Freedom Fund. (Bringin’ that ‘Texas Freedom’ to Minnesota, don’t ya know.)

But the truly offensive act coming from a party that uses George Orwell’s “1984″ as a how-to guide rather than a warning against authoritarian power, as bad as the others to anyone who has read the history of the man and the times, is Bachmann’s citation of a quote from liberal Democrat Thomas Jefferson to justify her barmy religious-right bleating for revolt -– it’s like watching Professor Backwards explain Albert Einstein:

“I want people in Minnesota armed and dangerous on this issue of the energy tax because we need to fight back. Thomas Jefferson told us ‘having a revolution every now and then is a good thing,’ and the people – we the people – are going to have to fight back hard if we’re not going to lose our country. And I think this has the potential of changing the dynamic of freedom forever in the United States.”
– Rep. Michele Bachmann on a MN radio show, quoted by Glenn Thrush at

Jefferson’s actual quote, in a 1787 letter to James Madison, was: “I hold it that a little rebellion, now and then, is a good thing, and as necessary in the political world as storms are in the physical.”

But the kind of revolutions Jefferson imagined were against the hidebound, theocratic enemies of liberty and tolerance like Bachmann, not over a piddling energy tax.

Some smart young reporter should ask Christopublican neocon Bachmann if she endorses avowed Deist liberal Jefferson’s other ideas, especially regarding religion, and if she’s ever read The Jefferson Bible, a recounting of the New Testament that omits the divinity of Jesus. Here are some quotes an interviewer could use to start the conversation:

“Experience declares that man is the only animal which devours his own kind, for I can apply no milder term to … the general prey of the rich on the poor.”
– Thomas Jefferson to Edward Carrington, 1787.

“There is… an artificial aristocracy founded on wealth and birth, without either virtue or talents… The artificial aristocracy is a mischievous ingredient in government, and provision should be made to prevent its ascendancy.”
– Thomas Jefferson to John Adams, 1813.

“The legitimate powers of government extend to such acts only as are injurious to others.”
– Thomas Jefferson, “Notes on Virginia,” 1782.

“No man [or Congresswoman] has a natural right to commit aggression on the equal rights of another, and this is all from which the laws ought to restrain him [or her].”
– Thomas Jefferson to Francis Gilmer, 1816.

“The equal rights of man and the happiness of every individual are now acknowledged to be the only legitimate objects of government.”
– Thomas Jefferson to A. Coray, 1823. [In other words, gay marriage is fine with Tom.]

“Our civil rights have no dependence upon our religious opinions more than our opinions in physics or geometry.”
– Thomas Jefferson, “Statute of Religious Freedom,” 1779.

“Having banished from our land that religious intolerance under which mankind so long bled and suffered, we have yet gained little if we countenance a political intolerance as despotic, as wicked, and as capable of bitter and bloody persecutions.”
– Thomas Jefferson, First Inaugural Address, 1801.

“The real friends of the Constitution in its federal form, if they wish it to be immortal, should be attentive, by amendments, to make it keep pace with the advance of the age in science and experience.”
– Thomas Jefferson to Robert J. Garnett, 1824. [Bachmann endorses the teaching of Creationism, opposes stem-cell research, and admits she is no scientist, yet disparages science nevertheless when it conflicts with her religious beliefs.]

“In every country and in every age, the priest has been hostile to liberty. He is always in alliance with the despot, abetting his abuses in return for protection to his own.”
– Thomas Jefferson to Horatio G. Spafford, 1814. [Dr. James Dobson, as well as other theocracy-leaning right-wing ministers, support Bachmann.]

“Question with boldness even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason, than that of blindfolded fear.”
– Thomas Jefferson, letter to Peter Carr, August 10, 1787.

“I concur with you strictly in your opinion of the comparative merits of atheism and demonism, and really see nothing but the latter in the being worshipped by many who think themselves Christians.”
– Thomas Jefferson, letter to Richard Price, Jan. 8, 1789.

“I never submitted the whole system of my opinions to the creed of any party of men whatever in religion, in philosophy, in politics, or in anything else where I was capable of thinking for myself. Such an addiction is the last degradation of a free and moral agent.”
– Thomas Jefferson, letter to Francis Hopkinson, March 13, 1789.

“In the New Testament there is internal evidence that parts of it have proceeded from an extraordinary man; and that other parts are of the fabric of very inferior minds. It is as easy to separate those parts, as to pick out diamonds from dunghills.”
– Thomas Jefferson, letter to John Adams, January 24, 1814.

“Christianity neither is, nor ever was, a part of the common law.”
– Thomas Jefferson, letter to Dr. Thomas Cooper, February 10, 1814.

“And the day will come when the mystical generation of Jesus, by the supreme being as his father in the womb of a virgin will be classed with the fable of the generation of Minerva in the brain of Jupiter.”
– Thomas Jefferson, Letter to John Adams, April 11, 1823.

“It is between fifty and sixty years since I read it [the Book of Revelation], and I then considered it merely the ravings of a maniac, no more worthy nor capable of explanation than the incoherences of our own nightly dreams.”
– Thomas Jefferson, letter to Gen. Alexander Smyth, Jan. 17, 1825.

“By a declaration of rights, I mean one which shall stipulate freedom of religion, freedom of the press, freedom of commerce against monopolies, trial by juries in all cases, no suspensions of the habeas corpus, no standing armies. These are fetters against doing evil which no honest government should decline.”
– Thomas Jefferson to Alexander Donald, 1788. [At various times, Bachmann has voted against the first four rights mentioned, and for a suspension of habeas corpus (Padilla, Gitmo, etc.) and large standing armies.]

It’s obvious from his words that if Thomas Jefferson were alive today, he would oppose everything the current Republican Party stands for, particularly the expansion of presidential power recommended by the Unitary Executive theory, and wonder why any American who believed in the Constitution would vote for a hysterical half-wit like Bachmann to represent them.

It’s past time progressives called out the right-wing whenever they pull a quote from an American liberal Democrat like Jefferson, FDR or JFK and twist it to their own ends.

Let them stick to Warren G. Harding, Herbert Hoover, Joe McCarthy, Dick Nixon, George W. Bush and their colleagues of conservative fearmongering and ideological failure.

Of course, I can understand why they might want to avoid the far-left populist ravings of our first Republican president:

“Labor is prior to, and independent of, capital. Capital is only the fruit of labor, and could never have existed if labor had not first existed. Labor is the superior of capital, and deserves much the higher consideration.”
– Abraham Lincoln, First Annual Message to Congress, December 3, 1861.

“We all declare for liberty; but in using the same word we do not all mean the same thing. With some the word liberty may mean for each man to do as he pleases with himself, and the product of his labor; while with others, the same word many mean for some men to do as they please with other men, and the product of other men’s labor. Here are two, not only different, but incompatible things, called by the same name – liberty. And it follows that each of the things is, by the respective parties, called by two different and incompatible names – liberty and tyranny.”
– Abraham Lincoln, Address at Sanitary Fair, Baltimore, Maryland, April 18, 1864.

“The dogmas of the quiet past are inadequate to the stormy present. The occasion is piled high with difficulty, and we must rise with the occasion. As our case is new, so we must think anew, and act anew. We must disenthrall ourselves, and then we shall save our country.”
– Lincoln’s Second Annual Message to Congress, December 1, 1862.

And the ‘armed and dangerous’ Bachmann would be hard-pressed to explain her way around this one:

“There is no grievance that is a fit object of redress by mob law.”
– Abraham Lincoln, from “The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln” edited by Roy P. Basler, Volume I, “Address Before the Young Men’s Lyceum of Springfield, Illinois” (January 27, 1838), p. 113.

Lincoln also wrote to his friend Joshua Speed in August of 1855: “I am not a Know-Nothing. That is certain.”

That proclamation by itself would exclude Lincoln from today’s GOP – the party of Know-Nothing. Oh, and the ‘Honest Abe’ thing would work against him, too.

Countdown video of Bachmann in full roar.

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