The brown terrorists are coming for you, Barbara

Oh my god! ISIS is in North America! Did you hear that several ISIS militants were apprehended at the U.S.-Mexico border? Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA) said so and I saw it on Fox News! And Rep. Tom Cotton says ISIS is teaming up with drug cartels! Why hasn’t President Obama done anything?!

By the way, these claims are complete bullshit. Just ask both the Department of Homeland Security and the Mexican embassy. The sources these men are citing – far-right blogs and “unnamed” contacts – aren’t worthy of an introductory high-school English course, let alone a member of Congress. But that hasn’t stopped Rep. Hunter from promoting his unsubstantiated claims. In fact, he’s only doubled down on them.

A little context on the U.S.-Mexico border: We’ve militarized the border and are spending a record amount of money to keep it secure from dangerous hordes of women and children looking for better lives. We’ve also made it pretty much impossible for unskilled workers to legally immigrate here. The president has waited on Congress to act on immigration reform for well over a year now. Congress’ response: President Obama is acting like a dictator who doesn’t care about U.S. security. When immigration reform is debated, Congress and conservative super-PACs – pretty much the same thing – always talk about how “we need to secure the border first.” Once it is repeatedly pointed out that the border is more secure than it’s been in years, the discussion shifts to something about how “we should not be rewarding lawbreakers,” and that “they’ll take our jobs.” And the conversation decays into xenophobia.

Insulting tirades against Mexican and Central American immigrants are a staple of the modern Republican Party. When GOP congressmen and senators aren’t busy calling immigrants “wetbacks” and their children “anchor babies,” they’re claiming the border is so insecure that terrorists are invading America. “We have to throw even more billions of dollars at border security! Terrorists are being apprehended!” It’s become the modus operandi to fighting any and all immigration reform AND sticking it to the president.

I wonder why these self-assured men haven’t mentioned the U.S.-Canada border as a potential security risk. The border between our two countries is pretty massive and security isn’t nearly as concentrated as it is in the south. It’s always the lurking danger from Mexico that we’re warned about. “They’re coming for your jobs and way of life…and some are even terrorists!” Why haven’t we heard of any border invasions by dangerous Manitobans and British Colombians with thick Fargo accents? Why isn’t the FBI investigating Justin Bieber and Alanis Morissette?

Oh, yeah, Canada is rich and white.

ISIS hasn’t come to the United States and all credible intelligence sources say they haven’t and most likely won’t any time soon. Rep. Hunter’s claims are, as the DHS put it, “categorically false.” This kind of grandstanding is nothing but irresponsible and reckless. Duncan Hunter and his extremist colleagues should be ashamed of themselves. But in 2014, this idiotic behavior doesn’t get you censured or voted out of office. It only frays more nerves of a gullible public, poisons national dialogue, and excites the right-wing blogosphere. The Islamic State and so-called “illegals” are not coming for you. Stupid governance is.

still from the 1968 classic “Night of the Living Dead”

Congress Sucks

Congress sucks. Literally. Progress, governance and any faith Americans put in their legislature has been steadily sucked out and replaced with deep cynicism and distrust…and for good reason.

The use of the filibuster – essentially debating a bill to death – has been used more over the past two years than in all previous Congresses (for those who don’t know, the present Congress is the 113th Congress). Even historically non-controversial bills like infrastructure funding have become bitterly partisan fights. The overall number of bills that have passed is historically low, making the 112th Congress the least productive in American history.

This lack of productivity has also translated into a historically low approval rating; the 112th Congress (2010-2012) had the lowest yearly average of all Congresses, finishing 2012 with a mere 15 percent, according to Gallup. In January of this year – at the start of the 113th Congress – congressional approval was even lower, at 14 percent.

Most of the problem lies in the House of Representatives, where far-right, tea party Republicans have waged war on their very duties to govern since taking office.

Back in 2010, the GOP took control of the House thanks to a poor economy and anti-government fervor fueled by the then-new Tea Party, a faux “grassroots” movement fostered by the billionaire Koch Brothers (“Koch Industries, Inc.”) and conservative media outlets like Fox News.

This brand of conservatism and the Conservative Movement at large see government itself as a problem to be fixed. Safety regulations? That’s repressive to the economy! Returning federal income tax rates to the historically low Clinton tax rates for the wealthy, where taxpayers in the top bracket paid 39.6? It’s a pinko-commie plot to destroy America, or something! Closing tax loopholes that allow large corporations to dodge paying taxes? That will hurt the “job creators!”

This attitude has wreaked havoc on the country. In 2011, America nearly defaulted on its debt after Republicans in the House refused to raise the debt ceiling until the last minute.

This close call shook the economy, which had been steadily improving, and resulted in a downgrade of the nation’s credit rating. The reason for this refusal to budge: Planned Parenthood was receiving federal funding (none of which went toward abortions, by the way).

Congress was barely able to raise the debt ceiling and agree on new tax rates for the wealthy last month. Thanks to pressure from members of their own party, Republicans in the House agreed to raise the debt ceiling…..but only for three months. The Clinton tax rates were restored….but only for those making over $400,000 annually.

The debt ceiling has been raised several dozen times since the 1930s and without controversy. It’s Congress’ way of saying, “We will pay off the debt we have racked up. No problem. On to the next proposed bill.”

During the presidency of George W. Bush, Congress racked up trillions of dollars of debt via large tax cuts and two wars – all unpaid for. When President Obama took office and the far right had a meltdown (“He’s a Kenyan, Marxist, possibly gay, foreign-looking dictator!”) government spending itself became unfathomable and unacceptable.

It should be noted that the private sector is doing well, having added nearly five million new jobs since early 2009. However, the public sector (teachers, police, firefighters, post office workers, etc.) has been devastated. Over 700,000 jobs have been drained from the public sector during the same period of time, a number that could mean the difference between a recovering economy and a healthy economy.

Even the United States Postal Service, set in place as a public good, has suffered from mismanagement and neglect. Later this year, the USPS will end a 150-year-old service and no longer deliver first-class mail on Saturdays. It will rely more on part-time workers rather than full-time employees and it will end overtime pay as a way to cut costs and survive thanks to an unresponsive Congress.

These cuts in public sector jobs are mostly due to an irresponsible Congress that has demanded the cuts above all else. You want to raise the debt ceiling and keep the government running? Cut government jobs and “spending” (public investments) and maybe we’ll talk. The fact that over $200 billion has been cut from the deficit since 2009 means nothing to the House. It isn’t enough for them.

The country cannot function under this extremism and refusal to govern. Americans of many different political persuasions are tired of the stubbornness and grow increasingly annoyed with members of Congress refusing to do their jobs. How can we trust politicians whose view of reality is so warped? Why did we just re-elect many of the same extreme congresspersons back in November?

We’ve been steadily recovering from the Great Recession and the world continues to change daily. We need a legislature that is serious about its responsibilities. We need sensible congressmen and congresswomen who understand the dynamics of compromise and governance. We need November 2014 to be here already.

House Speaker John Boehner and President Barack Obama

House Speaker John Boehner and President Barack Obama

My Two Cents on Bachmann’s Extreme Beliefs

The more that is revealed about Michele Bachmann and her beliefs, the more insane the thought becomes that she could become the presidential candidate for a major political party in the United States. “Crazy Eyes” is not only far from the mainstream, she’s downright dangerous to our democracy.

For example, Bachman adheres to Dispensationalism, the fundamentalist Christian belief that the return of Jesus Christ is nigh. This eschatological system flourished in the early 20th century in direct opposition to rapid societal change. Rather than adapt and accept new attitudes and scientific discoveries, dispensationalists formed religious denominations, such as the well-known Assemblies of God, and closed themselves in from the rest of society

This explains why in the year 2011, we still have people who believe the earth is 6,000 years old, Darwinian Evolution is false (despite the massive amounts of evidence), homosexuals can be “cured” or should even be arrested and/or put to death and that women belong exclusively in the home. It also explains why in early the 21st century, despite great scientific, technological and societal advances, millions of Americans believe that the end of the world is near.

Bachmann had this to say in 2006 while praying for a friend’s anti-gay ministry:

Lord, the day is at hand. We are in the last days. You’re Jehovah God. We know that the times are in your hands and we give them to you, but we also, Lord, are astute enough to recognize the blossom on the fig tree is opening. The day is at hand, Lord, when your return will come nigh. Nothing is more important than bringing sheep into the fold and bringing new life into the kingdom.

When someone believes that the return of Jesus Christ is “nigh,” we simply call them “nutty.” However, when someone who sounds like a crazy televangelist is close to becoming the most powerful person in the world, it is frightening. Who cares about diplomacy, global stability, making the world a better place or advancing humanity into a global civilization when Jesus is comin’ ’round the mountain?

It should also come as no surprise that Michele Bachmann’s husband, Marcus, has been exposed as a fraudulent therapist. His “quality, Christian counseling” office was busted for practicing reparative therapy, a dangerous and unsound “treatment” aimed at curing patients of their homosexuality. The American Psychiatric Association, The American Medical Association, The American Psychological Association, The American Psychoanalytic Association, The American Academy of Pediatrics and The American Association of Social Workers all state that sexual orientation cannot, and should not, be changed. But who cares what they say? They’re just evil, secular organizations bent on destroying the American family and bringing about the Anti-Christ, right?

Mrs. Bachmann shares her husband’s sentiments on homosexuality, claiming homosexuals are in “[spiritual] bondage” and a “part of Satan.” And this woman wants to be President of the United States of America??! (She has said countless other insane things, as I’ve written about here and here)

Michele Bachmann may be a favorite of the religious far-right, but she’s bad news for the rest of the country and the world. The thought of someone like her in control of the nation’s nuclear arsenal and military is frightening. The thought of someone like her directing any kind of policy should be enough to make anyone vote against her.

Crazy Election Theatre: Enter Michele Bachmann From Far-Right…

As the 2012 Presidential Election draws near, political craziness has been exponentially increasing. Mitt Romney’s short-lived campaign has essentially been decimated by fellow Republicans. Newt Gingrich has been abandoned by his own staff. Small government, libertarian conservatives are sparring with big government, social conservatives over issues like same-sex marriage and what the tax rate should be. So far, the Republican side has Mitt Romney, Tim Pawlenty, Jon Huntsman, Newt Gingrich, Herman Cain, Ron Paul, Rick Santorum…..and Michele “Crazy Eyes” Bachmann.