Quick update (Wednesday, September 14, 2011): Michele Bachmann continues to suffer from a bad case of truthitis.
Many of the “facts” in her prepared speeches continue to be blatantly misleading, if not plain false. Some of her comments during the recent “Tea Party Republican Debate” were no exception, particularly when she attacked the equally unworthy Rick Perry for his executive order requiring girls to get a vaccination for human papillomavirus (HPV).
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It seems apparent that Michele Bachmann is not the right person to lead a progressive, secular country like America.
Our secular nation
I’m confident in my referral to America as a secular nation; it seems obvious this was the intent of the Founding Fathers as evidenced by the documents they produced, their writings and quotes, etc. However, a 2010 PRRI poll shows that over half of those identifying with the Tea Party say the U.S. has always been and still is a Christian nation – indicating a basic but crucial misunderstanding if taken to mean “Christian fundamentalist nation.”
Phrased another way, America is definitely a Christian nation, if by “Christian” one speaks of adhering to basic spiritual principles and morality, and making the same kinds of choices that great spiritual teachers like Jesus might have made, treating all others with respect, and so on.
However, America is certainly not a Christian nation in the sense that good citizens and even government must interpret religious traditions and supernatural stories in the Bible in a literal, fundamentalist sense (as in the creation of the universe taking place in six 24-hour days, a talking snake, a literal Satan, God favoring America over other countries, Noah’s ark as historic fact, etc.).
Flawed proposals of Michele Bachmann
Michele Bachmann wants to strip the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) of its powers, if not dismantle it entirely. The reality is that we need environmental protection and related oversight more than ever; it’s a basic and crucial issue. When left to their own devices, big business has shown itself to be far more adversarial than neutral toward nature, clean air, clean water, etc. – certainly not an advocate, benefactor, or protector of the environment. Man’s quest for the dollar often causes a departure from common sense, good stewardship, and basic spiritual principles when it comes down to earth’s precious, irreplaceable natural resources. If anyone should still doubt the importance of clean air and water, a few easy biology lessons will reveal even to the simple-minded that man cannot live without his environment; we’re a part of it. Everything is connected and interdependent. Why should we be willing to allow our aquarium to be polluted any more than absolutely necessary, especially for the sake of lining a few pockets?
Michele Bachmann and many others have demonized the health care bill. The truth is it’s modeled on a Republican-devised health care system. It’s far from perfect, but condemning the health care bill as a whole is nothing more than pure partisan politics. The herd, though, has a strong tendency to adopt the talking points their political party rather than searching for and determining the truth for themselves. For example, declaring with a straight face that Obama is a Muslim or that Obama wasn’t born in the U.S. appears to indicate one of two things: dishonesty or a low intelligence factor (along with the willingness to be a complete lackey – stuck under the party’s thumb). Opponents of Obama’s health care legislation – regardless of party affiliation – should be providing realistic alternatives rather than applying blanket partisan criticism, particularly if they’re just parroting party leaders and haven’t even sought the truth for themselves in a reasonably objective fashion.
Michele Bachmann says Americans are too heavily taxed for the economy to spring back to life. In truth, Americans now enjoy some of the lowest personal income tax rates in decades. In 1980 those earning between $100 and $250K were taxed at 59%; the same amount was taxed at 75% in 1960. Arguments and assertions that present-day personal income tax rates are high are misleading at best. (Corporate taxes are another story; the U.S. ranks about in the middle of the top industrialized nations. Smooth-talking politicians often speak negatively about taxes, allowing the audience to make the assumption they’re talking about personal income taxes; it’s a very important distinction.)
Michele Bachmann pledges to reverse the recently implemented oversight over the practices on Wall Street: the kind of watchful care that would have gone a long way in preventing at least some of the 2008 flame-out of the U.S. and global economies; oversight most people believed necessary when the economy swerved into the ditch.
Though talk of this has waned in recent months, the right-wing political machine speaks ill of the TARP (Troubled Asset Relief Program) bailout – even though in reality it was passed at the urgent request of George Bush, went a long way in saving our collective asses, and might even result in a net profit – or at least a surprisingly low net cost. Once it’s all wrapped up, it’s possible the only wiser move in retrospect would have been more of the same.
However, I must also admit that the Libertarian streak in me would like to have seen the market itself determine the outcome of those institutions and auto companies, even though this probably would have wreaked much more havoc on the economy. The market might have forced certain realities to be confronted and dealt with in a more permanent and sustainable fashion.
It seems Michele Bachmann and others like her have become emboldened practitioners of intellectual dishonesty based on carefully orchestrated misdirection and political sleight-of-hand designed by her expensive hired hands. Bachmann has clearly chosen big-money special interests over thoughtful progress. Bachmann and those like her are choosing organized fundamentalist religion and big business over basic, universal spiritual principles and what’s best for individuals.
There’s little chance than Bachmann will be a contender for the Republican ticket for very much longer – but will the alternatives be different enough to really matter? This remains to be seen.
Am I trumpeting the Democratic ticket as the ultimate solution? Hardly; big-party politics as usual is a major part of the problem. But this relatively independent observer sees more intellectual dishonesty happening on the right side of the aisle these days.
A political platform we’d like to see
(NOTE: The material in this section has been updated and moved to its own post; see A political platform we’d like to see.)
IMHO, a proper political movement would combine fiscal conservatism, libertarianism, greenism, freedom of religion and other personal latitude, the ability and willingness to negotiate reasonable agreements through compromise while remaining open-minded and teachable, and so on: the better parts of diverse political philosophies. This might include plans to:
- Implement a fair tax; dismantle current system of outdated loopholes & slash IRS budget
- Enforce immigration laws to reduce future welfare and other public costs, but don’t pass laws to oppress immigrants already living here
- Create a significant overhaul and upgrade of U.S. infrastructure (roads, bridges, pipes, telecommunications, power grid, etc.) to maintain and improve the American quality of life, attract global business, etc., using the private sector as much as possible
- Encourage alternative energy sources; allow oil to move to a natural market price
- Remove subsidies (such as those received by oil companies), outdated tax breaks, and other lingering loopholes well past their prime
- Education: consider implementing locally successful education projects on a national scale (e.g., magnet schools)
- Legalize marijuana, decriminalize use of other drugs; release those imprisoned for only using drugs
- Implement alternatives to incarceration for non-violent crimes
- Implement gradual tax increases on the use of limited natural resources
- Implement gradual tax increases on certain goods: tobacco, marijuana, alcohol, maybe certain firearms, etc.
- Implement taxes on excessive waste in certain instances, where measurable (e.g., a tax based on vehicles getting under 20 miles per gallon [MPG])
- Randomly audit the feds on all levels, including defense contracts and other partnerships with private sector
- Significantly reduce the defense budget
- Continue to move away from serving as the global police force
- Move toward clean, zero-waste systems as opposed to traditional systems
- Implement & maintain reasonable oversight for environment, Wall Street
- Eliminate all religious preferences, favoritism, and appearances of such from government, per the original intent of our Founding Fathers; take the separation of church and state more seriously, stop encouraging religious fundamentalists/extremists
- Use lottery or chance systems instead of personal wealth & political connections to make certain unpopular decisions in order to remove the tendency to oppress the poor (e.g., location of new city dump, which neighborhood gets new park, etc.)
- Apply fairness in government decision-making whenever possible and reasonably practical (as opposed to the wishes of big business, wealthy taxpayers, etc. being the deciding factor); even though life is not always fair, governance can be in most cases
- Reign in payments to other countries
- Behave responsibly as a respected and respecting member of the global community; refrain from bullying other nations and similar tactics; treat other nations as we would like to be treated
- Implement zero-based budgeting throughout government
Green Party: Worth a look?
It turns out that the Green Party platform is extremely close to what many would consider ideal – including many Independents, Republicans, and Democrats.
The platform of the Green Party covers all the major issues; it’s much more than just an environment-friendly group. All indications are that the Greens are a responsible, intelligent, and fair political party. Although I have not yet read the entire platform (it’s a lot), I have yet to find a position with which I disagree.
Perhaps I’ll spend less of my time being critical of current politics and more of my time promoting responsible political thought and action – and so far the Green Party appears to be the most logical choice.
Back to Bachmann: Gaffe-prone, dishonest, or both?
Politicians in the U.S. and elsewhere – especially those running for office, it seems – are frequently busted making false statements. Sometimes the falsehoods are genuine mistakes, I’ll grant. Many are exaggerations; some are marvels of statistical creativity.
But some of the misstatements made by politicians are just plain dumb; they really make you wonder. This is where we find ourselves with Michele Bachmann. If such outlandish, bizarre statements don’t cause wonder and concern among listeners, it points to related issues that may be even more frightening: that of a populous incapable of rational thought – a creeping idiocracy. We’d better provide some examples of Bachmann misinformation/disinformation. (No problem; for many more, see PolitiFact.com.)
“If you threw a barbecue yesterday for the Memorial weekend, it was 29 percent more expensive than last year because Barack Obama’s policies have led to groceries going up 29 percent.” – Michele Bachmann
(The President did it!?)
“The president released all of the oil from the Strategic Oil Reserve.” – Michele Bachmann
“One. That’s the number of new drilling permits under the Obama administration since they came into office.” – Michele Bachmann
(There are many ways to slice the data, but there is not any determinable scheme to arrive at one. Over 44 new drilling permits have been issued by the Obama administration since the Deepwater Horizon incident, or somewhere north of 269 oil drilling permits during Obama’s reign overall; prior to the BP oil disaster, the Obama administration reported approving 217 new shallow and deepwater well permits.
“The president of the United States will be taking a trip over to India that is expected to cost the taxpayers $200 million a day.” – Michele Bachmann
(A figure plucked from an Indian paper with no fact-checking)
“Speaker Pelosi … has been busy sticking the taxpayer with her $100,000 bar tab for alcohol on the military jets that she’s flying.” – Michele Bachmann
(Alcohol comprised a small fraction of the tab; is M.B. arguing against alcohol, or spending?)
Ezekiel Emanuel, one of President Obama’s key health care advisers, “says medical care should be reserved for the nondisabled. So watch out if you’re disabled.” – Michele Bachmann
(Deliberate misinformation or disinformation, it appears)
ACORN will be a paid partner with the Census Bureau and “they will be in charge of going door-to-door and collecting data from the American public.” – Michele Bachmann
(False on all counts)
“Secretary Geithner has left the option on the table” of abandoning the dollar for a multinational currency. – Michele Bachmann
(And in that corner: the imaginary adversary)
In the 1970s, “the swine flu broke out… under another Democrat, President Jimmy Carter. I’m not blaming this on President Obama, I just think it’s an interesting coincidence.” – Michele Bachmann
(This statement strongly indicates that Michele Bachmann will say damn near anything to disparage her opponents; this is extremely lame – even for a politician. The 1976 swine flu outbreak occured during Gerald Ford’s presidency; Ronald Reagan was president during another, smaller, outbreak in 1988.)
Michele Bachmann stated that the Constitution only requires her to tell the census “how many people are in our home.” (False, illegal)
“The big thing we are working on now is the global warming hoax. It’s all voodoo, nonsense, hokum, a hoax. There isn’t one such study because carbon dioxide is not a harmful gas, it is a harmless gas. Carbon dioxide is natural. It is not harmful. It is part of Earth’s life cycle… And yet we’re being told that we have to reduce this natural substance and reduce the American standard of living to create an arbitrary reduction in something that is naturally occurring in the earth.” – from Michele Bachmann’s Earth Day speech (watch the video)
(More carbon dioxide can’t be bad because it occurs naturally, right?! Using Michele Bachmann’s glistening logic, we should increase our use of arsenic or uranium. They’re natural. They’re part of Earth’s life cycle… Can you imagine Michele Bachmann leading the free world? Dare you imagine it?)
“Normalization [of homosexuality] through desensitization… A very effective way to do this with a bunch of second graders is to take a picture of “The Lion King” for instance, and a teacher might say, “Do you know the music for this movie was written by a gay man?” The message is: I’m better at what I do because I’m gay.” – Michele Bachmann
(Being gay is a big sin per MB, and Bachmann has single-handedly uncovered the secret Liberal Socialist Satanic plan to convert around 10% of our children from hetero to homo. The Bachmann solution: Nip gayness in the bud by speaking of gays either negatively or not at all!)
“Five decades ago in America, we had less debt than we have today. We had $300 billion or less in debt. A gallon of gasoline was 31 cents.” – Michele Bachmann
(Sounds dramatic, huh? This is a fine example how Bachmann’s clever, wool-pulling team of gurus and speechwriters spin the statistics to produce the oohs, ahs, and gasps. It isn’t lying – but it isn’t straight talk, either. Properly adjust for inflation and the 31 cents becomes $2.25; the $300 billion in national debt was a full 55% of the 1961 GDP. Today’s $14 trillion in debt is 96% of the GDP. Too high? Yes, way too high, as everyone knows… That’s what wars, entitlement programs, and other excessive spending do to a budget. But the difference is not nearly as dramatic as she’s implying, nor is it the fault of one party.)
Michele Bachmann claims to have “never gotten a penny” from a subsidized family farm.
(Her previous financial disclosures show tens of thousands in personal income from the agricultural operation.)
“During the last 100 days we have seen an orgy. It would make any local smorgasbord embarrassed… The government spent its wad by April 26.” – Michele Bachmann
(Nice phrasing. Didn’t you mean “shot”?)
This one is a hoot.
Bachmann blames FDR for “Hoot-Smalley” tariffs
What’s happening to reason?
A related point of concern is that some Tea Party audiences seem to eat up the misstatements; I expect many of them have the unfortunate tendency to believe most of what they hear, particularly when the source is friendly to their cause (e.g., info from other religious fundamentalists, ultra-conservative partisans, etc.). Is the United States trending towards Idiocracy? What if it were?!
Conclusion: Elect Bachmann!
Even if everything I’ve written above were wrong, the United States still could not afford to endure a high-risk extremist like Michele Bachmann for President, or even as her party nominee. Honestly, a person who routinely makes so many deliberate or sadly ignorant misstatements and gaffes in a public speech probably does not have the mental prowess or even the basic knowledge necessary to be an effective leader of our country.
Look, M. Bachmann believes any amount of carbon dioxide is acceptable because it is a natural element. It occurs in nature, so it could not possibly be detrimental to human health.
This is Bachmann’s stance: NATURAL ELEMENT = SAFE FOR HUMANS. “It’s natural, and part of God’s plan for us.”
Using Bachmann’s Einsteinian reasoning, we ought to manufacture baby bottles out of lead. We should flavor our tea with arsenic; hey – it’s natural, so it must be O.K. in any amount, right?
Toxic Elements: Do You Know Which Elements Are Toxic?
If we prepared you a batch of eye shadow containing large amounts of uranium, you’d be O.K. wearing it, right? Why not manufacture a line of high-end, mercury-based make-up? Great business idea.
Here’s another example of a Bachmann rant with a error rate approaching 100%…
It is unfortunate that basic, universal spiritual principles such as honesty and truthfulness seem to have evaporated from politics – or perhaps this has been a trait of politics for centuries. But not even slick politicians should get away with repeatedly spreading falsehoods, misinformation, or even disinformation, whether it’s deliberate or out of ignorance. A person who displays such a willingness to revise or whitewash American history, speech after speech, is certainly not someone I would want leading the country – not even if she were a Green Libertarian.
Resources: Bachmann wrong to lead America
For later, perhaps…
When they come from an elected U.S. official, falsehoods in public speeches on the world stage can be downright embarrassing or even worrisome. A couple of examples come to mind…
Freethought is a philosophical viewpoint that holds that opinions should be formed on the basis of science, logic, and reason, and should not be influenced by authority, tradition, or dogma. The cognitive application of freethought is known as freethinking, and practitioners of freethought are known as freethinkers. Why not let common sense reign?
Michele Bachmann’s frequent falsehoods, gaffes, historical revision
Michele Bachmann: “The very founders that wrote those documents worked tirelessly until slavery was no more in the United States.” What could she possibly have been thinking of – our Founding Fathers? Many Continental Congressmen were themselves slave owners. Unfortunately for Mrs. Bachmann, this gaffe is intensified by her choice of words (the “very” founders…), making the odd comment appear to be more than just a misstatement. She even made it worse later, when questioned about the misspeak, by bringing John Quincy Adams into the mix as a Founding Father. (He did work to abolish slavery but he was not among the Founding Fathers.)
(Christine what’s-her-name comes to mind.)
(Christian fundamentalism seems to be an increasingly common “Christian” viewpoint or interpretation today; for more on the folly of religious and political fundamentalism, please see Search for Truth).