Beware Hurricane Bachmann

The pressure group Climate Name Change has published an hilarious video on YouTube, imagining a world where the World Meteorological Organisation names extreme storms not after everyday, innocent people (thereby tarring their names by association with devastating natural disasters), but instead after some of the more intractable anti-science climate change deniers currently serving in the US Congress:

 

I must say, I do quite like the idea of a Hurricane Bachmann or a Tropical Storm Steve King:

“Senator Marco Rubio is expected to pound the eastern seaboard sometime early tonight”

or

“Now, Michele Bachmann is on the way folks, and specifically the eye of Michele Bachmann will be hitting Florida in a few hours”

This is not to say that I am totally intolerant of climate change skeptics. I can certainly appreciate the potentially distorting effects of groupthink in the scientific community, and at a stretch I can see how some of the data points, correlations and trajectories may have been exaggerated to better fit a pre-ordained narrative, intentionally or not.

What I have no time for, however, are the mouth-breathing troglodytes – serving Republican members of the U.S. Congress – who talk about dinosaur flatulence or a literal interpretation of the Bible’s account of Noah’s flood as a way of trying to discredit scientific evidence. All in the cause, they innocently protest, of “having a fair debate about the issues”.

Semi-Partisan Sam says “no” to all of that.

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Exit Bachmann, Ctd.

Oh, God.

She’s going to make a reality TV show, isn’t she?

 

It may be freezing and rainy in London on this afternoon in late May, but boy am I glad to be well outside the broadcast reach of the TLC network right now.

Good luck, America.

Exit Bachmann

Well, this is a very sad day for American comedians and political junkies across the land. Our thoughts (but certainly not our prayers) must especially go out to Bill Maher at this difficult time. Why?

Because US Congresswoman Michele Bachmann of Minnesota’s 6th district – otherwise known as Minnesota Palin – will not be running for re-election in 2014.

And she made this incredibly cheesy YouTube video to break the devastating news to her constituents:

 

She assures as that her decision has nothing to do with any of the following potential juicy reasons:

1. The fact that she barely held on to her seat in 2012, and the same Democratic Party challenger is gearing up to take her on again in 2014.

2. Her 2012 presidential campaign is being investigated by the Federal Elections Commission for potential serious improprieties.

3. She goes on dirty, McCarthy-ite, partisan witch hunts against loyal public servants.

4. She’s quite clearly insane.

So what, oh what could the real reason be? Did Michele Bachmann jump or was she pushed?

Normally I wholeheartedly agree with the likes of Glenn Greenwald, who argue that this type of Politico-esque process and personality-obsessed gossiping should not be part of our political discourse, and that it distracts from real journalism, and serious discussions of policy when we need them most. Quite right. But this particular dose of schadenfreude is too good to pass up.

Farewell, Michele Bachmann.

At least she was looking directly at the camera this time around.

Newt Gingrich, Michele Bachmann And The Muslim Brotherhood

Michele Bachmann, Newt Gingrich

For some inexplicable reason, Politico invited former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich to write a 2,500 word piece in support of Michele Bachmann’s witch hunts against federal workers whom she capriciously determines to have connections to the Muslim Brotherhood and as a consequence represent an apparent threat to the national security of the United States.

I should let it go, I know I should. Or I could do a point-by-point rebuttal.

Here we go, from the top:

The recent assault on the National Security Five is only the most recent example of the fear our elites have about discussing and understanding radical Islamists.

Newt Gingrich, there is absolutely no way that you can define “elites” without including yourself in the group. You were one of the most powerful politicians in the country, you spent years in Washington, you were a presidential candidate and you had a $250,000 line of credit at Tiffany’s. You are in no way a man of the people, get over yourself.

When an orchestrated assault is launched on the right to ask questions in an effort to stop members of Congress from even inquiring about a topic — you know the fix is in. The intensity of the attack on Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) as well as Republican Reps. Trent Franks of Arizona, Louie Gohmert of Texas, Tom Rooney of Florida and Lynn Westmoreland of Georgia is a reminder of how desperate our elites are to avoid this discussion.

Oh yes, it is the plucky brave witch-hunting Republican congressional members who are being intimidated and bullied here. Right. And again, quit it with the “elite” talk. You are our “elites” as much as anyone else.

Given all the painful things we learn about people every day and the surprises that shock even the experts (the head of the FBI anti-spy effort was a Russian spy, for example), you have to wonder why people would aggressively assert we shouldn’t ask about national security concerns.

Ah yes, let’s create a straw man argument so that we can knock it down and look clever. I don’t think that any one of the many people who condemned Bachmann’s baseless attack on Huma Abedin’s loyalty or patriotism think that we should not be concerned about national security – they just think that you need something approaching tangible evidence, or at least reasonable suspicion, before you smear someone’s character and good name.

We have replaced tough mindedness about national security with a refusal to think seriously and substituted political correctness and a “solid” assurance that people must be OK because they are “nice” and “hard working” for the systematic, intense investigations of the past.

Again, where is this coming from? Who said this? Is Newt Gingrich now just inventing fictitious people in his mind and giving them strange, subversive and cowardly views so that he has someone to argue with? Is he that bored now that his presidential aspirations have imploded in on themselves under the weight of their own moralising pomposity?

The underlying driving force behind this desperate desire to stop unpleasant questions is the elite’s fear that an honest discussion of radical Islamism will spin out of control. They fear if Americans fully understood how serious radical Islamists are, they would demand a more confrontational strategy.

Okay, so if we did have the American intelligence services do a more detailed check on Abedin and any other dark-skinned or oddly-named people that make certain Republicans uncomfortable (beyond the ones that have undoubtedly already taken place before they were allowed to assume jobs such as chief aide to the Secretary of State), one of two things happens. 1 – everyone is exonerated, and the time and effort was spent in vain, or 2 – someone does have a skeleton in their closet, and they do harbour some kind of anti-American or pro-Islamist beliefs or connections. In the unlikely event of scenario 2, what do we do? And how do we guard against others infiltrating the US government in future? Do an extra background check on anyone with a non-western surname, or anyone who went to school with someone who turned out to be crazy? Invite Michele Bachmann to use her divining rod to determine whether they are “true patriots” or not? Exactly what is the “more confrontational strategy” that you are talking about in this context, Newt?

A young John F. Kennedy wrote “Why England Slept” to try to understand how the leadership of a nation could ignore, repress and reject warnings about Adolf Hitler and Nazi Germany. A future JFK may write “Why Washington Slept” to explain our current period. The case of the National Security Five would be a good chapter on the desperation of the elites to avoid reality and their determination to smother any wake-up call, which might make them come to grips with Blair’s warning.

Don’t even go there, Gingrich. Don’t compare the Bachmann 5 (National Security 5 is far too generous) to John F. Kennedy. Or, indirectly, to Winston Churchill, who anticipated the dangers of Nazi Germany and was initially ridiculed for warning others.

The case of the Pakistani-American car bomber has yet another lesson for those willing to learn it. At his sentencing, Faisal Shahzad asserted, “If I’m given 1,000 lives, I will sacrifice them all for the life of Allah.” He had apparently planned to build another car bomb in the next two weeks. The Pakistan Taliban had given him $15,000 and five days of explosive training just months after he became a U.S. citizen.

As Fox News reported: “The judge cut him off at one point to ask him if he had sworn allegiance to the United States when he became a citizen last year. ‘I did swear’ Shahzad answered, ‘but I did not mean it.’”

So we can’t trust the word of any Muslim because of the actions of this individual? If that is not what you are saying, what are you saying?

This long war with radical Islamists is a very different struggle. There are many nuances and long-term developments. Much of the struggle involves ideas and language alien to most American leaders and unknown even to most of the State or Defense Department professionals.

So the right or wrong adviser can be enormously powerful. Getting the right advice can be everything.

Therefore, whose advice we rely on becomes central to national security. Asking who the advisers are, what their prejudices are and what advice they give is a legitimate — indeed, essential — part of any serious national security system.

Again, where do you draw the line? Michele Bachmann’s family hold Swiss Citizenship. Should we be concerned that she may be tempted to use her position to influence US government policy in favour of Switzerland? And what should be the trigger for this investigation that Bachmann and the Bachmann 5 clearly want to see take place? Is it automatically given to every Muslim? Every Arab? How about Christian Arabs? Everyone born overseas?

[There then follows a long passage about Israel’s exclusion from an international conference on terrorism – which I happily concede was the height of foolish counterproductivity, since Israel has more experience than most in dealing with terrorism, and their exclusion rendered the conference about as valid and legitimate as the UN’s committee on human rights – but which has absolutely nothing to do with the topic at hand]

[There then follows an even longer passage criticising the Obama administration for failing to refer to Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, another sideshow that has nothing to do with his primary argument. Newt Gingrich was clearly stretched to find 2500 words in support of Michele Bachmann]

Another example of these legitimate questions, consider the strange case of Louay Safi.

Safi ran the Islamic Society of North America (an unindicted co-conspirator in the Holy Land Foundation Hamas financing case) and who was himself an unindicted co-conspirator in the Sami Al-Arian terrorism case (involving Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorist org). As Andy McCarthy, a former federal prosecutor in terrorism cases, explained, “So what happens? Pentagon hires him as expert to teach Islam to our troops before they deploy from Fort Hood! And now, of course, he is the leader of the [Muslim] Brotherhoods’ government-in-waiting for Syria. You just can’t make this stuff up!”

Isn’t it appropriate to ask: Who were the Muslim chaplains approved by this extremist? How did he get chosen to be in such a key position? What system of checking for extremism broke down so badly, or is so biased, that it allowed members and allies of radical Islamist organizations to play key roles in the U.S. government?

Yes! Yes, it is very appropriate! By all means! We should definitely do that, and learn the lessons from it, and ensure that vetting is stricter in future if indeed this is the case. But again, where do we stop? Assuming that radical Islam is the greatest national security threat facing America and that some kind of targetted vetting process is indeed necessary, what do we do to counter the second and third greatest national security threats, whatever they may be? What if one of the threats turns out to be anti-government militiamen, or Alaskan separatists? Do we also start getting concerned about any federal worker or member of Congress who has links, however many degrees of separation away, from such people? Are they also likely to seek to subvert US policy in secret, nefarious ways?

The Muslim Brotherhood is a serious worldwide organization dedicated to a future most Americans would find appalling. Seeking to understand its reach and its impact on the U.S. government is a legitimate, indeed essential, part of our national security process.

The National Security Five were doing their duty in asking difficult questions designed to make America safer. Their critics represent the kind of willful blindness that increasingly puts America at risk.

Fine. I don’t know a single critic of the Bachmann 5 who would disagree that the Muslim Brotherhood harbours values that are very much contrary to those of America, and that they seek to spread these values around the world, possibly through violent means. That is not the issue. The issue is whether we are going to be cowed by our fear of these people into doing something very un-American, and investigating US citizens and federal workers to establish ties to the Muslim Brotherhood based on nothing more than speculation, links of blood or friendship (as opposed to actions), or the fevered imaginations of Michele Bachmann.

If we do not want a book to describe “Why Washington Slept,” we will have to encourage elected officials to follow the advice of a later Kennedy book and exhibit “Profiles in Courage.”

Bachmann, Franks, Gohmert, Rooney and Westmoreland are showing a lot more courage than the defenders of timidity, complicity and passivity.

Please. There’s no courage on display here, just post September 11th scaredness and confusion and timidity, and a defensive lashing out at “the other” people by a group of some conservatives who are frightened of the world in which they find themselves, and who should know better.

The Bachmann 5 called out individuals by name and said that there were serious questions and concerns about their fidelity to the United States, and that consequently they should be investigated to ensure that there are no conflicts of interest in play. When pressed, they doubled down on their position. So I think we all have a right to know how this proposed new modern day Un-American Activities committee would work in the minds of Bachmann, her acolytes and her new cheerleader, Newt Gingrich.

Cantor Defends The Indefensible

michele bachmann

 

In this case “the indefensible” refers to Michele Bachmann, also known as “Minnesota Palin”.

Eric Cantor – “Young Gun”, darling of the right and sadly House Majority Leader – has come out in defence of the Bachmann Witchhunts, and her attempts to smear US government workers by drawing tortuous and far-fetched links tying them to the Muslim Brotherhood or other radical Islamist organisations. Cantor, always one to try to out-conservative his boss, House Speaker John Boehner (even Boehner denounced the actions of Bachmann and her paranoid accomplices), came out swinging in an interview for CBS and refused to criticise or moderate Bachmann’s stance.

Politico reports:

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) Friday defended Rep. Michele Bachmann’s questioning of a top Hillary Clinton aide’s loyalty to the United States, saying the Minnesota lawmaker’s “concern was about the security of the country.”

Ah, well now I think I understand. We can say what we like and cast any aspersions we wish about a person’s character or patriotism, so long as we do so out of a concern for the security of America.

So here’s my attempt:

Michele Bachmann is a dangerously ignorant politician. Worryingly, and despite the fact that she sits on the House Foreign Intelligence Committee, she remains as woefully unknowledgeable about foreign affairs as she is on the history of her own country. She is deliberately divisive, will stoop at nothing to stoke the fears and resentments of those equally ignorant as her for political gain, and in doing so is undermining the fabric of American society and government. Her husband and family hold Swiss citizenship. As we all know, Switzerland is a neutral country and historically has not sided with the United States in some of the most important issues and conflicts in our nation’s history. I am sure I am not the only one concerned that Bachmann’s torn loyalties between the country of her birth and that of her husband might lead her to use her prominent position to influence US government policy in favour of the Swiss and at the expense of the United States. – Samuel Hooper, 30th July 2012.

And I say this not through any personal animus, but out of a genuine concern and fear for the future safety of the United States of America. So it’s okay.

I look forward to Eric Cantor’s endorsement.