Rehberg’s “Year Of Disaster”

One day after an Associated Press investigation found that Dennis Rehberg hid tens of thousands of dollars in cash from lobbyists, today the millionaire Congressman marks the one-year anniversary of his U.S. Senate campaign.

And what a year it’s been.
The Montana Democratic Party today released a video highlighting Rehberg’s most memorable, out-of-touch moments from the past year.  
“From calling Pell Grants ‘welfare’ to supporting an unpopular federal land-grab bill that undermines our rights, Congressman Rehberg has shown all of us how out of touch he is with Montana values–over and over again,” said Ted Dick, Executive Director of the Montana Democratic Party.  “Montanans deserve someone who stands for their values in Washington–not Dennis Rehberg, who was forced to drop a lawsuit against Billings firefighters.”
2011: A year of blunders for Congressman Dennis Rehberg:
February 6, 2011: Congressman Rehberg announces his candidacy for United States Senate alongside controversial presidential hopeful Michele Bachmann.  Bachmann had just proposedcutting $4.5 billion in veterans’ benefits.
February 8, 2011:  Rehberg makes national headlines for suggesting that judges should be on theEndangered Species Act.
April 1, 2011: Rehberg calls Pell Grants “the welfare of the 21st century.”
April 28 2011: Congressman Rehberg tells the Missoula City Club that although he is one of thewealthiest members of Congress, he is “struggling like everybody else” and “cash poor.”
September 2011: Montanans of all political backgrounds criticize Rehberg’s controversial sponsorship of his unpopular HR 1505, legislation that would give one federal agency the power to seize public lands in Montana.
October 8, 2011: The Associated Press notes that Rehberg has held “far more infrequent” public events in Montana.  Shortly thereafter, Rehberg stood by as a uniformed sheriff removed a Montana Democratic Party employee from Rehberg’s so called “public” event.
November 11, 2011: Amid a sea of controversy, Rehberg is forced to drop his wildly unpopular, 15-month lawsuit against Billings firefighters.
February 5, 2012: An Associated Press investigation finds that Rehberg hid tens of thousands of dollars campaign contributions, even as he criticizes others for taking campaign contributions.

MT Dems: Rehberg’s Concern for Foreclosed Homeowners a New Development

Millionaire Congressman Dennis Rehberg says home mortgage lenders “should have been left to fail”, according to a report in Lee Newspapers.

record number of Americans lost their homes during the subprime mortgage crisis, but Congressman Rehberg’s comments reveal he was never concerned about stemming the tide of foreclosures.

“Congressman Rehberg has no solutions because—as a second generation millionaire—he never had to worry about struggling with a mortgage,” said Ted Dick, Executive Director of the Montana Democratic Party. “Congressman Rehberg needs to explain why he would allow more Montanans to have lost their homes during the mortgage crisis.”

Congressman Rehberg signed on to a bill to hold Fannie and Freddie accountable for extreme bonuses seven months after the bill was introduced, and just hours after Jon Tester spoke out against the bonuses during a Senate hearing.

“Apparently Congressman Rehberg will try to steal someone else’s ideas when thinks he can gain politically,” continued Dick.

Congressman Rehberg’s comments about letting home mortgage lenders fail come as GOP Presidential Candidate Newt Gingrich

is forced to answer questions about his consulting contract with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

“We’ll give the Congressman another opportunity,” Dick said.  “He should join with his campaign partner Michele Bachmann and denounce Newt Gingrich for enriching himself with a questionable $1.6 million contract with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.” 


Shut The (Bleep) Up

We watched a little bit of the VMA’s last night- just until the latest episode of Torchwood reran- and I was amazed at all the bleeps that were happening. It almost made the show unwatchable.

Not because I’m a prude, but because I have a hard time with interrupted continuity. I hate distractions.

Ask anybody who has ever sat next to me in a movie theater- or watched a movie with me in my living room; I hate talking, interruptions or distractions. Ken has learned to sit on the aisle, and, if he doesn’t remember, I remind him to use the restroom before the movie. I don’t like talking or noisy crowds in the theater, either. I paid my good money to watch a movie, not listen to your conversation and commentary. For me, a movie is like a roller coaster- I pay my money, I get in the car and I don’t get out until the ride is over.

And I don’t bring my colicky baby.

But when something is continually interrupted, it starts to concern me. I have a hard time tracking. Maybe it’s advancing age and/or deafness that’s making me less tolerant of distractions, but it seems to be having its own manifestation in politics. Candidates are actively interrupting scientific communication in this country. Blatantly standing up in the middle of the show and making factual inferences with fantastical statements. Distracting people from the reality hiding behind the curtain with a little folksy humor or superstitious nonsense.

And I’m annoyed.

Thank God that I’m not alone. Paul Krugman today has an excellent article about the trending GOP tendency to deny science, knowledge- and maybe, common sense- in favor of the popularly held beliefs of uneducated, superstitious people. My words, not his. These are his:

According to Public Policy Polling, only 21 percent of Republican voters in Iowa believe in global warming (and only 35 percent believe in evolution). Within the G.O.P., willful ignorance has become a litmus test for candidates, one that Mr. Romney is determined to pass at all costs.

So it’s now highly likely that the presidential candidate of one of our two major political parties will either be a man who believes what he wants to believe, even in the teeth of scientific evidence, or a man who pretends to believe whatever he thinks the party’s base wants him to believe.

And the deepening anti-intellectualism of the political right, both within and beyond the G.O.P., extends far beyond the issue of climate change.

Lately, for example, The Wall Street Journal’s editorial page has gone beyond its long-term preference for the economic ideas of “charlatans and cranks” — as one of former President George W. Bush’s chief economic advisers famously put it — to a general denigration of hard thinking about matters economic. Pay no attention to “fancy theories” that conflict with “common sense,” the Journal tells us. Because why should anyone imagine that you need more than gut feelings to analyze things like financial crises and recessions?

Now, we don’t know who will win next year’s presidential election. But the odds are that one of these years the world’s greatest nation will find itself ruled by a party that is aggressively anti-science, indeed anti-knowledge. And, in a time of severe challenges — environmental, economic, and more — that’s a terrifying prospect.

And if you want more proof that the GOP is pandering to the uneducated you don’t have to look much farther than Michele Bachmann. Her blind-to-the-facts manner is starting to leak holy water as well:

Speaking to a crowd in Florida over the weekend, Bachmann said the historic earthquake and massive hurricane that rocked the East Coast last week was a message that God is upset with the way politicians in Washington have been doing things. The interview with the St. Petersburg Times…:

She hailed the tea party as being common-sense Americans who understand government shouldn’t spend more than it takes in, know they’re taxed enough already and want government to abide by the Constitution.

I don’t know how much God has to do to get the attention of the politicians. We’ve had an earthquake; we’ve had a hurricane. He said, ‘Are you going to start listening to me here?’Listen to the American people because the American people are roaring right now. They know government is on a morbid obesity diet and we’ve got to rein in the spending.”

Emphasis added. Bachmann’s comments put her closer to Pat Robertson’s take on the week than her most prominent rivals for the Republican nomination.

Part of me wants to yell “Shut the (bleep) up!” The same part of me that was annoyed in the theater during Schindler’s List when that woman with the whimpering and complaining kids (kids around 5, 6 and/or 7 from what I could tell), who kept telling them loudly to sit still, be quiet and stop whining throughout the whole movie- instead of taking them out the door and across the hall to watch Beethoven’s 2nd. In my frustration, I threw a dirty look and a kernel or two of popcorn her way.

It’s how I feel when people, jockeying to be the most powerful person in the world, blatantly disregard science in favor of folksyisms that appease- and get votes. This guy/gal is just like me. They should be president.

Huh? Whatever happened to the drive to be intelligent in our culture? When did it become evil? Haven’t we learned our lesson about folksy presidents from Texas?

I guess not. Just like the lady in the theater didn’t know-or didn’t care- that bringing small children to Schindler’s List would wreck the movie for almost everyone else in the room. But this time, I’m not going to just sit there, fuming. I’m not keeping my mouth shut.

Consider this the opening salvo.

Buttered.

Bachmann Bucks Voters, Demonizes Environmentalists

Michele Bachmann yesterday called for the abolition of the ‘job killing’ Environmental Protection Agency- despite polls which show most Americans do not favor such a move.

“The United States is the number one country in the world for energy resources,” the Minnesota congresswoman told a central Florida town hall meeting, arguing that in shale deposits alone the U.S. easily outstrips the total oil supply of Saudi Arabia. “That doesn’t even include … all the oil in Alaska.”

But Bachmann said environmentalists were preventing resources from being exploited, leaving the U.S. dependent on energy imports.

“Instead of thinking we are beggars out here begging for oil and for energy, we are the king daddy dogs when it comes to energy,” she said.

“The radical environmentalists have demanded that we lock up all our energy resources,” she added. “President Bachmann will take that key out of the door. I will unlock it.”

The crowd at the upscale retirement community cheered wildly.

And Bachmann got a similar reception when she promised to eliminate the “job killing” Environmental Protection Agency, saying that she would close the agency down in a single trip. “We will turn out the lights and we’ll lock the doors,” she said.

Such rhetoric may seem to be a populist position- especially regarding the conservative base, but Bachmann hasn’t done her homework.

But a new poll from the conservative-leaning Rasmussen** finds that an overwhelming majority of likely voters, including more than two-thirds of independents, disagree with Rep. Bachmann. When asked whether they “favor or oppose abolishing the Environmental Protection Agency,” 61% of likely voters indicated that they are opposed:

Whoopsie.

Well, I’ve deeply suspected Bachmann of pandering to the wackos for a while now, but ignoring majority polls is just plain poor politics. But there is something worth remembering from this visit:

“…we are the king daddy dogs…”

Huh? I don’t claim to be a Freudian, but I think her fantasies are starting to invade her politics….

Michele Bachmann, (Submissive) Theologian?

Michele Bachmann has championed the “Christian” cause, sprinkling her speeches with scripture and holy buzzphrases. But one in particular caught my ear.

During the Iowa Republican Debate, Bachmann was asked about whether she would be submissive to her husband. She slipped right out of her earlier statements (and any fundamentalist credibility) when she basically said, “in our house, submission means respect”.

But what did Paul mean when he wrote, “Wives, submit to your husbands as is fitting in the Lord” in his letter to the Colossians? Or Peter, when he wrote “Wives, in the same way be submissive to your husbands…” in the First Letter of Peter?

It comes from the tradition which Paul amplified in his letter to the Ephesians:

Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the savior of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing. (NIV) Ephesians 5.22-24

Pretty clearly not simple, mutual respect. Maybe another translation will help. Let’s try the King James:

22Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. 23For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body.24Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.

Nope, still clearly hierarchical. Paul is speaking from a clearly patriarchal tradition here- one where the husband is the head of the family, the boss, the Pope, the King- those are the images he uses here.

And they are meant very specifically and clearly: wives are the subjects of their husbands, as the church is subject to Christ. As a serf is subject to a king. Not partner, not even helpmate. Subject.

Not that I think this is right, proper or correct. My understanding of Christian scripture is quite different- and I take an anthropological/interpretive approach- not a fundamentalist one. But if you’re going to proclaim to have fundamentalist Christian leanings- you have to be consistent. The first century church was a product of its time- patriarchy was all the rage- and I think we’ve evolved beyond it. Well, mostly. But if Michele Bachmann is going to quote scripture, she can’t just pick and choose what it means. She can’t back off of it and maintain any integrity with/for her Christian base.

But she did. And she has. And the media is letting her. CBS News:

AMES, Iowa – Appearing on “Face the Nation” Sunday, Rep. Michele Bachmann stood by her comment in Thursday’s Republican debate, insisting that when she said wives should be submissive to their husbands, she meant that married couples should have mutual respect.
In 2006, Bachmann said her husband had told her to get a post-doctorate degree in tax law. “Tax law? I hate taxes,” she continued. “Why should I go into something like that? But the lord says, be submissive. Wives, you are to be submissive to your husbands.'”
Asked about the comment by CBS News’ Norah O’Donnell Sunday, Bachmann reaffirmed that to her, “submission means respect, mutual respect.”
“I respect my husband, he respects me,” she said. “We have been married 33 years, we have a great marriage…and respecting each other, listening to each other is what that means.”
O’Donnell asked Bachmann if she would use a different word in retrospect.
“You know, I guess it depends on what word people are used to, but respect is really what it means,” Bachmann replied.
“Do you think submissive means subservient?” O’Donnell asked.
“Not to us,” Bachmann said. “To us it means respect. We respect each other, we listen to each other, we love each other and that is what it means.”

Look at the story she uses to illustrate her point: Marcus Bachmann told her to get a degree in something she hated– and she did it because- according to a fundamentalist interpretation of scripture- she is his subject. She must submit to him. She later rejected this, saying it equals respect.

Well, maybe in the way a serf respects the King who holds power over him/her. But let’s keep looking. Hey! Maybe the dictionary will mention respect.

submissive
sub·mis·sive
–adjective
1.inclined or ready to submit;  unresistingly or humbly obedient: submissive servants.
2.marked by or indicating submission: a submissive reply.

Okay, that didn’t do much for her case, either. Hey, maybe the Greek will help! What was the word in the Bible the writers actually used? Maybe that means respect…

 “In the first instance, then, hupatassomai does not mean so much ‘to obey’—though this may result from self-subordination—or to do the will of someone but rather ‘to lose or surrender one’s own rights or will.136 In the NT the verb does not immediately carry with it the thought of obedience … 137

The idea implicit in the term is “to place under” (in the active voice).138 As it is found in our text, the idea would be, “to subordinate oneself” or “to place oneself under.” In general terms, submission is the placing of oneself under the one to whom we submit. Since we are commanded to submit ourselves one to another, we are to place all others above ourselves. (source)

Whoops. Even worse.
Sorry, Michele. Looks like if you want to maintain scriptural consistency- and your fundamentalist/evangelical/christianist street cred, you’re going to have to say submit, subject to, submissive, surrender.

Presidential words, indeed.

Bachmann Staffer Arrested For Terrorism

Denny Rehberg’s role model, Michele Bachmann, besides being an habitual liar, seems to be headed for a little Bachmanngate…. From The Atlantic:

The evangelical organizer who helped Michele Bachmann win the Ames Straw Poll in Iowa Saturday was previously charged with terrorism in Uganda after being arrested for possession of assault rifles and ammunition in February 2006, just days before Uganda’s first multi-party elections in 20 years.

Peter E. Waldron spent 37 days in the Luriza Prison outside Kampala, where he says he was tortured, after being arrested along with six Congolese and Ugandan nationals for the weapons, which were described variously in news reports as having been found in his bedroom or a closet in his home. The charges, which could have led to life in prison, were dropped in March 2006 after a pressure campaign by Waldron’s friends and colleagues and what Waldron says was the intervention of the Bush administration. He was released and deported from the east African nation, along with the Congolese. On Saturday, Waldron told The Atlantic in Ames that he was a staffer for Bachmann and responsible for her faith-based organizing both in Iowa and South Carolina. But he also declined repeatedly to give his name.

Oh, and it gets much more interesting. Full Story here.

But before you think you’ve got it all figured out- think again. Andrew Rice gives us even more:

Peter Waldron, an evangelical minister who told the publication that he is doing outreach on Bachmann’s behalf to the born-again community, spent more than a month in Kampala’s Luzira Prison in 2006, and possesses a resume more in keeping with a spy novel than a presidential campaign. Among other things, the Atlantic item reports, Waldron is now promoting an autobiographical movie on his website that asks, teasingly, “was he a businessman, a preacher, a spy?” Franke-Ruta adds that “one man who knew Waldron in 2004 told The St. Petersburg Times in 2006 that Waldron had told him he used to work for the CIA.”

I bring this up because I happen to be that man who knew Waldron.

Saying that I “knew” Waldron is putting it a little strongly: I met him in 2004 in the course of writing an article on the evangelical movement in Uganda, where we both lived at the time. The piece was published in The New Republic, and is now regrettably behind a paywall. (Update: Link here. Thanks to TNR and Ben Smith.)

To summarize, it was in part an examination of Muslim-Christian relations in the country and also a profile of Martin Ssempa, a popular, controversial and publicity-savvy Ugandan preacher who seemed emblematic of the a wave of fervent Christianity that has lately been sweeping Africa. Ssempa invited me to his church on the campus of Makerere University one Sunday, where he was joined by a curious guest: Waldron. The American’s role in the story was cut down a bit in the editing process, but since the question of how he presented himself at the time now seems important, I’ll reproduce below what I wrote about him in my first draft of the article, back when our interaction was fresh on my mind.

Looks like this guy represents something we’ve all come to see in Bachmann’s campaign- denial of the facts/reality in favor of extremist ideological fantasy. Rice sums it up perfectly:

When I look back now, my impression of him remains now what it was then, which is that he was a particularly flamboyant example of an archetypal character: the American who goes to Africa, a continent where a little money and a lot of talk can buy substantial power, in search of a position of influence.

It eluded him in Uganda, but maybe now he’s found it back home, with the Bachmann campaign.

I wonder how long Denny’s pal is going to be able to take this. And whether Rehberg will have the wits to distance himself from Bachmann… Anyway, his full article here.

 

 

Michele Bachmann, The NYT and Rehberg

Just a little reminder of the truth for ya…

Over the weekend, the New York Times had an interesting article about Republican Presidential candidate Michele Bachmann and the issue that catapulted her into the national spotlight: The gays are coming! They want to get married! Protect your children!

In March 2004, with Massachusetts soon to allow gay couples to wed, Michele Bachmann delivered a dire warning to her fellow Minnesotans: The children of their state were at risk.

“We will have immediate loss of civil liberties for five million Minnesotans,” Mrs. Bachmann, then a state senator, told a Christian television network as thousands gathered on the steps of the Capitol to rally for a same-sex marriage ban she proposed. “In our public schools, whether they want to or not, they’ll be forced to start teaching that same-sex marriage is equal, that it is normal and that children should try it.”

Anti-gay rhetoric. And the willful promulgation of ignorance. Seems like it’s pretty popular right now in some circles. Meanwhile, the American public is (mostly) not buying it. American acceptance of gay marriage is trending steadily upward, and only 32% of the people polled last October said gay marriage is a “very important issue” in their considerations at the ballot box- both for and against- so the number against is even less than that. The Pew Poll:

The economy and jobs overshadow other issues, including social issues such as abortion and gay marriage, in importance for voters. Fully 90% of registered voters say the economy will be very important to their vote while nearly as many (88%) rate jobs as very important.

By contrast, just 43% say abortion will be very important and just 32% say the same about same-sex marriage — the lowest percentage for 13 issues tested. Opponents of same-sex marriage (44% very important) are more likely than supporters (22%) to say that this issue will be very important to their vote.

Americans are increasingly seeing the anti-gay stance as bigoted and wrong- and rightly so. But it’s important to remember that Michele Bachmann- polling well in Montana– has her political roots firmly in this cesspool.

And what’s this got to do with Rehberg? Well, how about this reminder from January:

Billing Bachmann as a “possible presidential contender,” the Montana GOP announced Monday the third-term congresswoman would be one of the speaker’s at the state party’s annual fundraiser in Helena on Feb. 5.

Rep. Denny Rehberg, who is seriously weighing a bid for Senate, is also a listed speaker.

“Congresswoman Bachmann is a leading voice for conservative Republicans.  She is in great demand for speaking engagements throughout the country.  We are very fortunate Michele Bachmann will be our guest in Montana’s capital city and are grateful for Congressman Rehberg’s assistance in making this possible,” said Lewis and Clark County Republican Central Committee chairman Bridget Holland. (emphasis mine)

And well- of course. It makes sense. Rehberg has his own anti-gay history:

When you’re from Montana, it’s hard to find things to do — so practical jokes come in handy.

Rep. Denny Rehberg (R-Mont.) recently played a gag on Rep. Mike Simpson (R-Idaho) on their Middle East congressional delegation trip last month.

Rehberg left an “Idaho Travel Package” on Simpson’s airplane seat.

Contents included a stuffed sheep with gloves attached to it (draw your own conclusions), a Village People CD, books on cross-dressing and sign language and a T-shirt that reads, “My senator may not be gay, but my governor is Butch.”

Rehberg is proud of the gift bag. “I spent a bit of time putting the things together,” he boasted.

(Simpson) was amused but not surprised that Rehberg was the bearer of such presents. “You can always find those materials in Montana,” he said, laughing.

After calls for an apology from a variety of quarters, none was given. An offhand statement was offered-from an office spokesman- saying, “No offense was intended.” Obviously, Rehberg doesn’t take the offense to his constituents seriously. He never has. Nor will he see the ridiculous “star” that he has hitched his wagon to- Michele Bachman- for what it really is: a willful attempt at fear-mongering, scientific ignorance and blatant pandering to an increasingly shrinking part of the American population.

It’s embarrassing. I just hope the people of Montana catch on soon, because I really don’t believe he represents the views of the majority of voting Montanans- Montanans believe in justice for all- not justice for some. and it’s easy to forget some very important things in light of repeated smokescreen rhetoric. But I believe we’re smarter than that.

So let’s vote like it.