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November 29, 2006

Fun with internets

The fine folks at Dump Bachmann have enlisted the help of some computer-whiz friends to bring you the Michele Bachmann Comic Generator. Check it out--it's nifty!

Care to comment, Michele?

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Bachmann declines opportunity for bipartisanship

Surprise, surprise: Michele Bachmann has apparently turned down her inaugural opportunity to reach across the aisle and form important relationships with Democrats. According to the Harvard Crimson, only one of the new Republican members of Congress, Rep. Vern Buchanan of Florida, has accepted an invitation to a "powwow" held at the Harvard Institute of Politics this week. 80 percent of newly-elected Democrats have accepted invitations, including 5th District Representative-Elect Keith Ellison. The event sounds like it would have been a good opportunity for our new representative to get to know her fellow members and become educated on important issues:

Starting [Tuesday] and running until Friday, the event allows new
Congress members to hear from a slate of speakers, such as current and
former Congress members, academics, and policy-makers, on issues
ranging from terrorism to the global economy to work-family balance.

“On one hand, the program provides new members with issues they’ll be
facing in the future—such as balancing the federal budget,? said IOP
Director Jeanne Shaheen, a former governor of New Hampshire. “But very
important is that the program gives new members a chance to bond and
develop relationships. It’s an opportunity to hear from another point
of view.?

The conference aims to be “bipartisan in agenda,? according to IOP Associate Director David King, who chairs this program for newly elected representatives.

“We made every effort to represent both sides in the program,? King said.
Keith Ellison's spokesperson is disappointed that the Republicans refused to show up.

Dave Colling, a spokesperson for confirmed participant and incoming
Minnesota Democratic House member Keith Ellison, said the congressman was disappointed by the lack of Republicans at this week’s gathering.

“It would have been a good opportunity for bipartisanship,? he said.
“Hopefully we can reach across the aisle once we get to Washington.?

Why didn't Michele take this opportunity? She likes to talk about bipartisanship, but when it comes down to it, her claims don't match the reality. This is probably not the first time we will see a lack of bipartisanship from Mrs. Bachmann, but it is surprising that her media people wouldn't see at least the PR value of this
event.

November 18, 2006

Wetterling defended

This is a great letter in the Star Tribune today:

Faith and family also a Wetterling mainstay

In reading Katherine Kersten's Nov. 9 column regarding U.S. Rep.-elect Michele Bachmann, I was reminded of all the Sunday School classes and church services I attended with Patty Wetterling when we were growing up in St. Paul.

Although she did not proclaim it from the pulpit, I know that she also is a good Christian and a good mother and that she would have given anything on the evening of Nov. 7 to hear the voice of her oldest son calling to her from the crowd.

RODERICK AIRD, BURNSVILLE

I am glad to see this letter defending Patty. Michele Bachmann and her supporters cannot claim a monopoly on the Christian faith. They claim to speak for all Christians, but obviously they don't. I would much rather vote for someone who is humble and respectful in their faith than someone who is loud and self-righteous. Apparently the voters of the Sixth District did not agree.

November 16, 2006

Parrish: "Women should carry guns," men should carry their purses

Dump Bachmann is having a bit of fun with a picture of Andy Parrish, Michele Bachmann's former campaign manager and now apparently an "aide" (rumor is, he wants to be her chief of staff), carrying Michele's purse:

I thought it would be a good time to bring out some more of Parrish's college wackery. Here are some excerpts from a column he wrote for the February 6, 2004 issue of the UW-River Falls campus newspaper, entitled "Women Should Carry Guns."

In this column, he makes an attempt to argue for the efficacy of conceal-and-carry laws for preventing rape. Now, this is something that has and will continue to be debated. Parrish, however, in this column, appears to base his argument on an extremely suspect set of facts for which he gives no source, and which seem wildly improbable compared to other data:

In the states with personal protection acts, more than 200,000 women per year fight off sexual attackers with a gun. That's an average of 548 women per day who do not get raped because they protected themselves with a handgun. In those cases, the gun is never fired 92 percent of the time. It just poses a neutralizing threat to the attacker.

Parrish does not cite his source for these statistics, but they don't seem to jive with other statistics I've found on the internet. For comparison, the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network estimates that the 200,000 number includes the total number of all sexual assaults, attempted rapes, and completed rapes:

Of the average annual 200,780 victims in 2004-2005, about 64,080 were victims of completed rape, 51,500 were victims of attempted rape, and 85,210 were victims of sexual assault.

Even if you assume that all of the 51,500 victims of attempted rape protected themselves with a gun, which is a ridiculous assumption, that comes nowhere close to Parrish's number. So I have no idea where he got this information, or if he misinterpreted some data, or if he just made it up. Examining sympathetic websites, I can't find anything close to Parrish's number. This study, by two University of Chicago economists, concluded:

Allowing citizens without criminal records or histories of significant mental illness to carry concealed handguns deters violent crimes and appears to produce an extremely small and statistically insignificant change in accidental deaths. If the rest country had adopted right-to-carry concealed handgun provisions in 1992, at least 1,570 murders and over 4,177 rapes would have been avoided.

Those numbers are significant, if they are accepted as accurate and still relevant. But they do not even come close to Parrish's wild assertions. Do they fact-check at River Falls?

But, after all, we don't read Andy Parrish for his crazy fairy-tale-land statistics. We read him for his overheated, ignorant, offensive, and ultimately entertaining rhetoric. Here are some gems from this article:

On this topic, the left's extreme arrogance, which I call Mad Democrat Disease (very similar to Mad Cow Disease), indirectly causes hundreds of thousands [ed: already debunked!] of women to be raped every year while the left does nothing but condone rape by fighting conceal and carry laws everywhere they are up for a vote.
How often have we heard left wing liberals claim guns are evil in and of themselves? [ed: Umm... never?] When was the last time you saw a gun load itself, jump off a table, walk into school and kill students all on its own?

Never, again. Obviously. But thanks for putting words in my "left wing liberal" mouth.

Don't those silly women over at N.O.W. understand that this is a great way for women to defend themselves and stop being constant victims of men? You would think that N.O.W. and other women's rights organizations wouldn't want men to be raping women but they must want these types of attacks since they don't want women to carry guns.

As usual, impeccable logic, Mr. Parrish.

His closer:

I have to bring this article to a close before the gun store closes. I plan on getting a handgun for my girlfriend so she does not become the statistic of a violent crime.

Let the snarkiness begin!

November 14, 2006

The future of this site

Dear Readers,

I was really hoping that Patty Wetterling would win the election, so that I could be rid of this accursed site once and for all. However, since she did not win, I feel that I must do whatever I can to oppose Michele Bachmann and to lay the groundwork for her defeat in 2008. I feel that the best way to do this is to keep this blog running. There are stories that are not being told about Michele Bachmann by the media; there is an alternative narrative to the one that was presented by the Bachmann campaign and blindly accepted by most media outlets, and this site, in conjunction with other sites like The Bachmann Record and Dump Michele Bachmann, can help tell those stories and challenge that narrative.

I also realized that I do enjoy blogging, despite becoming disenchanted with it at times. I like feeling involved in the political scene, even in a small way, and now that the elections are over and the campaigning season is gone, it would be good to have an outlet for this interest. I have made experiments in the medium before, but this time around I have become a much more specialized blogger, focusing on a much smaller field. I have gained a body of knowledge about Michele Bachmann and about the politics of the Sixth District that makes blogging much easier and more rewarding, and it would be a shame to let that hard work go to waste.

So, I have decided to keep this blog running. I will continue to document the fledgling federal career of Michele Bachmann, because the mainstream media has abdicated its duty to do so. I may not post as often as I did during parts of the 2006 campaign; partly because, without the twists and turns of a campaign season, there will be less to write about, but also because I cannot let blogging dominate my life, and I have other commitments (life, school, work) that are more important. If you are interested in what I have to say, I would recommend subscribing to this blog's feeds [ RSS 2.0 / Atom ] through a service such as Bloglines, in order to keep abreast of what may be periods of sporadic posting.

In the coming days, weeks, or months, depending on when I find time to make them, there will be changes coming to this site. First of all, I will change the name. (The URL will remain the same.) I am thinking that "Bachmann v. Bachmann" would be a good title for this blog, because I feel that, in this conservative district, the only person who can defeat the incumbent is Michele Bachmann herself. If you have other suggestions, please let me know in the comments. Along with the title change will be a complete site re-design. I meant to do this all along, because I realize that this is not the prettiest or most readable site. I will attempt to redress these shortcomings in the future. If you have design suggestions, please also leave them here.

I thank you all for reading, and I hope that you will continue to visit this site and contribute your thoughts and opinions.

Sincerely,

Pat Smith

Mrs. Bachmann goes to Washington

Freshman orientation began for the new members of Congress today, and thus there are the usual wave of stories in the media about their experiences. Even in these puff pieces, there are some interesting pieces of information. For instance, multiple stories mention that Michele Bachmann stopped by to see the Constitution on Sunday.

Paraphrase from this KSTP story:

"It takes my breath away, because this is what our country is about. This is what I'll be swearing to uphold."

And from this Star Trib story:

Republican Rep. Michele Bachmann arrived early and got to do a little sightseeing, getting a glimpse of the Constitution on Sunday.

She stopped by to see it, but has she actually read it? Will she now begin to take the President, her frozen-yogurt buddy, to task for his secret prisons in Europe, his "extraordinary renditions," Guantanamo Bay, Abu Ghraib, and torture (a "no-brainer," according to her close friend Dick Cheney)? And will she still be trying to amend the Constitution to include discrimination?

New members did their work behind closed doors, learning how to get their offices up and running, prepare their budgets, use franking privileges and how to keep abreast of complicated ethics rules.

"My No. 1 goal is to not go to jail," Bachmann said, chuckling.

Hmm... what does that mean? Is Michele planning on breaking some rules? As I've said before, the company she keeps doesn't have very good ethical standards. I had a suspicion she would fall into these same habits, favoring the special interests that funded her campaign over the people that elected her. But here the Democratic majority could be a benefit to her--it will be hard to push their agenda as part of the minority. So she won't be going to prison anytime soon. . . unlike her buddy Mark Olson, a paragon of family values, who was arrested on Sunday on suspicion of fifth-degree domestic assault.

November 8, 2006

Bachmann brings in out-of-state "Christian nationalist" home-schoolers to campaign

I hate on the Minnesota Daily a lot, because, frankly, it is a terrible newspaper, but their article on the CD6 results contained a very interesting tidbit:

One group called Gen J, or Generation Joshua, rallied middle school and high school students to pass out campaign literature and call voters for Bachmann.

Patrick Henry College (Virginia) journalism senior Adrienne Cumbus is a volunteer leader for Gen J. Originally from Houston, she said she came to support Bachmann because the candidate doesn't try to appeal to everyone - instead, she knows her own values.

"She's very articulate in what she says," Cumbus said. "She's not sitting on the fence."

I did some research on this Generation Joshua. Start out first at their website: What is Generation Joshua?. Generation Joshua is an organization born from the Home Schoolers' Legal Defense Association, a group that purports to represent all American home-schoolers... but not every home-schooling family feels represented. Some believe that the organization has become nothing more than a publicity and money-making front for its founders, and many take exception to the legislative agenda of the organization, which runs far beyond the bounds of home-schooling issues to issues like gay marriage, abortion, and even the Chemical Weapons Treaty (!):


"The more non-homeschooling issues homeschooling groups are associated with, the more negative opinions you cultivate, and you take on unnecessary risks that could hurt what should be your primary task: protecting homeschoolers...unless it's of vital interest and a homeschooling issue, don't stick your neck out." While HSLDA's full agenda "may be worthy of your interests, it is a catch-all for conservative... issues, and it paints us all with that brush."

-Will Shaw, long time homeschooler,
state homeschool lobbyist and
founder of the Virginia Home Education Association

The organization has been linked to the Christian Reconstructionist movement through its founder, Michael Harris, a former attorney for the Moral Majority and unsuccessful Republican candidate for Lt. Governor of Virginia in 1993. The Christian Reconstructionist movement is scary:

The Dominion theology movement places Judeo-Christian biblical law above any and all constitutional law, including the U.S. Constitution. "Postmillienialists believe that righteous human beings, essentially servants of Christ, must achieve positions of influence in societies in order to prepare the world for the Messiah's return."

In his excellent 1996 book, With God on Our Side, William Martin used a sampling of the views of several noted Reconstructionists to give a sense of how a Reconstructed America would be: "The federal government would play no role in regulating business, public education, or welfare [S]ome government would be visible at the level of counties but citizens would be answerable to church authorities on most matters subject to regulation income taxes would not exceed ten percent - the biblical tithe - and social security would disappear [P]ublic schools would be abolished in favor of home-schooling arrangements, and families would operate on a strict patriarchal pattern. The only people permitted to vote would be members of 'biblically correct' churches. Most notably, a theonomic order would make homosexuality, adultery, blasphemy, propagation of false doctrine, and incorrigible behavior by disobedient children subject to the death penalty, preferably administered by stoning a reconstructed America would have little room for Jews, Buddhists, Muslims, Hindus, atheists, or even non-Reconstructionist Christians. 'The Christian', one Reconstructionist author has asserted, 'must realize that pluralism is a myth R.J. Rushdoony, also regards pluralism as a heresy, since, in the name of toleration, the believer is asked to associate on a common level of total acceptance with the atheist, the pervert, the criminal, and the adherents of other religions."

Generation Joshua's political goals are similar to their parent organization's: "Our goal is to ignite a vision in young people to help America return to her Judeo-Christian foundations."

The group is mentioned in this Salon article, which describes them as "an organization ... that trains college kids to make Christian nationalism palatable to the MTV generation, [attempting] to take a " 'firm, solid Biblical worldview' and [translate] it into 'terms that the other side accepts.' "

Here are the extremely well-informed political views of one precocious, intellectually independent teenager, expressed in an almost Bachmann-esque stream of eloquence:

"We took the church out of the state, but you've still got that thing of our founding fathers were Christians and they put God in the government and the way things have gone now, it's just gone almost," Kaity says.

But, Kaity also says the group doesn't form her opinions for her.

"I'm not an uneducated kid," she says. "I'm not going to base what I believe on mere opinion. I'm going to research it and I'm going to look things up [ed.: In the Bible?] and look at both sides of an issue and make an informed decision based on what I believe and not what my parents tell me."

The HSLDA PAC has a page up detailing the group's planned efforts for Bachmann. Apparently all travel was reimbursed for these volunteers and their families:

Travel Compensation

Travel to, from, and during the Student Action Team will be compensated. ALL RECIEPTS MUST BE SUBMITTED TO THE FOLLOWING ADDRESS BY NOVEMBER 21, 2006. NO EXCEPTIONS.

HSLDA PAC
PO BOX 3000
Purcellville, VA 20132

Someone should check into the legality of this... I have no specific legal reason to doubt it, but it seems kind of fishy. At the very least, it seems to me ethically dodgy that the PAC of the entire home-schooling association would be used to pay for the tenuously-related political activities of its daughter group.

The page also includes this reminder:

Note: Under no circumstances can unrelated students room with a chaperone.

Probably a prescient move, given the recent troubles of the religious right.

Wikipedia has more information on Generation Joshua, and this local media story gives a good inside look at a "Gen J" chapter.

Bachmann elected, promises more roads, less taxes, and twice the "life"

Well, as you may have heard, the election is over, and Michele Bachmann defeated Patty Wetterling by a solid margin.

Bachmann made the rounds of the media today, making outlandish promises she will never be able to keep as a freshman member of a minority party (wooooo!)

She promised two seemingly incompatible goals: paving over the Sixth District and enacting a "tax cut at every turn":

KARE 11:

"My goal is to sit on the financial services committee where I can affect tax code and I want to be able to sit on the Transportation Committee because I want to build more roads all across the 6th district."

AP:

Michele Bachmann, the only new Republican in the Minnesota delegation, who defeated Democrat Patty Wetterling, said she will focus on extending President Bush's tax cuts.

But as a freshman member of the minority, Bachmann conceded that pursuing that would be a tall order.

"It's very ambitious," she said. "But that doesn't dissuade me from pursuing tax cuts at every turn."

Bachmann will replace GOP Rep. Mark Kennedy, who lost his Senate bid Tuesday. She said she will try to land assignments on two committees that Kennedy now serves on -- Financial Services and Transportation.

Bachmann said she wants a spot on the transportation panel to help get funding for roads in the 6th Congressional District.

She said she wasn't concerned that being in the minority would limit her effectiveness.

"On a majority of issues, we'll find common ground," she said.

So, can we expect Congresswoman Bachmann to attach some sort of tax cut to every transportation bill? It's a big goal, but I think Michele can do it! Deficit spending--it's the American Way!

I also love the poetic flavor of her victory speech (now with 2x the "life"!):

[I]n her victory speech, Bachmann said she would fight for "life, marriage and family life" and would cut taxes

It's gonna be a looooooong two years.

November 7, 2006

Prediction: Wetterling takes it

My prediction for today:

Wetterling 49 Bachmann 47 Binkowski 4

Want to make this dream a reality? Help Patty to Get Out the Vote:

Wetterling '06 Anoka Headquarters:
2022 N Ferry St.
Anoka MN 55303
(763) 323-1803

Wetterling '06 St. Cloud Office:
904 W. St. Germain St.
St. Cloud, MN 56301
(320) 229-0444

Washington County DFL Office:
8645 Eagle Point Blvd
Lake Elmo, MN 55042
(651) 209-9356

This election will be decided on turnout. It all comes down to tomorrow. See you at the polls.

I probably won't be posting tomorrow until the polls close. I will do a post-mortem at some point, but it may not be tomorrow night. I've added MPR's cool election-results widget to the blog sidebar on the right, so you can check that if necessary.

November 6, 2006

Cheat to Win-- part 2

I forgot to write about this a couple weeks back, but with everyone going to the polls tomorrow, I figured it was important to get it out there. According to my counterparts at BvW, the Republicans are mounting a "poll-watching" operation tomorrow. Ostensibly, they will be there "to ensure that election laws are followed at the polls on Election Day" and "to back up the election judges on enforcing election laws." But remember Ohio, 2004? We all know what the real purpose of the Republican challengers was there: to decrease Democratic turnout by intimidating and disenfranchising voters in "strategically targeted precincts" (read: black urban neighborhoods.) From a great investigative report by Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. that appeared in Rolling Stone:

In another move certain to add to the traffic jam at the polls, the GOP deployed 3,600 operatives on Election Day to challenge voters in thirty-one counties — most of them in predominantly black and urban areas.(157) Although it was billed as a means to ‘’ensure that voters are not disenfranchised by fraud,'’(158) Republicans knew that the challengers would inevitably create delays for eligible voters. Even Mark Weaver, the GOP’s attorney in Ohio, predicted in late October that the move would ‘’create chaos, longer lines and frustration.'’(159)

The day before the election, Judge Dlott attempted to halt the challengers, ruling that ‘’there exists an enormous risk of chaos, delay, intimidation and pandemonium inside the polls and in the lines out the doors.'’ Dlott was also troubled by the placement of Republican challengers: In Hamilton County, fourteen percent of new voters in white areas would be confronted at the polls, compared to ninety-seven percent of new voters in black areas.(160) But when the case was appealed to the Supreme Court on Election Day, Justice John Paul Stevens allowed the challenges to go forward. ‘’I have faith,'’ he ruled, ‘’that the elected officials and numerous election volunteers on the ground will carry out their responsibilities in a way that will enable qualified voters to cast their ballots.'’(161)

In fact, Blackwell gave Republican challengers unprecedented access to polling stations, where they intimidated voters, worsening delays in Democratic precincts. By the end of the day, thanks to a whirlwind of legal wrangling, the GOP had even gotten permission to use the discredited list of 35,000 names from its illegal caging effort to challenge would-be voters.(162) According to the survey by the DNC, nearly 5,000 voters across the state were turned away at the polls because of registration challenges — even though federal law required that they be provided with provisional ballots.(163)

I don't know the extent of the planned Republican vote-challenging operation in the Sixth District, but you should go to the polls knowing that you may be challenged. Don't let yourself be stopped from exercising your Constitutional right to vote. Do not leave the polling place until you have voted. If they do not let you vote, do not go quietly. If you are not allowed to vote, call the national Democratic voter assistance line at 1-888-DEM-VOTE for assistance and advice.

Report Suspicious Phone Calls

The Wetterling campaign has set up a hotline to collect information about the reports of suspicious robo-calls apparently coming from either the Bachmann campaign or the state or national Republican (read the post below this one for details.) If you get a call like this, collect all the information you can-- a recording would be the best, if you have both time and motivation-- and call Wetterling headquarters.

ALERT: REPORT SUSPICIOUS CALLS TO 763-323-1803

Dear Friends,

We are continuing to receive reports of suspicious robo-calls, falsely claiming to be from the Wetterling campaign.

If you receive one of these calls or notice other suspicious activity, we ask you to call the Wetterling campaign headquarters at 763-323-1803.

This is a very serious matter and your assistance is greatly appreciated.

Thank you.

With regards,
Corey Day

Wetterling Campaign Manager

Stop these despicable Republican tactics.

Let's make 'em pay at the polls! Vote Patty Wetterling for Congress!

Bachmann, Repubs: Cheat to win!

If you need another reason to vote Patty Wetterling, consider the despicable tactics the Republicans are resorting to in the final hours of the campaign in a desperate attempt to eke out a win. The Wetterling campaign says Bachmann and her buddies are robo-calling households in the Sixth District. These calls are masquerading as information about Patty Wetterling; when the voter picks up the phone, the hope is, he or she will think it's a call from the Wetterling campaign.

Massive numbers of pre-recorded 'robo' calls are going into the homes of voters from Bachmann and her friends.

Reports are coming in that households are receiving phone calls in rapid succession with the false impression they are from our campaign.

We are even receiving reports of calls from special interest groups on the East and West Coasts; people who can't even properly pronounce "Wetterling" but who can, nonetheless, spew forth their venom of lies and false accusations about Patty.

The Bachmann goal is to create anger and confusion.

The release doesn't give specifics, but this account of the robocall fits the description of a despicable GOP campaign tactic that has been afflicting races around the country. People are getting tons of these calls at this time of year, so most of the time they just hang up. The trouble with these GOP phone calls is, if the voter hangs up, the robodialer immediately calls them back--up to seven or eight times, according to reports from other parts of the country. There have even been reports that these robodialers will make calls very early in the morning or very late at night, waking people up. The hope is that those receiving the calls will become angry and direct their blame at the Democratic candidate (in this case, Wetterling). Only when you make it to the end of the message (which contains negative slurs against Wetterling) do you find out who the call is really from (a company contracted by the candidate or the national party.) Josh Marshall & Co. over at TPM have been covering the GOP robo-call story extensively for the past few days; head over there for new developments. Here's a great summary:

Both parties deliver millions of robocalls during election season. You've probably gotten the calls from both parties and many outside groups. It happens every cycle.

Only one party has a nationwide campaign to deliver millions of intentionally-harassing calls disguised to appear that they're from the opposite party. That party is the Republican party. And the calls are funded by the NRCC -- the House GOP election committee.

It's the party of election subversion. Deal with it.

The Bachmann campaign and anyone else associated with them ought to be ashamed of themselves for utilizing such a dishonest, repulsive tactic. This campaign has been rough and both sides are guilty of exaggerating or distorting the facts, but this has to be the most despicable tactic of the race so far. Tellingly, they waited until the bitter end to pull this scam, so voters won't have time to dig up all the facts--the GOP's hope is that voters will go to the polls angry at Wetterling. You should be angry when you go to the polls tomorrow--angry that the Republican Party thinks so little of you that they are willing to cheat, deceive, and lie to win. VOTE PATTY WETTERLING.

Be on the lookout for calls like this, or any suspicious-sounding calls that might be dirty tricks. The Republicans will stop at nothing to win this election.