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Tilting at Windmills

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February 21, 2011

BACHMANN FINDS HER WMD.... When Glenn Beck's latest nonsense comes up, the conversation often turns to his sincerity. We really don't know for sure whether the Fox News personality actually believes his deranged observations, or whether it's an elaborate act. Beck's either deeply disturbed or he's exceptionally good at pretending to be deeply disturbed.

Over the weekend, though, we were reminded that no such debate exists with Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.). The ignominious Republican, arguably Congress' most ridiculous member, was in South Carolina Saturday night, apparently as part of Bachmann's alleged national ambitions.

Those who heard her learned, among other things, that the federal tax code is a "weapon of mass destruction."

Bachmann also said there's a business bubble because the U.S. has the "highest corporate income tax rate in the world."

It is the tax code she blames for the "business bubble." She said, "We need to get rid of the blood-sucking tax code. It's got to go, just scrap the current tax code," adding that it is "a weapon of mass destruction."

Bachmann also has a new idea on how to address entitlement costs.

Bachmann blasted entitlement spending and urged reform in Social Security. "The problem is our health care welfare spending which is out of control," she said. "The good news is we can solve this problem. It needs to be a market based approach."

She offered up a somewhat non-traditional solution: "We need to simply tell people the facts, like Glenn Beck, with that chalkboard, that man can explain anything. I think if we give Glenn Beck the numbers, he can solve this."

After complaining about "cohabitating couples" and the government helping students afford college tuition, Bachmann went on to argue, "The bureaucrats now hate our values; there's a war on marriage, a war on family, a war on fertility all while funding and promoting abortion."

Just to be clear, there was no indication that Bachmann was kidding. By all accounts, she believes all of this.

What's more, her unhinged tirades brought Bachmann's audience "to their feet" and -- this is my favorite part -- the chair of Spartanburg County Republican Party called Bachmann "inspirational" and "very presidential."

Steve Benen 2:10 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (48)

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A "war on fertility"? WTF is she talking about? Is Bachmann opposed to contraception?

And how are "cohabiting couples" an issue of concern for the Federal Government (let alone a state government)?

There's just no filter on her. It's kind of entertainment, but scary at the same time.

Posted by: DRF on February 21, 2011 at 2:15 PM | PERMALINK

Oh dear god. We may laugh at Bachmann but too many people in the South think she's, like Glenn Beck, the real thing. Of course they're dealing with a totally alternative reality, but hey! Too often their reality becomes our law.

Posted by: Greytdog on February 21, 2011 at 2:18 PM | PERMALINK

Er, this is my home town. I've always loved the place [though I've long since stopped wanting ever to live there again], but it's increasingly become stark staring loony.

Posted by: David Temporarily-Not-in-Nashville on February 21, 2011 at 2:20 PM | PERMALINK

there's only one major class of american businesses that actually pays that 35% rate: retail.

you can see how that's just killing wal*mart.

the effective rate across the board is 25% but lots of companies that have large overseas operations pay much less.

Posted by: dj spellchecka on February 21, 2011 at 2:20 PM | PERMALINK

too many people in the South think she's, like Glenn Beck, the real thing.

Ahem...let's not forget that she is from about as far NORTH as you can get in the Continental US. And Glenn Beck operates out of NY.

We have enough problems down here with taking the blame for those two.

Posted by: martin on February 21, 2011 at 2:21 PM | PERMALINK

I am getting increasingly depressed with the stupidity of my fellow Americans.They don't even recognize it.

Posted by: edr on February 21, 2011 at 2:30 PM | PERMALINK

Steve, I'd be interested in a piece that explores the Bachmann syndrome in a little more depth. I refer in particular to recent studies showing that human beings believe things that confirm existing beliefs or biases, and simply reject anything and everything that does not confirm existing beliefs or biases. Even worse, that contrary fact just causes a subset of humans to adhere even more strongly to inaccurate belief.

With Bachmann, I think what's going on is her audiences hear what they want to hear. Anything that's just plainly insane, they tune it out, or interpret the insane stuff in ways that make it acceptable to them.

Now, some in Bachmann's extremist audience probably agree with everything she says, insane though it may be. But they, too, believe what they want and discard everything else.

These recent studies also shows that the conservative mind tends much more strongly in the direction of confirmation bias.

Add all this up, and it seems very likely that the extremist fringe to whom Bachmann is speaking could meet the criteria for a form of personality disorder.

Aside from all this, the foundation of all of Bachmann's idiocy is racism. Pure, unadulterated racism. We don't want the "other" to get anything at all. We want everything for ourselves and we will kill the "other" before we give them anything.

This is really, when you get down to it, the sum total of the right-wing political plan: eject the "other." I can think of at least one other political movement of the 20th century that had this as a fundamental policy position. But I won't mention it as I've been chastised before here not to violate Godwin's Law.

Posted by: LL on February 21, 2011 at 2:30 PM | PERMALINK

Oh my god, Bachmann in South Carolina!!

I'm afraid the density of the reactionary stupidity will reach critical mass and set off such a chain reaction of irrational dogwhistle buzzword cryptoracist reality-bending that it may actually rip a hole in the fabric of space-time.

The Bush White House's Reality-Distorting Engine was one thing, but this... I mean we're talking Bachmann, and South Carolina! Holy crap!

And people worry about CERN ending the world...

Posted by: biggerbox on February 21, 2011 at 2:31 PM | PERMALINK

>"Posted by: LL " Hits it on the head.

Yup... authoritarian mentality based on 'God Gene' genetics.

Posted by: Buford on February 21, 2011 at 2:35 PM | PERMALINK

I got into a political "discussion" with a friend over the weekend and he was spouting this same kind of nonsense. When I gave him facts, he just started getting louder and more vehement with his arguments. There was no explaining anything to him, and no critical thinking on his part. Just this type of crazy ranting. Very sad really. We may think that they won't bring the crazy, but we have to be very careful or we'll be living with Bachmann as president... or someone very much like her.

Posted by: kanopsis on February 21, 2011 at 2:35 PM | PERMALINK

For God's sake, Benen! She's in South Carolina! It's not supposed to make any sense.

Too small for a republic, remember?

Posted by: Andy Hall on February 21, 2011 at 2:36 PM | PERMALINK

I sometimes wonder if Bachmann, Beck and some of the other high profile conservatives aren't some alien worlds robots that they sent here just to f*ck with us?

With them in leadership positions, the aliens won't need to do any work at all in taking us over. We'll be too f*cking stupid to resist.

Posted by: c u n d gulag on February 21, 2011 at 2:36 PM | PERMALINK

Per LL: "the extremist fringe to whom Bachmann is speaking could meet the criteria for a form of personality disorder."

Careful, there - rounding up one's political opponents and putting them into mental health facilities has a long and ignominious tradition. I doubt that you meant that, but it's a very sensitive point.

Posted by: zandru on February 21, 2011 at 2:37 PM | PERMALINK


most people with personality disorders are not institutionalized. Which is both good, and bad, since we seem to have a number of frank sociopaths in high-places in our government: they'd have done far less damage in an institution.

I did not state, nor did I mean to imply, that anyone should be rounded up and locked up. What I did mean is that there are a lot of seriously disturbed human beings in the audiences for Michele Bachmann. And she is dangerous herself because she gives a dangerous voice to these frank disturbances.

Posted by: LL on February 21, 2011 at 2:47 PM | PERMALINK

What LL said, especially the part about personality disorder. That woman is batshit crazy, and anyone who would support her must have a few screws loose. Godwin's law indeed.

Posted by: Winkandanod on February 21, 2011 at 2:48 PM | PERMALINK

Isn't this an amazing country we live in?

Posted by: tomb on February 21, 2011 at 2:54 PM | PERMALINK

Why is she getting so much media attention? She is not a credible political figure.

Posted by: RolloTomasi on February 21, 2011 at 3:04 PM | PERMALINK

South Carolina? Really? Was the Governor there or in Argentina? Just asking...

Posted by: stevio on February 21, 2011 at 3:11 PM | PERMALINK

I must admit that I did not look over Obama's budget, so I have no idea how much the DoD is spending on the War On Fertility. The R&D costs alone must be astronomical. Guided Condom Cluster Munitions (GICCLUMS) are not cheap, you know. And Long Range Stand-Off IUDs have been failing their tests for years.
If we are waging a War On Fertility, does that mean we are planning to invade the Vatican?

Posted by: Tim H on February 21, 2011 at 3:21 PM | PERMALINK

I'm sure Michele is enthusiastic about the real intent of Walker's budget bill. Busting the public employee unions is just part of the story. Look what some sharp-eyed lefty discovered in the bowels of Walker's bill that he was so eager to ram through:

"16.896 Sale or contractual operation of state-owned heating, cooling, and power plants. (1) Notwithstanding ss. 13.48 (14) (am) and 16.705 (1), the department may sell any state-owned heating, cooling, and power plant or may contract with a private entity for the operation of any such plant, with or without solicitation of bids, for any amount that the department determines to be in the best interest of the state. Notwithstanding ss. 196.49 and 196.80, no approval or certification of the public service commission is necessary for a public utility to purchase, or contract for the operation of, such a plant, and any such purchase is considered to be in the public interest and to comply with the criteria for certification of a project under s. 196.49 (3) (b).

To be clear, this bill would make it entirely legal for unelected bureaucrats to sell energy-producing facilities, at their sole discretion, for any amount they deem acceptable, with no public bidding necessary. Furthermore, the language specifically bypasses public service commission bylaws that might regulate such sales, and states that such sales are automatically in the public interest.

Now guess which billionaire donors to Scott Walker's campaign already own energy facilities in Wisconsin? Yep, the Koch brothers, whose father helped found the Birch Society.

Wake up and smell the privatization, Putin-style.


Posted by: bluestatedon on February 21, 2011 at 3:22 PM | PERMALINK

right on LL...I would just add that it's not 'racism' or at least, not JUST racism...it's also 'classism'...the GOP seems to think that in this country we should have a House of LORDS. Wonder how the founding fathers would respond to THAT?

Posted by: SYSPROG on February 21, 2011 at 3:29 PM | PERMALINK

"There's only one star in a Helen Lawson show, baby, and it's me, Helen Lawson!"

-Susan Hayward Valley of the Dolls.

First of all, there really is no question about Glen Beck, he's an entertainer, plain and simple. He's laughing all the way to the bank. Second, I don't watch is show, but I get the impression that, well, "there's only one star in a Helen Lawson show..." Glen Beck is all about Glen Beck. I don't see him getting cozy with Michele Bachmann. She's competition. I think she's in for a surprise if she thinks she's going to be pals with him. He's out there on his own....strictly for himself.

Michele Bachmann, on the other hand, is crazy...crazy and stupid. Do I think she believes all of the nonsense that she spouts? No, I doubt it, but she see's the success of flim-flam men like Beck and Limbaugh and Palin, and she wants a piece of it. The other three are old troppers, they're vaudeville. Bachmann doesn't quite get it, she's trying too hard, or something. But I do think she's crazy and stupid.

Posted by: SaintZak on February 21, 2011 at 3:34 PM | PERMALINK

What is a "business bubble"?

Posted by: Stephen on February 21, 2011 at 3:37 PM | PERMALINK

Context, please: What is Bachmann's family history? Is she married and how many children? Who is her husband and what is his business/job? If she has less than 6 or 8 children, how did she "manage" having only that few? Are her children married/cohabitating/single/gay and how many children do they have? This may not seem relevant to some, but it is very much so. If she is criticizing the rest of us for our life-styles and living arrangements, then hers are absolutely relevant and "fair game."
I won't take the time to research this because I don't really care to take any more time on this than it took me to post this comment. Clearly, there are those among the commenters here who will take the time and make the effort. I thank you for your courage to walk into the quagmire that is Bachmann and Beck's lives.

st john

Posted by: st john on February 21, 2011 at 3:44 PM | PERMALINK

Bachmann HAD to be sound extra crazy when she came to South Carolina or it would not have gotten any attention in our normally crazy state. And regarding the governor and Argentina, Mark Sanford is gone and a female protege of his, Nicki Haley who was endorsed by Sarah Palin, now reigns. Bachmann was in Rock Hill as well as Spartanburg - wonder if Haley attended either event (or would such attendance be considered disloyal to Palin)?

Posted by: MuddyLee on February 21, 2011 at 3:48 PM | PERMALINK

Bachman took farm subsidies.

I guess it's okay if you are a Republican.


Posted by: Stephen on February 21, 2011 at 3:49 PM | PERMALINK

I think Beck started out with some degree of self-awareness of being just another huckster exploiting the emotions of people who are uncapable of critical thinking, but his success has pushed him over the cliff to megalomania.

Bachman is just a moron.

Posted by: DelCapslock on February 21, 2011 at 3:55 PM | PERMALINK


Posted by: KurtRex1453 on February 21, 2011 at 3:58 PM | PERMALINK

As long as the corporate MSM elevates these know-nothing crazies to celebrity status, read 'presidential' material, they will thrive. There has never been a shortage of Bachmann's mentality. Exept it wasn't taken seriously. Absent critical scrutiny, and it is totally absent from what I can tell, one lunatic after another will emerge, and the more telegenic they are, just physically, the longer they'll last. Radio was a much better communication medium since words mattered more than appearance. Now it's the images that control everything, and the Rethugs have figured out that attractive youngish people get an instant following no matter how batshit nuts they happen to be.


Posted by: rrk1 on February 21, 2011 at 4:17 PM | PERMALINK

Michele Bachmann, "arguably Congress' most ridiculous member."

Couldn't we have a contest? She's up there, for sure, but I would nominate Louis Gohmert ("anchor baby" fame) and Steve King just because he's Steve King.

Posted by: Molly Weasley on February 21, 2011 at 4:17 PM | PERMALINK

Ahh.. South Carolina... the Whoopee cushion of the US

Posted by: Tom B on February 21, 2011 at 4:24 PM | PERMALINK

Ah, the people of my home state never cease to amaze me--that's why I moved away about 40 years ago!

Posted by: tommy harper on February 21, 2011 at 4:49 PM | PERMALINK

As kanopsis pointed to earlier, you can't argue with people who believe. You might just as well bark at the moon.
As an anecdote, I used to play golf at a country club with a regular bunch of guys like me: old and white. One afternoon we got to arguing about Social Security. These are relatively successful (cash-wise) guys with a modicum of brains but they didn't want to hear that FICA generated more cash than spent. Fueled by loud-mouth soup, one of them called me a liar and that Social Security was a Ponzi scheme etc. etc.
When I later showed him the data, news articles and so on, he STILL wouldn't believe it. The people who believe Bachmann, will believe her no matter what she says and no facts will disturb their righteous fervor.
Might as well tell a Christian that the sky fairy doesn't exist.

Posted by: Tom M on February 21, 2011 at 4:51 PM | PERMALINK

I think we need to have a long-overdue discussion on the nature of mental illness in this country. When I was completing my graduate studies in counseling psychology in the 1990s, I would frequently see articles that concluded that the U.S. had among the highest, if not the highest, incidence of mental illness in the world (I apologize for not taking the time to find recent studies).

Although it is never easy to know how to interpret studies like these, I tend to think that a society like ours creates conditions that allow mental health problems to flourish. A society that emphasizes the individual over the group to the point of creating a cult of celebrity, that promotes materialism to a degree that is quite possibly unparalleled in human history, and offers so little support to those who somehow can't live up to the impossible expectations that they face is a breeding ground for mental illness.

In times of increased economic and social stress, mental health problems approach epidemic levels. Clinics across a state like Pennsylvania are filled with people who are buckling under the pressures that they face. It seems as though the treatment of mental illness is the only industry that is booming in a state like this. People like Michelle Bachman want to increase that pressure. They should be ashamed of themselves, but they are incapable of shame.

Posted by: broken arrow on February 21, 2011 at 5:04 PM | PERMALINK

Glenn Beck, the MacGyver of paranoid anti-Semitism.

Yes, he can solve anything.

All he needs is misleading information, hyperbole and a lot of stupid old people with cable, and...ACORN and Jews, ACORN and Jews, ACORN and Jews, ACORN and Jews...

Posted by: bleepbloop80 on February 21, 2011 at 5:21 PM | PERMALINK

DRF: A "war on fertility"? WTF is she talking about? Is Bachmann opposed to contraception?

Dunno, but I'll bet quite a few of her constituents are.

Natalism is a growing obsession on the Right, both for the usual anti-feminist, pro-patriarchy reasons and for racial/religious ones (i.e., the white Anglo-Saxon RealAmericans® are being outbred by Muslims and other dusky foreign types, and we have to do something about that, dammit).

Posted by: Chet on February 21, 2011 at 5:29 PM | PERMALINK

"...there's a war on marriage, a war on family, a war on fertility"...

That statement, with its mix of paranoia (they are attacking us!) and aggressiveness (this is war!,) is the emotional core that motivates the modern Republican party.

btw, in answer to someone upthread, Bachmann has five children.

Posted by: PTate in MN on February 21, 2011 at 5:33 PM | PERMALINK

I think there's something in the water in Washington. A native of the South here, I think she's crazier than a bedbug.

Posted by: mlm on February 21, 2011 at 5:48 PM | PERMALINK

PTate: Thanks for the information on 5 children. What does her husband do and what is the status of her children: married/single/gay/co-habitating and what are their occupations? Self-employed? "government/public service/government subsidies?" Private employer? Unemployed? Trust fund?

Posted by: st john on February 21, 2011 at 5:51 PM | PERMALINK

You said "ignominious". Correction - the word you are looking for is spelled "ignoramus."

Posted by: dan on February 21, 2011 at 6:06 PM | PERMALINK

South Carolina has been the asshole of America since the Barbadian Pirates arrived with their ideology of white supremacy in 1713. Too bad the state wasn't burned to the ground and the earth salted in 1865 for their crimes.

I used to think Alabama was the dumbest state in the Union, but when you combine multi-generation inbred genetic moron stupidity with multi-generation genetic inbred insanity, South Carolina is what you get.

Posted by: TCinLA on February 21, 2011 at 6:58 PM | PERMALINK

What does her husband do

He's a "therapist" whose website claims Jeebus is the "original therapist". He's as looney tunes as she is (could he be otherwise and live with her?) As is usual with too many members of the "helping professions," he's the one most in need of help.

Posted by: TCinLA on February 21, 2011 at 7:05 PM | PERMALINK

bluestatedon @ 3:22 PM -

So Walker's going for a threefer, eh?
Gut the state employee unions, cut off opposition funding, AND kiss the Koch Bros. *sses.

regarding Rep. Bucbucbucawmann; remember, she's just playing to her audience. As for her being "very presidential"; remember, this is a state that voted for the biggest loser ever - Jefferson Davis...

Posted by: Doug on February 21, 2011 at 8:21 PM | PERMALINK

@LL Look up The Authoritarians. It is very informative.

Posted by: rwbb on February 21, 2011 at 8:29 PM | PERMALINK

So the question is: have any of Bachmann's staffers suggested that she needs help, as Rep David Wu's staff has? (See later post from Steve.)

Posted by: Hmmmmm on February 21, 2011 at 8:34 PM | PERMALINK
"...like Glenn Beck, with that chalkboard, that man can explain anything."

Anything! ANYTHING!

Like how the Utah Jazz won the 1923 World Series!
Really, just let Beck at a blackboard and he'll prove it.

It's a mathematical fact that if you prove 0=1, you can prove anything. So start from the GOP budget, and you get Beck in two steps. QED.

Posted by: Snarki, child of Loki on February 21, 2011 at 10:16 PM | PERMALINK

The tax code is indeed to blame for the bubble: the lower cap gains rates etc put there by Republicans and phony Dems!

Posted by: neil b. on February 22, 2011 at 8:17 AM | PERMALINK

Remind me to stay as far away from Spartanburg SC as possible.

Posted by: Gandalf on February 22, 2011 at 9:03 AM | PERMALINK
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