July 2012

Mitt Romney fails to condemn Bachmann's offensive allegations against Huma AbedinLast week, US Representative Michele Bachmann’s penchant for offensive absurdity exploded into a national media circus when she and four other representatives alleged that Huma Abedin, aide to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and Keith Ellison, the first Muslim elected to Congress, had infiltrated the Federal government on behalf of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Probably noticing how dangerous such allegations are for their party’s reputation, prominent Republicans were quick to condemn the attacks as dangerous and un-American. John McCain called the attacks “specious and degrading,” and John Boehner said, “accusations like this being thrown around are pretty dangerous.”

Bachmann’s former campaign manager Ed Rollins called her claim “extreme and dishonest” and said, “I am fully aware that she sometimes has difficulty with her facts, but this is downright vicious and reaches the late Senator Joe McCarthy level.”

Republicans Marco Rubio, Lindsey Graham, and Scott Brown also condemned Bachmann’s attacks against Muslims.

Not to be outdone, Newt Gingrich and Rush Limbaugh defended Bachmann’s allegations.

But one prominent Republican was conspicuously silent on the matter. Can you guess who?

If you guessed Mitt Romney, you were correct. Not only did Romney the man stay silent, his campaign also had nothing to say. No one in the mainstream media, with the exception of Hardball’s Chris Matthews, seems to have noticed. And Matthews only mentioned it in passing.

Of course, Romney has a history of capitulating to extremism in his own party. A big fuss was made when Romney stood by silently while a supporter accused President Obama of treason at a town hall. So why hasn’t the media noticed Romney’s conspicuous silence about Bachmann’s allegations?

Surely, because of their prominent positions and the magnitude of their accusations, Bachmann and her cronies are more worthy of condemnation than some crank at a town hall? Or is Romney so desperate for support that he won’t even stand up to racism and bigotry in his own party?

Romney has again demonstrated a startling lack of leadership and an inability to stand up to bigots like Michele Bachmann. He wouldn’t even stand with six other members of his own party to condemn Bachmann’s accusations against Huma Abedin and Keith Ellison.

If he can’t stand up to Bachmann and the Tea Party, how can we expect him to stand up to the leaders of rogue states like Iran and North Korea?

Angry Michele Bachmann

Image Credit: addictinginfo.org

Update: John McCain’s speech defending Huma Abedin added to bottom of post.

Last week, Representative Michele Bachmann (R-MN) and four other members of Congress (Reps. Gohmert R-TX, Franks R-AZ, Rooney R-FL, and Westmoreland R-GA, who, with the exception of Rooney, are all members of the Tea Party Caucus) sent a letter to top US intelligence and security officials alleging that the Muslim Brotherhood had secret access to top Obama administration officials.

In the letter, Bachmann and company accused Huma Abedin, a top aide to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and others of having ties to the Muslim Brotherhood and attempting to infiltrate the US government.

These claims sound uncannily familiar. Senator Joe McCarthy once said,

I have here in my hand a list of two hundred and five people that were known to the Secretary of State as being members of the Communist Party and who nevertheless are still working and shaping the policy of the State Department.

To their credit, many prominent Republicans have condemned these attacks. John McCain (R-AZ) said, “These attacks on Huma have no logic, no basis, and no merit. They need to stop now” and called Bachmann’s claim “specious and degrading.”

Ed Rollins, Bachmann’s campaign manager for her failed bid for the 2012 Republican nomination, wrote in an op-ed for Fox News:

Her unsubstantiated charge against Abedin, a widely respected top aide to Secretary Hillary Clinton, accusing her of some sort of far-fetched connection to the Muslim brotherhood, is extreme and dishonest.

Having worked for Congressman Bachman’s campaign for president, I am fully aware that she sometimes has difficulty with her facts, but this is downright vicious and reaches the late Senator Joe McCarthy level.

Refusing to be cowed, Bachmann doubled down on Wednesday, saying she will “not be silent as this administration appeases our enemies instead of telling the truth about the threats our country faces.”

Speaker of the House John Boehner has since defended the reputation of Huma Abedin, saying, “from everything I do know of her, she has a sterling character. And I think accusations like this being thrown around are pretty dangerous.”

Republican Senators Marco Rubio, Lindsey Graham, and Scott Brown have also condemned the attacks.

Sadly, this is just the latest in a string of anti-Muslim incidents associated with the Tea Party. The Williamson County Republicans of Tennessee recently wrote a letter to the Republican Governor of Tennessee, Bill Haslam, opposing the Governor’s recent appointment of Samar Ali as the international director at the state’s Department of Economic and Community Development.

In their letter, the Williamson County Republicans said,

They [the Haslam Administration] seem willing to accept the claims and defense of the Muslim Brotherhood at face value, refusing to even consider that, perhaps, those bent on destroying Western Civilization might just be infiltrating our institutions. … It is not like this has never happened before. The Muslim Brotherhood is following the blueprint of the Communists, who infiltrated the highest levels of government and society in the 1950’s. Shariah, however, is an even greater threat, because it has cloaked itself under the auspices of a religion, thus confusing the uninformed.

This letter doesn’t even try to disguise its similarities to McCarthyism. In fact, it seems the Williamson County Republicans are actually endorsing exactly that sort of witch-hunt.

Representative Bachmann and her Tea Party “Patriots” have been promoting their bigoted, anti-Muslim, authoritarian agenda for too long. Their personal attacks on individuals, merely because they share the same religion or heritage as the Muslim Brotherhood, fly in the face of the principles upon which this nation was founded.

Any group that seeks to oppress another under the guise of “patriotism” is both un-American and unpatriotic and should be treated as such.

“When anyone, not least a member of Congress, launches specious and degrading attacks against fellow Americans, on the basis of nothing more than fear of who they are and ignorance of what they stand for, it defames the spirit of our nation, and we all grow poorer because of it.” (5:15)

This morning, I had CNN’s Starting Point on in the background as I got ready for work. On it was an interview between CNN’s Soledad O’Brien and one of Mitt Romney’s top surrogates, Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin.

I usually tune interviews like this out, because of the nuttiness that is increasingly common from those on the political right. But in this interview, Johnson said something so absurd that I couldn’t help but pay attention.

He said, “President Obama simply doesn’t understand that it’s the free enterprise systems, the private sector, the productive sector, not the government sector that creates long-term self-sustaining jobs. Take a look at the Soviet Union, Venezuela’s economic basket case, and is anybody moving to the island paradise of Cuba?”

O’Brien, visibly perturbed, asked Johnson if this was indeed what he meant. She asked, “You’re surely not suggesting that the idea and the concept behind Solyndra and other green energies like Solyndra is comparable to the Soviet Union and Cuba, right?”

Johnson replied, “No, I am suggesting that, because when you take taxpayer money and you invest that into business, that’s the taxpayer money put at risk. And let’s face it; the lesson of the Soviet Union and other socialist nations is that governments are very poor allocators of capital. It’s an economic model that doesn’t work.”

There are so many things wrong with this that I’m not even sure where to start. For example, one of the biggest problems we face is that private industry isn’t “creating long-term self-sustaining jobs.”

Those arguments aside, my real question for Senator Johnson is, if government subsidizing green energy companies is communist, what does that make government subsidies to fossil fuel companies? What about government subsidies the agriculture industry?

What about the LA Times article detailing evidence that Mitt Romney benefited from government subsidies while he was head of Bain Capital? Or when, as Governor of Massachusetts, he offered subsidies to attract businesses to his state? Does that make Romney a communist?

Of course it doesn’t. Government subsidies to green energy companies aren’t communist either. Subsidies are common practice at the federal and state level, and are given to companies in nearly every industry.

That Romney and his surrogates are making claims this absurd, not to mention categorically false, is evidence of how little they think of the American public.

Here’s the video:

Ron Paul at the Texas Republican Convention

Image Credit: Bob Daemmrich via texastribune.org

Recently, it’s been next to impossible to browse news sites without running across a story about the 2012 Texas Republican Party platform’s Orwellian opposition to the teaching of critical thinking in schools.

While peculiar, that’s far from the only interesting aspect of the Texas GOP platform. As I read through the platform, I was struck by how significant portions bear a striking resemblance to Ron Paul’s platform. When I say ‘striking,’ I don’t mean that they’re just similar; parts of the two platforms are almost identical.

The Texas GOP platform has this to say about the Federal Reserve and the gold standard:

We believe Congress should repeal the Federal Reserve Act of 1913. In the interim, we call for a complete audit of the Federal Reserve System and an immediate report to the American people.

Our founding fathers warned us of the dangers of allowing central bankers to control our currency because inflation equals taxation without representation. We support the return to the time tested precious metal standard for the U.S. dollar.

According to Ron Paul’s 2012 campaign site, his stances on the Federal Reserve and the gold standard are quite similar to those of the Texas Republicans.

He served on the House Banking committee, where he was a strong advocate for sound monetary policy and an outspoken critic of the Federal Reserve’s inflationary measures. He also was a key member of the Gold Commission, advocating a return to a gold standard for our currency…

Ultimately, he will lead the charge to end the dishonest, immoral, and unconstitutional Federal Reserve System, enabling America to take a giant step toward economic security, financial responsibility, and lasting prosperity.

On the topic of taxation, the GOP platform says:

We recommend repeal of the Sixteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, with the goal of abolishing the I.R.S and replacing it with a national sales tax collected by the States. In the interim we urge the income tax be changed to a flatter, broader, lower tax with only minimal exemptions such as home mortgage interest deductions.

Ron Paul has this to say about taxation:

As President, Ron Paul will support a Liberty Amendment to the Constitution to abolish the income and death taxes.  And he will be proud to be the one who finally turns off the lights at the IRS for good.

(For a discussion of the potential economic consequences of these policies, I highly recommend reading “The Terrifying Texas GOP Platform” by John Harvey, a Professor of Economics at Texas Christian University.)

The similarities don’t end here, either. Ron Paul’s platform and the 2012 Texas Republican Party platform also bear a striking resemblance on education, health care, and immigration. Both call for the repeal of the Department of Education and the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), as well as imposing more restrictive immigration regulations.

This is not to suggest that Ron Paul and the Texas Republicans agree on everything. There are several notable differences, including Paul’s stances on civil liberties and the drug war.

The question is how the similarities between the Texas GOP platform and Ron Paul’s platform arose. Are Ron Paul’s policies a reflection of Texas Republicanism, or is the Texas GOP platform a reflection of Paul’s newfound influence on the Texas Republican Party after his respectable showing at the Texas convention?

A look at the Texas Republican Party’s 2008 and 2010 platforms shows that the 2012 Texas GOP stances on the Federal Reserve and the gold standard are new. The 2008 platform makes no mention whatsoever of either of these issues, while the 2010 platform mentions the Federal Reserve but not the gold standard.

Both platforms do, however, recommend the abolition of the income tax and the I.R.S.  Both platforms also say, “The primary purpose of public schools is to teach critical thinking skills.”

Apparently the Texas Republican Party platform has changed a lot in just two short years.

It’s not a huge stretch to imagine that, as a Texas Republican Congressman, Ron Paul has been influenced by the Texas GOP platform. However, Paul has advocated the repeal of the Federal Reserve Act and return the gold standard since long before 2008. The introduction of these policies into the 2012 GOP platform suggests that Paul is having some success in his plan to influence the Republican Party platform, at least at the state level.

Of course, Paul’s success at getting his ideas onto the Texas GOP platform may not translate to success at a national level. It will be interesting to see if Paul has managed to acquire enough delegates to have a significant influence on the party platform at the Republican National Convention in August.

Wind turbines and solar panels on the Indigo Tower at Twelve West in Portland, Oregon

Wind turbines and solar panels on the Indigo Tower at Twelve West in Portland, Oregon

I was visiting Portland, Oregon, last weekend, and I came across this building while wandering around near Powell’s Books.

This is the Indigo Tower at Twelve West in Portland’s West End. This building is certified LEED Platinum, and you can see wind turbines and solar panels on the roof.

Why don’t we have buildings like this in Denver? We certainly get enough wind. I’m jealous.