Tag Archives: Michele Bachmann

Halloween Ghouls, Goblins and Goofs

Sage advice to help you decide who or what you want to be this Halloween.

It is “Trick or Treat” time again. And for all of us who are not members of Congress, where every day seems like trick or treat, we have to decide what we are going to wear as a costume for our Halloween night out.

IMG950118Of course, if you were in Key West with me, your decision would be easy. During the Halloween “Fantasy Fest” (think of Mardi Gras gone bad) happening now in Key West, the most popular dress-up-and-go-out Halloween outfit is your birthday suit. The problem is that for many, their birthday suit sags in all the wrong places. Of course, that makes it even scarier when you see it. You almost don’t dare look.

If you are not into the costume thing but still want to have some ghoulish fun you could go to a Halloween party and about half-way through, start greeting and hugging everyone but admit you’re not feeling too well and describe Ebola-like symptoms.

If you are still undecided about your Halloween attire, take into account that popular regalia for adults (and we’re all adults here, aren’t we?) is to dress up like their favorite celebrity or political leader, so here are some suggestions that might help you out.

Barack Obama – Be the “ghost of leadership lost.” You could run around making aggressive and threatening noises. Then when people snicker and ignore you, you could just go on to the next house.

Joe Biden – Go out as an organ grinder’s monkey. You would have this cute little jacket (but no pants). You could jump up and down at the end of your leash, chattering away, but in a way that no one can understand what you’re saying.

Ray Rice – Simple but effective costume – just wear a wife-beater shirt.

Chris Christie – A no-brainer here: Dress as the “Stay-Puff Marshmallow Man” from Ghostbusters. Just make sure you don’t have to go through a tunnel on the way to the party.michele-bachmann-corndog

Michele Bachmann – Go to the party and offer an alternative to those who think Sarah Palin is too cerebral and rational. To complete the look, walk around nibbling on a foot-long corn dog on a stick.

Mitt Romney – Just dress up as a plastic mannequin with painted black hair (just like that Ronco infomercial). You can enhance the effect by spouting off-hand comments that make you appear to be a non-caring, out-of-touch elitist rich guy.

Adrian Peterson — Just wander around the party with a tree-switch threatening to discipline revelers (preferably those under age 8) who make too much noise.

Hillary Clinton – There are sooooo many options here: You could go as the erstwhile stalking girlfriend who just won’t go away, despite the fact you have moved on. Another option might be to dress as a scratched record (for my younger readers that would be like a damaged CD) that keeps playing the same song over and over and over again (“Why don’t you do right? … like some other men do.”) Do you think going as the “Wicked Witch of DC” would be too obvious?

Sarah Palin – Dress up as a carved-out empty pumpkin-head with a dim candle lighting up your face. By the way did you see Sarah’s Tweet letting us know that she was “praying for the people of Ebola”?

Ted Cruz (senator from Texas)Go out and present yourself as a cross-dressing male Sarah Palin.

rick-perry-gun-photoRick Perry – There are three costumes you could wear: A dumb cowboy who carries a gun and wears horned-rimmed glasses. A guy who is opposed to same sex marriage because he says that gets boring. And … Oh, I forget the third one.

Fox News and MSNBC – Go up to anyone at the party and as you talk distort, mislead and twist everything you see and hear.

CNN – Spend the entire night at the party running around yelling at the top of your voice BREAKING NEWS! BREAKING NEWS! BREAKING NEWS!

Mike Huckabee – Dress up as a fat, guitar-playing Jesus and claim that you are the second coming.

Now, I know there are a lot of other costumes you could wear for your Halloween party, but these are just a few suggestions to get you thinking. I would love to hear some of your thoughts and ideas.

Have a scary and fun time. I know we will in Key West!

America has a Rich History of Successful Populist Movements

Until recently, these populist movements were based on the perceived interests of ordinary people, as opposed to those of the privileged elite. But not anymore.

In the iconic 1976 film Network, the unhinged TV news-anchor Howard Beale (Peter Finch) urges his viewers to rail against the ills of mega-corporate control by opening their doors and windows and shouting at the top of their voices, “I’m as mad as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore.” The line has become pop-culture folklore that goes to the heart of the spirit of American democracy. Much to the consternation of many – especially the powerful elite – democracy gives license to ordinary people to band together to express their grievances and put pressure on those in power to address them. This phenomenon has generally been characterized as a “populist movement.”

The Boston Tea Party may have been the first of these movements and it gave spark to the American Revolution. And since then, populist movements have been an integral part in shaping American democracy. While such movements sprung from different types of perceived injustices – The Abolition Movement, The People’s Party, Women’s Suffrage, Civil Rights – there was a consistent thread that weaved through all these efforts. Those involved in populist movements were motivated by a desire to make changes that were in their own best interests and benefited ordinary citizens—at the expense of the elite and powerful.

For example, The People’s Party, also known as the “Populists,” was a late 19th century movement ignited by farmers who were being victimized by the railroad trusts that had the power to unfairly set the cost of transporting crops to market. While short-lived, the populist movement energized thousands of farmers and other disaffected citizens to protest the power of monopolies (trusts). This populist movement planted the seeds for the “progressive era” that led to “trust busting” and ultimately the development of a vibrant middle-class that was at the core of individual freedom and economic opportunity for the next century.

The Civil Rights movement is another example of a populist movement that started at the bottom – by oppressed ordinary citizens – that came together to put pressure on the powerful and elite of society to make changes that clearly transformed America for the betterment of all.

It is important to note that the populist movements did not seek to overthrow the government, but to make it more democratic. The movements were a counter-balance to the elite and powerful who sought to limit the opportunity and freedom of the ordinary citizen. It bears repeating that while there have been any number of issues that have united the participants in populist movements, the one thing they all had in common was the desire to redress injustices imposed by the powerful and elite, by forcing changes that would benefit their own self-interests.

The New Populists have it Ass Backwards

Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for the populist movements of today. For some strange reason, the Tea Party and the politically active Evangelical Christian groups (both groups generally made up of the white, middle-class) are clamoring for actions that are detrimental to their own economic self-interests. It makes not logical sense, but these groups are literally screeching for measures that further the shift of wealth and power to the powerful and the elite, while reducing their own opportunity and power.

Tea Partiers and the Evangelicals support a reduction in taxes for corporations that are making their highest profits in history and using those profits to build factories overseas and outsourcing employment. They oppose any increase in taxes on the wealthy, even though the disparity between the top 1 percent in wealth is greater now than it has ever been in history. (They support Mitt Romney, who is in the top one-tenth-of-one-percent of the wealthy, even though he is ashamed to release a history of his tax returns.) The members of the movement support the decision of the Supreme Court in Citizens United, which empowers corporations and the wealthy to contribute unlimited amounts to politicians and special interest groups. How can anyone with a scintilla of logic believe this ruling benefits the average person; and does not simply make the powerful more powerful?

There are other inconsistencies as well: The movement froths at the mouth for the repeal of Obamacare; believing it to be wasteful spending and an intrusion of “government socialism” designed to limit individual freedom. At the same time, paradoxically, they don’t want other government-run programs like Social Security and Medicare reduced. Members of the movement want to eliminate regulations on corporations in the “free market,” but look to government to define and regulate marriage; and control a woman’s right of choice.

There are two reasons for these anomalies to exist between past and current populist movements:

  • People do not want to hamper the wealthy and powerful, because they believe in the promise of the “American Dream.” People desperately want to hold the belief that if they work hard enough, they too can become wealthy and powerful, so the wealthier and more powerful others become, then the more opportunity for them.
  • “Social Conservatism” has been used to divert attention away from economic actions that favor the wealthy and elite.

The core of the “American Dream” is the opportunity for upward social mobility; and it flourishes in a representative democracy. The problem is America has moved away from representative democracy and is rapidly becoming a plutocracy in which more and more wealth and power is vested in fewer and fewer. To support actions that accelerate this drift – as the current populist movement does – is detrimental to the self-interest of the average person, because it destroys the “American Dream.”

In the past, social issues such as abortion, gay rights and civil rights were distinct from economic issues. This allowed a politician to declare that they were “economic conservatives” and “liberal on social issues.” This is no longer possible today because Evangelical Christian groups have moved social issues such as abortion, gay rights and religion out of the home and churches and on to the political stage. And these thorny issues have become a litmus test for politicians to gain their support. (Something never intended by the writers of the Constitution.)

Give the Republicans credit for taking full advantage of the convergence of social and economic issues on the same platform. Republicans use the opposition to abortion, together with the fear of gays, Muslims, atheists and others who are not evangelical Christians (Mormons) to distract the members of these groups away from economic issues that are not in the best interests of the ordinary citizen.

If you don’t think this is true, just recall the actions of Tea Party favorite and Evangelical Christian, Republican Michele Bachmann who made headlines by going public with fear-mongering claims that the government has become infiltrated by Muslims with ties to the Muslim Brotherhood. We can snicker at the idiocy of Bachmann and respect the courage and sensibilities of some Republicans (not running for election) such as John McCain to denounce Bachmann. But, did you see Mitt Romney come forward to criticize Bachmann? Did you read of any Evangelical Christian ministers taking to the pulpit to deplore her comments? Of course not, because Bachmann’s statements are part of the Republican strategy to divert the attention of members of the current populist movement away from economic actions that are against their own self-interests. Part of this strategy is for the Republicans to question Obama’s “Americanism” and religion; even more than his policies. (And, using his actions as “proof” that he is “not one of us.”)

Even Romney must perform a delicate balancing act in his effort to be elected president. It is no secret that Tea Party and Evangelical Christian support for Romney is lukewarm at best. The Tea Baggers don’t trust Romney as a true “fiscal conservative” and many of the evangelicals believe his Mormonism and past positions on social issues disqualifies him as a “real” Christian. In a way, this is an advantage for Romney, because it allows him to focus on his newfound conservatism on social issues, without having to be specific about his economic plans; which in reality favor the elite and wealthy. The real “advantage” for Romney is that these groups see him as the “lesser of two Devils.”

And the Moral of the Story …

Democracy is always at risk. It is always under attack from the wealthy, powerful and elite, who by nature seek to concentrate, not disperse or share their power and wealth. The most powerful tool in the fight to preserve democracy is a populist movement of ordinary citizens who come together to redress grievances and force changes that are in their own best interests. Fortunately, American has had a rich history of successful populist movements.

That is until now. The Tea Party and Christian Evangelicals recognize the power of populist movements to bring about change. But unlike such movements in the past that served as a counterweight to the wealthy, powerful and elite, members of today’s movement are demanding changes that are against their own self-interest and, in fact, will give the wealthy and elite even more power and advantage.

Populist movements should continue to play an important role in preserving American democracy, but we should not allow them to be corrupted by the very forces we seek to change. Instead we should return to the true nature of the movements as best described by Henry Wallace (Vice-President under Franklin Roosevelt) when he said, “If we put our trust in the common sense of common men and ‘with malice toward none and charity for all’ go forward on the great adventure of making political, economic and social democracy a practical reality, we shall not fail.”

Holiday Letter for Most of Mac’s Family, Friends and Followers

There might not be many of you but you know who you are and you care  (You do, don’t you?)

This is the time of the year when we receive those highly anticipated cute, mass-mailed (this year a few were even e-mailed) chatty letters from friends and family. These missives highlight all the wonderful happenings and events they have experienced during the year and for some reason, these friends have an abiding belief that we have a burning desire to know all the trivial details. In that same spirit, I knew you would want to receive my Holiday letter giving you all the details as to how my year went. So here it is:

It was a fairly quiet and inconsequential year for me, but a few things did happen that at least made it interesting.

The beginning of the year actually started at the end of last year when the Fraternal Order of the United Christian-Muslim Understanding Society invited me to travel to Cuba to distribute Bibles (New Testament only) and celebrate Christmas with the prisoners still being sequestered at Guantanamo. These people had heard that Obama had promised to close Guantanamo and they were worried about being put out and rendered homeless. As they have not committed any crimes since being on American soil, they seemed happy to learn that if Gingrich gets elected, they probably will qualify for amnesty under his immigration plan.

What Makes Charlie . . . ?

Early in the year my old friend Martin Sheen called and asked if I would be willing to talk with Charlie. Marty said he was at wits-end and worried that Charlie might be doing some things that would tarnish his reputation. I did take the time to meet with Charlie and his two “housekeepers,” but I just could not seem to connect with him. I did suggest to Marty that before Charlie went off the deep end that maybe the best way to straighten him out would be to have him committed to Gitmo where he could read the Bible and pray with others who are neither drinking nor taking drugs, as shown above in this prayerful vigil.

Weiner Exposed

Also early in the year, with the campaign for 2012 heating up, and wanting to stay informed, I signed up for the Congressional Facebook and e-mail notice system. It seemed a bit much, but knowing Congress, I was not surprised when I began to receive some very strange e-mails from Congressman Anthony Weiner of New York. At first, since Congressman Weiner proudly co-sponsored legislation outlawing “sexting” by teenagers, I thought the photos he attached were simply evidence of such cyber abuse. Then I thought maybe Weiner had a part-time gig modeling bikini briefs Jockey ads; but then in others the guy was going “commando” so I thought maybe it was just a campaign poster for “Weiner” (and not as in Oscar Mayer).  Even though the congressman has disappeared,  I did keep the Full Monty Weiner photos on my iPhone picture roll, and I would be happy to share. Just drop me an email.

My Witness to History

One of the highlights of the year was the invitation I received from the White House to be a “citizen observer” during the operation against Osama bin Laden in May. Due to security concerns I can’t give you all the details, but it was amazing to be in the back of the room as the attack was under way. One of the most interesting reactions I observed was when a picture of the deceased bin Laden appeared on the monitor; President Obama took his shoe off and threw it at the screen.

During the communications blackout when the Seals were in the bin Laden “mansion” I tried to break the tension by telling an old joke about the Oval office hijinks of Bill Clinton. Most did laugh, but as you can see in this photo, Hillary apparently didn’t get it.

Where’s Casey A?

I am sure you remember all the biased media attention given during the trial of Casey Anthony. Well, after the jury unanimously found her “not guilty” the media coverage and public relation grew so intensely negative that Casey feared for her safety and had to drop out of sight.  Since the courts had ordered her to remain in Florida, the big question was: Where could Casey go in Florida to be out of sight and safe? Well, don’t tell anyone but I know.

Just after the trial was completed I received a call from one of Casey’s lawyers; he wanted to know if we would let Casey stay with us on Sunset Key. (As you know this is a small, very private island just off Key West and is the perfect place to “get lost.”) Anyway, I felt it was our duty to justice to allow Casey to come spend some time with us. Let me tell you that she is just such a sweet little girl. It was hard to imagine she could be depicted as a “party girl.” Of course, I have to admit that some neighbors (mostly women) did complain about Casey sunbathing by our pool topless or less, but I felt it was just good to let the girl have a little freedom. But I also have to admit to having some concern when Casey would go into Key West (she said for sightseeing or church) wearing a tee-shirt with printing on the front that said, “I am Free and Easy.”

Decisions, Decisions . . .

One of the most difficult decisions that had to be made during the year was whether to attend the Royal wedding or the Kardashian wedding. I knew that Bill and Kate would be disappointed if I was not there, but Kris Humphries is from Minnesota and I felt a certain hometown loyalty. Bill and Kate were gracious about my decision and it made things better that I promised to spend some time with them when they toured America. As a wedding gift for Kris and Kim I had a very artistic friend of mine design this large, beautiful (and expensive) marriage memory book. On the cover was this emblazoned heart with the initials “K & K” in it and printed below in gold was, “The Loving Memories of Our Years Together in the Bliss of Marriage.” They both seemed to love it and Kim gave me this big, serious kiss right in front of Kris.

The Republicans

Of course with the Republican presidential nomination campaign in full swing during the year it was tough not to get involved. I spent a lot of time with Tim Pawlenty as he was preparing his campaign. Have to say he is a wonderful, sensitive and caring man. He would make a wonderful camp counselor for underprivileged Somali children. One thing that bothered me, though, was that Tim kept asking his campaign planning staff, “What if they don’t like me?”

I also enjoyed meeting Michele Bachmann, but it was difficult to carry on a serious conversation with her because her response to every question or comment was, “I’m a consistent conservative. I’m a consistent conservative.” She seemed to mumble that all day long. In fact, the only time she stopped saying that was when we arrived at her bank to cash her latest federal farm subsidy check. “I want ten or twenty hundreds and put the rest in 50’s,” she said.

I spent some time with Herman Cain hoping to get a souvenir photo of Herman and his wife. But every time I saw him he was with a different woman and could not get close to him.

Speaking of photos, I went to one event and had my picture taken with a life-sized cardboard cutout of Mitt Romney. Only later did I discover that it was actually him! There was a lot of media hullabaloo about Newt Gingrich being on his third wife, but when I met with him he admitted to me it was really just a strategic move on his part to siphon off some of the Mormon votes from Romney. I did have an appointment to meet Rick Perry at his hunting ranch in Texas, but it turns out he claimed he never had a ranch and forgot about our scheduled meeting.

There were some interesting trips during the year, but none more so than a trip to New York in October. I had been invited there to meet with leading members of the Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Investment Bankers. They were really disappointed that while corporations were making record levels of profits the companies were not finding ways to hire more people, except in foreign countries. The investment bankers were concerned that wealth was being sucked out of the middle class and too much of it was going to those already wealthy. Seems like a lot of other people wanted the same type of changes, because when I got down to Wall Street for my meetings, there were thousands of people hanging out there. I spent a few days in the park (if I’m not mistaken, that’s me under the grey tarp) and it was kind a fun to camp out right in New York. I don’t know what happened, but I did discover that mace really didn’t taste that bad. (I even found you can spray it on cold hotdogs to spice up the taste.)

The year ended on a high note when I was asked by Defense Secretary Leon Panetta to accompany him as a “citizen observer” to Camp Victory in Iraq to celebrate the end of the American incursion (it wasn’t big enough to be a real war) and another of our long string of success as “nation builders.” It was great to see how happy our troops were to go home (although most were just being moved to Kuwait in case we need to have another incursion, like in Iran) and it was so wonderful to see all the Iraqi kids and their parents waving little Iraqi and Iranian flags.

And the Moral of the Story . . .

Even though this was a fairly quiet year, you might want to save this letter, because it just might be the last one. I don’t mean to be melodramatic or pessimistic, but with the Mayan ancient Mesoamerican prophecy that the world will come to an end during 2012, we may just not be here.

Till then, have a great Holiday Season (I would say Merry Christmas, but I’m sure Wikileaks would “out” me),  and have a very Happy (Last) New Year.