Niall Ferguson is one of those right wing “intellectuals” that continually proves why there are few intellectually prepared people to actually argue the idiotic causes of modern ‘conservatives’ cogently. Since there is no real case to be made, the conversation usually turns to some screed against some straw man or some persecuted out group. Ferguson is a homophobe. He can’t go long without finding some really stupid way to make being gay an issue in any thing that relates to his diatribes. He really stepped in it this time. This is from Digby.
There’s a lot of chatter today about Niall Ferguson’s odious comments about John Maynard Keynes.
This is the gist of it:
An excerpt from Lance Roberts’ post at StreetTalkLive.com reporting a question from former PIMCO banker Paul McCulley (in bold) and Robertson’s notes on Ferguson’s response (its not clear whether these notes are verbatim or paraphrased):
Question By Paul McCulley
“The long run is a misleading guide to current affairs…in the long run we are all dead.”
Are we in a liquidity trap, are we at a zero bound of interest rates and stuck at 8% unemployment?
[Ferguson:] Keynes was a homosexual and had no intention of having children. We are NOT dead in the long run…our children are our progeny. It is the economic ideals of Keynes that have gotten us into the problems of today. Short term fixes, with a neglect of the long run, leads to the continuous cycles of booms and busts. Economies that pursue such short term solutions have always suffered not only decline, but destruction, in the long run.
Several details of Ferguson’s remarks that were included in the Financial Advisor story have not been confirmed by other sources. For example, Financial Advisor reported that Ferguson asked his audience how many children Keynes had and “explained that Keynes had none because he was a homosexual and was married to a ballerina, with whom he likely talked of “poetry” rather than procreated.” Other sources have not reported that rhetorical question or the additional disparaging remarks in Ferguson’s answer to it. No full transcript or video of Ferguson’s remarks has yet emerged.
In addition to the offensive suggestion that those who don’t have children don’t care about the future or society, Professor Ferguson’s reported remarks are bizarre and insulting to Keynes on two levels.
First, this is the first time we have heard a respectable academic tie another economist’s beliefs to his or her personal situation rather than his or her research. Saying that Keynes’ economic philosophy was based on him being childless would be like saying that Ferguson’s own economic philosophy is based on him being rich and famous and therefore not caring about the plight of poor unemployed people.
Second, Keynes’ policies did not suggest that he did not care about future generations. On the contrary. … For the sake of both future generations and current generations, Keynes believed that governments should run deficits during recessions and then run surpluses during economic booms. Politicians have never seemed to be able to follow the second part of Keynes’ proscription — they tend to run deficits at all times — but it seems unfair to blame this latter failing on Keynes.
Ferguson is not the first person to suggest that Keynes did not care about the future, and this sentiment is normally tied to one of Keynes’ most famous sayings:
“… In the long run, we are all dead.”
Importantly, however, in saying this, Keynes was in no way suggesting that the future doesn’t matter. Rather, when this remark is read in context, it is clear that Keynes was chiding economists for ducking responsibility for their own lousy short-term predictions:
In the long run we are all dead. Economists set themselves too easy, too useless a task if, in tempestuous seasons, they can only tell us that when the storm is long past the ocean is flat again.
So if Ferguson is basing his assertion that Keynes didn’t care about the future on this line, his remark is even more unfair.
For those who are new to the larger economic debate that is the backdrop to these remarks, here’s a snapshot:
Professor Ferguson and other economists have been loudly and consistently warning for years that the deficit spending and debts of most developed countries will eventually end in disaster. Professor Ferguson and other “austerians” suggest that governments should immediately cut spending and balance their budgets, even if this results in a brutal short-term recession and exploding unemployment.
This “austerian” philosophy has been countered by the “Keynesian” philosophy advocated by Paul Krugman and others in which governments enact stimulus and run big deficits during weak economic periods to offset weak private-sector spending and help shore up employment, consumer spending, and social well-being until the private sector recovers. High debts and deficits are a long-term concern that needs to be addressed, Krugman says, but they do not constitute a near-term crisis that requires immense, self-inflicted, short-term pain to alleviate.
In the past five years, the experience of many countries suggests that Krugman’s philosophy is correct, and, as yet, none of the doom predicted by Ferguson and other austerians has come to pass. Meanwhile, countries like the U.K. and Greece, which have cut spending to try to balance their budgets, have been mired in multiple recessions (or, in the case of Greece, a depression). And, notably, because lower economic output leads to less tax revenue, these countries have not made much progress in balancing their budgets.
It’s pretty spurious behavior. Ferguson has no intellectual, theoretical or empirical evidence for his deficit hysteria so when he has nothing to validate he views, he turns to homophobia. So, he did apologize. But it doesn’t mean much because he’s done it before. That link goes to a page of one of his books. He has a history of being a jerk on many levels.
Ferguson should be the last person to be casting aspersions on anyone else’s personal life, given that, while still married to someone else, he began an affair with author and activist Ayaan Hirsi Ali and knocked her up. He then dumped his wife of over 20 years (they had had three children together) to marry Ali. What a heart-warming demonstration of traditional values!
Ferguson’s slur was ugly indeed — so much so that the no-doubt conservative audience fell into a stunned silence following his remark. But Ferguson — a man for whom the term “hackademic” would surely have been invented, had it not already existed — is part of a long right-wing hack tradition. He is far from the first to take this line of attack. Ferguson likely stole the “childless homosexual” epithet from British wingnut Daniel Johnson (who’s the son of another winger, Paul Johnson. Why do these demon spawn second generation right-wingers tend to be even more appalling than their progenitors? ). The great novelist — and famously nasty conservative — V.S. Naipul has characterized Keynes as a gay exploiter.
Over on this side of the pond, conservative author Mark Steyn attempted to smear Keynes’ ideas by referring to him as — surprise! — a “childless homosexual.” The American Spectator has repeated that slur, as has this contributor to FrontPageMag.com. George Will has also cast the “childless” aspersion (which is pretty clearly a dog whistle for “gay”) against Keynes. So did right-wing economists Greg Mankiw and Joseph Schumpeter. I am reliably informed that William F. Buckley used to gay-bait Keynes as well, although a quick internet search did not produce evidence of this.
Ferguson’s comments are idiotic and offensive on many levels. First of all, there’s his illogical ad hominem style of argument — could not an Oxford-educated Harvard professor done a little bit better? Then there’s the juvenile homophobia — OMG! this faggy fag economist who liked to talk about faggy subjects subjects like poetry and ballet with his wife! — when everyone knows only Real Men can do economics!
But it’s not only the homophobia that’s offensive, it’s the bitchy slur against childless people. I deeply resent the insinuation that, because I haven’t irresponsibly procreated, I care nothing about future generations and would cheerfully assent to the world going to hell in a handbasket.
Anyway, I should know not to take people like Ferguson seriously, but damn it!, the man gets a platform and is at an institution where he gets more status than he deserves. He’s an obvious example of affirmative action placement for assholes. Rich, powerful”conservatives” moan about never seeing one of them in the communist land of academia so universities have to bring in some obvious propaganda-spewing asshole in to fill the ranks. Ferguson is part of the affirmative action plan of the anti-intellectual intellectual right to stick their asshole views in academia even when they never stand up to rigorous peer review. Too bad we’ve become so advanced in the idea of equivocation that serious hacks can crawl their way up to the public arena through academia simply because we have to make room for an invalid approach to life, the world, and the meaning of humanity and civilization. Perhaps Ferguson should just get a shrink and work out his troubled young life in Brit public school with him/her instead of on the rest of us.
Today’s post is brought to you by the letter B. Here’s some great letter B words. There’s a BUFFOON lose in London and he has some friends we should be BOYCOTTING.
Well, I’m waking up thinking I should check the TV and make sure Romney hasn’t created such an international stir that the British have declared war on us! I’m sure Hillary will have to head there to patch things up a bit. I certainly hope that they look at his likeability ratings and realize that NO one likes him over here either. He’s considered an oaf on both sides of the pond.
Upon winning an Oscar for her performance in the 1984 film “Places in the Heart,” Field famously declared: “I can’t deny the fact that you like me, right now, you like me!”
Romney’s problem is that right now, some key voters don’t, as underscored in the polling co-sponsored by NBC News and the Wall Street Journal.
The NBC News blog “First Read” dug deep into recent results concerning “undecided” voters — the very ones who could tilt the election. Unimpressed with the president’s performance, “these should be people willing to fire Obama and vote for Romney — EXCEPT that they don’t like him very much at all,” First Read noted (complete with the capital letters).
Focusing on undecided voters unearthed in surveys over the last three months, the pollsters found Obama’s unfavorable/favorable rating stands at a poor 42 percent/29 percent. The figures for Romney, though, are worse — 44 percent turn thumbs down on him, with just 16 percent viewing him favorably.
And in a separate look at a voter segment much prized in such key states as Florida, Colorado and Virginia, the same pollsters found that twice as many Hispanics view Romney negatively as positively, 44 percent to 22 percent.
So, how bad is he in the eyes of the Brits? Why, he’s worse than Princess Dumbass of the North (with due credit to Charles Pierce for the name). They’ve declared him “in shambles”.
The British reaction to Mitt Romney has gone from openness, to skepticism, to mocking, to concluding that Mitt Romney is worse than Sarah Palin.
Daily Mail Political Editor James Chapman has been providing the world a play by play of Romney’s British implosion via his Twitter account. Romney started things off by criticizing London’s preparedness for the Olympics. He then forgot the name of British Labour Leader Ed Miliband, and then he admitted that he had been given a secret briefing by MI6. This led the British to ask aloud if they have another George W. Bush on their hands, “Romney blunders again by revealing he’s had (supposedly) top secret briefing by John Sawers, MI6 boss. Do we have a new Dubya on our hands?”
After his visit to Whitehall, Chapman offered two of the kinder reviews of Mitt Romney, “Serious dismay in Whitehall at Romney debut. ‘Worse than Sarah Palin.’ ‘Total car crash’. Two of the kinder verdicts.” Chapman also reported another verdict from British meet and greet with Mitt, “Another verdict from one Romney meeting: ‘Apparently devoid of charm, warmth, humour or sincerity’”Getting compared to Sarah Palin is one thing, but being called worse than Palin is an indication of the epic display of fail that Romney is putting on in London.
If you thought things couldn’t possibly get worse for Mitt Romney, you were wrong. How does one top being unfavorably compared to Sarah Palin? If you’re Mitt Romney, you get mocked in front of 60,000 people.
The Telegraph is reporting that London Mayor Boris Johnson mocked Romney’s readiness comment, “Quite a moment from the Mayor of London Boris Johnson. Shortly after Rix had lit the flame he really went for it in Hyde Park. He referenced Mitt Romney’s ‘London isn’t ready’ quip and shot back in style. “Are we ready?” he called and the crowd went wild. There may even have been a hint of the Obama-friendly “Yes we can!” in there – he may have jumped into a winning scenario but I’ve not heard a politician get that reaction before.”
This is a “charm offensive”? ROFLMAO!
The Guardian has a running and updated list of all of his gaffes to date. Go grab the popcorn my friends!!!
There are two things you should know before you “look out of the backside of 10 Downing Street”, as Mitt Romney did on Thursday.
Firstly, in Britain, “backside” means “ass”. As in the part of the body. Secondly, “10 Downing Street” is often used in political reporting as a synonym for a press spokesman for the prime minister, in the same way as “the White House” can say things or have opinions.
We haven’t looked quite this bad since Dubya was caught trying to massage Merkel. We know Obama was a lousy gift giver his first time over there and FLOTUS hugged Her Majesty. But, all of that looks mildly folksy compare to the Romney mishaps! I bet they’re glad they’re rid of us!
I’m not sure you’ve been watching the Chick-Fil-A dust up but it’s getting rather interesting. Chick-Fil-A has an over the top born again evangelical, bible thumping approach to business. They’re real fussy about who they sell franchises to and like other corporations that are either hyper Mormon-based or Opus-Dei Catholic-based, they’ve been sending tons of money to tank civil rights movements. The Mormon Church church and related Mormon businesses funded tons of anti-ERA propaganda and groups in the 1970s and 1980s along with plenty of anti-black civil rights in the 1960s. Many were aligned with the right wing hate group The John Birch Society. It’s one of the reasons I refuse to stay at a Marriott. A huge portion of that money funds basic hate group movements against the ERA and abortion rights but it’s been upped to include GLBT civil rights too. Same goes with Domino’s Pizza whose owner practices an extremist brand of Catholicism. We’ve know around here that Country Kitchen and Chick-Fil-A are associated with evangelicals and have been known to fire any openly gay employees. Believe me, I’ve had plenty of run ins with a lot of these religious extremists. They are hateful and they embrace the role of the martyr eagerly. So, don’t groan on this, but Chick-Fil-A has a “biblically based” mission statement.
Here are the basic facts about Chick-fil-A in regards to LGBT issues:
- Chick-fil-A has given at least $5 million to anti-gay organizations, including known hate groups and proponents of ex-gay therapy, since 2003, including almost $2 million in both 2009 and 2010.
- Chick-fil-A has a 0 rating on the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index, which signifies that the company does not offer one protection, one benefit, or even one diversity training for its LGBT employees.
- Chick-fil-A founder Truett Cathy openly admitted that he would probably fire any employee who “has been sinful or done something harmful to their family members.”
- It has recently come to light (thanks to Jeremy Hooper) that current Chick-fil-A president Dan Cathy has used the following language to describe supporters of same-sex marriage:
- “We are inviting God’s judgment on our nation when we shake our fist at Him and say ‘we know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage.”
- “I pray God’s mercy on our generation that has such a prideful, arrogant attitude to think that we have the audacity to define what marriage is about.”
- “We see all the twisted up kind of stuff that’s going on. Washington trying to redefine the definition of marriage and all the other kinds of things.”
- “We are suffering the consequences of a society and culture who has not acknowledged God or not thanked God—he’s left us to a deprived mind. It’s tragic and we live in a culture of that today.”
That is outright condemnation. That is open discrimination. Now, Chick-fil-A said last week that it will “treat every person with honor, dignity and respect – regardless of their belief, race, creed, sexual orientation or gender,” which sounds nice, but as the HRC score indicates, there is nothing to substantiate such a claim. There is no policy on the company’s books that actually protects LGBT people from discrimination, and funding hate groups cannot be justified as “honor, dignity, and respect.”
With all of the facts at hand, there is no accurate way to portray Chick-fil-A as any kind of “victim.” There is also no accurate way to reduce Chick-fil-A’s words and actions to merely defending “biblical principles.” This is — in every way, shape, and form — a company proactively engaging against the interests of LGBT people, and that is the quite justified reason for outcry.
Many politicians are now working locally to ensure Chick-fil-A’s over the top hatred and discrimination does not show up in a neighborhood near them. Local politicians in places like Boston and Chicago are trying to block expansion of the company in their neighborhood. It’s not likely legal, but it’s calling attention to corporate donors that fund anti-civil rights movements. Protestors disrupted a grand opening of a storefront in San Diego. Quite a few businesses–including the Muppets–are refusing to partner with Chick-fil-A. Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel has been very vocal about the
company’s policy and statements.
“Chick-fil-A’s values are not Chicago values. They’re not respectful of our residents, our neighbors and our family members. And if you’re gonna be part of the Chicago community, you should reflect Chicago values,” Emanuel said Wednesday.
“What the CEO has said as it relates to gay marriage and gay couples is not what I believe, but more importantly, it’s not what the people of Chicago believe. We just passed legislation as it relates to civil union and my goal and my hope … is that we now move on recognizing gay marriage. I do not believe that the CEO’s comments … reflects who we are as a city.”
Ald. Joe Moreno (1st) is using the same argument to block Chick-fil-A from opening its first free-standing restaurant in Chicago’s Logan Square neighborhood.
Chick-fil-A already has one Chicago store — at 30 E. Chicago near Loyola University’s downtown campus.
“Same sex marriage, same-sex couples — that’s the civil rights fight of our time. To have those discriminatory policies from the top down is just not something that we’re open to. …We want responsible businesses,” Moreno said.
If you support marriage equality and basic civil rights, here are 10 companies to boycott. Domino’s Pizza is on their list too. I told my Department Chair at UNO that I wouldn’t come to staff meetings until he started buying pizza some place else.
Another case of CEOs and management using their prominent position and hefty salary to put down gays and lesbians, Domino’s founder Tom Monaghan is a co-founder of the Thomas More Law Center, which recently defended the San Diego Fire Fighters who won a lawsuit claiming they were sexually harassed by being forced to March in a gay pride parade. Monaghan also financed a 2001 ballot initiative to remove sexual orientation from Ypsilanti, Michigan’s, non-discrimination ordinance. David Brandon, the current CEO, opposes gay marriage and brushed off questions about Domino’s decision not to extend health benefits to spouses of gay employees when asked about in 2006 saying when he ran for Regent of the University of Michigan, explaining why he doesn’t support non-discrimination by saying,
“I don’t understand why we continually have to have discussions about who should and who shouldn’t be included, in terms of our nondiscrimination policy, because I think identifying specific, special-interest groups or specific entities within the institution almost implies that unless you’re on that list, then somehow we think you should be treated differently than people who are on that list. It should not be about lists.”
How They’re Faring: So so. Domino’s lost about half of its stock value in the crash, but has been steadily gaining traction since and now trades at $6.49/ share, down from a 52-week high of $15.33.
What You Can Do: Weirdly, just about everyone from all sides of the political spectrum have called for a boycott on Domino’s. Conservatives decry their decision to open a halal-only branch of the pizzeria in the UK and the National Organization of Women boycott the store for the company’s decision last year to donate $50,000 to a pro-life group.
The more daylight that gets shown on these horrible companies, the better. Alternet reports that more big companies have left ALEC which has been one of the biggest right wing groups that have actively worked against all civil rights movements. Turning up the heat is working.
Two more large American companies, headquartered in the Midwest, have responded to their customers and cut ties with the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC): General Motors (GM) and Walgreens. This brings the total to 30 corporations and four non-profits — 34 total private sector members — that have cut ties to the right-wing corporate bill mill.
General Motors “In Motion” Away from ALEC
General Motors Headquarters (Source: AP)GM is the $149 billion-a-year maker of Chevrolet, Buick, Cadillac, and GMC brand name cars, among others. About 26 percent of the company is owned by the United States government, which backed its Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization in 2009. It was founded in 1908 in Detroit and remains headquartered there. It employs 209,000 people, as of May 2012. Chevrolet alone sold more than 763,000 passenger cars in 2011.
Although the full extent of GM’s ALEC membership is not known, it was a member in 1992. In 2011, it paid for a seat on both ALEC’s Commerce, Insurance and Economic Development Task Force and its Energy, Environment and Agriculture Task Force. The commerce task force is the primary source of anti-worker and anti-consumer legislation such as the “Paycheck Protection” and “Right to Work” Acts and other “model” bills that limit workers’ rights and drain labor unions of resources for protecting employees, undermine consumer protections, favor the Wall Street financial agenda, and limit the ability to cap exorbitant interest rates on credit cards and big bank fees.
The breakfast joint has given $100,000 this election cycle to the Karl Rove super PAC American Crossroads. Mother Jones ’ Tim Murphy reported on the donation:
This is surprising because one doesn’t normally associate Big Waffle with big scary super-PACs, but also not that surprising: CEO Jim Rogers Jr. is a longtime supporter of Republican causes, and the company’s political action committee has given exclusively to Republicans (in considerably more modest quantities). His ties to Romney date back to 2006, when he joined the finance team of Romney’s political action committee, Commonwealth PAC.
Now a word from our sponsor … the Beetles sing all about the Letter B.
Ah, there’s just one more letter B word that I’d love to embrace!!! Yes, this post just brought out my inner BITCH. I’d shout the word vagina a few times but it’s not the letter V’s turn today. Join me in not wasting money or votes on the folks that pay to take away our civil rights and liberties.
What’s on your reading and blogging list today?
No. That picture isn’t a joke. Some Brit jean company thinks putting “Give it to your woman, it’s her job” on the washing instructions is snarky.
We are not amused.
Jeans sold at the UK store Madhouse made headlines this week after British journalist Emma Barnett picked up her boyfriend’s jeans while tidying the house.
On the washing-instructions tag, she read “machine wash warm.” Under that was the washing advice that would quickly set off a Twitter firestorm:
“OR — GIVE IT TO YOUR WOMAN, IT’S HER JOB.”
On Tuesday night, Kirsten Powers joined Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson on Sean Hannity‘s Great American Panel. Veering from scheduled discussion topics, Powers directly addressed Peterson about his sermons, citing what she called “misogynist” statements.
“I didn’t know I was going to be sitting here” with Peterson, Powers said. She then confronted him, saying, “You said women are creating a shameless society, and that they are destroying the family, and they shouldn’t be put in powerful businesses. Address that.”
“Most Americans know that liberal women are destroying the family, they hate men, they hate society,” Peterson responded. Powers replied, “That is absolutely false,” turning to Hannity, asking, “Sean, do I hate men, do I hate you?”
“I hope not,” he answered.
Powers went on: “You are a pastor distorting God’s word for misogyny. What do you mean — when you say women —when you say you leave a woman alone in charge a family and she destroys the family?”
“We allowed the national organization of women who hate men to come in years ago,” Peterson said, to which Powers protested. Peterson continued, “We left them alone, look what condition we are in today; out of wedlock birth, abortion.”
“I have to step in,” Hannity interjected, noting this was not a topic he was anticipating on the show. “You are hijacking the show.” Powers said, “I didn’t know I was going to be on with him.”
Questioning Powers’ outrage, Peterson said, “If you believe what you believe, why are you upset at me? I’m not upset at you.”
“Because you’re a pastor using God’s word to teach misogyny to people,” Powers replied.
We’ve been learning a lot the last few years about rampant misogyny, racism, and homophobia. The level of discourse in this country is not improved by the many people that have no problem slamming people simply for biological traits over which they have no control. They are all closely linked and appalling.
This is the latest JC Penney ad under attack. It shows a married lesbian couple with their daughter.
The One Million Moms are back with a new crusade — slamming JCPenney for including a lesbian couple in their Mother’s Day campaign.
Perhaps those one million moms need to get a life?
The conservative group issued a statement to get their members to take action against JCPenney, saying that the retailer is “taking sides” in the “cultural war” on gay rights:
“On pages ten and eleven, under the title “Freedom of Expression,” you’ll find ‘Wendi and her partner Maggie and daughters.’ In the picture both women are wearing wedding bands.”
It continues to be time to put our money, mouths, and beliefs into action.
The U.S. Constitution clearly states that the government shall not establish any religion as a state religion. It confirms the rights of people to be safe in their privacy and that they should not be subject to unreasonable search or seizure. There are very clear powers delineated so that the majority cannot assert a form of tyranny and remove the rights of the minority. For a group that holds that Constitution supposedly in esteem, Herman Cain, Michele Bachmann, many Republicans, and a good deal of the so-called Tea Party movement sure don’t seem to get the fundamentals of the U.S. Constitution. I descended from two signers of that document and five signers of the Declaration of Independence. I grew up surrounded by lawyers and veterans of foreign wars that knew what it meant to fight for the rights there in. That is why I get totally mad when I read things like this: Herman Cain: Americans Have The Right To Ban Mosques .
Herman Cain says voters across the country should have the right to prevent Muslims from building mosques in their communities.
In an exchange on “Fox News Sunday,” the Republican presidential contender said that he sided with some in a town near Nashville who were trying to prevent Muslims from worshiping in their community.
“Our Constitution guarantees the separation of church and state,” he said. “Islam combines church and state. They’re using the church part of our First Amendment to infuse their morals in that community, and the people of that community do not like it. They disagree with it.”
Asked by host Chris Wallace if any community could ban a mosque if it wanted to, Cain said: “They have a right to do that.”
Cain, an African-American who grew up during the civil rights era, claimed he was not discriminating against Muslims. He said it was “totally different” than the fight for racial equality because there were laws prohibiting blacks from advancing.
Nonetheless, Cain has drawn backlash for comments about Muslims in the past, saying that he would be uncomfortable if a Muslim served in his Cabinet if he were elected president.
“I’m willing to take a harder look at people that might be terrorists,” Cain said Sunday. “If you look at my career, I have never discriminated against anybody. … I’m going to err on the side of caution.”
It’s difficult to think of things to say to this other than it’s plain old bigotry and hatred. Bigotry and hatred are not one of my American Values. I value tolerance.
He may not agree with the vote in New York to legalize gay marriage, but former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani said the Republican Party should butt out of the bedroom and stick to fiscal policy. “I think the Republican Party would be well advised to get the heck out of people’s bedrooms and let these things get decided by states,” Giuliani said Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “We’d be a much more successful political party if we stuck to our economic, conservative roots.”
It saddens me to see one of the two major political parties hellbent on preventing women from practicing their constitutional right to abortion and access to birth control, stopping GLBT citizens from having full civil rights, and standing in the way of any religion to practice their beliefs as they see fit. These are extremist religious positions and have nothing to do with any American Value that I’ve ever grown up knowing. We need to keep speaking up vehemently that we will not tolerate any one in this country decimating the civil liberties and constitutional rights of others. It’s WE THE PEOPLE, not we the white, right wing, extremist christians in the country.
A couple of days ago, I read a fascinating piece about Michele Bachmann by The Daily Beast’s Michelle Goldberg. If you haven’t read it yet, please do. It’s a real eye-opener, and the information in it spurred me on a voyage of discovery across the internet as I tried to understand what happened to this woman to cause her to embrace her bizarre religious beliefs and her extreme right-wing political ideology. For the purposes of this post, I want to focus primarily on Bachmann’s homophobia.
Goldberg begins her article with a particularly vivid episode from Bachmann’s tenure in the Minnesota state senate:
In April 2005, Pamela Arnold wanted to talk to her state senator, Michele Bachmann, who was then running for Congress. A 46-year-old who worked at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design, Arnold lived with her partner, the famed Arctic explorer Ann Bancroft, on a farm in Scandia, Minnesota. Bachmann was then leading the fight against gay marriage in the state. She’d recently been in the news for hiding in the bushes to observe a gay rights rally at the Capitol. So when members of the Scandia gay community decided to attend one of Bachmann’s constituent forums, Arnold, wanting to make herself visible to her representative, joined them.
A few dozen people showed up at the town hall for the April 9 event, and Bachmann greeted them warmly. But when, during the question and answer session, the topic turned to gay marriage, Bachmann ended the meeting 20 minutes early and rushed to the bathroom. Hoping to speak to her, Arnold and another middle-aged woman, a former nun, followed her. As Bachmann washed her hands and Arnold looked on, the ex-nun tried to talk to her about theology. Suddenly, after less than a minute, Bachmann let out a shriek. “Help!” she screamed. “Help! I’m being held against my will!”
Arnold, who is just over 5 feet tall, was stunned, and hurried to open the door. Bachmann bolted out and fled, crying, to an SUV outside. Then she called the police, saying, according to the police report, that she was “absolutely terrified and has never been that terrorized before as she had no idea what those two women were going to do to her.” The Washington County attorney, however, declined to press charges, writing in a memo, “It seems clear from the statements given by both women that they simply wanted to discuss certain issues further with Ms. Bachmann.”
Bachmann’s anxiety at being confronted by three lesbians was so extreme that instead of either responding to their questions or politely excusing herself and calmly walking away, she screamed, cried, and called the police!
Now let’s look at the previous episode when Bachmann was photographed hiding behind bushes to covertly watch a gay rights rally. The context was that Bachmann had just left the State Senate after proposing a bill to ban gay marriage in Minnesota.
“The state Senate on Thursday rejected an effort to force a floor vote on a constitutional amendment that would ban gay marriage as thousands of ban opponents rallied outside the Capitol. Sen. Michele Bachmann, the Stillwater Republican who’s led the push for the ban, said Senate Democrats have denied her repeated efforts to get the bill heard. Senate leaders countered that Bachmann, a candidate for the U.S. House, is flouting Senate rules to advance her own political career. At the same time, about 2,500 gays, lesbians and their supporters attended a rally on the Capitol grounds just a few hundred yards away, organized by OutFront Minnesota.” [Star Tribune]
After the move didn’t pan out, Michele took to hiding in the bushes to watch the queers rally
Another story reports that during the hearing 100 of the rally participants
…filed inside the Capitol building and took their place in the Senate gallery overlooking the proceedings. With a crowd on hand, Bachmann issued a motion to bypass the committee and have the floor vote on the bill right then and there–a highly unusual move in state Senate proceedings. Even more bizarre: While making her case, she addressed not the Senate floor as per protocol, but the gallery above.
In my opinion, these out-of-proportion reactions suggest that Bachmann’s extreme homophobia is a cover for deep fears that she has about herself or people close to her. I believe she is unconsciously engaging in the defense mechanism of reaction formation to deal with this anxiety.
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