I was out of town for the past three weeks, and so a few stories slipped through the cracks. I thought it would be best to catch up with just a quick wrap-up.
1. Republican congressman tells Liberals they're going to Hell
Todd Akin (R-MO) gave new meaning to the term "bully pulpit," when he became a bully acting as if he'd been elevated to the pulpit, rather than in Congress, as he was quoted: "At the heart of liberalism, really, is a hatred of God, and a belief that government should replace God."
Actual religious leaders, however, immediately issued an aghast joint statement, calling for an apology, saying that "Such insulting pronouncements degrade our nation's political dialogue." It will not come as a shock to learn that Rep. Akin took Page One from the Republican playbook by not apologizing. No comment from the congressman's office to the inquiry of whether it was true that at the heart of conservatism, really, is a hatred of humans.
2. Gun-rights advocate goes temporarily insane. (Hopefully temporary.)
Arizona state Senator Lori Klein (District 6-R) pointed a loaded gun at a reporter's chest during an interview. "Oh, it's so cute," she said, misunderstanding the meaning of the word, "cute." She attempted to reassure the reporter that he was in no danger, explaining "I just didn't have my hand on the trigger." Not surprisingly, the gun-rights advocate admitted having only an "informal" training in gun safety.
Never mind that she could have dropped the gun. Never mind that the gun, a .380 Ruger, had no safety. Never mind that only a week before, CNBC ran a documentary about Remington 700 Series rifle that can go off without pulling the trigger. Never mind that Arizona is the same state where Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) was shot and her aide was killed. Never mind that the range master of the Phoenix Rod and Gun Club, Rob Mermelstein, told the Arizona Guardian that Klein's actions were "unconscionable," and that "Whoever would do something like that needs to have a better grounding in gun safety before ever laying a hand on a firearm" -- politely leaving out "... and to have her head examined. And maybe put in jail." Never mind all that. Happily, what gun advocate Lori Klein did was demonstrate the need for strict gun laws.
3. Sarah Palin becomes contender for major award
In a cover story for Newsweek magazine, former half-term governor Sarah Palin gave one of the top contenders for the prestigious Quote of the Year Award. "'Do people not understand why McCain picked me?' she said with some exasperation."
You bet they do! Thanks for asking. They understand it was because he was behind in the polls to Barack Obama, sure to lose, so he had to do something desperate to get attention, therefore he picked a woman he barely knew but who was conservative enough to please the far-right base even though she had no experience other than mayor of a hamlet so small that she won her first election with 616 votes, and one year as governor of a state with only 710,231 residents and so far off from mainland United States that its one claim is that you can see Russia from it. People do understand that. It's why Sarah Palin's disapproval rating among all Americans is at a record high of 60 percent.
4. Wisconsin Republican Party discovers it's possible to dig an even deeper hole
In an effort to derail recall elections in Wisconsin, the state's Republican Party resorted to dirty tricks to confuse voters by running Republicans listed as "Democrats" in the primaries. Their surreptitious efforts came to blazing light when the chairman of the St. Croix County Republican Party, Jesse Garza, bizarrely put it all on the record in an email.
"The democrats [sic] are very scared that we will defeat Shelly in the Primary by asking all of you to vote for Isaac Weix," he wrote, missing the ludicrous irony of a Republican chairman asking Republicans to vote in a Democratic primary (for a man, no less, who had recently run for State Assembly as a Republican) -- while claiming the other guy is the one who's supposedly "very scared." Alas, all their good efforts failed, as every fake-Republican/Democratic candidate was defeated. There is no word on whether this also shows further evidence of conservatives' hatred of humans or just American voters.
5. Michele Bachmann fights nonexistent opponent and loses
In an attempt to respond to a charge from Tim Pawlenty that she had a "nonexistent" record in Congress, Michele Bachmann (R-MN) sent off an email with a list that centered around a nonexistent accomplishment. "I have fought the cap-and-trade agenda," she wrote as the heart of her reply, conveniently leaving out that the cap-and-trade program doesn't... well, actually exist. Of course, fighting for an issue has nothing to do with accomplishing something. More to the point, however, as Kate Sheppard for Mother Jones noted, is that many of the issues Rep. Bachmann proudly wrote that she "fought" against actually passed in the House where she serves -- which is sort of the opposite of accomplishment.
6. New Hampshire creates first, actual Death Panel
Despite the New Hampshire legislature having previously voted down attempts to defund Planned Parenthood, a 5-member Executive Council overturned these actions by a vote of 3-2 in a closed meeting without hearings. This gave new meaning to the '60 slogan, "Power to the People," which has now been officially rewritten as "Power to the 3 People."
"We can't even provide patients with antibiotics for urinary tract infections," said Jennifer Frizzell a spokesperson for Planned Parenthood of Northern New England. Many low-income patients have said they won't have the money to pay for their medication. In response, one of the committee councilors, Raymond Wieczorek, cold-heartedly (though disingenuously) said, "If they want to have a good time, why not make let pay for it?" Surprisingly, Mr. Wieczorek is now on the side of the pro-prostitution lobby. Beyond that, though, given the grave health risks that now are much increased through the Executive Council's action, conservative cries about a Death Panel have become a reality. There is no word on whether this also shows further evidence of conservatives' hatred of humans.
7. Fox News does the impossible
Last Wednesday, Fox News host Eric Bolling remarkably erased existence of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. "America was certainly safe between 2000 and 2008," he stated. "I don't remember any attacks on American soil during that period of time." Almost worse, though not surprisingly, no one on the Fox panel contradicted him. This includes Dana Perino, former White House press secretary. However, given that Ms. Perino is previously on record saying, "We did not have a terrorist attack on our country during President Bush's term" and also has publicly acknowledged, "I really don't know about the Cuban Missile Crisis," she clearly isn't an expert on "threats against the United States."
Of course, while it does raise into question the Fox slogan, "We report. You decide" by failing now to report the 9/11 attacks, it does support the other Fox slogan of "Fair and balanced," giving equal weight to those who deny that the attacks and 3,000 deaths ever took place. Fox reporters are likely hacking into the phones of New Yorkers right now to discover the truth.
8. GOP congressmen give workers the finger
Last Thursday during a Congressional hearing, Republican Congressmen suggested that they'd be interested in reforming the Fair Labor Standards Act, laws that created minimum wage and time-and-a-half overtime, designed to protect American workers. Committee chairman Tim Walberg (R-MI) said he wanted to look into whether fair labor laws are "meeting the needs of the 21st century." The Republican-led committee invited two business executives and a lawyer to testify. Shockingly, these business leaders all said that the law is too burdensome for employers. There is no word on whether this shows conservatives' hatred of humans or just American workers.
9. News Corp. has its "BP oil spill" moment
Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. is under investigation for hacking into the cell phone and deleting messages from a little girl who was kidnapped and murdered -- as well as bribery of the police, hacking into the then-British Prime Minister's health record over their child with cystic fibroris, bribing to get phone records of 9/11 victims, and hacking phones of other crime victims. For starters. Testifying before Parliament on Tuesday, Mr. Murdoch said he was really sorry, and added that the buck stops way, way over there, pointing the finger at everyone else and saying that he bears no responsibility for anything. And who knows, he may not -- except for creating the atmosphere that allowed a culture of crime. Or as lawyers call it, pattern and practice.
Happily there's been some fine humor to come from the pieces of News Corp. crumbling. "We've got some serious problems in this country," Fox News Channel host Steve Doocy said, whining about all the attention the story was getting everywhere else, "and what do they do? They talk about this." For the record, "this" includes the resignation of the head of Scotland Yard, the resignation of the assistant commissioner of Scotland Yard, the arrest of the chief executive of News Corp.'s U.K. publishing division, the sudden death of one of the first whistle blowers of the scandal, and closing a 168-year-old newspaper -- all within just two weeks of the story breaking. Adding further humor is the pondering of how Fox News would have covered the story if "this" was about NBC or the New York Times...