The Top 10 Conservative Idiots
The Top 10 Conservative Idiots, No. 279
February 19, 2007
Dishonest Abe Edition
Welcome to the 279th edition of the Top 10 Conservative Idiots. This week, Frank Gaffney and Don Young (1) take a trip to fantasyland, The New York Post (2) needs a few basic lessons in American democracy, and Joseph McDade (5) literally gets caught with his pants down. Meanwhile there's State Legislature Madness as local politicians Stacey Campfield (3), Thayer Verschoor (4), and Jeff Miller (9) all make the list. Enjoy... and don't forget the key!
Frank Gaffney and Don Young
Last week in the Washington Times, conservative columnist Frank Gaffney decided to imply that critics of Bush's war should be arrested, kicked out of the country, or executed. (Not that there's anything particularly surprising about that, you understand. It's par for the course these days.) Gaffney even chose to employ an Abraham Lincoln quote to prove his point:
"Congressmen who willfully take actions during wartime that damage morale and undermine the military are saboteurs and should be arrested, exiled, or hanged." - President Abraham Lincoln.
Unfortunately for Gaffney, Abraham Lincoln never actually said that. The quote was invented by conservative author J. Michael Waller, who, according to Editor & Publisher:
...concedes that the words are his, not Lincoln's. Waller says he never meant to put quote marks around them, and blames an editor (at the magazine Insight) for the mistake and the failure to correct it.
Hmm... Insight magazine, eh? They would be the underhanded bastards who tried to set up that recent Clinton/Obama/madrassa smear. Why am I not surprised that they would "accidentally" place quotation marks around a fabricated Lincoln phrase and then fail to correct it? Waller even told FactCheck.org that the "supposed quote in question is not a quote at all, and I never intended it to be construed as one." Funny how that happens.
And funny how this stuff spreads. During last week's debate on the Iraq War resolution in the U.S. House of Representatives, Rep. Don Young (R-Obviously) took to the floor and repeated the quote. Why? Because according to the Washington Post:
Young's spokeswoman, Meredith Kenny, said the congressman took the quote directly from an article he read in The Washington Times on Tuesday, which as of Thursday had not been corrected.
So J. Michael Waller invents a Lincoln quote out of whole cloth, Insight magazine puts quotation marks around it to make it look legit, Frank Gaffney repeats the quote in the Washington Times, and Don Young uses it during a debate on the House floor. I believe we may have discovered a new scientific measurement here: the time it takes for a piece of bullcrap to emanate from the diseased mind of a right-wing author, commentator, or pundit, and make its way through the mainstream media into the Congressional record.
I think I shall call this new measurement "the speed of shite."
Incidentally, while Don Young has now learned that the quote is false and has vowed to stop attributing it to Lincoln, his spokeswoman said last week that he "he continues to totally agree with the message of the statement," which, just to refresh your memory, means he thinks critics of Bush's war should be "arrested, exiled, or hanged."
Fortunately, David Swanson recently dug up a real quote by Abraham Lincoln regarding war and the power of the presidency. Here it is:
Allow the President to invade a neighboring nation, whenever he shall deem it necessary to repel an invasion, and you allow him to do so, whenever he may choose to say he deems it necessary for such purpose - and you allow him to make war at pleasure.
Study to see if you can fix any limit to his power in this respect, after you have given him so much as you propose. If, today, he should choose to say he thinks it necessary to invade Canada, to prevent the British from invading us, how could you stop him? You may say to him, 'I see no probability of the British invading us' but he will say to you 'be silent; I see it, if you don't.'
The provision of the Constitution giving the war-making power to Congress, was dictated, as I understand it, by the following reasons: Kings had always been involving and impoverishing their people in wars, pretending generally, if not always, that the good of the people was the object. This, our Convention understood to be the most oppressive of all Kingly oppressions; and they resolved to so frame the Constitution that no one man should hold the power of bringing this oppression upon us.
Well would you look at that! It turns out that the real quote by Lincoln expresses a completely opposite sentiment to the fake, pro-war quote dreamed up and bandied about by conservatives. Isn't that amazing?
The New York Post
So the idea that Abraham Lincoln wanted to hang anti-war congressmen is a product of right-wing fantasy land. As you just read in the item above, Lincoln was actually worried about presidents abusing their power and waging war under false pretenses. Lincoln understood that the Founding Fathers were incredibly wary about giving war-making powers to one man because "Kings had always been involving and impoverishing their people in wars ... no one man should hold the power of bringing this oppression upon us."
Does somebody want to tell the New York Post?
The Post headline refers to the fact that the U.S. House of Representatives just passed a non-binding resolution by 246 votes to 182 which repudiates Our Great Leader's Great Big Surge. Yes, apparently it's now treason for the Legislative Branch to have an opinion on the Executive Branch's poorly-thought-out plans for world domination. Shame on you, Congress! How dare you attempt to follow through on your Constitutional obligation to represent the people who elected you to office? Don't you know that George W. Bush is the King of America?
Oh well, at least we now know whose side the New York Post would have been on during the Revolutionary War.
Last week State Rep. Stacey Campfield (R-Naturally) introduced a bill in the Tennessee General Assembly which would "collect death certificates for aborted fetuses," according to the Associated Press. Campfield said "his bill would provide a way to track how many abortions are performed in Tennessee."
Strangely enough though, "Tennessee law already requires abortions to be reported to the Office of Vital Records." So there already is a way to track how many abortions are performed in Tennessee. Why would Campfield want to go through the trouble (and expense) of requiring that an aborted fetus needs a death certificate?
Perhaps because according to the AP, under the current law in Tennessee, "the identities of women having abortions are not included in the reports." However, "Death certificates require identifying information like Social Security numbers." See, it's not really a way to track abortions at all. It's a way to publicly shame women who get an abortion in Tennessee. Nice.
One thing that's confusing to me though: if Campfield wants to give death certificates to aborted fetuses, why not give them to miscarried fetuses as well? The end result is the same, after all. Why should miscarried fetuses not be given the honor of a death certificate? Has Rep. Campfield got something against them?
Anyway, Rep. Camfield's obvious prejudice against miscarried fetuses aside, I think you'll agree that we could all use a public list of women who didn't complete their pregnancies for whatever reason.
Actually, better yet, why don't we just force them to wear shirts with a big red letter on the front? We could have "A" for abortion and "M" for miscarriage. While we're at it, let's put a big red letter "C" on women who are using contraception, the shameless hussies.
Meanwhile, further conservative idiocy is afoot in in Arizona's state legislature. Thayer Verschoor, Republican majority leader of the Arizona State Senate, intoduced a bill last week that would "discipline, fine or fire educators for speaking about elections, legislation, judicial action or 'a social, political or culture issue that is a matter of partisan controversy,'" according to the Arizona Daily Star. What does that mean? Unfortunately the bill doesn't contain much in the way of details.
What is clear is that this bill is Verschoor's attempt to reverse that terrible trend in public education: teaching critical thinking.
The bill prohibits instructors from advocating "one side of a social, political or cultural issue that is a matter of partisan controversy," but it doesn't offer any definitions.
Evolution, global warming, foreign policy, voting rights, education policy - the list of verboten topics could be endless. So loosely is the bill written that a teacher who plays devil's advocate to prod a student to think more critically and refine his or her position might be accused of breaking the law.
Verschoor's bill would discourage teachers from offering opinions in class about the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Board of Education that desegregated public schools.
Verschoor also said, "You don't need to be in a science class and have someone telling you whether Bill Clinton is or isn't a great president." However, if students are to learn about the real-life effects of environmental policy, then it's perfectly appropriate to mention Clinton or any other president. We do wonder, however, if Verschoor's outrage would reach the same intensity if the president being praised in the classroom had views closer to his own.
Incidentally, the bill would also make it illegal to "hamper or impede the lawful access of military recruiters to campus." Combine that with Verschoor's assault on critical thinking and it's pretty clear that he does not view schools as places from which young people can gain an education, but as factories for teenage cannon-fodder.
Incidentally, Arizona ranked dead last in Morgan Quitno's 2006 "Smartest State Award." I guess Verschoor thinks that's a compliment.
What happens to old Republican congressman after they leave office? Some become lobbyists or work for consulting firms, others just retire and play golf. But Joseph McDade, the former Republican representative for Pennsylvania's 10th Congresional District, has found a new and exciting hobby.
Former Pennsylvania Congressman Joseph McDade has been charged with one count of exposure of sexual organs for an incident on Sanibel Island last month. McDade was a congressman for 36 years until his retirement in 1999.
"Two victims came forward and they accused Joseph McDade of lewd activity," said Sanibel Island Police Chief Bill Tomlinson.
Tomlinson says McDade exposed his genitals to at least two women while he was on vacation at the Holiday Inn Beach Resort.
"This activity occurred in a walkway or pathway from the beach to the resort," said Tomlinson.
The State Attorney's Office is charging the former congressman with exposure of sexual organs, which is a first degree misdemeanor
A cushy job on K Street? A few rounds at the local country club? No thanks! I'm going to Florida to flash my balls at unsuspecting young women!
George W. Bush
At the beginning of the year, George W. Bush promised to balance the budget by 2012, and, according to the Washington Post, "challenged lawmakers to slash their special pet projects in half next year."
So which "special pet project" is George going to slash in order to achieve his budget goals? Let's find out what the Associated Press has to say...
The Bush administration plans to cut funding for veterans' health care two years from now - even as badly wounded troops returning from Iraq could overwhelm the system.
After an increase sought for next year, the Bush budget would turn current trends on their head. Even though the cost of providing medical care to veterans has been growing rapidly - by more than 10 percent in many years - White House budget documents assume consecutive cutbacks in 2009 and 2010 and a freeze thereafter.
That's right - George proposes to balance the budget on the backs of the wounded troops that he sent off to war. But come on, his hands are tied. He can hardly repeal those massive tax cuts for the richest 1% of Americans now, can he?
The Bush Administration
As we all know, George W. Bush recently decided to send an extra 21,500 troops to Iraq, despite the fact that this plan is disapproved of by his military commanders, the Iraqi government, Congress, and a large majority of the American people.
So the Senate Armed Services Committee recently held hearings to find out what's going on with Our Great Leader's Great Big Surge. General Peter Pace, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, described it thusly:
We will not be out front by plan. The Iraqis would be the ones going door to door, knocking on doors, doing the census work, doing the kinds of work that would put them out in front for the first part of the - if it develops - firefight. Our troops would be available to backstop them and to bring in the kind of fire support we bring in. But it would not be one Iraqi and one U.S. soldier.
Pace was right about one thing: it's not one Iraqi and one U.S. soldier. In fact, it's one Iraqi and ten U.S. soldiers.
According to the Chicago Tribune, "the first major sweep of the Iraqi capital under the new security plan used only 200 Iraqi police and soldiers, compared to about 2,500 Americans."
Oh my... the Bush administration has misled us once again about the ongoing disaster in Iraq. What a surprise.
Speaking of the "surge" (that manly, throbbing surge), it was revealed last week by Talking Points Memo that House Republicans are doing everything they can to avoid talking about it - and that's official. Republican Reps. John Shadegg and Peter Hoekstra wrote a letter to their colleagues last week which contained instructions on how best to divert attention from the fact that they don't have a clue. The letter read in part:
We are writing to urge you not to debate the Democratic Iraq resolution on their terms, but rather on ours.
Democrats want to force us to focus on defending the surge, making the case that it will work and explaining why the President's new Iraq policy is different from prior efforts and therefore justified.
We urge you to instead broaden the debate to the threat posed to Americans, the world, and all "unbelievers" by radical Islamists. We would further urge you to join us in educating the American people about the views of radical Islamists and the consequences of not defeating radical Islam in Iraq.
The debate should not be about the surge or its details. This debate should not even be about the Iraq war to date, mistakes that have been made, or whether we can, or cannot, win militarily. If we let Democrats force us into a debate on the surge or the current situation in Iraq, we lose.
Well that makes sense. It's a losing strategy to debate the details of what they're supposed to be debating. The only way to win is to try and make the American people crap their pants. And this is different to every other debate tactic they've used since 2001 how exactly?
Talk about hopeful - according to Out & About, former Ohio State Rep. Jeff Miller recently sought lobbying work from the Tennessee Equality Project, "a statewide organization dedicated to promote and sustain the equality of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender persons in the State of Tennessee through the establishment of fair and equitable laws protecting these rights and the elimination of laws that would seek to counter this effort."
In a letter to the TEP, Miller wrote:
After my retirement from the legislature, I am pleased to offer to you my services as a lobbyist. Following the requisite waiting period, one year, on November 8, 2007, I will be extending the governmental relations division of my private practice in an effort to assist you and others in ensuring that legislation essential to the betterment of your business practices is supported and legislation to the detriment of your business practices is strongly opposed.
So? Well, it turns out that when Jeff Miller was a member of the Tennessee General Assembly, he sponsored the constitutional ban on same-sex marriage. Which can only mean one of two things: either he's decided that now he doesn't have to run for office he's not a homophobe after all, or he's such a lazy asshole that he's just sending out form letters hitting people up for work without actually bothering to check who he's sending them to.
I think I'll go with option B.
And finally... global warming? Shglobal shwarming! Last week Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Of Course) took part in a Congressional hearing on the recent IPCC climate change report. Here's what Dana had to say, courtesy of Think Progress:
So, whether or not how dramatic this change will be, or is, what it's caused by, are things that honest people, I think, can disagree with, and I really personally, having been a journalist, the first thing I was always cautioned by when someone was claiming
Hold on a second - you were a journalist? Then how come you can't complete a coherent sentence? I have no idea what you're talking about. But please, continue.
well, everybody is on my side, or everybody says this, or there is a total consensus, almost always when people said that to me over my years as a journalist, it wasn't true. It was that there were honest people who disagreed and significant disagreement on such issues.
Or, in the case of global climate change, there are thousands of honest scientists who disagree with a handful of dishonest scientists, most of whom happen to be on the payroll of the oil companies. Sorry, carry on...
We don't know what those other cycles were caused by in the past. Could be dinosaur flatulence, you know, or who knows?
Dinosaur flatulence? Sure! Why not?
See how easy it is to have an "honest disagreement" about climate change? All you have to do is say something completely moronic, and then insist that your opponent prove you wrong. What fun.
Okay, my turn. Hey Dana! If the earth is only 6,000 years old, where did these so-called "dinosaurs" come from, eh? Dinosaur flatulence indeed. Everybody knows that the previous warming cycles were caused by God running his hair dryer.
See you next week!
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