“Tell Us What To Say” – Tea Party Group Gives GOP Freshmen Medicare Talking Points

So, what sort of power does a group like the Tea Party have over members of the House and Senate?  Could it be Corporate and special interests who are looking for members of both houses in Congress to tow the free market line?  

The wealthiest corporations and special interest groups usually pepper politicians with overwhelming amounts of money in hope of influencing the political process.   

It’s the same way with the Tea Party which is backed by the likes of Koch Industries and other corporate interests.

Huffington Post

FreedomWorks Gives Freshman Republicans Tips For Dealing With Medicare At Town Halls

The conservative group FreedomWorks has a message for freshman Republicans in Congress: Do not shy away from the Medicare fight.

On May 24, the group run by former House Majority Leader Dick Armey convened one of its regular off-the-record meetings with “communicators from limited-government conservative offices in the House and Senate who have a close relationship with the grassroots,” according to an email from FreedomWorks’ Media Coordinator Jackie Bodnar obtained by The Huffington Post. The email was intended for attendees of the breakfast meeting.

The main topics of discussion, according to notes attached to the email that recapped the meeting, were the debt ceiling and Medicare. The special guest that day was Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah), who argued, according to the recap, that the “debt ceiling has become a key bargaining chip that can be used to get the BBA [balanced budget amendment] passed.”

Matt Kibbe, president of FreedomWorks, focused on Medicare and gave the congressional offices tips for dealing with the hot topic in their districts (emphasis added):

  • Get out there and talk to people. Hold town halls at senior centers and other areas where the population is especially concerned about their benefits being cut. Take the lessons of ’94 and ’95 and get out there and explain to people that their immediate benefits will not be affected. Explaining the plan will offset confusion and the Democrats’ negative messaging.
  • We need to dispel the myth that if we leave Medicare alone it will stay the same. It won’t. By reforming them we are saving and strengthening these programs for the current and future generations.
  • Don’t bury your head in the sand. Republicans must not shy away from this issue. Expect Democrats to attack, but not fighting back will only makes it worse. BOLD action is needed.
  • Communicate that Democrats do not have a plan of their own. Hold up a blank piece of paper as a powerful image of their do-nothing approach.
  • Stick to your message.

Continue reading here…


Crooks & Liars: Why are we letting a vindictive Randroid dork rule our political discourse?

Great question!

Crooks & Liars – Brad Reed

Paul Ryan’s rise as a supposed “serious thinker” is a sad symbol of our political class’s depraved and sadistic sense of morality.

And I don’t say this just because Ryan’s truly Satanic budget plan would destroy the social safety net to fund more tax cuts for rich people. It’s also that our elite media has decided that a hardcore disciple of Ayn Rand is somebody who is actually worth listening to instead of being laughed out of the room. For despite Ryan’s pretensions that he’s just an honest wonk who’s seeking out serious solutions to our nation’s debt problem, the reality is that he’s a vindictive mega-dork who’s coming extremely close to enacting his nerdroid revenge fantasies on the American public.

I mean, look, no one who is a devoted Randian cares about anything except redistributing wealth from the unworthy looter class (i.e., 99% of the population) to the super class of highly-productive rich people (i.e., Charlie Sheen, Paris Hilton, LeBron James, LeBron James’ mom and Paul Ryan). And Ryan even admits that it was Rand who inspired him to get involved in politics:

The reason I got involved in public service, by and large, if I had to credit one thinker, one person, it would be Ayn Rand,” Ryan said at a D.C. gathering four years ago honoring the author of “Atlas Shrugged” and “The Fountainhead.”

And like other Randroid bed-wetters, Ryan believes that social insurance programs that have saved countless people from poverty are actually a grand form of tyranny holding back the creative potential of our oppressed producer class:

At the Rand celebration he spoke at in 2005, Ryan invoked the central theme of Rand’s writings when he told his audience that, “Almost every fight we are involved in here on Capitol Hill  . . .  is a fight that usually comes down to one conflict – individualism versus collectivism.”

In that struggle, Ryan argued that shifting Social Security (which he called a “collectivist system”) toward personal investment accounts was not only good policy, but would change the political landscape, according to a recording of the event made by its host, The Atlas Society.

“If we actually accomplish this goal of personalizing Social Security, think of what we will accomplish. Every worker, every laborer in America will not only be a laborer but a capitalist. They will be an owner of society.  . . .  That’s that many more people in America who are not going to listen to the likes of Dick Gephardt and Nancy Pelosi, Ted Kennedy, the collectivist, class-warfare-breathing demagogues,” said Ryan.

Except, unlike all the capitalists on Wall Street, all of these new worker-capitalists wouldn’t have been bailed out when their Social Security accounts got wiped out by the stock market crash in 2008.

And yes, for the record, Ryan did vote for the bailout in 2008:

Continue reading…

Michele Bachmann’s Gaze

Official photo of Congresswoman Michele Bachma...
Image via Wikipedia

It was the weirdest video response I had ever seen.  It actually topped Sarah Palin’s last video blaming the media  for directing a “blood libel” at her, in terms of bizzare.


It was almost impossible to concentrate on what Michele Bachmann was saying, exactly, in her Tea Party response to tonight’s State of the Union. First, there were the visual aids, that looked at times like what one might bring for a Civics class presentation on the Constitution (complete with confusing charts on unemployment that cleverly only labeled odd-numbered years—so unless you looked closely, it seemed as if unemployment went up during a Democratic presidency, not during the tail end of the Bush era).

Then there was her gaze. If you watched on CNN—the only station to carry the speech—she was looking over your shoulder, not at the camera. The TV camera, anyway: I didn’t watch online, but according to my Twitter feed, she was gazing directly at the webcam. Bachmann’s eye contact, then, is reserved for the Web faithful—for those bypassing the lamestream media, that is.

Another odd note: According to the New York Times, at least, the Web site of the Tea Party Express didn’t carry Bachmann’s speech live, despite the fact that she was ostensibly speaking for them as a subset of Republicans. Which leaves me wondering whether anyone wanted Bachmann to respond nearly as badly as Bachmann did herself.

The GOP’s Michele Bachmann Problem

Apparently Michele Bachmann has aspirations of running for the presidency in 2012.  It appears that the GOP “establishment” and Bachmann do not see eye to eye on this issue…

The Daily Beast

The Minnesota congresswoman has never shied from controversy, but her latest efforts to represent Tea Party interests are disrupting Boehner’s push for the Republicans to rule effectively—and threatening the party’s unity. By Newsweek’s Andrew Romano.

Plus, watch video of 9 notorious State of the Union moments.

Michele Bachmann has certainly been keeping busy.

Within hours of winning her third congressional term in November, the colorful Minnesota Republican began campaigning for conference chair, the No. 4 position in the House GOP leadership. Why? Because “constitutional conservatives”—like her and, presumably, unlike the rest of John Boehner’s team—”deserve a loud and clear voice!” A few weeks later, news leaked that Bachmann would be traveling to Iowa for a fundraiser—and that “nothing,” according to her spokesman, “is off the table.” Asked whether she was considering a presidential run, Bachmann told ABC News  “I’m going to Iowa—there’s your answer.”

Then on Friday Bachmann announced that even though Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan is slated to deliver the official Republican response to President Obama’s upcoming State of the Union address, she would be giving her own online rebuttal on behalf of the Tea Party Express “shortly after” Ryan’s speech concludes.

Bachmann’s post-election maneuvering isn’t particularly surprising; the ultraconservative Minnesotan, who by one estimate appears on national cable once every nine days, is always looking for new ways to get attention. But the response her scheming has received in top GOP circles—a response that would best be described as arctic—suggests that the battle between disgruntled, absolutist Tea Party activists (who want to blow the system up) and their more realistic representatives in Washington (who plan to work within it) is only beginning.       More…

Remedial Readers & Tea Party Party

Randi Rhodes, progressive talk show personality, is hilarious.  I subscribe to her podcasts.  She’s a New Yawker like me, so I can tolerate her accent on air. 

Randi Rhodes

It’s a good thing the debate to be the new chair of the RNC isn’t an episode of Jeopardy, because Republicans wouldn’t do too well on “Great Literature” (video below). When the candidates were asked to name their favorite book, chair hopeful Ann Wagner thought they asked for her favorite bar, and said “probably my kitchen table.”

 When the question was explained to Wagner, she said her favorite book was “George Bush’s new book.” The sad thing is I would vote for a person who sits and drinks at their kitchen table over anyone who would read George Bush’s book.

But Michael Steele actually topped Wagner. He said his favorite book was “War and Peace.” Then he quoted Charles Dickens’ “A Tale of Two Cities” by reciting “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” Well, call me Ishmael! Does Michael Steele really read Tolstoy? He seems more like a Dostoyevsky guy, but then for some reason I’m thinking of “The Idiot.” One thing is for sure—no matter who wins, the Republicans are going to get the leadership they truly deserve.

In news of Republican idiots who already have jobs, the House Republicans are going to be doing more investigations than the TV character “House.” Except the House Republicans are never going to find the answers they’re looking for. I don’t want to say that all of these bogus investigations are just fishing expeditions, but they should be conducted wearing hip waders and a hat loaded with lures.

Darrell Issa sent out a letter asking big business which regulations they want him to try and get rid of. Well, you can’t say that Darrell Issa is not listening to his constituents. What exactly was the header on the letter that Darrell Issa sent to all these businesses? “To Foxes, Re: Henhouse.”

Finally, some incoming freshman Republicans are throwing a lavish fundraiser tonight that is being seen a major embarrassment to Republicans. Even John Boehner has said that he plans to skip the event. Well, that just makes me think that there’s obviously no open bar. Don’t worry, John. You can always drink at Ann Wagner’s kitchen table.


King Won’t Give Up His Government Health Care, But Applauds Those Who Do ‘For Standing On Principle’

Steve King
Image via Wikipedia

Republicans (and more than a few Dems) in Congress: What a bunch of bald-faced hypocrites…

Think Progress

As ThinkProgress has noted, despite spending the past year and a half railing against government healthcare, just five Republican members of the 112th Congress have been willing to forgo their own government healthcare coverage, which is provided to them as federal employees. Rep.-elect Joe Walsh (R-IL) is one of those Republicans who will opt out of his congressional health package, even though his wife will have difficulty finding coverage due to her pre-existing condition (that is, until portions of President Obama’s health care law barring insurers from discriminating against people with such conditions take affect in 2014).

Asked tonight about Walsh’s suggestion that it’s hypocritical for GOP congressmen fighting Obama’s health law to keep their own government coverage, Rep. Steve King (R-IA) didn’t seem to disagree. King told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer that he gives Walsh “a lot of credit for standing on principle,” even though King himself won’t forgo his government coverage:

BLITZER: [H]e thinks to accept the federal government’s health insurance program would be hypocritical, do you accept the federal government’s health insurance program for yourself

KING: Well, I’m on it now, like other federal employees are –

BLITZER: Will you stay on it?

KING: I don’t intend to pull off of it, but I give Joe a lot of credit for that. I went to Joe to help him in the campaign and I give him a lot of credit for standing on principle.

Watch it:

Walsh explained his decision by saying, “My wife and I now are going to have to go through the struggles that a lot of Americans go through, trying to find insurance in the individual market and having to deal with problems of preexisting conditions.” As of 2008, 12 percent of King’s constituents lacked coverage. Apparently King doesn’t think he should have to face the same struggles as them.

Joe Scarborough advises tea party lawmakers not to ‘scare little kids and pets’

Raw Story

MSNBC host and former Republican Congressman Joe Scarborough counseled the incoming class of tea party legislators not to abuse their new-found powers, jesting that they might scare young children and animals.

Scarborough recalled to Parade magazine when the new Republican Congress of 1995 tried to trample a weakened President Bill Clinton and ended up paying the price for “overreaching” and appearing “shrill.”

“If Republicans overreach in 2011, they will re-elect Barack Obama in 2012,” he said. “They need to focus but make sure they don’t scare little kids and pets. This is the Republican Party’s last chance—not just for me but for the American voters. They will either mean what they say or be swept aside.”

The 112th Congress will be sworn in Wednesday, and dozens of newly elected, tea party-backed Republicans are hoping to flex their muscle after campaigning vigorously against the Obama administration. Republicans will have a 241-194 majority in the House of Representatives, while Democrats maintain a slimmer 53-47 majority in the Senate.

Scarborough, who represented Florida’s 1st district from 1995 to 2001, continues to embrace his Republican affiliation, but has been more outspoken than colleagues in criticizing what he considers fringe elements in his party.   More…

Tea Party Caucus Holds First Meeting, Explains Its Agenda, Blasts Obama

Huffington Post

A group of conservative House Republicans led by Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) today hailed the formation of the congressional Tea Party Caucus, claiming that it will serve as a platform for dialogue between Congress and the grassroots movement that has shaken up American politics over the last year.

Speaking at a press conference following the group’s first meeting, Bachmann told reporters that the caucus will try to advance the principles of the Tea Party’s members, who she said believe “that we are taxed enough already, that the federal government should not spend more money than it takes in and that Congress should act within the constitutional limitations that are given to us by the Founding Fathers.”

The Minnesota congresswoman emphasized that the caucus would not be setting the Tea Party’s agenda or directing its operations. “We are not the mouthpiece of the Tea Party, we are not taking the Tea Party and controlling it from Washington,” she said. “I am not the head of the Tea Party nor or any of these members of Congress the head of the Tea Party movement. The people are the head of the Tea Party movement,” Bachmann said.

While Bachmann’s remarks contained little of the damning rhetoric that has become commonplace among Tea Party supporters both in Congress and elsewhere, the lawmakers who followed her were quick to hurl a variety of accusations at President Obama and congressional Democrats.

Paul Broun (R-Ga.) accused Democrats in Congress and President Obama of engaging in “fiscal irresponsibility” and implied that the current government has ignored the Constitution and is denying Americans their freedom.

John Culberson (R-Texas) dialed up the rhetoric, declaring that the Tea Party would “sweep out these extremists that are governing the Congress in November.”

Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) went so far as to accuse liberals of infiltrating protests against the sweeping health care bill passed earlier this year. “There were plants all the way through crowd,” he said of one demonstration. “In fact, I got cussed by one when I got to the end of the street. I didn’t come running to the media, whining and crying.”    Continue reading…