5thstate

How Republicans and the Non-Existent Poor Can Solve America’s Deficit with Used Appliances.

Posted in Uncategorized by 5thstate on July 30, 2011

How-Poor-are-America’s-Poor—Examining-the-Plague-of-Poverty-in-Americais the title of a “new reportfrom the Heritage Foundation in which “Senior Research Fellow” Robert Rector determines that the federal-government-defined “poor” aren’t actually “poor” at all due to their ownership of sundry appliances.

Of course the FOX Network simply had to help Rector deliver the good news that the poor aren’t actually poor, courtesy of Stuart Varney guest hosting on the July 19 edition of ‘Your’ World with Neil Cavuto. (transcript from Media Matters) 

STUART VARNEY: A new report showing poor families in the United States are not what they used to be. Now, many poor families have homes with cable TV, cell phones, computers, you name it — much, much, more. My next guest is digging up all of this stuff. Robert Rector is with the Heritage Foundation. Robert, I’m just going to give our viewers a quick run-through of what items poor families in America have.

Ninety-nine percent of them have a refrigerator. Eighty-one percent have a microwave. Seventy-eight percent have air conditioning. Sixty-three percent have cable TV. Fifty-four percent have cell phones. Forty-eight percent have a coffee maker — I’m not surprised, they’re only about 10 bucks. Thirty-eight percent have a computer. Thirty-two percent have more than two TVs. Twenty-five percent have a dishwasher.

This, Sir, Mr. Rector, is very different what it was just a few years ago, isn’t it?

ROBERT RECTOR: No, actually what you see is that the living standards of the poor have increased rather steadily for the last 30 years. And in fact, the poverty report has not accurately reflected their living conditions really for several decades.

Yeah…ummm… given that Varney introduced the piece by saying “… poor families in the United States are not what they used to be. Now, many poor families have homes with cable TV, cell phones, computers, you name it” I’m not sure why Rector then disagrees with Varney by saying “No” and then immediately re-iterates Vareny’s argument which happens to re-iterate the argument of Rector’s own report—-but, what-ever).

ROBERT RECTOR: “And in fact, the poverty report has not accurately reflected their living conditions really for several decades”.

So instead of poverty being defined in terms of income relative to the Cost Of Living Index, actual wages, savings, housing and health conditions and nutrition, the most meaningful measure of poverty should in fact be simply the possession of appliances—without, of course, providing any namby-pamby east-coast intellectual weighting of appliance ownership in terms of age, practicality and actual use.

VARNEY: “Now, I understand that today, the federal government says 14 percent of the population lives in poverty, and that’s roughly the same as it was back in 1966, before all the Great Society programs. But doesn’t that look [at] poverty as a financial, a monetary thing?”

RECTOR: “Yes, part of the reason that when you look at the actual living conditions of the 43 million people that the Census says are poor, you see that in fact, they have all these modern conveniences.”

Because modern-conveniences (whether new or old, affordable to operate and maintain or not) surely represent the totality of “actual living conditions”.

RECTOR: “If you ask them, did your family have enough food to eat at all times during the last year, the overwhelming majority will say yes.”

Yeah…ummm….the reason why the poor might have had enough to eat in 2010 would be because they qualified for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or “SNAP” (more commonly known as “Food Stamps), because they didn’t have the income to properly feed their families (i.e. they were poor) not because they had “modern conveniences”—appliances simply aren’t “good eating”.

RECTOR: “If you ask them were you able to meet any medical needs you may have had, they will say yes.”

Because the poor are all fit and healthy from not being forced to eat caviar and foie-gras, and because when they are asked by a Heritage Foundation Right-Wing Welfare-Queen if they’ve been able to get their scurvy and mange attended-to they aren’t about to burden the man in the suit from Washington with their tragic stories of restless leg syndrome because really it’s nothing that an appliance can’t fix and after all why upset the nice man pretend-inquiring in his imagination after their health? After all, what’s that old aphorism—“At least I’ve got my appliances”?

RECTOR: “The typical poor family in the United States lives in a house or an apartment and actually has more living space than the average European. Not a poor European, but the average Frenchman or the average German.”

And the average Manhattan apartment is about the size of a trailer home which is where the actually rich American poor keep their appliances so that they can be eaten by tornadoes. But if you call now and sponsor a poor Manhattanite with just one appliance a month, you’ll be giving them not just the gift of hope, but the gift of poverty-eliminating appliances and the chance to live a non-European-style life!

RECTOR: “So, in fact, there really isn’t any connection between the government’s identification of poor people and the actual living standards and the typical American — when an American hears the word “poverty,” he’s thinking about somebody that doesn’t have enough food to eat, someone that’s possibly homeless. It’s not true.”

Ummm… what’s not true? That an American thinks a starving homeless person isn’t poor? Oh—I see…Rector means that “the government’s identification of poor people” isn’t “true”. An actually poor person should be begging for food, homeless, and, let’s not forget, appliance-less.

Alright, enough with the sarcastic deconstructions; it’s time to seriously examine Rector’s (and Varney’s) plague of lies and sociopathic bullshit.

First of all this “new report” (as Varney describes it and to which he refers) has no academic authority beyond the Heritage Foundation. Secondly the “new report” in fact dates from 2007, relies on data from 2005 and furthermore merely reiterates the “poor aren’t poor because of appliances theme contained in yet another dishonest and intellectually retarded social agenda-driven piece of drivel that Rector published twenty-one years ago!.

Here’s an excerpt from that 1990 polemic titled, simply, How Poor are America’s Poor?

Today, officially “poor” households are more likely to own common consumer durables such as televisions and refrigerators than the average family in the 1950s. In 1930, nearly two-thirds of U.S. households did not own a radio; over half had no form of refrigeration. Among the poor today, less than one percent lack a refrigerator.

Seventeen percent of U.S. households in “poverty” have automatic dishwashers, well above the rate for the general West European population in 1980. Among America’s “poor” there are 344 cars per 1,000 persons. This is roughly the same ratio as exists for the total population of the United Kingdom. A poor American is 40 percent more likely to own a car than the average Japanese; 30 times more likely than the average Pole; and 50 times more likely than the average Mexican.”

Of course in 1990 Rector had to ignore pertinent facts in order to imply that the American poor were not actually poor by comparing them to nations where the smaller populations provide lower economics of scale that made cars and gasoline (all of it imported and highly taxed) more expensive than in the US, and where population densities and extensive public transportation made car ownership less of a necessity, to dishonestly and ignorantly support his fatuous argument—and in 2007 and now in 2011.

On the Cavuto show, Rector declares: “And in fact, the poverty report has not accurately reflected their living conditions really for several decades” to which Varney responds, “Robert, I’m just going to give our viewers a quick run-through of what items poor families in America have”, and then proceeds to rattle off statistics about appliance ownership by the government-defined “poor”.

The impression is easily gained from Rector and Varney that they are referencing the same “report”. In fact Varney actually read from an excerpt from a 2005 Department of Energy report on appliance ownership amongst the poor— as identified by means other than appliance ownership—that was tabulated to determine their likely energy consumption in order to determine what level of financial assistance they might need during periods of high energy prices.

(That discrepancy may appear minor, in the context of one short exchange and it might be construed as a ‘mistake’ but it is demonstrably a pathological characteristic of FOX ‘talent’, Heritage Foundation minions and the vast majority of conservatives that due diligence, facts and intellectual honesty have to ignored in order to make their specious arguments appear plausible and rational—every single page of the Media Matters and Think Progress web-sites to name but two sources provide hundreds of examples, of calculated misrepresentation and outright lying by FOX, practically every right-wing “think tank” that there is, and by Republicans).

The “poverty report” that Rector criticizes as ‘not accurately reflecting living conditions’, is produced every year by the US Census Bureau (here’s the 2010 Poverty Report). The term “poor” (and thus poverty) is basically determined according to income relative to the Consumer Price Index which is determined by the Bureau of Labor as “a measure of the average change over time in the prices paid by urban consumers for a market basket of consumer goods and services.”

Obviously if the cost of basic/essential goods and services increases whilst income remains the same the citizen becomes relatively poorer and when the cost of fundamental goods and services in total exceeds the citizen’s ability to pay for them, then that citizen may be designated as being officially “poor”.

Here’s an example provided by the Census Bureau where the Poverty Threshold for a family of five (with two children) for 2009 was $26,245:

Family Member                                                    Income

Mother                                                                  $ 10,000

Father                                                                    $   7,000

Great-aunt                                                             $ 10,000

First Child                                                              $           0

Second Child                                                         $           0

Total Family Annual Income:                              $ $27,000

Clearly this sample family isn’t rich, but it isn’t officially “poor” as its income exceeds the Poverty Threshold by $755. (The 2009 Poverty Threshold level for two adults under the age of 65 with two children was $21,756; for a single adult under 65, $11,161).

Even if this sample family wholly-owned its home, that $27,000 a year divided amongst five people equals $5,400 each per annum, or $14.75 per person per day which as to be apportioned between house maintenance, property taxes, utilities, general cleaning and personal hygiene products, food, clothing, at least one phone (a necessity), school supplies for the children, and health care supplies and services. If the family owns a car—a necessity for most Americans—it must pay for gas, insurance and maintenance (and license and registration renewal).

Those ordinary and persistent expenses are irrelevant according to Robert Rector—he insists that the real measure of poverty is appliance ownership–not appliance function or actual use, not the age or efficiency of appliances, not the necessity of certain appliances or their cost of their maintenance or energy, but simply the mere existence of appliances in the household

Let me also point out that Varney is quoting statistics from 2005—back when Food Stamp enrollment (a common and rational measure of actual poverty) had hit 25.7 million. Now in 2011 that enrollment is at 40 million. I am one of those 40 million food stamp recipients because all my savings have gone and I don’t have a job.

Some Standard Economic Indicators of Real US Poverty

Last year I sold my microwave. I sold my air-conditioner (which I only ran when the temps got above 90F). I cancelled my basic cable TV+ Internet. No-one wanted to buy my 10-year old television but I was able to sell my 8-year old computer. I cancelled my land-line phone two years ago and THEN I had to cancel my basic cell-phone service last year. I’ve never owned a dishwasher.

BUT I CAN”T BE POOR, according to Rector and Varney because I still own a refrigerator (8 years old) a 6-year old computer, a 10-year old television, a 5 year old electric kettle, a 4 year old portable hard drive, a 4-year old portable DVD-Burner, a toaster and a digital watch. Only when I’ve eaten my appliances and I’m wandering the streets covered in filth and gesticulating to my distended belly will Varney and Rector be satisfied that I am actually poor due to my utter lack of appliance-ownership—whereupon no doubt they will then tell me to stop being so ungrateful because I’m still living on appliance-like concrete pavements and can dumpster dive at McDonalds, unlike the “real poor” who have live in dirt and eat grass in some country somewhere that the US isn’t interested in helping because the US itself is poor on account of the OMG DEBT-CEILING! (thanks to Jason Linkins for the phraseology).

And of course this little dog and pony rhetorical magic show of Rector isn’t just some arbitrary air-time-filling tat that Varney just stumbled upon whilst Neil Cavuto was away getting his hair re-calibrated (or whatever he does with it to make it look like that); it is just part of the old Reagan Cadillac–driving welfare-queen trope being presented a-new out of the urgent political necessity to pretend that Republican politics and ‘slash-and spend’ policies haven’t actually driven the government to the brink of bankruptcy and millions of its citizens (including Republican voters) into real and record poverty, as the Republican-controlled House attempts to complete the unfinished business of definitively sacrificing ‘socialist’ anti-poverty programs on the altar of right-wing libertarian dogma in Washington, just as newly elected Teabagger state governors are dismantling local social safety nets whilst they have the rapidly diminishing opportunity to do so as their constituents increasingly revolt against their policies.

Here’s Polkbody-award winning culture-warrior and ‘little-guy champion’ Bill O’Reilly discussing appliance ownership wealth and the so-called poor with fellow multiple-TV owning person Lou Dobbs:

O’REILLY: “The Census Bureau reports that 43 million Americans are currently living in poverty. The bureau defines poverty as a family of four earning less than $22,000 a year. But the conservative Heritage Foundation says that many poor American families have lots of stuff. Here now to analyze, Fox Business anchor Lou Dobbs”.

[…]

O’REILLY: Eight-two percent have a microwave. This is 82 percent of American poor families. Seventy-eight percent have air conditioning. More than one television, 65 percent. Cable or satellite TV, 64 percent —thank God.

DOBBS: Amen, brother.

O’REILLY: Cell phones, 55 percent. Personal computer, 39 percent. And as we said, that’s a 6-year-old consumption survey, so these numbers are way up. So how can you be so poor and have all this stuff?

(Yeah; the poor only get appliance- richer, just like house-prices always go up!)

And here’s Dubya’s cheer-liar Dana Perino on Fox’s Glenn Beck Show replacement, ‘The Five, a week later where the subject was ostensibly about health care but which quickly transmogrified into a snide critique of the definition of the poor and their imagined self-impoverishment through wasteful irresponsible spending habits:

“[What if] we should give free birth control to people. That women wouldn’t have to pay co-pays when they go to the doctors. I might be for that, if I didn’t see a lot of people out there able to buy a new pair of shoes. We have to be able to make some choices here“, setting up Greg Gutfield to bizarrely ’joke’ that “the left has figured out a way to eradicate the poor by eradicating the poor“, after which a little later Perino illogically and ignorantly opined “if you can afford a $5 Frappacino at Starbucks you can afford your $5 co-pay.” ( Note: Would it not then also follow that if you can afford to keep giving tax breaks to the already wealthy then you can also afford to maintain anti–poverty programs? )

Of course since Obama’s election Republicans have been constantly (and falsely, naturally) complaining that his economic policies have been bankrupting America and impoverishing its citizens, yet now they are claiming that there aren’t as many poor as the Obama-led government claims,-because appliance-ownership equals wealth! It then follows that that poverty programs can be eliminated because there are suddenly no more people.

I’m actually surprised this appliance-wealth trope hasn’t received more exposure than it’s been given so-far. Not only could the GOP score massive political points for 2012 by announcing they’ve actually reduced poverty in America enough to drown the remaining poor in a bathtub (to borrow from Grover Norquist), but they could also solve the teabagger-manufactured national deficit crisis by paying off the Chinese with the appliance-wealth that the so-called poor obviously don’t deserve!

 

Facebook’s Marketing Director Thinks “Online anonymity has to go”— Why I Think She’s Wrong and Quite Possibly Just Trying to Fatten FaceBook’s and Her Own Finances.

Posted in Uncategorized by 5thstate on July 28, 2011

In a panel discussion on social media hosted by Marie Claire magazine on Tuesday May 26th 2011, marketing director for Facebook Randi Zuckerberg opined that eliminating “online anonymity”  (according to the Huffington Post) would mitigate “cyber-bullying”:

“People behave a lot better when they have their real names down. … I think people hide behind anonymity and they feel like they can say whatever they want behind closed doors.”

Randi Zuckerberg’s arguments may actually be more considered that the ‘HuffPo’ reports but if the above quote represents her reasoning then I have to take issue because her reasoning appears to be based on pure supposition, and may actually be based on her own business interests rather than any dispassionate intellectual examination or real social concern.

1) RANDI ZUCKERBERG:  “People behave a lot better when they have their real names down…

That statement would appear to be contrary to evidence and to reason:
Facebook is now the largest and most trafficked social network according to Alexa, whilst formerly dominant MySpace subscribers and traffic has shrunk significantly.

According to the Pew Research Center39% of social network users have experienced” cyber-bullying (page 14 of the research slide show)

Logically and statistically then, the majority of cyber-bullying would occur on the largest and most trafficked social network which is Facebook.

Common evidence strongly suggests that the majority of cyber-bullying news stories appear to involve Facebook,

Therefore Randi Zuckerberg’s claim that “People behave a lot better when they have their real names down” is not supported by evidence, to which she, above-all. surely has the most immediate and uncompromised access.

2) RANDI ZUCKERBERG:“I think people hide behind anonymity and they feel like they can say whatever they want behind closed doors”

Whilst it is true that private behavior in general is highly likely to be less inhibited than public behavior, online anonymity is NOT analogous to behavior “behind closed doors”; whilst the identity of the person behaving in a particular way may be private by virtue of a pseudonym, the actual behavior exhibited is more often very public. Bullies, by their nature, get more satisfaction out of their bullying when there is an audience for them to impress and witnesses to compound and amplify the humiliation of the victim.

As a social network Facebook provides a ‘playground’ of potential victims for the bully and the witnesses and even supporters the bully desires. Furthermore the LACK of anonymity on Facebook arena for it is in fact the LACK of anonymity on Facebook that makes cyberbullying so effective because it is so public and because the victim is so explicitly identified.
A bully actually typically doesn’t want to be anonymous but instead wants to be well-known, as a person of power and authority, as someone to be feared and submitted-to.

It may be noted that FOX News provides many examples of “cyber-bullies” who revel-in and actually depend-upon their explicit visibility, such as Bill O’Reilly who uses not only his television pulpit but also his website to bully his perceived political, social and moral enemies—his four years of lying scolding and violence-laced verbal and written attacks on the murdered Dr Tiller provides a classic and horrific example, for which, being the bully he is, he offers no apologies.

It is the potential and actual victim of bullying that is more likely to desire anonymity to mitigate the social embarrassment of being bullied and in fact anonymity, or rather pseudonymity that actually provides some protection against the effects of bullying because the victim thus only exists as an on-line persona and not as a real immutable person, and can always change his or her name and thus remove themselves as an easily identified target for bullying; therefore pseudonymity actually helps mitigate the effects of bullying rather than the onymity that Randi Zuckerberg is currently espousing.

Facebook is not some touchy–feely Kumbaya Aquarian-age attempt to “teach the world to sing in perfect harmony”, it is a business that exploits communications technology and sociology that, by its insistence on subscriber onymity (that is,  real-name identification), can and does deliver precise marketing metrics for which it can charge product manufacturers and service providers more tangible and more efficiently targeted ‘deliverables’ than the more generic broadcast technology of earlier media forms.

The whole point of FaceBook is its business model which is entirely dependent on specific, explicit, real time, real-world identification of its users, for which other corporations and investors will and do, pay a lot of money to access and exploit for their own financial gain; thus online anonymity does not serve Facebook’s business model or that of its eager corporate customers—it is the product and service corporations that are FaceBook’s fundamental customers and not the subscribers who are in fact simply the market resource, and as such it is therefore fundamentally in Randi Zukerberg’s interest to promote online onymity instead of anonymity.

I’m confident that in this post I have provided a solid and superior counter argument based on reason and as much empirical evidence as I could muster on short notice.

Given the brevity of the reporting on Randi Zukerberg’s opinion it might be unfair to adamantly question her motives in the above manner solely on that basis, but as it is all I have to go on at the moment, at the very least regardless of motive she appears to know nothing about the nature of bullying and appears to me to be at best ignorant-of, or incapable-of comprehending, the prevalent data to which she has access above all others—in short I argue that Randi Zuckerberg is out of her depth on this subject, or she’s just thinking out loud and her ruminations are being reported as actual intellectual determinations, or else she’s being willfully ignorant of the empirical data and disingenuously serving her own interests as FaceBook’s Marketing Director and the interests of the Facebook business model upon which her undoubtedly now quite spectacular lifestyle depends.

Randi Zuckerberg’s analysis of cyber-bullying is actually directly opposed to the evidence that common experience, independent research and her own company’s data provides, and so on this basis she’s an idiot  regarding this subject or, given her professional position, she may well be  an agenda-driven self-serving liar pretending social concern.

In so-saying, do I now appear to be a cyber-bully “hiding behind anonymity”, and real Randi Zuckerberg therefore my public victim?  Hell no! She’s the one with the audience and the power of business success to command a supportive or complicit audience, whilst I am, in my online anonymity as an intermittent blogger with an online pseudonym and no great audience to influence or feed-from to bolster my public presence and potential or actual ‘authority’ just one of a crowd of millions, and I have no great interest in building-up my own online visibility and popularity by trying to tear down the visibility and popularity of others, else I would have identified myself plainly from the outset of my intermittent yet so far relatively persistent and definitively insignificant blogging ‘career’ and thus sought out a significant constituency to support my opinions—just as the bully demands and requires an audience for greater empowerment.

Randi Zuckerberg is, I argue, empirically wrong about bullying in general and about cyber-bullying in particular  and is either accidentally deluded or else is being willfully ignorant and deceitful about the pros and cons of identity and social dynamics, be they ‘cyber’ or real.

Bachmann Begins–Seriously?

Posted in Uncategorized by 5thstate on July 5, 2011

Bachmann and Romney

When a darkie darkness seized control of real America, a new heroin heroine leapt forth from the shadows of Congress to restore vigilante hope to the citizens of GOPham, to save them from the evil secret muslim schemes of a socialist psychopath known as The Jokerbama.

Summoned by a special signal when GOPham and its media-machine find themselves in desperate need of something and someone to distract them from awful reality, Bachmann leaps into action from her secret asylum to battle against the arch-foes of the Right, to fight for the victims of victimization and the victiminated victims of gotcha journalism.

Bachmann Begins is the latest in the stable of DC Comical superficial-heroes to be transferred from the web-pages of cult fans to the small screen, aiming to build on the Koch Brothers Studios box-office successes of Flight-Lieutenant America (played by George W. Bush) and Flight-Lieutenant America II: This Time Its More of The Same, Only Worse, and The Adventures of Wonder If She’ll-Run/When She’ll Quit-Woman (played by Sarah Palin who, incidentally, has yet to break character despite the short movie of her political performance having failed to win any political Oscars in 2008).

Matt Taibbi of Rolling Stone would not approve of the above pastiche. Taibbi, who has personal experience of the relationship of organized evangelism and politics warned last week that in the political context, Bachmann is no joke and publicly mocking her will not thwart her public progress—indeed Taibbi argues that mockery will only provide sympathetic momentum from right-wing voters.

After all Sarah Palin’s survival in the political scene is due in no small part to her acting the victim with which the right-wing public identifies and to which they sympathetically respond. Although the estimation of Palin’s political viability and her personal popularity amongst Republican voters has fallen steadily and significantly, her demise isn’t the result of a left-wing campaign of mockery but is instead the natural consequence of overplaying victimhood, exposing her own inadequacies in her many media appearances without any assistance from left-wing critics and her persistent rallying of her troops for some grandiose action only to disappear at the critical moment of leadership to attend to some personal business instead.

NOTE: As of January 2011 Palin scored just 38% favorable to 53% unfavorable in a Gallup poll, and her popularity in her own state, which stood at 82% in September 2008 had fallen to 47% by January 2010— after which it appears that polling companies have either stopped measuring Palin’s home state popularity or no one can be bothered to report on it anymore.

Nonetheless much of the MSM has studiously ignored her two years of declining popularity to continually pitch her as a ‘serious’ presidential candidate (here’s an unabashed example of clueless and desperate Palin–boosting from CBS’ political correspondent Jan Crawford; “New Sarah Palin movie hints at presidential run”).

The current media narrative is that Bachmann is a “serious” contender for the GOP nomination, as for example  Mara Liasson of NPR writes and as the Washpo blog The Fix explains.

As Bachmann is a described as a “serious” GOP nomination contender it then follows that she is a serious contender for the White House too; here’s an excellent example of the reptilian-brained and ADD-addled mindset of a typical ‘Beltway-Boy’ Ed Kilgore of The New Republic in his convoluted yet facile ‘pre-game’ analysis of “Why She’s a Serious Contender for 2012”  in which Kilgore acknowledges “it’s hard to imagine someone as radical as her [Bachmann] actually winning the nomination “ yet still writes admiringly and at length about her qualifications, and ridiculously concludes”

Bachmann need look no further than Palin’s example to see that making a big splash in a national election can secure success more quickly than crawling up the career ladder in Washington. (NOTE: Palin’s big splash on the national stage was entirely due to a desperate decision by the McCain campaign, her success was secured by FOX News and an idiotic political infotainment industry, Palin’s “career ladder” has actually been a no-effort-involved private elevator and of course she never got to Washington except as a tourist). “And also like her doppelganger, Bachmann has never been shy about her ambitions—or the conviction that her career is being guided by none other than the Lord himself. Why wouldn’t she take a leap of faith?” (That’s it?! Bachmann is a serious contender because…why the hell not? What the fuck kind of analysis is that?!)

An actual reason why Bachmann might be considered a serious contender is that in  very recent CBS News poll of Republican voters Bachmann tied with CNN’s pre-selected GOP ‘debate’ winner Mitt Romney with regard to voter enthusiasm.

However, direct examination of the poll reveals a much bleaker picture than the above artful parsing suggests:

Question: Are You Satisfied With The Choices For Republican Candidate Or Do You Want More Choices?

Satisfied with the Choices: 23%

Want More Choice: 71%

Question: Which Candidate Do You Feel Enthusiastic About?

No one 67%

Mitt Romney 7%

Michele Bachmann 7%

Herman Cain 2%

 So Bachmann and Romney individually are presently as popular amongst Republican voters  as Fred Thompson was, or combined,  about as popular as America’s Adulterous Cross-dressing Mayor of Gay Armageddon-Town, Rudy Verbnoun911 was, in 2008. (Fred Thompson, you will recall, just wandered-off in a fog one day, whilst Rudy couldn’t even get his own kids to vote for him); in other words Bachmann’s and Romney’s present scores in the CBS poll are actually those of losers in comparison to previous GOP races at the same stage in the game which is particularly interesting, given their high media profiles.

Of this pair, Romney presumably has the greater recognition, having been a respectable competitor in the 2008 GOP Primaries and for having served as a Governor which is statistically a very reliable waypoint for a White House wannabe, but at the same time Romney’s record is well documented and many Republicans clearly don’t like what they have seen so far. Romney’s biggest problems are his Mormon faith which he can’t leverage, his tolerance of abortion which is a major liability, and his “socialist” ‘RomneyCare’ health system which has proven particularly difficult for him to lie about effectively.

Bachmann’s cupboard of record appears at first to be bereft of political skeletons though not because she’s never done anything ‘wrong’ but because in her six years as a Congresswoman she’s never done anything at all-–she hasn’t even co-sponsored a successful bill.

What she has done is waste her colleagues’ time with a couple of pointless proposals whilst benefiting from the “big-government” socialist welfare policies of farm subsidies and worker-training subsidies that she publicly criticizes. (NOTE: Arguably Bachmann’s best known legislative effort has been her March 2011 “Light Bulb Freedom of Choice Act” which forced the GAO to work unnecessarily on a report that of course destroyed her idiotic rationale).

With a dutiful but invisible back-bench voting record and absolutely no practical legislative record of her own, Bachmann’s words are the most obvious means by which the media can describe her and explain her to the larger public. The surprise ‘last-minute’ choice of Palin and the careful management of her public exposure, combined with the political bias of the corporate owned MSM largely prevented significant public examination of McCain’s VP candidate, but in Bachmann’s case there’s years of easily accessed material, most of it provided by Bachmann herself, and 12 months until the election for thorough discovery of who she is what she’s done and what she’s about.

However try as it might the MSM is struggling to discover anything she’s ever said that isn’t profoundly ignorant, stupid, a lie, paranoid and/or insane, such as:

Disney’s the Lion King could be used as ‘gay propaganda’: “A very effective way to do this with a bunch of second- graders, is take a picture of ‘The Lion King’ for instance, and a teacher might say, ‘Do you know that the music for this movie was written by a gay man?’ The message is: I’m better at what I do, because I’m gay.”

Eliminating the Minimum Wage would Solve Unemployment:Literally, if we took away the minimum wage — if conceivably it was gone — we could potentially virtually wipe out unemployment completely because we would be able to offer jobs at whatever level.

Intelligent Design is widely supported by Nobel prize-winning scientists: “There are hundreds and hundreds of scientists, many of them holding Nobel Prizes, who believe in intelligent design.

Baghdad in 2007 was just like America’s largest shopping mall: “[T]here’s a commonality with the Mall of America, in that it’s on that proportion. There’s marble everywhere. The other thing I remarked about was there is water everywhere.”

Carbon Dioxide is harmless because it’s natural and on-one has proven it to be anything but benign:Carbon dioxide is portrayed as harmful. But there isn’t even one study that can be produced that shows that carbon dioxide is a harmful gas.

Completing the Census Form is Unconstitutional, therefore the law requiring completion doesn’t apply: “I know for my family, the only question we will be answering is how many people are in our home. “We won’t be answering any information beyond that, because the Constitution doesn’t require any information beyond that.”

NOTE: Thanks to Think Progress for most of the above, and there’s tons more at Buzzfeed’s Ultimate Collection od Stupid Bachmann Quotes

The comparison between Bachmann and Palin is mostly apt and accurate; Bachmann, like Palin, is a self-serving serial liar and a hypocrite. She is ignorant and uncomprehending of the essential principles of American civics, government and law (Bachmann’s ‘law degree’ is a joke). She is utterly irrational, and her success, such as it is, is entirely dependent on the fortunate condition of representing a district with a voting majority as consistently deranged as she is—and yet despite all the above, already, she’s still being touted by many in the corporate MSM as a ‘serious’ player in national politics, who deserves serious attention.

The only arguments for Bachmann being taken seriously are that she is committed to the GOP nomination contest (unlike Palin, or Gingrich, or Trump) and that being an ignorant, stupid, paranoid delusional liar is clearly no liability for a certain degree of electoral success—after all, Bachmann has now spent three consecutive terms in Congress and the teabagger contingent of the Republican Party had a remarkably successful year in 2010.

The actual seriousness of Bachmann is she is being treated seriously when she’s actually unqualified, irresponsible utterly deranged and a danger to democracy, just as her teabagger compatriots who gained power at the national and state levels in 2010 are predictably proving to be.

But here’s another crazy thing about this seriously crazy woman and her serious candidacy that the majority of the political punditocracy is currently choosing to ignore, and that is that Bachmann is vying for the national leadership of a political party that traditionally and presently, largely fears and despises women—and not just in attitude but in action.

Bachmann’s own radical religious constituency likes what she says, but their brand of religion insists that women are subservient to men, that an independent powerful woman is an abomination. The only reason Bachmann is being tolerated at all by the Republican ranks is because she’s easy to look at (like Palin) and faithfully and passionately delivers the rhetorical read meat to the GOP masses (like Palin) and because the corporate MSM is treating her ‘seriously’.

Palin was picked for the VP slot as a publicity stunt and had McCain won, her VP role would have been exactly the same. —she’d have been Dan Quayle, only with sass and tits. Bachmann is being allowed to run just to motivate the troops and to keep the gormless press occupied and the more feeble-minded political left, distracted; but with up to a year of scrutiny and exposure ahead the corporate MSM simply won’t be able to fully maintain the pretense of her supposed viability.

That Bachmann has any credibility at all in Republican ranks is entirely due to her having become the foster-mother of the disturbed children of the Washington freshmen teabag caucus and their bully-buddies currently occupying a variety of governorships and state legislatures. Enabled by the desperate expedient adoption of Palin in 2008 the establishment GOP is now obliged to indulge the Teabagger tykes every tantrum for fear of losing their most activist base, only to risk losing their less nutty national constituency.

Look at that poll CBS poll again: The press is describing Bachmann and Romney as co-equal front-runners, but they are also equally disliked by 2/3rds to 3/4ths of Republican voters!!

The Republican’s familiarity with Romney since 2004 has unsurprisingly resulted in dispassionate contempt, but if Bachmann is supposed to be the rising star of the GOP, why are her figures equally as crappy? It’s surely not for a present lack of familiarity—the less voters really know about a candidate, especially one so adept with the dog-whistles and codes of Republican rhetoric, the more enthusiastic they are at first encounter, as Palin’s initial political trajectory so obviously demonstrated.

I’d argue that the broader Republican constituency (which includes the critical self-described “Independents” who regularly still vote Republican), as bad at history and self examination as they are, appear to have seen and heard it all before in the useless form of Sarah Palin, who is now quite clearly the disdainfully remembered ex-girlfriend of the generic Republican majority. Bachmann’s present pole-position (add your own stripper jokes if you like) is entirely a fantasy of the political MSM and has nothing to do with the realities of the national political present or a reasonably projected national political future (again, where the hell is Palin and what has she actually done since to 2008 except plummet in popularity and thus political potential?)

Furthermore look at the basis of Bachmann’s supposed political power across the nation—the implied caucus of Teabaggers at the state level that might provide her with the machinery and momentum she will need to make a serious impact on the national level:

Scott Walker, the Teabagger Governor of Wisconsin saw his overall approval rating drop from 52% to 43% by March 2011—two months after taking office, thanks to his union-busting efforts from which he has yet to back down

Teabagger Governor of Florida, Rick Scott, scored a 29% approval rating in a Quinnipiac poll in May 2011  after five months on the job.

Ohio Teabagging Governor John Kasich scored a 30% approval in March 2011 after releasing his budget which 56% of Ohioans described as “unfair”.

Governor Paul LePage, Maine’s main Teabagger has also observed his approval ratings succumbing to the gravitational forces of his own douche-baggery, dropping from 43% in March 2011 to 31% in May.

South Carolina’s Nikki Haley is one of the better-performing Teabag governors, but her approval ratings still dropped 11 points to 42% in June.

 Those who voted for Teabagger politicians at the state level and have now begun to experience their extreme policies are clearly regretting their reactionary choice, whilst in Washington, various establishment Republicans have expressed some resentment and frustration with their unruly neophyte Teabagger colleagues, presumably because the Teabaggers are just too damn obvious about their desire to apply a wrecking ball to the entire government structure whereas the old-boys want to gut some of the insides and rearrange a few interior walls (and clear out some basement space as a rental-unit for the Democrats) but are desperately keen to maintain the façade and decorative trim so they can use its value to keep acquiring home-equity loans, so to speak.

The teabagging proles who shouted in delusion at Obama,  “hands-off my Medicaid!”,  are shouting the exact same thing now, only at the Teabag politicians who really are bent on dismantling Medicaid that these teabagging idiots voted into power a few months ago! These are the morons that Michelle Bachmann expects to support her, and no doubt they will, but contrary to the impression that the corporate MSM and Tea Party Patriots/Express have been so busy promoting, the Teabaggers are NOT a majority of the national Republican constituency, they are just the noisiest.

Again, look at the poll and look at the popularity scores of teabagging governors. Look at the issues that have everyone riled-up–the national majority, regardless of party affiliation, wants to keep Medicare and Medicaid. The average Republican voter doesn’t want teachers and police and firefighters laid off. They don’t want their governors rejecting federal stimulus funds that would help improve the job situation; they want and need the goddamned jobs that stimulus money would fund and ‘socialism’ be-damned.

No one takes Bachmann’s predecessor Palin seriously any more (a considerable majority of Republicans rate her unfit for the White House) , and though it’s hard to overestimate the delusion and idiocy of many Republican voters it is clear that a sizeable number are regretting the Teabagger option they took in 2010, and a huge number aren’t the least bit enthusiastic about their non-Teabagger options for the 2012 presidential election either.

Given the present approval rating trends of Teabagger incumbents and the disinterest in the entire Republican presidential field which Romney and Bachmann presently lead with numbers that would have placed them barely above dead-last in 2008, Bachmann is simply not a viable national candidate by any extant measure and the corporate MSM is going to have a very hard time boosting her numbers because as lazy and self-serving as they are, they just can’t avoid revealing what a useless nutcase Bachmann really is for the simple fact that they will have to report all the insane things and lies she has said and will say—which is all there is by which she can be judged.

I’m trying to avoid wishful thinking here, hence the length and sourcing of this post. I don’t want to underestimate the fickleness, spitefulness, delusion and self destructive stupidity of Republican voters either—after all we had George Bush and the ‘Tea Party’ has gone from an incoherent rabble in a public park to an incoherent rabble holding actual seats of real power—at the moment.

It would also be unwise to discount the determination of the corporate MSM to influence the electorate in favor of Bachmann if she’s the one who attracts the eyeballs the most and generates the most web hits, and most ominously it should not be forgotten that the voting system itself is still being manipulated with various disfranchising voter ID and registration initiatives, and that easily manipulated electronic voting machines are still in service in many states.

But even with successful strategic voter suppression efforts, the Republicans still need the Christian conservative base as delivered in the past by the likes of Ralph Reed and they need to appeal to the more pragmatic right-leaning ‘Independents’ who in particular are well aware of their usually pivotal role in tight national races. The major issues of 2012 are clearly going to be about the preservation of those social services that the general population needs more desperately than ever, the housing market and above all JOBS. These are all being experienced as local issues.

The blinkered dogmatic Teabaggers now in power at the state level are on a dogmatic rampage from no deviation is can even be considered. At the national level in Washington the Teabagger faction driving the obstruction on raising the National Debt Ceiling, as of June a Washington Post-Abs news Poll found that 71% overall believed that not raising the limit would hurt the economy. 37% of the Republican respondents are adamantly opposed to raising the limit, but only 30% of Independents are in firm opposition. Of course there’s a swath of respondents from all voting blocs who want a debt limit raise and spending cuts BUT the majority don’t want cuts to Medicare.

Quite apart from the stupidity of this manufactured ‘issue’ of the debt limit, it is an issue that will disappear in the next month and over the next year all the local spending cuts that are already going into effect and the federal cuts that will soon likely go into effect will have a made a significant mark on the general population, so the protection of Medicare and JOBS are going to be the big election issues—for which neither the Teabaggers nor the Republicans have any compelling ‘solutions’ except to protect the tax breaks for corporations and the rich at a time when even more Americans will have been consigned to lower economic strata than is already the case.

Interestingly the WashPo Poll took the temperature of Tea Party support and added “Strong” and “Some Support” for the Tea Party faction to produce an overall Support figure of 46 to the Oppose sum of 44, presenting a near equal division that slightly favors the Tea Party ; however that slight edge is heavily dependent on “Some Support”, whilst the “Strong Oppose” figure is almost twice that of the “Strong Support”. What exactly elicits the support or opposition of the respondents is unresolved but what is clear is that “Support” for the Tea Party faction is much weaker than the sum suggests.

As it stands at the moment the enthusiasm about Bachmann’s chances (and by inference the Tea Party) appears to me to be far more like wishful thinking by the corporate MSM and the echo chamber that occupies the space between Bachmann’s ears due to Teabaggers attention-getting noise and bluster. Those Teabaggers that have scored electoral successes are now staring at re-election failure as they press on with their agendas without regard for the Some Support/Some Oppose/Strong Oppose Republican constituents, which does not bode well for the Teabaggers or the GOP in a nationwide election, and thus does not bode well for Bachmann.

But apart from the tea-leaf reading that all the above mentioned polling data permits, there is one other factor that will affect Bachmann’s chances that the punditocracy will not admit: she’s not a MAN, baby!

Republicans as whole obviously aren’t complete misogynists but the fundamentally religious Republicans are and judging from the crowds at Teabagging events and comments and articles on blogs and websites a significant proportion of Teabaggers are patriarchal ‘fundies’. For all their enthusiasm for Palin, she was being guided into the traditionally weak-authority VP position, whereas Bachmann is aiming for complete executive power.

Granted the Teabaggers and Fundies could certainly put aside their considerable sexism if it meant they’d have a dedicated bible-thumper running the nation, but the Teabaggers still aren’t the majority of Republican voters, even in the most Teabaggy of states and of course it is the state Electoral Colleges that vote directly for the President and the members of the RNC that calculates who the Republican candidate should be whether their preference is supported by the Primary voting or not and especially when the competition is close.

Referring again to the CBS poll, Bachmann is no more popular amongst Republicans at present than the lower tier of 2008’s also-rans and the Teabaggers’ potential influence is actually quite weak whilst the Teabaggers presently in power are alienating even those who voted for them.

Of course many Republicans will rally behind the eventual GOP candidate out of Party loyalty and political necessity, just as many Democrats will feel the need to support Obama despite their dissatisfaction with his performance, but if Bachmann does become the GOP choice, there’s also going to be those Republicans who simply won’t abide such a colossal idiot leading their Party and the nation and others who won’t abide a woman in the White House no matter how appealing her rhetoric may be.

A lot can happen between now and the GOP Primaries, and afterwards to the actual election but what can Bachmann do to build broader support when she has no policy accomplishments that she can point-to? To win over moderate Republicans and Independents she’s going to have to change her extremist inchoate rhetoric which may not fool enough of them, whilst risking disappointing or even angering her Teabagger base (they anger easily, in case you hadn’t noticed).

The McCain/Palin ticket of 2008 offered moderate Republicans, right leaning Independents and the nascent Teabaggers a share of the political pie and thus presented as united a front as could be put together against Obama. At present the most likely 2012 version, going by the numbers would appear to be a Romney/Bachmann, or Bachmann/Romney ticket, but their numbers even at this early stage are truly pathetic. Though one might point to Palin and Bachmann as examples of how rational calculation no longer applies to the Republican dynamic, Palin’s rise was sudden and short, her inadequacies spared the longer scrutiny that Bachmann will have to undergo.

Of course my current estimation that Bachmann won’t win the GOP nomination conveniently dovetails with my personal desire for such a result, but the factors that support my arguments aren’t derived from my own partisan prejudices but those of Republicans as represented in the above mentioned polls.

At present Bachmann is the most exciting Republican character the punditocracy can find, so that’s why they are taking her ‘seriously’. Matt Taibbi warns that Democrats should take Bachmann seriously because the media that shapes the national political dynamic is taking her seriously and Obama is showing no signs yet of taking Democratic voters seriously—he’s not even pandering to them (us), but thus far according to the polling data, most Republicans aren’t taking Bachmann particularly seriously either, and altogether there are plenty of factors to suggest quite strongly that Bachmann isn’t going to get significantly any more ‘serious’ than she is now—though between the shambles that the GOP is currently in and Obama’s present political cluelessness, it is not beyond the realm of possibility that apathy and anger on both sides could still deliver Bachmann to the White House, in which it will be “welcome to Arkham Asylum”. Seriously.

 

ADDENDUM: Unless the teabaggers, and evangelical Republicans know that Bachmann’s husband or some other male is going to instruct her in the duites of the Presdiency, they aren’t going to pick her as a nominee, obviously.

From Think Progress:

As the Washington Post’s profile of Bachmann’s husband today notes, Dr. Bachmann — not his wife — is the decision-maker of the household, and that “is an article of faith within the family.” An article that, in 2006, Rep. Bachmann preached to a congregation. Noting that she only pursued a law degree because her husband “told her to,” Bachmann told women in the audience “The Lord says: Be submissive, wives“:

“He is her godly husband,” said Peter Bachmann, Dr. Bachmann’s oldest brother, who lives on the family dairy farm across the eastern border in Wisconsin. “The husband is to be the head of the wife, according to God.” It is a philosophy that Michele Bachmann echoed to congregants of the the Living Word Christian Center in 2006, when she stated that she pursued her degree in tax law only because her husband had told her to. “The Lord says: Be submissive, wives. You are to be submissive to your husbands,” she said.