16 thoughts on “Tom Petty says Bachmann, stop abusing my song

  1. TRUTHOUT’S BUZZFLASH DAILY HEADLINES

    “The tax collector cometh” could have been the headline for Michele Bachmann’s presidential campaign launch in Waterloo, Iowa – her hometown – awhile back, but it wasn’t.

    Although Bachmann refers to her “experience as a tax attorney” in her official House of Representatives biography, she doesn’t mention that her primary employer as a tax attorney was the Internal Revenue Service – public enemy number one of the Tea Party, after President Obama.

    In a Wall Street Journal article entitled “Bachmann’s Tax Attorney Job Was Collector for the IRS,” it states bluntly:

    Republican presidential hopeful Michele Bachmann touts one job as her primary professional experience before entering politics. On the campaign trail, she describes it as being a “federal tax litigation attorney.” Others might call it tax collector.

    Ms. Bachmann spent four years with the Internal Revenue Service district counsel office in St. Paul, Minn., from 1988 to 1992.

    But such revelations have done little to dampen the enthusiasm of anti-tax crusaders for Bachmann.

    That’s because progressives sometimes forget that politicians today market a brand, and television is their primary vehicle for promoting their brand. And visuals are perhaps more important – as Reagan’s communications team proved – than what facts come out of the “liberal press.” (Although it is hard to imagine the Rupert Murdoch-owned Wall Street Journal being part of such a “leftist conspiracy.”)

    “This is where my Iowa roots were firmly planted, and it is these Iowa roots and my faith in God that guide me today,” Bachmann said as she began her announcement.

    And what the Bachmann supporters saw during her official presidential launch in Waterloo, Iowa, was a staged Disneyesque snapshot of small town America, where the Christians are Christians, the US can do no wrong (except for the government) and Bachmann looks like the great white hope.

    While progressives sneered and hooted at Bachmann’s gaffe of confusing John Wayne with the serial killer John Wayne Gacy during her Waterloo kick-off, her backers were reassured by the comforting television images of a confident woman amid the bunting and Victorian homes of the mythical American past of “five decades ago.”

    Bachmann may espouse a vision that the best future for America is a return to its imagined past, but that appeals to the vulnerability of many white Americans who have grown increasing restive at a time of growing demographic diversity and economic uncertainty.

    Mark Karlin
    Editor, BuzzFlash at Truthout

  2. BUZZFLASH DAILY HEADLINES

    Is the Tea Party just another name for an anarchy party?

    Granted, given that the Tea Party was financially turbo-charged by the Koch Brothers (Americans for Prosperity) and Dick Armey’s FreedomWorks, it’s a challenge to define members of the loose-knit group. It’s clear, for instance, that a significant segment of the party consists of individuals who are venting their racist gripes with President Obama.

    But if you look at the corporate media conventional wisdom perception of how the Tea Party impact plays out on Capitol Hill, it is an uber anti-government force that believes taxes of any kind are akin to theft.

    This is not just an eccentric BuzzFlash at Truthout theory; there is indeed a school of libertarian economic theory known as anarcho-capitalism. In fact, the son of Milton Friedman – the guru of the Reagan-era school of economics, which now seems liberal compared to the Cantor/Bachmann/Tea Party theories – is one of its foremost adherents. David Friedman believes in the primacy of the individual and property, without the interference of any governmental entity, including laws.

    As excerpted from “Demanding the Impossible: A History of Anarchism,” by Peter Marshall, the extremity of what is being played out by the GOP Tea Party wing is a bit chilling:

    Anarcho-capitalism has recently had a considerable vogue in the West where it has helped put the role of the state back on the political agenda. It has become a major ideological challenge to the dominant liberalism which sees a role for government in the protection of property. The anarcho-capitalists would like to dismantle government and allow complete laissez-faire in the economy. Its adherents propose that all public services be turned over to private entrepreneurs, even public spaces like town halls, streets and parks. Free market capitalism, they insist, is hindered not enhanced by the State….

    Anarcho-capitalists, according to “A History of Anarchism,” “maintain that even the minimal state is unnecessary since the defense of person and property can be carried out by private protection agencies.”

    The major area that anarcho-capitalists (and Ayn Rand adherents) would have a falling out with most Tea Party adherents is over social issues, in which anarcho-capitalists have no interest. For example, without a government of laws, it would be hard to legislate against gays, immigrants etc. In short, the government dreaded by the Tea Party could not be used by them to establish authoritarian, moralistic control over people.

    But when it comes to economic theory, Eric Cantor, for example, certainly sounds a lot like an anarcho-capitalist.

    Mark Karlin
    Editor, BuzzFlash at Truthout

  3. BUZZFLASH DAILY HEADLINES

    BuzzFlash read this headline and thought that it was refreshing that God was becoming more selective in his/her choice of Republican candidates for president: “God Urges Rick Perry Not To Run For President.”

    Except that it was from the satirical web site, The Onion.

    Thus far, among the GOP primary candidates for the White House, we have been led to believe that God has indicated to just about all of them that they should run.

    This rather promiscuous urging of several Republican candidates to run – based on their claims that God is backing them – leads one to believe that the GOP aspirants are either lying or God likes a good political donnybrook.

    Back in the ’60s, Bob Dylan understood the hypocritical power to do evil simply by claiming that God is on your side:

    In a many dark hour
    I’ve been thinkin’ about this
    That Jesus Christ
    Was betrayed by a kiss
    But I can’t think for you
    You’ll have to decide
    Whether Judas Iscariot
    Had God on his side.

    After invoking all the wars America has engaged in with “God on its side,” Dylan wonders whether the great betrayer of Christ also had “God on his side.”

    That’s something to think about when evaluating candidates who claim that they have been divinely chosen to run.

    Mark Karlin
    Editor, BuzzFlash at Truthout

  4. BUZZFLASH DAILY HEADLINES

    Why did the right wing react with such ferocity to the Newsweek cover that featured a photographic portrait of Michelle Bachmann with “crazy eyes”?

    The Republicans have packaged candidates for TV for decades and know the importance that appearance has over substance. Progressives tend to laugh at Bachmann’s outrageous inaccuracies (watch this video compilation for examples).

    However, in the television age, how a candidate appears on TV in terms of confidence, presence and reassuring personal image is of extreme importance, whatever their factual errors and even ignorance. No television image packaging represented this more than the Reagan campaign and presidencies. Like Bachmann, off script Reagan was often laughably factually inaccurate.

    Bachmann, in general, has a positive television presence, even when she is spouting whoppers such as stating that the Revolutionary War began in New Hampshire or mistaking John Wayne Gacy for John Wayne. To the reptilian lizard mind, she is generally emotionally appealing and upbeat in her packaged TV appearances. In fact, she has a much stronger TV presence than Sarah Palin, who makes even some of her followers a little bit nervous with her edgy twang and often fumbling interviews.

    So, it’s worthy of note that a recent MIT study reaffirmed the importance of appearance and personal chemistry on television:

    Frequent TV viewers who don’t get any kinds of other political news are the voters most likely to be influenced by a candidate’s physical appearance, a new Massachusetts Institute of Technology study shows.

    “Voters who watch a lot of television but don’t really know much about the candidates besides how they look are particularly susceptible,” Chappell Lawson, coauthor of the study, told MIT News.

    In fact, among uninformed viewers, the study estimates that “there was a 5 percent increase in support for that [high television chemistry] candidate from uninformed voters who said they watch a lot of television.” That’s a significant advantage in any election.

    That is why the radical supporters of Bachmann were upset that the Newsweek cover, which she posed for, took a chip out of her visual brand image. The MIT study “suggests that the effect of television remains present but diminishes as voter-information levels rise.”

    In short, ignorance is bliss for a Republican candidate when it comes to modern-day television campaigns. And Michele Bachmann is counting on a lot of that know-nothingness in Republican primary voters.

    Mark Karlin
    Editor, BuzzFlash at Truthout

  5. TRUTHOUT’S BUZZFLASH DAILY HEADLINES

    How radical and cultish are the declared Republican candidates for president?

    The answer is clear from a question that came 48 minutes into the FOX sponsored Iowa “debate” on Thursday.

    According to a TIME magazine blog of the event, the moderator, FOX’s Bret Baier, asked “everyone to raise their hand if they would oppose a debt deal that offered $10 in spending cuts for every $1 in tax increases. Everyone raises their hand, though Pawlenty’s hand bobs up and down a bit.”

    In one infamous moment of ignorant and cowardly group-think the radical and destructive financially anarchistic outlook of the GOP was revealed.

    “No new taxes (or really no taxes)” has been the lynch mob call to arms (and votes) for national Republican candidates for years, but it has reached a feverish and pernicious pitch.

    Think about it, all the GOP candidates for the presidency (and Rick Perry and Sarah Palin would have held their hands up too, you can be sure), would turn down, let’s say, a trillion in cuts in federal spending if they had to also vote for just 1/10th of that amount in tax increases on millionaires and billionaires.

    The rational responses to this craven tomfoolery are too numerous to detail in a short commentary. Suffice it to say, the anti-tax mantra has become a political/religious symbol that defies logic or common sense. In a time when the nation is beset by enormous financial problems, it is a placebo pill that removes the challenge of finding multi-faceted and inventive solutions to an immensely complex problem.

    By raising their hands in unison in opposition to a modest increase in taxes on the most wealthy, big oil, and hedge funds (because that is whom a $1 in tax increases for $10 in revenue would likely affect), the GOP candidates affirmed themselves as snake oil salesmen. And snake oil doesn’t cure anything; it only enriches the person selling it (or in this case, might help them attain the power to run America).

    As the TIME blog noted at 121 minutes into the exchange in Iowa, “Baier mercifully ends it all.”

    But unfortunately, it was only the debate that concluded. The long delusional nightmare for America continues.

    Mark Karlin
    Editor, BuzzFlash at Truthout

  6. TRUTHOUT’S BUZZFLASH DAILY HEADLINES

    How did Jesus go from being a socialist in the New Testament to a selfish Ayn Rand anarcho-capitalist in modern-day America? After all, one of the most well-known bible verses is from Mark 10:25: “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”

    Sociologist Gregory Paul stated the paradox clearly in an August 12 Washington Post op-ed:

    Many conservative Christians, mostly Protestant but also a number of Catholics, have come to believe and proudly proclaim that the creator of the universe favors free wheeling, deregulated, union busting, minimal taxes especially for wealthy investors, plutocrat-boosting capitalism as the ideal earthly scheme for his human creations. And many of these Christian capitalists are ardent followers of Ayn Rand, who was one of – and many of whose followers are – the most hard-line anti-Christian atheists you can get. Meanwhile many Christians who support the capitalist policies associated with social Darwinistic strenuously denounce Darwin’s evolutionary science because it supposedly leads to, well, social Darwinism!

    But Paul points out that the New Testament primarily promotes what would nowadays be called socialism:

    But to understand just how non-capitalistic Christianity is supposed to be we turn to the first chapter after the gospels, Acts, which describes the events of the early church. Chapters 2 and 4 state that all “the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need … No one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they shared everything they had…. There were no needy persons among them. From time to time those who owned lands or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone as he had need.”

    Now folks, that’s outright socialism of the type described millennia later by Marx – who likely got the general idea from the gospels.

    Paul further notes that “we have Christian creationists like Jay Richards writing books titled ‘Money, Greed, and God: Why Capitalism Is the Solution and Not the Problem.’ Can a stranger amalgam of opposing opinions be devised?”

    In essence, the modern prosperity theologians who dominate the right wing of the Republican Party are essentially heretics. They’ve grafted on a post-industrial-age emphasis on the acquisition of capital and material goods to the alleged son of God, Jesus, who was himself essentially the father of socialism (as recounted in the bible).

    At the next Republican debate, we would like to see a test of faith. All the candidates should be required to thread a camel through the eye of a needle.

    If they can’t do it, they have to shut up about Jesus, Christianity and the bible.

    Now that would be refreshing.

    Mark Karlin
    Editor, BuzzFlash at Truthout

  7. BUZZFLASH DAILY HEADLINES

    The creationist crowd does have some proof that Darwin wasn’t right about every individual in a species. They are living proof: after all, they haven’t evolved.

    The other day, a very young boy in New Hampshire got the better of Rick Perry with a question about evolution: Perry responded, “That’s a theory that is out there – and it’s got some gaps in it.”

    Perry then went on to assert to the boy: “In Texas, we teach both creationism and evolution. I figure you’re smart enough to figure out which one is right.”

    Except the US Supreme Court has ruled that it is a violation of the Constitution to teach creationism in schools.

    Let’s take another example that disproves evolution in the likes of Governor Perry. Texas has the third-highest teen pregnancy rate in the nation. When queried by an interviewer about why the governor supports taxpayer funding of abstinence education in the Lone Star State when it doesn’t work, Perry adamantly defended the program. This is not only a Victorian outlook, it contradicts the right-wing notion that every government program should be judged by its effectiveness.

    And then there’s Michele Bachmann, who just this week stated that Americans are concerned about the “rise of the Soviet Union.” Maybe she was confused because it is the 50th anniversary of the Berlin Wall being erected. As with most embodiments of creationism, Bachmann’s frame of reference moves backward in time, not forward.

    BuzzFlash at Truthout noted earlier this year, “a fundamentalist Christian may feel reassured that – at the Creation Museum in Kentucky – a dinosaur wears a saddle to show that all life began simultaneously with a divine spark.”

    Maybe the Creation Museum should replace the dinosaur with a wax replica of Rick Perry and put a saddle on his back.

    Evolution, on its path to the future, just passes some people by.

    Mark Karlin
    Editor, BuzzFlash at Truthout

  8. TRUTHOUT’S BUZZFLASH DAILY HEADLINES

    Rick Perry believes that he has earned respect for being a man so brazen that he didn’t even blink when confronted with the apparent fact that he executed an innocent man. Indeed, he grew even more defiant as exculpatory evidence grew.

    And, then, Perry made sure that the details of his eagerness to kill the “convicted” – but apparently innocent – man, were covered up by dissolving an investigation into the state killing of Cameron Todd Willingham.

    Only a man with “guts,” who carries a laser-sighted handgun with deadly, hollow-point bullets – even when he jogs with his security detail – could take pride in dismissing the Texas State murder of a man who wasn’t likely guilty. As one person in a focus group on Perry, commissioned by a GOP gubernatorial primary opponent, crowed with admiration: “It takes balls to execute an innocent man.”

    A New Yorker article revealed that the investigating commission, before Perry dissolved it, found that the primary evidence against Willingham, “seemed to deny ‘rational reasoning’ and was more ‘characteristic of mystics or psychics.’”

    Justin Elliott of Salon believes that Perry’s unapologetic execution of Willingham may have actually helped Perry beat Kay Bailey Hutchison when she challenged him in 2010:

    Perry went on to cruise to a 20-point victory in the primary and an easy win in the general election.

    [It] leaves one wondering, did the controversy actually help him in the GOP primary? If Perry jumps into the presidential contest, don’t expect his primary rivals to bring up this old case …

    Some wags have joked that Perry is George W. Bush without a brain. Perhaps, Perry’s pride in signing the death warrant for Willingham shows that he is also George W. Bush – who set a record for assembly-line executions in Texas – without a heart.

    That’s kind of like being Genghis Khan without the compassion.

    Mark Karlin
    Editor, BuzzFlash at Truthout

  9. TRUTHOUT’S BUZZFLASH DAILY HEADLINES

    Unless there are a lot of miraculous, virgin births in Texas, Rick Perry’s taxpayer-funded emphasis on abstinence education is a bust.

    According to an Associated Press (AP) article, “Teen pregnancy rates declined in the US, while more teens in Texas are getting pregnant…. Texas is in the top ten states for having the most pregnant teens, rising seven percent to more than 44,000.”

    In a recent previous commentary on BuzzFlash at Truthout, we wrote that “Perry adamantly defended the [abstinence education] program. This is not only a Victorian outlook, it contradicts the right-wing notion that every government program should be judged by its effectiveness.”

    The AP report quoted the manager of the West Texas Planned Parenthood Clinic about the pregnant teens who she sees:

    “They’re not educated in the pregnancy itself and in the options that they have about birth control or they don’t know anything about STDs,” [the manager] said. “They’re just uneducated about it. The school district is abstinence only.”

    Enforced ignorance doesn’t reduce teen pregnancy; it just makes it more likely. Moreover, abstinence-only education is a cruelty visited upon young women who don’t want to become mothers so early in their lives.

    Rick Perry’s harmful political stakeout to attract religious right voters is an abuse of teenagers. There’s nothing miraculous about the teenage pregnancy rate in Texas. It’s born of selfish ambition, pure and simple.

    Mark Karlin
    Editor, BuzzFlash at Truthout

  10. BUZZFLASH DAILY HEADLINES

    If you want to make crime a growth industry to create more jobs, just privatize prisons.

    It’s happening across the nation. Heck, crime has been an institutional engine for a huge work force even in the public sector. Think of the hundreds of thousands of lawyers, judges, clerks, prison guards, police, parole officers, social workers etc. depending upon keeping people incarcerated.

    And then there’s the construction industry that is hot footin’ it to build new maximum security facilities. And the small towns now depleted of jobs that compete to “host” prisons to bring jobs to the community.

    But the real institutionalization of crime as a job creator is emerging full force with the privatization of jails. A corporation can’t make a profit – let alone the issue of their accountability for how they treat prisoners – unless they have sufficient volume.

    In short, a privatized criminal incarceration system de facto creates the need for an ongoing source of criminals to meet the need for generating a profit based on economies of scale.

    It’s no surprise that Rick Perry, then, has jumped on the prison privatization bandwagon, as detailed in a Mother Jones article, “Flush With Prison Industry Dollars, Rick Perry Pushed Privatized Prisoner Care.”

    Of course, a lot of crime is based on multi-generational poverty, a condition which is exacerbated by our current severe economic downturn. That is why the United States has the highest incarceration rate in the world.

    It would be interesting to see what would result if we offered more jobs in the highest crime rate areas. But that’s not bound to happen now or anytime soon.

    There’s a lot of money to be made in crime by the many professions that depend upon the revolving door of “offenders” continuing at a nice pace, and much of that profit is increasingly being made by the growing for-profit prison industry.

    Mark Karlin
    Editor, BuzzFlash at Truthout

  11. BUZZFLASH DAILY HEADLINES

    On the same day that a ghoulish “gladiator” forum crowd at the Reagan Library cheered the announcement that Texas Gov. Rick Perry had executed 234 people, a man appointed by Perry to chair the Texas Forensic Science Commission, Sam Bassett, accused the governor of covering up the state killing of a likely innocent man.

    The executed prisoner, Cameron Todd Willingham was convicted and sentenced on what was likely faulty forensic evidence. Bassett was fired as chairman of the commission, as previously reported in BuzzFlash at Truthout, just before the Forensic Science Commission was about to formally issue a scathing report about the highly flawed “arson” investigation that led to Willingham’s conviction.

    Will Bunch of The Philadelphia Daily News commented about the rousing approval of putting people to death – innocent or not – at the GOP debate: “What you heard echoing in the Reagan Library last night was not reason. It was bloodlust, pure and simple, and it was repulsive.”

    “It was utterly sickening to watch,” Bunch reflects. “When Perry – who recently vetoed a bill that would halt the execution of the mentally ill – told the audience that anyone convicted of murder in the Lone Star State faces ‘the ultimate justice,’ the applause grew even louder.”

    As for Perry, he was asked by Brian Williams, the moderator of the NBC/Politico sponsored September 7 debate, “Have you struggled to sleep at night with the idea that any one of those might have been innocent?”

    Perry adamantly responded, “no, sir. I’ve never struggled with that at all.”

    Basset calls the Willingham execution and cover-up of the botched evidence indicative of Perry’s character and decision making.

    But as BuzzFlash at Truthout pointed out in its previous commentary on the Willingham execution, Perry and his advisers may know exactly what they were doing. In a focus group run by a 2010 Republican primary opponent of Perry, a Texan voter spoke admiringly of Perry going ahead and executing Willingham, saying: “It takes balls to execute an innocent man.”

    Given the response of the GOP faithful at the Reagan Library to Perry having surpassed George W. Bush’s record-setting rate of executions when he was Texas governor, it’s clear that Perry is going to get the cojones vote, because no “liberal wimp” is going to murder someone who is probably not guilty.

    Mark Karlin
    Editor, BuzzFlash at Truthout

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