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Ms. Wright Goes to Washington

By Sheryl Wright

Despite their pledge during the 2010 mid-term election campaign to focus on jobs,Republicans have used their majority in the House to push abortion to the front of the Congressional agenda. On January 7, 2011, Congressman Mike Pence introduced H.R. 217(the Pence Amendment).

 

Bachmann Spiking the Tea

By Karima E. Rustin

One of the many things I look forward to on a Saturday morning  is reading The New York Times. And who do I see prominently figuring at the beginning of the column but Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann (R-MN)...damn, not Bachmann again!

 

The Politics of Union Envy 

By Sheryl Wright

Neither of my parents went to college, but both were union members—my father in the private sector and my mother in the public. In addition to their salaries, which allowed them to provide a comfortable life for our family, the benefits won by their respective unions

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Roundtable: Delegitimizing Obama–The Intersection of Gender, Power & Politics  

Sheryl: Almost 800 days in office and it seems every day is seen as an opportunity for renewed criticism of the President. The latest kerfuffle is around the claim that President Obama’s decision to involve the U.S. in the action in Libya

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Entries in Tea Party (1)

Saturday
Apr162011

Bachmann Spiking the Tea

By Karima E. Rustin

One of the many things I look forward to on a Saturday morning is reading The New York Times. I like to browse through the Real Estate section and look at the featured residences slide-shows. Then I move over to the Style section to chuckle at the Vows feature story. I finally settle in to enjoy Gail Collins’s twice weekly op-ed column. Collins is so smart and witty; I love how she exposes the follies of the old boys’ club. A recent column, “Let There Be Light Bulbs,” examined the political theater on display when Congress debated whether government should regulate light bulb efficiency. And who do I see prominently figuring at the beginning of the column but Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann (R-MN)...damn, not Bachmann again! It’s too early, and I haven’t finished my first cup of coffee yet.

I’m sure you have heard of Michelle Bachmann; it has been Bachmann Theater ever since she was elected to Congress in 2006 and then founded the Tea Party Caucus in the summer of 2010. She was on Hardball with Chris Matthews back in 2008 to express her concern that Barack Obama might have anti-American views. She certainly has a way of fueling the fires of socialist hysteria with her campaign to repeal ObamaCare, blatantly accusing President Obama of running a “gangster government.” I don’t know about you, but I was oddly frightened during her rebuttal to President Obama’s 2011 State of the Union address; what was she staring at? Had she caught a glimpse into the psychedelic ether of Victoria Jackson?

People might think she is as zany as, if  not  more than, her Arctic sister, former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin. They are both brunettes, have each raised five children, and are devoutly religious with strongly conservative views on abortion and same-sex marriages. But no one should dismiss Bachmann as many political pundits have done with Palin. I too believe that Palin is more in love with the pageantry of being a political commentator and performing at speaking engagements across the country for her base, the Tea Party movement, than seriously running for the presidency. And if by chance Palin would ever be elected, those turn of events would seriously put a cramp into her personal bank account.

Bachmann on the other hand is quite cunning. She has been testing the waters for a place on the GOP ballot. Unlike Palin, who bowed out of her governorship in Alaska, Bachmann has served three terms in Congress; her political capital is so strong that even after an unsuccessful bid for the House Republican Conference Chair, she was selected by Speaker John Boehner for a position on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. This committee oversees the CIA, the National Security Agency, Department of Defense and the U.S. military. To me, this shows Bachmann’s real political pull, in contrast to Palin, who might be the poster girl for the Tea Party movement but, nevertheless, doesn’t have the reputation or the relationships in Washington D.C. to tilt the scales.

This Tea Party movement has really baffled me. Apparently after the government bailed out Wall Street with TARP money, like-minded conservatives (let’s throw in some libertarians to spice it up) banded together to protest against increased taxation, to call for a reduction in government spending, and to demand that we finally get around to doing something about the national debt. Tea Party members will tell you they are grassroots political activists inspired by the acts of colonists over 230 years ago to do away with British imperialism and to make sure that in no way shape or form will that kind of crap happen on American soil again.

Listen, I understand how thousands of frustrated, angry Americans who are unemployed, saddled with credit card debt and mounting medical bills, and underwater on their homes, can identify with this movement. But I also suspect hiding amongst them is a more Machiavellian subgroup of elitists who quite frankly are not comfortable having a brown-skinned president with an African name who is the product of progressive idealism. 

Some voters who supported John McCain in the 2008 election belong to an affluent sector of society who want to maintain the status quo of the Bush administration by keeping the Bush tax cuts and continuing the deregulation of financial institutions. These voters reaped the rewards of the largest tax cuts in U.S history. Their disregard for the effect those tax cuts would have on the national debt has resulted in a debt that has increased by 100 percent in 2007, causing the U.S. to experience the longest recession since WWII.

So I think we need to ask Michelle Bachmann about which “average American” she truly represents? Is it the embittered libertarian or the frightened blue-collar worker? Or those in the one percent who have been enriched by Bush economic policy? I believe every single American desperately wants a more fiscally sound government; no one wants to pay unreasonably high taxes. And who really wants a country that is bankrupt? I sure don’t.

I do want us to take a deep breath, have the courage to look into the mirror, and embrace our situation. I am willing to meet you halfway in finding some real tangible solutions to our fiscal predicament. Cutting federal funding from Planned Parenthood is not going to balance the budget. Stripping a union’s collective bargaining rights is not going to make a dent either. Proposing to abolish Medicare is not the way to go.

Aside from establishing a domestic policy, a president must lead in foreign policy; she must also possess a temperament  willing to engage with the many multicultural nations who are a part of this global community we all inhabit. If Michelle Bachmann is the face for the conservative collective, should she be the face for our country? Only time will tell; but frankly, I have no desire to drink any of her tea.