Friday, March 29, 2013

Roundup: Stupid Sweeps the Nation!

It's Roundup, and today we're chronicling the stupid that's sweeping the nation. Our first story comes to us courtesy of the latest crowd trend that's sweeping the nation.  Yes, in the aftermath of such storied group trends as owling, planking, Tebowing, and Batmanning, we have gallon smashing.  Omaha, Nebraska, home to Warren Buffet, is also home to the likes of 21-year-old Christian A. Cain, who was cited at the Hy-Vee for misdemeanor criminal mischief, because he and his friends decided to smash two gallons of milk and record the incident on a cell phone.  

After Cain smashed the two gallons of milk, he slipped and slid in the milk while his friends recorded, because at 5 p.m. in the afternoon, there is apparently no alcohol in Omaha for 21-year-olds to drink.  Therefore, they must traipse down to the Hy-Vee and smash gallons of milk instead of getting smashed at home or a bar.  When Cain was confronted by the police officer responding to the call placed by Hy-Vee's employees, he told the officer the simple truth: "Obviously, I did do it on purpose."  Like, duh, man.  

There is no honor among gallon smashers, because Cain's friends fled the store and left him behind to face the citation and the six months in jail that go along with misdemeanor criminal mischief. All told, Cain managed to destroy two gallons of milk, 27 boxes of cereal, 65 boxes of Pop-Tarts, and one box of food coloring.  His virgin rectum has yet to be destroyed, but the good residents of the county lockup will most assuredly take care of that with their own tradition: reaming.  

A Virginia video of this phenomenon has managed to generate 3 million hits on Youtube, because American children are dumber than hell, and American adults don't hit their children hard or often enough.  

Speaking of individuals who weren't spanked hard enough as children, we have Richard Handler, CEO of the Jeffries Group, who made $45 million last year and owns a penthouse in Tribeca.  Mr. Handler, 51, is suing his neighbors across the street because he alleges that their elevator shaft will interfere with his 360 degree panoramic views.  As his lawsuit puts it, the elevator shaft's obstruction of his panoramic views of the Manhattan skyline will cause him "real and irreparable harm," and his penthouse pied-à- terre will just not be the same. First world one percent problems, people.  They're real, and they're terrifying.  Mr. Handler, who lives in South Salem, where he owns a lakefront mansion, is determined to keep the panoramic views of his penthouse preserved from the obstruction of a building whose roof is 30 feet below his view.  

In news that proves karma is a 500 lb fat man sitting in your lap and screaming at you, we have the story of Billy the Fridge, a 500 lb fat man who burst into an interview with David Phelps, son of Westboro Baptist Church preacher and disbarred lawyer Fred Phelps.  Billy proceeded to sit on David Phelps, naked, and screamed one question repeatedly: "Who's your daddy now, David?" He opened with a roaring statement: "Leviathan will get you!"  

Somehow, Phelps managed to get out from under Billy the Fridge, and somehow, Billy the Fridge managed to haul his 500 lb body down the street in pursuit of Phelps while continuing to scream the earlier question about who David's paterfamilias was.  Here's the video: 

All of this was due to the plan of Battlecam to host a live crucifixion of a man in Beverly Hills, an event which provoked the ire of David Phelps and the Westboro Baptist Church for its sacrilegious overtones. 

While Billy the Fridge may be 500 lbs, he still demonstrates admirable mobility for a man his size. Our next story, however, deals with obesity of a different stripe, the lazy, immobile, and mooching off of Medicare and Medicaid kind.  Government inspectors are claiming that up 80% of the scooters Medicare pays for go to people who are ineligible for the scooters.  Their obesity is only exacerbated by the fact that the scooter enables their lifestyle to become even more sedentary.  And so it is that the core health issue that leads to their other health issues like diabetes, hypertension, and heart disease is compounded by the scooter that enables obese people on Medicare to get around without physical exertion.  

The government is cracking down on the Scooter Store and other vendors, because Medicare is only supposed to pay for scooters when seniors are unable to use a cane, walker, or regular wheelchair.  For years, however, the Scooter Store, which along with competitor Hoveround makes up 70% of the U.S. scooter market, has been advertising scooters with the selling point that nine out of ten people don't pay a dime.  The U.S. Department of Justice previously sued the Scooter Store and settled for $4 million back in 2007, but one of the terms of that settlement required the Scooter Store to be periodically audited.  As a result, government auditors found that the Scooter Store received up to $88 million in improper payments last year.  

Initially, the Scooter Store didn't repay any of that money until the inspector general of the Department of Health and Human Services threatened to ban the company from doing business with Medicare.  The Department of Justice was hardcore: the Scooter Store informed the government that it was willing to repay just $19.5 million, and the Medicare caved, saying that it accepted the fee based on the Scooter Store's own estimate of what it owed.  

Ladies, gentlemen: fat people on scooters getting fatter, and fat government payouts for fat people coupled with fat penalties for overpayment that manage to get skinnier over time. Your government in action, and stupid again sweeps the nation.  

In news that only further exemplifies why Wal-Mart is idiotic and evil, the company has announced a plan to crowd-source delivery of its online orders.  Customers who are picking up in-store would rent out space in their cars and deliver the packages for online customers to their homes, because this model is likely to really undercut Amazon.  Wal-Mart's history of crowd-sourcing has been successful thus far, as its ability to finance construction of its supercenters with property and sales tax exemptions would indicate. There's also the delivery of healthcare to its underpaid employees who can't afford the company-provided health coverage, because their healthcare is crowd-sourced to U.S. taxpayers via Medicaid. So too are government subsidized housing and government supplemented food benefits crowdsourced, because Wal-Mart is really a fan of crowd-sourcing.  

Crowd-sourcing the Wal-Mart way, people, or, as the rest of us like to call it, passing the buck to others.  It's the Wal-Mart way, and the capitalist free market at work!  You know, the Visible Hand of the Market, doling out subsidies, exemptions, abatements, and healthcare and food benefits to your serfs, er, laborers.  It's the stupid, and again, it's sweeping the nation via the latest crowd-sourcing idea from Wal-Mart.  

Our final story of the stupid sweeping our nation comes to us via Hypoluxo, Florida, where U.S. Marine Corps veteran Gregory Schaffer returned after serving in Iraq to find that he couldn't fly his flag in the front yard of his rented home.  A neighbor complained to the city, and he was cited for a code violation.  The flag pole requires a building permit because it qualifies as a structure, and since Schaffer is renting the home, he can't apply for the permit directly.  He has to go through a third party building contractor, which would cost him over $1,000.  As the story puts it: 

Whatever happens, Schaffer said he has no animosity toward the anonymous neighbor who complained.
 The veteran said he knows complaining and petitioning are freedoms he fought for while serving in the armed forces. 
"I respect their right to be able to file a complaint and handle things the way they did. Do I respect what they did? No. I respect their ability to do so," said Schaffer.

Well, isn't that just wonderful. The Scooter Store gets to lower its overcharges from $88 million to $19.5 million, and Marine Gregory Schaffer gets hosed with a thousand dollar application fee to fly his American flag in Hypoluxo, Florida.  Maybe the Marine should get the soft treatment, and the fraudster company should get hosed.  But in the stupid that's sweeping our nation, the opposite is true.

I'm Jay Batman, and this was Roundup for the Friday, March 29, 2013.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

President Obama and Veterans

Daily Show host Jon Stewart lambasted the Obama Administration's mishandling of veteran's benefits, noting that while the Veteran's Administration has a backlog of 900,000 veterans waiting an average of 273 days for their disability claims to be processed.  As Stewart notes, McDonald's handles ten times that many customers in a hour.

Since President Obama took office, there has been a more than 2000% increase in veterans waiting more than a year for their benefits, from 11,000 to more than 245,000.  This is the same President who canceled tuition assistance for military veterans as part of the sequester while keeping aid to Pakistan going as planned, and giving the Palestinians $500 million in aid, and he also approved $250 million in aid for Egypt, which is ruled by the extremist Muslim Brotherhood, an organization that has produced more terrorists per capita than any other organization on the planet.

The problem lies with the approach, as Stewart explains, because the Defense Department and the Veterans Administration use different systems to accomplish the same end.  As a result, the VA's backlog is in paper, and cannot be processed quickly and efficiently. Stewart excoriated the resulting inefficiency:

"And if we're smart, and technologically savvy enough to create flying unmanned robots with 1.8 gigapixel cameras that can spot enemy acne from ten miles away, and national security data mining programs that can store ten times as much data as is contained in the entire Internet, we should be able to cook up a network spreadsheet program that knows which leg a returning soldier has lost without him having to fill out ten forms and come in for a person-to-person visual leg surveyance."  

The entire episode highlights a fundamental problem of Obama's presidency: he's an abject failure at achieving meaningful progress on any number of fronts.  While he fights to disarm American citizens of their assault weapons, his subordinates move to walk those same weapons across the Mexican border an into the stream of illegal commerce.  200 Mexican civilians died as a result.

That's not all, because this same president is also arming Syrian rebels who are aligned with al-Qaeda, even providing them with anti-aircraft missiles.  This pattern has been followed before; in Libya, al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIB) looted arms and ammunition provided to rebels there and moved into Mali, where they overthrew the government and began using the country as a base for operations.

An honest assessment of the Obama Administration's practices reads something like this: after U.S. soldiers return home from sacrificing their bodies and psyches, they encounter a bureaucratic maze to gain access to their benefits as a result of their government's apathy and indecision, a government that also provides arms to groups who in turn funnel those arms to the very enemy that our returning soldiers risked everything fighting against.

This same administration that provides arms for drug cartels, and inserts arms into warzones where terrorist groups like al-Qaeda can procure the arms and use them to overthrow governments, also seeks to declare veterans incompetent for the purpose of rendering them ineligible to own a firearm. Think of it: the Obama Administration will arm drug cartels, it will arm the Syrian rebels and by extension their allies in al-Qaeda, but it wants to take the guns of returning veterans and render them ineligible to legally own a gun.  At the same time, it strips active duty soldiers of their tuition assistance as part of their churlish politicization of sequestration, and throws them into a maelstrom of bureaucratic delays when they try to obtain access to their VA benefits.

While Jon Stewart's excoriation of President Obama for his failures to deliver for veterans seeking their benefits was honest, his omission of any of these other factors is telling.  You can deliver a slap or two to the Obama Administration, but you can't hit them too hard if you're a liberal pundit. The damage inflicted by Stewart is largely superficial, because he's pandering rather than taking this administration head-on for its hypocrisy and all-around inconsistency.  You can't be in the business of arming our enemies in drug cartels and al-Qaeda on the one hand, and attempting to unilaterally declare returning veterans incompetent in order to strip them of their Second Amendment rights on the other hand, without losing all credibility.

It is also telling that while Dennis Kucinich drew up articles of impeachment for George W. Bush, no Republican has used any of the Obama Administration's illegal, unconstitutional, and unwarranted efforts as the basis for articles of impeachment for President Obama.  The GOP is simply allowing President Obama to continue as an unaccountable president who can disregard the checks and balances of our government at will.

While the Veteran's Administration backlog of benefits applications may be outrageous, it isn't illegal. However, if you aren't going to hold the president accountable for his utterly unconstitutional behavior in foreign affairs, gun running to cartels, and his attempts to perform an end-run around the Second Amendment with veterans; why would you expect him to care about expediting the application process over at the VA for those very same veterans?

A Clarification: Stevie J. West and Amy Kremer

Recently, Stevie J. West, who had authorship privileges at Screed of Momus in the aftermath of her departure from The Trenches, contacted me with concerns over messages she was getting on Twitter about the content of this site and Tea Party Express chairperson Amy Kremer.  In three separate posts, I criticized Amy Kremer for her constant gaffes, her clear lack of preparation for interviews and her inability to articulate limited government principles in an effective manner, and her organization's clear financial ties to the consulting firm of Russo, Marsh, and Associates.  I stated clearly that the Tea Party Express, which spends less than ten percent of its donations on Tea Party candidates, and much of its budget on fees for Russo, Marsh, and Associates, along with various other companies tied to the principals and associates of Russo, Marsh, and Associates, was nothing more than a funnel for our donations to Russo, Marsh, and Associates and its various affiliates.

The opinions and positions expressed therein were my own, and I stand by them completely.  I believe that I have presented ample documentation to substantiate any and all assertions made on this site about Amy Kremer and the Tea Party Express. However, Stevie J. West, who is one of best people I have encountered online and a firm patriot on Twitter, has taken flack from some of you for content I wrote.  This is both unfair and uncalled for, and after being contacted by Stevie, I took her name down at her request.

If you want to take up any dispute with Screed of Momus about the posts concerning Amy Kremer or the Tea Party Express, you may do so via Twitter via @momus1978.  Stevie J. West had nothing to do with the three articles in question, or with the forthcoming articles that will be posted on this site in the future concerning the expenditures, associations, and strategies of the Tea Party Express.  I will make those articles available after I have ample documentation from thorough research and interviews.

While I have no mercy for leftists like Neal Rauhauser, whose story is an ongoing project of this and many other sites, I have even less mercy for an organization like the Tea Party Express, which purports to represent the Tea Party and liberty movements and raises millions of dollars by trading on our ideals, only to consume the vast majority of that money on profligate spending via luxury hotels, travel, exorbitant consulting fees, and putting the likes of Amy Kremer out in front to represent our views and positions in the most graceless and inarticulate way possible.  The Tea Party Express is a front group, plain and simple, and its existence is less about advancing a constitutionally limited government than it is about generating donations that can be funneled to its parent organizations.  Its founders were nothing more than Republican establishment members from the get-go, and it does not serve our interests in any way, shape, fashion, or form.

Roundup: The Big Stupid

Ladies and gentlemen, boys, girls, simians of all ages, it's time for today's edition of Roundup.  We're going with the big stupid today, and you don't get any more big stupid than Oakland mayor Jean Quan, who, after a 40% uptick in burglaries for 2012, decided to offer a taxpayer-financed class in lock-picking.  That's right, in Oakland, city government will provide you a class on how to pick locks, in addition to offering you a chance to sell your illegally procured guns to the city.  The Youth UpRising partnership, along with the Oakland Police Department, offered $200 cash for working firearms with a limit of two firearms per person, just before Mayor Quan's idea to offer a class in lock-picking.

City government is at work in Oakland, people, and it's generating solutions to the problems that ail the residents of Oakland.  Over 250 firearms were procured at the gun buyback, and at $200 a pop, that means that the city spent $50,000 buying guns from its own citizens.  Of course, the people who use their guns for criminal behavior likely made a cool $250 to $500 on some old guns at the gun buyback, which they could then turn around and spend on the street for an upgrade in firepower.

Oakland is a city where the average salary for police officers is $103,000, and officers were not required to pay anything into their pension funds as of 2010, and they could retire at age 50 with a pension of $100,000 a year. This led to budgetary problems for Oakland, and the city laid off some 80 police officers to balance its budget.

Of course, when your city government is busy teaching its own citizens how to pick locks in the middle of a burglary epidemic, and expending thousands of dollars to buy back guns of uncertain provenance from people of uncertain repute or intent, you can see why police officers might require a high salary to stay on the job.  After all, you're making their lives considerably more difficult with your big stupid policies.

Staying the Bay Area, we move to San Francisco, which has made ex-cons a protected class when it comes to applying for city jobs and any housing administered by the San Francisco Housing Authority. The city's Human Rights Commission was weighing expanding the protected class status to the private sector, which is a novel idea, because protected class status is usually based on immutable characteristics like race, sexual orientation, disability, and gender.  Extending protected class status to ex-cons would enable them to sue private employers who discriminated against them based on their prior records.

It may seem surprising, but this method of protecting criminals has been tried in the District of Columbia and is even making headway at the federal level.  The EEOC has issued an Enforcement Guidance that makes it harder for employers to screen employees based on their criminal records, using disparate treatment and disparate impact.  If the employer hires a white employee with a criminal record after turning down a black applicant with a criminal record, then the employer could face charges of a Title VII violation under the Civil Rights Act of 1964.  If the employer's screening is neutral in practice, and it disproportionately affects a protected class, then the employer faces the same charges under a disparate impact approach.

The net effect is that ex-convicts get protected class status, when the characteristic upon which their protected status is based is the result of their behavior rather than any immutable characteristic they cannot change.  One cannot change one's race or gender, and therefore the argument for protected class status is that they shouldn't be discriminated against for a characteristic they can't help.  But one can avoid being an ex-convict by not violating the law in the first place, which makes the extension of class protection to ex-convicts strain something of a puzzling choice.

Imagine, if you will, the extension of protected class status to a sex offender applying for a job at a school, or daycare, or for public housing within proximity to a school or daycare, and upon his denial of employment or housing, he gets to sue as a protected class under such regulatory idiocy.  The same goes for an offender convicted of fraud or embezzlement who applies for a job at a financial institution, or a job involving financial responsibilities at a business.  The big stupid is obvious.

In New York, Judge Bernard Graham awarded custody of a 17 year old boy to his homeless father, and ordered the teen to live with his dad in a homeless shelter.  The boy's mother, arrested multiple times at the behest of the father but never convicted of a single offense, is a court worker who makes $90,000 a year and pays for her son to attend a Catholic high school in Brooklyn.  Despite these facts, Judge Bernard Graham, who was later transferred to civil court, ordered the teen to live in a homeless shelter with his father.

The state of Florida brings us the story of mogul John Goodman and his 43 year old girlfriend/adopted daughter, who would have been entitled to a third of his $300 million trust fund for his children, had the court gone along with his plans.  Instead, the Florida appeals court in question ruled that Goodman's attempt to adopt his 43 year old girlfriend Heather Laruso Hutchins was a "fraud on the court," and smacked down his attempt to enable Hutchins to have a third of the trust.

Goodman is serving a 16 year prison sentence for his role in a drunk driving accident that resulted a wrongful death suit which he eventually settled for $46 million.  The court held that Goodman's adoption of his girlfriend failed because he didn't notify his ex-wife until after the adoption appeals process had passed, which implies that he may have been able to adopt a 43 year old girlfriend if only he had followed the procedural rules.  Your sign that our legal system doesn't work, ladies and gentlemen, and your man of the year, John Goodman.

Ashley Judd won't be toting a leaking fistula in the aftermath of an election campaign for Mitch McConnell's Senate seat in 2014, because she announced on her website and Twitter that she would not run for the seat.  In a post entitled Thank You, right next to the picture of  Lake Kivu and the caption that says the Congolese people deserve a decent standard of living as beautiful as their country-and aesthetics are very important with standards of living-Judd announced that after prayerful consideration consisting of prayers and incantations to Jerry Brown, she and her pastors and mentors on the far left have reached a decision that she will not run.  Instead, she will continue to advocate forcefully for beautiful standards of living for the Congolese people and rant about ridiculous Global North ultra efficiencies stained with the shit and blood of leaking fistulas.

Perhaps in the future, Ashley.  

Speaking of things that could go down in Kentucky, our next story of backassward weirdness involves one Anthony Morris of Tyrone, Ireland, a 44 year old blind man who was caught in a barn with a rubber glove and broom shaft.  The farmer who apprehended Morris had gone out to investigate noises, and found Morris creeping around with a flashlight on his head, carrying a blue rope and a pen knife, along with the aforementioned broom shaft and hand clad in a rubber glove.

The farmer and his brother sat on Morris until police arrived, and that's when things got even weirder:

While he was being held, Morris, who had a torch strapped to his head and was also carrying blue rope and a pen knife, put on a foreign accent and said: “Me-me-steal-ear-tags. Me-me-look-at-tags.”
Once the police lifted Morris's mask, the farmer recognized him as a laborer he'd hired in the past, and Morris continued to improvise a story that would evolve even as he stood trial for intending to damage cattle and theft:

Morris was originally questioned about cruelty to animals but none of the cattle in the barn were injured and it was not specified in court what the allegations of cruelty involved.
He blamed his presence in the barn on a mystery man who Morris said “forced” him to go to look at ear tags on the cattle because he said the farmer had stolen three cows from him.
Morris said in court the unnamed man who was “a blast from the past” had threatened his 14-year-old son and turned up at his house where he had touched him “with something metal”.
Prosecution barrister Michael McAleer asked him: “Are you going to tell us what it was?”
“No,” Morris said.

Morris was found guilty.

Our final story comes to us courtesy of 28 year old Crystal Frantzen and 58 year old Gary Tipton of Tennessee, who were dickering over the price of a Cadillac Tipton wanted to sell and Frantzen wanted to buy.  No, literally, they were dickering, because Frantzen decided to perform oral sex on Tipton for a lower price,  but she decided to do so in the parking lot of a BP on Highway 394.  Witnesses called 911, and Frantzen wound up in jail for prostitution, while Tipton was charged with patronizing a prostitute and drug possession.  At the time of this Roundup, there was no word on the discounted price of the Cadillac.

And that's the Roundup for today, Thursday, March 28, 2012.  All the Big Stupid you can stand, rolled into one blog post. You're welcome.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Roundup: Beyond the Stupid

Our edition of Roundup for today, Tuesday, March 26, 2012, finds us looking over the U.S. Freshwater Fishing Association's recent bid to have ice fishing recognized as an Olympic sport.  While wrestling has been dropped by the Olympics, ice fishing may be coming in; and that means that the ice fishermen of the world, in the interests of total transparency, must submit themselves for drug testing by the World Anti-Doping Agency.  Yes, apparently the use of human growth hormone and black sheep cells by ice fishermen is a growing scandal.  Well, no.

When asked about the recent development, newly minted ice fisherman Lance Armstrong announced his retirement from the sport of ice fishing and decried the witch-hunt tactics of the WADA.  "I've considered careers in darts, miniature golf, chess, and tug of war," Armstrong angrily declared, "and the WADA follows me into every single one of those sports looking to institute Olympic-style drug testing, which is pointless, because I used performance-enhancing drugs and beat every single one of those tests when I was a cyclist."

The WADA pointed to its results, which included two minigolfers busted in 2011 for PED use, along with one chess player, two bowlers, eight roller sports players, and one combatant from the cut-throat world of adult tug of war.  Joel McDearmon, chairman of the United States Freshwater Fishing Association, noted that the WADA does not test for beer, because his competitors would all fail if that were the case. Drunk fat men drilling holes in thick ice is fundamental to the nature of the sport, as evidenced by the recent Russian win at the World Ice Fishing Championship.

Our next item comes to us from Lake City, FL, where homeowner Jacquie Hagler rebuked an intruder at her jewelry party of 14 women, using nothing more than the name of Jesus.  When the other 14 women joined in, the intruder, 24 year old Derek Lee, fled the home with his water pistol in hand.  Mr. Lee was arrested and held on $20,000 bond, and police suspect he may have been responsible for another failed robbery attempt at an ATM machine just minutes before he tried to invade Hagler's home and rob her jewelry party.

Vice-President Joe Biden was wrong: one does not need a shotgun; one needs to rebuke any home invader with the name of Jesus.

The Vancouver Maritime Museum finds itself facing criticism for its Tattoos and Scrimshaw: The Art of the Sailor exhibit, which drew the ire of Ann Pimentel, a mother of two boys, aged 2 and 3, respectively, because sailors had carved lewd imagery on the sides of whale bone to produce whale porn.  Pimentel described the scrimshaw scrawlings as “Oral sex, masturbation, a penis on one of them, people having sex in the images."

Though the most scandalous carvings were some seven feet off of the ground, and accompanied by a sign warning visitors about the content, Pimentel wants the exhibit housed in a separate room entirely.  She's taken to Yelp to express her discomfiture: "I am still disturbed and troubled after a visit to The Vancouver Maritime Museum … As a mother and a teacher, I am concerned for unknowing families and school groups."

Ah, yes, concern for others, the hallmark of every unwitting arts patron with a puritanical streak who visits an exhibit of carvings and engravings by 19th century sailors with the expectation of landscapes and pastoral scenes.

In the "I'm really glad I don't live in Malaysia" news department, we have the story of a 40 year old mechanic who returned home from work to share his theories about the end of the world, and his attempt to channel a spirit into his father's body by making his father cry.  The way he accomplished his mission was simple: he cut off his father's genitals, and attempted to force his brother in law to do the same.  He then cut off his own genitals, though the doctors at the Sultanah Nur Zahirah Hospital in Kuala Terengganu were able to reattach both men's penises.

The mechanic had apparently had a spiritual epiphany after reading about new religious paradigms on the Internet, which led to the genital severing excess of an early Sunday morning spirit channeling.

Speaking of batshit-crazy mixed with puritanical altruistic concern, comedian Jim Carrey, fresh off of referring to gun-owners as "heartless motherfuckers" and impugning the quantity worth protecting in their heart and soul in the aftermath of Newtown, has released a new music video entitled "Cold Dead Hand."   The video, which references Charlton Heston's purportedly small penis as the motivation for his fervent Second Amendment advocacy, is polemical punditry of the lowest form, but given that Michael Moore had no issues with visiting and interviewing a senile Heston in his final days to conduct and exploitative and mean-spirited interview, it's what one expects from left-wing liberals who don't need guns because their bodyguards carry the guns for them:

Our final example of clueless stupidity involves Julian Pellegrino, a Springfield, Massachusetts man who pleaded guilty to operating under the influence of alcohol and causing bodily injury in a crash that seriously injured fellow driver Mark Costa, who was not drunk at the time of the accident.  Pellegrino, who was sentenced to two and a half years in jail, with 18 months to be served and three years probation, sued Costa for $1.1 million.  Even more outrageous, his passenger that day, a woman named Kimberly Desjardins, is also suing Costa.  Desjardins shares an address with Pellegrino, who she is also suing.

While Pellegrino was awaiting trial for his role in the November 2009 accident that severely injured by Costa and Desjardins, he managed to get himself arrested for another DUI.  The State of Massachusetts,  which has some of the strictest gun laws in the country, apparently doesn't see a vehicle operated by a chronic drunk driving offender like Julian Pellegrino as the weapon it truly is, so Pellegrino gets a fine, a jail stint, and the ability to drive his car afterwards.

After all, while we strip convicted felons of the right to own a gun, we don't strip drunk drivers of the privilege of operating a car.  Drunk driving killed 10,228 people in 2010, which is right up there with firearms homicides at 11,078 people that same year, and the similar numbers hold every year.  However, there's no video on Funny or Die in which Jim Carrey and his friends advocate banning alcohol consumption, or requiring people to undergo a background check before they purchase liquor.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is today's Roundup for March 26, 2013.  I'm Jay Batman, for Screed of Momus, and for broke ass law students everywhere.

Monday, March 25, 2013

The Way Forward

In two prior posts, I've examined the myriad issues with Amy Kremer's recent statements and the profligate spending and corrupt arrangements of the Tea Party Express and its parent organization, a consulting firm by the name of Russo, Marsh, and Associates.  After excoriating Kremer for her ridiculous endorsement of unquestioned executive war powers, and criticizing her inarticulate and clumsy communication skills, I lambasted the Tea Party Express for spending a mere 10% of its receipts on candidates that stood for the limited government, constitutionalist agenda that is generally shared by most Tea Party groups across the country.

It's one thing to criticize, and I've done that, but now I'm going to propose a solution.  Russo, Marsh, and Associates have always represented the establishment wing of the Republican Party, a wing that has desperately sought to preserve its power at the expense of the grassroots.  We must be wary of the establishment, if not totally dismissive of its elites and fundraisers.  This movement derives its legitimacy from the fact that it is funded from donations by people who don't have tremendous amounts of money to give.

It's a movement of ordinary people, concerned about their ordinary lives and the implications that government spending, monetary policy, and regulation will have for those lives and the lives of their children and grandchildren.  For the better part of half a decade, local and national Tea Party groups have been co-opted by the establishment at every turn.  From FreedomWorks to the Tea Party Express to various other groups seeking to capitalize financially on the grassroots by holding conferences and selling merchandise, this movement has been exploited enough.

It isn't advancing the liberty agenda, and it hasn't been effective at addressing the core issues that many of us are concerned about.  Those issues are largely fiscal in nature.  Americans do not agree with bailouts for banks, nor do we agree with the notion that a bank or business can be too big to fail as a result of its own mismanagement and incompetent decision-making.  We do not believe that regulation will prevent the problem; the United States already has more laws than any other industrialized nation against all manner of fraud and malfeasance, and the problem is not a lack of laws, but rather a lack of enforcement.

That lack of enforcement stems from the corrupt and incestuous arrangements between regulators and government officials and business, whereby the former two serve as a feeding line for the latter.  The lack of enforcement also stems from the fact that our elected officials take campaign contributions in lieu of outright bribes to look the other way while businesses lobby for ever greater amounts of spending and borrowing to feed the public trough.  We can't cut spending in this country because the wealthy profit from government spending at all levels, and they get the best government they can buy.

From entitlements and the waste and fraud of welfare programs like TANF to Medicaid and Medicare,  to defense spending and no-bid, cost-plus contracts, our government does not operate in a fiscally prudent manner because the people who fund election campaigns and pay lobbyists do not wish for it to operate in a fiscally prudent manner.  Those people have presided over the rise of a state that consumes over half our GDP at all levels, local, state, and federal.  They collect the dividends from fat government contracts, and reap the guaranteed profits from public projects that would be unthinkable in private, free market enterprises.

At the core of the issues that plague our republic is one root cause: corruption.  Our elected officials care more about campaign contributions than they have ever cared about being stewards the public interest, because the public interest won't get them re-elected in an environment where the media is owned by corporations and operated by far-left ideologues who parrot the corporate line of ever greater government stimulus and every greater government bailouts for corporate failures.

Our officials give most of us the promise of scraps from the table, rather than a seat at the table with the opportunity to serve ourselves.  Americans want to work, and they want to earn their own way, and they want to live in a society where people who earn their keep keep that keep.  To the extent that there is class resentment, it is largely due to the fact that Americans are cognizant of how businesses do not succeed due to their merit in operations or innovation, but rather due to their merit in cultivating political favor.  Make no mistake about it, after forty years of consecutive deficits used to finance increasing government spending and outlays that directly benefited the shareholders of big business, Americans are acutely aware that government rather than the market picks the winners and the losers in our economy.  They don't resent the wealthy for being wealthy; they resent the wealthy for the illegitimate manner in which they gained their wealth.

We have become a nation of one dollar, one vote, a plutonomy where elected officials say one thing and consistently do another, because doing whatever it takes to get enough money to drown out your opponents message with your own disingenuous platform that you have no intention of implementing is what will get you elected in American politics today.

I say to you that we have two things going for us in the broader electorate: numbers and outrage. Individual liberty is under assault at every turn, as parents who wish to homeschool their children increasingly face a state that tries to interfere with their right to educate their children as they see fit.  Individual liberty in the form of gun ownership by law-abiding citizens is under attack, as criminals freely access firearms and commit street crime in major American cities while the municipal, state, and federal authorities refuse to enforce the existing laws we have to deal with the issue of gun violence. Americans understand that there is no will among our elected officials to address the issue of gun violence by criminals; rather, our elected officials wish to make the exercise of our Second Amendment rights a crime and/or a heavily restricted right.

We have more than enough laws, but we have nothing approaching adequate or ample enforcement of federal gun laws.  More people have died in South Central Los Angeles during the gang wars between the Crips and Bloods than died in all of the Troubles that plagued Ireland.  The streets of Chicago produce more casualties from gun violence than the streets of Baghdad on an average weekend, and it is no accident that Chicago just happens to rank 90th in the enforcement of existing gun laws.

The average American citizen breaks more than three federal laws a day. We incarcerate more people than any other industrialized nation on Earth, and our educational system consumes more money than any other educational system, yet it produces results that are not commensurate with the investment we make.

Americans by and large want the restoration of a government that works, and outcomes that demonstrate the merit of their government in measurable terms.  They want children who can read, calculate, and reason on an adult level.  They want streets free of gun violence, and criminals who use guns in the commission of their crimes punished severely.  They want their self-determination back, as it relates to their choices in where to send their children to school, and they want a government that answers to them rather than condescending to them at all levels.

The Tea Party is well-suited to achieve these goals.  For starters, its organizations are largely localized, autonomous, and independent.  As former House Speaker Tip O'Neill once said, "All politics is local." The time has come for Tea Party organizations at the local level to focus on local rather than federal matters. From our zoning commissions to our school boards to our city councils, local Tea Party organizations need to be in the business of taking local government back across this country.  From there, they must go to the state level.

The same model will need to be applied with both political parties, as Tea Party supporters can move into the vacant precinct chairmanships and go from the precinct level to the county level to the state level in taking control of both parties.  We should not be so inclined as to ignore the openings in the Democratic Party; instead, we should assume that the Democratic Party is an empty storefront waiting to be occupied at the precinct level. It is better to put ourselves in a position of taking over the Democratic Party at the local level than adapting an indifferent or complacent attitude.  At the very least, we can co-opt and utterly overturn the local and county-level Democratic party organizations.  At the most, we could obviate their ability to work from the national level at the grassroots.

This is a no-holds barred war for the heart and soul of this Republic, and so long as it is legal to do so, we should attempt to appropriate whatever means are available to us in order to accomplish our goals. If you want this done, do it yourself. We can ill-afford to wait for others to take up the cause and do the work for us.

When we arrive at a place where we can select the leaders we want within our parties, to endorse the types of candidates we seek, we must vet those candidates thoroughly to ensure that they understand the importance of being slow to speak, and quick to listen. We might very well like the pro-life, traditional values candidate, but in order for that candidate to get elected by a broader electorate, as opposed to just achieving the party nomination, he or she must understand the importance of letting their speech be seasoned with salt.  There can be no talk of illegitimate rape, no assertion that they read all magazines, or that any other such nonsense.  There can be no talk of jihadists, or gays as pedophiles, or any other such topic that can be used to malign the candidate and the ideals they seek to advance.

Most of all, we will need to develop the media infrastructure to circumvent the mainstream media and deliver our message directly.  No candidate of the Tea Party should be going on mainstream media programs to be waylaid.  Local, state, and national Tea Party organizations should exploit the media to facilitate the delivery of a message that is universal in its appeal, non-controversial, and removed entirely from the kind of gotcha television that dominates the mainstream media and the left-wingers who occupy its ranks.

We want to stress the general principles of individual liberty, individual accountability, and personal autonomy that make this movement appealing to everyone who wants a seat at the table as opposed to the crumbs from the table.  Why would you want your jam on the bottom shelf if it's almost gone, when you could have a ladder to the top shelf and the full jars of jam?  Ask the average voter if he would climb that ladder if it were available to him, and he could have it for his wife and his children, and then tell him that our movement and its agenda is that ladder to a full jar of jam.

That's what we are: the ladder to a better life in a fairer, more orderly, society where your government doesn't represent your interests based on whether or not you can afford a thousand dollar a plate dinner. Do you eat at Buffalo Wild Wings and Chili's? So do we.  Are you pissed off about $29 trillion in backdoor bailouts and loans to big banks, and $83 billion a year in outright subsidies to keep those banks afloat?  So are we, and we want to do something about it to make sure they never wreck our economy and your retirement again.  No one is ever too big to fail in a capitalist free market, and all we're after is a system of governance that recognizes that people should succeed and fail based on their efforts.

We've got something to offer those people, and that something is a system where consequences apply to everybody. Americans don't mind suffering the consequences for their own actions per se; but they do mind suffering the consequences for their actions when they see some politically connected banker escaping the consequences for his bad decisions in business. If I'd go bankrupt for mismanaging my finances, he should go bankrupt for mismanaging his finances, even if he is the head of a business and the business will go bankrupt.  His shareholders didn't watch him closely enough, or examine those rosy earnings reports with the due diligence, and that's their fault.

The Republican and Democratic establishments alike are not going to do anything to restore consequences to the banker, because they want his contributions for their election campaigns.  The price of allaying his consequences with a bailout or a taxpayer funded handout of a subsidy is extending a proportionately smaller handout to the little guy, and that's why this country is going broke.

The Tea Party has to position itself as the party that will sell the goose and the gander the same bill of goods. That's how we differentiate our message from that of the establishment Democrats and Republicans, and that's how we make inroads to the electorate.  When our candidates and our spokespersons are asked about the War on Women, we start talking about the real war on women in the form of the rampant unemployment that sees mothers uncertain about how to afford groceries and the mortgage, and we draw the line to the failed economic policies of the Obama Administration and a do-nothing Congress.

We shouldn't feel bad about throwing a Republican establishment under the bus when that establishment has been discarding us for thirty years the day after the election.  The Republican Party is to us what Albert is to Vincent in the movie Heat.  Everything is always yesterday, and today they waste our time.  Does anyone seriously believe John Boehner is going to lead the GOP to smaller government, lower taxes, and a reduced deficit?  Do you believe he'll lead the country to any one of those achievements?

Of course you don't, because you know he won't. When the Republicans had power, they expanded government with No Child Left Behind and the Medicare prescription drug benefit.  They exploded spending with two wars, only one of which was necessary to our security, and the other of which was necessary for the bottom line of Halliburton and other contractors.  They expanded executive power to unimaginable levels, and gave us a TSA that gives six year old girls a crotch pat down.

To this day, the only terrorist plots the TSA or the FBI manage to stop are the ones they create with sting operations.

If we can't articulate a message that highlights the essential and obvious failings of this government, we deserve whatever we get in the future.  If we can't articulate a message that highlights a functional alternative to the status quo, with universal appeal to the unemployed Americans who have seen their of life destroyed over the past six years, we deserve what's coming.  The American people want an alternative, and they want it so bad that they'll drink the sand offered to them by the likes of Barack Obama and call it an oasis even as the grit forms in their teeth.

They'll drink that sand because the alternative put forth by the Republicans was a primogenitor, a scion of the establishment, an heir, a man who could not show a shred of empathy for ordinary people because he himself had never been an ordinary person.  He was above the suffering and the mire, a man whose life had been blessedly free of financial strife and shortcomings, and he was the GOP's nominee at a time when 1 out of every 5 Americans was on federal assistance.  No one believed his program was the ladder to the higher shelf with the full jar, because everything about Mitt Romney screamed that he want to give you a greased pole to climb in the place of that ladder.

Mitt couldn't bring himself to speak ill of the banking sector, lest he alienate future contributors.  He ran like he was going for re-election, and he lost as a result.  He spoke in wooden tones to the broken hearts and ravaged souls of his countrymen, offering them his faith in the magic of a market that they knew was rigged. When the market levitated above 12,000, and their lives didn't levitate above 12,000 with that market, they looked for the strings from the ceiling and saw them coming from the Federal Reserve, the Treasury, and various other regulatory agencies pushing backdoor bailouts and giveaway loans.  There was no magic, and no reason left to believe in what Mitt was trying to sell.  This market was not free, and it could not deliver salvation. Instead, it had become the road to perdition for every American who lost their homes, their retirements, their investment accounts, and their savings.

If the banks were too big to fail, the average American was too small and insignificant for his government to even attempt to rescue. In much the same way that the Kennedy Administration left an army of Cuban exiles to die in the Bay of Pigs, our government in the Bush and Obama Administration left millions of Americans to perish as federal bureaucrats picked the winners from the ranks of their social and economic betters.  It was cruel, sadistic, and inhumane.  The market that was said to be free and neutral was stripped of its robes, until what was left was the naked ugliness of its true appearance: a market where growth depended entirely on the monetary policy of a central bank, and that monetary policy directed vast sums of liquidity at parts of the economy that had no demand commensurate with the liquidity being hurled at it.  It was no matter, because the liquidity itself would spur demand, just as it would wash demand back out to sea as the tidal waves of credit eventually receded with the Federal Reserve's whim.

People who could not afford a home were given loans at high interest to buy a home, loans designed to facilitate a purchase upfront and a financial cataclysm on the back end when the interest rate skyrocketed.  Mortgage originators forged incomes on applications, lied about credit histories, and committed all manner of fraud openly and blatantly, and yet few found themselves prosecuted.  Again, we had ample laws, but no enforcers.

And what did Americans find themselves offered by the Tea Party? Establishment Republicans at the state level with ambitions for the national scene, women like Sharon Angle and men like Todd Akin who saw opportunity in appropriating the language of the Tea Party while being funded through establishment fronts like the Tea Party Express and FreedomWorks.  If you were in the statehouse, you could catapult yourself to the Congress, and if you were in the House, you could perhaps go to the Senate.

They heard of new and innovative concepts like illegitimate rape, or rape as a blessing from God for the purposes of conception, and they listened as longtime pundits stepped over substantive rebuttals to engage in the most vitriolic and vulgar ad hominem imaginable.  Rush Limbaugh could have pointed out that birth control in the District of Columbia could be had at $9 for a month's supply, but he instead chose to call Sandra Fluke a slut and propose that women who wanted to finance their birth control could record their sex lives and sell the footage to him and his peers.

This is what the United States saw of us, and this is why we lost in 2010 and 2012.

There is no easy or diplomatic way to say this, but it needs to be said. If America is to have a chance, we have to be at our best in articulating a path forward, and in avoiding the gaffes of the past. This country means something more than our pride, more than our defensiveness, and more than our clannish and false concepts of loyalty that serve to exculpate the likes of Todd Akin, Rush Limbaugh, and Amy Kremer, who, like so many others on our side, always play the victim when they open their mouths to switch feet.  It's not the left-wing media's fault when you say something stupid, and for a bunch of individuals who spend their time advocating personal responsibility for one's own actions, they sure do spend a lot of time passing the buck instead of owning responsibility for their own careless and thoughtless rhetoric.

Talking about forcing women to finance birth control through pornography does not gain us kitchen table credibility, and neither does illegitimate rape or speaking of the conception that occurs as a result of rape as God's will.  No woman sitting around a typical kitchen table in this country is going to sign on to our cause with that kind of rhetoric from our candidates and our punditry.  Talking to a mother about her right to choose where her children go to school, and to have her property taxes come back to her as a voucher towards that end, is a winning issue.

Talking to a mother about getting the government out of the business of subsidizing the banks that wrecked the economy, put her husband out of work, and put their mortgage underwater, is a winning issue.  Relating that to a simplified tax code that doesn't require them to pay Jackson Hewitt or H&R Block to prepare their taxes in order to get the maximum refund is a winning issue.  We can win this country back, hands down, if we just talk about the issues that so many Americans can get behind instead of allowing ourselves to be dominated by the issues that so many Americans are divided over.

Once we get the offices that enable us to build credibility with the American people, and we cement our electoral position, we can address issues like abortion if we so choose.  The first priority must be the economy, and the restoration of opportunities for Americans who are so inclined to achieve a higher standard of living for themselves and their families.  We can be the ladder to the higher shelf, and in doing so, we can establish an electable brand that advances our core agendas and changes the country.

However, that will not happen until we put aside this false concept of loyalty, and this siege mentality, that causes us to blame the mainstream media every single time they hammer one of our supposed leaders with their own words.  When the Huffington Post puts up an exact quote and videotaped footage of the remarks of Steven Crowder at CPAC, and calls his remarks questionable, that isn't defamatory.  Steven Crowder was stupid for thinking he could reference rape at all as a right wing figure and get a fair shake from the media in the first place.  Amy Kremer's completely stupid tweet about Barack Obama's lack of love for America relative to Mitt Romney was an open-ended invitation for Soledad O'Brien's ambush, as was her inability to articulate what that love meant in any coherent and concise fashion.

We can limit some of the damage by building our own media infrastructure, but we could eliminate it altogether by avoiding these idiotic remarks in the first place and showing some personal discipline.  Here's an idea: if you're in the Tea Party, or a self-purported leader in the Tea Party, don't reference rape at all except to say that rapists should be buried under the jail.  If you're going to talk about birth control, say it's an individual choice and an individual responsibility if you don't agree with it being covered by insurance.  Don't get into long, drawn-out conversations that serve only to entrap you.  Better yet, just say it's between the employee, her employer, and the insurance company, and the government doesn't have any business being involved on one side or the other.

We can win if only we stop beating ourselves with the leaders we select and the stupid things we say out loud, in public, and on television.  We can win by working at the grassroots and eliminating our own mistakes, and by realizing that it will take effort over years rather than months to reclaim this country at every level. Nothing worth doing is ever easy, but if you believe in this country and this republic, you can find it within yourself to fight for it by actually doing something.  The way forward will not be easy, but the prize at the end is worth every bit of struggle we encounter.  That prize is an America where the inalienable right is the pursuit, rather than happiness itself, and where ordinary Americans understand that the reward is in the pursuit and the achievement of its ultimate end, because you've earned your success rather than having it handed to you due to your affiliation with an elected official, either as a campaign contributor or an ordinary citizen your legislator tried to pay off with the crumbs from the table that represent but a small fraction of what you could have for yourself by your own effort.

Kitchen Table Legitimacy and the Tea Party

An emerging establishmentarian streak within the self-appointed hauteurs of the Tea Party threatens to derail the movement from its stated goals of re-installing constitutionally limited government, cutting spending and taxes, and reducing or eliminating the national debt.  Chief among the hauteurs is Amy Kremer, chairperson of the Tea Party Express, who of late seems to open her mouth merely to switch feet.

There was a disastrously inarticulate moment last September during an episode of CNN's Starting Point where Kremer declared that President Obama didn't "love America the way we do."  Kremer had tweeted earlier in the week that the difference between Mitt Romney and President Obama was Romney's love of country.  She was asked to elaborate on those comments, which she should have never made to begin with, and proceeded to tie herself up with claptrap about "one world" as opposed to a "shining city on a hill."

Here's an idea: if you aren't as gifted an orator as Ronald Reagan, don't appropriate his rhetoric for your own purposes.  If you aren't good with numbers, don't bring numbers up.

Kremer had plenty of fodder to hammer the president with, given Fast and Furious and his failure to pass a budget for an entire term, as well as his administration's habit of funding green energy companies that just so happened to be lined with his political supporters.  She could have tackled the president's ludicrously soft approach to mortgage fraud in our financial sector, the disaster that is the mortgage modification program, the deferred prosecution agreements between regulators and banks that reek of corruption.  She could have highlighted our soaring debt levels, and the fact that spending cuts in Washington these days consist of reductions to increased spending projections rather than actual cuts to baseline spending.  In Washington, a spending cut simply means we won't increase spending by as much was we originally anticipated.

Kremer could have hit the president on his suspension of due process for American citizens abroad, up to and including execution for those citizens.  Since that is a constitutional issue, and the Tea Party stands for constitutional limits on government, it would have been appropriate.

Instead, what Kremer chose to do was engage in some vague generalization, some hasty rhetorical zinger about loving America that means little if anything when it comes to substantive discussion, and her attempts to touch on President Obama's track record were pitiful to behold.  It was stupid, because Amy Kremer is stupid.  She could not simply answer the question about who we were, and that was what galled many of us who watched her performance: we are people who believe in limited government, who believe that America's strength lies in its economy, and its debt is siphoning investment capital away from jobs creation.  Most of all, when someone talks to you about a dog whistle, hit them back in the teeth over their attempt to call you and yours racist and call such tactics for the low blows that they are.  Yes, Soledad, we are aware of your ability to hear racial undertones in every innocuous remark, but it's not an indicator of your ability to hear at frequencies that elude the rest of us; instead, it's an indicator that you're a race baiter who tries to slur people you don't agree with politically by calling them racist.

When someone within our ranks says as much, or notes that Kremer has a history of gaffes that embarrass and discredit the movement she represents, others are quick to point to her network and her ability to get on television.  I want to be clear about this: Amy Kremer is on television because she is useful to the narrative the mainstream media wants to present about the Tea Party; namely, that its supporters are unintelligent, inarticulate, and lacking in any sentient form of eloquence whatsoever. She is the ideal representative of this movement for the mainstream media precisely because she is such an ineffective communicator.

In that sense, it does not matter if Kremer can get on television or not.  It's certainly no reason to keep her around, or to keep donating to the Tea Party Express. Here's the verbatim response Kremer gave when she was pressed on her tweets about loving America as the dividing line between Mitt Romney and Barack Obama:

I think that he is more about a global, being a global, um, oh what's the word — being more one world, global, and it's not about the shining city on the hill, the greatness that has always been America that our founding fathers were about. I do believe that. I absolutely believe it. I'm not going to run from that.

What's the word? The word is this: I screwed up with that tweet. The president loves an America that I fear, because I'm a fan of individual liberty, responsibility, and effort, and this president's view of America is one where responsibility and effort give way to irresponsible sloth, which is why our banking sector has to be subsidized to the tune of $83 billion a year, and that's just from the Federal Reserve's below market funds availability. It's why the president has allowed the statute of limitations to expire on the criminal mortgage fraud that our financial sector profited from and even encouraged, and it's why his Justice Department won't prosecute any of the epidemic money laundering by our banks that aids terrorist regimes like the Sudan and Iran, because this president believes that his re-election and continued financial support from those banks is more important than enforcing the law, or doing anything about the banks and their manipulation of the LIBOR, which cost homeowners, municipalities, and states hundreds of billions of dollars.  This president not only presides over record fiscal deficits, he has a deficit of leadership that is at record levels too.

That's the word. Any part of that would be a better word than the word given by Amy Kremer on Starting Point. There isn't any room for this bullshit about loving America, or, um, uh, what's the word, shining cities on a hill. You get one shot at achieving the type of legitimacy that matters: kitchen table legitimacy.  To get that legitimacy, you have to avoid walking into left-wing traps on television by saying that the president doesn't love the country the way that we do, and then being unable to articulate who we are lest you candidly acknowledge the potential subtext to your remarks.

If you look crazy and inarticulate on television, then the movement you purport to represent looks crazy and inarticulate at kitchen tables around this country.

The answer is not to defend Amy Kremer, who at this point is utterly indefensible.  At best, she's a bad communicator; at worst, she's an anvil around the neck of the Tea Party movement.  She's someone the left can point to as representative of us, and she doesn't have the decency or the sense of team that would enable her to realize that she's a liability to the movement she represents.  Instead, her desire for publicity compels her onward to the next gaffe, the next remark that she makes that can be seized upon by the mainstream media and recycled endlessly to discredit the wider movement and its ideals at kitchen tables throughout this country.

Kremer's gaffes aren't limited to television appearances. From the start, her involvement with the Tea Party has been marked by one controversy after another, such as her start with the Tea Party Patriots and her former friend Jenny Beth Martin.  When Kremer went on a bus tour with the Tea Party Express, the Tea Party Patriots had her removed from the board and sued her for stealing their intellectual property. Kremer countersued, blocking the trademark application of the Tea Party Patriots.

The entire debacle reached a nadir when Jenny Beth Martin's husband Lee allegedly went on Facebook  and posted under a pseudonym that Amy Kremer's daughter Kylie had been raped, and that her mother had kicked her out of the house for reporting the rape.  As Mother Jones notes, the entire conflict means that donations to the  Tea Party Patriots and the Tea Party Express will be used to fight litigation over a blood feud between Martin and Kremer rather than advancing the ideals of the Tea Party.

As the above video proves, the dispute between Martin and Kremer spills over into her public appearances, as does her inability to effectively parry Stephen Colbert, when she dances around a simple yes or no answer to the question if there is any situation under which the United States government should raise taxes.  The answer is simply no, followed by a succinct explanation as to why.  What Kremer cannot do is say that simple word upfront despite being prompted multiple times.  She tries to avoid being pinned down to the position, even though the position is a perfectly safe position to take given our present fiscal situation.  We take in more revenue than any other country on the planet, and it still isn't enough.  We don't have a revenue problem.  We have a spending problem, and every time we've given Congress more revenue, they've found a way to spend even more money than they take in without fail.  

There's another, deeper problem within the Tea Party and its hauteurs, who disparage the mainstream media while at the same time seeking its legitimation by going on these shows, only to find themselves being placed in untenable situations.  Make your own exposure.  Stop seeking legitimation in a medium occupied by people who aren't invested in objectivity or a fair hearing.  These people are part of the status quo, and they're looking to seize on anything you do, twist it out of context, and use it to defame you and what you represent.  

The hauteurs inevitably respond that it's necessary to go on television and do battle with Soledad O'Brien, if only for the exposure.  It's as if they believe the old saying that any publicity is good publicity.  This is not true, but it's what they believe, because it's impossible for a former Delta Airlines flight attendant to resist the opportunity to go on national news programs and preen as a very important person. 

For the larger movement, the epiphany is that we don't need that exposure.  We need controlled exposure, the kind of exposure that we direct and decide upon, and the Internet makes it possible for us to accomplish just such an exposure by taking our message directly to the American people. A Google Hangout doesn't cost a thing, and a Youtube video channel doesn't cost a dime.  Production costs can be very low indeed, and you can articulate your message in a way that doesn't involve Soledad O'Brien or Stephen Colbert seeking to misrepresent your cause.  I've watched Reality Report, and if Gary Franchi can do it, I fail to see why the Tea Party Express or the Tea Party Patriots can't do it.

The Tea Party Express in particular possesses the financial wherewithal to establish its own media presence independent of the mainstream media, given that its 2012 PAC data indicates receipts over $10 million.  Amy Kremer may well be a fine administrator, but she's a terrible public speaker. Sometimes leadership entails delegating authority to people who are better suited to the task at hand, and Kremer has yet to show that she is willing to do this as it relates to public appearances on television.  

To be fair, the Tea Party Patriots do have a radio show in San Diego that you can stream live from their website.  They also have a history of planning cruises with donations, to the tune of $50,000 for the cruise itself and $150,000 in pocket money.  Then there's the issue of changing the name of donations to circumvent federal limits on individual contributions to PACs, which wouldn't be a problem if the name you switched the donations to wasn't the name of a dead woman.

All of this doesn't even begin to examine the record of the Tea Party Express and its spending, which is questionable to say the least, according to the ProPublica article Inside Game: Creating PACs and then Spending their Money:

Of the $9.3 million spent by Our Country Deserves Better, more than $3.8 million went to Russo, Marsh and Associates, employees or others connected to the firm. Of the $3.9 million spent by the Campaign to Defeat Barack Obama, $2.4 million went to the firm and its associates. The pro-military Move America Forward Freedom PAC spent almost $143,000. Of that, $92,000 went to the firm and people connected to it.

The Tea Party Express was created by Our Country Deserves Better, and its 2012 disclosures on Open Secrets pretty much say it all: with expenditures of $9.3 million, Russo, Marsh, and Associates received  $3,163,766.  

In addition to the troubling vortex that suctions donations from the Tea Party Express and affiliated PACs to Russo, Marsh, and Associates, the non-campaign related expenditures of the Tea Party Express and its parent organizations are damming indicators of its real purpose:

The Our Country Deserves Better PAC, which created the Tea Party Express, “the most aggressive and influential national Tea Party group in the political arena,” according to its website, spent some of the $9.3 million it ran through in this election cycle on bus tours and rallies.
But it spent only 10 percent of its money directly on elections -- $259,500 in contributions to political committees and candidates, and $681,000 on independent expenditures, most of which were funneled through Russo, Marsh and Associates.
The PAC spent almost half its money on fundraising, often using the Russo, Marsh firm or affiliated consultants. That fundraising ratio — spending almost $1 to earn $2 — is very high in the world of political action committees.
And the PAC also let its consultants live rather large: $3,500 for “PAC Election Night Headquarters” at a casino-resort in Las Vegas, $3,200 for meals and a meeting at a Mediterranean restaurant in Boston in February 2011, more than $1,000 for parking at LaGuardia Airport in New York in May 2011.
Barely one-third of the $3.9 million spent by The Campaign to Defeat Barack Obama went to truly focused efforts at electing candidates, but its consultants traveled comfortably: More than $4,500 to stay at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas in June, more than $8,200 to stay at the Paris Las Vegas Hotel in July.
Individual consultants, including current or former Russo, Marsh employees, did very well.
Joe Wierzbicki, who works at Russo, Marsh and Associates, pulled in almost $528,000 from two of the PACs. Most of that came from the Our Country Deserves Better PAC, which describes Wierzbicki on its website as “PAC coordinator” but neglects to mention he is a senior account executive at the Russo, Marsh firm.
Ryan Gill, who has also worked for the pro-military PAC and a related charity, was paid almost $592,000 from the two PACs, mostly from the Campaign to Defeat Barack Obama, for strategic consulting, fundraising commissions, travel reimbursement and on-line ads supporting several candidates.
In July alone, the Campaign to Defeat Barack Obama paid Gill about $5,300 on July 2, $2,300 on July 3, $4,100 on July 6, and $12,000 on July 9, calling the payments “fundraising salary.” Then he was paid $5,000 for “PAC strategy consulting” on July 20. He was also paid $7,400 for online advertising to promote certain candidates. And he was reimbursed almost $12,300 for travel.
In short, Amy Kremer is a former Delta Airlines flight attendant with an every woman quality about her, and that's why she's out there in public: to draw in people who see her as a normal person, and to draw in their donations in the process, so that the consultants and lobbyists who really run the show can line their pockets and stay in nice hotels while ostensibly advancing a liberty agenda.  Kremer isn't a good speaker.  She's the perfect foil for the left, because she's easy to sidetrack, and what her backers at Russo, Marsh, and Associates understand is that the snide condescensions of leftist media pundits only serve to raise up indignation among the Tea Party base, who see Kremer as a martyr rather than a rube. It's not unfair to treat an incompetent speaker like an incompetent speaker, but doing so only serves to make the people watching at home feel as though the left is yet again heaping scorn on someone like them, and they open up their pockets to fund the Tea Party and advance its values without realizing that their money is going to the establishment GOP consultants who use the Tea Party Express as a funnel to fund their exorbitant fees and expensive trips.

There's no kitchen table legitimacy, no building of a broad-based constituency beyond those people who can be snookered into believing that by backing Kremer, they're really helping to advance the patriot movement.  Their constituency is one that carpetbagging charlatans have always understood to be financially potent: it's one of of resentment and perceived slights, where the slights and resentments can cause people to open their purses and wallets in the heat of the moment against better judgment.

Just 10 percent of the donations are actually spent on candidates, and what's the win-loss record of the Tea Party Express in backing candidates?  One win, seven losses. They managed to fund one winner in 2012, Senator Ted Cruz, and they managed to fund seven losers.

While Kremer may portray herself as somehow representative of the Tea Party movement and patriotic ideals, what her handlers love is her inarticulate, hayseed persona, because they know how it will play on television.  Those damned liberals like Soledad O'Brien are mistreating one of us again, condescending to our kind and our love of America, maligning her and us as racists! In the meantime, Russo, Marsh, and Associates send out the direct mailers and get paid in the process, both for the flyers and in the form of new donations.

Kremer isn't effective for the Tea Party movement and the principles it seeks to advance, and her organization exists not to advance liberty and a constitutionally grounded government; instead, it exists to funnel your money to the consultants standing behind it.  If we want to gain kitchen table legitimacy, we need effective communicators who can handle themselves on CNN, not people who exist to play to our resentments in order to get us to donate by serving as convenient victims for Soledad O'Brien.

We certainly don't need a spokesperson who endorses unbridled power for the president, and unquestioning reliance on the president's assertions when it comes to war.  We gave constitutional limits on the Executive Branch precisely because the Founders wished to avoid having a President who could drag us into war after war by fiat declaration.  We have a division of powers, and a system of checks and balances.  Amy Kremer is an illiterate Philistine with an ahistorical understanding of these realities, and for that reason alone, she should not be out in front representing those of us who do understand what the Constitution actually says and why it precludes unquestioning reliance upon the president's word in the path towards war.

Over the past two days, I've caught flack from no fewer than two nationally known Tea Party operatives, both of whom I respect on multiple levels.  I disagree vehemently with their sentiments, and their objection to the fact that I entitled a post Amy Kremer is a Slut for Authoritarianism.  In choosing a title, I had one other alternative: Amy Kremer is a Whore for the Consulting Firm of Russo, Marsh, and Associates.  I chose the less offensive option.

Ali A. Akbar and Dustin Stockton are people I like on a personal level, but my allegiance to liberty and small government ideals will not preclude me from calling a spade a spade.  The Tea Party Express has nothing to do with advancing our agenda of limited government, lower taxes, and reduced spending.  They're simply a funnel for the consulting firm of Russo, Marsh, and Associates, and the money we donate will go to that firm's bottom line rather than efforts to reclaim our government.  If we're going to build this movement into something that has traction in elections beyond a 1-7 record, we're going to need to discredit the likes of Amy Kremer ourselves before the mainstream media can hold her and her organization out as a convenient representative of our agenda.  It's called kitchen table legitimacy that can be sublimated into electoral victories, and Amy Kremer and her ilk are fundamentally incompatible with both ends.  

Libertariate TV: Gay Slurs, Cyprus, and DHS Bullets and Tanks, Oh, My!

Roundup: So Much Stupid

Our second Roundup since our return finds us focused on the Transportation Security Agency, which has two late-breaking examples of stupidity to zero in on: first, the TSA is now allowing small knives on planes; and second, TSA's parent agency, the Department of Homeland Security, has announced the acceptance of Saudi passengers into the Global Entry trusted traveler program.  The Global Entry program functions as an express pass of sorts for vetted travelers, enabling them to bypass all the passport checks and the like.  The Saudi government will be doing the vetting, despite the fact that 15 of the 19 hijackers on 9/11 were Saudis, and despite the reality that Saudi royals funded 9/ll, the same Saudi royals who make up the Saudi Arabian government. In the meantime, Germany and France are still awaiting approval for the Global Entry trusted traveler program, despite the fact that zero German or French passengers have ever hijacked an American passenger plane in order to crash it into the side of an American landmark.  

This is occurring despite the reality that the Saudis are continuing to fund Al Qaeda and have yet to prosecute a single individual identified by the United States as a terror funder.  In fact, the insurer Lloyds of London, which has paid out $215 million in claims related to 9/11, is so convinced of Saudi culpability for that attack that it is suing the Saudi government. The Lloyd's lawsuit alleges that the Saudis funded Al Qaeda with more than $74 million in contributions between 1998 and 2000.  The families of those killed in 9/11 have used confidential memos, tax filings, and other documentation to substantiate their allegation that the Saudi government funds terrorism, but they have been blocked from entering the documents into evidence at every turn.

Small knives and Saudi passengers fast tracked by the Saudi government, against a historical backdrop of fifteen Saudi hijackers who took over four jetliners while armed only with box cutters bought using Saudi government funds, does not make for a convincing argument that there are no safety issues.  Seriously, what could go wrong? 

While the Obama Administration is busy expediting air travel for Saudis, and releasing some 200 criminal illegal aliens into the streets of the United States as part of its politicizing of sequestration cuts, it is dropping the hammer on the Romeike family, a German family that sought asylum in the United States back in 2010 over their desire to homeschool their children. You see, in Germany, where Nazism  is a resurgent reality, the German government has made homeschooling illegal.  If the Romeike family returns to Germany, the parents face losing their children if they don't sign them up for public schools.  

The Obama Administration, which has vigorously pursued a path to citizenship for illegal aliens, sees no basis for the asylum claim of a German family with homeschooling parents who came here legally. As the attorney for the Romeike family, Michael Farris of the Homeschool Legal Defense Association puts it: 

“The Obama administration’s view is that individual liberty is not a valid basis for a political asylum claim for homeschooling."

However, coming here illegally by surreptitiously sneaking across the border is the basis for a path to citizenship that will grant de facto amnesty to illegal aliens.

Let's recap so far: knives on planes, Saudi passengers vetted by the terror-funding Saudi government fast-tracked, amnesty for illegal aliens, and deportation for Germans seeking asylum from their overreaching and tyrannical government.  There's so much stupid in these stories that there could hardly be any more stupid left!  Well, this is Roundup, and we specialize in compiling the stupid, and there is more stupid.  There is always more stupid.

We have the 26 Republicans who voted for an internet sales tax, via the inappropriately named Market Fairness Act, which passed the Senate 50-49 and will enable states to collect taxes for other states, via the Enzi Amendment to that Market Fairness Act.  While the Act is attached to the budget and therefore doomed in the House of Representatives, it has the effect of signaling to Harry Reid that the Enzi Amendment by itself will pass the Senate with Republican support, because the Enzi Amendment had a 75-24 vote.  This should let you know exactly where the Senate Republicans stand on new taxes, and tax increases, and increased tax power for the states.

And they want us to vote for them!  

Here's your twenty-six tax hiking and creating Republicans, America: 

Alexander, Blunt, Boozman, Burr, Chambliss, Coburn, Cochran, Collins, Corker, Crapo, Enzi, Fischer, Graham, Hoeven, Isakson, Johanns, Johnson, Kirk, McCain, Moran, Portman, Risch, Sessions, Shelby, Thune, and Wicker.

Our next example of the stupid is actor Jim Carrey, who has followed his sentiments on law-abiding gun owners up with a song entitled Cold Dead Hand, which, according to Carrey, "is abt u heartless motherf%ckers unwilling 2 bend 4 the safety of our kids.Sorry if you’re offended by the word safety! ;^}"  

Carrey's sentiments on legal gun purchases in the aftermath of the Newtown massacre are as follows: "Any1 who would run out to buy an assault rifle after the Newtown massacre has very little left in their body or soul worth protecting. ;^\"  With enlightened views like these, expressed in such an articulate fashion, it's no wonder the gun control lobby can't pass an assault weapons ban through Congress! Perhaps one day they'll realize...well, no, they won't, just like they can't seem to wrap their heads around the fact that criminals don't go to retail outlets where they'll face a background check to get their guns.  They don't go to gun shows, either. They get their relatives, friends, or the street thugs they know to procure the guns on their behalf, and the Obama Administration fails to prosecute federal gun law violations by the thousands.  No, the Obama Administration instead prefers to walk assault weapons across the Mexican border and then track them after they're used to commit hundreds of homicides.  

For Carrey and others of his mindset, the problem isn't an Administration that walks assault weapons over the border for the convenience of drug cartels, it's the millions of law-abiding Americans who see that Administration as a threat to their liberties and their safety as a result.  In the meantime, we have 63 drone sites in the United States, a president who is on record as saying that he doesn't believe people should be able to own guns while he was on the faculty at the University of Chicago, and a Department of Homeland Security that invested in up to 1.6 billion bullets and 2,700 armored personnel carriers.  

And that, ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls of uncertain gender identity, is the Roundup for today. There's still more stupid, so be back tomorrow for another edition of Roundup!