Bullying is repeated behavior causing emotional or physical danger that comes from an imbalance of power. These actions could be threats, rumors, exclusions, or attacks either physically or verbally. The key term is power imbalance: if all participants are on the same level, it is probably a disagreement. Recently Michele Bachmann brought a lot of media down on her head for accusing gay people of “bullying” her and the American people.
Her accusation came from the Arizona bill that could have made discrimination against anyone the law of the state if Gov. Jan Brewer had signed it. To Bachmann, the LGBT community is so powerful that it is persecuting religious people and taking away their freedom. She also railed against wealthy liberals who donate money to protect people from discrimination. Her goal is to have Democrats prosecuted under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) for their intimidation of conservative billionaires.
Bachmann won’t be back in the 114th Congress, but the FBI is investigating her and her husband, Marcus, for possible money laundering, mail fraud, and wire fraud. The Department of Justice is also looking into a possible illegal coordination between Bachmann’s 2012 presidential campaign and a super PAC. It may have made her a bit testy. Meanwhile she’ll continue to vote for harassing bills like the following one.
Yesterday, the GOP members of the House passed the 51st bill in 38 months to water-down the Affordable Care Act. Deep Medicare cuts will go into effect at the end of the month without this bill, but a five-year delay of ACA was attached to the bill, meaning it will fail in the Senate. The American Medical Association opposed the bill despite the damage for its members without the bill’s changes. As with the shutdown of the government and the refusal to raise the debt limit, the GOP continues their rule of “give us what we want” or ….
The Congressional Budget Office determined that the GOP bill would cause health insurance premiums to increase and leave 13 million people with no insurance. The refusal to repair the Medicare cuts will also disrupt the health care system. The GOP created a lose-lose situation with its efforts at extortion.
House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) is known for being a bit of a bully for his refusal to allow votes on bills that the people of the United States want. Just Google “Boehner refuses to allow votes.” This month the GOP House leaders upped the ante when Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), chair of the Oversight Committee, made a literal motion to “cut” the mic the minute that ranking committee member Elijah Cummings (D-MD) began to speak.
As a protest, House Democrats introduced a resolution to condemn Issa’s shameful move. Dozens of them flanked Rep. Dan Kildee (D-MI) as he introduced the measure and held up iPads or other mobile devices showing the Issa’s action.
No surprise when the motion was voted down, but a Republican invoked a non-existent rule: “Representatives will lower their iPads, as it is against the rules of the House!” Ironic, because the failed motion was to condemn Issa for not following the rules.
Issa said his actions didn’t affect possible House contempt action against former IRS employee Lois Lerner, but Cummings disagrees:
“Not two, but seven independent Constitutional law experts have now concluded that Chairman Issa botched the contempt proceedings…. No reasonable person would accept his legal views over those of the United States Supreme Court. Contrary to Chairman Issa’s accusations, we are not defending Lois Lerner or her actions—we are defending the Constitution and the rights it guarantees to all Americans.”
In trying to win his points against the Affordable Care Act, Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC) attempted to bully Dr. Danielle Martin, vice-president at the Women’s College Hospital (Toronto), during a subcommittee hearing about healthcare in Canada. During his question time, he brought up the tired chestnuts of Canadian doctors moving to the United States and rich people going to the U.S. for surgery.
“Thank you for your question, senator. If I didn’t express myself in a way that made myself understood, I apologize. There are no doctors exiting the public system in Canada; and in fact we see a net influx of physicians from the United States into the Canadian system over the last number of years.”
Burr asked, “On average, how many Canadian patients on a waiting list die each year? Do you know?”
Martin answered, “I don’t, sir, but I know that there are 45,000 in America who die waiting because they don’t have insurance at all.”
Still smarting from President Obama’s refusal to protect the unconstitutional anti-marriage equality law DOMA, part of which was overturned last summer by a U.S. Supreme Court ruling, the House has passed the “Enforce the Law Act.” If it became law, the House could sue the president) if anyone in the administration does not follow through in “enforcing, applying, following, or administering any provision of a Federal statute, rule, regulation, program, policy, or other law.” Other of the GOP-perceived offenses by the president include not enforcing deportations of “DREAMers,” delaying parts of the Affordable Care Act, and working with states that have now legalized medical or all use of marijuana.
If this bill were to become law, individual states would lose all ability to make laws. One part of control over states is the new guidelines for food stamps. Thus far six states have increased the amount of energy assistance funding to low-income people to comply with food stamps requirement, and another nine states could follow suit. This is within the purview of the states, but House conservatives are claiming that these actions are fraudulent.
When Michele Bachmann was confronted by real bullying, she stayed silent. Nine students in one school district represented by Bachmann killed themselves within two years because of their treatment in the schools. Other students in the same district were hospitalized because they had attempted suicide. Bachmann’s anti-gay allies were responsible for the climate of intolerance that continued the crisis. Bachmann herself began her political career as an education activist and has always fought what she called the “homosexual agenda.”
The district prevented students from starting a gay-straight alliance club (GSA), widely known as one way to prevent suicides among LGBTQ youth. It’s also another way to prevent youth from being bullied even if they don’t identify as LGBTQ. The district policy requiring teachers to remain “neutral” about homosexuality even led them to look the other way whenever they saw bullying on the school campus. Harassed students were told to transfer to another school and blamed for physical attacks on them.
The school district allowed religious activists to hold a “Day of Truth,” championed by the “ex-gay ministry” Exodus International that is usually held the day before the Day of Silence. Students were encouraged to “preach to the gay kids.” After 15-year-old Justin Aaberg told his mother that another student said he would go to hell because he was gay, he hanged himself in his bedroom.
Although Bachmann had nothing to say about the suicides, she does oppose anti-bullying legislation. At a hearing on a state legislature bill, she testified that bullying is simply a fact of life. She said, ”There have always been bullies, always have been, always will be.”
Suicide doesn’t bother Bachmann, but selling cakes to “undesirable” people is not okay. And she still votes with the other far-right House members to oppose rights for minorities, women, the poor, and LGBT people. Bachmann is not running again, but everyone now knows that her Waterloo is—cake. People should tell her that “there have always been bullies.”