Tea Party History 101: The revisionists strike again

Robert R. Livingston

No kids allowed

Back in January, Michele Bachmann, the Republican rep from Minnesota, went off on a tangent about slavery and the founding fathers. You might have read about that somewhere.

In her Fractured Fairy Tales version of American history, the founding fathers “worked tirelessly until slavery was no more in the United States,” which was wrong, and John Quincy Adams (who really did work tirelessly against slavery) was a Founding Father, which was wrong.

When the Founding Fathers were busy founding the country, signing the Declaration of Independence, John Quincy Adams was eight-years-old. You can’t get around that. If you think you can get around that, you are not allowed to participate in any of the celebrations next Monday for you know what.

But Bachmann is trying to get around it. When George Stephanopoulos at ABC pointed out that she was wrong in saying John Q was a Founding Father, she said this:

Doesn’t admit she’s wrong. Doubles down on the crazy.

So what happens next? Her supporters feel if she’s not going to change her mind, the next thing to do is change history. So this happened:

Now it appears that her supporters have altered Wikipedia to make it appear that John Quincy Adams was a Founding Father, even though he was only a child when his father John Adams, America’s second President, signed the Declaration of Independence.

And here’s their handiwork (click for a bigger view):


Now, this shouldn’t bother me, because as some of my past posts have shown, I don’t take Bachmann seriously.

But then I see that others do. In recent polls, she’s now the number two choice for Republicans in the nomination for president and the favorite to win the Iowa caucuses. At this rate, the Republican ticket in 2012 will be Romney/Bachmann. And if the economic situation doesn’t get any better, that ticket will make the race a close one.

There used to be a time in this country when you demanded your leaders be smarter than you were. These days, all bets are off.

Lagarde gets the top IMF job

2011 G-20 Presser

Image by IMF via Flickr

Christine Lagarde of France was chosen as the new head of the International Monetary Fund today. It was a done deal when Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner said the U.S. would endorse her over the other candidate for the job, Mexico’s central bank governor.

So the general rule of international finance prevails: Europe gets the IMF, the U.S. gets the World Bank. The developing world is put on hold.

So now that Lagarde, the soon-to-be former French finance minister, has the job. Here is one of the first things she’s going to have to deal with:

This is Athens on Tuesday, when Greek Unions called a general strike against the austerity measures being proposed to keep the country out of bankruptcy. The Greek Parliament is calling for wage cuts, tax hikes and selling public companies to the private sectors. If that doesn’t happen, foreign lenders, specifically the European Union and the IMF, won’t lend Greece the money it needs to avoid default.

As you can see, the people are not happy. It’s pretty much expected the measures will pass. And you can pretty much expect the demonstrations are going to be more violent. And even if Greece gets the money, chances are it still won’t get out of trouble.

And Greece isn’t the only western European country on the verge of collapse. Keep an eye on Portugal, Ireland, Italy and Spain when the Greek plan fails. So Lagarde is going to be extremely busy and will be under a lot of pressure to make things right. Given the situation, it’s doubtful anyone can succeed here.

(Oh, and here’s the obligatory “Lagarde is the first woman to head the IMF” line, which is kind of ironic since the previous IMF chief, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, is awaiting a rape trial in New York.)

A musical interlude

I didn’t know the theme for this …

… and the theme for this…

… were written by the same guy.

Fred Steiner, who wrote the theme songs for “Perry Mason” and “Rocky and Bullwinkle” died last week at the age of 88. According to Variety, if you watched television in the 1950s and ’60s, you heard his work in numerous shows, including episodes of “The Twilight Zone,” “Star Trek” and “The Wild Wild West,” but his most memorable music was for Perry and Rocky.

Now, you’ll have those tunes running through your head the rest of the day.

A surrogate candidate?

This was on Jezebel:

While Rep. Gabrielle Giffords has been focused on her recovery, many have been inappropriately concerned with whether or not she’ll be well enough to run in 2012. Now the speculation has shifted to her husband Mark Kelly, which still premature, but somewhat less gauche.

This makes sense. Mark Kelly just retired from NASA. In his retirement message, he said: “After some time off, I will look at new opportunities and am hopeful that one day I will again serve our country.”

Giffords is recovering from being shot in the face by a psychopath because of Arizona’s lax gun laws. This is going to be a long process, and the last thing she needs to worry about is getting reelected. But as the Jezebel post points out, Kelly lives in Texas. If they move to Giffords house in Arizona, that adds a new dimension to the speculation. One other thing to consider is that John Kyl is retiring as Arizona’s senator. Giffords’s name had been tossed about as a candidate for that seat. Would Kelly be interested in that. If he takes a political track, he should easily keep her House seat.

Of course, the next question will be “Is he a Democrat?”

I suspect my relatives in Arizona have some idea on whether this is feasible. We’ll see what happens.

Oh, I’m sorry. There’s just one more thing …

I caught a 1972 episode of “Columbo” recently called “Etude in Black” where John Cassavetes plays a symphony conductor who murders his mistress.

Early in the episode, a familiar older woman showed up as his mother-in-law. It took a few minutes to realize that the older woman was familiar because I remembered her as a younger woman from movies in the 1940s. It was Myrna Loy.

But a scene that really struck me was when the wife of Cassavetes’s character and the daughter of Loy’s character appeared. There on the screen was Gwenyth Paltrow. But, of course, it wasn’t. Gwenyth Paltrow was born Sept. 27, 1972. The episode first aired on Sept. 17, 1972. The actress, of course, was a pregnant Blythe Danner, Gwenyth Paltrow’s mother.

And Peter Falk was Columbo.

The combination made me focus on time and aging, and how you can live forever through television and the movies.

John Cassavetes died in 1989 at what I once considered the old age of 59, but now realize is relatively young, given that I’m quickly speeding to that number of years of existence. Myrna Loy died in 1993 at the age of 88, but here’s what gets me. I remember when she died, and I thought it was only a couple of years ago, because I recall when she was interviewed when William Powell died. But he died in 1984. That was 27 years ago. To me, they’re still the suave sophisticates throwing back martinis and solving murders in “The Thin Man” movies that were made long before I was born.

Blythe Danner is now 68 years old, and her baby, who was born 10 days after the Columbo episode aired, is now the mother of two children … and an Academy Award winning actress.

Did I mention that Pat Morita, Mr. Miyagi from “The Karate Kid” was also in the episode in a bit role as “The House Boy”? He died in 2005.

And Peter Falk died this week. That’s a tough one to deal with. Lt. Columbo is destined to be an eternal character. I watched the “NBC Mystery Movies” back in the ’70s when they alternated between “Columbo,” “McCloud,” “McMillan and Wife” and a fourth series that I’ve completely forgotten because the fourth series was always being replaced by another series. But “Columbo was the one I looked forward to more than any of the others.

There was an overwhelming charm to the cockeyed detective who was totally disheveled in his ratty trench coat, driving his beat up 1959 Peugeot cabriolet (top always up) and occasionally dragging along his sad looking Basset Hound to a murder scene. Columbo is the prototype for every dysfunctional detective since. (Some would say the prototype is Sherlock Holmes, but really, Holmes was an unlikable drug addict. In the parlance of today’s America, Columbo was the kind of guy you wanted to have a beer with.)

And, Columbo was a genius. He played the idiot, and he always had “just one more question, sir.” And you pretty much knew when he knew who the murderer was. Still he didn’t telegraph it like another quirky detective, “Monk,” with a “he’s the guy.”

One of my favorite Columbo episodes was in the sixth season with Theodore Bikel called “The Bye-Bye Sky High I.Q. Murder Case,” where Columbo had to solve a murder committed by a genius. In the final scene, the genius asks the lieutenant (who didn’t have a first name, although the ID he showed in several other episodes — if you looked very closely — was for “Frank Columbo”) a question from an IQ test. Of course, it only takes a second for Columbo to come up with the right answer.

Peter Falk died at 83. But Columbo lives forever.

The Idoru (part 2)

This is Aimi Eguchi.

She’s a member of the Japanese pop-music girl group AKB48. And she starred in a Japanese candy commercial.

What’s more significant: She’s not real.

She’s a composite of various members of AKB48. The pop group is more of a pop franchise. There are four “Teams.” Teams A, K and B consist of 16 members each. There’s also a Team 4, consisting of 10 members. It’s most likely the largest band in the world.

So it’s interesting that a “band” that’s really four bands with interchangeable cute girls is taking the next evolutionary step to create a virtual band member. Why hire people and pay them full salaries, when you can just take the best attributes of cute girls and combine them to come up with a cuter girl? Like so:

She’ll have a string of hits, and she won’t ask for a raise. The Japanese have done this before with Hatsune Miku, who has performed “live” in sell-out concerts. But Hatsune at least looks like an anime figure. Aimi Eguchi looks like a real person.

If I were a young actor or an aspiring singer, I would be extremely worried.

NOTE: Let’s not forget we Americans have had our own virtual band with a No. 1 pop hit.

(The animation for The Archies, of course, could have used a lot of work.)