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Liars and lowlifes: Minnesota's own Michele Bachmann and Mary Franson
All over the web today: Michele Bachmann's utterly unsubstantiated and malicious charges that the Muslim Brotherhood has infiltrated the Obama administration. Former Republican presidential candidate, Senator John McCain, denounced her allegations on the Senate floor as "ugly and unfortunate" and praised the patriotism and work of the woman Bachmann targeted — Huma Abedin, an aide to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
According to The Guardian:
Bachmann, a member of the House intelligence committee, made the allegations in a June letter to the state department as well as in a letter Wednesday to fellow Minnesota lawmaker, representative Keith Ellison, a Democrat.
Ellison told Anderson Cooper that Bachmann's claims were untrue: "it’s 16 pages worth of nothing. It’s 16 pages worth of repeated false allegations. Just regurgitated nonsense."
This, of course, is not the first time that Bachmann has lied. PolitiFact, the non-partisan fact-checking organization, was frequently called on during her presidential campaign to check on various statements she made. In 18 out of 104 cases, PolitiFact found that her misstatements were so egregious that she merited its "pants on fire" rating. ("PANTS ON FIRE – The statement is not accurate and makes a ridiculous claim.") Bachmann got a "pants on fire," "false," or "mostly false" rating on 87 out of 104 statements evaluated.
And then there's State Representative Mary Franson. According to the Huffington Post, she re-told her "joke" about welfare recipients at a Tea Party gathering over the weekend. Franson thanked Tea Party members for supporting her as she endured the criticism that came her way the first time she compared food stamp users to animals. She repeated the joke to the Tea Party gathering, and got laughs and, presumably, continuing support:
"The U.S. Department of Agriculture is pleased to be handing out the most amount of food stamps ever," Franson said. "Meanwhile, when you go to the parks and rec, or the parks department, they say don't feed the animals because they may become dependent and not be able to take care of themselves."
Of course, for sheer lowlife conduct and brazen lies, it's hard to beat Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio. He and his buddies this week renewed their (completely debunked and discredited) attacks on President Obama's birth certificate and citizenship. Minnesota's Bachmann and Franson may not be quite as low as Arpaio yet — but they're trying.
In an election year, arguments get heated, but disagreements over policy are different from lies and smear tactics. Truth matters — and so does respectful, fact-based debate on the issues. PolitiFact leads the way, and the rest of the news media should follow, in exposing lies and liars through careful, fact-based reporting.