Current Events and the Psychology of Politics

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Summary: As the Tea Party continues to reshape the Republican Party, the GOP establishment wonders if the Tea Party movement will power Republicans to new victories in 2012, or dash them on the rocks of unbending ideology. … One-year retrospective: One year ago today, on August 6, 2010, Aubrey Immelman reported that NBC Dateline devoted a full hour to the murder mystery of Chris Jenkins, the University of Minnesota student who went missing in downtown Minneapolis on Halloween night, 2002.

Jul 14th, 2011

Summary: A new Quinnipiac poll shows Tea Party favorites Michele Bachmann (14%), Sarah Palin (12%), and Rick Perry (10%) are collectively running well ahead of Mitt Romney (25%) in the Republican presidential primary. … One-year retrospective: One year ago today, on July 14, 2010, Aubrey Immelman reported that eight American troops were killed in a series of attacks in the Kandahar offensive in southern Afghanistan.

May 16th, 2011

Summary: Michele Bachmann, three-term Republican congresswoman from Minnesota and a favorite of social conservatives and Christian fundamentalists, is poised to announce that she will run for president in 2012, with a formal announcement expected by June 2011. … One-year retrospective: One year ago today, on May 16, 2010, Aubrey Immelman reported that Dr. Frederik van Zyl Slabbert, former leader of the opposition in the South African parliament, had died.

Apr 12th, 2011

Summary: In a slow-starting 2012 Republican presidential field that lacks star power, Michele Bachmann is carving out a role as the polarizing Tea Party favorite with a dynamic, take-no-prisoners style. … One-year retrospective: One year ago today, on April 12, 2010, Aubrey Immelman reported that U.S. troops opened fire on a bus carrying Afghan civilians, killing five people and setting off anti-American protests in Kandahar, where coalition forces hope to rally the public for a coming offensive against the Taliban.

Apr 5th, 2011

Summary: Rep. Michele Bachmann leads an anti-spending “Cut Spending Now” rally outside the Capitol near where she stood in November 2009 before thousands of angry tea party activists protesting a Democrat-sponsored plan to overhaul the nation’s health care system. … One-year retrospective: One year ago today, on April 5, 2010, Aubrey Immelman featured an Associated Press analysis of tea party operations in almost every state and examined whether the movement could be fomenting extraconsitutional rebellion.

Summary: Five Fairbanks-area residents involved in a loose-knit militia group have been arrested in connection with a plot to kidnap or kill Alaska state troopers and U.S. District Court Judge Ralph Beistline. The group includes Francis “Schaeffer” Cox, the 26-year-old leader of the so-called “Sovereign Citizens” movement, which considers individuals to be sovereign nations not subject to any state or federal laws. … One-year retrospective: One year ago today, on March 14, 2010, Aubrey Immelman reported that Afghan insurgents said deadly bomb attacks in the southern city of Kandahar were a warning to NATO’s top commander, Gen. Stanley McChrystal, that the Taliban were ready for in their heartland.

Mar 13th, 2011

Summary: Rep. Michele Bachmann told political activists in Manchester, N.H., “You’re the state where the shot was heard around the world in Lexington and Concord.” But those first shots of the Revolutionary War were fired in Massachusetts, not New Hampshire. Bachmann’s mistake was striking given her roots in the Tea Party movement, which takes its name from the dumping of tea into Boston Harbor by angry American colonists in December 1773, 16 months before the Battle of Lexington Green. … One-year retrospective: One year ago today, on March 13, 2010, Aubrey Immelman reported that Rep. Michele Bachmann, addressing Tea Party activists, exploited U.S. troops serving in Afghanistan in an attempt to score some cheap political points by saying that passing the health reform bill would be a slam against the troops in Afghanistan and that the bill should be killed for the sake of the troops.

Mar 3rd, 2011

Summary: According to a new NBC/WSJ poll, 53 percent of respondents who said they expect to vote in the 2012 GOP presidential primary identified themselves as Tea Party supporters. Their favorite candidate right now: former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, who shot to prominence after winning the Iowa primary in 2008. House Tea Party Caucus leader Michele Bachmann of Minnesota was not named in the poll. … One-year retrospective: One year ago today, on March 3, 2010, Aubrey Immelman reported that the number of extremist groups in the United States exploded in 2009 as militias and other groups steeped in wild, anti-government conspiracy theories exploited populist anger across the country and infiltrated the mainstream, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center’s (SPLC) 2010 annual Intelligence Report.

Feb 28th, 2011

Summary: The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) has released its annual report on hate and extremism in the United States, titled “The Year in Hate & Extremism, 2010.” The report claims that more than 1,000 hate groups are now active in the United States, the most the SPLC has tallied since it began track these groups in the 1980s. In addition to “hate groups,” the SPLC also catalogued 824 anti-government “Patriot” groups and 319 “nativist extremist” groups. … One-year retrospective: One year ago today, on February 28, 2010, Aubrey Immelman reported that Pope Benedict XVI, saying “I pray for the victims,” urged survivors of Chile’s devastating earthquake to be courageous and asked the Catholic Church to play a role in relief efforts.

Summary: U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann has unveiled a plan for cutting $400 billion in federal spending that includes freezing Veterans Affairs Department health care spending and cutting veterans’ disability benefits. Veterans of Foreign Wars said Bachmann was “totally out of step with America’s commitment to our veterans”; Veterans for Common Sense said they were “outraged” that Bachmann’s proposal “would leave veterans twisting in the wind”; and Disabled American Veterans called Bachmann’s ideas “ill-advised,” “nothing short of heartless” and “wrong-headed.” … One-year retrospective: One year ago today, on January 29, 2010, Aubrey Immelman reported that an unrepentant Tony Blair defended his decision to join the United States in attacking Iraq, invoking the discredited neocon argument before a panel investigating the war that the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks made the threat of weapons of mass destruction impossible to ignore.