By Sarah Foster
Posted 1:00 AM Eastern
April 13, 2009
Rep. Michele Bachmann, a second-term conservative Republican congresswoman from Minnesota, has become the target of an increasingly vicious smear campaign by liberal bloggers for daring to openly criticize her Democratic colleagues and President Obama’s plans for the United States. The latest bash-Bachmann-fest springs from concerns she expressed on a local radio talk show that the AmericaCorps program, which is to be overhauled and vastly expanded through recently passed federal legislation, will morph into a mandatory service program, with young people sent to indoctrination centers for “re-education.”
“It’s under the guise of — quote — volunteerism,” Bachmann told host Sue Jeffers on KTLK-AM in Minneapolis during an interview April 3. “But it’s not volunteers at all. It’s paying people to do work on behalf of government. We had about 75,000 people involved in AmeriCorps before, this adds another 250,000 people, so more government employees – but what’s even more concerning about it is the focus is on young people.”
“The original language of the bill was mandatory service for government,” she continued. “Right now the language is voluntary, but just this last week a Democrat colleague introduced a bill to make this mandatory.
“I believe when is all said and done … there’s a very strong chance that we will see that young people will be put into mandatory service. And the real concern is that there are provisions for what I would call re-education camps for young people, where young people have to go and get trained in a philosophy that the government puts forward and then they have to go and work in some of these politically correct forums.
“So it’s very concerning. It appears that there’s a philosophical agenda behind all of this. And especially if young people are mandated to go into this, as a parent I would have a very, very difficult time seeing my children do this. Again – a huge power grab and it’s at a cost of billions of dollars.”
That was it. During the 15-minute interview Bachmann discussed the dangers of inflation and the national debt, new taxes, and the costs associated with the cap-and-trade policy to deal with the alleged dangers of global warming. But it was her comments about AmeriCorps, in a segment just over two minutes long, that triggered a splenetic outburst of rage across the blogosphere with comments ranging from snarky to obscene. Here are some examples:
At the very left-wing Huffington Post commenter “Skiwee” writes: This woman is a maniac and is dangerous!! How the people of her state voted her back in '08 is beyond me. I've always felt she was a little bit touched, but she has proven me wrong - she's full blown touched.”
From ”TyneCrescent” (also at Huffington Post): “The woman is certainly delusional, and a real embarrassment to the good people of Minnesota, and anyone else anywhere in America who can put together rational thoughts. Obviously, she lacks the mental capacity to do so.”
And, responding to the audio clip on YouTube, “Chicagoken” rants: This woman (Michele Bachman) is paranoid and delusional and needs to be recalled or impeached by her constituency. She is obviously unstable and without the capacity for distinguishing reality from her own fantasy.”
Those are three of the more tempered comments. Dylan and Ethan Ris, at aol.com, asked where in the bill are there provisions for mandatory service, at the same time slamming a popular news-site that’s been tracking the issue and the legislation from the moment Obama talked about it during his campaign.
“We're not exactly sure how she [Bachmann] sees North Vietnamese-style re-education camps in the bill, but we're pretty sure her source is the same reputable journalists who fed her the story about Obama replacing the dollar with a New World Order currency -- World Net Daily.”
The GIVE Act
Admittedly, the recently passed landmark bill, H.R. 1388 – originally titled the Generations Invigorating Volunteerism and Education Act (GIVE), and renamed the Ted Kennedy Serve America Act after its passage by the Senate on March 25 -- does not have a provision for mandatory service … yet. It’s essentially a series of government job programs, for which college students and other young people and seniors can apply and receive stipends and grants for “service oriented” work – just as Rep. Bachmann noted.
H.R. 1388 reauthorized the National and Community Service Act of 1990 and the Domestic Volunteer Service Act of 1973 – the bases for such programs as AmeriCorps, instituted by President Clinton in 1993 and the National Senior Service Corps. H.R. 1388 will increase the number of full-time and part-time “volunteers” from 75,000 to 250,000 by 2014 and create new school-based programs where students will be involved in mentoring, helping with health care programs in low-income communities, increasing energy efficiency, and park clean up.
Introduced by Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-N.Y.) on March 9, GIVE was zipped through the House and overwhelmingly approved 10 days later by a vote of 321-105. Title VI of the bill originally contained a provision – Sec. 6401 -- providing for the creation of a commission to investigate “Whether a workable, fair, and reasonable mandatory service requirement for all able young people could be developed, and how such a requirement could be implemented in a manner that would strengthen the social fabric of the National and overcome civic challenges by bringing together people from diverse economic, ethnic, and educational backgrounds.”
Title VI, with Section 6401, was removed during debate. However, the bill’s architects anticipated that section would raise red flags, so on March 11, Rep. Jim McDermott (D-Wash.) quietly introduced H.R. 1444. It’s identical to Title VI and can be brought forward at any time over the next two years and, if passed, will fit neatly into the existing law.
Bachmann’s Concerns “Prudent and Reasonable”
This is not at unlikely, and Bachmann is not alone or “crazy” because she foresees the possibility of universal mandatory service.
NewsWithViews.com contacted Prof. Alan Charles Kors, professor of history at the University of Pennsylvania and noted a authority on indoctrination, particularly of students, for his observations to Bachmann’s comments.
“I think that Rep. Bachmann's prudent and reasonable concerns are not that young people will be herded into ‘camps’ whose goal is ‘re-education,’ but that the ‘training’ for an expanded AmeriCorps, given the growing penchant for highly partisan, politicized, and indecently intrusive ‘sensitivity’ and ‘diversity’ training, will move in an Orwellian direction,” he replied in an e-mail.
A “Real Patriot Act”
Obama and Biden campaigned on the idea of “universal voluntary citizen service,” and presented an outline of their program in a nine-page report: Helping All Americans Serve Their Country, which contains provisions for public schools receiving funds contingent upon developing plans “enabling” youngsters to participate in service projects.
Particularly sinister, Rahm Emanuel – Obama’s chief of staff – made it clear that he favors mandatory service. In his 2006 book The Plan: Big Ideas for America, Emanuel calls for compulsory service for all Americans ages 18-25. He writes (pages 61-62):
“It’s time for a real Patriot Act that brings out the patriot in all of us. We propose universal civilian service for every young American. Under this plan, All Americans between the ages of eighteen and twenty-five will be asked to serve their country by going through three months of basic training, civil defense preparation and community service.” ...
“Here’s how it would work. Young people will know that between the ages of eighteen and twenty-five, the nation will enlist them for three months of civilian service. They’ll be asked to report for three months of basic civil defense training in their state or community, where they will learn what to do in the event of biochemical, nuclear or conventional attack: how to assist others in an evacuation; how to respond when a levee breaks or we’re hit by a natural disaster. These young people will be available to address their communities’ most pressing needs.”
“Squealing” about Freedom
Emanuel and co-author Bruce Reed claim “this is not a draft.” They are also aware that there will be resistance; that “some Republicans will squeal about individual freedom.”
Because of Emanuel’s book, Heritage Foundation in its blog First Principles warned last November that Obama’s critics “may be right”: “[Obama] does favor mandatory service and it might be worse than we thought,” the unidentified author declared.
“That Obama has chosen this man as his chief of staff should give anyone pause. This man has a plan that involves training our youth like soldiers, and calls upon ‘a new patriotism that brings us together again in a common mission’ for his plan which will ‘unite us in a higher national purpose.’”
1 - Alan Stang: Michele Bachmann and the Death of the Dollar: April 2, 2009
2 - Lynn Stuter: The Obama Machine Affirms Fear of Losing Office: April 1, 2009
3 - C.J. Graham: Will America Kids Trade Baseball Caps for Mandatory White Helmets? March 28, 2009
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Sarah Foster is a researcher and freelance writer: