By Amitabh Pal on December 20, 2013

So Michele Bachmann, Louie Gohmert and Steve King go to the Middle East.... Sounds like the opening line of a joke. Unfortunately, their recent venture to the region is no laughing matter.

The three-member congressional delegation (no other colleagues wanted their company?) dropped by Lebanon, Egypt, and Libya, and showed their true colors at each stop.

In Lebanon, they met with Samir Geagea, a militia head who was implicated in some vile stuff during Lebanon's civil war.

Geagea was "a hard-line Lebanese Christian militia leader back in the nasty old days when those militias were slaughtering one another and assassinating rival leaders," writes The Washington Post. "Geagea had been linked in the media to a number of civil-war-era killings, including those of a pro-Syrian prime minister and a prominent Christian politician."

The Egypt stop was no less troubling. The three members of Congress met with the military junta in a show of support. Their Egypt sojourn was a follow-up of sorts to a September trip in the aftermath of the military's takeover, during which they gave their approval to the move. (Bachmann also implied in a video then that the Muslim Brotherhood was responsible for 9/11. )

And in Libya, they focused on the right's favorite foreign policy obsession: Benghazi.

"I believe that [Benghazi is] a lot bigger than Watergate, and if you link Watergate and Iran-Contra together and multiply it times maybe ten or so, you're going to get in the zone where Benghazi is," King has previously said.

The congressional sojourn has been quite hush-hush, with nary a peep from their offices.

"One assumes [the visit] has something to do with Benghazi conspiracy theories, but even that's unclear -- none of the three even issued a press release about their trip," the International Business Times wrote. "But when these three travel abroad, claiming to represent the U.S. Congress, it's rather alarming, isn't it?"

Not just alarming, but astonishing, given the xenophobia and Muslim-bashing these three have displayed in the past.

Bachmann and Gohmert last year accused Huma Abedin, a close Hillary Clinton aide, of having ties to the Muslim Brotherhood, and asked the State Department to investigate her. Gohmert in the aftermath of the Boston bombings saw it fit to target both Latinos and Muslims, claiming that Al Qaeda camps in Mexico are training people to "act like Hispanic."

Gohmert also believes that birthright citizenship should be ended since radical Islamist mothers are arriving in this country to give birth to jihadists, and has implied on the House floor that President Obama's real allegiance is to Muslim countries.

King has also made nasty anti-immigrant statements, such as an assertion earlier this year that many immigrant youth have "calves the size of cantaloupes because they're hauling seventy-five pounds of marijuana across the desert" (and has publicly endorsed Bachmann's and Gohmert's allegations against Abedin).

The ulterior motives of their trip were not lost on some commentators in the countries they visited.

"These three Congressmembers do not care about Libya," Libyan columnist M. Elashhab wrote. "They have used 'Benghazi' as a political buzzword to try and drive down President Obama's approval ratings, stir fake outrage and push forward their failed political agenda."

Obsessing about Benghazi, meeting with an unsavory militia leader, and endorsing a military coup -- nothing funny about any of this.

Photo: Christopher Halloran / Shutterstock.com.

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By Wendell Berry

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more 
of everything ready made. Be afraid 
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery 
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card 
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something 
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know. 
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord. 
Love the world. Work for nothing. 
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. 
Denounce the government and embrace 
the flag. Hope to live in that free 
republic for which it stands. 
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man 
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.


Say that the leaves are harvested 
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus 
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come. 
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. 
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts. 
So long as women do not go cheap 
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep 
of a woman near to giving birth? 
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head 
in her lap. Swear allegiance 
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos 
can predict the motions of your mind, 
lose it. Leave it as a sign 
to mark the false trail, the way 
you didn’t go. Be like the fox 
who makes more tracks than necessary, 
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry is a poet, farmer, and environmentalist in Kentucky. This poem, first published in 1973, is reprinted by permission of the author and appears in his “New Collected Poems” (Counterpoint).

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