The new Republican majority in the House of Representatives won last year’s midterm elections based on a single mantra: focus on jobs. Since taking control, they’ve done everything but that, abandoning an attempt to redefine rape, extending controversial aspects of the Patriot Act, and a slew of other legislation that does nothing to address the economy or unemployment. By the same token, the newly elected Tea Partiers have focused on a grab-bag of proposals that appear to do one thing: satisfy the far extreme factions of their Koch Brothers funded “grassroots” movement.
As a group, the Tea Party caucus has claimed to champion the Constitution and fight against Government intervention in their private lives, but their legislative focus seems to include the most blatant unconstitutional and oppressive measures that once seemed impossible in America.
Joshua Holland of AlterNet recently compiled a list of this “sad collection of proposals,” and after close examination, you wouldn’t think we were dealing with an unemployment rate over 9 percent for almost two years.
Here’s the list of the nutty things Tea Partiers are proposing:
1. Georgia Bill Would Ban Drivers’ Licenses
Georgia state Rep. Bobby Franklin, R-Marietta, doesn’t believe driving your car is an “inalienable right.” He’s completely off base here because driver’s licenses are issued by state governments and not the federal government.
In his bill, Franklin states, “free people have a common law and constitutional right to travel on the roads and highways that are provided by their government for that purpose. Licensing of drivers cannot be required of free people, because taking on the restrictions of a license requires the surrender of an inalienable right.” [CBS Atlanta affiliate]
2. Forcing Science Teachers to ‘Question’ Evolution
For Oklahoma lawmaker Sally Kern, there’s an intense “scientific controversy” over whether Jesus in fact rode around on dinosaurs, and she’s introduced a bill requiring teachers to explore that possibility. According to Think Progress, Kern’s bill “would require the state and local authorities to ‘assist teachers to find more effective ways to present the science curriculum where it addresses scientific controversies‘ … but the only topics mentioned in the bill as contestable are ‘biological evolution, the chemical origins of life, global warming, and human cloning.’”
The National Center for Science Education notes that the proposal is the fourth anti-evolution measure to be offered in 2011 and the second in Oklahoma.
3. Let’s Use Tax Dollars to Finance Anti-Government Militias!
After Timothy McVeigh’s deadly terror attack on a federal office building in Oklahoma City, the popularity of the “Patriot” Movement — with its reactionary anti-government militias – declined. But now that we have a black president in the Oval Office who signed a health-care bill, the militias are once again on the rise.
Think Progress reports that, “in a nod to extremism, Montana state Rep. Wendy Warburton (R) is introducing a bill to … creat[e] what she dubs ‘home guards’ to provide services in case major emergencies (sic).” The Billings Gazette noted that the bill “would allow the ‘home guard’ organizations to be formed in companies each with their own uniforms, flags and identities. Its language also would allow them to form into ‘infantry companies.’”
The “home guard” would not be subject to federal oversight and a company would only be recognized if certified by the governor. Creating the paramilitary groups would cost the state about $45,000 per year for the first few years, and the state would be required to pay for damaged equipment used by the groups during active duty.
4. Let’s Pay China’s Central Bank and Default on Grandma and Grandpa
At the federal level, we will soon face a very silly pissing match over whether or not to raise the debt ceiling – the limit on how much public debt the government can take on. Nobody really believes that the GOP will heed the calls from its most extreme members to block the increase.
But newly minted Senator Pat Toomey is nevertheless making preparations for that possibility, offering legislation that’s not likely to appeal to the older Tea Party types who helped him to victory. Talking Points Memo reports that Toomey is preparing a bill that would “force the U.S. government to reroute huge amounts of money to China and other creditors in the event that Congress fails to raise its debt ceiling.”
If passed, Toomey’s plan would require the government to cut large checks to foreign countries, and major financial institutions, before paying off its obligations to Social Security beneficiaries and other citizens owed money by the Treasury — that is, if the U.S. hits its debt ceiling.
5. Texas ‘Birther’ Offers Bill Criminalizing Health-Care Reform
We’ve heard a lot about “criminalizing politics” – Tom Delay’s defenders continue to insist it was this dastardly trend, rather than his wanton violations of the criminal code, which was responsible for the disgraced former Speaker’s conviction.
Now another Texas lawmaker’s taking the idea to the extreme. State Rep. Leo Berman, R-Tyler, really, really doesn’t like the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act passed by Congress last year. In fact, he likes it so little that he’s offered up a bill that would make it a felony – punishable by up to five years in prison – for a federal official to implement the law duly passed by the United States Congress last year.
6. Slew of Birther Bills
That wasn’t Berman’s first legislative foray into the fever swamps of far-right politics. Just weeks after the midterms, he introduced a “Birther bill” requiring presidential (and vice presidential) candidates to provide a “long-form” birth certificate in order to appear on the ballot. Berman explained to the Lubbock Avalanche Journal that the bill is needed “because we have a president whom the American people don’t know whether he was born in Kenya or some other place.”
7. Arizona’s Let’s Re-Litigate the Civil War Act
If you have a decent grasp of our nation’s history, you probably know that we settled the question of whether states could simply ignore federal laws when it suited them in April of 1865, when Robert E. Lee surrendered his Confederate army to Ulysses S. Grant.
That’s not the Tea Partiers’ version of history, however. The “Tenthers” believe the states have the right, under the Constitution, to simply reject federal laws, and a host of politicians have offered legislation to “nullify” the Dems’ health-care reforms.
In Idaho, Think Progress reported that lawmakers “are drawing inspiration for an unconstitutional nullification bill from an unusual source — a co-founder of a neo-Confederate hate group” named Thomas Woods.
Woods is, to say the least, a questionable source of counsel for a sitting state governor and state senator. One of the founders of the neo-Confederate League of the South, Woods once published an article declaring the Confederacy to be “Christendom’s Last Stand.” In it, he endorses the view that the Civil War was a battle between “atheists, socialists, communists, red republicans, jacobins on the one side and the friends of order and regulated freedom on the other,” and he concludes that “[t]he real watershed from which we can trace many of the destructive trends that continue to ravage our civilization today, was the defeat of the Confederate States of America in 1865.”
Twelve states have considered similar measures, mostly relating to health-care reform. But Arizona has gone a step further. State senator Russel Pearce, the far-right lawmaker credited with Arizona’s draconian “papers, please” immigration law, has introduced a measure that legal scholar Jessica Pieklo calls a “secession bill.” The law would establish a panel that would review all federal legislation and could “vote by simple majority to nullify in its entirety a specific federal law or regulation that is outside the scope of the powers delegated by the people to the federal government.”
Pieklo notes that it’s the task of the judicial branch rather than the legislature to make those calls, and views the whole un-Constitutional mess “as a way to push the idea of secession without the messy business of actually having to secede, or without forcing the state to opt out … of generous federal funding.”
8. Two-Tiered Citizenship or Just Symbolic Nonsense?
A group of hardline immigration foes in a handful of states are trying to get Congress to allow them to issue two kinds of birth certificates — one for children of citizens and another for the kids of undocumented immigrants. The problem is that according to the 14th Amendment of the Constitution, they’re all U.S. citizens, and all are guaranteed equal protection under the law.
9. Health-Care Mandates Are Unconstitutional, So Let’s Force Everyone to Buy Guns
Speaking of symbolic legislation, Taegan Goddard reports, “five South Dakota lawmakers have introduced legislation that would require any adult 21 or older to buy a firearm ‘sufficient to provide for their ordinary self-defense.’” The pols admit that the bill is an act of political theater designed to high-light their belief that the individual mandate in the health-care bill is unconstitutional.
10. The ‘Don’t Call Those Sluts Victims!’ Act
One of the most glaring examples of a right-wing “solution” to a problem that doesn’t exist comes to us from Georgia’s Bobby Franklin – the same guy who thinks driver’s licenses are unconstitutional.
Huffington Post’s Amanda Terkel reports that Franklin “doesn’t like the term rape ‘victim.’ In fact, he has introduced a bill mandating that state criminal codes refer to these people as, simply, ‘accusers’ — until there’s a conviction in the matter.” To be clear, Franklin thinks it’s perfectly fine to refer to the victims of every other violent crime as such, but not rape victims.
And, as Terkel notes, “Rape and sexual assault are chronically underreported crimes.”
11. The ‘Make Sure Doctors Don’t Ask Patients Too Many Questions’ Act
Jason Brodeur, a local Tea Party newcomer in Florida has cooked up a bill that would make it a crime – potentially punishable with jail time – for a doctor to ask a patient about whether there are guns in his or her home. For a devoted constitutionalist, the bill appears pretty troublesome. After all, the government isn’t allowed to limit an individual’s right to free speech just because some wing-nut in the Florida statehouse has a gun fetish. Or, as theOrlando Sentinel put it, the proposed law “protects the Second Amendment from the First.”
It’s not a law that’s on the table, and the proposal was made before the midterms, but as long as we’re on the subject of crazy approaches to immigration, honorable mention goes to Georgia State Representative John Yates, who, when asked how he would approach immigration control at a candidate forum, said that “leaflets [should be] dropped all over Mexico [saying] that we will shoot to kill if anybody crosses and be serious about this.” According to the local Fox News affiliate, “When asked if he could see why people would be upset with his comments Yates said, “No, I don’t think they’d be upset with what I’d say.”
“Stopping Hitler was worth the price,” he added, because washing dishes for crappy wages in your local diner is just like invading Poland.
The crazies are running the insane asylum!