Sorry to do this to you all so early in the New Year but the list has grown longer based partly on a study by the Guttmacher Institute regarding 2011’s War on Women’s Reproductive Rights. There are some other new items as well including Right to Work laws and the Republican dream of polluting the Colorado River. It seems somehow fitting to examine this war on progress on the anniversary of the day the U.S. House of Representatives rejected a proposal to give women the right to vote back in 1915. Enjoy with Alka Seltzer or something stronger – Hrafnkell:
2011 was a rough year for America and Americans, particularly for American women, but also for minorities, immigrants, and the environment and for the U.S. Constitution. As a New York Times editorial said on the year’s last day, “After they took power in January, the hard-line Republicans who dominate the House reached for a radical overhaul of American government, hoping to unravel the social safety net, cut taxes further for the wealthy and strip away regulation of business.” It is true that the Democrats kept the Republicans from achieving most of their goals, but the damage cannot be minimized.
On March 14, 2011 we first published a list of thirty pieces of Republican legislation “that Republicans are using to destroy America” and called it “The Dirty Thirty.” That original list has been updated several times and grown significantly although the list is incomplete, given there have been a thousand bills alone restricting a woman’s right to abortion. If most of the laws directed toward Women’s Reproductive Rights seem petty and punitive, well…they are.
(As always, new items and categories in red).
The War on Freedom of Expression
This particular piece of legislation from Indiana may seem a minor annoyance to some, but it represents a far greater threat to America than it might seem. It also goes to show that Wisconsin and Michigan Tea Partiers have nothing on their Hoosier brethren.
o State Sen. Vaneta Becker (R) has proposed legislation that would not improve math or science skills, or indeed, anything having to do with education, but which would introduce, reports the Indianapolis Star, “’performance standards’for singing and playing ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’ at any event sponsored by public schools and state universities.” Also affected would be private schools receiving state or local scholarship funds, including vouchers. The GOP and it’s Tea Party allies claim to be all for small and unintrusive government, but the new law would require performers “to sign a contract agreeing to follow the guidelines. Musicians — whether amateur or professional — would be fined $25 if it were deemed they failed to meet the appropriate standards.” Additionally, “schools to maintain audio recordings of all performances for two years and develop a procedure for dealing with complaints if a musician is alleged to have strayed from the approved lyrical or melodic guidelines.”
The War on Women’s Reproductive Rights
Despite an electorate that is overwhelmingly pro-choice, there is no doubt that the GOP’s first goal is to deprive women of their reproductive rights. It’s so important an issue to the GOP that out of some 40,000 laws of all types enacted in 2011, as RMuse wrote here the other day, “there were nearly 1,000 bills in state legislatures to restrict a woman’s right to legal abortion services” (up from 950 in 2010). Alternet lists the 10 worst states in which to be a woman. The lone piece of good news was the unexpected sanity of Mississippi voters.
o A new report from the Guttmacher Institute details the extent of 2011’s war on Women’s Reproductive Rights. The report states,
- By almost any measure, issues related to reproductive health and rights at the state level received unprecedented attention in 2011. In the 50 states combined, legislators introduced more than 1,100 reproductive health and rights-related provisions, a sharp increase from the 950 introduced in 2010. By year’s end, 135 of these provisions had been enacted in 36 states, an increase from the 89 enacted in 2010 and the 77 enacted in 2009. (Note: This analysis refers to reproductive health and rights-related “provisions,” rather than bills or laws, since bills introduced and eventually enacted in the states contain multiple relevant provisions.)
- Fully 68% of these new provisions—92 in 24 states—-restrict access to abortion services, a striking increase from last year, when 26% of new provisions restricted abortion. The 92 new abortion restrictions enacted in 2011 shattered the previous record of 34 adopted in 2005.
- Abortion restrictions took many forms: bans (6 states), waiting periods (3 states), ultrasound 5 states), insurance coverage (3 states joined the existing 5 with such restrictions), clinic regulations (4 states), medication abortion (7 states).
o Anti-abortion Laws
Republican legislators have introduced a wide array of laws designed to either outlaw abortion outright or to discourage it by making ridiculous and sometimes humiliating requirements of women who might consider having a pregnancy terminated. These include so-called TRAP (Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers) regulations.
- Republicans in the House proposed a bill (HR 1179) called “Respect for Rights of Conscience Act of 2011.” The bill, introduced by Jeff Fortenberry (R-Neb), allows health care providers and pharmacists to deny birth control to women if it conflicts with their religious or moral convictions.
- Rep. George Lavender, R-Texarkana, has proposed a bill (House Bill 2988) that would prevent any abortion except in cases of rape, incest or the life of the mother.
- In Georgia, a bill (SB 209) sponsored by Sen. Barry Loudermilk, R-Cassville, would close all abortion clinics in the state and require abortions to be performed in hospitals
- South Dakota wants to require “spiritual” counseling (House Bill 1217) at religious centers before allowing an abortion to take place. The bill was signed into law in March 2011 and challenged in court by Planned Parenthood and the ACLU in May.
- Also in South Dakota, H.B. 1166, which was enacted in 2005, was, says RHRealityCheck.org, billed as an “informed consent law,” but what it really mandated was misinformation, requiring doctors “to tell a woman seeking an abortion that she faces an ‘increased risk of suicide ideation and suicide,’ a claim for which there is absolutely no scientific or medical evidence.” On September 2, 2011, “Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals threw out important provisions of a South Dakota law that literally forced doctors to lie to their patients.”
- The Texas State House of Representatives has passed the Sonogram Bill (HB 15), a measure requiring women to get a sonogram before ending a pregnancy, forcing even victims of rape to have a sonogram at least 24 hours before the procedure. Gov. Rick Perry has signed the bill into law, which takes effect September 1, 2011. There are exceptions in cases of rape and incest.
- Georgia State Representative Bobby Franklin has introduced a bill that would not only make abortion illegal but would make miscarriages illegal.
- Indiana (House Bill 1210) wants to force doctors to lie to women about abortion causing breast cancer despite medical evidence to the contrary in order to discourage women from having abortions
- Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.) introduced a bill in the U.S. House of Representatives, the “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act,” (HR 3) that would limit the rape exemption for abortion to “forcible rape” which would have defined many rapes, for example, statutory rape of a minor, as non-forcible and therefore not covered by federal assistance. Mother Jones has reported another aspect of this legislation, that the IRS would be turned into abortion-cops: “Were this to become law, people could end up in an audit, the subject of which could be abortion, rape, and incest,” says Christopher Bergin, the head of Tax Analysts, a nonpartisan, not-for-profit tax policy group. “If you pass the law like this, the IRS would be required to enforce it.”
- Representative Joe Pitts (R-PA) introduced a bill (HR 358 – the “Protect Life Act”) would allow states to deny insurance coverage for birth control meaning hospitals could deny abortion procedures and transport to a facility that would provide a woman with an abortion even if failure to provide an abortion would mean the death of the woman. The “Let Women Die Act” passed the House on 10/13/11.
- Louisiana State Rep. John LaBruzzo, R-Metairie wants to sentence both women and doctors who commit this crime the ban to 15 years hard labor. The law would make no exceptions for cases of danger to the health of the mother, incest or rape.
- The U.S. House of Representatives passed (by a 234-182 vote) an amendment sponsored by Virginia Foxx (R-NC) prohibiting teaching hospitals from receiving federal funding if they teach doctors how to perform abortions. Unfortunately, as a result of this legislation new physicians will not receive the training needed to save women’s lives. As Correntewire.com puts it, “234 members of the House voted to ban the teaching of medical procedures that are vital in saving the lives of women who have miscarried, or have complications that endanger their health, or who aren’t even pregnant.”
- In Ohio, Janet Porter’s “Heartbeat Bill” criminalizing abortion and which was backed by Newt Gingrich and Michele Bachmann, passed the Ohio State House on June 28, 2011. “It prohibits abortions after only about six weeks, a time when many women do not yet even know they are pregnant,” said Armond Budish, leader of the Democratic caucus in the House. The bill is currently being held up in the Senate. See the latest update on Porter’s antics at Right Wing Watch.
- Also in Ohio, The state budget, approved June 28, 2011 by the Senate, bars state hospitals from performing abortions.
- Mother Jones reports that “Every abortion provider in the state of Kansas has been denied a license to continue operating as of July 1 .” This is the result, according to Mother Jones, of passage in April of a law “directing the Kansas Department of Health and Environment to author new facility standards for abortion clinics, which the staunchly anti-abortion GOP governor, Sam Brownback, signed into law on May 16.” It turns out that if you want to know how these new rules were developed, you can’t, because the Republicans don’t want to tell you, and won’t.
- On July 1, 2011 a budget impasse shut down the government of the state of Minnesota. The Republican majorities in the house and senate refuse to negotiate in good faith, insisting that a list of social issues be included in the budget, including abortion restrictions.
- In Arizona, the House of Representatives passed House Bill 2443 sponsored by Republican Rep. Steve Montenegro, on February 21, 2011. The bill, if passed into law, would criminalize abortions being performed because of the race or sex of the fetus. Montenegro claims that “there are targeted communities that the abortion industry targets.” If made law, HB 2443 would require that “women seeking abortions in Arizona will have to sign a statement declaring that race or sex was not the reason they sought the procedure.”
- In Illinois Rep. Darlene Senger, R-Naperville in March 2011 submitted a bill – anti-abortion legislation mind, which would require clinics that perform more than 50 abortions a year to meet the same regulatory requirements as other medical outpatient surgery clinics – to the House Agriculture and Conservation Committee. Why, you ask? Because the agriculture committee is dominated by conservative downstate Democrats and Republicans. And guess what? They passed it: unanimously.
- In Florida, during a debate about a bill “that would prohibit governments from deducting union dues from a worker’s paycheck,” Rep. Scott Randolph (D-Orlando) said “if my wife’s uterus was incorporate” the legislature “would be talking about deregulating.” Rep. Randolph was then taken to task for using the word “uterus” by the House leadership, which said that the word was “language that would be considered inappropriate for children and other guests.”
- In Florida Republicans passed House Bill 501 redistributes funds from “Choose Life” license plates to the Ocala-based Choose Life, Inc, which the Florida Association of Planned Parenthood Affiliates says will “result in more funds being given to ‘crisis pregnancy centers,’ anti-abortion organizations that falsely market themselves as professional health facilities.”
- In Virginia, RH Reality Check reports that “Governor Bob McDonnell found time to issue regulations for first trimester abortion providers that go well beyond any existing regulations seen in other states, including South Carolina, according to the Virginia Coalition to Protect Women’s Health.” Apparently, these “draft” regulations ” (SB 924) were formulated under an emergency process that bypasses public review and comment periods and standard economic assessments for new regulations and is undemocratic on its face.” They will be put into effect up to 18 months to 2 years in advance of any permanent regulations. In a blatant attempt to eliminate first trimester abortions, reports RH Reality Check, the regulations “contain what can only be called ridiculous mandates for abortion providers, such as requiring specific sizes of rooms and lengths of hallways which have nothing to do with either patient care or safety.” See also the article in Mother Jones about how these new rules would affect the Falls Church Planned Parenthood Clinic.
- In the U.S. House the Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act (PRENDA) otherwise known as HR 3541, is being called a “civil rights” bill by its Republican sponsors. Under this bill, physicians would be banned from performing abortions based on the race of the fetus, something that does not happen anyway, apparently, since nobody could offer any evidence that it did.
o Arguing that it is “morally wrong to take the tax dollars of millions of pro-life Americans and use them to fund organizations that provide and promote abortions,” Rep. Mike Pence, R-Ind, introduced a bill (HR 217) in the U.S. House of Representatives to strip Planned Parenthood of federal funding, despite the many other services Planned Parenthood provides to both men and women, including contraception and STD testing
o Legalizing the Murder of Abortion Doctors
- South Dakota flirted with a law to make the murder of an abortion doctor legal as self-defense
- When South Dakota was forced to drop the idea of murdering abortion doctors, Nebraska and Iowa picked up the idea
o Abstinence Education
A total of 37 states mandate abstinence education while contraception falls increasingly under attack by Republican legislatures.
- According to the Guttmacher Report, “Mississippi, which had long mandated abstinence education, adopted provisions that make it more difficult for a school district to include other subjects, such as contraception, in order to offer a more comprehensive curriculum. A district will now need to get specific permission to do so from the state department of education.”
- According to the Guttmacher Report, “A new requirement enacted in North Dakota mandates that the health education provided in the state include information on the benefits of abstinence “until and within marriage.”
o “Personhood Laws” and Fetal Rights
The latest anti-abortion measure is passage of laws that would give fertilized eggs the rights of “personhood” – in other words, fertilized eggs would have the same rights as you or me – a blatant ploy to attack women’s reproductive rights. Florida, Montana and Ohio will have “personhood” on the ballot in 2012 and according to CNN “efforts in at least five other states are in the planning stages.” Mississippi has just rejected one such extremist measure and Colorado and South Dakota have also rejected them.
- In Iowa a pregnant woman was arrested for falling down a flight of stairs. Yes, for falling down a flight of stairs. You see, following a fight on the phone with her husband, Christine Taylor fell down a flight of. Like any responsible pregnant woman would, she went to the hospital to check on the fetus – and was arrested thanks to one of the many state laws that grant fetuses rights separate from the mother. Iowa has a “feticide” law that pertains to the second trimester and beyond, and since Taylor confessed that she had contemplated abortion but had chosen to have the baby, the nurse and doctor at the hospital decided to phone the police and accuse her of trying to terminate her pregnancy illegally. She was fortunate not to be charged with a crime – for falling down the stairs.
- Nebraska banned abortions after 20 weeks on the unscientific grounds that fetuses feel pain at that gestational age. Shortly thereafter, Danielle Deaver discovered at 22 weeks she had a pregnancy that could not result in a living baby. Yet Nebraska law denied her an abortion. Nebraska is not alone, and Deaver will not be alone. Legislators in 12 other states — Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, New Mexico and Oregon — are considering similar laws. But banning abortion could not save Deaver’s fetus: With undeveloped lungs, the baby likely would never survive outside the womb, and because all the amniotic fluid had drained, the tiny growing fetus slowly would be crushed by the uterus walls. On Dec. 8, Deaver delivered 1-pound, 10-ounce Elizabeth, who, as doctors had predicted, lived for only 15 minutes outside the womb.
- Idaho is the latest state, inspired by Nebraska’s example, to put such a law on the books. Senate Bill 1165 bans abortion after 20 weeks but leaves no loophole even for cases of rape. Their justification? The bill’s House sponsor, state Rep. Brent Crane, R-Nampa, told legislators that the “hand of the Almighty” was at work. “His ways are higher than our ways,” Crane said. “He has the ability to take difficult, tragic, horrific circumstances and then turn them into wonderful examples. And Rep. Shannon McMillan, R-Silverton says, “Is not the child of that rape or incest also a victim?” asked “It didn’t ask to be here. It was here under violent circumstances perhaps, but that was through no fault of its own.”[…]
- On February 11, 2011, the North Dakota House of Representatives passed House Bill 1450; a bill which seeking to define a fertilized egg as a human being. As Planned Parenthood reports, “HB 1450 is backed by a national activist group, Personhood USA, working to make North Dakota the epicenter of a heated national debate.”
- The Oklahoma House of Representatives voted 94 to 2 to a ban on abortion’s later than 20 weeks of gestation similar to Nebraska’s in what it called the “Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act.” Bill 1888 will go on to the state Senate.
- A personhood bill in Louisiana sponsored by Republican State Rep. John LaBruzzo that would have banned all abortions in the state was defeated when a House vote sent it to the House Appropriations Committee, which shelved the measure. This is not the end, however, as this fall a referendum on a personhood amendment.
- Ohio has joined the personhood amendment sweepstakes. Personhood Ohio is gathering signatures to add an abortion ban to the state’s constitution in 2012, defining as a person even fertilization of an egg. Even a fertilized egg apparently as inalienable rights. The measure would not only ban abortion, but contraception. Personhood Ohio hasn’t announced any plans to see to the caring of all the resultant births.
- In Mississippi, a ballot initiative, Measure 26 (The Personhood Amendment), would have, if passed (it fortunately did not) defined zygotes, embryos—even a fertilized egg—as a person. Women would have been unable to have an abortion even in the case of rape or incest – even if her life is in danger, and IUDs, birth control pills and other forms of contraception would have become illegal.
- In California, conservatives are peddling the “California Human Rights Amendment”. It is okay to condemn people after they’re born but you must let them be born first. This latest personhood gimmick claims the “inherent human rights, dignity and worth of all human beings from the beginning of their biological development as human beings” but its real goal is to make abortion illegal – even in cases of rape or incest (“regardless of the means by which they were procreated”), or fetal anomaly. In other words, taking away women’s reproductive rights is a promotion of human rights.
- In the U.S. House of Representatives, the Sanctity of Human Life Act (HR 212) proposed by Rep. Paul Broun’s (R-Ga.) “includes” reports Mother Jones, “language that directly parallels that of the Mississippi personhood amendment.” According to HR 212, “the life of each human being begins with fertilization, cloning, or its functional equivalent…at which time every human being shall have all the legal and constitutional attributes and privileges of personhood.”
- In Florida, Personhood Florida, with support from Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council (FRC), is moving forward with a petition to put a personhood amendment on the 2014 general election ballot.
o War on Birth Control
- The Republican-controlled U.S. House of Representatives is attacking the Department of Health and Human Services new guidelines that require insurance companies to cover contraceptive services free of charge. Committee Chairman Rep. Joe Pitts (R-PA) claims the new rules do not protect religious groups who object to contraception. He claims the government is taking, “coercive actions to force people to abandon their religious principles.” As part of the Republican War on Women, Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE) has introduced a bill, the Respect for Rights of Conscience Act of 2011, which would allow providers to throw women under the bus on religious grounds.
The War on Church and State
o Americans United for Separation of Church and State (au.org) reveals that “officials in May Minette, Ala., have crossed a constitutional line by creating a program that allows low-level offenders to choose between fines and jail or going to church for a year.” 56 churches have agreed to take part in the program, which is being called “Operation Restore Our Community.”
o Rep. Randy Forbes (R-VA), the founder and chairman of the Congressional Prayer Caucus, is responsible for sponsoring legislation to reaffirm that “In God We Trust” is our national motto, claiming “As our nation faces challenging times, it is appropriate for Members of Congress and our nation—like our predecessors—to firmly declare our trust in God, believing that it will sustain us for generations to come.” The bill passed 396-9. Zero jobs were created by this incredible and unconstitutional waste of time. The Senate had already wastefully reaffirmed the motto in 2006.
The War on Special Supplemental Nutritional Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC)
o Having ensured that children will be born through their anti-abortion legislation, House Republicans have now ensured those children will be deprived of proper nutrition once they come into the world, ensuring that 300,000 millionaires will have more money in their pockets at the expense of nearly 500,000 women and children. Republicans on the House Appropriations Committee approved the appropriations bill which reduces WIC funding from $6.73 billion this year to $5.90 billion in 2012. The bill will also cut $38 million from the Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSIP), as well as $63 million from the Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAB). If the Republicans had been truly interested in slashing the federal budget they could have saved more money by ending tax cuts for the rich or slashing subsidies to the oil companies. Instead they starve the infants and elderly. Why do I say that? WIC could be fully funded at the cost of just one week of Bush’s tax cuts for millionaires. According to the Center for American Progress, “one day’s worth of millionaire tax cuts would feed needy families for a year.”
The War on National Public Radio (NPR)
o The Republican-controlled U.S. House of Representatives voted to defund NPR: “It is time for American citizens to stop funding an organization that can stand on its own feet,” said Rep. Doug Lamborn, R-Colo., the sponsor. The real reason, of course, is that NPR is seen as a bastion of liberalism and it’s voice stands in stark contrast to the propaganda-laden broadcasts from FOX News. The Free Press and Freedom of Speech are the staunch enemies of fascism, and so NPR has to go. Only the “official” voice must be heard. The President is against defunding NPR and Seven Republicans broke ranks to vote against the bill. It is unlikely to pass muster in the Democratic-controlled Senate.
The War on Desegregation
No, you didn’t read that wrong. Republicans are actually waging war on desegregation in the seeming belief that you can never turn the clock back too far.
o In Minnesota, the Education Finance Committee is readying a funding bill that will eliminate the goal of desegregated schools. On page 53 of the legislation is a complete repeal of the school integration section of the Minnesota Administrative rules. In defense, Pat Garofalo (R-Farmington), chair of the committee, claims the goal is to change the focus to academic achievement from diversity of the student body.
o In Wake County, North Carolina, the school board eliminated integration bussing. According to the Washington Post, the Tea Party-backed school board (funded, says Robert Greenwald and Brave New Foundation, by the Koch brothers), has pledged to “say no to the social engineers!” and “abolished the policy behind one of the nation’s most celebrated integration efforts.” Says one Tea Party board member, John Tedesco: “This is Raleigh in 2010, not Selma, Alabama, in the 1960s – my life is integrated. We need new paradigms.” A paradigm, apparently, of “back to the 50s.”
The War on High-Speed Rail
o Gas prices are rising and President Obama wants to improve the nation’s infrastructure through the introduction of high-speed rail corridors in areas where they would be particularly effective, and linking the Midwest’s population centers with those of the East Coast. The Republicans and Tea Party are opposed.
- In Wisconsin, Governor Walker rejected an $810 million federal grant for a high-speed rail line between Milwaukee and Madison, declaring the project “dead.”
- In Ohio, Governor John Kasich turned down nearly $400 million from the Department of Transportation for a high-speed rail line between Cleveland and Cincinnati.
- In Florida, Governor Rick Scott—siding with his backers in the Tea Party—rejected $2.4 billion in Department of Transportation funds for a rail line between Tampa and Orlando
The War on Marriage Equality and the Anti-Gay Agenda
To demonstrate how serious the GOP is about depriving a segment of Americans of their constitutional rights, conservative activist Alan Caruba called Obama’s DOMA decision an act of “societal suicide” in a column titled, “America’s Gay White House.” So the equality guaranteed by the Constitution is societal suicide?
- The Republican-controlled U.S. House of Representatives wants to defend DOMA (the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act) in court despite the unconstitutionality of the law according to the DOJ’s own review. As Nancy Pelosi has asked John Boehner, how much will that cost?
- The Indiana Senate Judiciary Committee considered but did not take a vote on House Joint Resolution 6 (HJR-6), the proposed amendment to the state constitution that would define marriage as between one man and one woman and prohibit the state from enacting civil unions or domestic partnerships for same-sex couples.
- In Tennessee, Senate Bill 49, the “Don’t Say Gay” bill would bar discussion of homosexuality until high school; the bill would make it a crime for teachers to mention it.
- The North Carolina Senate is about to debate a constitutional amendment that would ban marriage equality. Reprehensibly, the GOP tried to hide this fact by pretending HB 61 (Speaker/Pro Tem Term Limits) was a proposal to limit the tenure of Senate and House leaders but on Friday it was reported by WRAL that HB 61 is actually the anti-gay marriage bill. The legislature’s website has carefully hidden the true content of the bill.’
- In Oklahoma, a bill authored by Rep. Mike Reynolds, R-Oklahoma City, (House Bill 2195) would re-institute DADT in the Oklahoma National Guard even though DADT was repealed in 2011. Reynolds wants to take Oklahoma back in time to 2009 (at least it’s not 1609 though that might be next). A similar bill last year in the Virginia House of Representatives was killed in committee.
The War on Net Neutrality
o Republicans oppose net neutrality. They want corporations to control the internet to better their profits and to control the message getting out. A free press has always been fascism’s most potent enemy; it is no wonder they want to strangle it. At a Communications and Technology Subcommittee Hearing “House Republicans pushed for a resolution to eliminate ‘net neutrality’ rules recently adopted by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).” Rep. Greg Walden (R-OR) introduced H. J. Res. 37 which would prohibit the FCC from regulating the Internet. Republicans claim net neutrality rules amount to a government takeover of the Internet; what they really amount to is protection against a corporate takeover of the Internet. To counter this move, Al Franken (D-MN) has said he will introduce legislation that will make violations of net neutrality illegal.
o The “Stop Online Piracy Act” or SOPA (HR 3261) would give, says FreePress.net, “corporations the power to blacklist websites at will. And it violates the due process rights of the thousands of Internet users who could see their sites disappear… for a “crime” as innocent as posting a video of themselves singing along to a favorite song.” FreePress.net reports that, “A Senate version of SOPA, called the Protect IP Act, passed committee approval in the spring following a massive push by brazen film and music industry lobbyists.”
o They are calling it a “resolution of disapproval” (of the FCC). In the U.S. Senate, Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) introduced S.J. Resolution 6, which is supported by the Tea Party and corporations (of course) would, in the words of FreePress.net, “remove the FCC’s ability to protect free speech online, and place a few large companies in charge of deciding what consumers can or can’t do on the Internet. Undoing the FCC’s rules is akin to putting BP in charge of protecting our oceans or Goldman Sachs in charge of protecting the nation’s economy.”
The War on Obama: Birthers and Anti-Obama Legislation
o The Republican and Tea Parties are determined that President Obama should be a one-term president, and that meanwhile, punitive damages should be assessed against him for having the audacity as a black man to not only run for president, but to win.
- In Tennessee, state Sen. Mae Beavers has introduced SB 1091, a bill that would require presidential candidates to present a “long-form” birth certificate in order to be on the ballot in that state. Nearly a dozen states have had similar anti-Obama legislation aimed at making President Obama a one-term president, including – unsurprisingly – Arizona – as well as Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Texas, Connecticut, Indiana, Nebraska, Tennessee, Montana, and Maine, and Gov. Bobby Jindal (R-Louisiana) has promised to sign one of these bills as well. Mae Beavers admits she has no idea what a “long-form” birth certificate even is. She “hasn’t looked into it yet.” Keep in mind, all these proposals will cost the taxpayers money at a time when the GOP claims we’re too poor to even educate our children.
- The Arizona State Senate passed a bill HB 2177 that forces presidential candidates to submit extensive paperwork to prove they’re American citizens, including, the New York Times reports, “a sworn affidavit stating citizenship and age; a long-form birth certificate showing date and place of birth, name of hospital and doctor, and witness signatures; and a sworn statement listing a candidate’s places of residence for the last 14 years.”
- Rep. Steve Womack, R-Ark., proposed legislation to eliminate funding for the president’s Teleprompter. He later withdrew the proposal citing as a reason the inability “to get an estimate on how much it would save.” Womack told FOX News, “We’re asking people to do more with less. And I think the president ought to lead by example. He is already a very gifted speaker. And I think that’s one platform he could do without,” Interestingly and tellingly, he didn’t suggest putting aside his own government funded healthcare program. “I think we made our point,” Womack said. Yes, you did. You proved you’re a petty-minded hypocrite.
- Rep. Randy Neugebauer (R-Texas), proposed legislation “to strip funding for the alteration, repair or improvement of the executive residence of the White House and instead divert that amount to deficit reduction.” Because letting the White House fall down sends a powerful message to other countries.
o Republicans embarked on a campaign of nullification , the tactics employed by a permanent minority – for example the slave-owning states – to protect their rights. Nullification employs filibuster to procure a victory of the minority over the majority, in this case holding up presidential appointments, such as that to head the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) established by the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. By actively refusing to participate in the functioning of the federal government, it is doing all in its power to keep the federal government from functioning at all.
The War on Unions and Collective Bargaining/War on Middle Class
This is more than an attack on unions, teachers, the public sector and collective bargaining and it is far from being the budget/deficit issue Republicans claim. It is, as Noam Chomsky writes, an attack on democracy itself.
o Class Warfare
Examples of Republican hostility to average working- and middle class Americans are many. Rep. Tom Emmer, the 2010 Republican candidate for governor in Minnesota announced that many waitstaff made six figure salaries at their jobs, a statement that he quickly had to back away from as false. Do you know many waiters and waitresses making better than minimum wage? I don’t. It’s no wonder Democrat Mark Dayton won.
- In Georgia a new bill (HB 385) would raise taxes on things like Girl Scout Cookies, groceries and gasoline but would lower tax rates on corporate income, from 6 percent this year to just 4 percent in 2014
- Republicans voted to end a program “that helped low-income families weatherize their homes and permanently reduce their energy bills”
- Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder (R-MI) has proposed some tax changes that are corporate-friendly and middle-class hostile. The Michigan League for Human Services reports that “Business taxes would be cut by 86 percent from an estimated $2.1 billion in FY 2011 to $292.7 million in FY 2013, the first full year of the proposed tax changes…Taxes on individuals from the state income tax would rise by $1.7 billion or nearly 31 percent, from an estimated $5.75 billion in FY 2011 to $7.5 billion in FY 2013, the first full year of the tax changes.”
- The Raw Story reported on March 17, 2011 that “Congressman Dave Camp (R-MI), the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, said he hopes to cut the tax rate for the richest individuals and corporations to 25 percent to help spur job growth.” Right, Dave; that must be why rich industrialists like the Koch Brothers (who increased their wealth by $9 billion last year) continue to lay off employees claiming the economic downturn has hit them. Hint to Dave: Wealth does not trickle down – it goes in the Koch Brothers’ bank accounts.
- “Minnesota GOP wants it to be illegal to carry cash if you’re poor” reports City Pages – “A bill introduced by Rep. Kurt Daudt (R-Crown) would prohibit people who use EBT cards–government assistance on plastic–from withdrawing cash at ATMs with the cards, except for $20 per month.”
- Florida has a new law on the books requiring welfare recipients to undergo drug tests because Governor Rick Scott says it’s “unfair for Florida taxpayers to subsidize drug addiction.” He claims “It’s the right thing for taxpayers. It’s the right thing for citizens of this state that need public assistance. We don’t want to waste tax dollars. And also, we want to give people an incentive to not use drugs.” Because only rich people whose taxes the rest of us are paying should be allowed to use drugs.
o Attacking Unions/Collective Bargaining
A Tea Party-led movement is afoot to attack collective bargaining and public sector pay as responsible for our nation’s economic woes even though the problem is clearly Wall Street. Fights are going on in several Republican-controlled states:
o Right to Work Laws
According to the New York Times, “Twenty-two states, mainly in the South and the West, have long had “right to work” laws forbidding contracts that require workers to pay union dues. After a decade in which business has ignored the issue, Republicans in more than 10 states over the last year have begun pushing similar laws.” The Republican claim that unions weaken economic and job growth is disproved by the facts on the ground, as the Times points out: “In fact, six of the 10 states with the highest unemployment have right-to-work laws. North Carolina, a right-to-work state, has a private sector unionization rate of 1.8 percent, the lowest in the nation. It also has the sixth highest unemployment rate: 10 percent.”
o Deregulating Wall Street – The Great Recession Part Two Plan
- The Commodity Futures Trading Commission, tasked with overseeing derivative swaps and financial instruments, would lose $56.8 billion in the House budget. President Obama did not want to cut the CFTC at all; he wanted to increase its funding, and for good reason following the irresponsibility on Wall Street that led to the Great Recession of 2008.
- Reuters reports that “Congressional Republicans on Wednesday will stage their first outright challenge to 2010’s Dodd-Frank financial regulation reforms with a fistful of bills favoring private equity firms, derivatives end-users and corporate CEOs.” This legislation “would repeal or amend parts of the laws approved after the severe 2007-2009 financial crisis.” Unsuccessful at defunding these important economic protections the Republicans have resorted to voting them away.
The War on Immigration
o Nobody hates an immigrant like the Republican Party – except for the Tea Party. Anti-immigration legislation, though bad enough in Arizona, has reached new lows in Arizona and Texas. But not only in those states (and the Arizona measures listed below were voted down on March 17, 2011): Kansas State Representative Virgil Peck, a Republican, in a recent legislative budget hearing said, “It looks like to me if shooting these immigrating feral hogs works maybe we have found a [solution] to our illegal immigration problem.”
- Texas Department of Agriculture sets up border vigilante website to promote and support (sometimes violent) vigilantism
- In Texas, more than 60 anti-immigration bills have been filed this legislative session including requiring birth certificates to enroll in public schools and allowing police officers to act as immigration agents
- In Texas, “Tea Party favorite Debbie Riddle (I kid you not) (R-TX) introduced House Bill 2012 into the Texas State House, a bill that would jail folks who hire undocumented workers but would exempt anyone who hires “the help” for their homes, thereby effectively legalizing slavery for illegal immigrants..”
- Louisiana, Tennessee, South Carolina and Georgia have laws which “require businesses to enroll in the federal E-Verify program to ensure that employees are eligible to work in the United States.”
- Several Texas cities have laws making English the official language.
- In Arizona, Senate Bill 1222 would require public-housing operators to evict anyone who allows an illegal immigrant to live with them, as well as require proof of legal status to receive any public benefits.
- In Arizona, SB 1012 would allow the Arizona Department of Public Safety to conduct fingerprint-background checks on only individuals who can prove that they are U.S. citizens or legally eligible to work in the state. The state-issued fingerprint-clearance cards are required for a variety of jobs and work permits.
- In Arizona, Senate Concurrent Resolution 1035 would ask voters to change the state Constitution to prohibit any state official or agency from using a language other than English for official communications. Individuals could ask that communications be conducted in a second language, but the state doesn’t have to adhere to the request.
- In Arizona, the full Senate is also expected to vote in the coming days or weeks on broader immigration-related measures, including SB 1611, which makes several changes to immigration law, including preventing children not born in the U.S. from attending school, prohibiting illegal immigrants from driving or buying a car, and denying illegal immigrants the ability to obtain a marriage license in Arizona.
- Other bills in Arizona include SB 1405, which would require hospitals to check the legal status of a patient if he or she was unable to show proof of health insurance, and SB 1308 and SB 1309 – the “birthright citizenship” measures.
- In Georgia, anti-immigration law HB 87, that was written to bring Arizona’s anti-immigrant SB 1070 to the state. HB 87 would “restrict immigrants’ access to public benefits and mandate the adoption of E-Verify, the controversial federal employment verification database.”
- Alabama has passed an immigration law more restrictive even than Arizona (SB 1070), becoming the fifth state to pass strict anti-immigration legislation. The bill, HB 56, called the “Beason-Hammon Alabama Taxpayer and Citizen Protection Act” because it is claimed illegal aliens cost Alabama tax payers $300 million per year, has been called a “ draconian immigration enforcement scheme.”
The War on Child Labor Laws
o Republican Sen. Mike Lee of Utah said that Congressional laws banning child labor are forbidden by the US Constitution despite the fact that the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 was unanimously upheld by the Supreme Court in 1941 (United States v. Darby Lumber). (A similar movement is underway in Missouri where State Sen. Jane Cunningham (R) has introduced a bill [S.B. 222] to minimize child labor laws)
The War on the Right to Vote
o The Republican Party has a long history of disenfranchising voters. If you don’t have a viable platform all that’s left is ensuring that those who would otherwise vote against you can’t vote. President Clinton has compared Republican anti-voting laws to Jim Crow. Rolling Stone reports, “In a systematic campaign orchestrated by the American Legislative Exchange Council – and funded in part by David and Charles Koch, the billionaire brothers who bankrolled the Tea Party – 38 states introduced legislation this year designed to impede voters at every step of the electoral process.”
- The Democratic Governor’s Association reports that “New laws in Ohio and Texas, passed by Republican-led Houses and backed by Republican governors, are set to disenfranchise millions of voters. Twenty other states are gearing up to follow suit.”
- Florida Republicans have also moved to disenfranchise voters. HB 1355 was passed by the state senate by a 25-13 vote. The House passage followed on a 77-38 party-line vote. The bill will make it more difficult to vote if you move (aimed at college students who vote Democratic) and will also limit early voting (another strength for Democrats) by curtailing early voting from 14 days to eight. The bill has been signed into law by Gov. Rick Scott, a harsh critic of President Obama.
- A similar bill (Voter ID Bill (AB-7) requiring Wisconsin voters to show photo ID in order to vote passed Wisconsin state Senate in May and was signed into law by Governor Scott Walker.
- In Pennsylvania, Republicans, led by Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi (R-Delaware) conceived an idea to create a permanent Electoral College majority. The current system gives the state’s electoral votes to whoever wins the state. Redistricting in 2012 leaves Pennsylvania with 20 electoral votes and the votes in those districts would, like the districts themselves, remain permanently Republican.
- Kansas and Alabama require voters to provide proof of citizenship before voting.
- Maine repealed Election Day voter registration.
- A total of five states – Florida, Georgia, Ohio, Tennessee and West Virginia – have reduced early voting periods.
- And, as Rolling Stone reports, “six states controlled by Republican governors and legislatures – Alabama, Kansas, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Wisconsin – will require voters to produce a government-issued ID before casting ballots. More than 10 percent of U.S. citizens lack such identification, and the numbers are even higher among constituencies that traditionally lean Democratic – including 18 percent of young voters and 25 percent of African-Americans.”
- Florida and Iowa now bar ex-felons from voting. The Orlando Sentinel reported in July: “According to a letter opposing the rule change from the American Civil Liberties Union and several legal defense groups, Florida has become one of only four states to bar ex-felons from voting for life unless they get clemency from the governor. They estimate that at least 13 percent of voting-age African-Americans have lost the right to vote this way.” And people wonder why blacks vote Democrat. Another case of giving rights to fetus’ (see PRENDA under anti-abortion laws above) but taking them away from they grow up.
The War on Islam/Islamophobia
o Islamophobia has become institutionalized in the Republican-controlled U.S. House of Representatives as Rep. Peter King (R – N.Y.), is begins his McCarthy-esque “investigation of radical Islam”
o The states of Missouri , South Carolina and Oklahoma are all attempting to ban the alleged “creeping influence” of Sharia Law. Needless to say, most of the opponents of Sharia Law are strongly in favor of its exact equivalent, Mosaic Law – otherwise known as the Ten Commandments. The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld a lower court’s ruling and injunction blocking implementation of the so-called “Save Our State” amendment.
o Alabama proposed a law to ban Sharia law this spring.
o Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-GA) told the Values Voters Summit in 2010 that he wants a federal law to ban Sharia law.
o Oklahoma passed an anti-Sharia law last year, the “Save Our State” amendment, which was supported by 70 percent of voters but was blocked by a federal judge on First Amendment grounds. Rep. Sally Kern (R) introduced a new anti-Sharia bill in 20100 – House Bill 1552 – designed to be less objectionable to courts.
The War on the Federal Government (Tentherism)
o In Arizona, the State Senate introduced SB 1433 which “proposed nothing less than the creation of a 12-person body tasked with studying federal laws and nullifying any and all of those it deemed unconstitutional.” The bill (which failed to pass) would have applied to both existing and any new legislation. This was essentially a secession act.
o In Virginia, Robert G. Marshall (R), a Tea Partier, proposed Joint House Resolution No. 557 “Establishing a joint subcommittee to study whether the Commonwealth should adopt a currency to serve as an alternative to the currency distributed by the Federal Reserve System in the event of a major breakdown of the Federal Reserve System.”
o In Georgia, “Constitutional Tender Act” (HB 3)sponsored by Rep. Bobby Franklin (R) would override federal monetary regulations, stating, “Pre-1965 silver coins, silver eagles, and gold eagles shall be the exclusive medium which the state shall use to make any payments whatsoever to any person or entity, whether private or governmental.” TPM reports: “Lawmakers in Montana, Missouri, Colorado, Idaho, Indiana, New Hampshire, South Carolina, Utah, and Washington have proposed legislation, mostly in 2009, to include gold and silver in its accepted currency forms.”
o Montana’s “Sheriffs First Act,” SB 114, sponsored by Sen. Greg Hinkle, R-Thompson Falls, would give precedence to local sheriff’s over any federal agent in their counties; According to the Helena Independent Record: “The bill says that if a sheriff claims that a federal agent acted without permission (with a few exceptions) the county attorney “must” — on pain of possible recall or charges of official misconduct — prosecute the federal agent for a crime such as kidnapping, trespassing or theft.”
o In Kentucky. Senate Natural Resources and Energy Chairman Brandon Smith, R-Hazard proposed Senate Joint Resolution 99 “declaring Kentucky a sanctuary state from the regulatory overreach of the United States Environmental Protection Agency against coal operators and the coal industry in Kentucky; proscribe enforcement of federal conductivity standards; require state agency to set conductivity standard that allows for coal mining and protects health, safety, and environment; declare state agency to have jurisdiction over water quality standards; proscribe collection of fines and penalties for standards in excess of federal requirements…”
The War on Gun Control
o Reuters reports that Ohio’s Republican Governor John Kasich has signed into law “a bill that allows gun owners in the state to carry concealed weapons into bars and other places where alcohol is served.” The law also allows gun owners to go armed into shopping malls.
o The U.S. House of Representatives wants to undermine state gun controls by forcing each state to honor the gun-carrying permits of other states. H.R. 822 the National Right-to-Carry Reciprocity Act of 2011 “would require all states to allow out-of-state visitors to carry concealed firearms as long as the laws of the visitors’’ home states allow them to do so” which would override protections that other states citizens want. So much for Republicans opposing the federal government riding roughshod over states rights. If it’s something the GOP wants, the feds can lord it all they want. Congress rejected a similar law in 2009. It may surprise no one that the sponsor is Rep. Clifford Stearns (R-FL): read on below.
o In Florida, a new law passed in June 2011 by the Republican-controlled legislature (of course), mandates penalties against local communities and officials for not dropping their gun control laws in obedience to a 1987 act that, as the New York Times reports, “allowed the state to pre-empt the whole field of gun and ammunition controls” but which since then has been largely ignored. The deadline is now October 1. From the Daytona Beach News-Journal: State Rep. Fred Costello said the strong language in the new law — 790.33 of the Florida Statues — assumes full control of all gun regulation. No local government can override state laws or make more restrictive laws regarding guns. “The bottom line is, although some will disagree, that criminals will have guns anywhere, so it is arguably better for legal, law-abiding citizens to also be able to have guns to give the bad guys pause,” said Costello, R-Ormond Beach.
o In 2009, Tennessee State Representative Curry Todd (R-Collierville) sponsored a bill to allow guns in bars for the purposes of “self-defense” (a category of catastrophically stupid all on its own), the so-called “guns in bars” bill. Todd, actually a college graduate, has also, reports the Nashville City Paper, “compared pregnant illegal immigrants to ‘reproducing rats.’” In the Department of Irony, the same Nashville source reports that “Todd was picked up by Metro Police and charged with DUI and possession of a handgun while under the influence” on October 11, 2011. By the way, the bill passed the House 66-23.
o In Virginia, July 1, 2010 meant you could carry a gun into a bar or restaurant. The only restriction is that you can’t drink alcohol while you do so. Despite pleas from state police chiefs that it was a recipe for disaster, Governor Bob McDonnell said passage of SB334 was all about upholding the second amendment rights of good ole boys to pack heat.
The War on Consumers
o In the U.S. House of Representatives, H.R. 1315, sponsored by Rep. Sean Duffy (R-Wis.), would block the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s new rules and replace the single director chosen by President Obama with a five-member commission answerable to the Republicans and big business, like a fox guarding a hen-house.
The War on Democracy
o Michigan passed a Financial Martial Law bill, which essentially established a Republican dictatorship in place of democracy by turning over to unelected emergency managers the powers to supersede legally elected local governments without oversight from those legally constituted local governments.
The War on Jobs
o House Democrats have demonstrated that in their first 202+ days in office, House Republicans have not only failed to deliver even one job creation bill, they have passed legislation to kill 1.9 million jobs.
- H.R. 1. According to Mark Zandi this legislation amounts to -700,000 jobs
- H.R. 2. According to the Council of Economic Advisors this legislation amounts to -300,000 jobs
- H.Con.Res. 34. According to Mark Zandi, this legislation amounts to -900,000 jobs
The War on Science, the Environment and Health
“Rep. Joe Barton claimed that there was “no medical negative” from mercury, sulfur dioxide or other toxic air pollutants. This appalling statement flies in the face of years of scientific research and blatantly ignores the EPA’s finding that roughly one in twelve — and as many as one in six — women of childbearing age have unsafe levels of mercury in their bodies.” – From the League of Conservation Voters
o Republican-controlled U.S. House of Representatives kills climate committee, the Select Committee on Global Warming. Not only that, but as Care2 reports, “House Republicans on the Energy and Commerce Committee demonstrated their commitment to science denial…by unanimously voting down three separate amendments offered by Democrats to reaffirm basic facts about climate science. They then unanimously voted to pass the Upton-Inhofe bill to repeal the Environmental Protection Agency’s scientific endangerment finding on greenhouse pollution.” In other words, they have legislated that climate-change does not exist. They have legislated it out of existence.
o The House budget for 2011 would have taken $126 million away from the National Weather Service. This is, of course, the agency within the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration that prepares and warns us of nasty life-threatening and property-destroying things like tsunamis, hurricanes, blizzards, floods and fires. Keep in mind, the House wants to continue to subsidize the oil industry that gouges you at the pumps each week and is increasing profits hand over fist. But dying in a tornado you didn’t know about is just fine.
o Republicans oppose energy saving lightbulbs, citing the evils of government interference. In a case of Republican cannibalism, Republican lawmakers want to repeal a 2007 U.S. law (signed by President George W. Bush) which phases out the old incandescent light bulbs in favor of alternative energy-saving bulbs (that use 25%-30% less energy than standard incandescent). With typical ignorance of the facts, Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) blames the Obama Administration
o Senator Rand Paul blames the administration and the Department of Energy for the fact that his toilet doesn’t work, telling Energy Department official Kathleen Hogan that it’s her fault (the EPA says if we replaced our old toilets we “could save nearly 2 billion gallons per day across the country—that’s nearly 11 gallons per toilet in your home every day”
o Republicans in the House (House CR or continuing resolution) voted to cut $1.6 billion from the National Institutes of Health or NIH (5% below the president’s 2011 request and $638 million, or 2%, below current levels), which would do untold damage to cancer research and probably result in cuts to Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s research, and cause job losses.
o The Republicans launch a stealth attack on endangered species, showing they love animals at least as much as the middle class.
o The Tea Party in at least a dozen states has come up with a radical, states-rights-centered proposal to attack healthcare reform: the health care compact would allow, Mother Jones reports, “them to seize control of and administer virtually all federal health care programs operating in their states and exempt them from the requirements of the health care law.”
o The House Judiciary Committee is looking at the Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny (REINS) Act (H.R. 10), a bill that would undermine the public protections most crucial to our health, safety, environment and economy
o Republicans (and 12 Democrats from coal states) in the U.S. House of Representatives have passed (on July 14, 2011) the “Clean Water Cooperative Federalism Act of 2011” which rolls back the Clean Water Act of 1972, eliminating federal oversight on water standards and returning it to the states.
o Michele Bachmann, running as Republican candidate for the presidency in 2012 says, “I pledge to you I’m not a talker. I’m a doer…. And I guarantee you the EPA will have doors locked and lights turned off and they will only be about conservation.” She promises, “It will be a new day and a new sheriff in Washington, D.C.”
o In Georgia, SB 61, in the words of Jim Galloway, declared “Georgia’s sovereign authority over incandescent light bulbs that do not cross state lines.” The bill’s sponsor, Sen. Barry Loudermilk, R-Cassville, said he wasn’t going to let the federal government do to light bulbs what they did to toilets.
o Rep. John Sullivan (R-OK), second ranking member of the GOP-led Energy and Power Subcommittee, introduced legislation (H.R. 1705)– called the TRAIN Act in the U.S. House of Representatives on May 4, 2011 to create a committee to do a cost-benefit analyses of 10 EPA regulations which are designed to curb pollution. Sullivan says Congress needs “an honest accounting of how much the Environmental Protection Agency’s regulatory train wreck is costing our economy and American consumers.” Democrats like Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) are right to demand to know how much the bill itself would cost Americans. The TRAIN act was passed by the House on 9/23/11.
o In Florida, Governor Rick Scott says that Florida doesn’t need “a lot more anthropologists in this state” and that “It’s a great degree if people want to get it. But we don’t need them here.” He apparently feels that “science, technology, engineering and math degrees” are where money should be spent, apparently ignorant of the fact that anthropology is a science. Perhaps somebody should have spent more money on Rick Scott’s education?
o It’s not just the House but the Senate as well. Oklahoma Senator Tom Coburn proposed in September that federal funding for bike and pedestrian projects be stripped from the Transportation Bill then under consideration.
o Coburn failed as a result of public outcry but Senator Rand Paul now wants to use money allocated for bike and pedestrian projects to bridge repair – he says the bridges are a priority (so why aren’t they allocating money for it?) but since 2007, 2,800 cyclists and 20,000 pedestrians have died in this country.
o In a really bizarre end-run around environmental protections, Republicans in the House (who else?) are pushing Utah Republican Rep. Rob Bishop’s National Security and Federal Lands Protection Act, which, the Texas Tribune says, “would prevent the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Secretary of the Interior from enacting environmental regulations that hinder the operations of the CBP on public lands within 100 miles of the U.S. border.” Argues Paul Spitler of the Wilderness Society: “There are literally no checks on the agency. They would have unfettered access and control to do whatever they choose; there would be no oversight in Congress.” So much for small, non-intrusive government.
o Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced Monday that the Obama administration will be extending the Grand Canyon uranium-mining ban for 20 years. House Republicans are of course up in arms. One in twelve Americans depend on the Colorado River for drinking water so what better reason to pollute it by inviting in foreign-owned mining operations? They have introduced legislation, H.R. 3155 sponsored by Trent Franks (R-AZ), aka the Northern Arizona Mining Continuity Act of 2011, that would nullify the administration’s decision if it passed in the next 60 days.
The War on Education/Historical Revisionism
o “War on Evolution/Creationism/Intelligent Design”
- Creationism and its non-science version known as “Creation Science” or Intelligent Design are invading our school curriculums and dumbing-down the most scientifically advanced nation in the world to a Bronze Age level. The National Center for Science Education reports that of nine of these anti-science bills have been introduced around the country in 2011, including Texas, Florida and Tennessee.
- In Oklahoma, Rep. Josh Brecheen introduced an anti-evolution bill which fortunately died in committee. Senate Bill 554 would have required “every publicly funded Oklahoma school to teach the debate of creation vs. evolution.” The problem for Rep. Brecheen is that in science, there is no debate. Brecheen calls evolution the “religion” of evolution, which is an ironic label from a believer in creationism.
- In Florida, Senate Bill 1854 calls for educators to “teach efficiently and faithfully… a thorough presentation and critical analysis of the scientific theory of evolution.” Florida state Sen. Stephen Wise (a Republican), chairman of the Senate Education Committee (who failed in a similar attempt in 2009) told the Florida Times-Union in 2009, “If you’re going to teach evolution then you’ve got to teach the other side so you can have critical thinking.”
- Science Advisor April 7, 2011: “In a 70-28 vote today, the Tennessee House of Representatives passed HB 368, a bill that encourages science teachers to explore controversial topics without fear of reprisal. Critics say the measure will enable K-12 teachers to present intelligent design and creationism as acceptable alternatives to evolution in the classroom.”
o House Republicans voted to cut Pell Grants, that help middle class kids go to college, by 25%
o Some 90 Tennessee counties have now adopted resolutions claiming that the Ten Commandments are the basis of the American legal system, despite the clear and incontrovertible evidence that the American legal system is based on English common-law (that is to say, ancient Pagan Germanic law) and on Pagan Roman law, which is to say, civil law.
o Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval has proposed to cut teacher pay by 12 percent to 20 percent
o In Michigan, the Republican-controlled House of Representatives is considering punitive legislation against teachers that would prohibit them (and other public employees, those nasty collective bargainers) from using a publicly-owned email service to send political messages. HB 4052, adopted by the House Oversight, Reform and Ethics Committee would mandate a $10,000 fine for an organization and a $1,000 fine and one-year imprisonment for an individual for violating the law. The Michigan Education Association correctly defines this act as “political payback.”
o De-funding Head Start
- In Frederick County, Maryland, the Board of County Commissioners voted to end the county’s contribution to Head Start, cutting funding for the program by more than 50 percent. Two of the Republican officials justified their decision by arguing that women should be married and staying at home with their kids, which would make the program unnecessary.
- Saying that the country is broke and we need to tighten our belts, Senate Republicans vote to cut the Head Start budget by $2 billion, or nearly a quarter of President Obama’s $8.2 billion 2011 budget request (the program’s current funding is $7.2 billion) but voted to continue $4 billion worth of subsidies to Big Oil (Exxon, etc). Exxon’s profits went up 53% in the last quarter of 2010. The Head Start funding cut will have the following effects:
- 218,000 children from low income families will lose Head Start/Early Head Start services;
- 16,000 Head Start/Early Head Start classrooms will close;
- 55,000 Head Start/Early Head Start teachers and staff will lose their jobs;
- 150,000 low-income families and their children will lose assistance in paying for child care.
Shutting Down the Government
The Republicans spent much of the past two years shutting down the United States government over one issue or another. It would take an entire article to account for all their underhanded attempts to hold government hostage. One example will suffice.
o House Republicans decided that the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) was funding abortions (it wasn’t as proven by its steering document). but because they insisted that their fantasy was true, they threatened to shut down the government over a policy rider banning funding to the UNFPA.
The War on Anti-Bullying Laws
The Republican Party maintains that the true victims of bullying are the bullies themselves. Anti-bullying law have been called “a Trojan Horse to sneak [homosexual activists’] special rights agenda into law” (the Michigan Family Association), would “promote acceptance of homosexuality.” (Minnesota Family Council) or that “bullying prevention is being “hijacked by activists” who are “politicizing or sexualizing the issue” (Focus on the Family). Apparently, however, it’s quite all right for religious activists to hijack bullying prevention. Currently, 47 states have anti-bullying laws.
o In November 2011, the Michigan State Senate passed a “license to bully” bill (SB 137) which allows bulling by hose who have a “sincerely held religious belief or moral conviction.” In full: “This section does not prohibit a statement of a sincerely held religious belief or moral conviction of a school employee, school volunteer, pupil, or a pupil and parent or guardian.” The language was eventually stripped from the bill.
o A similar attempt to okay religious-based bullying is now underfoot in Tennessee, which is promoting its own “license to bully” bill, HB 1153: “‘Creating a hostile educational environment’ shall not be construed to include discomfort and unpleasantness that can accompany the expression of a viewpoint or belief that is unpopular, not shared by other students, or not shared by teachers or school officials.” The bill goes on to say that “The policy shall not be construed or interpreted to infringe upon the First Amendment rights of students and shall not prohibit their expression of religious, philosophical, or political views; provided, that such expression does not include a threat of physical harm to a student or damage to a student’s property.” The bill’s agenda is made abundantly clear by the following:”Harassment, intimidation, or bullying prevention task forces, programs, and other initiatives formed by school districts, including any curriculum adopted for such purposes, shall not include materials or training that explicitly or implicitly promote a political agenda, make the characteristics of the victim the focus rather than the conduct of the person engaged in harassment, intimidation, or bullying, or teach or suggest that certain beliefs or viewpoints are discriminatory when an act or practice based on such belief or viewpoint is not a discriminatory practice as defined in 4-21-102(4).”
You’ve pushed us white folks too far!
This piece of legislation deserved a category of its own. If you’ve ever doubted that Republicans and Tea Partiers are wasting everyone’s time and money rather than trying to fix what’s wrong with America, doubt no longer:
o Never happy with “political correctness” the Republicans in the North Dakota legislature passed a piece of legislation, House Bill 1263, which was signed into law Gov. Jack Dalrymple, which prohibits the University of North Dakota from changing their 90-year-old Native American nickname — the Fighting Sioux – in compliance with the NCAA’s policy on mascots “deemed hostile or abusive toward Native Americans.”