Legislators can make laws for everyone, which is why their ignorance is frightening. Some snippets from the past few weeks:
In South Dakota, state Rep. Isaac Latterell wrote a piece on his website called “Planned Parenthood Worse than ISIS and Lying About It.” Apparently dissatisfied with the low-key approach to the subject, he changed the title to “Planned Parenthood Beheading Children and Lying About It.” Somehow he believes that abortions “behead unborn children.” Part of his post (more here) included New York Times columnist David Brooks’ statement:
“A beheading … is not just an injury or a crime. It is an indignity. A beheading is more like rape, castration or cannibalism.”
Planned Parenthood only does first-trimester abortions; it doesn’t do “dismemberment abortions” done only by doctors outside Planned Parenthood and for the serious health issues. Only three percent of Planned Parenthood services are abortion-related.
People who think that GOP legislators ignore science need to note top issues on Tom Kirby’s website. The Georgia state representative wants to guarantee that embryos are not forced to glow in the dark. To preserve the “ethical treatment of embryos,” he is calling for a ban on the mixing of human and jellyfish DNA. He also introduced a bill to prevent any “attempt to create an in vitro human embryo by any means other than fertilization of a human egg by a human sperm.” Asked by a reporter about why people would mix human and jellyfish DNA, he replied, “To make them glow in the dark is the only thing I know of.” He hasn’t seen any evidence of this problem, but he said that people had told him about it. This isn’t a new thing for Kirby; two years ago he posted a video on YouTube talking about banning human-animal hybrids.
Montana has a lot of serious issues too. The Tea Party in the state is very worried about access to guns and has introduced bills to prepare for the National Ammunition Shortage, establish Armed Militias in Every Town, and create “home guards” (local paramilitary groups) across the state which could be mobilized by sheriffs for whatever reason they choose without the governor’s consent. The Tea Party in Montana thinks that they would be safer if concealed weapons were allowed in “Bars, Banks, and on Campuses.” The bill does exclude bars on campuses. Two other bills propose the nullification of all federal gun laws and allowing hunting with silencers. Chasing a running animals burdens the hunters’ freedom, according to the bill’s sponsor.
Lest you think that they concentrate only on firearms, however, they also focus on the body by requiring that the anus, nipples and areolae be fully concealed with “a fully opaque covering” and prohibiting “simulated genitalia.” State Rep. David Moore’s bill is in addition to a law against indecent exposure. He also thinks that “yoga pants should be illegal in public.”
Montana finds education important, so another bill is called “Encourage Critical Thinking in the Classroom.” Based on the sponsor’s position that “the scientific community has not resolved or answered the questions related to the origins of all life or the origin of our universe,” the bill allows public school teachers legal immunity if they want to teach “alternative” theories.
Last December, the Montana legislature mandated a dress code for women in the legislature, requiring them “to be mindful of necklines and skirt lengths” and also to wear only “dress blouses or suit-like dresses” and never “jersey or fleece material” or leggings.
A Mississippi GOP state representative is against education funding because blacks on welfare checks are allowed to go to school. Gene Alday, who helps to rule the poorest state in the union with some of the worst schools, objects to improving schools for his “town where all the blacks are getting food stamps and what I call ‘welfare crazy checks.’ They don’t work.” He also complained about having to wait at an emergency room where the poor go for treatment because the legislators refuse them Medicaid from the Affordable Care Act:
“I liked to died. I laid in there for hours because they (blacks) were in there being treated for gunshots.”
Former Texas governor and presidential candidate Rick Perry said that the people of his state want 22 percent of their residents to be uninsured. In New Hampshire, he said, “Texas has been criticized for having a large number of uninsured. But that’s what Texans wanted.” When Perry rejected Medicaid expansion funds from the Affordable Care Act, he denied coverage to 1.5 million people with a median income of $833. Texas law denies Medicaid to non-disabled parents unless they earn less than 19 percent of the poverty level–$4,500 for a family of four. Seventy percent of uninsured Texans are in working families with 40 percent living below the poverty level.
Obviously ignorance isn’t confined to state legislatures. Nationally, GOP members of Congress have tried to drag the country back a century or two. Rep. Dave Brat (R-VA), who unexpectedly replaced Majority Leader Eric Cantor less than a year ago, wants to go back a couple of centuries by modeling its educational system after the ancient Greeks. The U.S. could eliminate education funding, he said:
“Socrates trained Plato in on a rock and then Plato trained in Aristotle roughly speaking on a rock. So, huge funding is not necessary to achieve the greatest minds and the greatest intellects in history. The greatest thinkers in Western civ [sic] were not products of education policy.”
Brat proposes putting “private sector folks into every one of our schools, get the CEOs in the schools and move beyond this just narrow policy debate and really have a revolution.”
Currently, federal law targets $14 billion to schools and school districts in places with high poverty density based on the number of students living in these communities. The GOP proposal would give states the option to allocate funding to poor students wherever they live. It would remove $75 million from the Los Angeles schools while increasing funding for Beverly Hills by $140,000. The proposal passed committee with no hearing.
As “bomb trains” filled with oil randomly explode as they travel the country, Rep. Jeff Denham (R-CA), chairman of the House Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines, and Hazardous Materials, wants people to drop the “misperception” that “our current tank cars are not safe, that our industry does not have a safe record.” The Modesto Bee, a newspaper in Denham’s district, published an editorial that “Delays on safer rail cars are unacceptable” and called for elected representatives to insist on rules for cars and deadlines to replace all tank cars in the United States. Denham disagrees with the National Transportation Safety Board that the existing rail cars pose “unacceptable public risk.”
Greg Saxton, chief engineer for rail tank car manufacturer Greenbrier, claims the industry can meet the deadlines, but Sen. John Thune (R-SD) calls the deadlines “unattainable,” disagreeing with Saxton, engineer of the largest tank car manufacturer. Meanwhile the industry wants to keep all the old cars and add new ones while it also privately lobbies against new braking systems, safer oil, and any speed limits for the trains. You can check out this map to see how close you are to the bomb train blast zones.
The most head-shaking policy that a Tea Partier wants to push, however, may be from new senator Tom Tills. Elected by North Carolinians, he wants to remove the requirement that food servers wash their hands after using the bathroom because he’s against regulations. Instead, he would require these places of business to post signs announcing that they don’t require employees to wash their hands. It seems that regulations are in the eye of the beholder.
Truly amazing, however, was Sen. John McCain’s (R-AZ) support of Sarah Palin for president if she chooses to run. And if he reruns for senator, he will “absolutely” call on her for help.
These are just a few of the crazies currently in the news!