Tag Archives: clowns

Send In the Clowns….

Don’t bother. They’re here. In fact, they’re apparently everywhere.

Yesterday, a student sent me a link to a story about a Montana lawmaker who is proposing to give people convicted of a crime a choice between prison time and “infliction of pain.” According to the report, Republican Rep. Jerry O’Neil is drafting a bill that would allow those convicted of misdemeanors or felonies to negotiate corporal punishment rather than a more conventional sentence, because he thinks long prison sentences are inhumane, and thinks many offenders would prefer something like “20 lashes.”

This is the same lawmaker who made headlines earlier in the legislative session when he asked to get paid in gold and silver coins because he is skeptical about the future of the dollar.

Not to be outdone, however, our Hoosier legislators are weighing in with some pretty impressive entries in the OMG sweepstakes. Some pending bills are just terrible policy, of course. We’re used to those here in Indiana. Others are head-scratchers. For example, Senate Bill 0462 designates the fourth Saturday of July as the National Day of the Cowboy and Cowgirl in Indiana, and designates the third weekend of May as the First People’s Celebration Weekend in Indiana in observance of the Corn Planting Moon Ceremony.

The Corn Planting Moon Ceremony? SB 0462 is definitely a contender. But my current favorite is Senate Bill o230, which proposes to “nullify” federal laws our Indiana policymakers don’t like.

SB 0230 provides that “any federal act, order, law, rule, regulation, or statute found by the general assembly to be inconsistent with the power granted to the federal government in the Constitution of the United States is void in Indiana. Provides that a resident of Indiana has a cause of action to enjoin the enforcement or implementation or the attempted enforcement or implementation of a federal act, order, law, rule, regulation, or statute declared void by the general assembly. Provides that a plaintiff who prevails in such an action is entitled to reasonable attorney’s fees and costs. Provides that a person who knowingly or intentionally implements or enforces, or attempts to implement or enforce, a federal law that is declared void by the general assembly commits a Class D felony. Finds that the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and the federal Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010 are inconsistent with the power granted to the federal government in the Constitution of the United States.”

Presumably, the genius who sponsored this one missed that pesky little provision in the U.S. Constitution known as the Supremacy Clause. (Didn’t some of this guy’s forebears try that “states rights” gambit during the civil rights movement? Didn’t work then, either.)

It’s pretty clear what’s pissed off the sponsor of SB 0230, and pretty obvious what his bill–however embarrassing–is all about.   SB 0163, on the other hand, is mystifying.

The digest begins “Provides that an individual may not be registered as a lobbyist for more than ten years.” The bill also provides that “an individual may not be a candidate for election to the general assembly if, at the expiration of the term to which the individual would be elected, the individual would have served more than 16 years as a member of the general assembly” and “provides that an individual may not be employed by or provide personal services under contract to any Indiana government body for more than ten years during the individual’s lifetime.” It also prohibits anyone from receiving more than $1,000,000 in compensation from government during his lifetime.

I understand trying to term limit legislators (although it really isn’t a very good idea, no matter how tempting it may seem)–but lobbyists and government employees?

Maybe we could just give those guys a choice between term limits and 25 lashes?


Bring in the Clowns

Bring in the clowns? As the song goes, “don’t bother, they’re here.” We’ve elected them.

Rational people of all political stripes know that the last thing the fragile recovery needs is a government shutdown, but every time the Republicans and Democrats seem to be making progress toward an agreement, the GOP’s Tea Party wing throws a tantrum and demands that the goalposts be moved. As Steve Benen reported this morning over at Political Animal, the Koch-financed Americans for Prosperity held a rally yesterday across the street from the Capitol.  Several dozen people gathered to listen to speeches from Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.), Republican Study Committee Chairman Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), Reps. Mike Pence (R-Ind.), and others. The Republican voters chanted, “Shut it down!” during the rally, and every other sign at the rally urged the GOP to shut down the government.

In fact, Indiana’s own clown, Pence, has been prominent among those urging a shutdown–ignoring the effect on our fighting men (whose pay would be affected), seniors (Social Security would stop processing applications) and public servants (who would be furloughed without pay during the shutdown) among many others. He also seems indifferent to the problems a shutdown would cause state governments, including Indiana–evidencing the depth of his concern for the state he proposes to run.

The clowns who populate Congress and state legislatures pontificate endlessly about a constitution they rather clearly haven’t read. They spout nonsense about government spending, displaying an appalling ignorance of economics and the difference, for example, between operating costs and capital investments. (A reader sent me a graph showing U.S. investment in infrastructure as a percentage of GDP since 1950–that investment has declined from 1.4% to barely two-tenths of 1%. The closest analogy would be a person who spent the mortgage money on a trip to Vegas.) They are contemptuous of any science or empirical evidence that is inconsistent with their ideologies, and they sneer at those “elitists” for whom evidence matters.

Depressing as it is to watch these un-self-aware clowns, it is more depressing to remember that the American people elected them.