Tag Archives: embarrassment

Oh Indiana…

When friends and family members bemoan Indiana’s retrograde legislature, I like to remind them that the domination of that assemblage by pious frauds and occasional fascists (paging Jim Lucas) is a longstanding one. In the late 1800s,  the Indiana General Assembly decided to legislatively change the definition of pi.

Shades of Marjorie Taylor Greene…

When Indiana makes national news, it is almost never because our lawmakers have done something positive, so it wasn’t a surprise when, earlier this month, the state made headlines in the Washington Post.

That linked headline was a follow-up to an earlier article reporting on Indiana’s successful rush to pass one of the nation’s strictest anti-abortion bills. It featured comments received in response to that report–comments that put the legislation into proper historical context.

Indiana becoming the first state to pass an antiabortion law post-Dobbs is reminiscent of Indiana becoming the first state to pass forced sterilization, in 1907. To understand the state’s history of white-supremacist and misogynist legislation — catering to the Ku Klux Klan, the John Birch Society and other extremist groups — one needs to review the state’s conservative religious and political cultures. Not that this will liberate its citizens, but it gives context showing the state’s long history of oppressing individual liberty.

Another letter amplified the point by noting that, In the 1920s, Indiana was the only state in the union where every single county had its own chapter of the KKK.  (Still another letter-writer proved the continuing influence of Klan defensiveness, by insisting that both the John Birch Society and the KKK had Black members and integrated chapters…)

Friends who listened to the arguments over passage of SB 1, the anti-abortion bill, recounted the numerous references to Jesus–clearly, there are no First Amendment scholars in Indiana’s GOP super-majority! They also noted the divisions within the party over whether to allow any exceptions for rape, incest or the life of the mother. (“Pro-life” sentiments obviously don’t extend to the life of the women those lawmakers  dismiss as mere incubators…)

Disregard for the lives and autonomy of women is hardly the only evidence of what late NUVO editor Harrison Ullmann dubbed “The World’s Worst Legislature.” Our “pro life” lawmakers’ love affair with guns has led to increasing permissiveness–this year, despite the GOP’s purported support for police, the General Assembly ignored the testimony of law enforcement officials and eliminated the requirement of a permit to legally carry, conceal or transport a handgun within the state.

Ours is a state where the culture war dominates. It wasn’t that long ago–under the guidance of Mr. Piety–aka Mike Pence–that Indiana passed RFRA, another legislative effort that earned Indiana national headlines. As an article in the Chicago Tribune advised our lawmakers in the wake of that travesty,  “If you have to emphatically reassure citizens that your law won’t result in discrimination, it might be a bad law.”

This morning, the governor of Indiana signed a very bad law. The Religious Freedom Restoration Act is defended by its supporters as a means of protecting the religious liberty of each and every Hoosier of every faith.

That is what we in the “that’s a bunch of baloney” business call, not surprisingly, a bunch of baloney. This law, and others like it that are bubbling up in state legislatures across the country, is a transparent reaction to the swift expansion of same-sex marriage rights. The law effectively allows any business to refuse service to gay or lesbian people on religious grounds.

I’ve posted previously about the success of the legislature’s “Christian warriors” campaign to divert education funds to private, largely fundamentalist Christian schools via the nation’s largest voucher program.

That program isn’t the only attack by Indiana legislators on public school classrooms that has made national headlines. Vanity Fair was one of the many outlets reporting on Republican senator Scott Baldwin’s assertion that teachers must be “impartial” during lessons about Nazism and related “isms.” (Baldwin subsequently tried to walk back his statement, but it was too little, too late.) I suppose Hoosiers should be grateful for all the adverse publicity Baldwin generated; it was probably the reason the bill to ban teaching of (an invented) Critical Race Theory in the state’s public schools failed.

I absolutely agree with  one letter-writer to the Vigo County Tribune-Star. During the pandemic, as our intrepid legislators were protecting our freedom to infect our neighbors, he wrote:

It is better to be thought fools, than to pass legislation and remove all doubt.

In January 2022, Indiana Representatives plan to vote on House Bill 1001. The bill requires private businesses to accept any made-up excuse from employees refusing vaccination. Obvious bullpoo cannot be challenged…

 As an educator, I applaud any attempt to cure stupid. But, quarantining the worse cases in the House is not the answer.

 

Bring In The Clowns. Don’t Bother, They’re Here.

There’s a cartoon making the rounds on social media that shows Lt. Col. Vindman–in his military uniform– testifying during the impeachment hearing before the House Intelligence Committee. Congressman Devin Nunes, in full clown regalia, is asking him “What’s with the uniform?”

I loved it.

As Impeachment proceedings move to the Judiciary Committee, I thought I’d do a quick review of some of the more vocal–okay, looney-tunes–Trump defenders on the Intelligence Committee.

Nunes is a hysterical ( in both senses of the word) Trump devotee; during the Mueller investigation, reporters caught him running information to and from the White House in an effort to exculpate the President by disparaging American spy agencies, and engaging in a variety of other behaviors that were not, to put it mildly, in furtherance of the rule of law.

Indeed, despite once sponsoring something called the “Discouraging Frivolous Lawsuits Act,” Nunes may be the poster child for legal frivolity.

According to a column in the LA Times, 

He has sued:

¤ A stone fruit farmer in Dinuba, and two other people, for conspiring to damage his 2018 reelection by asking that Nunes not be allowed to call himself a “farmer” on the ballot.

¤ The research firm Fusion GPS and a Democratic group called Campaign for Accountability for attempting to interfere with his “investigation” (quote marks are mine) into ties between President Trump and Russia when he was chairman of the House Intelligence Committee.

¤ Twitter and a couple of parody accounts, including @DevinCow, who has called Nunes “a treasonous cowpoke.” He is asking for $250 million to assuage his hurt feelings.

¤ McClatchy, parent company of Nunes’ hometown paper, the Fresno Bee, for writing that he had a financial interest in a winery sued by an employee who was asked to work on a charity cruise where men behaved very, very badly.

¤ And, most recently, Esquire magazine and the journalist Ryan Lizza, who Nunes claims have defamed him to the tune of $75 million in writing about the Nunes family dairy farm, which is not in California, but in Iowa, a fact Lizza alleged Nunes has sought to downplay. Lizza also wrote about how undocumented workers form the backbone of the Iowa dairy farm industry, and how the industry would collapse without them.

(The New York Times says the cow now has 600,000 followers, far more than Nunes…)

Each of Nunes lawsuits describe him in the following glowing (arguably wildly inaccurate) terms:

“Nunes’ career as a U.S. Congressman is distinguished by his honor, dedication and service to his constituents and his country, his honesty, integrity, ethics, reputation for truthfulness and veracity.”

Then there’s language from his suit against the more popular cow. I think it’s fair to characterize it as somewhat over-the-top:

“In 2018, during his last re-election,” says his lawsuit against Twitter and the cow, “Nunes endured an orchestrated defamation campaign of stunning breadth and scope, one that no human being should ever have to bear or suffer in their whole life.”

As the author of the column put it,

It’s almost as if Nunes thinks he is the victim of a vast bovine conspiracy, when what he is really doing is weaponizing the American legal system in an effort to shut down criticism, punish his antagonists and prove to Trump World that, like the president, he will stop at nothing to destroy those who would dare to oppose him. Or call him names like “Milk Dud.”

In all fairness, Nunes isn’t the only Republican clown on the Intelligence Committee. Jim Jordan is only slightly less ridiculous; his high-decibel expressions of righteous indignation over suggestions that the Emperor/Commander-in-Chief might not be wearing any clothes was in striking contrast to his utter lack of such indignation–or appropriate action– over the sexual exploitation of numerous wrestlers by the team doctor while Jordan was assistant coach at Ohio State.

Gotta give Jordan props: when he’s on your team–be it wrestling or governing– he’ll cover for you. After all, what are friends for?

There are others, of course, who haven’t exactly been models of legislative comportment–let alone integrity. Feel free to identify your personal favorites in the comments.

Despite the number of contestants, it’s my view that Devin Nunes has gone above and beyond (far, far beyond) and is richly deserving of the title of Head Clown. Despite what has definitely been a valiant effort, Jim Jordan falls short.

That said, as the proceedings move to Judiciary, Nunes may have to increase his quotient of batshit crazy in order to keep the Clown crown. Louie Gohmert is on the Judiciary Committee…