Rep. Vicky Hartzler (r): Oops.

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About those ethics.

Praise from Representative Vicky Hartzler (r) via Twitter on January 4, 2017 for Representative Tom Price’s (r) nomination by Donald Trump (r) to become the next Secretary of Health and Human Services:

vickyhartzler010417

Rep. Vicky Hartzler ‏@RepHartzler
.@RepTomPrice is an exceptional leader w expertise on healthcare & budget issues. Liked & respected by all. He will be a great Sec. of HHS!
2:08 PM – 4 Jan 2017

Today:

First on CNN: Trump’s cabinet pick invested in company, then introduced a bill to help it
By Manu Raju, Senior Political Reporter
Updated 4:44 PM ET, Mon January 16, 2017

…Rep. Tom Price last year purchased shares in a medical device manufacturer days before introducing legislation that would have directly benefited the company, raising new ethics concerns for President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee for Health and Human Services secretary…

Oops.

Yeah, sure, drain that swamp.

Image

Lacy Clay vs. the Republican PC brigade

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pulphus.image.jpg

By now almost everybody knows the story of Lacy Clay and the painting shown above – when there’s a story that involves conservative outrage, it gets around thanks to the first rate rightwing propaganda network. But just in case you don’t know why the image above is interesting for more than its aesthetic qualities, or if you’ve forgotten the details, here’s a quick summary of the events:

There’s something called the Congressional Art Competition for high school students in each congressional district. Each year, the most recent winner’s painting is hung in a tunnel passageway between the Longworth House Office Building and the Capitol. Over six months ago, Missouri Rep. Lacy Clay (D-1) hung the painting above, by the winner of the competition in his district, St. Louis high school student David Pulphus.

The Independent Journal Review, a right-leaning news site, noticed the painting recently and decided that its depiction of seemingly beastial police was worth a little outrage, which led Fox News to pick up the story. Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA) saw an opportunity to publicly flex his John Wayne muscles, grabbed the painting off the wall and deposited it in Rep. Clay’s office after lots of well-publicized posturing. Rep. Clay quickly flexed his muscles right back at Hunter and rehung the painting. Whereupon lots of other GOP representatives tried to get in on the show, publicly bloviating while shuttling the painting back and forth. Finally Republicans decided to call in a big gun and appealed the Architect of the Capitol who ruled that “exhibits depicting subjects of contemporary political controversy or a sensationalistic or gruesome nature are not allowed.” So, now it looks like there’ll be a premature bye-bye to Pulphus’ painting.

Do you see anything funny (both ha-ha funny and otherwise) about this scenario? If not, let me lay it out for you:

  1.  Isn’t it conservatives who are usually mouthing off about about political correctness? As Alex Nowrasteh recently wrote in the Washington Post, “conservative writers fill volumes complaining how political correctness stifles free expression” and yet here they are actively trying to stifle free expression in the name of that god of the blue-haired country-club matron, “good taste.” Something offends them and theirs, it’s got to go, but when it offends me and mine, we’ve got to shut up because political correctness.
  2. Speaking of PC, are policemen and women really so fragile that they can’t face up to the fact that there are whole segments of the population that don’t regard them as protectors? Why do Republicans want us to enforce “safe spaces” for cops, when they’re so disturbed by the same kind of “safe spaces” on campuses (and, for the record, I oppose controversy-free zones on campus too).
  3. How does it help police to deal with “wounds that we’re trying to heal,” in the words of the president of the St. Louis County Police Association, if we stifle any point of view that doesn’t flatter the police? Lots of us believe that a wound can’t heal until its existence is freely acknowledged. Why aren’t these congressmen more interested in finding out why an intelligent, talented young man depicts police with animal faces? (And, by the way, he also depicts a protester with a wolf face – there’s lots of diverse animal imagery in the picture.)
  4. Jonathan Adler argues that there are inconsistencies in the response of the Capital Architect: that the office did not object to the painting when it was first hung six months ago, and that other paintings with a political message have not been removed (he offers an example here), adding that “this painting was targeted because of its specific message, not because it is too political.” In other words, the criteria used to remove the painting is inspired more by the particular PC ox that is being gored than by an objective application of the rules.
  5. If I were a cynical type of person, I might think that Rep. Duncan Hunter’s embrace of the controversy – and he was the one who really got it going –  might have had something to do with his desire to deflect attention from the ethics investigations into his campaign finances in which he was forced to reimburse $62,000 to his campaign for charges including “oral surgery, a garage door, video games, resort stays and a jewelry purchase in Italy.” But that’s just me. For purposes of discussion, I’m willing to accept that he and his very tasteful pals are just enslaved by conservative PC.

If Rep. Hunter and his GOP colleagues weren’t so politically correct, however, they might have been more willing to use the painting to encourage discussion of the questions that it raises. Adler adds:

On Thursday, someone placed a “Blue Lives Matter” flag on the wall above the painting. Whether or not such an impromptu display is allowed under the Capitol’s rules, this is a much more appropriate response than stealing the painting from the wall or otherwise seeking to have it removed. Displaying the Blue Lives Matter flag is a way to express disapproval of the painting’s message and endorse a counter-message. It is, in short, responding to potentially offensive speech with more speech. It is exactly what conservatives (and others) tell college students to do when they are confronted by speech that offends them, whether it’s an art installation or a speech by an Internet provocateur.

Of course, if there were to be a real discussion, folks like Hunter and the particular constituents he panders to might have to take into account the way their political correctness plays from an African-American perspective. As Etefia Umana writes in The Root:

These elected officials’ behavior is a clear display of privilege. African Americans get the message: Freedom of expression is only for police-worshipping, privileged citizens. The representatives will likely not be punished because law enforcement and elected officials have far more restraint for white “protesters” than for black resisters.

 God forbid that in the era of the Trumpocalypse we actually try to come together. Of course, David Pulphus’s painting has by now had more of an impact and started more discussions than during the past six months when it hung mostly unnoticed in a congressional hallway so maybe it’s a wash.

Sen. Claire McCaskill (D): at least in Tom Clancy novels the Russians always lost

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Not in our reality.

mccaskill011517

Claire McCaskill ‏@clairecmc
Am I living in a Tom Clancy novel?
[….]
8:18 AM – 15 Jan 2017

My response:

bersin011517

Michael Bersin ‏@MBersin
@clairecmc Do something. You think at the very least you could not vote to confirm Donald Trump’s cabinet nominees who are Russian patsies?
9:32 AM – 15 Jan 2017

You’d think.

HB 600: suppose there was a brand new state park named after Jay Nixon and you wanted to change the name

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Former Governor Jay Nixon (D) [2016 file photo].

Former Governor Jay Nixon (D) [2016 file photo].

Via Missouri State Parks:

Jay Nixon State Park

….Located in Reynolds County, the park’s rugged landscape serves as a backcountry access to the Ozark Trail, which links Taum Sauk Mountain and Johnson’s Shut-Ins state parks. The park features rugged terrain and unblazed trails, making it perfect for those familiar with wilderness travel and seeking a true backcountry experience. The park also includes a rare mountaintop lake, which is home to bluegill and largemouth bass. The park is named for Missouri’s 55th Governor, whose support for conservation and state parks has been nationally recognized….

A press release from the Missouri Department of Natural Resources:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 05, 2017
[….]
Jay Nixon State Park Offers New Backcountry Experience

Missouri’s newest state park offers an outstanding backpacking experience in the heart of the rugged St. Francois Mountains. Missouri State Parks has announced the opening of Jay Nixon State Park, 1,230 acres of wooded, rugged terrain that includes opportunities for backpacking with a connection to the Ozark Trail.

Located in Reynolds County, the park’s rugged landscape serves as a backcountry access to the Ozark Trail, which links Taum Sauk Mountain and Johnson’s Shut-Ins state parks. The park features rugged terrain and unblazed trails, making it perfect for those familiar with wilderness travel and seeking a true backcountry experience. The park also includes a rare mountaintop lake, which is home to bluegill and largemouth bass.

The property was purchased in 2015 with funds received from a Natural Resource Damage Assessment and Restoration settlement with the American Smelting and Refining Company LLC (ASARCO). The Missouri Trustee Council, which includes the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Missouri Department of Natural Resources, reviewed the proposed purchase at a public meeting on Dec. 18, 2014 at Johnson’s Shut-Ins State Park.

Currently, there are no facilities at the state park, which can only be accessed from the Ozark Trail. In the future, basic services such as campsites, water and restroom facilities may be added.

Bordered by Taum Sauk Mountain State Park and close to Johnson’s Shut-Ins State Park, Jay Nixon State Park makes a great addition to anyone seeking a backcountry experience.

The park is named for Missouri’s 55th Governor, whose support for conservation and state parks has been nationally recognized.
With the addition of Jay Nixon State Park, Missouri State Parks now offers 92 state parks and historic sites.

###

A bill, filed by Representative Paul Fitzwater (r) this past Thursday:

HB 600  
Renames “Jay Nixon State Park” as “Proffitt Mountain State Park”
Sponsor: Fitzwater, Paul (144)
Proposed Effective Date: 8/28/2017
LR Number: 1353H.01I
Last Action: 01/12/2017 – Introduced and Read First Time (H)
Bill String: HB 600
Next Hearing: Hearing not scheduled
Calendar: HOUSE BILLS FOR SECOND READING

The bill text:

FIRST REGULAR SESSION
HOUSE BILL NO. 600 [pdf]
99TH GENERAL ASSEMBLY

INTRODUCED BY REPRESENTATIVE FITZWATER (144).
1353H.01I D. ADAM CRUMBLISS, Chief Clerk

AN ACT

To amend chapter 253, RSMo, by adding thereto one new section relating to the renaming of a certain state park.
Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the state of Missouri, as follows:
Section A. Chapter 253, RSMo, is amended by adding thereto one new section, to be known as section 253.125, to read as follows:
253.125. The state park currently known as “Jay Nixon State Park” located in a county of the third classification without a township form of government and with more than six thousand but fewer than seven thousand inhabitants and with a city of the fourth classification with more than one hundred fifty but fewer than two hundred inhabitants as the county seat shall hereby be renamed, known, and cited as the “Proffitt Mountain State Park”. Any such costs expended for the renaming of such state park shall be paid by the department.

[emphasis in original]

That didn’t take long, did it?

“…Rep. Paul Fitzwater, a Republican, represents Iron County and parts of Washington, Wayne and Reynolds Counties (District 144) in the Missouri House of Representatives…”

Fairfax: …Man, that’s just mean. That’s mean, man…

There is that one small detail

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Jason Kander (D) [2016 file photo].

Jason Kander (D) [2016 file photo].

This evening, via Twitter:

kander011317

Jason Kander ‏@JasonKander
Once you acknowledge repealing ACA instead of improving it will cause some Americans to lose their lives, what more is there to argue about?
7:13 PM – 13 Jan 2017

We already know the answer to that.

Previously:

If you get sick, just die already. (January 11, 2017)

Rep. Vicky Hartzler (r): about repealing that Affordable Care Act

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Representative Vicky Hartzler (r) 2016 file photo].

Representative Vicky Hartzler (r) 2016 file photo].

Representative Vicky Hartzler (r) on her latest vote to repeal Obamacare:

Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler
[….]
My statement on passage of the Budget Resolution for 2017, which lays the groundwork for repeal of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, or “Obamacare”:
“Obamacare is hurting Americans. I have heard from constituents regularly about cancelled plans, $6,000 or higher deductibles, hours cut from full-time to part-time, and premiums going through the roof. One family’s premiums will now consume over one-third of their projected income in 2017! We can do better. We can repair the damage done from this broken and unsustainable law. I am excited to work on passing positive, patient-centered solutions that provide more choices and lower costs all around. This bill is the first step in doing that, allowing us to bring relief to the scores of Americans who have been hurt under Obamacare.”

Some of the responses:

[….]BLAH BLAH BLAH post the details of the replacement plan you have supposedly had for years or stop posting.

I look forward to having to drive to KC to a hospital after Golden Valley and Western Missouri Medical Center close which is what will happen if you do not get this right.

[….]Thanks for 8 years of obstructionism instead of improving upon the law. You and other Republicans have nobody to blame but yourself. Stop lying to the American people.

To be fair, Representative Hartzler (r) has only been obstructing for six years.

[….]THE FIRST STEP IS OFFERING A BETTER SOLUTION.

Not gonna happen.

[….] You’ve also heard from thousands of constituents that need and want the ACA, but that doesn’t fit into your narrative. Don’t be so “excited” to leave people without access to healthcare. You have no plan to replace the current plan with. You’re playing games with people’s lives.

[….]It helped my daughter. She lost her job and her health insurance with no warning. Without Obamacare, she would not have been able to afford the prescriptions that she absolutely must have! I guess she would have had to just do without. After having an Obamacare health insurance policy for a few months (which, by the way, she COULD afford), she got another job that offered hea lth benefits. This program literally saved her. I realize the premiums are going up. But before just throwing the whole thing in the dumpster, what is your lower-cost replacement plan for providing health care to those who need it, and what are your notional patient-centered solutions?

The republicans in Congress are like the dog that just caught the car…

HB 593: even more republican gun humping in the General Assembly

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A bill introduced yesterday:

HB 593  
Modifies provisions relating to the concealed carrying of firearms
Sponsor: McDaniel, Andrew (150)
Proposed Effective Date: 8/28/2017
LR Number: 1291H.01I
Last Action: 01/12/2017 – Introduced and Read First Time (H)
Bill String: HB 593
Next Hearing: Hearing not scheduled
Calendar: HOUSE BILLS FOR SECOND READING
[….]

The bill would remove a number of restrictions. The bill:

FIRST REGULAR SESSION
HOUSE BILL NO. 593 [pdf]
99TH GENERAL ASSEMBLY

INTRODUCED BY REPRESENTATIVE MCDANIEL.
1291H.01I D. ADAM CRUMBLISS, Chief Clerk

AN ACT

To repeal sections 571.030, 571.107, 571.215, 577.703, and 577.712, RSMo, and to enact in lieu thereof five new sections relating to firearms, with penalty provisions.
Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the state of Missouri, as follows:
[….]
2. A person shall not carry a weapon readily capable of lethal use onto any private property whose owner has posted the premises as being off-limits to such weapons by means of one or more signs displayed in a conspicuous place of a minimum size of eleven inches by fourteen inches with the writing thereon in letters of not less than one inch. A violation of this subsection shall not be a criminal act but may subject the person to denial
of admission to the premises or removal from the premises. If such person refuses to leave the premises and a peace officer is summoned, such person may be issued a citation for an amount not to exceed one hundred dollars for the first offense. If a second citation for a similar violation occurs within a six-month period, such person shall be fined an amount not to exceed two hundred dollars and, if he or she has a permit to carry concealed firearms, then such permit shall be suspended for a period of one year. If such person does not have a permit to carry concealed firearms then a permit shall not be issued for a period of one year from the date of the violation. If a third citation for a similar violation is issued within one year of the first citation, such person shall be fined an amount not to exceed five hundred dollars and shall have any Missouri lifetime or extended concealed carry permit revoked. Such person shall not be eligible for a new or renewed Missouri lifetime or extended concealed carry permit or a concealed carry permit issued under sections 571.101 29 to 571.121 for a period of three years. Upon conviction of charges arising from a citation issued under this subsection, the court shall notify the sheriff of the county which issued the Missouri lifetime or extended concealed carry permit. The sheriff shall, if necessary, suspend or revoke the Missouri lifetime or extended concealed carry permit.

[….]

[emphasis in original]

Gee, you’d have to post your own home.

The prohibitions on concealed carry in churches, schools, and higher education, among other places, are removed in the bill.

Previously:

HB 96: gun humpers in the General Assembly want to hold everyone else hostage (December 8, 2016)

Rep. Stacey Newman (D): about those guns… (December 12, 2016)

HB 300: gun humpers in the General Assembly want to hold everyone else hostage – redux (December 29, 2016)