Posts Tagged ‘ARGOP’

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The Stark-Raving Hypocrisy of Jason Rapert

July 17, 2012

I’ll admit my Bible is fairly old, as I got it as a gift from my grandmother in the 1970s.  Also, it contains a bunch of crazy ideas about the poor.  To wit:

I know that the LORD will maintain the cause of the afflicted, and justice for the poor. – Ps. 140:12

Blessed are you who are poor, for yours in the kingdom of God. Blessed are you who hunger now, for you shall be satisfied. Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh. – Luke 6:20:21

The righteous is concerned for the rights of the poor; the wicked does not understand such concern. – Prov. 29:7

These seem simply incompatible with the Modern Day Republican Party (MDRP), don’t they?  Either that, or there’s been a re-print of the Bible which must say, somewhere, “Soak the poor; let them die.”

I must have the Hippie Bible.

But if you’re Jason Rapert, none of these formerly Christian values have any meaning whatsoever, and your policy stances are a nauseating maze of hypocrisies, all bundled under his supposedly conservative, Christian beliefs.

From Rapert’s website:

Healthcare is an individual choice…

Unless you’re a woman, that is!  Rapert introduced a sickening invasive ultrasound bill for women seeking abortions, SB 843.  Because, obviously, nothing says “healthcare is an individual choice” like being forcibly raped by a doctor with a wand.  Can you taste the freedom?  No?  Hold on, let me stick it farther up there.

From the Bible:

But woe to you who are rich, for you are receiving your comfort in full. – Luke 6:24

Rapert, of course, receives fantastic healthcare by being an Arkansas State Senator.  If there’s one thing he’ll never, ever have to worry about again, it’s meeting his and his family’s health care needs.  Woe unto you, poor Jason.  But if you’re one of the 505,000 Arkansans without health care, most of these among the most poor of the state’s citizens, this is what Jason Rapert has to say to you:

As a senator, I was proud to stand up for the rights of Arkansans and to fight the implementation of key components of Obamacare in our state while the question of the health care law’s constitutionality was being considered by the courts.

Raped by a wand?  Fantastic!  Health care for the poor?  Unconstitutional and I’ll fight against it!

But whoever has the world’s goods, and beholds his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him? – 1 John 3:17

Ultimately, Rapert is a MDRP “life begins at conception/ends at birth” politician.  From his site:

Life begins at the moment of conception…

This is demonstrably false, but when you’re so overcome by ideology rather than scientific reasoning, your conclusion will be incorrect about every time.   The rest of the sentence from Rapert’s site:

…we, as leaders, have a moral and spiritual obligation to protect the life of children.

Unless, of course, you are poor and without health care.  In that case, Jason Rapert couldn’t care less about you and yours.  You’re born; interest gone.

Taking a quick look at Rapert’s largest contributors, it’s the usual bunch of conservative puppeteers buying Rapert’s votes: Ess Transportation, Don “Double Dipping” Thomas, Stephens Group, Waltons, etc.  These are Jason Rapert’s masters.

No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will hold to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and Money. – Mt. 6:24

The MDRP is a religious parody of itself, readily hiding behind the Bible but, seemingly, never bothering to crack the seal of the good book.  Jason Rapert is a perfect example of this hypocrisy: health care for me, not for thee; freedom except if you’re a woman; and, screw the poor (to say nothing of his other horrendous policy positions).  These aren’t Christian ideals, and rampant hypocrisy like his is a driving factor in the huge rise of atheism in America.

He who oppresses the poor reproaches his Maker, but he who is gracious to the needy honors Him. – Prov. 14:31

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Lies, Damned Lies, & Claims Of Legislative Success

June 29, 2012

Does John Stossel know David stole his ‘stache?

In the wake of the Supreme Court’s upholding the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, I thought it might be instructive to recall the halcyon days of December 2010, when newly elected Rep. David Meeks (R-Conway) pre-filed HB 1053[1], entitled “AN ACT TO ENSURE FREEDOM OF CHOICE IN HEALTH CARE FOR ALL ARKANSANS; AND TO PREVENT INVOLUNTARY ENROLLMENTS IN HEALTH CARE INSURANCE PROGRAMS.”  Under that bill, Meeks would have told the federal government that they could not impose a mandate on Arkansans, nor could they impose a penalty on Arkansans who did not buy insurance.

At the time that he proposed it, the reaction among people who weren’t trying to score political points with constituents who don’t understand how such things work was that the bill was absolutely worthless.  In fact, it was slightly worse than worthless: at best, it would be superfluous if the Supreme Court struck down the mandate.

If, instead, the Supreme Court upheld the mandate, as they did today, passing that bill could have had a much more deleterious effect, embroiling Arkansas in a lawsuit — paid for by tax dollars — once someone filed a suit challenging the law.  Either way, there was simply no remotely likely set of circumstances in which HB 1053 would have had any positive, practical effect.

But Meeks was not done.  In March 2011, he co-sponsored Sen. Missy Irvin’s (R-ALEC) attempt to do more or less the same thing regarding the individual mandate, SB 709, “AN ACT TO CREATE THE HEALTHCARE REFORM ACCOUNTABILITY ACT AND TO DECLARE AN EMERGENCY.”  Had this bill passed, the outcome would have been the same as with HB 1053, resulting in either absolutely nothing or a lawsuit.  Mercifully, this bill also died in committee.

Imagine for a moment that you are David Meeks.  (Try not to let the existential embarrassment lead to clinical depression.)  Imagine that you’ve got two bills with your name on them, and neither of them made it out of committee.  Imagine further that, if they had passed, neither would have had the slightest impact on Arkansans as of June 28, 2012.  Now, whether because they didn’t pass or because they were worthless from the jump, answer me this (while still imagining that you are David Meeks):  isn’t it pretty fair to say that these bills in no way blocked the implementation of the PPACA in Arkansas?

If you were really in character, you should have answered “not as far as what I’m going to tell my constituents!”

He even goes so far as to call HB 1053 the “Healthcare Freedom Act” on the legislative tab of his website.  Because, you know, “Act” is TOTALLY not designed to make people think that the law passed and that Meeks “protect[ed] Arkansas from being forced to purchase health insurance.”  Nope, not meant to mislead at all.

By which I mean it is meant to completely mislead.

In a perfect world, Meeks’s opponent, Cody Bassham, could capitalize on the fact that he’s running against a Representative who has accomplished nothing in his first two years and has gleefully attached his name to terrible bills (in addition to the above, he also co-sponsored Rep. Ed Garner’s unconstitutional attempt to remove Arkansas’s capital-gains tax, sponsored a bizarre bill to let doctors refuse treatments based on the dictates of their own conscience, and co-sponsored the kind of asinine resolution to “claim states rights under the Tenth Amendment” that Tea Party backers think has any meaning whatsoever).  Sadly, Faulkner County ain’t a perfect world, and Bassham is fighting an uphill battle; he doesn’t have a website, and Meeks has been able to outraise him by a wide margin thus far.

Worse still, Bassham is running against a Pastoral Ministry major who is willing to blatantly lie to his constituents about what he’s done while in the House, and there’s no reason to think that the people of Faulkner County will realize this and hold Meeks accountable for his deceit.

Obviously, Meeks is not the first politician to tell a lie in hopes of keeping his seat.[2] I wouldn’t suggest that he was.

I would suggest, however, that there is a difference between a politician repeating a Fox News-type lie about a policy issue and a politician who has to lie about a red-meat Tea Party issue like “Obamacare” just to hide the fact that he has accomplished nothing.  The former is doing what politicians do, in a form that you expect; the latter is acting in desperation, hoping to fool people into re-electing him so he can . . . I dunno . . . propose more bills that might get the state sued?  Continue to milk at the teat of mileage and expense reimbursements?  Not have to get a real job in a poor economy that he and his GOP buddies have helped make worse?

Something like that.  (My money is on the real-job thing.  Because small government starts at someone else’s home for the ARGOP.)

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[^1] Protip: You can save yourself a couple seconds when writing about David Meeks’ 2011 session by writing “HB” before checking the number of any bill on which he was the primary sponsor; you never have to worry about writing “Act,” because he didn’t manage to pass a single bill in 2011. Does this make Arkansas Watch’s listing of Meeks as the Best Legislator In Arkansas borderline absurd? No. In fact, it makes it completely absurd. Which is par for the course with Arkansas Watch.

[^2] Technically, this isn’t even his first falsehood of 2012: he distorted the hell out of the truth during the primary in order to explain paying his unqualified wife to be his legislative assistant.

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On Gay Marriage, or: Man, Those Are Some Terrible Arguments

May 10, 2012

Between the people of North Carolina voting (without really understanding) to outlaw something that was already illegal, 30 of the 33 Republican representatives in Colorado hijacking the legislative process to prevent something that 71% of Coloradans approve of, and the President of the United States coming out in support of gay marriage, today seems like as good of a day as any to flesh out a post that’s been kicking around in my head for some time.  Specifically, I’m talking about the absurdity of the arguments against marriage equality.

Let me back up.  Despite the fact that I wholeheartedly support marriage equality for same-sex couples, it’s not a topic that seems to come up much when talking or writing about Arkansas politics.  I’m not sure whether to chalk that up to my being a straight, married guy or to the fact that Arkansas (like Georgia) is so very backward in many ways, but it’s true nonetheless.  Whenever it does come up, however, I am always flabbergasted by the arguments — often made by otherwise intelligent people — against marriage equality.  I mean, the arguments in favor of such equality are pretty straightforward.  They tend to be things like equal protection or even “why should I care if two consenting adults want to marry one another?”

The arguments against it, however?  Well, let’s take some of the most popular ones in turn and discuss the inherent flaw(s) in each.

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And, If You Are ALEC, She’s Totally Your Huckleberry

April 21, 2012

The mud lets you know she isn't some liberal, car-washing elitist.

Apparently, a Holiday Inn in Heber Springs was hosting a meet-and-greeting last night, and all local political candidates were invited.  Sen. Missy Irvin (R-Mountain View) RSVPed on behalf of herself and roughly 100 additional people that she invited.  Because, hey, party!

Then she learned that the Holiday Inn had the unmitigated temerity to — gasp! — serve alcohol to attendees.  Well, she wasn’t going to have any of THAT, because (paraphrasing) such antics “alienated the Christians.”  So Sen. Irvin attempted to rally people not to attend the meet-and-greet.  Take that, Holiday SIN!

Oh, except she didn’t actually get in touch with all of the myriad people she’d invited, so people showed up, expecting her to attend.  That would have been embarrassing if Sen. Irvin had the capacity to be embarrassed by her own action.  Which she obviously does not.

But, hey, embarrassing or not,  maybe we should give Sen. Irvin credit for sticking to her faith-based guns (and for ignoring that 59% of the Bible’s references to wine/alcohol are positive), right?  Well, we could do that.

Or we could point out that tonight Sen. Irvin held a private event at the Red Apple Inn in Heber Springs.  Where . . . wait for it . . . alcohol was served!

If I ever film a re-make of Tombstone, I’m totally casting Missy Irvin as Doc Holliday.  Because when she says “it appears my hypocrisy knows no bounds,” you’ll know she absolutely means it.

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Past As Prologue: Josh Johnston in 2012

February 14, 2012

Well this is interesting and more than a little telling.

When Max Brantley spoke to Rep. Josh Johnston today, Johnston indicated that he was not running for reelection in 2012, citing the new size/shape of his district. OK, fine. I mean, we should all still hold it against Johnston and the other reps (both Democrat and Republican) that Johnston will apparently not be removed from office, but at least he’s not going to run for reelection and force someone to sue to have him removed from the ballot.

Wait . . . what’s that?

He’s running for Sheriff of Cleburne County, you say?  Why, you must’ve read the caption on the picture to the left.  Pretty clever, you are.

Also, you are correct:

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Article V . . . I Do Not Think It Functions Like You Think It Functions

February 14, 2012

Something that never ceases to amaze me about the current crop of Republicans, especially in Arkansas, is their complete acquiesence to whatever the trendy group-think idea is. There’s no room (or, perhaps more accurately, ability) in their ranks for critical thinking; the corporate or special-interest overlords take care of that part, and they feed the message to willing Republicans like a mama bird regurgitating soundbite-sized chunks.

It should come as no surprise, then, that the posterchildren for this non-thinking group of Tea Party-backed Republicans[1] have pre-filed Joint Resolution #1, which is a call for a constitutional convention to pass an amendment to the U.S. Constitution that would require the federal government to get state approval before it could raise the national debt. This resolution, already adopted in North Dakota and Louisiana, is the pet project of a group called RestoringFreedom.Org. To hear RestoringFreedom.org tell it — and to hear the Arkansas Republicans parrot — this amendment is necessary because Congress is not going to stop spending, and only by using the constitutional power of states to propose an amendment can we be sure that the out-of-control spending in Washington will cease.

Ignoring for a moment the fact that the idea behind RestoringFreedom.Org is supported by ALEC (among others), I can see at least two problems with the effort itself. First, an amendment-proposing convention under Article V of the Consitution cannot be limited to a single subject matter, meaning that calling a convention to consider this amendment would necessarily require that the convention consider any and all amendments that might be proposed, which could lead to some unintended consequences. Second, if this amendment passed, you would either create a situation where the government was forced to raise taxes or you would effectively return to an Articles of Confederation-style situation where the government lacked the ability to raise the money it needed.  We’ll tackle each of these in turn.

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A Couple ARGOP Reps Find Racism Hilarious.

February 11, 2012

How did you spend the last Friday night before the 2012 Fiscal Session begins?  I went out to dinner at Faded Rose in Riverdale, where I had a delicious soft shell crab topped with lump crab meat and mushrooms.  Also at the restaurant were Rep. John Burris (R-Harrison) and Rep. Charlie Collins (R-Fayetteville) meeting with a lobbyist type.

In and of itself, the fact that Burris and Collins had dinner with someone would not be interesting.  Where it becomes interesting, however, is when you are sitting close enough to the table that you can hear the “jokes” about which cigarettes are “only for blacks” or hear Rep. Collins talk about what he said to someone when he was drunk.  High comedy, I tell ya.

To Burris’ credit, I s’pose, he did not actually make the racial comments.  But, then again, he did not object to them, and he did laugh along.  Besides, there’s always that old reputation-by-association saw, “show me your friends and I’ll tell you who you are.”  Oh, and he also felt the need to explain to the third party why he (Burris) voted a certain way on specific bills last session, during which my wife described Burris as looking “like he was being raked over the coals naked.”

If you are the type who cares about such things, you might be wondering whether Burris and Collins paid for their own meals.  I left before they did, so I cannot say.  My guess, however, would be that they did not.  If either of the Reps would like to correct this assumption, they can contact me at [email protected]  Unless and until I hear from either, I’ll just hope that this ethics-reform package has legs.

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Constitution Optional, Or “Why Doesn’t The Arkansas House Remove Josh Johnston?”

February 6, 2012

If bad mustaches were a crime, he'd be serving life.

If you’ve paid the slightest attention over the last year or so, you already know that Rep. Josh Johnston (R-Rose Bud) was convicted in 1995 of passing hot checks, an A misdemeanor.  (See: Josh Johnston Conviction Order.)  Had anyone other than Johnston known this prior to his being elected, someone — say, perhaps, Steve Choate — could have filed a lawsuit, seeking to keep Johnston off of the ballot.  That lawsuit would have been successful, too, as Article 5, section 9, of the Arkansas Constitution makes it clear that:

No person hereafter convicted of embezzlement of public money, bribery, forgery or other infamous crime, shall be eligible to the General Assembly or capable of holding any office of trust or profit in this State.

Now, as discussed elsewhere, it does not matter that Johnston pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor rather than a felony.  ”Infamous crime” has been defined as more than just felonies; it is any misdemeanor involving an element of dishonesty.  See State v. Oldner, 361 Ark. 316 (2005) (“It can be said that the framers in drafting Article 5, Section 9, intended that an infamous crime be one involving elements of deceit and dishonesty”).

If you are the type who asks questions aloud while reading blogs, you might be saying, “hey, why hasn’t someone sued to have Johnston removed if he’s ineligible?”  That’s a good question, but therein lies the rub; once Johnston was seated by the Arkansas House, he was no longer subject to removal via a lawsuit due to a little thing known as the separation of powers.  After all, once the House has determined, however erroneously, that someone is qualified to be seated as a legislator, allowing the courts to remove an ineligible legislator would step all over the toes of the legislative branch as a co-equal in our tripartite government.

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