The TEA/TMPV/PHTMR Party

When the Tea Party started they claimed to be only about reducing the size of the government (hence Taxed Enough Already), but from the beginning they have also pushed a conservative social agenda, so I think at least a couple other acronyms should be added (Too Many People Vote, People Have Too Many Rights). Matthew Zeitlin talks about it here:

In the past few days, Wisconsin governor Scott Walker, who is internationally (in)famous for his campaign against the collective bargaining rights of his state’s public employees, signed two pieces of legislation that, while totally in keeping with a conservative agenda, seem to have little to do with the crisis in the state’s finances and economy that he was elected to fix. The first bill, which actually garnered a fair amount of attention after Walker signed it on Thursday, repealed a 2009 law which allowed women who were victims of workplace discrimination to sue their employers for damages. The second, signed on Thursday but only announced by Walker on Friday, mandates that sex education in Wisconsin schools “stress abstinence as the only reliable way to prevent pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases.”

Now, these two issues — limiting access to the courts to seek redress against employer discrimination and emphasizing abstinence in sex education — are core Republican concerns. What they are not, however, is at all part of some radical reorganization of state finances and spending priorities in order to maintain solvency and limit the size of state government.

And it’s not just Scott Walker (and here):

Our analysis has shown that this conservative, anti-public worker agenda works hand-in-glove with both restrictions on reproductive freedom and attempts to curtail voting rights. In 2010, Republican Governor Mitch Daniels argued that conservatives should call a “truce” on culture issues and focus on reducing the deficit. Instead, conservative state governments managed to do both at once: push through a record number of government layoffs while also restricting reproductive freedom and democratic voting rights. As the Guttmacher Institute noted, “issues related to reproductive health and rights at the state level received unprecedented attention in 2011.” Ninety-two provisions in 24 states directly restricted access to abortion services, almost triple the previous record. The midterm turnover gave the anti-choice movement its chance. When asked by the Washington Post’s Sarah Kliff about the pro-life’s successes, Charmaine Yoest, president of Americans United for Life, said, “The most obvious thing was the 2010 election…. When we saw this big wave come in, we were ready to grab the ball and run with it.”

The problem is that much of their agenda isn’t all that popular, which may be why Democrats are starting to campaign against them.

A semi-related issue is ALEC, a group whose purpose is help businesses–thus they are anti-union, want taxes cut, less regulations, … They also helped pass the Stand Your Ground legislation going around the country which have been made famous by the Trayvon Martin case (ALEC was not involved in Florida but has pushed the legislation in other states). They have a typical statement:

Trayvon Martin’s death was a great tragedy that brings sadness to all of us. Our hearts go out to his family, friends, and community.

It is a great shame that some are using this tragedy to further their political ends. Indeed, Paul Krugman describes advancing his political goals as the “silver lining to Trayvon Martin’s killing.” That is as callous as it is cruel, and it is also incorrect. Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law was the basis for the American Legislative Exchange Council’s model legislation, not the other way around. Moreover, it is unclear whether that law could apply to this case at all. “Stand Your Ground” or the “Castle Doctrine” is designed to protect people who defend themselves from imminent death and great bodily harm. It does not allow you to pursue another person. It does not allow you to seek confrontation. It does not allow you to attack someone who does not pose an imminent threat. What it does is allow you to defend yourself and your family from immediate and real danger.

In the end, we will always respect people who disagree with us in matters of policy, but it is simply wrong to try to score political points by taking advantage of a great tragedy like Trayvon Martin’s death.

This actually somewhat makes sense (although it never seems to apply when conservatives press legislation–look at what happens whenever someone on parole commits a crime), so let’s look at the full impact in Florida (via here):

In the seven years since it was enacted, the Florida law and others like it have become an effective defense for an increasing number of people who have shot others, according to state records and media reports.

Justifiable homicides in Florida have tripled, according to Florida Department of Law Enforcement data. Other states have seen similar increases, FBI statistics show.

In the five years before the law’s passage, Florida prosecutors declared “justifiable” an average of 12 killings by private citizens each year. (Most justifiable killings are committed by police officers; those cases, which have also tripled, are not included in these statistics.) But in the five years after the law passed, that number spiked to an average of 36 justifiable killings per year.

And there’s more here:

The Times analysis shows that more than 70 percent of the 130 cases involved a fatality.

In the majority of the cases, the person who plunged the knife or swung the bat or pulled the trigger did not face a trial.

In 50 of the cases, the person who used force was never charged with a crime. Another nine defendants were granted immunity by a judge, and nine cases were dismissed.

In 10 cases, the defendant pleaded guilty to lesser crimes.

Of the 28 cases that made it to trial, 19 people were found guilty of a crime.

Twenty-two cases are still pending. (The outcomes of two could not be learned by press time.)

The Times analysis also shows that “stand your ground” is being invoked with greater frequency.

In the first five years the law was in effect, it was invoked 93 times. In the last year and a half, it has been invoked at least an additional 37 times.

Sometimes anecdotes can give important information:

a 2010 incident in Town ‘N Country in which a man on a jog about 1 a.m. was punched in the face by a teenager. The man thought he was being robbed so he pulled a gun, and the teen started to run. The man fired eight shots. Four hit the teen. The man was not charged with a crime. His court file says “justifiable homicide.”

If you think about it, this is very dangerous. Someone was killed and he will not be charged because he says he was punched. Maybe the reason the number of claims is going up is because criminals and gang members have figured out that they can use it also. If a mugging goes wrong and you kill a person, just claim self-defense.

As an aside, it would be funny to read stuff like this (the Supreme Court has said the EPA can regulate green house gases under the Clean Air Act, but if they actually do then it’s ‘overreaching’; using EPA regulations is inefficient, but they also oppose the more efficient cap and trade):

While pending regulation of greenhouse gas emissions under the Clean Air Act (despite Congressional rejection of cap-and-trade) has received the lion’s share of the attention, the Environmental Protection Agency has also begun developing and finalizing a slew of overreaching and inefficient air and water rules over the next several years that will dramatically increase energy costs, cause enormous negative impacts to jobs and the economy, irreparably damage the competitiveness of American business, and trample on state sovereignty in the process.

and this (if we just get rid of those pesky regulations then the environment would be in better condition, like it was in the 1960s):

The Energy, Environment and Agriculture Task Force operates under the principles of free-market environmentalism, that is to promote the mutually beneficial link between a robust economy and a healthy environment, to unleash the creative powers of the free market for environmental stewardship, and to enhance the quality and use of our natural and agricultural resources for the benefit of human health and well-being.

if they didn’t have so much influence.

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