WASHINGTON -- Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) said Thursday that diversity has never been America's strong suit, so lawmakers should pass his bill to make English the official U.S. language in the name of unifying the nation.
"One of the great things about America is we've been unified by a common language. That common language, of course, is English," King said during a press conference on his bill. "Our language is getting subdivided by some forces of the federal government. It is time to speak with a common voice."
King talked to reporters just after the House Judiciary Committee's Subcommittee on the Constitution held a hearing on his measure, which would require all federal government communications, including voter and ballot materials, to be conducted in English. His proposal would also nullify a Clinton-era requirement that federal agencies provide interpreters for non-English speakers for certain activities.
The bill has no chance of becoming law, but it has come under fire from immigration activists who say it would isolate immigrant populations. Others have charged that groups pushing for the bill are racist.
King pushed back on both charges and said his bill is aimed at bringing the country together. After all, he said, diversity has never been America's strong point.
"The argument that diversity is our strength has really never been backed up by logic," King told The Huffington Post. "It's unity is where our strength is. Our Founding Fathers understood that. Modern-day multiculturalists are defying that."
The Iowa Republican called it "offensive" that anyone would say his bill has racist overtones, particularly when talking about a society "as inclusive as America."
"They should be specific about that rather than just hurl that out there," he said of people who make racist claims about his bill. "That divides people."
During the committee hearing, Democrats questioned whether King's bill would violate the Constitution and impede voting rights.
"Having already spent an extraordinary amount of committee time and resources in an effort to roll back the civil rights of women, persons with disabilities, gay and lesbian Americans and other minorities, our majority colleagues are now using the last day before the House adjourns until September to highlight a bill that would place at risk the 24.5 million people in the United States who need language assistance from their government in some situations," said Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.).
Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.) gave his opening remarks entirely in Spanish -- with imperfect pronunciation -- to make the point that the country has always been a multilingual one. Subcommittee Chairman Trent Franks (R-Ariz.) and other Republicans looked amused, then bored, as he continued talking, with Franks at one point fiddling with his cell phone.
After Conyers was finished speaking, Franks said his remarks showed why English needed to be the official language.
"I would ask the gentleman in the interest of fairness, here, and certainly to Mr. Nadler's district, that would you repeat that in Yiddish and Vietnamese and French as well?" he said to laughter and a joking promise from Conyers that he would.
"Nothing would make the point better [than] if we conducted all of our debates in a different languages, and I suppose that makes the case for this bill better than anything else," Franks continued.
"I appreciate the gentleman's gesture, but it does indicate why it would be more confusing in this place than ever if all of us spoke a different language."
Despite his insistence on the need for the bill, King told reporters that he kept it limited to the federal government because of his "great respect for the private sector and for the decisions made by individuals."
If it helps a corporation "to have an ATM just down the street" that allows people to select what language they want to use for their bank transactions, that is "their choice," King said.
He added, though, that if he knew of an ATM that didn't make him choose which language he wanted to use, "I'm likely to stop there first. That's just me."
Nuts Bring Buckets of Same
Just in case anyone forgot that the House Judiciary Committee ACORN hearing was a House Judiciary Committee hearing about ACORN, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/12/02/acorn-hearing-a-barrel-of_n_376882.html">Representative Steve King (R-Iowa) helpfully brought a bucket of acorns</a> to the House Judiciary Committee. Also that day, colleague Lamar Smith praising the "turnout so early in the day" at 2:30pm, and Louie Gohmert offering up the malaprop: “From one acorn, many nuts can grow.” Like, say, Peter King.
Hello Kitty, Hello Revolving Debt
Credit cards. Were it not for them, we would have to save up money in order to buy things. But do some credit cards take it too far, marketing to the youths? Byron Dorgan thought so when he saw the Hello Kitty Platinum VISA. "Does it seem to you like they’re targeting that 10-year-old, the 14-year-old." Ha! He should see the <a href="http://www.shopinprivate.com/hello-kitty-pink-guilty.html">Hello Kitty vibrator</a>.
"I'll See Your Baby, And Raise You Two Tweens"
Last time out, we made mention of Representative John Shadegg's (R-Ariz.) attempt to wield a baby in order to make a point about how terrible health care reform was. We neglected to mention that Representative Pete Stark (D-Calif.) took it a step further, and attempted to bring two young children to make his own points about health care (5:25 in video), at which point the House was officially barred from trafficking in human props any further.
John Thune's Stackin' Dollars
How much is too much stimulus? When it allows representatives to make junior high math analogies based on topography and astronomy, maybe. Here, Senator John Thune (R-S.D.) makes some stupid pictures of dollar stacks that extend into the sky, to the celestial firmament itself. “If you took 100 dollar bills, Mr. President," Thune said, "and stacked them on top of each other you would have a stack that goes 689 miles high.” He added, "In other words, if you took the 100 dollar bills and not stacked them on top of each other, but wrapped them side-by-side all around the earth… If you could believe this, it’d go around the earth almost 39 times." So, we cannot stimulate the economy, because of science! (1:15 in clip)
Gettin' High On Your Own Supply (Of A Substance That Does Not Get You High)
Representative Steve Buyer (R-Ind.) wasn't having any of that whole "regulating tobacco" stuff. Why? Because it's "not the nicotine that kills, it's the smoke!" So, he argued, why don't we regulate lettuce, to keep people from smoking lettuce? Wouldn't that prevent a "pandemic" of cancers? This would have been a good point, were it not for the non-existence of either a massive industry geared toward curing lettuce and rolling it into cigarettes, or a target market of consumers who were even remotely interested in smoking lettuce. BUT YEAH OTHER THAT ALL THAT STUFF (and the fact that nicotine is addictive) STEVE BUYER IS A GENIUS.
And Now, A Poem From Ted Poe
From Rep. Ted Poe (R-Texas): <i>It came on two pages, It has withstood the ages. / The word "shall,'' is only 10 times mentioned, But enough to get one's attention. / No taxes did this law raise, To this day it continues to create much praise; / Two great religions does it claim, The "Law of the Ten Commandments'' is its name. / A current writing, 1,990 pages long, Has a socialist philosophy that is all wrong; / Difficult for the people to understand, And troubling what big government doth demand. / Over 3,445 "shalls'' it does loudly shout, New massive taxes does it proudly tout; / Written in secret by the bureaucrats, For exclusive use of the taxacrats. / The Congressional bill called "Health Care Reform," Is illusionary, the authors are still ill-informed; / Government ought not take over America's health biz. / And that's just the way it is."</i> And so, America, this is why you should have to die of easily treated medical conditions.
And Now, An Even Dumber Poem, From Roland Burris
From the junior senator from Illinois: <i>"It was the night before Christmas, and all through the Senate / The right held up our health care bill, no matter what was in it / The people had voted a mandated reform / But Republicans blew off the gathering storm / We'll clog up the Senate, they cried with a grin / And in the midterm elections, we'll get voted in / They knew regular folks needed help right this second / But fundraisers, lobbyists and politics beckoned / So try as they might, Democrats could not win / Because the majority was simply too thin / Then across every state there rose such a clatter / The whole senate rushed out to see what was the matter / All sprang up from their desk and ran from the floor / Straight through the cloakroom and right out the door."</i> <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/12/22/burris-backs-reform-with_n_400456.html">There's more</a>, but you will probably want to shoot yourself in the face after you read it.
Chuck Grassley Goes All Aggro On The Speaker Box
For some reason, in the course of discussing fuel efficiency standards, Senator Chuck Grassley decided he should drive his point home by shouting out Ashton Kutcher and his movie, "Dude, Where's My Car." Prior to this, Grassley went on an <a href="http://rawstory.com/news/2008/Speech_by_GOP_Senator_references_stoner_0924.html">extended monologue</a> about Pink Floyd's <i>Dark Side of the Moon</i> album and the shards of a broken prism and the "multishades" of light. Just straight up tripping balls, in the well of the Senate. Anyway, as you now know, this TOTALLY fixed fuel efficiency standards!
Sam Brownback Will Save Your Inanimate Genetic Material
Who's looking out for your precious bodily fluids? Kansas Senator Sam Brownback, that's who. And he's enlisted the help of a young girl, named Hannah, who has the power of talking to human embryos! "<a href="http://thinkprogress.org/2006/07/18/brownback-embryo/">Are you going to kill me?</a>" the embryos asked Hannah, who immediately scrawled a picture of this conversation on a giant piece of posterboard, so that Sam Brownback could stop people from killing the stem cells. And then Sam Brownback went on to support a bunch of wars in the Middle East!
The Most Important Prop Of All
James Inhofe (R-Batshit) hates him some gay marriage, and the gays in general. And to make his point, he carries around with him The Most Important Prop in America: a picture of his family. "As you see here, and I think this is maybe the most important prop we’ll have during the entire debate, my wife and I have been married 47 years. We have 20 kids and grandkids. I’m really proud to say that in the recorded history of our family, we’ve never had a divorce or any kind of homosexual relationship." Ha! THAT HE KNOWS OF!