OPINION: Why we can't overcome partisan extremes

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Pam Sohn, Chattanooga Times Free Press, Tenn.
·5 min read
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May 2—Fleischmann nixes Jan. 6 probe

Who could be against learning more about the Jan. 6 siege of the Capitol with a 9/11 style commission and probe? U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann, that's who.

In February, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called for such a commission to investigate the Capitol insurrection and siege by what Los Angeles Times columnist Michael McGough called on this page last week "crazed Trump bitter-enders."

At first, Pelosi's idea was widely endorsed, according to news reports. Certainly as a nation we need to fully investigate what amounted to an attempted coup at our nation's Capitol. But — surprise, surprise — now the proposal is stalled because of partisan bickering.

Pelosi has agreed to one Republican request — that the two parties have an equal say in appointing members of the panel. But now prominent Republicans are making an additional, absurd demand: that the commission also be tasked with investigating previous incidents outside of the halls of Congress, including violence in the previous year that conservatives attribute to the Black Lives Matter movement.

Gosh, why didn't we include the bombing of Pearl Harbor in the 9/11 Commission probe?

On Friday, we asked Fleischmann to weigh in.

In true Chuck fashion, it took a while to get an answer.

"I'm going to take a middle ground. I'm going to take a position that says, again, the American people ought to know who was there, what went wrong with the Capitol Police right on down, and we've taken some steps to address that. But I do think we need to take a look at theories."

There's a belief on the right, "that certain left-of-center sins" go unpunished, Fleischmann said, and certain right-wing sins don't. "Until we get to a point where there's a belief of fundamental fairness, about the entire process, we're going to have problems."

Pressed further, he said, "I would say no to a commission at this time. ... I think we need to let law enforcement do their work. ... I think that we need to deal with these issues as a Congress. This is our House. This is our Senate. This is our Capitol. I think we need to look into ways to deal with that, I don't think we need an outside entity."

Actually, it's all Americans' House and Senate and Capitol. And we deserve an unvarnished outside look at what happened — not a partisan drive-by.

Marjorie Taylor Greene's school screed

No one has accused Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of being a genius. And no one has accused the QAnon-supporting Greene, who was stripped of her House committee assignments for spouting dangerous Q-conspiracy theories, of being even remotely thoughtful.

But when she began spewing on Twitter a new false and harmful tinfoil-hat theory — one that apparently is strictly her own — about the education portion of President Joe Biden's American Families Plan, she was quickly schooled by the very Twitter followers she was addressing.

What triggered the Rome, Georgia, Republican's indignation was Biden's proposal to provide pre-Kindergarten access for all 3-4-year-olds, as well as his plan to provide every American high school graduate with two years of tuition-free community college — something 17 states, including Tennessee, do already.

About 40 minutes after the president began his Joint Address to Congress on Wednesday, Greene tweeted: "Federally funded school from age 3 to 20 doesn't sound like education, it sounds like indoctrination. At your expense. By force in the form of taxes."

Huh?

Twitter literally lit up. (Kudos to the Huffington Post for making a series of Twitter screen grabs for posterity.)

One user responded: "You really should know that public schools are already funded by tax dollars ... and adding 4 years to public education is brilliant!"

Another wrote: "So are you saying that you think there shouldn't be public schools?"

And there was this: "Hell of a position for someone who was previously on the House Education Committee." (Reminder: This is one of the committee assignments.)

And: Public schooling in America, whoever heard of such a thing ... crazy"

Best one: "I'm not even sure there is a term for this level of dumb."

In fairness to Greene, Huffpost noted: "She did seem to generally understand the concept of free public schools in a tweet earlier in the day backing parents revolting against student mask mandates. 'Taxes pay for the schools,' she wrote."

Gun hawks can't get enough

This just in from Tennessee Firearms Association, a gun lobby group that makes NRA look tame:

It isn't enough that Tennessee now has a permitless handgun carry law. This group of Volunteer State extremists want more, so last week the group sued the state of Tennessee claiming that the new permitless carry law violates the U.S. Constitution.

The group claims that the new law's age parameter — 21 and up unless the person has military training — "denied some 18-20 year old citizens from being able to exercise the right" to keep and bear arms.

Gosh, folks. Why not throw in 7th-graders, too? While we're at it, all kids old enough to walk?

The Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence research (using government data) suggests "young people disproportionately commit gun homicides: 18-20-year olds comprise just 4% of the U.S. population, but account for 17% of known homicide offenders. In another study, Giffords found that of offenders incarcerated for crimes committed with firearms, 17% would have been prohibited from buying a gun if their state had a law that raised the minimum age to possess a handgun to 21 years.