Thursday, July 2, 2009

Your Modern GOP

[UPDATE]: From commenter Pat Naughtin I learn that Founding Fathers Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, and George Washington actively promoted the use of decimal numbers for both currency and measurements.


John Feehery, a former staffer for Dennis Hastert and conservative lobbyist, warns in this CNN commentary that the Democrats will use their new filibuster-proof majority to foist silly French ideas like the metric system on Americans.

Yes, fearmongering about the metric system is about what the GOP has been reduced to these days. Even then, he can't get his facts right. He writes:
In 1975, the newly dominant Democratic Congress sent President Gerald Ford a bill that declared that America was going to be metric, which he signed. When Jimmy Carter became president two years later, he signed a law that told Americans that they couldn't drive faster than 55 mph.

These measures made perfect sense to the liberal sensibilities of the time. But they didn't make sense to the American people, and are symbols of a philosophy that was out of touch with the people in the 1970s and is still out of touch with the lives of most Americans today.

Most Americans still don't use the metric system, and most certainly don't stick to the 55 mile an hour speed limit on the highways of America. And while they may still like Barack Obama and still laugh at jokes written by Al Franken, they will eventually grow weary of the newly dominant liberals who now run Washington.

Ha. What a maroon. First of all, there has been a metrication movement in the U.S. since the 19th century. The very first metrication bill was signed into law in 1866 by President Andrew Johnson.

The 1975 bill which Feehery blames on a Democratic congress was amended by the Omnibus Trade and Competitiveness Act of 1988 (would someone remind me who was president in 1988? I seem to have forgotten ...). This actually established a United States Metric Board (cue scary big-government music) to implement the conversion. Then in 1991 President George H.W. Bush signed yet another metric conversion act into law.

Hmmm. The metric system! It’s not just for Democrats anymore. Never has been.

While the average American may not use metric units, it is certainly widely used in certain industries--science, for example--as well as the U.S. military. In fact, the failure to use one consistent unit of measurement is what caused NASA to lose a $125 million Mars orbiter in 1999.

As for the National Maximum Speed Law, it was signed into law in 1974 by Richard Nixon (someone remind me what political party he belonged to? I forget ...). It was an emergency energy saving measure enacted in response to the 1973 oil crisis.

The reason most Americans “certainly” don’t stick to the 55 mph speed limit is that the law was repealed in 1995 (would someone remind me who was president in 1995? I forget...).

Used to be, you could count on the Republicans for some solid fearmongering. Sadly, even that trick seems to have failed them.