Final Four- Insanity of the States Edition- IN, TX, AZ, NC

If it were to come to pass that Trump’s astounding unpopularity outside the core of his most-supportive, unshakable followers not only would guarantee a Goldwater-sized defeat and a flipping of the US Senate, Screen shot 2016-03-25 at 12.36.28 PMmaybe the House, and changes in statehouses and governors’ mansions across America…. what a wonderful world it would be.  Let’s drill down and see what’s going on in the Blue Chip States of Creativity, those wonderful laboratories of democracy.

  1. Indiana!:  Remember the brouhaha a year ago over Memorie’s Pizza, the Indiana pizza joint whose owner said he’d refuse to cater a gay wedding?  Not that he’d ever been asked to, and not that he was refusing to actually serve gay people in his restaurant… but that was enough to start a moronic social-media firestorm that ended up with a million dollars being raised for the guy via GoFundMe, and more recently another $40,000 when the owners finally decided to throw in the towel.  We should all go out of business so lucky.

But that pales in comparison to the latest move by the Hoosier legislators and the governor on one of your Big Three Wishes For Republican Purification of America… in the arena of gay rights, voting rights, or abortion rights.

Abortion Is Now Illegal in Indiana If the Reason You Want One Makes Republicans Uncomfortable, For Instance a Fetal Genetic Abnormality Such as Down Syndrome

NARAL reacted: “This is one of the most extreme anti-abortion measures in the country and only further penalizes Indiana women and their doctors for accessing constitutionally protected abortion care. Preventing a woman from choosing abortion based on a medical diagnosis substitutes a politician’s ideology for a woman’s judgement. Politicians like Governor Mike Pence who insert themselves into a woman’s private medical decisions aren’t just practicing bad medicine, they’re betraying the seven in ten Americans who support safe and legal access to abortion.

PLANNED PARENTHOOD spoke up: “Now Indiana’s Legislature has passed a bill that forces women to give birth if a doctor has detected a fetal abnormality. Which, yes, would mean that a pregnant woman who contracts Zika would lose her right to abortion, while a woman with a healthy pregnancy would retain her right to say no to giving birth.”

THE INDIANA RIGHT-TO-LIFERS: “By signing the dignity for the unborn bill, Gov. Pence has again signified his commitment to protecting life. We are pleased that our state values life no matter an individual’s potential disability, gender or race. We also believe that the other measures in the bill are positive steps forward for providing dignity and compassion.”

Assumedly this (?) is what Ronald Reagan meant in 1986 when he zinged out his now-famous quip: “The nine most terrifying words in the English language are: ‘I’m from the Government, and I’m here to help force you to have that baby.”  Oops, I cheated and that would have been 14 words.

2.  Texas!: This is the state that has given us Ted Cruz.  That’s enough. I should stop right there, but I won’t!  Along with Donald Trump, he forms the Axis of Republican Inanity.Screen shot 2016-03-25 at 1.39.27 PM I have no idea whether conventional wisdom will hold and the Republican Party will cease to exist following a Hillary blowout of LBJ-1964 proportions.  But the Republican anti-Trump movement is certainly real, his attack last week on Cruz’s wife possibly the only way humanly possible that Ted Cruz has ever engendered any degree of sympathy in the campaign, even from former opponents like Lindsey Graham and other folks who find him the poison to Trump’s firing squad as not much of a choice.

3. Arizona!:  Long-time leader and favorite to make the finals, Arizona just keeps coming up with new ways to top itself. As part of the state’s long-running stage version of “Old White Men Who Are Obsessed With Abortion And The Women Who Love Them,”  they were at it again this past week.  They never stop trying to prevent pregnant women who need or want an Screen shot 2016-03-25 at 3.56.01 PMabortion for personal, private reasons from getting one, forcing them to cross borders, possibly to California if they can afford it. Read the latest from the Cactus League of Extraordinarily Silly Gentlemen here.  Other gems that have just passed include:

Affordable Care Act: A bill that bars the state from using any resources or staff to comply with the federal Affordable Care Act. Most importantly, said sponsor Rep. Justin Olson, R-Mesa, if the bill is signed by Gov. Doug Ducey, it would prevent Arizona from establishing its own health-care exchange.

Apparently, after all these years, some Arizonans inside the health care establishment weren’t fully onboard with hatin’ on Obamacare enough.

Plastic-bag ban: 1.The bill would block cities, towns and counties from passing ordinances that ban or regulate the use of plastic bags, Styrofoam and other containers. 2. The bill also would prohibit local governments from requiring businesses to report how much energy they use, halting efforts by Tempe, Flagstaff and Phoenix officials, who are considering new environmental ordinances.

I guess even the question “paper or plastic” is too pro-choicey for Arizona politicians.  And part two there is just one more state legislative Big Foot move by Republicans, the ones who have reinterpreted “states’ rights” to mean a state government always gets to tell the cities and counties who’s in charge.

4. North Carolina! is my home, and now clearly the favorite to go all the way.  It’s quite an impressive, tone-deaf, obstinate, bigoted, small-minded, wrong-side-of-history, pander to prejudice that they’ve just pulled off in Raleigh.  The gift of geriatric gerrymandering keeps on giving to the residents of the Tar Heel state, who looked the other way in 2010, got steamrolled in the Tea Party backlash election, and have paid for it ever since, with ever-increasing arrogance by near one-party control of Screen shot 2016-03-25 at 3.35.56 PMlawmaking.  This time, it was special legislation to make sure Caitlin Jenner still must use the little boy’s room.  Scrambling to quickly waste $42,000 of taxpayer money on a special session, the New York Times notes that Orwellian-labeled House Bill 2, the Public Facilities Privacy & Security Act was triggered by:

the passage of an anti-discrimination ordinance in Charlotte last month that would permit transgender people to use public bathrooms that correspond with their gender identity, rather than their gender at birth. But the law passed by the legislature on Wednesday night, which prohibits municipalities from passing their own ordinances allowing such bathroom use, also prevents cities from protecting gays and bisexual people against discrimination generally.

Greensboro News & Record columnist Susan Ladd notes that in a demonstration of cynicism and what they think will be some kind of business-friendly move, the law also “limits the ability of cities like Greensboro to provide a living wage. While the city can control the wages of its own employees under this bill, it cannot mandate a higher minimum wage for private businesses or companies contracting with the city.”  More here.

Yes, “business-friendly” for the Republican state legislators apparently means a financial irrelevancy like Hobby Lobby or another Christian-based business.  And Billy Graham already lives in North Screen shot 2016-03-25 at 3.41.44 PMCarolina.  Too late for that.  Only about 150 Chick-fil-A’s in NC…. always room for more of those!   They have no idea what a modern workforce looks like. The cigar-chomping Republican goobers in bolo ties from the small towns that dominate a state legislature have really blown it this time.  There’s probably more open debate right now in the Iranian Parliament than in the North Carolina statehouse, where the Democrats in the state senate walked out and didn’t vote on this travesty, claiming they were not allowed to participate at all during the process. The Charlotte Observer makes it irrefutably clear:

 

 

We Don’t Need No Regulation…We Don’t Need No Filth Control… From Here To Absurdity…

When your state becomes a petri dish for Republican wish-list legislation…. the kind of stuff you just knew these people would try if they ever got the whole package… a governor + total control of your statehouse … it’s like death in front of your eyes in slow motion.

I live in North Carolina, where we’ve just entered year 4 of this stuff, including legislation that would have established a state religion (ok as long as it ain’t WASHINGTON imposing it… right?)

Since rising sea levels courtesy of warming temperatures are a liberal myth, in 2012 it became illegal in North Carolina to scientifically predict future rising sea-levels.  Only historical data may be used.  It looks as though keeping your head in the sand literally is now policy.  Stephen Colbert brought the issue to the attention of the country and by 2015 the ice was showing some signs of cracking!…. courtesy WUNC: North Carolina was ridiculed by news aggregators, traditional media, on social media and in op-eds. Now, almost three years later, the scientists have come back with a new report. It still predicts that sea levels will rise, but since it only looks 30 years out, the amount of rise is not anywhere near the levels predicted in the first report.  More below-

The State That ‘Outlawed Climate Change’ Accepts Latest Sea-Level Rise Report

 

My runner-up favorite North Carolina, We Gonna Take It Back idea is House Bill 693 which would require teens to get their parents’ consent before being tested for std’s… before treatment for sexually transmitted infections, birth control prescriptions, and pregnancy care.  That gem Screen shot 2016-02-29 at 8.49.23 PMdied in the legislative womb, fortunately.  Aborted in just a few weeks, the law was allegedly conceived to bring families closer together.  Nothing bonds kids and parents more than no medical confidentiality mandated by the state.  Haven’t these people ever seen Rebel Without a Cause? Do you think James Dean would have gotten permission from daddy to get a penicillin shot?

Coming in at Number One is the “Motorcycle Safety” law that morphed into restricting abortion access for women in North Carolina.  It started out as a House bill that, upon passage, would increase penalties for violating a motorcyclist’s lane, forcing the driver to go off the road or change lanes.  Who’d argue with that?  Then… seemingly out of thin air… the cookie-cutter, standard anti-abortion rights crap appeared as part of the bill… the week before they had tried attaching the same garbage onto one of those “anti-sharia law” bills.  Even the motorcycle-rights groups turned against their own desired idea due to the absurdity of the anti-abortion stuff.  But it passed anyway and the governor signed it.

Out now to Arizona, where the Republicans are doing their level-best to live up to the Politician’s Cliche of getting the fiscal house in order not just by cutting income taxes for rich people and spreading out sales taxes on everything you can imagine because it’s “fairer.”  They’re intent on getting rid of licensing requirements for all kinds of professions: landscape architects, geologists, assayers, driving school instructors, and yoga instructors.  Always using the cover of “job creation,” Republicans like Rep. Warren Petersen (R-Gilbert) contend that “state licensing does not guarantee honesty or quality of work.”  Does that glittering generality of nothingness apply to every licensed profession, like, oh, say doctors or lawyers or, um… let’s randomly pick real estate agents?  Licensing them doesn’t guarantee honesty or quality either, but somehow they’re not on the list for deregulation.  Representative Warren Peterson just happens to be VP Sales for VIP Homes and has owned a real estate brokerage for over a decade.  No surprise… none whatsoever… that Peterson wouldn’t dream of deregulating whatever it is he’s involved in, fostering more competition.  Just for fun now, let’s drill down specifically on one of the jobs actually targeted by the legislation.

Food safety is kind of a big issue these days.  Really always has been here in the United States.  Upton Sinclair exposed the sins of the meatpacking industry in “The Jungle” in 1906.  Still eating at Chipotle as often as you used to?  Another group of workers who the Republicans in Arizona want to liberate from the onerous shackles of licensing standards are….. food packers... the people who touch our food along the way from the field to the store or restaurant.

Via Digital Journal:

Arizona is number 2 behind California in the production of lettuce and leafy greens in the nation. Shelly Tunis of the Yuma Fresh Vegetable Association testified before the house Commerce Committee, reported Food Safety News, pointing out that the “concern is food safety.”

“We need to know everybody who touches that fruit and vegetable as it goes along the line, and that starts with the Screen shot 2016-03-02 at 9.26.38 PMpeople that put it in the box. This license helps with traceback.” The Arizona Citrus, Fruit and Vegetable Advisory Council is also opposing the bill for the same reasons.

 Having any business licensed to handle food products is more important than many people realize. The expression, “from farm to fork” is meaningful because tracking allows consumers, retailers, restaurants, and manufacturers the ability to track a product back to its source, or where it was grown.
 

Without being able to find the source of a contaminated Screen shot 2016-03-02 at 9.28.13 PMfresh produce product or where chicken or beef originated, we are setting ourselves up for long, drawn-out investigations that may end up putting even more of the population at risk of food-borne illnesses.

Since all things these days lead to Trump, you can assume that no one will be better on regulations than Trump.  Which means no one will try to get rid of more regulations than Trump.  One of the main points of the lawsuits against him on his phony-baloney “Trump University” scam is that while he was able to avoid federal regulation because it wasn’t accredited and got no federal funding, he may have run afoul of NY State regulations regarding his real estate seminars.  Trump even hates regulations associated with water conservation, especially related to those low-flow shower heads!  On December 11, 2015, at a campaign event in Aiken, SC, he said this:

“I’ll give you one regulation…So I build, and I build a lot of stuff. And I go into areas where they have tremendous water. … And you have sinks where the water doesn’t come out.  You have showers where I can’t wash my hair properly,” he added. “It’s a disaster. It’s true. They have restrictors put in. The problem is you stay under the shower for five times as long.”
Our long, national nightmare may just be beginning.