Sen. Joe McCarthy makes a point, circa 1950. (photo: Corbis)
23 March 14
elcome back to our weekly survey of what's goin' down in the several states where, as we know, the real work of governmentin' gets done, and where they say sing while you slave and I just get bored.
Let's begin in Alabama, where the fish are very big, the barrels very small, and one brave man has stood up to defend Joe McCarthy against the depredations of Arthur Miller, even though they're both dead. Miller and McCarthy, that is, not the brave soul from Alabama.
The Crucible is one of many texts included in a high school literature textbook, "American Experience 1900 to Present," that Beason and others have pilloried in their fight against Common Core standards in Alabama schools. Beason, who is running for Congress in Alabama's 6th District, has said that Common Core attempts to infuse the minds of school children with socialism, and he believes that Alabama curriculum should emphasize traditional conservative values. He has sponsored a bill in the Alabama Legislature to repeal the standards in Alabama schools. "I want a conservative, honest, traditional, American values worldview, yes," he said in an interview in January. "Education has always been about worldview. I don't think anyone can disagree with that. Always has been. I think the left understands the power of education far more than the right."
As for Mr. Beason's honest, traditional, American worldview, well, let's just say it's not About Race, because nothing is ever About Race.
Beason first gained national attention when, while cooperating with a federal corruption investigation in Montgomery, hea [sic] recorded himself joking about African-Americans in Greene County with another lawmaker and referring to them as "aborigines."
And, luckily, he has smart friends to join him in his battle.
Talladega County Republican Party Chairman Danny Hubbard, also said McCarthy was right. While Hubbard objected to many texts offered as "exemplars" by Common Core, he did not take issue with one written by an Alabama native. "I don't think anybody's opposed to 'To Kill a Mockingbird,'" Hubbard said. "It's a classic. I believe it's written by a fellow from Montgomery." In fact, the book was written by Nelle Harper Lee. She's from Monroeville.
(Earlier this week, my pal Dave Weigel tut-tutted a little about the media's nutpicking as regards "GOP lawmakers." The reason we've made the Labs a semi-regular weekly survey are twofold: one, because it is at the state level where most of the real mischief is being done at the moment, and b) because these people represent the farm team. This is your next generation in the gerrymandered House. Beason is running for Congress now, and he's got something of a shot. Conclusion of the foregoing.)
Let us take a hop, skip, and an airplane out to Wyoming, where a guy named Troy Mader is standing by something he wrote a few years back, because changing your mind requires that you possess one in the first place.
Mader said in an interview with the Star-Tribune the research featured in the book may be a little outdated, since it was written when HIV and AIDS were still relatively new to the medical community. But he still maintains gays are more likely to be promiscuous that heterosexuals, contributing to the spread of sexually transmitted diseases. "If you want to participate in that particular lifestyle, that's your choice," he said during a telephone interview. "But I reserve the right to say, ‘Hey, there's risk involved.'"
Mader has other political hobbies as well, such as defending you and your home against wolves and mountain lions, as well as against Teh Gay.
Mader, 58, published the book when he was in his early 30s. He now ranches in an area north of Gillette, recorded a CD of country rock and gospel music, and is research director of the Abundant Wildlife Society of North America, which criticizes the Endangered Species Act and details wolf and mountain lion attacks on humans.
Thank you, Troy. Especially for your dedication to making wildlife less abundant.
Oh, look, over there in South Dakota. Someone has successfull dodged Teh Gay and the wolves and the mountain lions to stick up for the rights of the owners of the Nathan Bedford Forrest Bar, Grille, and Playhouse.
"It's a bill that protects the constitutional right to free association, the right to free speech and private property rights," he said. Jensen goes so far as to say that businesses should have the right to deny service based on a customer's race or religion - whether that's right or wrong, he says, can be fairly addressed by the free market, not the government. "If someone was a member of the Ku Klux Klan, and they were running a little bakery for instance, the majority of us would find it detestable that they refuse to serve blacks, and guess what? In a matter of weeks or so that business would shut down because no one is going to patronize them," he said.
Someone should explain the meaning of "public accommodations" to ol' Phil here, although the concept of a KKK bakery is an intriguing one, especially the mysterious eyeholes cut in all the napkins.
As long as we're cruising the byways of the Deeply Caucasian Belt, something was stirring in Idaho, where the legislature declined to go the full Calhoun on the Environmental Protection Agency.
Rep. Paul Shepherd, R-Riggins, proposed the bill after hearing concerns from suction dredge miners in his area who have been required to get a new EPA permit since last spring. The agency said it didn't want to ban the practice in Idaho, as has happened in Oregon and California, and instead sought to regulate it to comply with the federal Clean Water Act. More than 80 of the new five-year permits have been issued. But the new EPA permit system doesn't allow suction dredge mining in areas that include critical habitat for endangered fish, including formerly popular stretches of the Salmon River near Riggins. Shepherd told the House on Tuesday, "I was warned I better be prepared about the legal problems with this bill, because if we're going to try and have state authority over federal authority, we've run into problems with that before."
Can't stay here for long, though. (Look out for wolves and mountain lions on the way out of town. Troy Mader can't be everywhere.) The Georgia legislature had its final session last night, and it differed from the Saturday night hooley at Murphy' Select Bar only in the conspicuous Christian charity that marked the elevated level of debate. There was anti-choice wingnuttery, and there was gun-fondling wingnuttery.
According to language added by the Senate, someone caught with a gun in a church that didn't allow it would face the equivalent of a jaywalking ticket: a misdemeanor and a $100 fine. The changes to HB 60 also seek to tighten permission to carry a gun at unsecured areas of Georgia airports, including Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. They do not address language in the House version that would appear to allow convicted felons to avoid prosecution for the use of deadly force by invoking Georgia's "stand your ground" self-defense laws.
Me? I think I'd "address" that language. Hello, language. (pace Ed Norton). You're really bad there, language. You should stop being so damn silly. But that's nothing compared to the language dropped by Georgia state rep Jason Spencer earlier in the debate over the anti-choice bill.
"That eleventh hour betrayal effectively killed the bill, but it could still be brought back to life by amendment of companion legislation," said Rep. Spencer. "Tomorrow, I will identify the Republican Benedict Arnolds, the King George the Third and his myrmidons who ship wrecked my path breaking, patriotic bill (HB 707) to prevent the federal Leviathan from commandeering the machinery of state government or resources to enforce ill-conceived federal health insurance mandates. A patriot saves his country from his government. HB 707 would have been the first occasion in a century to draw a constitutional line against state complicity in endless federal encroachments."
OK, first of all, George III didn't have myrmidons. (He had Hessians, who are not the same thing.) Achilles had myrmidons, and they were not traitors. They were, in fact, fanatically loyal.
(Forget it. He's rolling.)
Let us leave Rep. Spencer, his pile of Classics Illustrated comics on the floor around his feet, and move along to Iowa, which again will play a vital role in selecting our next president despite being something of a political fruitcake.
An investigation by The Des Moines Register found that the state of Iowa has paid more than $282,000 over the past three years in secret settlement deals with the six former employees. All were asked to sign confidentiality agreements that would have kept the settlements out of public view, according to documents obtained by the Register and interviews with the ex-state workers. The state denies that the workers' positions were cut as political moves, saying the jobs were eliminated as part of a reorganization that saves the state about $730,000 a year. But in grievance complaints filed before the Iowa Public Employment Relations Board and interviews with the Register, the former employees say their complaints and settlements show evidence of systematic efforts by Branstad's administration to embrace Republican cronyism.
Maybe Chris Christie has a shot out there after all.
And we conclude our tour, as we always do, in Oklahoma, where Blog Special Prairie Chicken neuterer Friedman Of The Plains reports that Governor Mary (We Built Oklahoma, If You Don't Count The Homestead Act And All The Indians The Army Killed For Us.) Fallin got a new andiron for the mansion's mantelpiece.
The Tulsa World reportedly waited 15 months for the governor's office to release more than 8,000 records related to prison reforms. This is the second year in a row that Gov. Fallin has received the recognition for failing to release records to the public. Two new lawsuits have been filed because of her office's slow relase [sic] of public records, and today another organization joined the list. The American Civil Liberties Union of Oklahoma Foundation filed a motion for summary judgement and a supporting legal brief today in Oklahoma County District Court on behalf of Vandelay Entertainment, the publisher of TheLostOgle.com, in its suit against Gov. Fallin. According to a release, the suit seeks a court order compelling Gov. Fallin to release 100 pages of public records she has refused to turn over regarding her decision to reject medicaid expansion.
I'd say this woman needs some myrmidons.
This is your democracy, America. Cherish it.