Thursday, April 15, 2010

Postcard from South Teabaggeria

Oh, Arizona. Is there no new low to which you just won't sink?

The past week saw the legislature decide--without a single word of debate--that open carry is just too restrictive, and concealed weapons are now fine and dandy without a permit. Are you a grownup? Get down to the gun store, Elmer! Because the governor's set to sign this puppy into law, so cram as many pieces into your pockets, waistband, and asscrack as you can fit, and don't worry about taking a silly class--education is for socialists and Muslims, after all--that will teach you how to handle a gun safely and discern when the use of deadly force is legal.

Now for Act II, the legislature is crowing about having passed the toughest immigration law in the nation, which both empowers local cops to arrest people who are in the country illegally, and compels said cops to investigate the immigration status of anyone they suspect might not be a legitimate Real American. So if you're here on a visa or a green card, you will have to carry those documents on your person at all times, because if Officer Friendly hears your funny accent and surmises that skin tone isn't just from staying out in the sun too long, he has to ask you for your papers. Seriously, he or she has to do that, because the law also allows upstanding Real American citizens to sue law enforcement agencies whose officers do not demonstrate significant rigor in questioning every guy running a leaf blower in the Circle K parking lot.

So not only do we have a genuine police state brought to us courtesy of the same faction that howled about fascist government takeover of the country when healthcare reform was enacted, but we have a police state with heat-packing citizen snitchery built right in! Who says Republicans don't really care about infrastructure?

Meanwhile, the state's budget disaster is claiming victims from the school districts at an alarming rate. Hundreds of teachers and support staff are being axed, programs are disappearing, and the president of the University of Arizona is threatening to cut financial aid if a one-cent sales tax fails on the ballot next month. Of course, even if the temporary sales tax passes, the legislature is casually mulling enacting corporate tax cuts that would offset most of the revenue gains the sales tax would provide. Because nothing lures businesses to a state like the promise of a grossly undereducated labor pool.

But don't worry, Arizona parents who are concerned with the quality of public education here and the amount of cash you'll have to shell out for niceties like having art class, or sports teams, or keeping the school library open--the legislature has you covered! Just keep the brats in school through tenth grade, and if they can pass a standardized test, they get to "graduate" early with something called a "Grand Canyon Diploma," which really ought to be printed with quote marks around the word "diploma" on the parchment too, since its relationship to actual academic achievement will be on par with the relationship of a giant bowl of Cap'n Crunch to "this complete breakfast."

Life will continue here in the Wild Wild West, but it isn't going to be pretty.

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