Bill Maher put it best when, describing the Ron Paul/Rand Paul dynasty, he noted, "the shit never falls far from the bat." The same could be fairly said of America's ascendant radical right exemplified in the Tea Party ("TP") movement's infiltration of congressional and state Republican politics.
For the record, these people are crazy, batshit crazy. If you doubt that, take a look at Arizona, a state that has plunged headlong into insolvency in pursuit of TP policies. If you thought California was in dire straits (and it surely is), Arizona is far, far worse off thanks to a mentality that holds when government becomes broke, the answer is to cut taxes again and again and again. In the July edition of Harper's magazine, Ken Silverstein has an eyeopener entitled, "Tea Party in The Sonora, For the future of GOP Governance, Look to Arizona."
"The general unsightliness of the [state] capitol makes it a fitting home for today's Arizona legislature, which is composed almost entirely of dimwits, racists and cranks. Collectively they have bankrupted the state through a combination of ideological fanaticism on the Republican right and acquiescence and timidity on the part of GOP moderates and Democrats. ...A horrific budget deficit has been papered over with massive borrowing and accounting gimmickry, and the state may yet have to issue IOUs to employees and vendors."
Silverstein points out that the Arizona legislature gutted its revenue department budget, saving $25-million but at the cost of firing hundreds of state auditors and tax collectors that will cost the state an estimated $174-million a year in lost revenues. That's a 7-1 exercise in madness. It's what crazy people might do but only those wildly divorced from reality.
Arizonans approved a one cent on the dollar sales tax increase but the legislature first went ahead with further tax cuts that will quickly lose far more than the take from Arizona cash registers.
"...to raise cash the legislature pursued a series of wild sell-offs and budget cuts. It privatized the capitol building and leased it back from its new owner, an arrangement that brought in substantial revenue but over time will cost Arizona far more. The legislature ...has put up future lottery revenues as collateral on a $450-million loan. Meanwhile, Arizona removed more than 300,000 adults from state health coverage and terminated one healthcare program for 47,000 poor children. Funding was slashed at the agency that deals with reports of child abuse and neglect, and also at Children's Rehabilitative Services, so that parents of children with cystic fibrosis, cerebral palsy, and a number of other conditions are now required to pay 100 per cent of treatment costs."
"...the deficit for 2011 is already projected to be at least $1-billion and possibly double that, on a total budget of only $9-billion. The situation will only worsen from there, as federal stimulus money dries up and the state runs out of short-term sources of cash.
Silverstein writes that Arizona legislators have little appetite for dealing with their state's insolvency, preferring instead, "...to focus on matters that have little to do with the crisis. Lawmakers have turned racial profiling into official policy, through a new law that requires police to stop suspected illegal immigrants ...anyone not carrying acceptable proof of citizenship can be arrested for trespassing and thrown in jail for up to six months. ...Another new law bans the funding of any ethnic-studies programs in the public schools, while a third prohibits 'intentionally or knowingly creating a human-animal hybrid.'
"In January, Senator Jack Harper, an immaculately combed zealot who speaks in the patter of an infomercial voiceover, submitted a bill that would allow faculty members to carry guns on university campuses, saying it was 'one very small step in trying to eliminate gun-free zones, where there's absolutely no one would could defend themselves if a terrorist incident happened.' The house passed a measure that would force President Barack Obama to show his birth certificate to state officials if he runs for re-election, as well as a bill that bars Arizona from entering into any program to regulate greenhouse gases without approval from the legislature. 'There are only two ways to vote on this,' said Representative Ray Barnes of the latter initiative. 'Yes, or face the east in the morning and worship the EPA because they own you.'"
These are but a few examples of the madness running large in Arizona. Despite tax revenues running at about two-thirds of the state budget, 38 of 90 legislators joined the governor in signing the "Taxpayer Protection Pledge" of Grover Norquist's group Americans for Tax Reform, a pledge that they will never vote for a tax increase."
Silverstein warns that the nihilistic state of government in Arizona provides a glimpse of what could well come to Washington if the Republicans recover control of Congress. Imagine the most powerful nation on the planet governed by a gang of lunatics who simply ignore facts to operate in an alternative, delusional "reality" of their own making?
Will 2011 be the year that Canadians grasp that we really are living with the crazies?