Sunday, July 24, 2011

You Think The Rightists Have Taken Over Yet? Can You Guess Which State Would Make Hitler Happiest?


Conspicuous by his absence, Christie's legislature has cramped his style

Ken Quinnell posted a fantastic crowd-sourced feature at AlterNet yesterday that delineates the 10 craziest legislatures in America. Hard to imagine that his own Florida only came in at #2 and that Scott Walker's Wisconsin zombie parliament was only the 3rd worst. But one of our Facebook pals, Dan Lynch really felt burned, writing, "I feel left out. Surely Idaho deserves at least honorable mention? After all, the Senate caucus chairman went on a drunken rampage, stole and crashed a car, saying he was looking for the promised land." Life's never fair.
While attention was naturally focused on the changes in Congress that came as a result of the 2010 elections, an overlooked, but vitally important, consequence of those elections was the strong rightward shift in legislatures across the state. As of the beginning of legislative sessions this year, 26 states were controlled by Republicans, with only 15 in the hands of Democrats. Not surprisingly, this has meant an epidemic of right-wing legislation being proposed and passed across the country. The worst things that have passed, in both quantity and quality, are coming from Republican-controlled legislatures.

Keep in mind that all of these right-wing bastions of extremism and, more often than not, outright fascism, are now gerrymandering their states and rigging the election laws to make sure they hold power far into the future. Ohio only rang in as the 8th worst legislature and yet Quinnell writes that "It's hard to top Ohio Republicans, who had a fetus testify against abortion on the floor of the legislature. Seriously. They also went further than Wisconsin in stripping collective bargaining rights from public workers, including police and firefighters. (After that bill stalled in committee, Republicans just changed the committee membership to make sure the bill passed.) They also tried to pass legislation to allow guns in bars and stadiums and to allow drug convicts to have the right to bear arms. The legislature also poured money into for-profit charter schools, regardless of whether or not they successfully educated students, including one with a less than 2 percent success rate. All of this is without any oversight." It gets worse. Here's why Blue America has been asking everyone-- regardless of where you live-- to contribute to helping Wisconsin's voters recall Rick Scott and his pet fascist senators.
By now, everyone is familiar with Gov. Scott Walker and the Republican legislature's stripping state workers of their collective bargaining rights, but that's far from the only bad law to pass this year. The legislature also took away local governments' right to provide workers with stronger sick leave benefits, effectively privatized the state's Commerce Department, loosened child labor laws, cut public transportation and health care, shifted federal welfare reform dollars toward paying for tax cuts and cut access to broadband. All of this was done in a climate where the governor and Republicans went out of their way to deny Democrats the right to participate in the legislative process.

Quinnell makes a point that Florida is still worse. And can you guess which state tops the list of craziest in the nation? So as not to give it away, I'll alter the description slightly... but all regular DWT readers should be able to guess this on one try:
The number of times the legislature alone makes it on the national radar, not even touching on the nutcase governor, makes it a leader in state-level extremism. And it seems that it also sets the agenda for extremists in other states. Numerous states attempted to copy its most extremist legislation, but most of them didn't pass it. This proto-fascist state not only passed it first, the state is trying to up the ante by attempting to launch state "compacts" with its neighbors to override federal immigration law.

Want anti-union legislation? Check. Want to undermine a woman's right to choose? Got it. What about a full-scale assault on federalism and the powers of the national government? They lead the way. A government official gets shot in your state and what do you do? Vote to allow concealed weapons on college campuses. Don't like ethnic studies classes and believe crazy theories about a Mexican takeover of the U.S.? This is the state for you.
Want a legislator ranting on the floor about bisexual high school principals? Done. Want another legislator saying the earth is only 6,000 years old? This state wins again. Want a birther bill passed through the legislature? All you had to do was ask.

Oh yeah, and the legislature (and governor) cut back on a transplant program that actually led to two people dying. When your state starts killing people who aren't on death row, then you can challenge these guys, which has the worst legislature in the United States.

These 10 states don't even remotely have a lock on the extreme legislative proposals this year. In particular, Virginia, Alabama, New York, Georgia, Maine, Kansas, and Missouri also got serious consideration for the top 10. And with groups like the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) pushing its agenda in every state, progressives should keep an eye on all of the state legislatures to see where the national conservative attacks of tomorrow are being perfected today.

That's all folks... but only the 4th worst

UPDATE: And Back To New Jersey For A Moment

The New Jersey legislature wasn't included in the 10 worst. People would say that that's because the Democratic majority has kept Governor Christie from rolling out the full right-wing agenda that Kacich, Scott, Walker, Snyder, Daniels, etc have done in their states. But as Ken has shown earlier this month and in June, there is a dangerous species in the Jersey legislature named Christiecrats. Is a picture worth a thousand words?

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At 7:02 AM, Blogger Motivated In Ohio said...

I have the crazy John Kasich as governor, or as I like to call him Johnny Wall Street, or King John of Ohio. He has taken a good state run by a good man, and screwed it up big time.

At 9:11 AM, Anonymous Daniel said...

Gotta be Arizona.

At 10:20 AM, Anonymous mediabob said...

I agree, Arizona is there. But I think Howie is also saying, without a scorecard, how do you tell them apart. Who's actually writing these laws? It's coming from the blend-o-matic of a central core. Twelve Monkeys was a true story, evidently.

At 11:00 AM, Blogger Motivated In Ohio said...

These laws are all coming from the corporations via ALEC. They are pretty scary.

At 1:49 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"They also tried to pass legislation to allow guns in bars and stadiums and to allow drug convicts to have the right to bear arms."

Supporting the Drug War, in such a blatant way? Say it ain't so, DWT, say it ain't so . . .

At 9:28 AM, Blogger TroubleCominEveryday said...

"Killer Clowns From Outer Space" another true story.


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