Take Five (States’ Blights edition)

Take-FiveONE: The Classless of 2010

When this column was launched in December 2010, many now-notorious Republican governors weren’t even sworn in, but within months of taking their oaths of office they began appearing regularly here, lewd exemplars of the very worst of what their party breezily describes as “ideas.” Soon, maddeningly, it seemed as though they’d been around forever, like syphilis or Larry King.

The big story in American politics post-Dubya is not about President Obama or about Washington’s tawdry doings and even tawdrier non-doings; it’s about what’s happening in the 30 governors’ mansions currently occupied by Republicans and in the legislatures where their conservative running dogs frantically attempt to dismantle half a century of hard-won progress.

Republicans in DC have one arrow in their quiver – stubborn obstructionism – but their state-level colleagues have two: not only do they stall and subvert any and all efforts by Democrats to do much of anything, they actually manage to enshrine their own wretched ideas into law. Bad law. The freshman Republican governors of the “classless of 2010″ – along with their elder GOP peers – have had a larger impact on people’s lives than this or any President could ever hope to have, and that impact has been dire. At the state level, the Republican Party’s War on Damn Near Everyone has inflicted heavy casualties.

This year and next, 38 states will hold elections for governor, and the results will be every bit as important as the results of the 2014 House and Senate elections. Women’s rights, workers’ rights, voting rights, gay rights, all rights remain at risk as long as Republicans are allowed to control anything.

TWO: Rick-Rolled

Either Rick Perry has finally run out of ideas for screwing over Texas or he’s just setting his sights on screwing over something even bigger, like the entire country. Perry announced recently that he won’t seek another gubernatorial term, but there’s lots of in-progress screwing over to complete before he saddles up, rides off into the sunset, and leaves the whole shambling mess to his unfortunate successor.

Perry’s announcement was originally scheduled to be made in June but was delayed due to some of that aforementioned screwing over, in this case involving draconian restrictions on reproductive rights for women. Consistent with most legislation passed during Perry’s tenure, some of the ramifications of the bill can scarcely be guessed at now and the extent of the damage to the body politic can’t be fully assessed until the legislation has metastasized, but metastasize it surely will.

After state Senator Wendy Davis successfully filibustered SB 5, ol’ Rick just went right ahead and convened his darn self a special session of the Legislature and got the bill passed. He explained his determination simply, confirming yet again that the words “Rick Perry” and “simple” have an almost magnetic mutual attraction:

“Texas is a place where we defend life.”

The 261 folks executed on Perry’s watch might take umbrage at the statement, but them’s the breaks if you insist on being an evil-doer in a Rick-rolled state. Of course, restricting women’s rights isn’t the only thing the lame duck governor has on the docket. Almost immediately after the Supreme Court’s transparently political body blow to the Voting Rights Act, the Perry regime took pains to crow – uh, announce that it will enforce photo ID provisions, provisions previously halted by a federal court as discriminatory against minority voters.

In a line from his retirement announcement aimed at friends and supporters, Perry said:

In our time together, we have made the most of this unique opportunity to shape the future of Texas.

That they have, it’s true. And despite the relief millions of Texans will feel on seeing the east end of a westbound Rick Perry, they still have 18 more months to wait, heartsick, while he and his cronies continue to make the most of this unique opportunity. At which point those Texans will have a chance to start repairing the damage by electing a Democrat to replace him, and giving that Democrat a Legislature dominated by Democrats. Implausible? Maybe, but George Bush the Lesser being succeeded in Austin by someone even worse seemed implausible too, 12 years ago.

For a superb, though far from comprehensive, roundup of the damage Perry had done to Texas and Texans, go here.

THREE: Three of a Kind

Perry isn’t the only far-right gubernatorial goober to institutionalize rolling back women’s rights. In fact, the practice is spreading across state lines faster than this summer’s wildfires.

The execrable Scott Walker signed a bill recently that prevents a doctor from performing abortions unless said doctor has admitting privileges at a “local” hospital, and mandates – another Republican fave rave – that women seeking an abortion undergo the scarlet-letter indignity of a medically unnecessary ultrasound. Lawsuits filed by two Wisconsin abortion providers are pending. Continue reading Take Five (States’ Blights edition)

Take Five (Busyness as Usual edition)

ONE: Brainy Nights in Georgia

In the wake of the Newtown massacre and other recent mass gun murders, the NRA helpfully busied itself with supporting secession for Wisconsin, decrying the “vicious, violent videogames” that they insist provoke (conveniently well-armed) people to indulge in vicious violence, and, um, rolling out their new videogame.

In vivid contrast, Georgia legislator Paul Battles, being a pragmatic guy, thought and thought and thought about how best to protect children, and after all that thinking came up with House Bill 35:

The Georgia House of Representatives Rules Committee will consider a bill this week that would let school systems arm their staff members. House Bill 35 allows school systems to designate administrators, teachers, or other staff members to carry concealed weapons.

Now, before you go making any mistaken assumptions about Battles, a – surprise! – Republican, he emphatically rejects the suggestion that he’s, you know, a gun nut or something:

“From the very beginning, I’ve said this is a school security piece of legislation,” said Battles. “It’s not about guns. It’s about securing our schools.”

House Bill 35 immediately made me think of Mrs. Hale, my 6th grade teacher, who had a pronounced esotropic strabismus. Forgive me, Mrs. Hale, but I’m very glad you were never packing in our placid Savannah classroom. That I know of, anyway.

The bill passed out of the Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee last week. And Rep. Battles says that was the biggest hurdle, adding, “I’m sure we’ll have a lively debate on the floor, but I feel like it has great momentum.”

Oh. Great, then.

But inane legislation in Georgia is often a bipartisan thing. State Rep. Earnest Smith, a – crap! – Democrat, is all riled up about Photoshop, especially when it’s used to make fun of Earnest Smith:

… Smith pointed, as proof of the problem, to a picture of his head that was recently edited onto a porn star’s body. That image was created by a blogger who used the image to mock Smith.

Last word to Andre Walker of Georgia Politics Unfiltered, the pixel surgeon responsible for the digital transplant:

“I cannot believe Rep. Earnest Smith thinks I’m insulting him by putting his head on the body of a well-built porn star.”

TWO: “Nothing has changed.”

Attendees at this year’s Conservative Political Action Conference can expect to see the likes of Rand Paul, Scott Walker, Allen West and Marco Rubio whip up the sort of rank gumbo of exaggerations, distortions, outright falsehoods and nutrition-free bromides that has kept previous CPAC crowds in drooling thrall.

But wait, there’s more!

Someone named Mitt Romney, who apparently once ran for President, will speak, as will someone named Sarah Palin, who apparently once ran for Vice President.

Of course, I’m being facetious. While I really have no idea who Mitt Romney is, I do remember Sarah Palin. She’s the former mayor of Wasilla who burdened the town with astonishing municipal debt, before going on to become the former Alaska governor who resigned halfway through her term, after burning through many thousands of dollars of public money for no good reason. She did leave her successor a tanning bed, though.

Indications are that Alaska voters have put down their bongs and would now prefer Hillary Clinton over Palin by a 16-point margin in a hypothetical presidential election cage match. Even better, Public Policy Polling also asked respondents to choose their preference of Congress or Palin, and Congress, for all its legendary disapproval ratings, beat Palin 50% to 35%.

And wait, there’s less!

AMERICABlog pointedly notes that CPAC 2013 will again feature the NRA’s Wayne LaPierre, a man determined to live the rest of his wretched life being less popular than gonorrhea, but the conclave has once again barred GOProud, a high-profile gay conservative organization.

“We got kicked out last year because we are gay,” tweeted GOProud Executive Director Jimmy LaSalvia. “Nothing has changed. We won’t be at CPAC.”

However unintentionally, Mr. LaSalvia has just given CPAC a perfect new slogan. “Nothing has changed,” indeed.

THREE: Squawking Heads Redux

In light of recent news that Palin and Fox News have parted company, followed shortly after by the network axing Dick Morris (the World’s Wrongest ManTM), you might be concerned that Fox is going to suffer an acute stupidity deficit. Fear not. They’ve announced with great fanfare that both Herman Cain and Scott Brown have joined the Fox conservative commentator crew.

Proving that he has never actually watched the network, Cain enthused:

“I’m excited about joining the FOX family as a contributor because it is an opportunity to be one more voice for intelligent thinking in America.”

Cain hit the ground running, which is to say he ran aground, in his first appearance with Bill O’Reilly. When the discussion turned to President Obama’s popularity, Cain gave viewers this taste of his intelligent thinking:

“We have a severe ignorance problem with the people who are so mesmerized by his popularity that they are not looking at the facts…

“Martin Luther King Jr. said 50 years ago in 1963 something that is so appropriate to today… There is nothing more dangerous than serious ignorance, and that’s what we have and he gets away with it with the help of establishment media.”

Really? Cain’s new employer has spent more than a decade atop the cable news network heap, which strikes me as pretty much about as establishment as you can get, but maybe I just have a severe ignorance problem.

As to Brown, his first appearance was with Sean Hannity, who asked him why he didn’t want to run for John Kerry’s vacated Senate seat:

Brown… told Hannity that the pace of special elections would have put him in five campaigns in six years and that he might have had to raise another $30 to $50 million, only to “participate in a Congress that’s really dysfunctional and extremely partisan.” Instead, he said, “I felt I could make a difference being on this show…”

Mm-hmm. Far better to participate in a “news” network that’s really dysfunctional and extremely partisan than a Congress that is. Presumably, the Fox gig pays better. Continue reading Take Five (Busyness as Usual edition)

Sunday Talks, 10/28/12

On ABC’s “This Week,” Stephanie Cutter and Newt Gingrich will discuss the current state of the race as well as ABC’s newest polling numbers. The roundtable will include ABC News’ George Will, PBS’ “Washington Week” moderator and . . . → Read More: Sunday Talks, 10/28/12

Take Five (Wieners Circle edition)

ONE: The Boy Can’t Help It

I’m convinced that the Republican Party is running some sort of “say the stupidest thing that pops into your head” contest for its membership. Maybe the reasoning, if there actually is any, is that it keeps their names in the news.

A case in point is Todd Akin. His Senate candidacy notwithstanding, I’m guessing few people had ever heard of Akin before August, when the six-term Congressman decided to share his decidedly pre-Renaissance views on rape and pregnancy with KTVI, a St. Louis television station. Ever since, it’s nearly impossible to get through a day without hearing something from or about him.

Amanda Marcotte, with an assist by the American Bridge 21st Century PAC, introduced another Akin Rhapsody in Ridiculousness recently when she shared C-SPAN video footage of Akin speaking on the House floor in 2008 about abortion providers:

Who wants to be at the very bottom of the food chain of the medical profession? And what sort of places do these bottom-of-the-food-chain doctors work in? Places that are really a pit. You find that along with the culture of death go all kinds of other law-breaking: not following good sanitary procedure, giving abortions to women who are not actually pregnant, cheating on taxes, all these kinds of things, misuse of anesthetics so that people die or almost die. All of these things are common practice, and all of that information is available for America.

Akin, like the rest of his party, despises the Affordable Care Act, but if he were the “reading various things and attempting to process them into a clear and cogent worldview” type, he might be delighted to hear about a new study which underscores the abortion-reducing potential of the ACA:

When more than 9,000 women ages 14 to 45 in the St. Louis area were given no-cost contraception for three years, abortion rates dropped from two-thirds to three-quarters lower than the national rate, according to a new report by Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis researchers.

The report doesn’t mention what percentage of abortions still performed were on non-pregnant participants, women who presumably just enjoy the heck out of the process and don’t want to wait until they actually have a pregnancy they want ended. And don’t even get me started on all those “culture of death” doctors who devote themselves to aborting non-existent embryos, whooping all the while like the hopped-up teenagers who terrorized Dana Andrews and his family in Hot Rods to Hell.

Akin also made the news, not for the first time, for his finances. If only he didn’t spend so much time jawing obsessively about things he knows absolutely zilch about, perhaps he would do a more conscientious and thorough job with those pesky disclosure forms:

Republican Senate candidate Todd Akin on Thursday released a decade’s worth of federal financial reports he has updated with nearly $130,000 in state pension income that he received, but failed to disclose, over that time.

“This was an unintentional oversight and I regret any inconvenience this may cause,” the Missouri congressman wrote in a letter dated Tuesday to the chairman of the House Ethics Committee…

This marks the second time that Akin has amended a decade’s worth of personal financial disclosure reports while running for the Senate.

In July 2011, Akin amended his reports from 2001 through 2010 to show his stake in properties owned by family partnerships in the St. Louis and Cape Cod, Mass., areas.

Cape Cod? Could he be a – gasp! – closet liberal? Fear not, grasshopper; Akin’s odious opinions, misinformed views and general ignorance of the planet on which he lives recently earned him lavish praise from fellow rightwing doofus Pat Boone, and there’s no more cranium-emptying assurance of regressive bona fides than that. Akin was so goshdarn tickled about it that he featured the endorsement on his campaign site:

“I’m strongly supportive of Todd Akin for US Senator from Missouri. My ancestor Daniel Boone would be, too–he and Rebecca had 10 kids, definitely pro-life. Todd’s opponent is resolutely of the “pro abortion” camp which championed, just last year, the “termination” of over 600,000 baby girls. Todd Akin will represent the true values of Missouri families.”

Golly Moses. And if the legendary Pat Boone can’t put him over the top, Akin just got reinforcements in the form of America’s most beloved breeding pair, the Duggars. The continuously copulating conservative couple will hold rallies for Akin in Osage Beach, Farmington and Poplar Bluff on October 15 and 16.

Might as well pack your bags, Claire McCaskill, and book a ticket for some commie bastion like New York or Hollywood, or Cape Cod, where you can get yourself a post-menopausal abortion just for the hell of it at one of those unsanitary, tax-dodging pits you love so much.

TWO: The Doctor Is Sick

If Todd Akin really wants to find the very bottom of the food chain of the medical profession, he should start with his colleague Paul Broun, who has represented Georgia’s 10th District since 2007. Broun is a homophobe, an Islamophobe, a religious fanatic, a climate change denier and such a vigorous “traditional marriage” champion that he’s been hitched four times. He’s also a medical doctor and has a degree in chemistry. Broun recently appeared at the Liberty Baptist Church Sportsman’s Banquet and horked up this:

“All that stuff I was taught about evolution and embryology and the Big Bang Theory, all that is lies straight from the pit of Hell,” Broun said. “And it’s lies to try to keep me and all the folks who were taught that from understanding that they need a savior…

“You see, there are a lot of scientific data that I’ve found out as a scientist that actually show that this is really a young Earth,” he said. “I don’t believe that the Earth’s but about 9,000 years old. I believe it was created in six days as we know them. That’s what the Bible says.”

But wait, there’s more!

“What I’ve come to learn is that it’s the manufacturer’s handbook, is what I call it,” he said. “It teaches us how to run our lives individually, how to run our families, how to run our churches. But it teaches us how to run all of public policy and everything in society. And that’s the reason as your congressman I hold the holy Bible as being the major directions to me of how I vote in Washington, D.C., and I’ll continue to do that.”

The Congressman didn’t explain precisely where in the Good Book he received the guidance that induced him to vote against, among other things, mandatory troop rest periods between deployments to Iraq (August 2007), SCHIP reauthorization (September 2007), the National Affordable Housing Trust Fund (October 2007), funding to combat AIDS, malaria and TB (April 2008), requiring OSHA to establish combustible dust safety standards (April 2008), GI Bill expansion (May 2008), FDA regulation of tobacco (July 2008), the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act (January 2009), financial regulation (December 2009 and June 2010), expansion of unemployment benefits (April, July and November 2010), the Mine Safety Act (December 2010), income tax deductions for small businesses (April 2012), and the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2012 (May 2012).

I guess you just have to read between the lines. Continue reading Take Five (Wieners Circle edition)

Sunday Talks, 8/26/12

On the eve of the Republican National Convention, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Mitt Romney, and his wife Ann sit for an exclusive interview for “Fox News Sunday” that leads the Sunday television talk shows anchored largely . . . → Read More: Sunday Talks, 8/26/12

Sunday Talks, 7/1/12

The Supreme Court’s decision upholding the core of President Barack Obama’s signature health care law leads this Sunday’s television talk shows.

White House chief of staff Jack Lew is on “Fox News Sunday,” ABC’s “This Week” and . . . → Read More: Sunday Talks, 7/1/12

Sunday Talks, 6/10/12

Looks like Walker is taking his victory lap this Sunday, so watch if you dare!

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, the conservative Republican who survived Tuesday’s recall election, headlines this Sunday’s television talk shows with an appearance on . . . → Read More: Sunday Talks, 6/10/12

TSW #32

Ben Jacobs, The Daily Beast, April 29:

… the [Wisconsin Democratic primary] competition has boiled down to a two-man race between former Milwaukee mayor Tom Barrett, the 2010 Democratic nominee, and Kathleen Falk… It is a competitive primary, in which both sides are well financed and motivated. There just isn’t much difference between the two.

… Barrett is better known than Falk as a former mayor of Milwaukee and congressman … Barrett, however, is not a perfect candidate either, and has only been in the race since the end of March. He was the Democratic nominee for governor in 2010 against Walker and he lost…

… Wisconsin Democrats still have to sift through their candidates and pick one on May 8. They just may have a difficult time staying awake in the process.

____________________

They may? That’s strange, because I’m pretty damned sure Wisconsin Democrats are wide awake. It’s Jacobs who seems to be asleep. Otherwise, how are we to account for Kathleen Falk, a woman, being named as one-half of a “two-man race”? Or Tom Barrett, the current mayor of Milwaukee, being described twice as the “former mayor” of Milwaukee? He won a third term on April 3, as a matter of fact. There were balloons and everything.

As to Jacobs’ apparent objection to there not being “much difference between the two,” it’s difficult to understand why and how he would expect two generally mainstream, career Democratic politicians to have “much difference” between them. Continue reading TSW #32

Take Five (Mooks'n'Mamalukes edition)

ONE: Say It Ain’t Joe

Joe Arpaio has had one hell of a run. Twenty years as sheriff of a county now comprising 3.8 million people is no mean achievement, especially if said sheriff has a propensity to bend, bludgeon or break the law routinely.

It would be foolish to assume that his run is necessarily over, no matter how things seem to be unfolding for Arpaio, but I’m pleased to see that things seem to be unfolding rather badly for him. As buzzards circle over Maricopa County, John Dougherty (who has covered the sheriff from the beginning) notes that Arpaio is running out of friends:

The latest Arpaio political supporter to fall is former Maricopa County attorney Andrew Thomas, who was disbarred April 10 for engaging in unethical conduct to intimidate and smear his and Arpaio’s political adversaries…

Thomas’ disbarment comes six months after Arpaio’s closest ally in the state Legislature was recalled from office. Angry voters ousted former Senate President Russell Pearce for his leading role in passing Arizona’s controversial immigration law, SB1070… Pearce was once Arpaio’s chief deputy and is credited with coming up with the idea 20 years ago of housing thousands of county inmates in tents.

Arpaio has also lost key support staff within his office, including his longtime chief deputy David Hendershott, who was fired last year for his role in an unfolding Arpaio campaign finance scandal that is the subject of another federal criminal investigation.

The Thomas disbarment, in particular, should make Arpaio sweat, since the Arizona Supreme Court disciplinary panel:

… said there was enough evidence to prove “beyond a reasonable doubt” that the sheriff and three of his closest allies participated in what the panel believes was federal crime in December 2009.

Uh-oh. What with the campaign finance probe, an ongoing DOJ investigation into possible civil rights violations, and speculation mounting that a three-year grand jury investigation into abuse of power allegations will soon result in criminal charges, it’s tempting to think Arpaio might be stopped before he can win a sixth term this fall. Which would be terrific, not least because Arpaio’s buddies over at WND would surely gnash their teeth and rend their garments in hilarious fashion were old Joe to be brought down. Until or unless that happens, WND frantically continues to lobby Congress to follow the lead of Arpaio’s cold case posse:

PETITION DEMANDING THAT CONGRESS OPEN AN INDEPENDENT INVESTIGATION OF BARACK OBAMA’S CONSTITUTIONAL ELIGIBILITY TO SERVE AS PRESIDENT, IN LIGHT OF THE FIRST OFFICIAL LAW ENFORCEMENT PROBE INTO THE MATTER DISCOVERING “PROBABLE CAUSE” THAT BOTH OBAMA’S BIRTH CERTIFICATE AND SELECTIVE SERVICE REGISTRATION FORM ARE FORGERIES.

WND claims that 47,321 people have already signed the petition. It seems that the way to a birther’s heart is through the caps lock key.

TWO: Joeverkill

Every stinking time God turns around, some politician is invoking Him or justifying an ill-chosen career by blaming its every detail on poor old omnipresent God.

“God says vote for me.”

“God told me to support all that bad legislation.”

“God told me to run again and act like all that bad legislation I supported is something to be proud of.”

“God says vote for me again.”

As if to demonstrate his political bona fides, first-time Congressional candidate Samuel Wurzelbacher – AKA Joe the Plumber – doesn’t think God is on his side, he knows it. Just like he knows a bunch of other things that are also false:

Obama’s ideology is un-American, I say that every day, and I won’t shut up about it.

Obviously he won’t.

His views are socialist. He’s been hanging around with them for a very long time. It’s connecting the dots, it’s very simple. It’s not conspiracy theory, it’s not a bunch of hoopla, it’s real. And people have to call it out, and not be afraid of the media slapping them down. I won’t be.

Hey, God – may I call You God? – if You’re really on Samuel Wurzelbacher’s side, as he claims You are, could You please inspire him to pick up a book and learn something about socialism? Or plumbing?

THREE: No True Hairpiece

When Donald Trump and his entourage swept into the Scottish Parliament yesterday morning, a stiff breeze barrelled down from the Edinburgh crags and threatened to lift the famously thin but coiffured locks from the American entrepreneur’s head.

As it did so, a bemused bystander remarked quietly: “Aye, now we know why he doesn’t like the wind.”

America’s bilious billionaire blowhard was at Holyrood to renew his threats to take his marbles and go home if Scotland doesn’t cancel a proposed wind farm adjacent to Trump’s Aberdeenshire golf course. Trump had planned to add a resort hotel and luxury housing to the course, which is slated to open in July, but maintains that he will cancel the expansions if the 11-turbine renewable energy project goes ahead. His testimony before the Economy, Energy and Tourism Committee was, let’s say, quintessentially Trumpian:

At one point he was challenged to provide evidence that building thousands more wind farms would destroy Scottish tourism. “I am the evidence,” he bluntly retorted. “I am considered a world-class expert in tourism.”

Trump accused former First Minister Alex Salmond of misleading him during a 2007 dinner meeting in New York:

Mr Trump said the First Minister had “scoffed” at the idea the offshore wind farm would get planning approval, citing the Ministry of Defence’s concerns about its effect on radar and it blocking shipping lanes…

“So after I’ve invested this tremendous amount of money, all of a sudden this really obnoxious and ugly wind farm appears,” he said. “It’s going to look like Disneyland, except a bad version of Disneyland. I felt betrayed.”

After leaving Holyrood, Trump did what Trump does best. He strutted:

As he strolled out, smirking in pleasure and waving, anti-wind activists hailed his support and his enemies hurled abuse. Police officers rushed into the crowd and surrounded Trump in a protective cordon as the property baron tried to touch hands with admirers crushed behind a crowd barrier.

What a pity that Scotland can’t relocate the wind farm over Trump’s mouth. Renewable energy just doesn’t get more renewable than that. Continue reading Take Five (Mooks’n’Mamalukes edition)

Take Five (Wild, Wild Life edition)

ONE: “Turkeys are bad enough.”

Not that there had been much suspense about it beforehand, but Arizona Governor Jan Brewer made her loyalties in the Republican Party’s War on Women abundantly clear when she suffered mild friction burns in her haste to sign the Women’s Health and Safety Act into law.

The bill has nothing to do with women’s health and safety, of course. It’s just another iteration of the standard Republican end-run around women’s reproductive rights, comparable to those already implemented in various other states:

… the law includes education in public schools prioritizing birth and adoption, signs throughout health-care facilities warning against abortion “coercion,” and an order for the state health department to create and maintain a website touting alternatives to abortion and displaying images of fetuses. Also required is abortion counseling for women aiming to abort pregnancies due to fetal abnormalities, and if the abnormality is certain to be fatal, the counseling incorporates perinatal hospice information before ending the pregnancy. It reaffirms existing barriers to access, like the requirement of a notarized parental consent form for minors and a mandatory ultrasound screening within 24 hours of having an abortion.

Brewer’s stance on another issue, however, was a little more surprising. She vetoed for a second time a bill that would have allowed firearms to be carried on public property, although the veto was motivated by fiscal and consensus concerns rather than ideological ones:

“The decisions to permit or prohibit guns in these extremely sensitive locations — whether a city council chamber or branch office staffed with state workers — should be cooperatively reached and supported by a broad coalition of stakeholders, including citizens, law-enforcement officials and local government leaders,” Brewer wrote in her veto letter…

House Bill 2729… proposed making it legal for people to enter public property with a weapon unless the property was secured by either a state or federal certified law-enforcement officer or an armed security guard and metal detectors…

Cities, counties, law-enforcement agencies and business organizations opposed it, saying they would have had to either let guns into buildings where the public would rather not have them or pay millions of dollars to provide the security required to keep them out.

A study conducted by legislative staff estimates that security costs for a government entity to ban guns could have ranged from $5,000 to $113,800 per public entrance in the first year with ongoing costs of $54,400 to $108,800 per year.

Hey, scoff if you must, but if you want smart policy from an administration like Brewer’s, it’s invariably going to be unintentional.

Elsewhere on the gun (out-of-) control front, an Oklahoma legislator recently offered up a novel rationale for the open-carry bill that recently passed out of committee and is headed for a legislative vote. Ralph Shortey, a – surprise! – Republican, treated fellow members of the Senate Committee on Public Safety to this harrowing anecdote:

“I was in oil and gas,” Shortey said. “I was out on a lease at one time and I got attacked by a turkey. Wait until you get attacked by a turkey. You will know the fear that a turkey can invoke in a person. And so I beat it with a club. That was all I could do.

“I wish that I had a gun with me,” he said. “And I started carrying a gun in my truck after that without a license because I didn’t want to get attacked by a mountain lion. Turkeys are bad enough.”

Maybe I’m naïve, but it seems to me that all this proves is that Oklahoma should consider an open-carry law for clubs. If they’re good enough for Shortey, they should be good enough for everyone else.

TWO: “… one of these massive, nuclear submarine-type sturgeon.”

It’s a pleasure to report that, despite Scott Walker’s worst intentions, at least one part of Wisconsin’s government is still functional, the Department of Natural Resources.

Near Shawano, DNR wardens recently discovered a sturgeon reckoned to be 125 years old. The fish was laying eggs in the Wolf River, over 30 pounds’ worth. The sturgeon’s length was measured at seven feet, three inches, and its weight at 240 pounds.

Said Wisconsin DNR sturgeon biologist Ron Bruch: “I knew they were out there and I thought, ‘We finally got one of these massive, nuclear submarine-type sturgeon.’”

The wardens kindly tagged and released the fish before Wisconsin Republicans could take a cleaver to it like they have everything else in the state.

THREE: Do you know the way to San Jose? And could someone please turn up the heat in here?

Two recent incidents indicate that the TSA might finally have succeeded in its apparent mission to drive air travelers completely bonkers.

On April 10, a woman lit up a cigarette in a nonsmoking area of the B Concourse at Denver International. Asked to extinguish the cigarette, she complied. Then she removed her clothing. Whatever the relevance may be to the smoking and/or the stripping, the woman told Denver police officers that she hadn’t slept the night before (the incident occurred at about 8:45 in the morning). She was later taken to an area hospital for a medical assessment.

You’re probably thinking this was just a weird, one-off occurrence, worthy of a smile but not a second thought. Not so fast, gentle reader. Consider a question recently posed by Gothamist:

So is naked TSA protesting now a trend?

Well, maybe. A week after the Denver incident, one John Brennan, bound for San Jose, California, was going through security screening at Portland International. At some point in the process, Brennan decided to – whoops! – take his clothes off, too:

Police charged John E. Brennan with disorderly conduct and indecent exposure after he disrobed while going through the security screening area at the airport Tuesday evening.

“When interviewed about his actions, Mr. Brennan stated he fly’s (sic) a lot and had disrobed as a form of protest against TSA screeners who he felt were harassing him,” a police incident report said…

“Mr. Brennan’s actions caused two screening lanes to be closed and while some passengers covered their eyes and their children’s eyes and moved away from the screening area, others stepped out of the screening lanes to look, laugh and take photos of Mr. Brennan,” the police report said.

Which, for the latter group mentioned, at least, put a little fun back into the reliably crappy experience of modern air travel.

Gothamist didn’t venture into woo territory searching for a connection between the two incidents, but there’s no reason why I shouldn’t. Who’s to say that there isn’t something nefarious afoot here? Some plot to destabilize America via inconvenient nudity? Some weird George A. Romero scenario, but instead of becoming zombies, the infected attack an unsuspecting world by jiggling their jiggly bits at them in inopportune settings? Or maybe Brennan was just on something?

He was not intoxicated or under the influence of drugs at the time, police said.

Until further data is available, I guess I’ll just go with the Romero scenario, then. I hope at least the judge remembers to thank Brennan for not smoking. Continue reading Take Five (Wild, Wild Life edition)