Ever read Charles Pierce? The Esquire columnist is funny. Today, he muses on the states as "laboratories of democracy," those mythical places where government is best because it's closest to the people. Arizona's Latino profiling legislation is the main prompt -- legislation soon to be emulated elsehwere, including by Arkansas Republicans, according to a speech Rep. John Burris gave today to Young Republicans (talk about a group needing lab study).
The States are where the government is closest to the people, and therefore, The States are where the genius of the people can most readily be displayed. This is most often said by people who never have watched a state government in action. Most of them function very much like bowling alleys on a Saturday night when everybody has been overserved.
At least some of our national legislators feel compelled occasionally to dial it back, if, for no other reason, than the fact that they occasionally are called upon to appear on national television and pretend that David Gregory is smart. It's down in The States where the political class really lets its freak flag fly. Laboratories of democracy? The States are the locked wards of democracy. They are the personal playpens of angry hicks convinced that the Bavarian Illuminati fixed the results of the soapbox derby their grandson didn't win. These are people who hear Jesus in their fillings and even He sounds completely bughouse. These are the folks that the Tea Party people most directly elect. You could fire a cannon through many state legislatures and not hit anyone who is remotely sane. Just look at what's come a-bubblin' forth over just over the past few months — if not days:
In Nebraska, they passed a singularly restrictive anti-choice law based on the point at which the fetus can "feel pain." In Georgia, they held hearings on legislation that would ban the implantation of microchips in our citizens. In Texas, the state Board of Education decided to rewrite American history, jettisoning Thomas Jefferson in favor of John Calvin — both men with odd hairstyles but hardly interchangeable, one of them not being, you know, American. And now we have the state of Arizona, and what a 2010 it's been there. One bill made it illegal for welfare recipients to buy cigarettes or have cable television. Another one sailing through the legislature would require that all candidates prove their citizenship prior to appearing on a ballot in Arizona. (This, of course, has nothing to do with the ongoing idiocy about Barack Obama's birth certificate. And I am the Tsar of all the Russias.) And, of course, the granddaddy of them all passed a couple weeks ago: the bill that requires local law enforcement to ask anyone they choose to ask for identity papers if they have a "reasonable suspicion" that the person may be in the country illegally. And, if you happen to be a marginally lucid cop in Scorpion's Balls, Arizona, and you feel like slow-playing this law because it's a stupid law and it's too goddamn hot out today for this Mickey Mouse bullshit, your local gun-toting Tea Party yahoo can sue you for not stopping someone he thinks may not have his papers in order. Aside from warming the hearts of people nostalgic for the way things used to be in South Africa, this had the added bonus of kick-starting an even more rancid national debate on the subject of immigration, as though there's any bottom to that particular barrel.