My liberal politics certainly wouldn't qualify as the mainstream among Boys State delegates, but — maybe it was the heat — I don't think I encountered as much of the angry indignation my annual exhibition of liberalism often inspires.
I learned that several delegates are "out," matter of factly, as gay. I don't think I exaggerate when I say there was a bygone time this would have been dangerous at Arkansas Boys State. That's progress. I told the group you couldn't underestimate how important such openness is in rapidly changing attitudes. It's much harder to fear or hate people you know than people you don't know. One delegate did ask me if I could name a single positive result of approval of gay marriage. "End of discrimination?"
I had to correct a future Republican candidate of the error of the fact sheet he quoted that purports to show the working poor don't pay taxes. I pointed out that this favored talking point omits payroll taxes and all the other little taxes that produce an inordinate burden on low-income workers, even as capital gains and other breaks give preferential income tax treatment to non-working beneficiaries of inherited wealth. Oh.
Finally, I got a report on Republican congressional nominee Tom Cotton's speech to Boys State. The takeaway from my reporter was that the EPA was getting in the way of energy production in the U.S. and government needed to clear the way for private enterprise. Cotton apparently also said something to the effect that some species of animal life, though endangered, just might need to be sacrificed in the advance of humankind.
I wish I'd had this clip for those who heard the Koch-backed Cotton's lament on the oppressive Obama regulatory regime. An AP analysis said:
...the EPA went after producers more often in the years of Republican President George W. Bush, a former Texas oilman, than under Obama.
Also, the agency's enforcement actions have declined overall since 2002 and reached their lowest point last year, the review found.