There's something rotten in ArizonaMaybe there's something in the water. Maybe they've spent too much time in the sun. Or maybe they're just constitutionally incapable of distinguishing right from wrong, but something is clearly wrong with Arizona's most prominent Republican politicians. Arizona's not known for being the most progressive state in the union; I'm old enough to remember the way they fought against recognizing Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday as a national holiday in the early 1990s. During my military career, I was stationed there briefly; the state was ranked 49th in the nation for education. They tied for last with Louisiana, only because that state got hit by hurricane Katrina and was basically shut down for a year.
So it takes some effort on the part of Arizona politicians to really impress me when it comes to incompetence and malfeasance. But three have been particularly effective in exceeding even their own low standards.
First on the list is senator John Kyl (R-Ariz.). The senate minority whip has been plummeting to new depths of ludicrousness with his recent comments about extending unemployment benefits. First he called them a disincentive, saying in March that unemployment insurance doesn't create new jobs. Well, be that as it may, what it does is help people who have lost their jobs in the recession continue to put food on the table and make their car payments so they can find new jobs. It's hard to find work when your car has been repossessed. Later on, he appeared to change his tune, calling them a necessary evil. Now, after the lame-duck congress just failed to pass an extension of benefits, he thinks a deal on benefits could be reached. Don't hold your breath.
Next is senator John McCain (R-Ariz.). McCain is well known for his constantly shifting position on "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," the Clinton-era policy allowing homosexuals to serve in the military as long as they don't come out as officially gay and no one attempts to out them. The policy has been criticized since its enactment and appears on the verge of being repealed. McCain said during the 2008 Presidential race that if the service chiefs came to him and said it should be repealed, then he would consider it. They did, and he said the issue needed more study. They commissioned a study and reconfirmed their previous statement.
Now McCain says the study didn't go far enough, despite hundreds of thousands of surveys being sent to service members and their families. He said he was concerned that the study "represents the input of only 28 percent of the force who received the questionnaire." Apparently he'll only be satisfied when every man and woman in the services is forced to respond.
Even these two pale in comparison to Arizona governor Jan Brewer (R-Ariz.). Brewer, the former lieutenant governor, made headlines during this year's election by claiming (falsely) that headless bodies were being found in the desert. It was also under her that the state legislature passed the most draconian anti-immigrant law in the country. She has since set a new standard for despicable policymaking.
Her latest act of cruelty has been to eliminate Medicaid payments for organ transplants, including heart, liver and bone marrow transplants. For many people in need of these procedures, this amounts to a death sentence. One such patient, Mark Price of Valley, AZ, has already died as a result of being denied life-saving treatment. He was waiting for a bone-marrow transplant, which was denied under Brewer's budget cuts. Brewer defended the decision, first by saying the state needed to make hard choices and calling the transplants optional care." She then tried to blame "Obamacare" for her own poor decision-making, even though her budget went into effect before the president's health care plan did. This is shameless demagoguery at its worst.
Clearly Arizona's political class isn't thinking straight. I hope the rest of the country doesn't follow its lead, or we'll be heading down a bad road.