The Groups Behind The Group Behind The Group Behind The Legislators Behind The Bill.

Passage of SB 1062 by the Teapublican dimwits in Arizona’s legislature gives the impression that the entire state is intolerant, narrow-minded and bass-ackward. Of course, that is partially true. After all, Kansas, Maine, South Dakota and Tennessee all considered the same bill and ultimately rejected it. However, Arizona doesn’t deserve all the credit for being homophobic enough to pass SB 1062.

As it turns out, many of those behind the bill live outside our borders.

The bill began in the stink tank called Alliance Defending Freedom which was founded by Focus on the Family’s James Dobson, Televangelist D. James Kennedy, religious scare-monger Larry Burkett, Campus Crusade for Christ founder Bill Bright, Christian broadcaster Marlin Maddoux, and former Reagan official Alan Sears. Alliance Defending Freedom has pushed the bill nationally through its many affiliated right wing groups. One of those, Center for Arizona Policy, an Arizona-based stink tank, then shopped the bill around the legislature in search of narrow-minded sponsors.

Of course, given the hateful leanings of the Teapublican legislature, finding a sponsor willing to institutionalize and encourage discrimination based on religious beliefs (no matter how wacko) was not difficult.

In the State Senate, Sens. Steve Yarborough, Bob Worley and Nancy Barto were more than willing accomplices. In the House, a Tea Party Who’s Who consisting of Reps. Farnsworth, Kavanaugh, Allen, Boyer, Coleman, Gowan, Gray, Kavanaugh, Kwasman, Lesko, Livingston, Montenegro, Peterson, Pierce, Smith, Thorpe, Tobin, Townsend, Barton, Mesnard and Mitchell all jumped in the clown car to rush to add their names as sponsors for the companion bill HB 2153.

Many of those who voted for the bill claim to have never read it. That’s entirely believable as most of them seem to merely occupy a legislative seat as representatives of CAP, ALEC, the Goldwater Institute and others. Three state senators who voted for the bill publicly expressed their regrets after seeing the backlash. However, most of the bill’s sponsors have dug in their heels citing what they believe is a misinformation campaign carried out by the “liberal” media and other “outside interests.” They seem unconcerned that the bill was originated by outside interests.

As Gov. Jan Brewer is meeting with legislators and advisers in order to decide whether or not to veto the bill, the state is already losing hundreds of thousands of dollars in cancellations for conventions and tourism. Many of the state’s largest corporations and most prominent business leaders have called for her veto. So have airlines serving the state, as well as the committee planning for next year’s Super Bowl in Arizona. Yet, I suspect Brewer is in no hurry to announce a decision. She has until Saturday to veto the measure to prevent it from becoming law. In the interim, she’s exactly where she wants to be…in the national limelight with all of the attention focused on her as it was before she signed the racist, anti-immigrant bill known as SB 1070.

Given that, it’s difficult to predict what she will do. Common sense advice and civil rights concerns have seldom swayed her before.

In 2004, Thomas Frank authored What’s the Matter with Kansas? The book explored the conditions and beliefs that led to the hateful political environment that exploded in Kansas. Maybe it’s time for Frank to write a follow-up: What’s the Matter with Arizona?

How The People You Elect Are Turned Into Highly-Paid Puppets.

On Tuesday, Heritage Action, the even more political arm of the Heritage Foundation, sent a memo to Republican Congressmen telling them to vote against the bipartisan Senate bill that would re-open our government. As a none-too-subtle threat, the memo noted that the organization would be “scoring” Congressional votes.

In other words, do as we say or we will make sure you have a difficult, and expensive, primary fight!

This is really nothing new. Well-financed ideological groups have controlled our Congress for decades. The four-million-member NRA has long scored votes at the state and national level regarding gun safety and other issues of interest. The US Chamber of Commerce has spent billions to elect officials who are friendly to large corporations. The American Medical Association, Big Pharma and the Insurance Institute of America have spent billions to protect their out-of-control profits in health care. Large corporations peddle influence through the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). Even churches keep score, picking and choosing winners in elections.

What is new is the sheer amount of money and power now exerted by outside interests. Following the Supreme Court decision that equates money with free speech and the decision to equate corporations with people, the amount of money in politics has increased dramatically. In 1998, it’s estimated that $1.6 billion was spent on US elections. In 2012, that number exceeded $6.2 billion! And the Supreme Court is currently hearing a case that could further open the floodgates.

There are now dozens of highly-partisan “think tanks,” PACs, SuperPACs and lobbying groups that hold out the carrot of campaign financing and brandish a whip for any legislators who get out of line.

If an elected official wants to retain some semblance of independence from the big-money interests, he or she has to constantly beg constituents for money. Is it any wonder, then, that within a month of the 2012 election results, candidates were campaigning to raise funds for their re-election?

Most Americans can see the problem, but they continue to hold their noses and vote for candidates who are more interested in their re-election than the interests of our nation. There is only one way to stop it…stop it! Stop voting for candidates who put corporations ahead of people. Stop voting for candidates who put the interests of their party ahead of the interests of our nation.

Just stop it!