Archives for posts with tag: legislation

Both states have governments that hate gay people (and anyone remotely resembling gay folk). Uganda’s legislature passed a bill making gay anything a crime, and their prexy signed it into law. Arizona also passed a law legalizing anti-gay hatred, albeit not quite as crazy as Uganda’s.

And lest you think there is no connection between a small country in East Africa and American Teavangelicals, think again. Right-Wing “conservative” “Republican” “Christians” helped get both bills passed. The difference is only of degree: in Africa, you can be killed or imprisoned. Arizona isn’t there yet, but give them time.

Kansas is pushing similar laws, as are other state and local governments, claiming that their “religious freedom” includes the right to oppress and kill anyone their snake-handling (or snake-oil selling) preacher tells them to hate. They forget that the Constitution gave the rest of us religious freedom, too, and most of us don’t really give a single owl pellet who loves whom nor how they love them, so long as we are left alone to likewise conduct our love lives without government interference.

The American West and the African East: havens of hatred. Please, everybody, how about passing some nice “mind your own damned business” laws for a change?

Mr. Blunt and Cranky

Most of us have no idea where laws come from, or why they exist. Some folks think that laws are the product of a shadowy conspiracy that is bent on enslaving all free people; others think they are produced by lazy people eager to get cushy government jobs. In reality, laws are written based on a perceived need that a legislator hopes to address.

That need might be headlines for the legislator; it might be a real problem experienced by a constituent; it might be a budget shortfall or civil rights matter; or it might be to curry favor with a funding source, especially when the legislator needs campaign cash or another form of baksheesh.

The Help America Vote Act (HAVA) is an instructive example. It was largely written by Bob Ney (R-Cellblock Number 9) with help from a vendor who hoped to make a pot of cash after the law was enacted. It was rushed through, and was woefully incomplete when it became law – standards were not adequately defined, the state and local Boards of Election were not given enough money to implement it, and so on. Quite the Charlie-Foxtrot.

However, some needs were met – the legislators got valuable media exposure and campaign contributions, and the vendors raked in big pots full of cash. And did the constituents benefit? In a word, no.  Because HAVA was never needed in the first place.

HAVA was based on the media-hysteria-fueled notion that American Elections were ‘broken’. And why were they supposedly broken? Because a few counties in Florida had problems with their vote-counting devices. Or so it seemed, after the media, campaigns, political types and the courts got done blathering on about the topic. Upon scenting some of that hot air, Ney and Co. decided that they could profit from the hysteria, thence HAVA. Nobody was willing to wait to find out what the root cause of the problem was: that wouldn’t have made the players any money or added to their influence in Washington and the media scrum.

So, after many millions of dollars were spent (and still are being spent – some of the new election systems do not work, you see), it was quietly disclosed that the reason those Florida counties had problems with their ballots was this: some idiot bought the wrong kind of paper to make the ballots. Cost to fix the real problem –a few thousand dollars.

Remember, laws are written to address a perceived need. The need to further fatten D.C. egos and various bank accounts was the one that Ney and his buddies addressed. The need of the citizens to have free and fair elections? Not so much.

Footnote: You might not consider the degradation of the ability to vote, the money that flowed into and out of legislators’ pockets, the unfunded mandates, or the general stench of greed, incompetence and corruption that surrounded the process to be akin to porn: this writer finds the whole mess to be far beyond pornographic.

Mr. B & C