KEEPING THE FLAME

Ah, Arizona. The youngest (continental U.S.) state. Land of the mighty cactus, the mighty Grand Canyon, and the mighty Larry Fitzgerald. Reliable, conservative Arizona, the state that hath bequeathed us Johns McCain and Kyl, the Minutemen, and Sheriff Joe Arpaio. It's the kind of state in which an unelected governor could reasonably be expected to declare that she has been sent by God to lead the voters through this dark economic night of the soul.

It is a sad commentary on our times, and our collective intellectual regression to the Dark Ages, that Gov. Jan Brewer can say the following without raising many eyebrows or striking Americans as out of the ordinary:

"I firmly believe that God has placed me in this powerful position of Arizona's governor to help guide our state through the difficulty that we are currently facing…And that has caused me, of course, to be grateful that we are a country of Christianity."

Excellent points, Governor.

This is the kind of crazy usually reserved for State Reps in Mississippi and the Florida panhandle. But Arizona has been on a tear lately, elevating to elected office a series of nutcases and felons that would make an Illinois Governor blush. Not content to elect the occasional fascist sheriff or State Senator who happens to be on white supremacist email lists, voters have previously filled Brewer's position with people Republicans who can't keep from running afoul of the law.

Brewer's messiah complex may be a refreshing change for Arizonans after Gov. Fife Symington was convicted of felony bank fraud and hounded out of office in 1997. And he followed into office Evan Mecham, who is, for my money, the elected official in our nation's illustrious history who most perfectly combined disregard for the law with the raw power of batshit insanity. A sanitized biography notes:

While governor, Mecham became known for statements and actions that were widely perceived as insensitive to minorities. Among these actions were the cancellation of the state's Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, attributing high divorce rates to working women, and his defense of the word "pickaninny."

We know of Arizona's troubled history with the MLK holiday, a history in which Mecham played the role of peacemaker by stating that "King doesn't deserve a holiday" and telling black community leaders "You folks don't need another holiday. What you folks need are jobs." In response to charges that he was racist, he reassured voters that "I've got black friends. I employ black people. I don't employ them because they are black; I employ them because they are the best people who applied for the cotton-picking job." He was quite the uniter. He also had a penchant for filling his executive appointments with felons:

Mecham appointed Alberto Rodriguez as superintendent of the Arizona Department of Liquor Licenses and Control while he was under investigation for murder. Other questionable nominations included a director of the Department of Revenue whose company was in arrears by US$25,000 on employment compensation payments, an appointee for head of prison construction who had served prison time for armed robbery, and a former Marine nominated as a state investigator who had been court-martialled twice. Other political appointees who caused Mecham embarrassment were an education adviser, James Cooper, who told a legislative committee "If a student wants to say the world is flat, the teacher doesn't have the right to prove otherwise," and Sam Steiger, the Governor's special assistant, who was charged with extortion.

After running the state's economy into the ground, thanks in no small part to the MLK-related boycott, and serially pissing off every member of his own party or any other, Mecham scored an unprecedented and since unequaled feat in the history of American democracy. He is the only elected official to simultaneously be under impeachment, subject to a recall election (which he blamed on "a band of homosexuals and dissident Democrats"), and under felony indictment (for embezzling campaign money). Read that again. There was a race to indict him before he could be impeached before he could be taken down at the polls. It's the Asshole Trifecta!tm

I can't say whether Jan Brewer represents an improvement over this parade of losers but it is clear that Arizona might need to stop foisting presidential candidates onto the country until it can elect a Governor who isn't insane, a felon, or an insane felon. It's not looking good for Brewer in the 2010 Governor's race, but it's not looking good for Arizona that she made it within a mile of the Governor's chair let alone in it.

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11 Responses to “KEEPING THE FLAME”

  1. jon Says:

    As an Arizonan, I have some things to add. First off, Meacham was impeached because he was embarrassing and not because of the criminal stuff, which didn't really pan out to be more than an excuse to start the impeachment proceedings. Secondly, the Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday thing has a wild Arizona history filled with all sorts of things that make even the good guys seem like complete fools.

    The MLK, jr. Holiday was supposed to be just declared by the governor, according to some people. But this governor didn't want to (yeah, he was a racist nutjob.) So the folks at the NFL declared a boycott, even though at the time the NFL headquarters were open on that day that it was so important that Arizonans not be working. Yes, that same organization that wouldn't let Arizona host a Superbowl was doing the same thing it was scolding Arizona for not not doing. In other words, the NFL was full of it. A proposal went to the voters, and it failed for reasons of cost, to spite the NFL, and just because Arizonans didn't want to be told what to do. Then there was another drive for a public vote for a holiday. But the Columbus Day afficionados who didn't want their holiday going by the wayside proposed a counter-proposal that took away some other day in exchange for the paid holiday. Then there was a referendum with two MLK holiday proposals, and one of them won. Now, Arizona is the only state with an MLK, Jr. Holiday that was passed by the voters. That's kind of cool in a way, though it wasn't a pretty process.

    By the way, I work for Arizona and also get Columbus Day off. I wish the Native Americans in this state would get a holiday in their recognition. There should be a day when Arizonans can take their kids to the park and watch them jump off the swings and yell "Geronimo!" to remember our Native American fellow citizens. I once asked a Native American if they yelled "Nathan Hale!" or something when they jumped off swings when they were children, but he said they were too poor to have swings on the rez.

  2. Aslan Maskhadov Says:

    I am also from Arizona and I should remind everyone that a large portion of Arizona's population comes from outside the state(unlike me), and so what we have is a concentration of the rest of the country's nutcases.

  3. yam Says:

    Makes McCain seem freakin' normal…

  4. Heqit Says:

    (Just rhetorically:)

    What the fuck is wrong with us? Arizona isn't even unique in having a parade of elected insanity, stupidity, and malice like this. Florida, Illinois, South Carolina, Louisiana, Texas, etc. are frequently just as bad, and they only stick out from the rest of the other states because their shenanigans are SO GODDAMN FAR over the line of decency. What the hell? What kind of a way to live is this? What the fuck are we doing? Where are we going? WHAT the FUCK? Jesus Christ.

    Excuse me, I haven't had my morning Scotch yet. I'll be better, if not less profane, once I'm drunk off my ass.

  5. waldo Says:

    ..I haven’t had my morning Scotch yet.

    Watch the president's speeches instead. I'm going to look at his address to the UN now.

  6. Shane Says:

    I was also born and mostly raised in Arizona. My former boss was the last president of the AZ State Senate and is currently the Sec or State. My MIL is his CFO. ( I also used to intern for McCain) All I can add to what you have said is that as a graduate of Barry Goldwater High School, I can't believe you didn't mention Goldwater! If you are going to discuss racist sexist looneys from AZ you have to include Goldwater.

  7. OneMadClown Says:

    By the way, I work for Arizona and also get Columbus Day off. I wish the Native Americans in this state would get a holiday in their recognition. There should be a day when Arizonans can take their kids to the park and watch them jump off the swings and yell “Geronimo!” to remember our Native American fellow citizens. I once asked a Native American if they yelled “Nathan Hale!” or something when they jumped off swings when they were children, but he said they were too poor to have swings on the rez.

    Wow.

  8. Desargues Says:

    A God-sent leader seems a fitting shepherd for a flock in which some sheep will petition Him to restore their divine right to cheap gas.

  9. BillCinSD Says:

    In South Dakota, as part of the Year of Reconciliation ie 1990, the Republican governor (George Mickelson, one of the good Rs; may he rest in peace) changed Columbus Day to Native American Day and every second Monday in October since has been Native American Day. Yeah for my home state

    California has celebrated the 4th Friday in September (ie today) as Native American Day (an official state holiday) since 1998.

  10. jon Says:

    I'm serious about my desire for Arizona to have a Native American Day, though I did come across as frivolous in my regards to Native Americans. Please allow me to explain: I work at a prison, and I tend to use humor quite a bit to discuss race relations there. Race is a huge issue in prison, and my chosen method to deal with that is through humor. Telling inmates that I voted for Obama's white half, wishing an inmate clerk who was Native American a happy Columbus Day and having him respond with an equally serious "Fuck you", and so on. I actually did ask one if he yelled "Geronimo!" and he gave me that response.

    I've learned a lot about race at the prison, most of it I'd like to forget. But I am sorry if I made anyone uncomfortable at my previous remark. Context is everything, and somethings don't translate well.

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