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Daniel Ruth

From Arizona, amazingly, some political sense

You weren't dreaming. That was a pig flying. A cow just jumped over the moon. And hell has registered a balmy 65 degrees. Who would have ever thought an Arizona governor would succumb to rationality? This had to be a bit like finding Lady Gaga shopping at Talbots for some sensible pumps.

In a state largely known for its headlong march into the Middle Ages meets the Planet Kalidnoid 7, Gov. Jan Brewer a few days ago vetoed two bills and sent the pantaloons of the tea party off into a mouth-foaming disgruntlement the envy of Old Yeller.

With a stroke of the pen, the uberconservative Brewer, who no one has ever confused with Angela Davis, vetoed a measure that would have permitted an open carry law allowing weapons on college campuses. Then the governor also vetoed a so-called birther bill that would have required presidential candidates to prove they were born in the United States before their names would be listed on the Arizona ballot.

This was an act of right-wing apostasy akin to Sarah Palin coming out foursquare in favor of tax increases on the wealthy, legalizing cocaine and rekindling diplomatic relations with Cuba.

Brewer justified sending the lunatic fringe of her party into a collective fetal position by arguing the "birther" bill was too extreme (gee, no kidding) and the proposal allowing armed yahoos in college classrooms was poorly written, as if any legal language permitting the open carry of weapons on university campuses could ever rise to the level of a Shakespeare sonnet.

It could be that Brewer, who is such a staunch conservative she makes Ann Coulter look like Rachel Maddow, was really saying was: "Although I'm more politically loony-tunes than all the Fox News anchors combined, not even I am this crazy to allow such paranoid twaddle into law."

One must embrace enlightenment, no matter how minute, where one finds it.

The fact that Brewer was willing to offend the spats of the tea party, as well as the Glocks of the National Rifle Association, in a state that is so far to the right it makes Myanmar look like Brigadoon, took no small about of political chutzpah.

No doubt Brewer will pay a hefty political price for her heresy from the spittoons of the tea party who will accuse her of treason, not loving the Constitution enough and probably being a closeted Colorado Rockies fan.

Still, it would be nice — if not naive — to hope Brewer's willingness to stand up to the Charlie Sheen wing nut faction of her party might serve as a source of inspiration to the Peronistas of the Panhandle in Tallahassee, who are considering an even more sweeping firearm open carry bill.

At the moment the Deadwood Open Carry Act is moving swimmingly through both bodies of the Florida Star Chamber, mostly because lawmakers quake in fear at the prospect of incurring the wrath of the NRA's Marion Hammer, the Thelma AND Louise of the lock and load crowd.

It matters little to the Florida Legislature that the state's sheriffs, the Florida Prosecuting Attorneys Association and a host of other law enforcement officials have all vigorously opposed the open carry bills, noting the relatively few locales that do permit open carry are Western states with smaller populations, not highly populated regions with large urban areas.

Hillsborough County Sheriff David Gee, who is after all in the business of cleaning up the mess of people who get shot, has implored legislators not to pass open carry, noting it will only make it easier for bad guys to mug good guys and take their guns away from them.

Gee also said open carry will make it more difficult for law enforcement officers to do their jobs, make crime scenes even more confusing and likely lead to an increase in violence because of easier access to weapons.

Naturally, Gee's effort to influence the fate of open carry by relying on reason, logic and common sense will fall on the deaf ears of a group of pols who love to tout their ironclad commitment to law enforcement and the men and women who wear a badge — unless it means annoying Marion Hammer, she who must be paraded in an NRA sedan chair.

It is always possible the Florida Legislature could follow the example of Jan Brewer and simply do the right thing, even at the risk of a political blow-back from the powdered wigs of the tea party or a clucking Marion Hammer.

But it will likely be too high a bar of sanity for Tallahassee's lemmings of bloodletting to hurdle.

From Arizona, amazingly, some political sense 04/21/11 [Last modified: Thursday, April 21, 2011 8:34pm]

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