Good News For Fans Of Public Libraries In Arizona

According to its Legiscan page, Arizona HB 2379 has been in the House Rules Committee since February 17. I’ve been told that this means that the bill is effectively dead and that it’s too late in the legislative session for this to be passed.

It certainly looks like the bill’s legs have been cut out from underneath it. If you look at the Legiscan page in depth, you can see how fast things were moving on the bill from January to February. And then it hit a wall and promptly stopped moving, likely due to the massive public response that supporters of the library raised in opposition of this legislation.

There are a few ways for bills to die. They can die dramatically from a governor’s veto, which is what happened with SB 1062. They can also die quietly, buried in committee until the world has forgotten that they ever existed. HB 2379 seems to have died that quiet death.

It’s unfortunate when such a destructive bill dies quietly because for those whom the bill would have harmed, it’s hard to say when the battle is really over. There’s no moment to take a victory lap and celebrate the fact that we won. There’s just a vague feeling of unease that slowly lifts as we look at one another and ask “is it over?”

But we did win and our public libraries are safe, at least for another year. This cynical blogger has a cynical feeling that we’ll be seeing another version of this bill come January 2015. There was an incarnation of HB 2379 that was vetoed by the governor back in 2011. If a veto wasn’t enough to keep this revenant piece of legislation down, I can’t imagine that a quiet death in committee will either.

But that doesn’t matter right now. What matters is that we won. And we couldn’t have won if the people our libraries serve hadn’t stood up and spoken out against this bill.

Well done, Arizona. Thanks for standing up for your libraries.

 

For A Moment, I Was Worried

Thank God, you guys. Thank God. For a minute, I was worried that Kansas, of all places, was going to eclipse Arizona in vying for the coveted “most bigoted state in the Union” award. I mean, we’ve got a reputation, you know? We’ve got Sheriff Joe and tent cities and pink underwear. Remember SB 1070? That was us! We can’t let some glorified cornfield best us in trying to single out people that don’t fit a narrow definition of what constitutes a “proper person.”

(Straight and white and preferably male, if you were wondering what defines a “proper person” in these states, but we’re willing to slide on the third one… sometimes. Depends on a lot of mitigating factors.)

Fortunately, our state government is taking steps to make sure that Kansas doesn’t surge ahead in the discriminatory law race. We’ve got our own version of the “refuse service to gays for, like, religion and stuff” law in the works.

Thank God. I mean, can you imagine having to do business with somebody who you disagreed with? What if somebody came into YOUR business and asked you to engage in commerce even though they were clearly living their lives in a way that that was offensive to your sensibilities and maybe even morally bankrupt according to your deeply held beliefs? Can you imagine the horror? It’s unthinkable!

After all, it’s not like customer service is about dealing with people and helping them even when you don’t like them or agree with them on things and even though they bother you a lot and-

Oh wait.

Shit.

Guys. You guys. I forgot something really importantI feel so stupid. It’s this rule I learned somewhere about business and capitalism and how to make money and all that jazz. It’s like, Rule number one of business, or something.

As business owner/service provider/whatever, I want your money and I will do whatever I can to get your money as long as those ways are in accordance with the law because that’s how I stay in business.

Even more astoundingly, it turns out gay money spends just as well as straight money! In fact, interest rates and inflation rates and all the other rates are exactly the same! I HAD NO IDEA. I don’t even think banks or the IRS can tell the difference between gay money and straight money.

I think I might have to rethink my entire position on this issue.

And In Other News

I’m related to a lot of people who vote for the GOP. This is something I really, really don’t understand. I don’t understand how we can have the same DNA, the same stuff that programs our brains and such, look at the same actions by Republicans and have completely divergent reactions.

For example, my reaction to  the Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act is one of abject horror that something this misogynistic passed through the House of Representatives. The fact that it will likely die in the Senate is a cold consolation; what would make me happy is knowing that bullshit like this couldn’t survive long enough to make it to the House at all.

And yet, you don’t have to go far along the family tree to find beings who are almost exactly like me in terms of DNA who likely think that this is a great idea, who would have almost certainly voted for Franks if he was representing our district (he’s actually representing a district in Phoenix, which should come as no surprise to anyone ever).

The only answer that makes sense to me is that I’m a genetic aberration, a mutant who was born with a defective brain bucket that renders me incapable of understanding the wisdom of this action, or anything else that the GOP does. That must be it.

Thoughts On Yesterday

For the moment, there’s nothing else of substance to be said about the gun control battle. The lines have been drawn in the sand; the first blows have been exchanged. Our side lost this round, but there will be others. The overwhelmingly sad fact is that as long as things remain as they are, we’re never going to run out of tragedies that will add fuel to the fire of this debate. That’s not the same thing as hoping for more violence. Rather, it is the sad realization that until something changes, this is how things are going to be until we finally have enough people saying, “we tried it your way. Now let’s try it ours.

For now, though, all the good zings have been zung. In my opinion, Gabby Gifford’s scathing editorial was the most poignant. I tried to find an editorial from the gun rights side of things; the best I could do was John Cornyn’s criticism of President Obama’s speech yesterday. Hardly a fair comparison, I admit, but then, this wasn’t exactly a fair fight.

I did look at a few conservative news sites to see what else might be out there, but the first article on the Drudge Report was NRA: “Obama  ‘bit off more than he could chew, an article so vile and callous that I wouldn’t dare choose this to be the representation of the other side. It’s too fucking cruel. My first thought was that it was actually just very cold satire and part of me still hopes that’s the case.

So the other side gets Cornyn to sum up the day, because while he may not be the most eloquent representation, at least he doesn’t come across having been spawned in the darkest depths of some writhing abyss. Banality or pure evil; those seem to be the choices here.

Meanwhile, In The Senate

Like I said in my previous post, today was a good day to be a gun in America. The reactions from most decently minded citizens was one of disbelief more than anything:

Kirsten Gillibrand : W/90% support, it’s absurd that we were unable to summon the political will to pass universal background checks. The Senate truly is broken.

There was also the reaction from those watching from the Senate gallery:

Among those looking on from the gallery, Lori Haas, whose daughter was shot at Virginia Tech, and Patricia Maisch, a survivor of the mass shooting in Tucson, shouted, “Shame on you.” Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., who presided over the votes, then asked for decorum.

The urge to give into cynicism is strong right now. The system seems broken, doesn’t it? It feels broken. It seems like playing by the rules is the best way to lose. It seems that a small but hysterically loud minority has been allowed to have the run of the country, simply because it’s the loudest and shrillest voice in the room. Is there anything left to do, but wait for the current crop of conservatives to succumb to old age and hope that the playing field is more fair the next time around?

I say no. Never give into despair. Everyone except Fox News agrees that the conservative leadership in this country is on the verge of collapse unless it reforms. These are the last gasps of a desperate minority struggling to hold onto their power. For them, the stakes are high enough to go beyond the point of reason. There is no incentive to play fair at this point.

I do not believe that this will stand forever. With each blatant defiance of the public will, the tide turns against them more. Each action that these NRA-owned senators take that prioritizes the gun lobby over the will of the people will reveal them for what they are: sycophants of special interests.

Amid those voices protesting is Tucson’s own Gabby Giffords, who needs no introduction, calling for resolve in the face of despair:

Former Representative Gabrielle Giffords, who was severely injured in the Tucson shooting, wrote in a Twitter message: “Senate ignored will of the people & rejected background checks. Im not giving up. Constituents will know they obeyed gun lobby and not them.”

To the question of what can we do now in the face of this latest defeat, Giffords had this to say:

Over two years ago, when I was shot point-blank in the head, the U.S. Senate chose to do nothing. Four months ago, 20 first-graders lost their lives in a brutal attack on their school, and the U.S. Senate chose to do nothing. It’s clear to me that if members of the U.S. Senate refuse to change the laws to reduce gun violence, then we need to change the members of the U.S. Senate. 

If this is how these senators wish to govern, I argue that they are no longer deserving of the responsibility. I don’t think I’m alone in holding this opinion:

“I was extremely disappointed,” said retired Col. Bill Badger, one of the people who tackled Jared Lee Loughner in Tucson. “When 90 percent of the people want something, and the senator votes against them, the next election, we’re going to take care of those senators, because they’re not representing the people.”

No matter how it shakes down, at the end of the day, you cannot ignore the will of the people like this. The political will to carry on the fight is still there and this particular fight is not over. There are too many people now who care too deeply about this to let the gun lobby bury this cause, as has been done so many times in the past. Maybe it’s time to consider reforming the filibuster. Maybe it’s time to consider the so-called “nuclear option.”

To those Republicans (and the small handful of Democrats) who bowed to the pressure brought on by the gun lobby, remember that it was the people who gave you those Senate seats.

The people can just as easily take them away.