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The signs have been there for some time now.
There was the Kangaroo Kourt that Republicans called the impeachment of William Jefferson Clinton. It seemed surrealistic at the time. That's because it was.
There was the Supreme Court selection of the president in the 2000 election cycle.
There have been 3 huge financial disasters in the last 10 years....Dotcom blowup, the Enron, WorldCom disgrace, and now the Big Bankster Mortgage Meltdown.
Recent Supreme Court rulings have weakened the rights of students to speak freely (for just one example) while strengthening corporate America's rght to speak more abundantly. Laws seeking to make up for hundreds of years of oppression of black Americans are turned on their head to serve white men.
There have been concerted efforts to openly and defiantly deny homosexual Americans access to the "pursuit of happiness" portion of our constitutional contract.
There are the "wars of choice", the torture, Guantanomo, the "legal" spying on Americans, the Orwellian Patriot Act. All basically new to America.....all reprehensible.....all cutting straight across the historic grain of what America stands for.
So, it came as no surprise yesterday when Arizona Republican Governor, Janet Brewer, signed a new and quite extreme bill into law granting state law enforcers the right to stop and detain virtually any person inside Arizona.....for any or no reason....and demand that the person stopped produce their "papers."
There's no doubt that Arizona leaders are wrestling with a serious problem in their state. I don't mean to dismiss Arizona's ongoing problem with undocumenteds. Yes, it's a problem....a problem which must be dealt with.
At the same time, and factoring in many of the troubling signposts I listed above, the signing into law of such an unAmerican law in Arizona strikes me as simply one more indication that America is in serious trouble.
We're losing our way.
A few years ago President George W. Bush tried to persuade Republicans and conservatives to embrace a new comprehensive immigration bill. Because the bill contained a "pathway to citizenship" that didn't require rounding up all Hispanic-looking people in America and sending them south of the border......far right conservatives, urged on by AM radio haters, raised such a fuss screeching "no amnesty"......that absolutely nothing could be accomplished. Bush backed down.
The leading GOP proponent of comprehensive immigration reform was John McCain. McCain represented the GOP in the 2008 presidential election.....yet McCain, because of his position on comprehensive immigration reform, was never warmly embraced by conservative voters. Those voters preferred his cheerleader-like running mate.
To today's conservatives, at least it seems to me, it's all come down to this: it's either their way or no way. The word compromise, to far right conservatives, is a word that depicts failure, weakness. Compromise must be avoided at all costs.
And so we get laws like the one signed in Arizona yesterday. Laws that are destructive, divisive, unconstitutional. Laws that will never solve, or even attenuate, the undocumented problem Arizona is facing.
Laws that should remind us of one thing....America is in trouble.