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Monday, January 28, 2013

Yearning to breathe free and equal: Morning notes

Posted By on Mon, Jan 28, 2013 at 6:35 AM

Odds and ends for a quiet Monday morning:

* IMMIGRATION: Does the presence of Republican senators like Graham, McCain and Rubio provide sufficient cover for others in the GOP to join a bipartisan proposal for immigration reform that reportedly includes a path to citizenship for existing residents of the U.S.? The Arkansas delegation, including one politically sensitive Democrat, could be canaries in the coal mine.

* DO UNTO OTHERS: The Arkansas Interfaith Alliance speaks up for expansion of Arkansas's Medicaid program. They know the charitable safety net doesn't cover existing needs for people who'd be helped.

* SONG OF THE SOUTH — 'DEFEATED AND DUMB': Garry Wills writes in the New York Review of Books on the South and its historic political estrangement from the rest of the country, even in ways harmful to itself today after decades of dining heartily on federal handouts.

But the current South is willing to cut off its own nose to show contempt for the government. Governor Rick Scott of Florida turned down more than $2 billion in federal funds for a high-speed rail system in Florida that would have created jobs and millions of dollars in revenues, just to show he was independent of the hated federal government. In this mood, his forebears would have turned down TVA. People across the South are going even farther than Scott, begging to secede again from the Union. Packer notes that the tea is cooling in parties across the rest of the nation, but seems to be fermenting to a more toxic brew in the South. No one needs better health care more than the South, but it fights it off so long as Obama is offering it, its governors turning down funds for Medicaid. This is a region that rejects sex education, though its rate of teenage pregnancies is double and in places triple that of New England. It fights federal help with education, preferring to inoculate its children against science by denying evolution.

No part of the country will suffer the effects of global warming earlier or with more devastation than the South, yet its politicians resist measures to curb carbon emissions and deny the very existence of climate change—sending it to the dungeon with evolution and biblical errancy. One doesn’t need much imagination to see the South with lowered or swollen waters in its rivers and ports, raging kudzu, swarming mosquitos, and record-breaking high temperatures, still telling itself that global-warming talk is just a liberal conspiracy. But it just digs deeper in denial. The South has decided to be defeated and dumb.

And, still ...

Tradition dies hard, hardest among those who cannot admit to the toll it has taken on them. That is why the worst aspects of the South are resurfacing under Obama’s presidency. It is the dignity. That a black should have not merely rights but prominence, authority, and even awe—that is what many Southerners cannot stomach.

* AND SPEAKING OF THE SOUTH — AND SEX: A correspondent passes on a link with a ranking of the states on sexual health. The composite scores derive from such thing as disease rates, rape rates, HIV/AIDS, teen birth, marriage and divorce, general health, laws affecting sexual issues. Bottom of the list, 46-51: Alabama, Kentucky, Arkansas, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi.

* A SOLUTION: WISDOM FROM THE WEALTHY: A morning doesn't pass without a tout from a hired minion of the Billionaire Boys Club with a reminder of the Tuesday rally for the Club's education "reform" agenda. Jeb Bush and Jim Walton will have a "conversation" on the topic at the Capitol at 9:15 a.m. Tuesday. This will be followed later in the morning at the Doubletree Hotel with a panel discussion by an assembly of wealthy corporate titans who inherited family businesses — Walton, Walter Hussman, Bill Dillard and Claiborne (Murphy Oil) Deming. Nothing but some lucky sperm and a charter school or voucher to a private school separates you from turning out as well as they did. It's part of "school choice week," a PR effort for legislation such as that pending in Arkansas to fractionalize the public school system.

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