Honest to God, North Carolina Republicans couldn't find their own asses with both hands, a bloodhound, a seeing eye dog, and a GPS. Here is a case in point.
They stole a march on the entire country almost a year ago when they passed HB2 in one day. They have run various shell games and three card monte enterprises since then, pretending an interest in repealing it. Each time, they are Lucy pulling up the football.
At heart, the problem with the Republicans is that they like discrimination. They miss when they could do it lots. Nowadays, they argue that it was Democrats in the South who were the discriminators. And since they are Republicans, they can't be Democrats. Therefore they can't discriminate.
All they want is opportunity for everyone. As the novelist Anatole France wrote, the law in its Majestic impartiality forbids the rich and poor alike from sleeping under bridges and stealing bread.
That is, of course, the sort of high school debating trick that clever high schoolers remember decades later: the sort of people for whom high school was pretty much the Pinnacle of their lives.
Of course, a good opposing debater would point out that, at the time, their parents and grandparents were all Democrats themselves. They simply migrated to a new and more welcoming partisan home after 1965.
So, just as the Republicans passed the nation's most draconian voter suppression law a week after the US Supreme Court relieved them of federal oversight of elections law, they just had to get the boot in one more time after the same Supreme Court legalized marriage equality in the United States. They passed HB2. The Charlotte City council's action passing a local ordinance giving LGBT residents the same rights as everyone else in the city was just a pretext. The only thing that has changed since the days of Jim Crow is who people worry about running into in a public bathroom, we're having to sit next to on a bus. Times change; you just change the name you fill into the slur.
We had a good year-long run as the most bigoted state in the country. Governor Pat McCrory wrapped that flag around himself and almost managed to pull off a second term in office with it.
The Republicans managed to keep their veto-proof control of the legislature despite it. Gerrymandering is a wonderful thing when people are riled up against you. It doesn't matter whether they're riled up against you.
Since then, business leaders in the big cities - who tend to give lots of money to North Carolina Republicans, though, admittedly, nothing compared to dime-store magnate Art Pope (who has a mortgage on the soles of the North Carolina Republican Party) - have been leaning on the legislature to repeal HB2 because the backlash against it tends to be focused on the cities. Those are the places that have made the infrastructure Investments to actually host bigtime sports events and rock concerts. The restaurants and other amenities feeding the tourists who come to enjoy those have risen up around them.
That cuts no ice whatever, however, with North Carolina Republicans, whose bulwarks are rural, declining - population counties whose faith in God the Republican as the savior of their economic woes has proved misplaced. The more you try to freeze a place in time, the more your kids can't wait to get the hell out and not come back. The faster you embrace the Walmart the next town over comma the quicker you call out your own small downtown business centers.
But that is no matter to the bosses in Raleigh. They simply rejigger the sales tax distribution formula to steal from the cities and sprinkle it over their increasingly welfare dependent counties.
The voters express their gratitude, in their declining numbers - both from death and voter suppression measures - by sending them back to Raleigh, where is the legislators, in turn, express their gratitude by cementing themselves into office a decade at a time with the next census results.
Never mind that, last May, Franklin Graham told the Charlotte Business Journal that there are only 100 should transgender people in North Carolina. The North Carolina Republican party is willing to piss away a billion dollars a year and economic investment to make sure that number does not grow, and that they do not escape from their compounds in Raleigh, Asheville, Durham, Greensboro, Winston-Salem, Charlotte and a rumored cell in Wilmington.
North Carolina Republican showed their national counterparts how discrimination can sell in a new age. And lo, this session of the nation's legislators, bathroom bills have sprung up faster than hairy men can put on dresses to go prey on women there.
The pretext is gone. North Carolina's was the Charlotte forced them to pass HB2. Having passed the hypocrisy test - no one, for example, has explained why we need to cap the minimum wage for every city and county and North Carolina to keep the transgender bathroom users in place, or why all discrimination claims needed to be sent to Federal, rather than State, courts, or why gay and lesbian citizens need to have no rights at all when the problem is men who were neither pursuing their god-given heterosexual urges against grannies and little girls in bathrooms.
No, once you can get a law passed and make it stick for a year, you need no pretense to expand its reach. The Republicans other states are happily jamming through their bathroom bills simply because they don't like gays.
Which brings me to South Dakota. One probably doesn't think of South Dakota very often. There's not much there to think about. When I lived out west, I remember hearing jokes about it being the sort of place where the men were men and the sheep were nervous. As we have learned from the current evangelical boycott of a Disney movie, homosexuality and bestiality are not equally bad.
South Dakota's last big moment in the media's sun was several decades ago, when they rewrote their usury laws in order to attract the processing operations of the major credit card companies. Basically, they became the Delaware of 21% interest rates, promising credit card issuers a minimum of regulation and big sky-high interest rates with no concerns expressed whatever by State regulators.
The credit card companies flocked to there, and remain there to this day. It is a cautionary tale you should keep in mind once the don't care laws passed to allow health insurance companies to sell across state lines. The lesson will be in the forefront all states’ bidding to attract all those trillions of dollars of premiums two local banks.
Because the Republicans ran the table in the last election, however, states seeking the coming insurance boom benefits will have to establish their social issue bonafides to attract the big bucks. South Dakota has stolen a march on North Carolina by passing a law allowing State agencies to discriminate against LGBT residents in the provision of services they pay taxes for and are otherwise entitled to.
Now that's taking the bit in your teeth! Where are the North Carolina Republicans on this issue? Why do we not have a religious freedom law? Where are we settling for just allowing state and local government to spy on who uses their restrooms?
Why did we settle for allowing judges to opt out of conducting civil marriage services for LGBT couples? Why didn't we just ban all recognition of them, as an Arkansas bill now pending does? Why can't add every Court Clerk, and state benefits office in North Carolina, put up a sign that says “No gays served?
Wusses, that's what North Carolina Republicans are. Their pole star is the next election, and nothing more. In their cramped hearts, they long to be able to invert the state motto so that it reads, “To seem, rather than to be.”
And that, dear friends, is how, for the moment, gay couples in North Carolina can still adopt. If you need more bracing, above the table discrimination, South Dakota's ready to welcome you.