Our Leaders: like it or lump it

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I guess all we can ask at this point from the Statehouse Republican junta, and the “journalists” who carry their message, is some honesty.

Just say it:

“Religious freedom” legislation, coming on the heels of the victory for marriage equality, is meant, not to protect minorities, but to oppress them.

Tax cuts for Indiana’s wealthiest entities are not a strategy to create jobs.

Carrying water for the National Rifle Association by expanding the sale of firearms will not make our streets safer, and our suburban and rural legislators darn well know it.

Cushioning giant hog factories and the coal industry from accountability is as bad for the economy as it is for human and environmental health; but it does benefit shortsighted special interests.

Diluting teacher qualifications and draining money away from public schools will not make our children more enlightened, or more “competitive.” They will shift power from professional educators to connected entrepreneurs.

And finally (for now), reducing the duly elected head of public education to a figurehead is not a response to dysfunction involving the State Board of Education. It is a coup that will reward that board for functioning exactly according to the wishes of the men who appointed it.

Dysfunction? Miscommunication? Failed diplomacy on the part of Glenda Ritz? I don’t know what’s more infuriating – that politicians can utter these canards with a straight face or that the news media in the name of objectivity feed it to the people.

The people swallow a great load of hog farm byproducts from Indiana Republicans, as evidenced by the iron grip the party has on state government. But in Ritz’s case, the people have spoken loud and clear at the polls and made the assault on her – which began with then-Gov. Mitch Daniels denouncing her on the day after the election – the hardest of the string of lies to keep aloft. She’ll win again, and probably outpoll Gov. Mike Pence again, if she runs in 2016, if she is allowed to run again in 2016, if it matters whether she serves after 2016.

That’s why the notion of making superintendent of public instruction an appointive position gained such traction after November 2012, and why the next best thing – making the superintendent no longer automatically chair of the education board – is sailing through the General Assembly now.

The stage was set with two years of obstruction of Ritz by the Republican-appointed board, all loyalists to Tony Bennett, the privatization operative whom Ritz ousted in a resounding repudiation of his policies by teachers and parents.

Crisis as opportunity? The minions created crisis after crisis and the bosses are coming to the rescue. Dysfunctional? For Indiana’s schoolchildren, maybe; not for the agenda if brute power politics that dominates this absolute runaway government.

Meanwhile, the august single-party body is in deep concern about ethics reform. As House Speaker Brian Bosma, R-Indianapolis, sternly informs us, he and his colleagues must watch out not only for conflicts of interest but also for the appearance of conflicts of interest.

By the evidence, there is no interest conflict. The lawmakers’ interests and those of their backers are in perfect harmony. Keeping up appearances gets harder and harder, at least from the standpoint of the discerning voter. But then, he’s a fixable problem.

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