Sunday, January 31, 2016

Two Sides to Arizona

We are New Englanders, born and raised. We moved to Arizona to be closer to our children and  that's the only reason we moved here. We've been here nearly eight years and these are my thoughts about living in this state .

Arizona is an absolutely gorgeous state.  The sunsets are spectacular with breathtaking colors. The weather is interesting, varied and very pleasant. This is a huge state and contrary to popular notions that this is just the 'desert southwest', Arizona has four seasons.  The northern part of the state is known for excellent skiing and is, in fact, one of the premier skiing destinations in the country.  Spring and fall around the state is a glorious show of gorgeous colors in native plants, from desert to high country.

Arizona skies, sunsets and sunrises, mountains and deserts are a photographer's dream and since photography has become my avocation, I am overjoyed at all the opportunities I get to capture the beauty Arizona has to offer.

We have also managed to meet some really wonderful people here. Interestingly enough, most of them have moved here from out of state, many from back east. Some of them are even related to us. Yes, we have family members who live here, too.

But there is a very dark side to this state. Politically, it's a hell hole. It's run by kooks, right-wing religious nuts, anti-education, anti-environment, anti-open government, pro dark money, money-grubbing, greedy, intolerant, misinformed, self-absorbed and terribly stupid people.

The current governor, Doug Ducey, wants to cut Arizona from the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. He cites the backlog of cases. But the real reason is the 9th Circuit leans to the liberal side.

Ducey is also beholden to the Koch brothers. They funneled a huge amount of "dark money" to his run for governor; he has gone numerous times and he's attending the latest "gathering" of Koch 'paid for' politicos and is attended by hundreds of rich conservatives who spend wildly on their candidates to push their agendas and spend wildly to oppose other candidates (read "liberal, Democrat, progressive, all others).  In other words, Ducey is a Koch puppet.

The GOP-heavy legislature is one of the sleaziest groups ever to run a state. They have stolen money from kids, the poor, the infirm, veterans, schools.... the neediest who live here in order to cut taxes for the rich and corporations.  They've kicked people to the street, made it a crime to be homeless, made it their business to dismantle the public school system and championing charter schools who take public money with no accountability. One of our legislators runs one of the biggest charter school systems in the state but doesn't see a conflict of interest.  Ninety-eight million dollars has been cut from the state's public universities and Ducey thinks he's terrific for restoring eight million!  Arizona ranks 48th in education spending and the Superintendent of Public Education has no background in education at all.  All she does have is an 'R' next to her name, nothing else that would qualify her for such a position.

The Arizona legislature isn't bright enough to understand how to meet the needs of its people. It waits for its marching orders from the likes of ALEC, the Center for Arizona Policy run by Cathy Herrod, both of whom actually writes legislation. She's ultra-conservative and has managed to involve herself in the running of the state as if she was an elected official.

People, here, don't understand the danger of the Right Wing Nut jobs who run the state. It's a "My way is the only way" stunted, misogynistic, unintelligent, bigoted, racist, bullying kind of thinking. A caveat: Arizona is not the only state afflicted by the Dark Side.

So, on the one hand, we have amazingly gorgeous scenery, weather, some good friends and of course, we're close to our sons.  And then there is the The Dark Side that is Arizona politics. The good outweighs the bad by a long shot because it will remain as wonderful as it is. And The Dark Side, well,  that will change because there is always hope that the nutcases will be voted out and more intelligent heads will finally prevail.  If the state is to survive, that will happen sooner rather than later.  And that's a good thing.

Am I glad we're here in Arizona? Yes, as long as I concentrate on the parts that I love: close proximity to our sons; my photography; the weather (which makes me feel good); the scenery; the friends we've made; the benefits of warm weather casual living (never having to shovel snow, fall on ice, wear layers of clothing to keep warm, skidding down the highway) and a myriad of other wonderful things that make Arizona wonderful and unique.

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