Each year we get an assessment of the nation's health.
That comes from the president in the State of the Union address delivered to the whole nation in front of both houses of Congress. And, whether you like it or not, it's the president's view of how we're doing as a nation.
And, though our nation is slowly recovering from the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, there are some big problems in this country that we, as a nation, need to address.
These huge problems are originating at the state level.
The problem grows uglier every year and threatens our democracy and our nation's well-being with every new development.
The insidious ugliness metastasizing in states throughout the country threatens to crush our democracy and reduces the number of states I would consider living in as an American.
I would not consider living in Alabama, Kentucky, or Mississippi. I would no longer want to live in Texas or Arizona. Kansas, Arkansas, and Virginia are becoming uninhabitable, especially for a woman. And Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, Florida, and Pennsylvania become less attractive with each new restrictive legislation -- with each pathetic selection for governor.
These states have forged an unlikely confederacy, driven by ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange Council. They want to refight battles that were lost years ago, yearning to reverse law and precedent that has already been adjudicated -- some more than 30 years ago.
Many of them are manipulating education, attacking unions, attempting to privatize everything, ignoring infrastructure, and even threatening secession.
In a free society any form of oppression is unhealthy and counter-productive. These states have become the most oppressive in the union, engaged in a moralistic war that strips many citizens of their rights and freedoms -- most of them hard-earned.
A few of these states have elected frauds like Rick Scott in Florida and Scott Walker Wisconsin. Others have elected hypocrites like Tom Corbett and Rick Snyder. Some have elected oppressors like Sam Brownback in Kansas, John Kasich in Ohio, and Bob McDonnell, known as Transvaginal Bob, in Virginia.
States like Kentucky have hurt the country on a national level by electing two of the most dysfunctional and disruptive senators in the nation -- both master-creators of obstruction and deception. Neither are doing anything to move the country forward and, in fact, are impeding our progress. But Kentucky is not the only state with two inept senators.
There are two common threads fueling this oppressive coalition -- Republican controlled legislatures and religion.
States with high concentrations of religious populations tend to impose their morality and beliefs on others. They tend to do this with absolute deference to the compassion universally attributed to religion. Those with religious blinders are oblivious to their own hypocrisy and the damage their oppressive moral attitudes are causing their neighbors.
Many of the states have engaged in various forms of voter suppression, promoting a solution to a problem that doesn't exist. Pennsylvania is, by far, the worst, but Wisconsin, Texas, Florida, Virginia, and Michigan have all attempted to cull the vote from the black, elderly, and student communities -- an effort to attain a tainted victory.
Republican controlled states have attacked women on various levels denying family planning, health care, contraception, and abortion -- the worst being Virginia, Alabama, Arkansas and Kansas.
States are destroying middle-class jobs by attacking unions and pushing right-to-work laws which were most egregiously pursued in Wisconsin, Ohio, and Michigan. Most of the aforementioned ugly states have right-to-work laws already in place.
Some of these states are aggressively attacking education and immigration. In Michigan, Governor Rick Snyder dictatorially nullifies elections by appointing Emergency Managers in cities and school districts in the state -- now totaling nine -- including the one newly appointed in Detroit. And Rick Scott's push to require drug testing to receive government support in Florida brought out some interesting results.
The extreme diminution of individual rights and freedoms in these states and others -- South Carolina, Indiana, Georgia, South Dakota, and North Carolina -- can have very negative consequences. This regressive attitude, confined until recently to mostly southern states, has spread to the Republican controlled states of the northern midwest.
These offensive states, are fed by a self-serving, narcissistic desire for power. Their disturbing attempts to take away rights and restrict freedoms threaten our democracy.
At a time when this country needs to pull together, when the world is embroiled in difficult financial and life-changing struggles there are states that are trying to rip our democracy apart.
No, I wouldn't want to live in any one of these states. It would be unamerican to inhabit a place that grows uglier and more oppressive with each passing year.
Making them ugly states to live in -- the ugliest states in the union.