Friday, May 13, 2011

All you can do is laugh at them--doesn't anybody know how to pray?

Arizona Governor Jan Brewer, apparently because of her anger that more embarrassing anti-immigrant laws failed to pass the state Senate for her to give her skeletal writing hand a workout signing, announced that she was going skip the “liberal” 9th Circuit Court of Appeals and ask the U.S. Supreme Court to throw-out the injunction against the portion of the anti-immigrant SB 1070 law that mandated racial profiling by police. The law as a whole is mostly unconstitutional, but then again the present court has shown a proclivity for ignoring parts of the Constitution it doesn’t like, especially where law enforcement and defendants’ rights are concerned. “The decision of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals to uphold the suspension of key provisions of Senate Bill 1070 does harm to the safety and well being of all Arizonans, who suffer the negative effects of illegal immigration," Brewer opined, playing the fear, paranoia and racial card to the hilt; she might have mentioned the benefits of “illegal” labor in the state, but that wouldn’t have played as well.

What does the Arizona Democratic establishment have to say about this? They are perfectly happy with it. Why? "Arizona has a serious problem with criminal cartels that smuggle drugs, guns, and humans across our border” said party chairman Andrei Cherny. “Whatever the ultimate decision as to its constitutionality, SB1070 won't solve this problem. Let's settle this legal debate once and for all, so our state can move on from political games to real solutions on border security and comprehensive immigration reform."

It sounds like Arizona Democrats are playing both sides for the middle, although I suspect they’d prefer to fall off the fence on the “right” side. Actually, the gun smuggling is occurring in the other direction; Arizona’s non-existent gun regulations make it easy for people on the other side of the border to acquire weapons. There is also the reality that drug violence is occurring largely on “their” side of the border—no thanks to the U.S. pumping in guns and resources for a “war” that has merely exacerbated—not reduced—drug violence, to the tune of 26,000 dead Mexicans since 2006. But that’s just a detail; we are really only concerned about the handful of Americans—mostly “Mexicans”—who were in the “line of fire.” Actually, no one is cares about them, either, save as a mendacious sound bite. There is also that tiny little fact that the U.S. is the world’s largest market for “recreational” drugs, and the reality that drug dealing in inner cities is one of the few “profitable” enterprises to be found, especially since so many jobs—particularly manufacturing jobs—have left the cities to China and elsewhere.

An alternative weekly in Phoenix—the New Times—has an ongoing series of articles it calls “Why the Rest of the Country is Laughing at Us.” For example, the fossilized Gov. Brewer approved of a law that permits the state department of licensing to create eleven new license plate designs, one of which depicts the Gadsden flag, the one with the snake (frankly, an apt representation of a typical Tea Partier) and the famous slogan "Don't Tread on Me.” In order to get this plate, part of the purchase price is $17 that goes to projects that “promote Tea Party governing principles,” regardless if you agree with whatever those are or not. Well, actually there is only one “project” and “principle” you need to support: The plates cost $32,000 to design, and the since it is not an “official” plate—more like a “vanity” plate—the Arizona Tea Party has to foot the bill, with the “help” of anyone asinine enough to want one of these things. Since the plates have a clear political message and the Tea Party is a political “party” in all but name, Gary Ackerman, a New York congressman, has proposed a bill called the “License Plate Political Slush Fund Prevention Act.” It’s not likely to go anywhere, given all the fear bone-head Tea Partiers put in the minds of House Republicans, but it does address the issue of government funds being used to promote political propaganda; only the Republicans would try such a slimy stunt.

What else…Arizona recently became just the second state to see fit to pass a law naming—get this—a “state” firearm. Brewer approved the selection of the Colt single-action Army Revolver. I’m not sure why they call this gun (put into service in 1873) a “single-action” device, because cocking the hammer and pulling the trigger is two actions; but what I do I know, I’ve never owned a gun and don’t plan to. According to the New Times, this latest right-wing clown act “will undoubtedly serve as rhetorical ammo for the state's haters who want to paint Arizonans as knuckle-dragging, gun-toting hillbillies. That said, one look at the majority of our elected officials, and the haters would appear to be right.” In the wake of the recent shooting of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, it would indeed appear so. By the way, Utah became the first state to pass a “state gun” bill, and it is illegal to forbid students to carry guns on college campuses; it is apparently OK to carry a gun at BYU, but not OK to have sex. But this isn’t even as bad as Kansas, where a state law actually allows the carrying of guns in K-12, which in its annual report the Brady Campaign for the Prevention of Gun Violence called one of the “craziest” gun laws in the country. Arizona, Alaska and Utah were also singled-out in the report for having a score of “zero” in regard to the number of “common sense” gun laws they have on the books.

It also should be pointed-out that it was a crazed white man—not one of those “Mexicans” of white paranoid fantasy—who shot Giffords; Arizona’s “Wild West” attitude about guns and the worth of a human being (“Mexicans” actually are human) is what people in the state really need to fear.

Meanwhile…Despite the fact that Barack Obama released his “long form” birth certificate that should put to rest the birther business, Arizona is carrying-on “humiliating” itself by an attempt by Republican legislators to re-introduce the "Birther Bill," which applies only to persons planning to run for president or vice president on the state ballot. Well, actually I’m not sure this is the before-or-after bill that Gov. Brewer vetoed because she claimed it take the country down a “path of destruction.” Too bad she doesn’t consider mandating race hatred and the glorification of guns a destructive path. The bill is (or was) absurd since it is already a federal requirement, but obviously its aim is to embarrass Obama as well as Arizonans. If such a law would pass, I wonder what kind of scrutiny white candidates will receive when they only supply their short forms; as we recall, the certificate that birther Donald Trump recently provided the media wasn’t even a legal document. This is most probable reason for Brewer’s veto; she probably can’t find her birth certificate.

Brewer did use her race-hate “mandate” to sign a law that eventually bans ethnic studies classes in public schools, a law aimed at ending curriculum that allegedly incites “rebellion” and “revolution” among Latino students. The real reason for this law is to prevent Latinos from gaining an identity independent from the racist propaganda of the white media and Republican politicians, and from having a forum in which they can derive self-awareness and self-empowerment. White politicians and school officials, of course, fear that what they are really doing is identifying problems and formulating solutions to combat a right-wing white society that denigrates them. By banning ethnic studies classes, white Arizonans wish to keep Latinos in the state “ignorant” of abuses heaped on them.

According to the New Times, 60 percent of the students in the Tucson school district (the principle seat of the conflict) are Latino—as much as 90 percent in some schools. Shocking numbers, according the New Times, and “evidence that the U.S. Supreme Court decision of Brown vs. the Board of Education, which held that separate educational facilities for students of different races are ‘inherently unequal,’ has been effectively undermined by white flight and the rise of charter schools.” And this isn’t anything new, either. Tucson’s segregated schools were the subject of a law suit forty years ago, and the ethnic studies programs for discriminated-against minorities was part of the corrective. Even one or two opponents of the curriculum admit that the ethnic studies programs has had a positive effect on school performance and graduation rates, largely by making students feel that they matter. But for the rabid racists who fear that they will be recognized and exposed by such courses, educational performance is the last thing they are concerned about.

It seems that white officials, infused with fear that all these children might grow-up to be voters who might overthrow Arizona’s apartheid regime (which by the way is what Brewer, Russell Pearce and that ilk really mean by the “negative” effect of immigration), refuse to even countenance the idea that Latino students ought to have the same positive reinforcement as white students are allowed by default.

One last item: I might have mentioned here that Sheriff Joe Arpaio and Maricopa County Prosecutor Andrew Thomas are tag-teammates in running the county like it was still the “frontier justice days” of 1870. The problem is, they just can’t go out and shoot all their opponents, or arrest everyone in sight who disagrees with them or have different opinions on how the law should operate. Having been thwarted by Superior Court Judge Gary Donahoe in their attempts to railroad local politicians who opposed their methods with false allegations, and in one incident jailed one of Sheriff Joe’s deputies for sneakily removing documents from a defense attorney’s files (caught on video), Donahoe is now the subject of a RICO charge concocted by prosecutor Thomas, supposedly concerning the construction of a new courthouse, but in reality attempting to give the “impression” that Donahoe was “bribed” into passing down judgments that made Thomas and his henchwoman Lisa Aubuchon look like buggling incompetents. One may wonder why a county with left-leaning Phoenix can repeatedly elect such bozos as this AND Sheriff Joe; the answer is that everywhere else is gun-toting right. Maricopa county is the largest county by population to have a majority vote for John McCain in 2008, and since at least 1960 has voted for the Republican candidate for president every time.

Donahoe isn’t the only person in Sheriff Joe and Thomas’ sights. According to them, practically the entire county is a Mafia affair whose sole purpose is to embarrass and thwart them at every opportunity—as if they don’t do this all by themselves. All five county commissioners, the county manager, the deputy county manager, three other judges and two local attorneys were named in the original RICO suit in 2009. All are allegedly involved in a “conspiracy” to block the paranoid prosecutor and sheriff’s efforts to run the county into the ground, supposedly in exchange for “illicit services.” Needless-to-say, Thomas has assigned a new henchwoman, Rachel Alexander—whose night job is right-wing blogger—to take their case to Washington D.C., since they can’t find any court in the state to take them seriously. In fact the so-called “investigation” was so shy of factual information that even the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office—normally the lapdog of Sheriff Joe and Thomas—was not “trusted” to participate in the “investigation,” for fear they would find nothing prosecutable. Subsequently, no one in the office could be found to sign-off on the finished document, which was described as little more than a long “letter to the editor” of the prosecutor’s various bellyaches against his perceived opponents, and the sinister reasons why they opposed him.

Local attorneys are, however, fighting back. A law suit against Thomas and Aubuchon claims that they “conspired with each other and with others to injure, oppress, threaten or intimidate Judge Donahoe in the free exercise of his First Amendment rights to freedom of speech, a right or privilege secured to him by the U.S. Constitution and laws of the U.S., or they did so injure, oppress, threaten or intimidate Judge Donahoe because he had exercised his right to freedom of speech…Thomas and Aubuchon also conspired with each other and with others to injure, oppress, threaten or intimidate Judge Donahoe in the free exercise of his constitutional right to engage in his profession and do his job as a judge."

To paraphrase the Mark Lindsey song, “And all you can do is laugh at them—doesn’t anybody know how to pray?”

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