-by Doug Kahn
I really don’t know what to say to people here. I never ‘got’ this place, and now it seems beyond reason. Being quiet isn’t going to work out for me anymore; I think we all have to speak out now. I don’t want anyone who looks at me even once to think I go along with this racist bullshit and the stupid white men who’ve propagated the whole deal. I rave on and on in my posts on DWT
, but out in public I don’t talk much, so my clothes have to say something that’s clear and direct.
I just ironed this onto a t-shirt: Undocumented. And Don’t Even THINK About Asking
True, since my Florida Driver’s License isn’t valid proof of legal-ness under SB 1070. And I hope I have the moxie to say no if asked for my identification.
What about: If You Liked Ernst Röhm, You’ll Love Joe Arpaio
? Although it seems the de facto operational boss of the MCSO is David Hendershott, or as the Phoenix New Times
calls him, Jabba the Hendershott. The police official I can’t get out of my
mind is Henderson, the detective who hounds Harpo and Chico Marx and Allan Jones after they’re caught impersonating the bearded aviator brothers in A Night at the Opera
. He introduces himself to Groucho as “Henderson, Plainclothesman.” Groucho: “Oh? You look more like an old clothes man to me.”
Hendershott is pictured way at the bottom on assignment in Honduras, where Arpaio’s goons had an alliance with the National Police until 2008, when it was revealed that the MCSO has spent something over $300,000 building a friendship clubhouse and setting up an facial-recognition computer database that no one can seem to find. $120,000 went to a pal of Hendershott’s, someone who vacationed with him in Beijing, China.
Or: Papers? We Don’t Need No Stinking Papers
. (Mexican actor Alfonso Bedoya spoke the original line in The Treasure of the Sierra Madre
It should be subtle, but I lack subtlety. I know I shouldn’t emulate the contrary, I’m-proud-of-being-an-ignorant-jerk, ruling-class-white-guy attitude that has spawned the recent idiocies around here. (A bumper sticker I’ve seen more than once here sums it up: How’s My Driving? Dial 1-800-Eat-Shit.) Intelligent, resolute, critical, ought to spring to mind when reading. Help me out with an idea, please. The email address here is DownWithTyranny@gmail.com. I promise to send a t-shirt to anyone coming up with a motto that I use.
The very first time I visited, I realized Scottsdale was a cosmopolitan destination. If the White is Right and Brown is Down law actually goes into effect, expect loads of stories about wealthy furriners with tans getting hauled off for not speaking English while driving expensive cars. Of course, it’s also a winter destination for golfers from all over, and for lots of wealthy people from the midwest, from Minnesota to Missouri. (That’s the midwest, isn’t it? Not sure.)
It’s car country; the nation’s largest and richest classic car auction (Barrett-Jackson) takes place here every June. It’s fairly flat, 5 million people are spread out over the desert (and some hills) among 3 mountain ranges, and you need a car. In Scottsdale you see lots of sports cars with ragtops protecting the chrome-domes and blue hair of the retired, monster SUVs (a stand-out moronic heap is the Navigator, 3+ tons of Lincoln) and high-hundreds-model BMWs. The local he-morons drive pick-ups that you can’t see around or over, also the retro-Charger that’s so not-1970-looking (it doesn’t look like any
year of the original Charger) that the stupidity of it nauseates me. I believe the point of the styling is that it hunkers down and looks like it’s about to grunt.
I already knew it was a Red state, so when I got here I was surprised to see the Governor was a Single Woman. Campaigns were publicly financed! I imagined this to be the result of a backlash against the corruption of past Republican governors, not a state trending Blue. Many of my growing-up years were spent in a backwater Florida town. I know what an atmosphere of racism feels like, and that’s how it feels here.
Local Democrats had been expecting to make gains in the Legislature in 2008, but we lost seats instead. I took a cursory look at some of the unexpected defeats, and they were at least partially due to the recent development of ways to cheat the public finance system by using private money to pay for off-the-books employees and consultants, combined with inflation-driven erosion of the purchasing power of the public subsidy. (The US Supreme Court’s recent Citizens United
ruling just about destroys the system anyway, so what the hell.) I agree most with the analysis that says that the big problem was redneck turnout driven by the anti-LGBT initiative that was on the ballot.
The politics of Arizona won’t change until the younger generation (a lot of it Hispanic) gets older and registers and/or votes more consistently. If national organizations want to help out, what’s needed is a massive voter registration project driven by outside money. Don’t expect the State Democratic Party to get it done; for one thing, it’s the Usual Gang of Idiots, feuding over who gets to be the top ant on a really small ant hill. On the other hand, they did bumble their way into electing Janet Napolitano and Attorney General Terry Goddard. On the third hand, a lot of the money over the 7 years leading up to 2008 came from Jim Pederson, who basically rebuilt the state party and financed it with soft money, also spending $2 million of his own on a losing campaign against Senator John Kyl in 2006. I don’t know the truth of the complaints from defeated Democratic incumbents that the stacks of money the state party accumulated to spend on registration and GOTV was mismanaged and badly targeted.
I’ve spent a lot of time talking about the dumb things Arizona lawmakers have done, so I should report that one of them is about to be un-done. KidsCare, the Arizona version of SCHIP, will be reinstated by the legislature. (SCHIP is heavily subsidized health insurance with higher income eligibility level than Medicaid, but only for kids, not their parents.) KidsCare and Medicaid (with another 310,000 poor people getting screwed over by Russell Pearce and the other Republicans) had been deleted in the 2010 budget.
The good news is that the Health Reform that Congress recently passed is helping the disadvantaged. The law severely punishes states (like Arizona) that try to balance their budgets on the backs of poor people; it takes away billions of dollars in federal aid. So almost 400,000 Arizonans will keep their health insurance because Democrats in Congress did something right. Pleasant surprise. On the other hand, they’re counting on a 1¢ increase in the state sales tax (regressive tax policy) to balance the budget. If it doesn’t pass, we’re looking at another $1 billion whacked out of state aid to education at all levels, including Arizona State University.
You can’t imagine how great it is to have so many people speaking out against SB 1070. I don’t feel so isolated here all of a sudden, and I’m beginning to think it’s eventually going to help Arizonans realize they’re all in this together. But first the top half of the population is going to have to feel some economic pain; only now they’ll know why
they’re feeling it all of a sudden. (Not that educated people need the confirmation, but the consequences will be a proof of concept for Keynesian economics.) The economic results of SB 1070 (entirely apart from the boycott and reduction in tourism) will be severe. The housing industry slump was steep here, much worse than most places, and prices still haven’t stopped going down. SB 1070 is definitely going to drive people away from Arizona, I estimate at least 100,000, since they’re saying 450,000 undocumented people live here. Imagine 20% (90,000) of these people going somewhere else along with family members who can
prove residency. I figure 60,000 more vacant housing units. 100,000+ people no longer buying food or clothing, filling up gas tanks, paying state payroll taxes. And these immigrants are working people; why else would they be here? I don’t know the figures, but a lot of them must be working for middle and upper class Arizonans.
SB 1070 distills the Bizarro logic of the right into its true form, and that helps. It’s a matter of proving to voters that they can choose the side of reason, or go in the other direction. And that way lies madness.
Jabba and friends
Labels: Arizona, immigration, SB 1070