Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Dispatch From The Inferno State: VP Biden, Dolores Huerta Attend Event For Serious Democrats


AG Terry Goddard Shows Up But Neglects to Bring Spine

That's Harold Lloyd to the right of Arizona's Attorney General

-by Doug Kahn

On Saturday I went to the Arizona Democratic Party’s Heritage Dinner, special guest Joseph Biden. I owe great thanks to a dedicated environmentalist and progressive who treated me to dinner at his $10,000 Platinum Sponsor table. (I’m saving my money to ditch 2 Blue Dogs this fall.) I think he keeps forgetting (or forgiving me for) how much I aggravate people in the Democratic Party’s ‘brain trust’ (ahem) here. (Don’t get the wrong idea; I’m not talking about regular Dems, the faithful liberals who are keeping civilization alive here during the Dark Ages.) 

Look, all I was doing was sending tweets to my legions of fans. Okay, I admit it: I only have 9 followers, and one of them is Darrell Issa. I believe in quality: Howie Klein, Cliff Schecter, Jacqrat, David Swanson and BlueGal. My God, I just realized; my good buddy, my favorite Yankee fan, won’t even pay attention to me. 

And no one checked my ID! For sure the Secret Service was all over the place, and I had to go through a metal detector after emptying my pockets. Maybe some of the good people in the Democratic Party here (and there really are a lot of them) wanted the dinner to provide a counter-example to the racists behind SB1070. 

No one made me take off my Phillies cap, either. I think some of the attendees were bothered that I came in jeans and running shoes. They stared, anyway, although when you’re as insecure as I am it always feels that way. Not that I feel obligated to offer excuses, but my knees just went through Phillies Phantasy Camp (baseball for geezers), then 6 weeks of couch potato-dom (chips and 10 extra lbs. included), and 2 operations to remove obsolete parts. They’re going to look like knees again any week now, but they just don’t fit in any of the dress slacks I’ve got with me in Arizona.
I’m sure Joe doesn’t care about that kind of thing anyway, being from Scranton and all. I’ve seen him at one of my favorite diners, just over in Delaware, across the border from where I first lived in Pennsylvania, eating an incredibly greasy breakfast. Actually, he wasn’t eating, because he was talking non-stop. That’s Joe. 

First, I’ve got to say to all the local Democrats with principles, those who were there and those who weren’t, I have a deep feeling of admiration for your persistence in fighting the good fight against incredible odds, year after year. The applause for Joe was polite until he said “We cannot single out people based on the way they look.” Then a 2-minute standing ovation. You deserve so much more than you’re getting from House members Harry Mitchell, Ann Kirkpatrick, and Gabrielle Giffords. Not one of them has made a statement referring to SB1070. (A lot of ramped-up b.s. about drug dealers, “federal inaction,” and “border crackdowns” though, you three-pack of useless weasels. You know, people are getting hurt in Arpaio’s lockup while you twiddle your thumbs; doesn’t that bother you?) I just checked again with Harry Mitchell’s office. “Oh, the press person will get back to you.”  

The Vice President had a schedule to meet, so the order of speakers was inverted. I had never sat through or failed to turn off a Biden oration previously. I believe he brings it from a place of great calm, at least it seems so when he speaks softly. A couple of times the volume went up, effectively. In the end, it was obvious that he had planned his talk to lead up to the most important point he was making, that SB1070 was bad for Arizona and Arizonans because it was meant to hurt, and sprang from racism. 

Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon spoke briefly and forcefully, less poetical. Bad laws and bad people (Joe Arpaio was one he mentioned) need to be removed, is how I remember it, and he was going to keep working on getting that done. Damn right.
State Attorney General Terry Goddard, the guy responsible for protecting us all from the kind of abuses that have been going on here for over a decade, then conclusively proved himself to be an abject coward. He began by promising to spare us from unnecessary wind, by not repeating what the previous speakers had talked about. As skeptical as I am about candidates for executive office, I never imagined that meant he’d skip saying that SB1070 was wrong. If you want the full effect of the man’s feckless dodges, view this live interview with the local news:

Elsewhere he was quoted saying this: “I think the national reaction is very sad for Arizona because it gives us a black eye, and it also is going to cost us dearly economically,” he said. “The bottom line is we have a serious problem on the border. We need to focus on that, and this bill does not make us safer and I think that’s a tragic misdirection.”

And elsewhere: “The tea baggers and company aren’t the only ones who are frustrated. We need more border patrol,” says Attorney General Goddard, who is running for governor as a Democrat. “But the serious crime is the human smugglers, the dope smugglers. [SB1070] doesn’t do one thing to fight that.” 

Apologizing for teabaggers. Nice work if you can get it. The ‘tragic misdirection’ is the legions of Democrats here and around the country who say how they understand that Arizonans are frustrated with the “broken immigration system.” Like hell. As Digby has so eloquently chronicled, crime is way, way down here, during the decade of the greatest wave of immigration. Especially on the border, in the border towns, like Nogales. This is whipped up nonsense, and the Attorney General knows it, and that makes him a hypocrite. You all need to face up to this, Arizona Democrats. Your standard-bearer is not a leader, he caved to the fear-mongers.
At dinner I sat next to a new employee of Rodney Glassman’s (a Democrat running for McCain’s Senate seat), someone who had come out here from Washington to raise money for him. I sent this person and Rodney’s press person the following email, hoping he’d get a backbone and remember what being a Democrat is all about. They promised to get back to me one way or another, and do it today (Tuesday). 
This is what I have as the Rodney Glassman statement on SB1070: 
"This legislation is a rash attempt to score political points. The federal government has failed to secure our border and that must change. John McCain has been in Washington for 28 years and while he has been on all sides of the issue, our immigration problem has gotten worse under his watch.

"S.B.1070 is the type of legislation that undermines the trust between law enforcement and neighborhoods that so many have worked so long to achieve. It does nothing to secure the border or stop the violence in our border region. It does nothing to address the reasons so many cross our borders without going through legal channels. This bill is nothing more than an unfunded mandate that shifts the financial burden onto cities and towns already grappling with budget cuts."
[See how that’s done, how neatly the messy little problem of morality and human rights gets avoided?]
I'm going to send in another post in the next 24 hours. Is this the statement you want me to talk about?
You will by now have seen other opinion/analysis pieces I've written online. I'm not alone in writing this kind of stuff. I fit in with the writers on the three Blue America sites (Crooks and Liars, Hullabaloo, and DownWithTyranny) because we think along the same lines. Numerous other sites and writers and activists are paying attention to you, to Arizona; and the thoughts I'm having are going through the minds of thousands of other people.
It should be obvious that this is an emotional issue; people aren't shunning Arizona on a whim; it's not a fad. (Maybe it's difficult to see that from your perspective as a longtime resident of Arizona?) Boycotts don't just spring up out of nowhere, because the type of people who boycott and campaign for boycotts generally are desperate to help other people; everyone knows that a boycott hurts everyone in the state, not just the small group of people responsible for the wrongs. It's a last resort, a gut reaction reserved for the worst of abuses, perpetrated by the most intransigent and contrary individuals. (Like Russell Pearce and Joe Arpaio and Andrew Thomas.) People boycotted South Africa because of racism. People boycotted Arizona because of racism. Both were eventually successful. Can you remember any others?
We see Raul Grijalva speaking out, and saying what we all feel. But we expect that of him, as someone who experienced the racism, campaigned against it, succeeded despite it. An obvious question arises: Isn't there anyone else in Arizona who'll stand up to these people?
I'm just a visitor here; but I've demonstrated in the past my desire to help all of you take your state in the right direction. [I was talking about the $20,000 I contributed to the state party in 2008.] The dinner on Saturday was great until the end; the absolutely gut-wrenching realization that Terry Goddard wasn't going to stand up for what's right. Don't blame the Democrats in Arizona? [A repeated theme at the dinner.] You folks shouldn't say that, if you're not going to back it up. People are going to want to know this: do you get it? 

Terry Goddard's focus on the Mexican Drug Cartels (oh, please) and crime along the border (which has declined, obviously, since even the AZ Republic says so) is remarkable in its timidity. The boycott is happening because there are obvious and defiant villains like Joe Arpaio and Russell Pearce. The AG is the chief law enforcement officer in the state. And he won't stand up and say that the law is wrong, that it's bad because it recognizes and confirms and rewards the methods and abuses and racism of Joe Arpaio and the MCSO. The national outrage over SB1070 and that puffed up buffoon Russell Pearce would never have happened if it weren't for the existence of Joe Arpaio and the MCSO, committing abuses every day of the year.
If you folks understand politics, and people's gut feelings about politics and politicians, you must understand this already: people outside Arizona wonder if there aren't any white men in Arizona who'll stand up to this bully. I'm just being totally straight here about American society. Do you realize how pathetic it looks for a white man to criticize [Republican Governor] Jan Brewer for not standing up to those guys? In that context, understand that there are only two possible roles in the national media for Terry Goddard and Rodney Glassman: the hero, or the goat.
The press statement at the top makes you look weak, because you're obviously dodging a direct confrontation. The more skillful and logical the dodge, the worse it makes you look. This is a time when your previous service and political resume work against you, because if you act timidly, you end up looking like an empty suit. I don't know one single thing about your politics, if you're progressive or not. But I do know that you're incredibly lucky: you have this one shot at becoming a national figure overnight (and, by the way, doing the right thing for all the Hispanic residents of Arizona, doing something they desperately need). Come out swinging against Joe Arpaio and SB1070.  

I’m waiting. I’ll let you know if they call. Meanwhile, it's good someone is speaking up:

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At 2:38 PM, Anonymous Montana said...

I saw Jay Leno at Correspondent Dinner his best line was; “That was my favorite story (this year) Republicans and a Lesbian bondage club. It’s ironic, Republicans don’t want lesbian getting married but they do like watching them “tie the knot”. So I thought that was interesting.”

You can say the same about Tea Party (they are haters not debaters or as others have dubbed them screamers not dreamers), they say they respect the Constitution, the Bill of Rights and the Declaration of Independence but they do not mind passing laws, through weak Governors (no one voted for this crazy) who only care about getting reelected on the backs of undocumented workers, that will not pass Constitution muster, just like Arizona’s House Bill 2779 from two years ago and your MLK Day ban, keep passing them Arizona and the rest of us will continue to challenged them in a court of law and you will fail again (and yes we will Boycott Arizona). Their phony patriotism is sickening; they are just racists going by another name. We all know you are just itching to put a sheet on their head? Let’s face it the Republicans had eight years to deal with health care, immigration, climate change and financial oversight and governance and they failed. It appears that the Republican Party is only good at starting wars (two in eight years, with fat contracts to friends of Cheney/Bush) but not at winning wars as seen by the continuing line of body bags that keep coming home. The Republicans party will continue turned inward to their old fashion obstructionist party (and their Confederacy appreciation roots) because they continue to allow a small portions (but very loud portion) of their party of “birthers, baggers and blowhards” to rule their party. I will admit that this fringe is very good at playing “Follow the Leader” by listening to their dullard leaders, Beck, Hedgecock, Hannity, O’Reilly, Rush, Savage, Sarah Bailin, Orly Taitz, Victoria Jackson, Michele Bachmann and the rest of the Blowhards and acting as ill programmed robots (they have already acted against doctors that perform abortions). The Birthers and the Tea party crowd think they can scare, intimidate and force others to go along with them by comments like “This time we came unarmed”, let me tell you something not all ex-military join the fringe militia crazies who don’t pay taxes and run around with face paint in the parks playing commando, the majority are mature and understand that the world is more complicated and grey than the black and white that these simpleton make it out to be and that my friend is the point. The world is complicated and people like Hamilton, Lincoln, and Roosevelt believed that we should use government a little to increase social mobility, now it’s about dancing around the claim of government is the problem. The sainted Reagan passed the biggest tax increase in American history and as a result federal employment increased, but facts are lost when mired in mysticism and superstition. For a party that gave us Abraham Lincoln, it is tragic that the ranks are filled with too many empty suits and the crazy Birthers who have not learned that the way our courts work is that you get a competent lawyer, verifiable facts and present them to a judge, if the facts are real and not half baked internet lies, then, and only then, do you proceed to trial. The Birthers seem to be having a problem with their so called “facts”. Let’s face it no one will take the Birthers seriously until they win a case, but until then, you will continue to appear dumb, crazy or racist, or maybe all three. I heard that Orly Taitz now wants to investigate the “Republican 2009 Summer of Love” list: Assemblyman, Michael D. Duvall (CA), Senator John Ensign (NV), Senator Paul Stanley (TN), Governor Mark Stanford (SC), Board of Ed Chair, and Kristin Maguire AKA Bridget Keeney (SC), she wants to re-establish a family values party, that’s like saying that the Catholic Church cares about the welling being of children in their care, too late for that. Yee Haw!

At 8:58 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I grew up in Arizona. Terry Goddard is an inferior weak scion on a superior tree, like Evan Bayh. This whole post is incredible. You so nailed Rodney Glassman. What is he thinking? That he can skate past this issue? He has had some netroots support to this point and done a lot of things right, but if he doesn't get off the fence he's going to get splinters. Susaniniowa


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