Friday, May 21, 2010

Current Comedy, 5/20/10: Tales From the Struggle Over SB1070, Parts Three, Four, & Five

III: "Is this America?" or only Arizona?

You know, Arizona as a state has had quite a few nicknames over the years. Famously once known as the home of inland America's #1 tourist attraction (i mean, prior to SB1070, that is), most highway signs still call us the "Grand Canyon State." Also historically, nickname-wise Arizona, the "Copper State," was considered the least precious among the fabled Southwestern heavy-metal trio, "Golden" California and "Silver" Nevada. And though the maps of Spain once labeled it, "Pimeria Alta," referring to the more readily enslaved Pima Indians, Spaniards in the know called it "Apacheria" for fierce Indians who rendered their "rule" farcical.

Later, after the US conquested the land once ruled by conquistadors, our area, the western end of the New Mexico Territory, was the no-man's land outlaws escaped to from both Mexico and the US. It was a time when Americans like the Glanton Gang scalped both Indians and Mexicans for a hundred dollars for every handful of hair. Back then, fittingly enough, our land was called the "Paradise For Devils."

But in this time of the struggle over SB1070 when duly elected avowed White Supremacists write their own updated version of the "Fugitive Slave Law," punishing those who would harbor, aid or conceal an undocumented immigrant, the nickname that most readily comes to mind derives from a time after the Civil War when the territory flooded with former Confederate soldiers who resented Federal control under Reconstruction in the East and darker skinned people in general. Thus Arizona welcomed such civic leaders as former race warrior/Phoenix founder/drug addict/jailbird Jack Swilling and in 1872, the city of Tempe even made being "Sonoran" a exile-able offense.

For over a hundred years AZ was nationally known as an openly racist society, starting from the Battle of Picacho Peak in 1862 when racial-caste defending Arizonans rebelled against their duly elected national government and took up arms against Union troops (only to quickly get their butts kicked, btw). Our rep as racists was clearly intact 100 years later in the 1960s, when, as Bruce Hartford's recent Huffington Post article notes, " Arizona was (and continues to be) one of those states specifically called out by the Voting Rights Act of 1965" for its widespread disenfranchisement of Hispanic voters. The legend of Arizona as a racist state would later be the centerpiece of rap band Public Enemy's 1991 condemnation of the state for refusing to endorse the national MLK celebration with their hit "By the Time I Get to Arizona."

Between the state superintendent of education firing teachers for having Hispanic accents; and every state official under penalty of lawsuit required to investigate a person's personal heritage for as little "probably cause" as them having a Hispanic accent, one wonders if Arizona will ever outgrow its old Confederate era moniker, the "Mississippi of the West."


IV: "Crappy Nappy"? Is This America?

AZ Central would later run articles covering the national protests around the country that May Day including one that documented the arrest of Illinois US Congressman Luis Gutierrez for civil disobedience at a Whitehouse protest. While rummaging around on Arizona's most popular news site [disclosure--this blog is posted on AZ Central, among other places], in short order i had linked to an article discussing the guilty verdict of a recent case where an undocumented immigrant was accused of killing a border agent. For those who scoff that Arizona is now an enlightened state and racist free, in the interest of waking you guys the heck up, here is an actual comment, typos and all, posted just below the article:

This guy is geting.. Jail time for killing a border patrol officer? He should be held as a HERO.. I can see it now. crappy nappy will be here given this guy a medal.. Obama the Savior/Messiah/God will pardon him.. there will be huge rallies for this useless piece of trash from the "MIGRANT" Community.. I'm amazed the "Migrant" Community aren't protestng this...He only cam here for a better life. How dare hte border patrol stop hiim!!!!! The border patrol needs to be investigated for Racial Profiling.....WHERE ARE HTE PROTESTS !!!!!"

Then the very next comment unabashedly said there should be no limit on hunting and killing illegal aliens and none of the subsequent ones called him out over it. Please, check it yourself:

And so, i have to ask--are people making this up?

Are those comments really written by a spoof satire site that is parodying the worse of the worse of the redneck mentality that is behind this bill or is this the rank and file of Pearce supporters? This being Arizona one cannot be too sure. Certainly when it comes to the wiles of the AZ GOP, their motives are hard to discern but their actions are generally clear--if it is good for the public, they'll work against it.

Make no mistake, the AZ GOP Lege’ is not actually attempting to solve an immigration issue. They are pandering to the racist ranchers in the southern end of the state and reveling in their power to punish their enemies. It brings to mind last year's outlandish budget cut package for education, which bragged about noble belt tightening but held hidden daggers among the supposed budget cutting shears.

Besides lopping off hundreds of millions of dollars in school funding, handicapping schools across the state, also included provisions to punish the teachers who had protested against said cuts. If the range of punishable offenses in the new immigration law were not enough to convince you that the White power structure of AZ intends to punish those who challenge it, note that at the same time as the immigration bill, the AZ legislature has also passed a law banning Ethnic Studies as not American enough.

Once again the AZ GOP has decided there is not time enough to make life better for its residents, but there is time enough to restrict their freedoms and frighten their children; that there is not money enough for schools and traditional forms of public safety, but there is enough money to marshal all law enforcement throughout the state to investigate a person because his shoes might look foreign. In their public speech and even in the lines of SB 1070 itself, every sentence from those guys is built to be an affront. Jeez. If they are going to argue from that kind of a hostile disrespecting position I say, no kowtowing to that crap. That is the same kind of Bush-league attitude that always gets this country in trouble.

But there is hope. You know in the Tea Party, demographics suggest that about a third of those who participated were newly politically active for the first time in their lives. Which, paradoxically is a good thing for the left; because the more the novices learn about the difference between the reality of America and O'Reilly/Hannity/Beck's twist of it, the sooner they will fall away and scorn the whole bogus enterprise as a boondoggle and then, if the hardcore Tea Partiers haven't already killed us all, the left will gain, when the right finally earn their inevitable backlash.

Like i say, if we live long enough. Certainly hope for that change led many to the capitol that day. Judging from the spontaneous crowds of more than 20,000 who also showed up in Phoenix and joined the million or more around the country who marched that day, it seems i am not alone.


V: The First-Timers

That May Day morning, as the crowds began to gather at the state capitol to protest SB1070, the crying woman stood off to one side, some distance from the main rally. Though i had come for the bombast and high theater of speakers and posers who typically standout at such an event, the crying woman caught my attention early on. I had seen her there sobbing for quite a while before going over to check on her.

She laid her head against a capitol courtyard palm tree, hiding herself in its noontime shadow as she sobbed. She asked me not to take her name. She said, “I’m better off over here. I don’t need to be around the others. It gets me too upset. This whole thing is very emotional for me," she waved at the air in her face to try and stop her tears. "All the hatefulness, all those sheep following along," she waved her hand off towards the city of Phoenix somewhere.

"Like they needed another reason to hate us. All those politicians are doing is serving up hate. They’re ruining it and for what? This isn’t trying to make the state any better. It’s all they know to get votes. They will do anything to get votes. They don’t care who gets hurt. They‘re supposed to make things better but they‘re going backward.”

She spoke with one hand across her face and the other hung and/or twitched at her side. At her well-manicured fingertips stood her poster. Though many people circulated the ready-made factory printed posters of Phoenix activists ¡Puente!, or the California-based "Mexica Movement," the May Day March was telling as to the wide assortment of handmade signs created by people who had obviously never protested before. In fact, based on the sheer number of original signs, i would guess more than half of the protesters there that morning were heart-felt novices.

Much like the crying woman and the sign she had made for that day. It was obvious that when she was younger, she was the kind of student who earned extra credit on their class reports because of their sincere and elaborate posters. As meticulous as her polished nails, her heavily decorated foam backed poster board had hand shaded printed text and enlarged color- copies of family photos of generations of clearly Hispanic soldiers --her grandfather, her father, and her brother, she explained, who gave their lives for a country that now attacked her. She was not young and a couple of the pics were older still, men in uniform, frozen forever with their young earnestness. There were also pics of period era military campaign pins, slogans men died by: a red-white-and-blue “Land of the Free,” a cross-stitched sampler, “I Serve My Country,” and a more recent star and stripe bordered, “United We Stand.”

“We fought for this.” She wiped at her face. “They died for this, for this? The way they treat us, pressing for hate just to get vote. They’re going backward.”


Sergio the marble-mason had a hard hat to die for. Red, White and Blue to the bone, Sergio's scuffed but bizarrely grime-free shiny white hard plastic hardhat was festooned with US flags, along with his name, "Sergio" in vinyl letters and a couple of judiciously placed Mexican banderas as well. He was dressed in a hyper-neat and ironed near-parody of a construction worker's day labor clothes, so clean it was more like a costume: long sleeve white shirt, loose dark pants, and polished but battered work boots.

Sergio is a marble mason, a skill which brings him top dollar in the suburban homes of Phoenix; but one he learned in his native Mexico. It was his first protest as well. "You can't do nothing, you have to do something. I work hard, hard as anyone. Masonry is heavy, dirty work. I feed my family, I make beautiful things and then they treat me like I am a stealer when I walk in a store. I have to do something." He had come empty handed, but open hearted, and cheerily greeted any who passed by within greeting range. "I am so happy to be here." He paused to wave at the general crowd. Some waved back. "This beautiful day. The people saying what they feel. It makes a difference, yes? It makes a difference?"

It took me a second to realize the question wasn't rhetorical. His eyes quite seriously told me what he hoped he would hear. I said yes, but quickly changed the subject.


Paloma Cordova, a beautiful dove-like creature, was perched upon a rock to get a better view and like Sergio wore her message with her clothing, a simple green tee with a neatly hand-lettered logo: "Do I Look Illegal?"

I laughed, "Well, i guess we all do"

"My point exactly," she said and we set to talking.

An primary school teacher in the Tempe school district, Paloma's students already had it hard before SB 1070--gang violence, deteriorating neighborhoods, up at night from shots in the dark. Now the new law had shifted the continuing crisis into panic-mode. "They're afraid of every knock at the door. They're just little kids and they fear for their life. Will mom come back tonight? They are just children. I don't think the legislature thinks about that."


Mesa-based private investigator Lupe Daniels thinks about it, the red flags in the new law, its impact on families, the way prejudices can turn peace officers into enforcers. He's seen it firsthand. He says he's even written a book about race relations, police corruption, and secret brutality against Hispanics in Mesa. "Oh, I have seen it all," Daniels shook his head. "You would not believe the things they get away with." He hastily gave me a card.

"No, I have been studying the Mesa police for a long time. This law will give them the idea they can do anything. That is why I am here. You can't let them think it's OK to treat us like this. This is America. We are Americans too."

A decorated veteran, Daniels wore ball cap emblazoned with the words "Bronze Star" and "heroism" and boasting a thickly embroidered image of the medal and its ribbon. His sergeant's bars were pinned there as well along with a lapel flag. Like so many people i talked to that morning, Daniels was hyperbolically clean and neat.

In scanning my photos now for the past three week, i am in fact still impressed the inordinately large percentage of protest attendees who were impeccably dressed. Even the white chicks in anarchist chic were spot- and wrinkle-free. And folks, when the anarchists are neat and presentable, you are talking a movement to be reckoned with.

Her skimpy black tank top and peek-a-boo bra straps went well with her unusually form-fitting cargo Capris and obviously ironed Zapatista-style black bandana/handkerchief/anarchist mask and oversized Jackie O style shades. Even the scrunchie that held her blond ponytail matched. And to top it off, her choice of chrome I-Phone made it clear she was a revolutionary maybe wasn't actually struggling much, but who understood the importance of accessorizing.

Despite the blatant contradiction of her mask's implied anonymity, the whole outfit begged for attention and within time an eager AP reporter was dutifully submitting questions to her. On a college campus she would be the envy of all the hippest trust-fund hippies. That morning, in that place, with all the heart-felt first-timers about, she was little more than a joke.

So i politely laughed and moved on.

Next week the finale.

--mikel weisser writes from the left coast of AZ.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Current Comedy, 5/10/10: "Tales From the Struggle Over SB 1070" Continued

II: In Search for a Beverage of Their Own

In case you don’t know it, the Left has been brewing up their very own Tea Party, though I don’t believe it is immediately associated with any specific beverage as of yet; I mean aside from the typical patriots’ rousing mug of righteous indignation over governmental abuse. That's right, liberals apparently can still get riled up enough about governmental abuse to take to the streets too just like the big bad Tea Party, except when liberals protest, such as the recent nationwide Mad Day marches, it's really big and not really bad.

One might have forgotten that liberals are traditionally the go-to "protest about injustice" kind of crowd, with a pedigree that goes all the way back to the old "taxation without representation" days of protest history. To watch the way the media's covered since the 08 election and considering the limp push back liberals gave to Obama during his few months in the Whitehouse, one might've thought there was no "left" left. Well, those days are over, 1070 was a much-needed wake-up for the left of the massing anger and insolence on the right. In the basic dynamic of a democracy, the liberals will have to fight back to keep the social balance. Just like the populist movements of the 1880s, or the anti-establishment/anti-war movement of the 1960s, this anti-1070 movement has all the standard features of a nascent grassroots groundswell.

You can tell by going to a rally. There were all types of liberals protesting SB 1070 that morning, just like a tea party crowd ...well, at least a little like anyway, but in an absolutely opposite non-bizarro world sort of way. They have people who are screaming mad about legitimate injustices; they have people who are just shouting because they like to shout anyway. They have folks brimming with passion and articulate explications of their movement's talking point version of a world view; and they've got folks who thought up their most snide 10 word retort, scrawled it on a sign, and now have nothing else left to say. They've got elders trying to save their vision of their America and children just learning to believe; they've got folks in funny costumes and the newly politicized first-timer activists, and even a few sign makers who are still practicing their spelling.

See, just like a regular tea party except without all the aggressive racism, sexism, militarism, downright smug anti-environmentalism, and out and out self-serving greed that are the hallmarks of the stagnated conservative movement that, last month, thought it held the copyright on the idea of patriots walking together out in the street to profess one's love and image of country. Which bring to mind that when it comes to draping one's self in the flag the Tea Party has met its match.

At Tea Party events, the fashion disasters usually take flag motifs and/or colors and re-pattern them into new functional, thought wretchedly gaudy, item of clothing usually involving a hot glue gun and/or fabric paint. At the May Day Anti-SB 1070 parade, it was the flags themselves that were worn or carried. By the dozens, the US flag, the Arizona flag, wrapped like blankets around smiling faces. It sometimes looked like citizens being born before our very eyes.

But before we get lost in the esoteric of the meaning of flags as a fashion accessory, first let's address a more immediate and simpler question: What about that beverage thing? They can't call themselves the coffee party. Somebody already took that and it sounds to copy-cat to be cool anyway. So the left will have to self-identify with some other beverage if they hope to brand themselves into the public consciousness. In this modern age a movement that can't generate product placement won't amount to much more than a wiggle. So, if the nationwide liberal/ethnic hybrid movement that rose up in response to AZ's immigration follies were to actually come up with a beverage worthy of self-identification, its beverage of choice would probably have to be "water."

Water for all the bottles of water spontaneously bought and freely distributed at the rallies and along march routes, water for the gallon jugs you see copiously set out along highways, supposedly a criminal offense of mercy in the southeast corner of our state. As you probably know, the same ranchers who erroneously blamed immigrants for the murder of Cochise County rancher Robert Krentz so they could have a straw man to propagandize with, would insist that offering humanitarian aid to lost immigrants is to be treated like a crime and a gallon jug of water is just littered trash in the desert, especially if it might help a dying person to live.

It's those kind of people who briefly considered drafting Arpaio for governor, before Joe backed out of the deal. Which might have been a wise move for Sheriff Joe to stick to his day job, what with the Tea Party people looking a little less hearty these days in the face of the impressive superiority in marching numbers that the ethnic/liberal hybrid amassed this past May Day. Tea Partiers met with paltry crowds at their vaunted Tax Day protests, then at their paranoia-inducing armed protests in and around DC, April 19th--AKA "The fizzle snickered about around the world." Even with Dick Armey's Freedom Works and theirs deep pockets of war-bucks, when the hoopla settled both events fired duds, mere tempests in a ... well, you know.

Now, AZ’s hot new immigration law, and Arpaio as its poster boy, are facing the backlash as the “civil liberties patriots” clash with the “defend the empire patriots.” In this case, just as submerged resentment at Obama’s blackness merged with right-wing fears of losing control of the country caused the Tea Party to coalesce, the overt racism and hatefulness of SB 1070 has given a wide range of liberals an outrage they can react to.

Remember back in pre-election 2008 when we wondered if America was grown up enough to deal with the "whole race deal." Well, now we know. We aren't worthy.

Case in point, if the AZ Senate’s SB1070 wasn’t enough to make you wonder about the racist intent in the legislation, or the mentality of the men who claim to run this state for the public good, then you had to be scratching your heads when the AZ House followed suit the following week with a separate bill, HB 2281, which bans ethnic studies courses, and clubs and sacks any teachers with thick accents. According to Jennifer Allen of the Border Action Network, there wasn’t any real doubt as to the intentions of the AZ Lege’. "There's no real good public good intended."

Counting the hundreds of thousands who took to the streets on May Day, you can bet many of the protests around the country involved first-timers embracing the bracing empowerment of activism, much like the way the Tea Party’s equally flamboyant events brought older white voters out into the streets for the first time, at first. As with the rampant naïveté and weak grammatical skills of novice Tea Partiers, those who massed in courtyard of the capitol building in Phoenix had their own share of English language limitations. You may recall all the postings of pics of inept Tea Party Sloganeering which led to the invention of a new term, “tea-bonics,” to describe the plethora of misspelled and garbled political messages on the signs at Tea Party rallies. My favorite teabonically misspelled sign from the May Day rally read, “Define Reasonable Doubt: 1. Is it the Vechile I Drive? 2. Attire I Wear 3. My Brown Skin.”

Of course it might be noted: first, that there were very few signs with such spelling errors; and, second, that unlike Tea Partiers, at least many of the thousands attending the Phoenix May Day spontaneous demonstration have an excuse for their problems with the English language--it is for many of them it is a second language; unlike so many Tea Partiers who have only ever attempted English and still gained no mastery of it.

By and large, however, spelling was not an issue for the thousands who gathered in Phoenix; and their spontaneous enthusiasm took many on the Left by surprise. “There wasn’t any actual event, march or whatever organized for the afternoon. It was spontaneous in Phoenix. It went amazingly well since there was not central organization,” Allen noted. “None of the major organizing groups were there or had been campaigning for a march. There was a small gathering expected that morning, but the rest of it was the people. They just kept showing up and showing up. It was just regular citizens who felt they needed to do something and went to the capitol to let their voices be heard.”

Veteran Canadian activist Azami Ishihara who was in town to catch the Phoenix stop of L.A. Legend S.A. Griffin's "Poetry Bomb Tour" and also attended the rally noticed the same thing when she show up midday. "I had been to several events and protests in Canada and at first, I was really surprised. I thought it really lacked structure. Usually there is a speaker, people guiding the event along, and none of that was visible. Which makes the size and success of the event fairly impressive then if there were no leaders, realizing now that it was unorganized. More and more people just kept showing up. For a long time there were just folks milling around, then the march just started to form up. It's like the people were teaching themselves how to protest."

Understand, elsewhere throughout the country this past May Day various marches had been planned, just not in Phoenix. At least not planned, even thought May First, May Day, has traditionally been a day of some kind of celebration, or protest pretty much world-wide going back at least till the middle ages. This year over the over 80 immigration rallies that stepped off on, were already scheduled for the date, well before that disaster widely known as SB1070, hit the national fan.

Across the country there were major protests in L.A., New York, Dallas, & DC-- 100,000s (Get that, Tea Party? Hundreds of Thousands) of sympathetic marchers joined the 20,000 spontaneous Phoenix area patriots who flash-mobbed the Legislature. At the Whitehouse protest, Illinois Congressmen Luis Gutierrez was arrested for civil disobedience along with 30+ others.

Here in Phoenix the epicenter of the action, May Day turned out to be a long protest day in the capitol city. Too bad it was a Saturday and everyone was gone. Russell Pearce, John Huppenthal and Ron Gould could have attempted to reenact the Alamo with real Mexicans.

In fact, comically on May 2nd more than one news source around the nation noted that the AZ protests were smaller than in comparable cities around the country. One politician quipped in Phoenix folks are afraid to protest lest they get detained.

Next Week, Part Three

--mikel weisser writes from the left coast of AZ.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Current Comedy 5/5/10:“Immigrants Go Home … Back To Europe!” and Other Tales From the Struggle Over SB 1070

Part I: With My Irony Meter Set to Stun

May Day morning I arrived at the State Capitol grounds as an undocumented migrant to protest AZ SB 1070. No, I am not, nor was I, at the time, pretending to be stupid, noble or even clever. It didn’t even have any intended symbolic value to it, just ineptness. Notice, it merely says “migrant” not “immigrant.” I had simply migrated from my home at the So-Hi Peacesign Themepark, west of Kingman, to the state capitol in Phoenix, leaving my driver’s license on the counter at a gas station in Wickenburg on my way down the previous afternoon.

Though my non-documentation had been unplanned; I can’t say that while I was at the rally, or more so afterwards, that the symbolism of the circumstance did not strike me. There I was risking detention for being undocumented when I was protesting against arresting people for being undocumented.

Though there is no doubt that I could have proven the fact I was born a US citizen of US citizen parents, I was still at risk for getting detained. Notice, I did not say “arrested,” merely detained. Merely detained. Unless you've been through it, it is easy to act like it is nothing at all.

In fact as far as some are concerned, it is a wonder why all the silly little babies on the Left have whined so much over the years over such a trivial inconvenience. Perhaps taken downtown and held in a cell while they “ran your prints and made sure everything checked out.” Probably only take a few hours, not too much for an innocent man to sacrifice if it keeps the borders safe, “no harm, no foul,” some say. I say, I don’t think so—full body cavity searches having generally been seen by me and my various cavities/orifices as a bit more than “a mere inconvenience.”

Still, lost license or no, potential probing or not, May Day morning I found myself, like thousands of others drawn to downtown Phoenix to join my voice in the struggle. Unfortunate schedule i was traveling under i arrived five hours before the rally and couldn't stay long. Which was fine because it didn't take long to start finding the comedy in the ongoing disaster 2010 American race relations. As comically rich as it was, my inadvertent anonymity isn’t what pegged the old irony meter that morning. That would be Saturday morning at ten AM, five hours before the main part of the event, when the clean-up crews were still out when I arrived.

First thing I noticed was the veteran press lounging around the satellite trucks of the local affiliates of the major news channels, at the back edge of the parking lot. Their dreary faces and morning coffees showed they thought it was going to be another long and unpleasant day spent standing around talking about what an unpleasant job it is to have to stand around talking about what an unpleasant job you have.

Then, there past the satellite trucks, standing out in the crisp cool of that May Day morning were the shockingly orange jumpsuits of the prisoner slave-labor workforce being used by the police to police the state capitol grounds and parking areas in preparation for the day's rally. Personally, I could possibly be OK in some very specific ways regarding the use of prison labor, but most of what I’ve seen of prison labor is slave labor (having grown up in the county seat of the only county in the US to indict Dick Cheney and Alberto Gonzales for being part of the prison-industrial complex).

So yeah, let’s not pretend prisons in the US are about justice. They are sold for money and bought for revenge. Prisoner medical neglect and gang violence run rampant. That is the world we throw our immigrant into. In the US, thanks to SB 1070, especially for imprisoned immigrants Arizona, justice also comes at a price. Besides the part about being incarcerated with folks that are often rightly separated from society, once the bill takes effect, immigration prisoners will be charged for their room and board over the course of their time served. At the mandatory minimum built into the bill of six months, that'll run a person about ten grand. Actually the bill says “jail costs,” so who knows what that could mean. Perhaps they will charge the prisoners for the privilege of getting to wear their orange jumpsuits. Perhaps they will have to pay it back by working picking up trash.

Get a lot more prisoners, we could pick up a lot more trash and somebody could make a lot of money manning these houses of pain and others could sell or sew orange jumpsuits, to each according to their immigration status. If no one else SB1070 is guaranteed to be a money maker for fine folks who own prisons.

Everybody knows America likes to punish its prisoners. We don't caudle them like they do in some countries. We make sure they pay. And so Americans tell each other it's OK if someone suffers injustices while in prison. In Arizona, we make a point of electing guys with ideas like that, even when we know they don't need to be so mean about doing their job. As Arpaio himself admitted, the Feds launched an investigation into his operation for prisoner and civil rights abuses shortly after Obama took office. Nowadays, Arpaio and his deputies often trail a pack of watchdog groups aiming to document that next instance of police brutality, which will surely come.

These were the people I was there to protest against. What if I made them mad?

What if, like me, someone had simply been inept, and then inadvertently rubbed the cop the wrong way? Detention. If, as Arpaio insists, the new law is not aimed to target Hispanic or other darker skinned people, then anyone anywhere could be accused of being “an undocumented/an illegal” by just about any government official and a person would have to be detained, you know, only “until your fingerprints clear and everything checks out.” So i could be detained, possibly for days while they work out my citizenship. Just like that. 1070 says any jurisdiction has to pursue the issue of immigration status in all cases and to the general citizenry’s satisfaction, or your local PD can be sued by Joe Schmoe local racist crank, depending on how nasty he's feeling that day. According to Border Action Network's Jennifer Allen, "These provisions in the bill are Pearce’s way to address sanctuary cities because some cities were leaving quite a bit to the officers discretion," Allen, the executive director of Border Action Network, who had not attended discussed the march in a follow-up phone interview while she was in Washington with a delegation of civic leaders from AZ aiming to persuade the Justice Dept. to challenge the law. That night she was preparing for their meeting with asst. Attorney General Tom Perez along with other AZ leaders to talk about what DOJ can do to overthrow or pre-empt it.

In the southeastern corner of the state where the Arpaio's most vocal supporters punch cows, "officer discretion" is a dirty word and illegal immigrants are anything but safe. The area ranchers and the Minutemen militia and all their wannabes are up in arms over border violence, the "rampant border violence," as they say. And the people in southeastern AZ, particularly the older white rancher type people and their militia friends type people say all sorts of things about border violence some of which might be true, few of which are kind hearted as to our neighbors to the south.

But the "rampant border violence isn't one of those things that are true. As AZ Central's number crunchers recently revealed border crime stats have remained flat over the decade. "Nogales Assistant Police Chief Roy Bermudez shakes his head and smiles when he hears politicians and pundits declaring that Mexican cartel violence is overrunning his Arizona border town.

"We have not, thank God, witnessed any spillover violence from Mexico," Bermudez says emphatically. "You can look at the crime stats. I think Nogales, Arizona, is one of the safest places to live in all of America."

Not that truth matters to redneck red-staters on a mission. Getting their way on this bill emboldened the AZ GOP to trot out the equally ethnic bashing HB2281, which, as mentioned earlier, professes to protect students from hatred, but basically bans ethnic studies and literally requires schools to replace teachers based on their accents.

Knowing this, i stared at the orange and blue of the morning police detail--big bright blue baggies, as bright as their orange suits--and i thought how strange it would be if some of those very prisoners, there to prepare the area so we could trash it all over again, what if any of them were falsely jailed on immigration issues, stuck, still waiting for everything to check out. It's not like "jailed," it's merely "detention." But it still looks like picking up trash in orange jumpsuits to me.

Here they were, picking through the grass like birds for breakfast, working as prisoners of the state that imprisoned them and required that they fight the Sisyphean task of cleaning up from one immigration protest to get ready for the next immigration protest to protest the fact that there are people falsely imprisoned and having to pick up trash from protests, etc. That’s when the irony pegged the meter.

--mikel weisser writes from the left coast of AZ and this is my 100 political column since resuming political humor in 2007 following my mother-in-law and wife's deaths in 2005. That number is a victory for me.