Thursday, April 22, 2010

Grumpy Old Arizona

If the Grand Canyon State weren't mired in a budget deficit, if lawmakers weren't having to slash funding from schools and parks and health care, if the economy wasn't struggling to recover, and if a Cochise County rancher hadn't been shot and killed by some guy who ran back into Mexico, I wouldn't be talking to you about a pair of state bills making us collectively distressed and disappointed: SB 1070 [PDF], which gives local police new powers to arrest people who can't produce paperwork to prove they're here legally, and SB 1074 [PDF], which asks President Obama to prove he's a citizen if he runs for re-election. (Notice I used the word if. Come November, if the GOP clobbers Democrats in the mid-terms, what's to say he won't pull a Lyndon Johnson? Then again, that's another "if.")

I started pondering this after reading Nick Smith on Tucson Weekly's blog, who observes: "Tomorrow the House will vote on HB2791, otherwise known as the Get Off My Lawn Act, which would require a gigantic dome to be built over the state to keep everyone out."

When the going gets tough, the tough turn bitter. It's easier for me to see our lawmakers acting less like crazed zealots and more like grumpy old men who want to be left alone. Never mind it's not immigrants who got us into the recession, or that waves of them have already been heading back to Mexico because of the hard times. We're broke, we're ticked, and we need to point a bony finger somewhere.

You can't deny we have a serious problem. I just read about all those illegal workers fired from the supermarkets in Phoenix. I produced newscasts with stories on the shuttle bus company raids in Arizona. Yet we already have an employer sanctions law on the books, which attacks the problem from the supply side and forces employers to do eligibility checks... on everyone... even on Barack Obama, if he applies for a job in Arizona. (I hear the crack lines now: "He may have to!")

Arizona is not a state of sun-baked curmudgeons, even if we voted for the guys now running the place. I don't agree with Congressman Raul Grijalva, who's calling for an economic boycott of the state if SB 1070 passes. He's adding to the codgerly mentality -- just keep out. In a state known for abundant sunshine, we're going through the political monsoon now. Maybe after November, the kids can come over and play in the yard again.

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