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Musings from the Sonoran Desert and elsewhere

Amy McMullen

Amy McMullen
Gold Canyon, Arizona, USA
January 01
Amy McMullen is an activist for human rights, social and economic justice and a blogger and political essayist currently residing in Arizona. Her main interests are anti-racism, immigrant rights, LBGTQ equality, health justice and women's rights. She has worked to remove the worst of the anti-immigrant, Tea Party politicians from office in Arizona and advocates to get progressives elected. Amy's former incarnations include back-to-the-land counter culturist in the 70s, small business entrepreneur, Bed and Breakfast proprietor, charter boat captain, EMT, medical assistant and rehabber of distressed homes.. She currently volunteers for the Phoenix Urban Health Collective as a street medic and is on the board of a new nonprofit devoted to providing free medical care for the uninsured and under-insured in Phoenix. Amy's writings on social justice and other subjects appear in Truthout, Salon, Addicting Info, The Tucson Sentinel, The Pragmatic Progressive and on her blog at Open Salon.

FEBRUARY 2, 2012 10:01AM

Inmates Running the Asylum in Arizona

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Arizona's republican dominated legislature has introduced a tsunami of wacko legislation so far this session.  From abolishing all public sector unions in the state to outlawing the Healthcare Reform Act to defining life as starting at conception to an immigration bill that codifies racism.

None of these bills are original and all of them have been tried to varying degrees with disastrous results both here and in other states. But not to worry, the threat of public ridicule has never deterred our elected Tea Party Mad Hatters before.

Sadly it appears that the message sent by the voters when the anti-immigrant, anti-union,  anti-healthcare reform senate president Russell Pearce was recalled last November is being ignored by the rank and file in the legislature. Or to put it another way, Russell Pearce was just the icing on the cake and now we’re faced with the cake.

Of course Pearce’s recent elevation to vice chair of Arizona’s GOP means he’s merely  shuffled over to his new role of master puppeteer of his faithful still in office.  After all, who is better qualified to oversee them as they frantically rearrange the deck chairs on the Titanic?  A look at these bills shows just how little we’ve progressed in this state.

Arizona has had a long history of attempting to dismantle public employee unions and now they’ve taken it a giant step further.  As was reported by 12 News’ Brahm Resnik, several new bills would:

-“Make it illegal for government bodies to collectively bargain with employee groups. Public safety unions would be included in the ban.

--End the practice of automatic payroll deductions for union dues.

--Ban compensation of public employees for union work.”

These bills are even more encompassing than Wisconsin’s, where tens of thousands turned out to mob the capitol in protest and a governor was recalled.  Will this happen in Arizona?  Since this is already a “Right to Work” state, it’s hard to say.  But I very much doubt the unions that are still here are going to take this lying down.

We all know the Healthcare Reform Act (HCR) is unpopular with the Tea Party right wing.  The geniuses in the AZ senate have come up with a solution:  Just outlaw it!

The language of HB 2725 is short and to the point, stating that the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010 is unconstitutional and violates the constitution’s “true meaning and intent as given by the founders and ratifiers” and “shall not be recognized by this state”.  It further stipulates that any “official, agent or employee of the United States Government or any employee of a corporation of the United States government who enforces or attempts to enforce” HCR is guilty of a class 4 felony.

Is it just me or does it appear that the whole concept of states not having the authority to outlaw federal laws has escaped somebody here?  Perhaps a requirement for state office should be a mandatory semester of Civics 101.

You can rely on the right wing to never let us get by without at least one attempt to dictate what goes on in a woman’s uterus, or even in her fallopian tubes.  Republican Senator Steve Smith has introduced his version of the tired old “fertilized eggs are humans” bill that’s spreading around the nation like a bad stain.  SB1494 defines “human being”  as “an individual living member of the species of Homo Sapiens, including the unborn human being during the entire embryonic and fetal ages from conception to full gestation”

Since this type of anti-choice, anti-contraception legislation was defeated by voter referendum in the hardly-liberal-bastion state of Mississippi, we can only hope that Arizona won’t waste its time on this nonsense as well.

And what would Arizona be without several anti-undocumented immigrant bills?  Our very same Senator Smith had introduced two so far.

One, SB1444, requires schools to report any undocumented immigrant children to the state, a strategy that was attempted in Alabama and blocked by the courts.  Obviously Smith feels not enough money has been wasted battling the Department of Justice over the role states play in immigration enforcement; the total for defending Arizona’s SB1070 has topped $1.5 million to date.

The second is a jaw dropper.  SB1445 will require hospitals to check the immigration status of all uninsured patients and report those who are undocumented to immigration or law enforcement authorities… UNLESS they are Canadian or from a select few European or Asian nations.  The bill plainly states that proof of Canadian citizenship or proof of citizenship from a country that participates in the Visa Waiver Program will suffice to keep the immigration authorities at bay, no matter if the patient has overstayed their visa or is here without authorization.

There are 36 countries who participate in the Visa Waiver program, which allows a participating country’s citizens to come to the US for 90 days without a visa.  Of these 36 countries, 33 are European and 3 are Asian (Japan, South Korea and Singapore).

So, in case you’re not following me here.  SB1445 requires hospitals to report to immigration authorities only non-white, non-affluent Asian nation patients who don’t have insurance.  Obviously, according to Steve Smith, some undocumented people are more deserving of health care than others. Aside from this huge level of wrongness, anything that stands in the way of patients seeking vital healthcare in our hospitals is both inhumane and a threat to public health.


The legislative session has only just begun in the Dry Hate State.  What I've described above is just a sampling of the latest crazy-on-steroids bills and I’m sure more will be forthcoming.  It remains to be seen how many make it through the legislature and actually go on to be approved by our finger-waving,  scorpion-eating governor.

But one thing remains a given.  Politics is never boring in Arizona.

(UPDATE: Russell Pearce has just filed to run again for state senate. Not unlike zombies, politically expired Arizona republicans can be very hard to get rid of.)


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Since the 80's amnesty the U.S. has accepted millions of illegals and given them free schooling, emergency medical care, and often social service benefits through their citizen children; the more illegals we have, the more the cries of racism escalate. The promised enforcement of the border, and workplace never materialized. Racism? Unfortunately, we can not take all the immgrants of the world. This is a cruel pipe dream. Time to get back to reality.
It most certainly is racism when you say people from certain lighter-skinned countries can get healthcare and those from others cannot. Can't get much more racist than that.