With all the hubbub these last few days since Arizona Governor Jan Brewer signed SB 1070, the bill that requires law officials to demand papers from anyone they “suspect” does not look like a citizen (it has something to do with shoes, seriously), the state’s other piece of wacko legislation has conveniently moved through the legislature relatively unnoticed. Senate Bill 1024, the so-called Birther Bill, passed the House last week with only Republican support 31-29.
Similar to the “Papers Please” bill, this wingnut piece of legislation, which requires anyone running for the White House to produce a birth certificate in order for their name to appear on the Arizona ballot, is sure to be challenged in court, as it inserts a state regulation into federal policy. It also declares that Arizona’s Secretary of State can determine whether the candidate’s proof of birth is valid. Given that our Secretary of State during the 2008 presidential election was Jan Brewer, that provision alone gives one pause.
President Obama recently dismissed the bill and his spokesman Bill Burton told CNN:
“I can’t imagine Arizona voters think their tax dollars are well-served by a Legislature that is less focused on their lives than in fringe right-wing radio conspiracy theories.”
He has a point, look at the situation here: the Arizona budget has fallen off a cliff; cities are laying off police, fire fighters, and teachers; libraries, museums, and parks are closing; universities have seen their state appropriations dry up; the housing boom, which was the state’s economic engine for decades, has gone bust big time, and we are the poster child for home foreclosures and everything else that went wrong during the housing disaster.
But rather than blame the nutjobs who got us into this mess, and right at the top of that list is the state legislature, these Bible-thumping lunatics are spending their time debating legislation that will not fix anything and only plays on the voters’ bigotry and fear. Both bills point the finger of blame for our problems at brown and black scapegoats: Mexicans from south of the border and Obama in the White House. Not only are SB 1070 and SB 1024 racist, unworkable, and counterproductive, they’ll both be challenged in court for years, something even their supporters acknowledge.
But good old J.D. Hayworth, who is going toe-to-toe with Senator John McCain for the Republican Party nomination by tacking as far to the right as you can in this already far-right state, believes the Birther Bill does not go far enough. Both Hayworth and McCain support SB 1070, the “Papers Please” bill. While a younger and wiser John McCain would probably not have endorsed this draconian measure, the sad but true reality is that it would be political suicide for him not to side with the wingers on this piece of crap legislation. As the Tea Party has hijacked the Republican Party in Arizona, this senate primary has devolved into little more than “I can be a bigger wingnut than you!” J.D. just got a chance to prove his wingnut bona fides.
McCain, in a rare moment of sanity, balked on the Birther Bill, agreeing with most critics that state legislation cannot trump federal law. Hayworth, the former TV sportscaster turned congressman turned Abramoff pimp turned talk radio lunatic saw his opening: McCain wasn’t acting crazy enough, so J.D. would double down!
According to Dan Nowicki in today’s Arizona Republic, Hayworth believes “the Arizona measure is ‘too narrowly drawn’ because it would force only presidential candidates to produce evidence of their citizenship and other qualifications.” Hayworth continues:
“...shouldn’t we ask candidates for every office on the ballot to be able to offer proof that they are who they say they are?”
Do you hear that Panamanian-born John McCain? Hey Congressman Raul Grijalva, are your papers in order? That certainly seems like a provision the legislature should spend even more time debating because, you know, that probably explains why they've been so ineffective - because we don't have proof "they are who they say they are."
It's getting harder and harder to get up and read our morning paper.