It comes as no surprise that uber Republican State Senator Russell Pearce won re-election last night. His Democratic challenger Andrew Sherwood was a pretty cool guy, a young man who pulled no punches in nailing Pearce on his extremism. But he was running in a conservative Mormon district, and Pearce is both. In fact, he's a really conservative Mormon, a follower of Cleon Skousen, the late John Bircher nutjob author of The 5000 Year Leap, which says the US Constitution was divinely inspired; but it's in danger of being destroyed by communists and secularists, and the only people capable of saving democracy are white Mormon men. Glenn Beck wrote the foreword to a new edition of The 5000 Year Leap, and he's been hawking the book and its author on his show.
Pearce read all of Skousen's books and attended his lectures. That's what is behind the Senator's most notorious piece of legislation, SB1070. We're saving America here folks, brown people need not apply.
So tonight comes word that Russell Pearce has been elected President of the Senate. It's a State Senate and House where Republicans outnumber Democrats 2 to 1. In other words, Pearce will have little opposition to his looniest ideas, pushing Arizona into a perpetual-SB1070 miasma. Cribbed from an earlier diary, here's a list of some other Pearce bills, both passed and pending. First, joining Rand Paul and others,
Pearce announced last month he plans to introduce 2011 legislation to challenge automatic U.S. citizenship to the children of illegal immigrants. Arizona Republic
Yeah, that damn 14th Amendment is what's causing our problems. Then there's SB1097, which will quantify the costs of immigrants to the education system. It singles out, stigmatizes, and blames brown kids for Arizona’s budget woes; and it implants the idea that discrimination is justifiable early in the education system. Silly us, thinking we might educate kids out of poverty – kids who might later contribute to, rather than drain from, society.
If you happen to teach Mexican American History (which is hard not to do in a region that was part of Mexico until 1853), then check your syllabus. SB1108 will prohibit or at least change ethnic studies in public schools. The bill is written so broadly the legislature could probably ban any ethnic studies program if they wanted. Senator John Kavanagh said, “You’re here. Adopt American values … If you want a different culture, then fine, go back to that culture.” Hey John, what if I teach Hopi history. They were sorta here first.
We’ve seen Pearce introduce or support other crackpot legislation, such as HB2631, which essentially says Americans can only marry other Americans; the birther bill that requires a birth certificate for anyone on Arizona’s presidential ballot; and another law that fines landlords who rent to immigrants. He was a vocal supporter of last night's Proposition 107, the so-called Civil Rights bill, which bans preferential hiring in all municipalities. It passed 60-40. All his bills sing the same tune: keep non-whites out of here or at least render them powerless. Because God says so.
It's likely we'll see more and crazier pieces of legislation from the new President of the Arizona Senate, and they'll land on the desk of a compliant Governor Jan Brewer, as Stephen Lemons writes tonight in New Times.
Pearce figures Governor Jan Brewer "owes" him for saving her career, bullying 1070 through the legislature, giving her a racist piece of legislation to sign, one scapegoating Hispanics, and diverting attention from the state's $2 billion budget shortfall.
And he's right. Brewer owes Pearce like some owe the rent. If she'd not had 1070 at her back, and a wave of xenophobia to ride, she might've never made it out of the GOP primary.
"Headless-bodies" Brewer also owes Peace for helping out two of her key advisors, Chuck Coughlin and Paul Senseman, former prison industry administrators and lobbyists. Their former employers, represented by the Corrections Corporate of Arizona, are certain to benefit from SB1070, as the private prisons will be used as holding and processing centers. Lemons notes that the links between Pearce, Brewer, her campaign advisors, and the corrections industry were detailed on public radio:
A recent NPR story highlighted the connection between the private prison industry and Pearce. But his ties to nativist organizations such as the Federation for American Immigration Reform, and FAIR's top law dog Kris Kobach, now Kansas' Secretary of State, are far more profound.
Ah yes ... those FAIR and other nativist associations like, oh, Nazis. Until the relationship became too smarmy for even Arizona's conservative media, one of Pearce's buddies was the National Socialist J.T. Ready, a man proud to wear a brownshirt and boots and lead "Arrest an Illegal Day" for Cinco de Mayo. Tasteful. While Pearce was hanging with J.T. and his camouflaged militiamen, he thought it was hunky dory to send around white supremacist emails.
On the other hand, maybe Pearce's cowboy ego and Brewer's blank stare will do battle, and the power standoff will hamper progress. At least one legislator thinks that might happen, says tonight's AZ Republic:
Democratic Sen. Paula Aboud of Tucson said Pearce could prove to be an obstacle for Brewer, given his personality and the bulked-up legislative majorities.
"He's not very good at cooperation. He tends to get what he wants," Aboud said.
Yep, like that playground bully. Last night Arizona said goodbye to a blue dog but good guy, Congressman Harry Mitchell. Yes, Raul Grijalva held on but the rest of the state, led by its new Senate President and catatonic Governor, is approaching the lunatic cliff, and there's a wind at their back.