[Marxism] Down in the Cactus: The Darkest Pits in Sheriffism

Hunter Gray hunterbadbear at hunterbear.org
Fri Oct 9 06:53:05 MDT 2009

I've had occasion to know adversarily many "bad sheriffs" -- in many times and many settings. But Joe Arpaio, Maricopa County Arizona sheriff. has to rank among the very worst -- and, from the standpoint of "fascist mentality" [a term I never use lightly], he takes some top laurels in that deplorable context. His ascendancy and retention as sheriff go back a number of years -- and say much about the social sickness that pervades the Phoenix metro area [and, given his range of national admirers, about that of the nation as a whole.]

'Way back in the Old Days, when my home state was so small population-wise that lots of people knew lots of others from the Utah border to that of Mexico and from the Colorado River to the New Mexico line, Phoenix -- never wildly close to the hearts of us in the northern part of the state ["too damn big" and "too much government"] was still pretty manageable. It was also a twelve hour drive from my home town of Flagstaff. Many of us were not too pleased when the Black Canyon Highway was constructed and the distance was shortened to three hours.

In due course, Phoenix was discovered by much of the rest of the USA. Initially, it began to swell with retirees. A joke back in my high school days involved the "Iowa farmer who comes to Phoenix with bib-overalls and a twenty dollar bill and doesn't change either one." But it wasn't long before Other Things began to move in: run-away industries from the East seeking the benefits of low taxes and minimal unionism. And then came the far right wingers: Birchers, the followers of demagogic Billy James Hargis, even some latter day adherents of the essentially fascist Gerald L.K Smith. [This ultra-reactionary infection became so acute that Barry Goldwater denounced and repudiated it -- though not the corporate forces that had provided much of its fertile garden of evil.]

But all of this rank and negative growth of poisonous weeds continued in Phoenix and Maricopa County -- and it continues right to this very moment. And one of its most socially lethal fruits is Joe Arpaio and Company -- foundationed by the voters who continue his reign. On this cold Idaho morning, I can find only two notes of consolation in this:

Arpaio is NOT, whatever his drivers' license may say, an Arizonian. He's from Springfield, Massachusetts [and a tip of my apologetic hat to that fundamentally good state.]

And he didn't get the Nobel Peace Prize.


Hunter [Hunter Bear]

(CNN) -- Federal authorities are moving to rein in the man dubbed "America's Toughest Sheriff" after complaints that immigration raids by his deputies amounted to unconstitutional roundups of Latinos.

Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio supervises an inmate relocation in Phoenix, Arizona.

Sheriff Joe Arpaio and the Maricopa County, Arizona, sheriff's department have had an agreement with the Department of Homeland Security since 2007 that allows his department to enforce federal immigration laws. But Arpaio says the federal agency is moving to revise the agreement to limit that power to checking the immigration status of inmates already in his Phoenix jail.

Arpaio has cultivated his image as "America's Toughest Sheriff," a nickname earned by his treatment of Maricopa County inmates. Many of his prisoners are housed in tents and forced to wear pink underwear, and he once boasted of feeding them on less than a dollar a day.

Now he faces a Justice Department investigation into allegations of civil rights abuses, and the American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona is suing the sheriff over immigration raids conducted by his department. The class-action lawsuit alleges that Arpaio has abused the power delegated to him under his agreement with Homeland Security, known as the 287(g) program.

"He's unconstitutionally acted to racially profile many persons in the community, persons who appear or are Latino," ACLU lawyer Dan Pochoda told CNN. Pochoda said the five-term sheriff has launched a series of high-profile raids to appeal to "his anti-immigration base."

Arpaio told CNN's "American Morning" the allegations were "garbage" and said he would continue to use state laws to crack down on undocumented immigrants in his county.

"We do not go on street corners and grab people that look like they're from another country," he said. "Pursuant to our duties, when we come across illegals, we take action." Watch what Arpaio has to say »

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, who was Arizona's governor before taking her Cabinet post, told CNN that Arpaio is reacting prematurely to decisions that have not yet been finalized. But Arpaio says he's now become the poster boy of the emotionally charged immigration debate and is losing authority for political reasons.

"They don't want to aggravate the Hispanic community, aggravate the businesspeople who hire the illegals, and they want amnesty," he said.

Arpaio said he planned to continue his operations "with no changes."

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