The Kyl File
Slim pickings: I'm a longtime Republican voter, and I thought your profile of Jon Kyl was first-rate ("Stealth Zealot," Robert Nelson, April 13). You could have taken a lot of cheap shots at the "other" senator from Arizona, but you didn't. You only gave him the negative shots that he deserves.
Fact is, Kyl has been making Republicans look bad for years. His record on civil rights issues is abhorrent, as you pointed out. Yes, he has done a lot for Arizona's ability to get and keep water, which is vital in this desert state, but his kowtowing to President Bush and his many extremist positions makes him a dangerous man to keep around.
I don't think Democrat Jim Pederson is the guy to beat him. I don't think Pederson would be any more effective than Kyl has been. His only qualification is that he isn't Jon Kyl. My point is proven out in that the pollsters even say that despite Bush's plummeting approval rating and Kyl's Neanderthal voting record, he will still edge out Pederson.
It's truly slim pickings in this race: a mushmouth Democrat who's personally dull versus a genteel extreme right-wing Republican who's personally dull. Thank God for John McCain around here.
Carl Savage, Prescott
"Doing" Arizona: Your piece on Jon Kyl was so blatantly agenda-driven and front-loaded with negativity that I'm rather dumfounded that it was green-lighted for print. But then again, it was in a newspaper that features a plate of roasted bugs on the front cover [the letter-writer refers to the photo accompanying "Chew On This!", Inferno, Stephen Lemons, April 13]. So do I expect too much?
Clearly, Kyl is a "doer," which is pretty bad if you are politically opposed to what he is "doing." Clearly you are opposed. Fair enough, but be fair about it.
You put spin on selected actions that serve your purpose without stating any of the principles behind them. For instance, you know that the highway bill you wish he had voted for contained record quantities of pork. Do people really want politicians hell-bent on bringing home the bacon at any cost, just like the vast majority of political lifers in office? I really don't think so. But stating this would not serve your agenda.
You show no respect for common intelligence by comparing Kyl's name recognition to John McCain's. McCain has run for president, been on Letterman, et al., written a mass-market autobiography that resulted in a movie.
You consider Kyl, based on his record in office, to be an absolute known quantity (a bad one!). I concede that this is a fair basis of evaluation, subject to your personal bias. That bias drives your writing, but that's not the point I want to make here. The thing is, you state with equal conviction that Jim Pederson will be a decidedly different type of politician who will do things in the old-school way. I see no history of elected office or voting record in Pederson's bio. Rather, I see the adult life of a commercial developer and party operative.
Dan Ichikawa, via the Internet
A dangerous character: "Stealth Zealot," indeed! Thanks for unveiling a truly dangerous character in the national political scene. It's always the behind-the-scenes guys who do the most damage. They quietly and politely get involved and then work their demonology.
Kathy Cummings, via the Internet
Thorough and thoughtful profile: I first got wind of your story on the Kyl-Pederson race in an e-mail from the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. Given the source, and given the excerpts they picked out for their one-pager, it made me wince a bit, thinking it was going to be a hit piece on Jon Kyl.
I'm glad I read the whole thing. Aside from the fact that it was unassailably fair and accurate, it was a fantastically thorough and thoughtful profile of not just Kyl and Pederson, but of Arizona politics in general. Great work!
Jared Serbu, Phoenix
Erroneous assumption: There was an error in your "pop quiz" description on the cover of New Times. You said Arizona's "other" senator "makes Dubya look like a liberal." George W. Bush really is a liberal.
Mike Willsey, Phoenix
Extreme measures: You barely touched on Jon Kyl's patriotic measures against illegal immigration in your piece "Stealth Zealot." He is truly one of the few members in Congress who gets it. He understands that only the most extreme measures will work when it comes to keeping those damn Mexicans out of our country!
What New Times doesn't seem to get is that Jon Kyl is exactly the kind of senator the voters in Arizona want. He has some history here, having come to our state to go to college. John McCain is nothing but a carpetbagger and a pussy when it comes to how best to deal with illegal immigrants.
It should be Kyl running for president instead of McCain. He would get a lot of votes, and he would get this country on the right track.
John Templar, Gila Bend
Run for the Border
Polar opposites: It seems to me like the issue of illegal immigration has become another left-versus-right standoff that often spawns from bipartisanship. That's a real shame, because this is a problem that cannot be solved from either extreme of the spectrum.
On one hand, people tossing around terms like "Immigration Roulette" ("Go On, Just Shoot 'Em," The Bird, April 13), "disrespectful wetback bastards" ("An Admirer of Mayor Phil's," Letters, Jon Krieger, April 13) and "open fire on them!" ("Take Your Best Shot, Oswald," Letters, Bill Mathis, April 13) is inexcusable, and exhibits a lynch-like inhumanity.
It's such hate speech that has caused every instance of oppression and genocide yet endured. Mr. Krieger, Mr. Mathis and Mr. Brian James (the KFYI talk show host who made the statement "Immigration Roulette," and went on to say that illegals should be shot coming across the border) should just be glad that all Native Americans didn't take a similar stance with the Pilgrims (they made the initial mistake of trusting and accepting us white folks instead).
But on the other hand, a stance that is the polar opposite of this -- that illegal immigrants should not only be allowed to enter the United States freely, but should have immediate rights with no regard as to the process of attaining them -- is simply ungrounded, too.
It must be tempting to be stalwart against such vehement resistance, but there is just no way that Arizona, New Mexico and Southern California can support the entire country of Mexico.
Immigration has to be legislated in some form. But it's important to realize that legislation with malice never turns out pretty. Look, I've done missionary work in Mexico, and saying that things are hard for people in Mexico doesn't even begin to sum it up.
Mexicans aren't trying to terrorize our pristine white paradise or ravage our white women or whatever the fuck the border zealots think their intentions are. The vast majority just want a life without avarice. The punishment for proverbially stealing bread to feed your children shouldn't be overly harsh.
Some sort of compromise must be reached; hopefully one less convoluted and bureaucratic than the latest bill in Congress, but sometimes when both sides are unwilling to budge, that is unfortunately the best that our bipartisan democracy can do.
Tye Rabens, Phoenix
No comparison: I can't believe how ignorant people are when it comes to the history of this country.
I'm so appalled by Natasha Sims' letter concerning immigration ("George Wallace Imitators," April 13). How dare she compare the history of the African-American equal-rights movement to the current immigration-rights movement!
Africans were brought over in chains by force. Many of their descendants made contributions and sacrifices to this country. In the 1950s and 1960s, the black community strove for equality, and rightly so. The illegal immigrants we have today have not earned the right to demand anything.
Ms. Sims needs to get her history straight. The black people who demanded equal rights were born in this country and were already American citizens. They won their rights through protests and through the court system. Sure, some got the wrong idea and became violent, but that did not affect the outcome for them.
I'm very tired of everyone who opposes illegal immigrants being labeled as racist. I'm from the Deep South, and I don't think Ms. Sims has any idea of what a racist really is. Comparing County Attorney Andrew Thomas to former Alabama governor George Wallace is entirely misguided. Mr. Thomas is only upholding the law. After all, isn't that his job?
Jean Sipes, Mesa
The new Alabama: I've been reading the many letters about the immigration debate in New Times, and I can't help but feel that Arizona is the new Alabama. Racism in all forms is still racism. You would think that we as a nation would've grown out of our immature past, but far from it -- we have become worse.
The immigrant bashers I see polluting the airwaves and print media with their hate remind me of Timothy McVeigh, the Oklahoma City bomber. While some of these bashers cloak what they say in 9/11 and claim they are fighting terrorism with their views, the truth is far from it. I get the feeling that they are just the kind of extremists that McVeigh was.
They forget that America is still a wonderful melting pot of all races. America would not be where it is without you and me. Racism, bigotry and hate are America's biggest threats. People who practice such traits are the real terrorists.
M. Villalobos, via the Internet
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Let's all hold hands and sing "Kum Ba Yah": If you take the macroscopic view, all of the so-called illegal immigrants are American! There is North, South and Central America! A person from Mexico is of the Americas, the same as a person from Iowa or Texas.
The true issue is how to deal with what already is a reality in a way that encourages peace, safety, respect and economic viability for every American.
Carolyn Holleman, Scottsdale
And don't you forget it, whitey!: This is in reference to the letter under the heading "An Admirer of Mayor Phil's" by Jon Krieger in your April 13 edition. Call us beaners, taco benders, wetbacks or greasers, but don't refer to us as spics. Mr. Krieger, that racial slur is reserved for Puerto Ricans, you dumb-ass cracker!
David Sanchez, Avondale