Next time President Barack Obama comes whistling through Ari-bama, we should greet him with a new ditty: "Hail to the Profiler in Chief."
Because for all the highfalutin speechifying, all the promise of change, Obama has waffled on one thing you'd think would be a top priority for a so-called progressive who counts lefty icon Saul Alinsky as one of his formative influences.
This being the human and civil rights of those living within the boundaries of these United States.
For as Obama polishes his halo and practices his Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech, he is simultaneously complicit in the nefarious racial-profiling activities of our rogue lawman Sheriff Joe Arpaio.
True, as a sop to the Latino community and some (though by no means all) lefties, Obama's underlings have stripped Arpaio of his 287(g) field authority — and, putatively, the power to lawfully enforce federal immigration statutes.
But the 287(g) program remains unchanged in Arpaio's jails, with a new agreement, freshly minted by the Obama administration, giving federal authority to more than 60 officers to continue breaking the arms, busting the jaws, and violating the human rights of Latinos unfortunate enough to fall into one of Joe's hellholes (see "Driving While Brown," the latest segment in our online series "Are Your Papers in Order?").
When I challenged national ICE honcho John Morton on this very point during a press-conference phone call last week, wherein he discussed an expansion of the 287(g) program across the nation, he grew testy and said he did not wish to discuss "philosophy" with me. I told him there was nothing philosophical about those who've suffered in the barbaric conditions of Arpaio's gulags.
As for nullifying Arpaio's federal mandate in the streets, Morton acted as if ICE had done something principled.
"We ultimately determined that his sweeps were not consistent with our priorities," Morton told me.
Morton regurgitated his line on Rick Sanchez's CNN show, detailing why this Arpaio guy was so heinous while never discussing how he and Arpaio were still joined at the hip in Joe's medieval jails.
"[Arpaio's] sweeps are overbroad," Morton told Sanchez. "They don't have a particular focus or priority on criminal offenders, and he does it in a way that isn't marked by cooperation and coordination with the communities that he serves. And if we're going to enter into a partnership to enforce portions of immigration law, it needs to be done with someone who is working closely with the communities within which they serve, and someone who is focused on the right priorities — namely going after the worst offenders first."
So if Arpaio is not focused on the "right priorities," why did Morton give Arpaio's vast incarceration complex a de facto federal seal of approval? If partnering with Arpaio in the street offends Morton's sensibilities, what makes him think this partnership will be any more palatable behind cage doors, where Arpaio's goons can act indiscriminately, hidden from the prying eyes of activists and lawyers?
As if Morton's flaming hypocrisy wasn't bad enough, ICE facilitated Arpaio's sweep this week in Surprise. Sure, the 200 deputies and posse members who descended on that area like a pack of jackals didn't formally wield 287(g) authority, but as Arpaio pointed out time and time again, he didn't need it. All his beige-shirts needed to do was hit the speed dial for ICE's LEAR, short for Law Enforcement Agency Response, and ICE's dreaded Office of Detention and Removal rolled out and picked up the warm bodies, no questions asked.
During the entire two-day operation, in which 66 people reportedly were arrested, 19 "non-criminal aliens" — people who have committed no crimes other than (allegedly) the civil violation of being present sans papers — were turned over to ICE.
In the past, ICE had refused such low-hanging fruit from Arpaio. See, ICE's PR machine would have us believe that ICE no longer targets all aliens, but instead targets "the worst offenders first," as Morton suggested in the Sanchez interview.
Technically, ICE can claim to be doing this through the 287(g) program, but ICE's LEAR program is not beholden to such niceties. That's the obscene reality dogging Morton's statements. Any police or sheriff's department can call LEAR on anyone they suspect of being undocumented, and LEAR will show up to cart away the human quarry.
This is exactly what happened when Arpaio's big, bad thugs raided Glendale's On Your Way Car Wash and Quick Lube in order to collar illegal auto-scrubbers. You know, men and women who bust tails to keep their kids fed — and who are about as far as you can imagine from being violent criminals.
The TV footage shows a white ICE van pulling up and taking away seven handcuffed souls, each one of them representing a family cruelly crushed by the loss of a breadwinner. One of the women was openly weeping as a female ICE officer led her into the van.
Actually, it was Arpaio who asked the important question to CNN's Sanchez in a rebuttal to Morton's comments on an earlier show.
"If we violated [civil rights]," growled Joe, "why did ICE accept them over the weekend with no other charge than being here illegally?"
Because Barack Obama, and his Homeland Security Chief Janet Napolitano, and her assistant secretary in charge of ICE, John Morton, are hypocrites, Joe. It's all a farce, where the Obama-ites pretend to be Sir Galahad & Co., while Joe continues his regular shtick of trampling human beings.
As if you needed more proof of the general incompetence and idiocy at work in Arpaio's jails (as if the pile of corpses and the $43 million in lawsuit payouts — in part, because of them — wouldn't give you pause) there's autograph-hound John Hansen, a member of the sheriff's — ahem — "intelligence" unit in the jails.
It's from whom Hansen wanted an autograph that's the problem: white supremacist Dennis Mahon. See, Dennis, along with his twin brother, Daniel, are being held in the Fourth Avenue Jail, awaiting trial on charges related to the 2004 mail-bombing of Scottsdale's Office of Diversity and Dialogue, which seriously injured that office's director, Don Logan, as well as others.
Hansen wanted Dennis Mahon's John Hancock on the book Others Unknown: The Oklahoma City Bombing Case and Conspiracy by Stephen Jones. Jones was the chief defense counsel for Timothy McVeigh, the ex-Army soldier found guilty and executed for the 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City. Dennis Mahon, who apparently palled around with McVeigh, is mentioned in the book, and he even suggested it as reading material for Hansen.
Alas, Hansen never got his autograph, and he never even finished reading the book. So much for MCSO "intelligence." How do I know? Well, Hansen had to explain himself recently in federal court to U.S. District Judge David Campbell. The Mahons' lawyers were using Hansen's genius move as part of a motion to dismiss the charges against the pair.
Dennis' lawyer, Deborah Williams, asserted in her motion that Hansen's autograph-seeking was part of a half-wit effort to get Mahon to talk to authorities, even though he had already invoked in writing his Fifth and Sixth Amendment rights to remain silent and to have his counsel present at any meetings with agents of the government. Daniel's attorney, Barbara Hull, also alleged that MCSO guards had asked her client about the Scottsdale bombing.
In addition, defense attorneys argued that the 58-year-old brothers should be moved to a federal facility because of the hideous conditions in Arpaio's jails. The brothers are kept in isolation cells and are allowed no contact with each other.
For his part, Hansen admitted that he talked to Dennis Mahon about the possibility of discussing Dennis' involvement in the Ku Klux Klan. And he copped to asking for the autograph, but he didn't want it for himself, he claimed. Rather, he wanted to see how Dennis Mahon would respond. Remember, he's in intelligence.
This Sand Land Barney Fife could have royally screwed up the U.S. Attorney's case against the Mahons if he hadn't been nipped in the bud.
Judge Campbell denied the motion to dismiss the case and refused to order the Mahons transferred out of MCSO custody. (But let's be honest: That'd be the only way to make certain Arpaio's deputy dawgs don't mess up with these high-profile prisoners in the future.)
Campbell did order the sheriff's badged bumblers not to communicate with the Mahons. He also ordered that the other detention officers who had jawboned with the alleged domestic terrorists be identified.
According to the indictment, the Mahons are alleged to have committed the Scottsdale bombing to "promote racial discord on behalf of the White Aryan Resistance." W.A.R., as it was once called, is neo-Nazi Tom Metzger's one-man hate band, which he runs as resist.com, and now refers to as The Insurgent.
Ironically, the Mahons and Metzger are just the type of people who dig Joe's brown-bashing ways. So if Hansen or any other MCSO jailer really did want Dennis Mahon's autograph, maybe they could secretly trade him for one of Joe's.
There were Messianic Jews who believe in Yeshua Ha Mashiach (Jesus the Messiah) witnessing to passersby. And there were members of the Phoenix group We Hold These Truths carrying placards denouncing Israel's treatment of Gaza, often with gruesome pics of bloody children.
Add to them a well-heeled crowd headed to a Christian-Zionist event sponsored by a Texas televangelist, and a trio inexplicably voicing support for John Demjanjuk, the Cleveland auto worker once accused of being Ivan the Terrible from the Holocaust camps.
It was a surreal mix that converged on Phoenix Symphony Hall on a recent Sunday to support, denounce, or take advantage of a "Night to Honor Israel" rally sponsored by Christians United for Israel, a group founded by television end-times Bible thumper John Hagee, who is based in San Antonio and has raised millions for Israel because he believes it holds a special role in the return of Jesus Christ to Earth.
Hagee's group is generally backed by conservative Jews and Christians who're big defenders of Israel's right to exist. And that draws the ire of Chuck Carlson's organization We Hold These Truths, which former New Times journalist and current Village Voice editor Tony Ortega wrote about in the 2003 cover story "Peace-monger". At that time, Carlson's group was demonstrating at fundamentalist churches, arguing that they should take a stand on ending the Iraq war.
The group's branched out since to tackle anyone who supports Christian-Zionism. That is, those Christians who believe Israel was biblically awarded to the Jews. For Carlson, Hagee is the perfect example of what he sees as the "racism" of Christian-Zionism.
"Basically, he takes a racist view of the Palestinians in Israel," Carlson chirped, wearing a tan fedora over a white mane. "He says the Israelis have their rights on account of their race. And then [he and his supporters] find a way to sort out bits and pieces from Old Testament Biblical verses that they think supports that. And they weave that into a religion."
Carlson seems genuinely enraged by the plight of the Palestinians in Gaza and genuinely outraged by the actions of Israel. However, he paled when I asked him about his remarks before neo-Nazi and other anti-Semitic institutions. Specifically, on March 21, he spoke before a local spaghetti night of the white-supremacist group Nationalist Coalition. I know because there are videos online of Carlson addressing the organization.
And Carlson also spoke before a 2004 conference of the Institute for Historical Review in Sacramento. Founded in 1978 by anti-Semitic godfather Willis Carto, the IHR is described by the Anti-Defamation League as "the world's single most important outlet for Holocaust-denial propaganda."
Carlson didn't deny speaking in front of such groups but insisted the Sacramento conference wasn't sponsored by IHR. (IHR has a page on its Web site claiming the conference as its own, with a photo of Carlson as one of the lecturers.) He also stated that his speaking before some questionable organizations doesn't mean he agrees with them.
"I didn't deny any Holocaust," said Carlson. "I was there speaking about my issue, Christian-Zionism."
But what about the neo-Nazi groups? Doesn't Carlson think people are bothered by that?
"I don't know anybody it bothers but you," he chuckled. "You're the only one it's ever bothered."
When I stated that might be because people don't know about it, he said, "What am I supposed to do, wear a badge?"
Of course, I'm not suggesting Carlson is a neo-Nazi, but his message sure does seem to appeal to them. Particularly with passages like this in his handouts:
"We believe the worldly riches offered by World Zionism are false and do not come from God because the teaching of Zionism is anathema to the words of Jesus Christ."
Nor would I insinuate that Pastor John Hagee is all sweetness and light. Hagee has voiced his support for a preemptive Israeli nuclear strike against Iran. The preacher also believes Arab and Russian forces will invade Israel and be struck down by Yahweh — and it all will precipitate the Second Coming.
In other words, he's a crackpot. A crackpot with a lot of followers.
Carlson was one of only about 25 people from his faction present at Phoenix Symphony Hall, where attendees were forced to pass through a gantlet of photos of dead children. One of the sign-holders told me he came from Texas to protest the Hagee event.
I should note that the Messianic Jews were there to support the event and were not part of Carlson's group. Rabbi Harlan Picker of Phoenix's Beth Yachad House of Unity told me they were about understanding between gentiles and Jews, and that his congregation was mixed with members of both faiths.
As for the trio demonstrating in favor of John Demjanjuk with signs such as "Free John" and "Free Demjanjuk Now," they were led by a tall cat in a bush hat named John Lyon and they said they were not members of We Hold These Truths or any organization, for that matter.
According to a March report in the New York Times, Demjanjuk is now in Germany, "where he is accused of being an accessory in the murder of 29,000 Jews while working as a guard at the Sobibór death camp in eastern Poland."
"Most people don't know who he is," Lyon kvetched. "It's a tough cause to try to promote."
Keep Phoenix New Times Free... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Phoenix with no paywalls.